3 Pros & Cons of New Programming

3 Pros & Cons of New Programming

by Andrew Killion

Programming is a funny thing.  It’s so easy to get lost in the weeds, add complexity and end up with too much accessory work, tempo and optionality.
While I’m all for keeping things up to date and modern; I’m also willing to admit sometimes the old school had it figured and if it wasn’t broke you shouldn’t try to fix it.
So what’s that mean for you?  Well for the month of July we’re going to do things a little more old school with our normal Group Class.  We’re going to go back to the old days of CrossFit where there’s one WOD variation instead of 3. We warm up, do strength, and then do a metcon.  Potomac and Patriot will still have different WODs, but they’ll be more similar than they might seem at a glance.
We’re gonna try this out for July and then see what you all think.  All we ask is that you give it a try and let us prove to you why it’s an upgrade.  Then we’ll open things up to feedback about whether to keep it, improve it, or scrap it. So after July if you hate it, we’ll figure it out.
Pro’s

1.) Simplicity is King

In the words of Albert Einsetin, “if you can’’t explain it to an 8 year old you don’t know it yourself.”  I think the same thing applies to workouts. Let’s be clear: that doesn’t mean boring, lack of creativity, fun or purpose.  It just means things don’t need to be overly complex to be fun and effective. Ask any coach worth their salt and they’ll tell you that a simpler program is a better program.  Our aim is to streamline the programming to make it work better for you.

2.) Faster Progress
People are creatures of habit. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since joining you guys it’s that interrupting habits can be dangerous territory.  However, one of the core tennants of CrossFit is that habit and routine are the enemy. People get stuck in ruts/routines and I’m concerned our current format encourages this.  But I’m 100% confident that this shift in programming (while admittedly disrupting your habit/routine in the beginning) will create MUCH greater fitness gains for you.

3.) More Workout Bang for your Buck
A lot of people like to bandy about the idea of “train smarter and not more often.”  To which my normal reply is “how about both?” I subscribe to the “golden hour” theory of training.  At PCF we have one hour to get in as much smart work as we can possibly muster. So we’re going to make it as dense as we can.  So expect to see more intense and shorter lifting portions as well as more (but not too many) longer metcons (think somewhere between the normal WOD and SweatCon at least twice a week).  I’ve been developing programs for gyms, 100lb weightloss clients and CrossFit Games athletes for over 10 years now, and this is by far the most effective system I’ve developed in that time.
Con’s
1) No more levels.
I know this is absolutely going to be the biggest cause of contention.  I’m more than up for taking the heat for this but let me explain my rationale.

As I mentioned above in the “faster progress” section I think levels cause people to stagnate.  We are creatures of our habits and when you’re used to doing L2 you’ll stay in L2 even if you could’ve potentially done more.  

I firmly believe we have the best coaches in the DMV and I’m going to challenge them to come up with a perfect workout for you.  You aren’t expected to make it up yourself or go up to them, they are coming to you. We’re going to provide the template (the WOD) and they’re going to make that workout fit where your level is, not expect you to fit into some arbitrary level that was designed for a different set of circumstances. 

I’m fully aware this is going to disrupt your routine, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that if you give it an earnest try you’re going to love it.
2) Intimidation Factor.
Some of these WODs are going to look intimidating as hell.  You’re 100% going to look at some and think “I can’t do that.”  You’re also 100% wrong. You’re going to see WODs with RX’d deadlifts at 355 lbs for men and 245 lbs for women.  Do not talk yourself out of it. Again, the goal here is to lean on the coaches and let them show off a little bit in how much they can tailor the workout for you.  No one expects you to do every WOD RX’d (full disclosure: some of you need to be doing RX’d+). But, if you show up, we’ll make this an awesome workout for you every single time.

2) Change.
Change. It’s different.  And I know there’s comfort in routine.  But to quote to common sayings in CrossFit: “get comfortable being uncomfortable” and “routine is the enemy.”  

We’re taking it back old school CrossFit.  For those of you from the N. Highland days this will look and feel very familiar.  I did the levels thing, the remote program following thing, the tempo thing (yuck); and none of it has out performed just some good ol’ fashioned CrossFit.  

To cite another favorite CrossFit saying of mine: “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.”  I think by bringing everything together into one big community (instead of 3 levels x 2 gyms) you’re going to see just how powerful that magic can be.
All my best,
Andrew Killion

Social Events for the Month of June: Flex on The Mall & The Nats

 

FLEX ON THE MALL

Just a reminder that Flex on the Mall is coming up on June 9th on the National Mall.  Athletes must be at check-in by 8 AM but the event heats kick off around 11 am. We have a TON of athletes competing that would love to see all PCF members come out and support. We’ll be teaming up with District CF and it’ll be a great opportunity to intermingle. We’ll be setting up a few tents for both our athletes and spectators!

Here’s a brief list of things we’re bringing to Flex that you should come check out:

-A Margarita Machine (that will totally not have alcohol in it 😏😏😏😏)

-4 Different Physical Therapists to work on athletes or regular people!

-Free Philz Coffee

-Free FitAid and Kill Cliff

-Free Meals from Territory

-Cornhole

-Can Jam

-Spikeball

…and more!

 

AFTER PARTY! 

