Scaling

Welome to CrossFit! The workout today is Diane.  21-15-9 Deadlifts & HSPU.
It is day 1 after your fundamentals, or on ramp class.  You just learned how to air squat and how to set up for a dead lift.  Your affiliate loads up a training bar for you, and sets up 3 abmats against a wall.  3, 2, 1.. GO!  You start your dead lifts at 95#lbs.  You realize by rep 12 you’re gassed and your trainer keeps yelling for you to keep going, that its only mental, and to push yourself.  You get to the handstand pushups.  You’re able to kick up to a wall and you start to do what looks like inverted shoulder shrugs to 3 abmats.  You’re the last to finish at 22:13.  You start to feel some discomfort in your shoulders and lower back.  Your trainer high fives you and says you rocked it.  Day 1 comes to a close.
Did you really rock it?  Did you really get the benefit of the workout?  Or did you just ingrain improper mechanics?  Did you potentially set yourself up to hit a wall later on in your CrossFit journey?
Some will argue and say that even sub par programming, or sub par coaching will still yield effective results. I will agree with that.  Doing anything is better than doing nothing.
However doing anything, and doing it right, is better than doing nothing, or better than doing it wrong.  I will try to explain what scaling appropriately is, and why as a trainer if someone walks in wanting to try CrossFit you should have the knowledge to scale any workout for anyone who walks through that door, and also preserve the workouts intended stimulus.

First lets break down what scaling effectively means.  This information is taken from the CrossFit Level 2 Guide.
“Scaling workouts appropriately for one;s clients is an essential consideration to best increase their fitness.  This is not just a concept for beginner clients; an effective trainer progresses the most athletes towards completing workouts as prescribed across months and years.”
Scaling appropriately means you can increase someone’s fitness and not blunt it.  An effective trainer will progress most athletes to completing workouts as prescribed across months and years, meaning its not something quick.  I read an article recently that if CrossFitters viewed CrossFit as more of a practice they would treat it with more focus and find joy.  I quote the article, “Approach CrossFit as a practice, with no fixed endpoint. When you are reconciled to this fact, you will be able to pursue it with joy.” (http://www.tabatatimes.com/crossfit-practice/)

How do we scale appropriately then?  Let’s go back into the Level 2 Guide.
“To scale effectively, a trainer needs to review the original workout for its intended stimulus to include:
1. Movement Functions
2. Loading Parameters
3. Timeframe
4. Volume of Repetitions
This doe not have to be a formal process, but it helps identify appropriate scaling options”
Beautifully put CrossFit HQ.
As my friend Rick Buro, owner of CrossFit Marlboro, put it when I posted about programming on my Facebook, ‘”programming is an art – there is no manual to follow. You need to know your athletes, keep it simple, keep it fun and not overthink things. Why are you doing what you are doing? Answer that and its hard to go wrong.”

Further down the Level 2 Guide says,
“For beginners…a trainer needs to be primarily concerned with their adherence to the proper points of performance of the movements throughout the full range of motion.  Increasing the difficulty (via movements or volume) and/or pushing for greater intensity (via speed or load) are secondary to developing movement proficiency and new skill development.”
I will leave it at that, there is a lot more after this paragraph but this is golden.  I will break it down for you as easy as possible
STOP MAKING PEOPLE DO PARTIAL REPS OF MOVEMENTS THEY DO NOT HAVE!!!
Adhere to proper points of performance throughout the FULL RANGE OF MOTION.  There you have it, CrossFit expects that if someone is new, they  must adhere to full range of motion.  Increasing difficulty and intensity via movements, volume, speed or load are SECONDARY to developing movement proficiency.
Lets go back to the first example.  That trainer should have scaled the workout to make sure that the athlete could properly move through the dead lift as close to the standard as possible.  Scaling with an empty bar, or PVC, stacked on plates.  Handstand pushups would have been scaled to regular pushups, if the client did not have regular pushups, scale by increasing the angle of the pushup, (to plates, a box, bench)  If the athlete seemed like 21-15-9 would take longer than 15-20 minutes scale the the volume of the repetitions, 15-12-9.  There is a lot of different ways to have the athlete progress and hit the proper points of performance.  I would not have recommended a box handstand pushup, if the pushing mechanics in the pushup were not present.  Inverting a client adds load and intensity where there proper movement is yet not present.

