I sometimes just sit around in my spare time (what spare time) and think about training, programming, the world of fitness, etc…I know what you’re thinking, this dude is boring, but yes that’s what I like to think about. Recently, I was talking to a seasoned crossFitter, affiliate owner and Trainer for HQ. He and I were discussing how things have changed in the world of crossFit.
Also, during a recent lecture I gave, which he attended, he made several comments and eluded to how different programming, training and the environment of crossFit in general has changed. What changes you might ask? We were mostly discussing programming and how the “sport of fitness” has influenced how the “average” athlete trains. In the past, and even presently, CrossFit would post the WOD and that would be all you would do. The average length of training session was from 30 min to a max of 1 hour. If the WOD called for a 5×1 deadlift set at 90%, that is what you did and then you went home. CrossFit was enticing because you could get in and out in less than 1 hour, get a sweat on, see objective results and feel the improvement in fitness. Not anymore! Today we have programming gurus all over the internet programming training sessions that last 2 hours with crazy amounts of volume and we actually have fitness/recreational athletes doing them. What the %&*$#! Why? I have my own opinions as to why athletes do it and here they are.
1. They are following the pack
2. They think that more volume and complexity produces better results
3. They lack clarity in their desired goals/outcomes
4. They are looking for the 50 mile expert
5. They are being lead by a fellow athlete or coach
6. They are frustrated with their present results
7. They have been influenced by the “sport of fitness” and have lost site of what “fitness is”
8. They are a competitive/elite CF athlete
There are obviously other reasons why the “average” athlete trains like a pro, but these are just a few that I have observed. Don’t get me wrong, the sport of CF has advanced and influenced fitness training more than many of the other training models. But, let’s face it, we have tons of athletes out there that are doing 2 hour workouts, two a days and complex iterations of programming models and they are fitness/recreational/competitive athletes and are competing in local competitions and some even in scaled divisions. CF started out as a training model to develop GPP, but it has evolved into the Sport of Fitness. What we have lost is perspective! Perspective in understanding and applying basic foundational training theory and its appropriate application to varying athletic development levels. For example, if an athletic is a novice to beginner in strength programming (most are), they shouldn’t doing a complex strength training program with high volume. They need basic foundational strength training with consistent load/de-load cycles within a periodized training program. A “starting strength” program(Mark Rippetoe) would be a good start!
Local members and athletes in boxes are following what they see on the internet or what games athletes are doing in their training. In most cases, the training that a games athlete performs is not appropriate for a fitness/recreational and even locally competitive crossFitter. I had a CF athlete the other day ask me if I thought he should do 2-a-days to improve his fitness. I almost laughed! Sorry, but come on. First of all, this athlete has been crossFitting for 6 months and has very little fitness background. Also, he has average genetic potential. If we apply a basic strength program, mix in some conditioning, skill and mobility work, he should be able to get everything he needs and maximize his fitness potential for months(maybe years) with 4-5 one hour training sessions/week.
Every athlete needs perspective and able to assess where they are at on the growth/development cycle of their own potential. In general, if you are at the bottom of the development curve, meaning you have minimal time in training and have lots of gains to make, training should be simple, goal directed and should be time efficient. As an athlete develops over time, their training has to change to support gaining the last percentages of capacity, but this happens at the very top of their own genetic development. According to most training experts, very few athletes ever develop capacity higher than an advanced athlete. Athletes can be classified as novice, beginner, intermediate, advance and elite. The large majority of athletes are in the novice to advance level. So, what does your program look like? Is it supporting your goals? What are your goals? As I gain age, my perspective changes. It doesn’t mean I can’t be competitive, but my focus becomes more health and wellness oriented. Let’s face it, who cares if your Fran time is 3:00 or your max back squat is 400# if you can’t enjoy life because your joints and connective tissue is trashed.
So, why do I write this today? I hope that for whoever who reads this stuff, it makes them think. Am I following the crowd, have I lost perspective, and am I training appropriately for the outcomes I desire? CF is addicting. Let’s face it, sometimes our addictions get us out of balance.
I found this article interesting, especially the part about overtraining. I had the talk with myself almost a year ago and asked myself…”what am i training for? A mr. Universe competition or am i working toward the goal of longevity. It was a brutal blow to my pride to tone things down but when i realized that all i was going to do was tear my joints down and limit my mobility even further i made the change. Since then, i’ve gone to lighter weights, more stretching, focused on my cardio more and most importantly read more about the body. It is a relief to know that im not alone on having felt that way. Great article coach. Very encouraging.
Well said, sir.