What is CrossFit? The test answer is “constantly varied functional movements performed at a high intensity.” This definition is slightly misleading in that it gives the impression that the workouts are completely random with no reason behind them, in order to prepare participants for the “unknown.”
While that may be the case in some boxes, it shouldn’t be, and is unfortunately the reason why many fitness enthusiasts jump on the bashing bandwagon against CrossFit. Put simply, CrossFit is a strength-and-conditioning program, and the desired outcome of an effective strength-and-conditioning program is progress! To truly provide that end result, the program must have a structure. At RFS we have very specific reasons why our programming is what it is each week–not just in the WODs, but in all of the work we complete in the hour.
Almost every day of classes at RFS begins with a specific strength, such as a squat cycle. Beyond the sweet music of your groans, Coach Matt has specific reasons for his programming: there’s a method his “madness.” Let’s use the current squat cycle as an example. The squat cycle of the past two or three weeks has focused on amplifying the intensity (the amount of weight/percentage) for a low-volume rep scheme. Although you’re squatting more frequently at two times per week, the total number of reps performed doesn’t touch the amount of volume your legs are conditioned to from the previous 12-week cycle that focused on strength endurance. To take that newly created base and introduce high-intensity sets twice a week creates a solid strength increase in your squats.
Coach Matt then adds work that complements the squats, such as presses and pulls. While it is a brief period of the hour, we get in quality work that includes not only heavy percentages but also skill development of barbell movements or gymnastics. Again, a successful strength program ensures our members constantly progress and see quantifiable gains through consistent repetition and specific percentages. Coach Matt believes that this first portion of the class (the STRENGTH/SKILL period) is the most important aspect of the day for both the athlete and the coach because this is where the majority of teaching and learning takes place. Often, coaches get lost in the quest to create perfect WODs, when in reality, it is this strength-and-skill period that guarantees progress and sets members up for success during that days WOD as well as those in the future.
The next portion of the hour class is the WOD. Coach Matt’s goal here is to provide a way to apply the skill development while delivering an excellent conditioning piece that increases overall fitness. Utilizing different time domains (AMRAP, EMOM, etc) and movements assures the “constantly varied” aspect of functional fitness–but with a specific end goal! The WOD is the payoff of your practice— the GAME, if you will. Do you feel your performance isn’t improving during the WODs? Honestly assess how much you’re applying yourself during the strength and skill portion of the class. The WOD becomes significantly more satisfying due to the skills we improve and master from the strength segment. Neglecting skill development of the gymnastics and barbell movements will negatively impact our overall progress in a WOD.
Unfortunately, one hour is not enough time to also include a MOBILITY segment, which should follow a workout. We could all benefit from 10-15 minutes of mobility work 2-3x/week, especially those who struggle with overhead positions or experience pain while squatting, running, etc. That struggle likely indicates a need to improve the mobility in your joints. We have posters located near the women’s locker room that illustrate a myriad of effective solutions to problems such as:
- POOR RANGE OF MOTION IN THE SHOULDERS
- POOR THORACIC MOBILITY
- TIGHT HIPS, SORE KNEES
- POOR ANKLE MOBILITY
For our body to function properly, all of these systems in the body must be mobile. However, these posters can seem overwhelming and vague so PLEASE feel free to ask us what we recommend for you!!
As we focus on another year of programming, our mission is to provide the tools and training our athletes need to progressively improve in their strength, their skills, and their overall fitness! We celebrate with our athletes when we hear the stories of their progress! (You guys think YOU’RE excited when you hit PRs?? It’s the best part of our job!) That progress comes from a partnership: specific programming from experienced and educated coaches and the hard work and dedicated commitment of our athletes. We are honored you choose to CrossFit as part of RFS family! We look forward to the gains of 2015!