This week is the last week of the 2022 Open. I couldn’t be happier with the way this year’s Open has played out. This was hard to imagine during the lockdown and quarantine. We’ve certainly built a supportive, tight knit community. It feels like the dream I had when I opened the gym is starting to materialize. The future is bright, and I’m grateful for that.
I’ve already mentioned it, and it bears repeating – I am very proud of all of you. For many of you it’s your first Open and hopefully you’ve learned something about yourself as you tested your limits during these workouts. Some of us that have been around the block still got the opportunity to learn something new about ourselves. For example, I learned that I can still hit the gas and bang out 8 deadlifts and 8 burpees in way less than a minute. It gave me some much-needed perspective (I don’t remember the last time I worked that hard during a class WOD). It also gave me hope (there is still some potential to tap in to). More than anything, it made me hungry (I hope it made you hungry, too). Hungry to be a better coach, to grow the gym, and to dial in my own training and push the limits of what I am capable of. The fire has been ignited. Hopefully big things coming on all three!
So, what happens on Monday? The Open is over, the Friday Night Lights have been shut off, and it’s back to business as usual? Squat this, lift this, break a sweat, and move on with your day? I hope you didn’t think I’d just let you coast into the summer. That’s not going to happen. The Spring Cycle starts next week, and it’s fire. I can’t wait to start training again.
In many ways, it’s back to the foundation of our programming and everything that makes it awesome. It’s also a dramatic shift from these past 6 months. We’ve had a flood of new members recently. Many of whom had never done CrossFit. My goal for the previous cycles was to get everyone up to speed on the feel and pacing of a CrossFit class, and then prepare everyone for the Open. I wanted to be able to teach some of the basics without overwhelming and intimidating all the ‘newbies.’ This doesn’t mean it was easy, you all know that. It means that we left out some of the more complicated movements – the Squat Snatch, for example. Well, not anymore.
Let’s dive in to the nitty gritty, shall we?
Squat – I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that Monday is back squat day. In my opinion, Functional Fitness starts with the Squat. It is good for everyone, and we’ll be making everyone’s squat better. For some of us, that means working on developing strength and proficiency through the full range of motion. For others, it is adding strength to reach that elusive Personal Best. I am going to encourage everyone to work through the full range of motion for this cycle, and that might mean starting off with lower weights than you’re accustomed to. Let’s set ego aside and focus on long term health and development. It will pay for itself a thousand times over.
For the cycle, we’re starting with six sets of six reps, and building to an attempt at a 1 Rep max. It’s coming. Many of us (myself included) just hit a new PR on a 3 Rep Max at the end of February. Now, we’re going to be working toward setting a one rep max to use as our base number for the Summer Cycle. Believe me when I say this is all connected and planned out. We’re all going to be very strong by the end of the summer.
Push/Pull – We’ve got a couple weeks of the classic CFW “Push/Pull” in two combinations:
- Push Press/Strict Pull-ups
- Deadlift/Handstand Push-ups
The Press and Pull-up Day will help develop the upper body strength for just about everything we do. It is very important and will benefit all of us. I’ve never met anyone who is “too strong” or “too good at pull-ups.” The Push Press is the most efficient of the Overhead lifts to develop explosive strength. It will carry over to the Jerks in a way that a strict shoulder press does not.
The deadlift is perhaps the most functional of all of the movements we do (certainly the most functional of the ‘pull’ movements), and everyone could benefit from gaining some additional strength. A stronger deadlift will build core strength, build your booty, and help with the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. Have you ever heard anyone tell you their Deadlift is too strong? Neither have I.
Working on Handstand Push-ups in between sets of deadlifts will not tax your deadlift to any great extent, and again, getting stronger shoulders never hurt anyone. The Deadlift/HSPU combo will be alternating weeks with some of the Olympic lifting.
