January 2024 Programming Blog

January 11, 2024

The Base Can Never Be Too Big

 

The size of the pyramid is dependant on the size of its base, and fitness and health is no different, so that's exactly the focus at this stage of the year. The base of well rounded fitness for health relies on some simple areas: strength, aerobic endurance, and skill. Whilst these are areas that are never not playing a role in our programming, the amount that they're prioritised phase in and out. You might be thinking, haven't I just summed up the entire fitness spectrum? Not quite. There are more details within this, but to keep things simple here's what I mean by each of them.

 

Strength development is focusing on your ability to produce force, that's it. Not the speed of the force or the time it takes to get to the speed. This doesn't mean we're only doing slow lifts, we'll still be using some dynamic elements (think snatches, box jumps and kipping pull-ups) as they can play a vital role in boosting strength, but they won't play a major role. Getting stronger is the first step, layering in speed of movement is prioritised next. Strict pull-ups into kipping is a great example, the former helps the latter in many ways. A stronger deadlift will carry over into our olympic lifts (snatches and cleans). Now, whilst this all seems very performance based, it isn't really, it's just the simplest way of looking at it. Being well-rounded (able to do lots and lots of things to a moderate degree) is what we're aiming for, hence this approach of one thing feeding into the next.

 

Aerobic endurance is just anytime you're out of breath, which is often in CrossFit, right? Wrong. Aerobic endurance is the ability to utilise oxygen as a fuel source, which when improved also greatly improves the rate of recovery between bouts of effort and between days of exercising. Honing in on this though doesn't mean classes are turning into 60-minute low effort runs (although I do recommend getting out on your feet or on a bike to enjoy this if you can)- but it will be accomplished by performing workouts that 1) are limited by your breathing (not because you're failing pull-ups or can't maintain unbroken power cleans) and by 2) you maintain sustained efforts or negative splits (you don't slow down, and thereby diminish power output during the workout). Yes, generally these workouts are a bit longer by nature, whilst shorter workouts (5-15 minutes) can have a secondary positive impact on your aerobic endurance, not so much as those slightly longer ones where the primary impact is exactly that. So get those whiteboards ready, you're all going to learn about pacing!

 

 

Skill, in the sense that we're considering it is your technique. Which can also be known as movement efficiency. This is where we're trying to use as little energy as possible to perform the task to allow for more reps, more load and maximise the dispersion of stress (or the isolation of stress, depending on the task). Another way of looking at it is that higher skill allows you to get more juice from your lemon, whereas being stronger and having better aerobic endurance is like growing the size of your lemon. Having a huge lemon is great, but if you can't get any juice from the squeeze, the size is irrelevant. Developing this means slowing some areas down a bit, allowing time for true focus and intention (this is where most people miss out, by performing mindless tasks). Skill development is a neurological adaptation (your brain is figuring out the puzzle)- so going into autopilot is not at option if we want to improve. Don't worry, this doesn't mean an hour of handstand practice, there will be plenty of creative ways used to get you thinking, but skill is on the cards a lot this January.

 

Let's get some objectives measurements on the table so we can see what I'm really talking about. Here's what's coming up in this month's testing workouts:

 

CrossFit

Classic Workouts

Mikko's Triangle

EMOM 40

1. Calorie row

2. Calorie ski

3. Calorie echo bike

4. Rest

(Rx = 20/17 cals per machine, Scaled = 15/12 cals per machine)

 

Strength

CrossFit Total

Back Squat 1-rep max

Strict Press 1-rep max

Deadlift 1-rep max

 

Skill

AMRAP 12

2, 4, 6 etc...

Inverted burpees

Triple unders

 

Hero/Games Workout

Danny

AMRAP 20

30 box jump step downs to 24/20"

20 push presses at 50/35kg

30 pull-ups

 

Gymnastics

30 Bar Muscle-Ups for time

 

Build

Deadlift 1-rep max

Bench Press 1-rep max

Strict Pull-Up 1-rep max

 

Olympic Weightlifting

Power Snatch 1-rep max

Snatch Balance 1-rep max

Front Squat 8-rep max

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