As trainers we have a beautiful job and that is to bring fitness, and long lasting fitness to our clients. We need to realize that CrossFit is a practice.  There is a difference between desire and intent of practicing.  This quote was in the article I mentioned earlier about CrossFit being a practice.  It goes for the athlete as well as the coach.  “Desire is certainly focused and determined, but it is impatient and aware only of its own existence, and seeks its own satisfaction as quickly and cheaply as possible. Practice seeks mastery, where desire seeks domination.”

As trainers we need to realize that this is a journey and motor control, neurological adaptations, repetition take time.  There should be no rush to advance people.  The goal is to create health and wellness for a long time.  Scale people appropriately, they will love you for it.  Have integrity, do all the right things for all the right people regardless.

“If you insist on basics, really insist on them, your clients will immediately recognize that you are a master trainer. They will not be bored; they will be awed. I promise this. They will quickly come to recognize the potency of fundamentals. They will also advance in every measurable way past those not blessed to have a teacher so grounded and committed to basics.” – Greg Glassman

We have the best tools on the planet to make people better.  We need to adhere to that, it will make us and our members great.  It will allow whoever walks through that door to jump right into a class for the first time and feel like they got a workout.  Trial classes are great, Fundamentals are necessary, but have the skill and expertise to be able to accommodate everyone and you will see quickly how people will recognize you and admire you for it.

As for all my Facebook requests to scale workouts.
Joe Coates you wanted me to scale “Murph”  Here are a couple different ways.
Depending on the athlete and how new they are.  What is the intent of Hero WOD’s?  They are meant to reflect on the life of the Hero, and when the going gets tough to reflect more so and push through.  Someone new to CrossFit may not benefit so early on with mental toughness, therefore the intent of this workout for the deconditioned or new athlete would be to give them a great workout.  I would scale everything.  If they are new, I would like them to hit this workout hard, and at high intensity which is relative to them.  Do they have proper mechanics in the squat, pull up, push up?  Can they run without emptying the tank right away?
Scaled Murph could look like this:
Run 400m
then
5 or 6 rounds
5 Pullups (scaled to Ring Rows)
10 Pushups (Box Pushups)
15 Air Squats (Air Suqats to a medball)
then Run 400m
That might take the athlete 30-40 minutes, could be longer.  I would also enforce a time cap.  The goal for the new athlete is not to tire them out or fatigue them to the point they will not come back for a week.  This is why warm ups, and getting to know new athletes in important.  It will show me how to scale them.  In a proper warmup I could see how they move and how fast they move, how frustrated they get.  Always remember if they are not having fun, or they are getting Frustrated it usually will deter them from coming back.  There are more way to scale that workout, but thats a basic scaling for them.

Jill, for Clovis I would rarely program that as a hero wod due to its long nature.  I would only recommend that for people who really want to try pushing themselves and have a broad capacity already.  For a new person if that happened to be programmed I would most likely change the workout for them to give them a stimulus that makes more sense.  It would include Running burpees and pull-ups, just not in that volume.

Rich as for Backward Rolls, Im assuming you meant backwards roll to support.
If that were the skill or within a workout there are two different approaches.  For the newer athlete I would have them go back to the basics of the roll.  Hollow Rocks, or Candlestick Rolls, practicing those and adhering to proper mechanics, not breaking at the hip, etc.  It could be broken down 10 hollow rocks, 10 pushups, 2-3 rounds not for time, allowing proper focus on the mechanics.  If it were in a workout, just work on the hollow rocks.  For a more advanced athlete who has hollow rocks, and can support themselves on a pull up bar, I would then increase difficulty by asking them to do pullovers on a bar, and then press out to support.  If they have that down, I’d probably have them try some skin the cats with me there to assist, and just practice that motion of a back roll on the rings.

Hopefully these have answered your questions and if not feel free to message me and we can discuss more.

 

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CrossFit Programming

This topic is so widely discussed and such a sore topic for some people who have been in the strength and conditioning world for a while.  I have not studied strength and conditioning, I do not have a degree in strength and conditioning.  Everything I type in here will either be pulled from CrossFit’s methodology in their level 1 & 2 course materials, and also from my own personal experiments.

