Countdown To The 5am:#1 The workouts must appear to be 2 of 3 things: logical, effective, entertaining

Tomorrow is the 15th and our doors will be open in the morning for our FREE 5am and 6am classes! We will be positing the workout this evening at 7pm, the time all workouts will be posting each night, so take a peak if you are the type that worries about what is on the agenda. Please just remember that no matter how crazy  it seems to you (and we are months away from anything actually seeming crazy at all), CrossFit is infinitely scalable meaning no matter what your situation is, I will find a way for you to complete the workout at your speed with movements you are capable of and a rep scheme that will not actually kill you! 

If you have not filled out a profile or signed the waiver, please go ahead and do that on our Front Desk HQ account, here. Once you have created your profile you ought to be able to sign up for classes. Although I am not terribly concerned about the first few weeks, I would like y’all to begin to get in the habit of signing up online. This is how we will be able to control class size. Everyone wants to complain about unruly large classes, but nobody wants to do the little bit of work necessary to keep classes manageable and effective. 

So on our last day before we jump off on this journey, I would like to discuss the workouts that we will have y’all taking part in. So today, here is #1 The Workouts must appear to be 2 of 3 things: Logical, Effective, Entertaining.

CrossFit is defined as constantly varied functional movement executed at high intensity. Although there is no real technical or confusing language in that definition, it is amazing how some will interpret things. What is a functional movement? Constantly varied means random, right? And high intensity? That means you just go as super fast as you can for as long as you can and then you do it some more! NO PAIN NO GAIN! 

Here’s the deal. We will discuss our interpretation of this definition daily. And we will also discuss the possible downsides, examples of poor programs and workouts, and the results that sort of thing will get you (injuries, burnout, or simply just no progress). We will also go into detail on why some of the dissenters are off base in their claims against this definition (usually to do with the “random” nature of CrossFit).

But from the gyms side, how will we decide on our workouts? CrossFit HQ (headquarters for those of you who are not cool enough to shorten words) empowers all of their affiliates to run their businesses however the owners of those individuals see fit. This is great as we all have fallen in love with CrossFit for different reasons. Some love how a workout with lots of running benefits from adding a little bit of weight here and there, so you see lots of 800m runs with russian kettle bell swings, or maybe 400m runs with some thrusters between each. Others of us despise and loathe the thought of running, so you rarely see us post runs longer than 400 and if we go that far we likely program a rest period shortly after (hashtag smiley face). Some places only post heavy heavy workouts while others seem to rarely use a barbell. And guess what? Based on these vague facts, everyone is right! In theory, everyone is moving more than they would be otherwise, they are challenging themselves with a small variety of training and they are likely getting better.

Here’s where I have an issue. I do not like the idea of there being more than one way to boil an egg. Yes, I understand there is. But if we are all going to run out and boil our eggs with different methods, then we are the only ones who are able to improve upon our method. I am not able to call my buddy and say that i left mine in for 15 minutes, but the shell was a bit sticky because he’s going to pause and say he can’t help because his method has him trying to boil his egg in the freezer (interestingly enough, this is not unlike how some gyms program their workouts hashtag thatsajoke hashtag sortof).

So over the years I have taken pride in figuring out some sort of methodology for programming workouts It is not overly complicated but there is a lot to consider. 

1) Effective workouts are not the only way- stay with me here. But you know whats effective for athletes just getting off the couch or maybe getting back into it after a few years of laziness? A linear progression for 5-7 months. You know what gets incredibly boring for someone who just wants to get their workout in before or after workout and who really just wants to be social and if they accidentally get into better shape along the way then they wouldn’t be mad? Linear progression. 

It is not enough to simply be the most effective. If you are training someone who is committed to improving their performance, then effective absolutely takes priority. You will not be the best sport specific athlete without most of your training being extremely effective. However, most clients are happy exercisers, not committed players in various sports. 

So that brings us to number 2) Workouts are kind of about entertainment- Now don’t get crazy here. Just because a workout doesn’t make you want to hoot and holler and have a great ol’ time doesn’t mean you aren’t going to do it. And yes, I’m sure any strength and conditioning specialist is  rolling his or her eyes right now because worrying about their football or soccer or volleyball players having fun in the weight room is the last thing on their minds. 

