“The Magic is in the movement, the art is in the programming, the science is in the explanation and the fun is in the community.”

Gregg Glassman.

I love this explanation of CrossFit, I think it best describes training at CrossFit box. There is nothing more magical than seeing a mother of three do a perfectly timed and executed squat clean after months and months of practice. Writing up workouts that take your breath away, but allow you to stay in a state of discomfort for 5 to 20 minutes only to finish and say “That was awesome we should do it again” that’s an art. Fitness, we have defined it and the science is in the explanation of it. The FUN……………… yep the fun is in the community. There is no better way to start the day, than with a class of like minded people ready to tackle the day. There is no better way to wind down after work than by dropping barbells and laughing your head for an hour.

I’m going to break down the Art of CrossFit and how I program for it. How I program for over all fitness, How I write up a WOD, How many Rest Days we should have a week, how many days we should go heavy, how many days we should go long, should we squat every day and should we do accessory work.

Crossfit programs three days on and then one day off, so every four days is a Rest Day. This is what has been found to bring the best results for your every day fitness level. Now this Work/ Rest ratio of three on one off fits terribly into the 5 day working week, so I program five days on two days off. Our training week starts on a Monday and finishes on Friday, with Saturday as a light hearten partner workout, that is more about the fun than the fitness. Then Sunday is a full day of Rest.

To achieve well rounded fitness the program must be varied in length. We use workouts that are short, hard and fast (2-5mins) all the way through to workouts that test your stamina and endurance (20-40mins). So I track the programming on how long the workout is, making sure we have a good balance.

CrossFit uses a broad amount of movements some have great effect and should be trained on a regular basis and some we can come back to on a monthly basis. I track what movements we have done in each workout insuring that we don’t miss anything out or touch on one movement to often. I break the movements up into Weightlifting, Gymnastics and Metabolic Conditioning, which also helps me track if I am favoring one element to much.

Last I like to track what format the workouts have been, Chipper, Rounds for time, As Many Rounds as Possible, Ladders, EMOM’s or 21-15-9’s. This way we get a good variety of workouts and they don’t get boring.

Something I do not track in stats but try to keep a balance over the week is the body parts we are using. So if on Monday the workout is really hard on the legs, say it has heavy squat cleans with 50 or more reps and you would definitely see some type of reduced performance in the legs the following day, the Tuesdays workout will be more upper body than legs. Now this is just a guide and is not a set rule, life may throw at you two days in a row when you have to use your legs. In real life you don’t have the chance to say “sorry boss not doing that today I used my legs yesterday” or a Police officer can’t say “sorry Bad Guy I ran yesterday so i’m not running after you today” or a Mum can’t say “sorry kids I’m not picking anything up off the floor today because I done deadlifts yesterday.” We train for every day life and sometimes in everyday life you will be required to use the same body parts one day after the other, so now and again I will program to reflect that.

I like to track our stats over a 12 week cycle, so I keep the stats and wods for 12 weeks and then we have a testing week or two where I repeat old benchmark workouts. I program weekly for the week ahead. I start with the strength days 1 to 2 a week and then add in a triplet that covers all three elements of Gymnastics, Weightlifting and Conditioning. I then finish off the last two days with some couplets.

Our 1 hour class starts with a warm up 10-15 minutes with the intent of taking the body through full ranges of movement and gradually increasing the heart rate. Then we continue to warm up by practicing a single element of Skill, which will take 10-20 minutes. This could be a gymnastic movement like handstands or a weighting movement like Split Jerks. The skill work will be more times than not a movement that will be used in the Workout. Next is the main event, the Workout of the Day (WOD), which will vary in length from 5 to 30 minutes.

Different programmers, program differently. A lot of Box’s will have a Strength piece every day which is separate to the WOD. I do not think this is needed for the every day person entering a Box. Yes if you want to go to the games or make it to a Sanctional you will need to do extra work, particularly extra strength work. For the every day person one workout a day is plenty to Increase Work Capacity Across Broad Times and Model Domains. If you are warming up properly this will take 10 to 20 mins for a single lift and if you are lifting at a high intensity you require 3-5 mins rest between sets. This does not leave a lot of time in a 60 minute class to do a Strength piece and a WOD something must suffer attention and time, increasing the risk of injury.

I hope this sheds some light on CrossFit programming.

Check out video of, the Open and Games programmer Dave Castro’s, level 1 lesson on programming.