Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first EVER blog post for the new CrossFit Webster! With every day, we get closer to opening. I am beyond excited to embark on this journey, and share it with all of you. We’ll be up and operational before you know it. I have so much to do to get ready, and I may end up getting the keys next week! I was inside of the gym today, and I have to say, it’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be (that’s what she sa…nevermind).
This post is going to focus specifically on my thoughts behind Programming. This is one area that I’ve worked very hard on during the time we’ve been closed. In effort of transparency to our members, I want to explain my thought process, how I put it together, and the ideas behind what we’ll be doing once we’re holding classes.
First, I’d like to give you some background. I was about 4 years in to being a CrossFit “athlete.” I was beat up. I was tired. I was burnt out. During my first year or two doing CrossFit, I saw dramatic changes in body composition and strength increases (or ‘Gainz,’ as the kids say these days). After I lost all of my weight as a result of the surgery to repair my perforated intestine, the ‘Gainz’ happened all over again, and life was great! I don’t know exactly what happened next, but I noticed pretty suddenly that all of my lifting numbers had plateaued. Additionally, I noticed that my body was sore all the time. So, I wasn’t making any significant progress, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled to put my body through the rigors of training. Sure, I could have added more: more stretching, more massages, more macro counting, more intensity, more supplements. If you’re not aware, I am not a professional athlete (although I own a gym now, so maybe I am in a roundabout way). I have a very set amount of time that I can dedicate to fitness and health. I can’t just add 4-5 hours of stretching to every week without taking it from somewhere else. That was not the answer.
Physically and mentally, I was toast. I had to accept it: it turns out 100% intensity and maximum effort every day at the gym had left me in a state of disrepair. Don’t get me wrong, I was very fit. I looked great, even. At the same time, basic tasks like getting out of bed had become little daily adventures – “I wonder what is going to hurt today?” Weekly or bi-weekly trips to the chiropractor had become the norm. Sound familiar? If it does, you’re probably sick of it, too. I knew I needed something different.
Why do we workout? Is it to go to Regionals? They don’t exist anymore, so probably not. To go the CrossFit games? There are only a select few for whom this is a consideration. I’d argue that the majority of people that go to the gym (and will come to CrossFit Webster) do so to stay healthy, to look good naked, and (in the case of CrossFit athletes specifically) to be better than they were yesterday.
I want to lift more than I did yesterday. I want to be faster, better, and stronger. I want to be fit today. I also want to be fit when I’m 85.
What if we shifted the way we look at training? Changing the focus of training everyday to quality of movement. Building cardiovascular endurance. Learning how to pace ourselves (a valuable skill!). Adding the typical CrossFit Intensity, and taking time to properly recover. All of this, and a lot more, are critically important to being a well rounded athlete. We need to be able to handle anything that is thrown at us. I am certainly not the first to come to this conclusion, and this is not reinventing the wheel. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong, either. Consider the following:
45 minutes at a steady, recovery pace
10 Alternating Dumbbell Snatches
30 second hanging L-Sit hold
If this was the workout for the day, and we weren’t writing scores on the whiteboard, how would you know if you “did good?” I’d look at this and challenge myself to make sure every Dumbbell Snatch was textbook (and this is important: I’d select the weight I used accordingly). To make every row, and every run have the same split time (which means maybe I’d start at a 2:15 pace on the row instead of 2:00) To grit through and actually finish those damn L-Sit holds. To connect with my breathing. I did this WOD last summer. It was great!
Quality of Movement – What does it mean? It means that we’ll be spending a lot of time developing proper movement patterns, and moving light-to-moderate weights at a prescribed tempo. This is entirely intentional. Every time we touch a barbell, we should be striving to move with perfect technique. This will lead to less nagging injuries, and make us all more efficient. The idea here is attention to detail – we will lift the lighter weights with the same attention to detail that we would a heavy lift. Over time, the once heavy and slow lifts start to feel a little faster and easier because you’ve built efficiency in your movement. Additionally, the tempo will force us to slow down, and connect with our bodies to help develop the proper mechanics and position (in the bottom of a squat, for example). Tempo training leads to increased body awareness, and improves control of your lifts. Even though we’re moving a “lighter” weight, a slow and controlled lift will put more strain on your muscles (they’re working for longer) which will ultimately lead to many Gainz.
The reality is, We can have a program that maintains intensity, and also gives your body (and mind) a break when needed. This can and should mean taking regular rest days. It also means having days where the scheduled workout allows you to move at a moderate pace and not burn yourself out. What good does maximum intensity everyday do for you if you have to skip workouts because you’re injured? As much as we may want it, the path to lasting fitness is not 100% intensity. There is a place for that. A place to push yourself and test the limits of what your body is capable of. Those days are often my favorite part of CrossFit. They’re here to stay and will be programmed often.
What we want to avoid is 2-3 days a week of overhead/shoulder killing workouts. Or blasting huge lifts so much Monday through Wednesday that we have to skip Thursday’s WOD (and maybe feeling like Friday’s WOD ends up being a chore because you’re still “dead”). Avoid those nagging injuries that we all know. Give yourself the freedom to allow your body to recover, and as a result, a chance at the sustainable fitness that we’re all chasing. If that means not putting an “Rx” next to your name for the day, who cares? I’ll give you a hint: nobody else does.
I want my training to build my body, not break down my muscles and beat down my spirit. I want to wake up, feel invigorated, and look forward to today’s challenge.
And Olympic Lifting. Lots of Olympic Lifting. 😉