But you are selling an experience to those who walk in your gym. AND because most clients are coming from a fairly sedentary lifestyle, having fun may still be very effective. Plus, as Mary Poppins says, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Clients shouldn’t necessarily be able to smile or laugh during the workouts, but incorporating fun movements from time to time, or having them compete a little bit or setting benchmarks/goals that are attainable, or letting them help write the workouts all will go a long way to assigning happy thought to their time in the gym. And guess what, if you show that you are their to make sure they are having a fun from time to time, when the day comes where they need to do 100 empty bar thrusters for their stamina, or the 1 mile run gets programmed at 5am, or the tough stuff like pull ups and pistols come up, they will still walk in and they will do it. 

But its not all about fun by any means. Im like a grumpy old man, all fun and no work gets you nowhere. You know what only fun gets you? Nothing. The path to progress is not the same path you see in candy land. You aren’t walking through the Candy Cane Forrest or climbing Gum Drop Mountain. 

So, finally, 3) Logic plays a role. Duh, right? Clearly you have not stepped inside some of our local gyms. The physical therapist who got herself a wicked case of rhabdo and then went on Good Morning America with the fat guy physical therapist who spoke out against CrossFit while mouth breathing on national television? Yeah, the workout she took part in that put her in the hospital made absolutely no sense. The workout should have been called “Tris on Tris on Tris” (for the triceps). Actually, in the spirit of rhabdo, it should have been called “Tris Ripped Off of Tris Ripped Off of Tris” (because rhabdo is the breakdown of muscle fibers which releases toxins into your blood which is not awesome). 

I think 1,000 reps of a light weight is a great idea! Jk, thats so illogical it’s silly! Then why are some gyms going that route? There must be an element of logic when it comes to programming workouts. Life is not complicated. Very few elements of life are completed, including what it takes to create a great workout program. Keep it simple stupid is a mantra to live by. The day that I am not able to crush souls by writing up a workout with moderate levels of squats, some moderate pulls (probably pull-ups) and a sprint is the day ill add 16 movements with increasing weights and augmented run patterns along with Bulgarian periodization. 

If I look at a white board and do that thing your dog does where you say “treat” and they tilt their head a little to the left, then logic has left the building. If it seems like it does not make sense, then it probably doesn’t and that may be a problem. If you did a whole mess of thrusters yesterday, and you did wall balls the day before that, then why do you have front squats and push press today? 

So I have become too long winded and I apologize. So here is the summary: workouts must be 2 of the 3 things discussed here. A workout can be effective and logical but not entertaining. This is the most common for the serious strength and conditioning coaches. Front squats, strict pull ups and a run for a few rounds. Nothing real sexy, just good old work. Heavy carries are another one. Its disgusting grunt work, but damn does it make you better! 

A workout may also be effective and entertaining but not logical. This is a bit more difficult to define as you know it when you take part in it, but a workout where it doesn’t really make sense or maybe there’s a lot going on or maybe the movements don’t really compliment each other would fall into this category. A year ago we did a Thanksgiving workout that would have been considered effective and entertaining but I am not sure I hit on anything logical. The medicine ball was your turkey and you had to get it from the store and then baste it and then put it in the oven and so and so forth. It caused plenty of panic breathing and people definitely were ground down a bit so it was effective and they were able to have a good time because the theme was so silly so all in all it worked well.

And finally, it could be logical and entertaining, but not necessarily effective. Saturday team workouts (this will not be our thing) come to mind. The movements make sense and because you are doing it with someone you are able to have a good time, but you may not have to work terribly hard. You are still going to leave happy and even sweaty, but other than having a great active recovery day, you didn’t really take a step forward in your training. Does that make sense?

Ok, I am done talking. I really apologize for this getting so out of hand. It is time to go finish up what we can at the gym. I hope to see y’all in the morning or at some point this week (or next or the next after that! They’re all FREE!). And remember, we also have the Saturday 9am workouts for FREE now! 

-Ben