First we need to understand why CrossFit’s methodology is so bullied.  It is because there is no such thing as periodization or percentages within CrossFit programming.  CrossFit believes in “CVFMHI”, or Constantly Varied Functional Movement performed at High Intensity.  CrossFit also claims and believe its method is perfect for “Increasing Work Capacity across Broad Times and Modal Domains”.  Lets break it down quickly.  “CV” means the workouts and movements change day to day, week to week.  “FM” means the bulk of the movements are functional for life, push-pull, squatting, deadlifting, bodyweight, etc.  “HI”  performed at High Intensity meaning these basic movements are performed faster to build that work capacity.  Constantly Varied also means you not only vary the movements, but the time performed, the reps, the weight, the days, the combinations you can put them in.  To most this seems random and would never make people stronger.  From things I have read and knowing a little bit about muscle memory, if I am constantly doing the same movement, my body will eventual adapt.  If I am constantly confusing my muscles or performing other movements, my body eventually will have to get stronger to perform whatever I throw at it.
I am not negating or disproving that following a periodized strength program or lifting program will not make you stronger.  However CrossFit is deemed for being a GPP program, not a specific.  So in order to do well at CrossFit you must have a strong general physical preparedness.  This is where I feel everyone now goes nuts.  I have heard if you only back squat once and don’t do it again for 3 weeks, people won’t get better at the squat.  I disagree completely with that.  Warm ups, WODS, and post workouts should always address weaknesses and motor control.

What I mean is if Monday we Back Squat for a 3RM, the next couple of weeks, there will still be a air squat in a warmup, or a goblet squat, or front squat in a workout, I am still drilling the mechanics of a squat constantly although I may not program another “Squat Only” day for 3 weeks.  You can fight me all you want, I truly believe in CrossFit’s CVFMHI method.  I tested it with myself, and then I tested it with the gym I worked at previously.  I increased my clean by 30# only cleaning twice in 6 weeks, and everyone in our gym PR’d their back squats only squatting about 4-5 times in 8 weeks.
(if you’d like to see my programming you can comment below and I will be glad to show you)
I however did use warmups and post workouts to address my, and the gyms weakness.  Yes we ran a lot, and yes there were days devoted to lifting heavy only, and only practicing a gymnastics skill.  Most of our workouts were short an intense.  I included some long ones, and a couple Hero and Benchmark workouts.
End Result, everyone got fitter in the GPP realm.

I am currently studying for my level 2, yes I know there is no test, but I like to delve into information so I go ahead of time knowing what they will talk about.  As any good coach should do, you should constantly be testing what you know, and constantly adapting or changing and experimenting.  I am not the best coach, and I doubt I will ever find the day where I say I am.  However I am thirsty for knowledge and will read anything and everything, and if I don’t agree, I will test it and try it.  So I will say I am one of the hardest working coaches out there trying to get better everyday and bring that to my members.

Below is information I found amazing in the Level 2:

-Programming requires reviewing what has been completed recently in an attempt to provide a new variance

– Although CrossFit programming appears random to some due to its non-linear and non-formulaic pattern, its variety is a result of a planned attempt top address all fitness tests.  This does not happen by luck of the draw

– A programmer cannot be fooled into believing the simplicity of the movements and combinations equates to “simple” results.  Complexity does NOT inherently produce greater efficiency or efficacy and arguably detracts from  both.

– The bulk of workouts, however, should strive for simple, bold pairings.

-For beginner and/or deconditioned individuals, a trainer needs to be PRIMARILY concerned with their adherence to the proper points of performance of the movements throughout the FULL range of motion.  Increasing the difficulty (via movements or volume) and/or pushing for greater intensity (via speed or load) are SECONDARY to developing movement proficiency and new skill development.

-It can be easy for newer programmers to believe “complicated” and “unique” programming provides a superior stimulus because of the novelty.

-Be impressed by intensity, not volume – Greg Glassman

– While people sometimes characterize CrossFit by the sweaty metabolic-conditioning workouts (“met-cons”), this is a limited view.  Days devoted to strength training are an essential variant of CrossFit and are also “CrossFit” workouts.

There is a lot more great information within the Level 2 training guide, I highly recommend becoming familiar with it.  It has made me understand CrossFit more as a trainer and athlete.

Hold The Standard

Hold the Standard.