Olympic Lifting – We’ll be focused on the Snatch or the Clean and Jerk once per week. We’ll alternate between the two, and they’ll fall on different days of the week. The purpose will be to develop technique and strength (In that order) in the Snatch, and the Clean and Jerk. I love the Olympic Lifts. I like working on them, and I’m looking forward to pushing myself to get stronger and more technically proficient. My goal for the rest of 2022 is a 300 lb Clean and Jerk, and at least one Snatch PR. To do this, I’ll have to work through the full range of motion (You should be able to Squat Clean more than you can Power Clean, for example). That may very well not be your goal, and that’s ok. If you’ve got a preexisting injury or are new to the lifts, your goal may simply be to learn, get more technically proficient, or get better at barbell cycling. This is to say that I don’t expect everyone to be able to get to full depth on these lifts. You may not even want to reach full depth. Which brings me to my next point…
Goal Setting for WODs
I’ve done some thinking and soul searching and I’ve come to a somewhat obvious conclusion. My goals at the gym are most likely different from yours. Some of us want to get better at the ‘sport’ of CrossFit. Some of us just want to come in and train hard. Others might be coming to lose weight. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I’m happy that we have found a place where everyone can come and work toward their goals together. Across the board, I believe in our Programming and its ability to help you reach that goal you’ve set. How we go about it is going to change a little bit.
Traditionally, CrossFit has taught us that the ‘workout of the day’ can be scaled to meet you where you’re at in your ‘fitness journey.’ That is true at face value. I take issue with the term ‘scaled.’ To me, referring to a workout as ‘scaled’ means your goal in working out is ultimately to be able to finish the workout as prescribed, and who are we to say that is true? If it is your goal, what happens once you progress to the point where you’re doing every workout Rx? Believe it or not, there are a few of you who come to the gym to get in to better shape, and aren’t interested in learning how to do a Bar Muscle Up or Handstand Walk.
Throughout the cycle, we’re going to be trying something with the daily workout. When there is an opportunity, we’ll be providing you with 2 or 3 options for completing the WOD. We are not the first gym to do this by any means (CrossFit New England and Invictus are two well-known gyms that program this way). I feel as though I’ve developed the knowledge and ability to be able to provide this to our members. Here is an example that I took from CrossFit New England’s owner, Ben Bergeron. He illustrated the way they do this using the Benchmark workout, “Amanda.” For those of you not yet familiar, here is the workout:
Muscle Ups. Squat Snatches. If your goal is to get better at the sport of CrossFit it is an excellent test. Two highly skilled movements done as fast as possible. If you’ve got the two movements down, you’re welcome to attempt the workout ‘as prescribed.’ If you do not, I don’t think it makes sense to work on the skills in the middle of a workout. We could have you doing ring support turnovers and ring dips. That is not the intended stimulus. Instead, we’ll be providing you with two options. Let’s call them ‘Train’, and ‘Sweat’
- Train: 9-7-5 Burpee Pull-Ups and Power Snatches (135/95). Maybe you can do kipping pull-ups and Power Snatches. Maybe you don’t see any need to barbell cycle your Squat Snatches (or maybe you can’t). This option keeps the stimulus the same and is more accessible to most of the members. You’ll work hard, and finish around the same time as the athletes doing Amanda.
- Sweat: 10 Min AMRAP – 10 Pull-Ups/Ring Rows, 10 Snatches. Let’s face it. A workout of 9-7-5 Ring Rows and Snatches (at any weight) would not meet the intended stimulus of this workout. Even if we doubled up the ring rows, the athlete would finish in a couple minutes, tops. This would most likely leave you frustrated or feeling that you did not get a workout in for the day. Instead, we’re setting a time limit and making you work hard for 10 minutes. It won’t be easy.
Programming workouts this way should alleviate the ‘pressure’ to do a workout Rx, or hopefully eliminate the feeling of disappointment because we had to tailor the workout to your needs. While it won’t happen every day, we’ll have several workouts over the course of the cycle with an option for “As Prescribed,” “Train,” or “Sweat.” There will be days when the “Train” version of the WOD will be prescribed, and an “Rx+” option is provided. On these days the options will be provided in the WOD description on SugarWOD. Less thinking and more appropriate stimulus should lead to more noticeable progress for everyone. As with everything, you’ll get out what you put in. If it works, it is an idea that will carry over to the following cycles in perpetuity.
(As a programmer’s note, you are not off the hook for not trying to get as low as possible on your squats and meeting the required movement standards. Your goals may not include the Squat Snatch, but everybody should be doing work to achieve full range of motion on squats)
Accessory Work – We’ll have accessory work scheduled for 4 days/week (M,T,W,F) that will support the day’s programming and help to ‘bulletproof’ your body. There will be two to three movements programmed per day – Some to build strength and balance, some to help with mobility, all to make progress.
Here’s to Spring 2022 – “In like a Lion, out like a Stronger Lion”