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.