I saw this phrase when I was out in California for the CrossFit Games in July.
We had visited Deuce Gym in Venice Beach to stop by and meet their community. Immediately I was impressed with how the members were listening to the coaches, how friendly everyone was, and how much knowledge the coach was demonstrating. He was relentless in what he was looking for in his members. We watched the class for a couple minutes. We met some of the other coaches, and actually Nate Helming was there and Carl Paoli had visited it earlier.
I thought to myself, why were there so many big names from the CrossFit world visiting this gym? why did such a small space have so many members?
After talking to one of the coaches Emily, she dropped some knowledge on what they do during foundations, how they teach hip extension with stones. What struck me the most from what she was saying was how much passion she had when she said it. You could see that all the coaches cared about their members, and cared about how they moved. We chatted a bit more and we bough shirts. On the back of their shirts it says, “Hold the Standard”
That struck with me. Actually struck deep inside on more levels than just CrossFit.

We live in a world where Standards have been watered down. What was not acceptable years ago, is now widely accepted. We have over saturated the market with so many different ways to do things, or accomplish a task, that standards have been less and less. You’ve heard, “Fake it till you make it”, “At all costs”, etc.
I’m not going to dive into the realm of morals, politics, etc because thats not what this blog is about, nor do I care to.
I am going to apply this to CrossFit.

CrossFit has experienced major growth in the last couple of years. CrossFit has become a trendy topic for haters. There is reason to it though. CrossFit might disagree with my viewpoint, but as a consumer, and now a part of this ever growing community, and as a Coach, I see things from a different view. Over-saturation of CrossFit gyms. Now I am stating my opinion, but being an independent contractor by trade, and by being in the field of customer service, and customer relations, I can see when someone is driven by genuine interest, or driven by money.
Let’s be honest. The start up for CrossFit is not big at all. $4,000 dollars and you are qualified and able to open an Affiliate. That is a blessing and a curse in my opinion. There are those who have had their lives changed by CrossFit, and feel so passionately about it, they can’t think of doing anything but helping people like CrossFit has helped them. To them that $4,000 might not come easy but it is so worth it. Then there are those who think, well $4,000 dollars (L1 + Affiliate Fee) and see it as a great way to make some money.
That is where the problem lies. Money is a necessity to live in this world, but it is not everything. Happiness is everything.
I made a lot of money at my previous job. I mean A LOT for a 23 year old hairdresser. I also worked 50+ hours a week, had no time for anything, and constantly ate and drank my emotions away. I was not happy. In fact I was miserable, but I had a lot of money.
Obviously I left and yes, at times I wish I still had that money, but I realized the benefits of not being tied down to a job that demands so much of me. Trading time for dollars.
I’ve deviated off topic…I usually do.
So where does “Hold the Standard” come in?

(Enter Rant)

With the tremendous increase in CrossFit affiliates, the realist in me notices how many gyms are opening up with little experience, and I feel everyone wants to make a quick buck. Now I’m not going to get into a debate that it can not be done. However, I am a hairdresser. How would you feel if the person responsible for how you look has had no training other than beauty school and hasn’t been mentored by someone in the business. Nervous, correct? Would you have complete trust that it would come out great. If you said Yes, sorry I don’t believe you.
Why not more so with your health and well being? Too many videos on Instagram or Facebook are making their way to Drywall, or other sites that make fun of CrossFit.
What ever happened to the CrossFit Journal Article Coach Glassman wrote on Virtuosity, about mastering the basics. Why are brand new gyms, some with no mentoring offering internships, when at most all they have taken is a Level 1. What can you offer to the new person who took their Level 1?
As a coach are you relentless in your pursuit of knowledge? Have you worked with coaches who are established? Are you constantly learning? Not only at CrossFit certs, but other certs? Are you reaching out to people in the industry?
Everyone wants to teach the snatch right away. Teach your members how to fully extend their hips.
I see so many half squats with load on IG. Squat Therapy? Have you drilled mechanics and consistency into your member? If not, why are they squatting with load?

I am not telling you on how to run your gym, but when I tell you gyms that “Hold the Standard” we stand out because we are relentless in making our members better. We are relentless in what Greg Glassman believed in. “If you insist on basics, really insist on them, your clients will immediately recognize that you are a master trainer. ” Too many gyms have strayed away from that I feel.
Quoting Glassman again “This rush to advancement increases the chance of injury, delays advancement and progress, and blunts the client’s rate of return on his efforts. In short, it retards his fitness. ”

So I challenge all gyms out there. Hold the Standard. If you don’t Drywall will troll you, and so will I.
#holdthestandard

-Miguel Cardia

References: CrossFit Journal – Virtuosity

Group Fitness

I usually start with a long introduction, and I take a long time to get to my point.  Today I will not.

