A few people have been expressing some curiosity in the methods of our training plan at CFV. A training program is difficult to develop and even more difficult to understand if you’re not on the inside. Programming for a group can be a great challenge as there aremany different needs and biases. Somebody I respect once told me that a good coach gives people a little of what they want and a lot of what they need. And a great coach can get those people to work as hard at the things they don’t enjoy as the ones they do. I feel I still have work to do on being great but am definitely making my way down the path of good. To follow will be a multi-part series that will hopefully offer some insight into what goes into our program. Hopefully it will help you to understand the reasons for different strategies and training focuses. Thank you all of taking an interest in what we do here.
An insight into our training strategies Pt. 1 Strength is the Glass v2.0: A New Definition of Work Capacity
‘Strength is the Glass’ is a term that I’ve heard thrown around the fitness industry for a couple years now. Beautiful in its simplicity, it refers to the capability of one, based off their strength. Simply put, if you’re not able to perform a particular exercise or movement because you’re just not strong enough, then you possess a smaller glass. The stronger you get, the larger your glass grows and the more, for lack of a better term, ‘stuff’ you can fill it with. As you progress in your development of strength, so does your ability to perform more complex and challenging exercises. In addition to the ability to perform more complex and challenging exercises, you can then expand the application of these exercises. For instance, if your best deadlift is 100lbs, the use of high rep power cleans for a conditioning affect is probably not a very viable option. Strength is the glass.
Looking at the CrossFit Pyramid of Performance, (excluding nutrition) it is anchored by Metabolic Conditioning. Metabolic Conditioning is just a fancy term for your ability to perform a task. It is your strength combined with the amount of times you can demonstrate that strength. Metabolic Conditioning is broad spectrum, ranging from getting off the couch and walking to the kitchen to carrying a 100lb sandbag over a 10k ruck with 300m in elevation changes. If we imagine Grandma sitting in her chair. She wants to get up, but must work very hard to accomplish this. If that same Grandma is now able to perform 25 squats with just her body weight, standing up from her chair doesn’t seem so challenging. Applying this to CrossFit, we have a workout that is 21-15-9 reps of Deadlifts at 315lbs and 30” box jumps. If your best deadlift is 315lbs then you’re not even going to be able to get through the first round. If we add more strength, this workout becomes easier. You require certain amount of strength to do anything. So when we say Strength is the Glass, we mean that with a greater level of strength, the possibility to complete more tasks is available.
Everything we do in CrossFit rests on the foundation of Metabolic Conditioning.
Now, if strength is the glass, then aerobic fitness is the structural integrity of the glass. A strong person is capable of many amazing feats, but his or her fitness determines how well they can combine those feats into how many combinations and how often they can perform before their glass falls apart. I can’t fill a 10L paper cup all the way to the top no matter what medium I use. Therefore, I can possess exceptional strength but without aerobic fitness my capacity to apply that strength would be limited.
Now the question is, ‘HOW is aerobic fitness the structural integrity of the glass?’ Without getting too far into the science of the human performance, let’s re-term Metabolic Conditioning as simply Work Capacity. Going into a CrossFit workout you need a high level of work capacity. A 400lbs deadlift is fantastic, but what is even better is being able to perform that feat for multiple or consecutive reps. Even pure athletes competing in pure strength sports like power lifting or throwing will perform 45-60 minutes of light aerobic work up to twice per week, throwing medballs, dragging sleds, or swinging kettlebells and chains just to increase their work capacity… this is where aerobic fitness enters the equation. Imagine that if a powerlifter needs 45-60 minutes to aerobic work 1-2 times per week just for 9 lifts then what does a CrossFitter need?
The aerobic engine is the predominant system in almost all energy production. After your work output extends beyond approximately 30s, the aerobic system takes over. Aerobic energy production is also responsible for regenerating ATP during Repeated Sprint Activities(RSA) and plays a major role in the function of your autonomic nervous system (the part of your central nervous system responsible for subconscious activity like heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, organ function, hormone production, salivation, perspiration, pupillary dilation, sexual arousal, breathing and swallowing). All of which will in turn, help to play a major role in the production and gain of your strength.
Aerobic fitness allows you to use strength to create Work Capacity. You combine muscle-ups, power cleans, dead-lifts, running, jumping, throwing, and a host of other unrelated exercises concurrently to form the greatest workout that ever was – CrossFit. When training for life, strength is important but aerobic fitness is equally important. You can’t have a big glass without both.
An insight into our training strategies Pt. 2 – Strong is Strong: Defining Strength
Snatch warm-up + squat mobility
Emom x10: Power clean + 6 reverse lunges
10 min cap