I can not, and do not understand why people open a CrossFit gym and offer everything else but CrossFit!!!
You either got into business to change lives using CrossFit because it somehow in one way changed yours.  Or you opened it because you needed another hobby, or wanted to make money because there are so many other successful affiliates around, you figured why not.  It was another business venture.

Here’s what I find disturbing.  Scrolling through my news feed, I stumbled across a couple gyms that I follow and started to then check out other gyms Facebook Pages and their websites.  I saw HIIT, Intense fitness classes, Group Training, Yoga, Classes that don’t involve barbells, Gymnastics and Cardio Classes…I will stop there.

If you opened up a gym……..SELL WHAT YOU OPENED THE GYM UP FOR!!!; CrossFit,…. NOT zumba, Rock Climbing, Book Club, Knitting Corners, Pet Adoption, Spin Classes, Airdyne Meditation, or whatever else you people can think of!!!

People are quick to open an affiliate and then offer every program under the sun to attract members.  Stop diluting what CrossFit is!!
-Oh Miguel you’re such a bitter person, a buzzkill, hater, (insert mean words here)

Here’s my point of view, if you don’t agree with it go make a paleo smoothie and curse my name under your breath.

CrossFit is what it is today because of its Methodology.  It is ridiculed, scrutinized, trolled in the media.  Why? Because its been so successful at making people fitter, and doing it fast.  It has pushed boundaries people were scared to push, it has awaken the inner athlete in many people.  CrossFit has done a whole lot good, the community and HQ as well.  However I feel it is entering this new era where people will own CrossFit gyms like they own an iPhone.  Everyone and their mother has one, but eventually get bored of it and trade it in for something else.  I hope thats not where it goes, but lately there are so many affiliates rising up.
That is a good thing, believe me.  It is a good thing because the more people shopping for CrossFit the better.  It will help the affiliate owners and coaches who breathe, eat, sleep, and labor continuously over programming and how to make their gym better, successful.
Here is what scares me or perturbs me.
If you own a gym or opened an affiliate, and offer a “Lite” class, or a class with no barbells, or a cardio class, you no longer are a CrossFit Gym!  You are licensed to use the affiliate but you are essentially coddling and allowing CrossFit to look cowardly and be like “we know its intense and people don’t like the barbell, or want to lift heavy”  THEN DONT DO CROSSFIT!!!!!!!

CrossFit is based on mono structural, gymnastics, and WEIGHTLIFTING!  If you do not want to program those, you are not programming CrossFit.  If you are trying to attract members who don’t want to lift heavy, or use a barbell you are not selling CrossFit.  CrossFit methodology includes a barbell.  I am not saying throw a barbell at a newbie.  Obviously form, mechanics, and consistency have their place.  But to allow people to not want to lift, or use a barbell….Then why the hell did you sign up?

Stick to the basics, get people excited to move.  People will want to touch a barbell, they’ll see the results people get, they will see how lifting heavy is better at developing fitness than gymnastics and cardio alone.  As your gym grows, because you labor over its success, programming, and investing in making your members better, then you can allow specialty classes.  I see brand new gyms offering yoga, Oly Class, and you  name it, and they have 5 members.

The 100 words of fitness…read them, recite them, learn them.

Eat meat and vegtables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.  Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.  Practice and train all major lifts:  Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J and snatch.  Similarly master the basics of gymnastics:  Pull ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups,presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds.  Bike, run, swim, row, ect, hard and fast.  Five to Six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow.  Routine is the enemy.  Keep workouts short and intense.  Regularly learn and play new sports.

Offer CrossFit, get people excited about CrossFit, make people better with CrossFit, boast about the results your members got through CrossFit, get invested in being a better CrossFit coach.

Stop offering what you think will attract the most people.  You look scared and that you don’t trust the very product you affiliated with.  There will always be zumba, yoga, spinning classes, your gym need not to offer it instead of CrossFit.  If you want to offer it, partner up with local studios, get their members to try CrossFit and you will have your members try their services, but please stop diluting what CrossFit was meant for.