 

 

The After Party will be held at Lyon Hall at 8 PM located at 3100 Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201. We’ve booked the front Lounge area just for members of PCF. So after you’ve showered the Mall off, bring your friends and family and enjoy some delicious food and libations. 

 

NATS GAME vs PHILLIES – 6/23 4:05 PM

WHO: Join District CrossFit members for an intra-gym social event!

WHAT: Going to see the Nats vs Phillies!

WHEN: June 23rd at 1:00 PM

WHERE: We’ll start with a tailgate at 1 PM at District CrossFit and then venture over to the stadium for the game.

HOW: 15$ –   RSVP here! 

WODIFY is coming 6/18!

 

In the next few weeks, besides upgrading equiptment, you’ll see some significant changes taking place.

We’re installing the Wodify Core Kiosk – two large monitors and a keyboard – on the wall of both boxes at PCF. It’s a big investment that’s going to make your fitness experience that much better.

Watch this video for more:

Wodify was designed to help you:

 Log into class

 See the workout for the day

 Check your performance history

 Enter your scores

 View the Leaderboard

 Visualize your progress over time

 Hit more PRs

 

One of the advantages you’ll notice when Wodify goes live is the ability for you to track your performance results both at the gym and on the Wodify mobile app.
There are many benefits to performance tracking, like having a clear picture of your progress.

Wodify makes this easy with visual charts. Every time we program a strength movement or benchmark metcon, you’ll be able to see your performance history after you sign in. You’ll know exactly what you need to do to improve your results.

Logging your results and making them public on the Leaderboard also keeps you motivated and fosters a little friendly competition, which never hurt anybody.

 

Finally, keeping a record of past performance serves as great motivation to keep coming back and pushing yourself further.
We’re really excited about Wodify and hope that once it goes live, you’ll enjoy the features inside the gym and on the mobile app.
Keep an eye out for an activation email about Wodify delivered to your inbox the week of June 11th! 

 

Please email lj@pcf.fit with any questions!

Upgrade Weekend – June 16th + 17th

Hey Team PCF,

The weekend of June 16-17th we’ll be making some major upgrades to Potomac and Patriot. These upgrades include installing new assault bikes, a rig at Patriot, new Games boxes, dumbbell weights and reorganizing the space to improve usage and much more.

As a result, we’re going to need your help!

We’re looking for any available volunteers to help us with the installation and movement of all the new equipment.

We will need:

  • Hammer Drills
  • Socket Wrench plus large gauge sockets
  • Drills
  • Drill bit sets
  • bodies to move weight

We’ll plan to be at Potomac for the morning and Patriot in the afternoon.

If you can help at any point during the day, please fill this out. We’ll provide beer and pizza! 

While we do the install, we’ll be offering our regular 8/9/10 am classes at Patriot but Potomac will be closed for the day on Saturday. TBD about Sunday’s classes, stayed tuned to the blog and Slack for a determination on that! 

Murph Strategy + Tips

Murph Strategy + Tips

By Colin Farrell

The workout…

 
For Time:
Run 1 Mile
100 Pull-up
200 Push-up
300 Air Squat
Run 1 Mile
*If you have a weighted vest or body armor, wear it.
This workout needs no further introduction, besides the following:

“In memory of Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005. This workout was one of Mike’s favorites and he’d named it “Body Armor”. From here on it will be referred to as “Murph” in honor of the focused warrior and great American who wanted nothing more in life than to serve this great country and the beautiful people who make it what it is.” -CrossFit.com

Things to keep in mind…


One of the biggest discussions around this workout is how (or if) to partition the repetitions of pull-up, push, and air squat. If this is your first time doing Murph, it is probably best to perform 20 rounds of 5 pull-up, 10 push-up, and 15 squat. If you are going to partition the reps at all, that is probably the best way to do it. Larger chunks of reps with fewer rounds have fewer transition periods so (on paper) appear to be offer the potential for faster times; however, that efficiency will be lost unless the athlete can do unbroken sets of 10-20 repetitions of push-ups and sets of 10+ pull-ups for the entire duration of the workout. If you are not confident in your ability to complete big sets of pull-ups and push-ups, stick to performing 20 rounds of 5/10/15. 

When attacking the pull-ups, choose a scaling option that you can perform at least in sets of 5 for the duration of the workout. A great option for this workout is banded pull-up or ring row. I would strongly advise against performing jumping pull-ups unless it is something you have been doing a lot of lately and you are pretty adept at the movement. Athletes have a tendency to do very little pulling when completing jumping pull-ups, but instead control the descent and almost turn every rep into a mini pull-up negative. Pull-up negatives are an awesome tool and a great movement to build pulling power; however over the course of 100 repetitions, that is asking a tremendous amount of work to be performed almost exclusively by the bicep. The simultaneous elongation and contraction of the bicep during the descent of the jumping pull-up can cause muscle tissue to tear. 

Even for the gifted gymnast, this workout comes down to the push-up. Break them up early and often. Something I’ve heard dozens of times over the years: 

“The push-ups were the worst part; I should have paced those out more.” 

Something I have never heard a single person utter in almost a decade of CrossFitting: 

“I paced those push-ups too much; I should have done bigger sets.” 

In terms of scaling, completing them with your hands propped up on a box (12”, 16”, or 20” for most) is a great option for this particular workout.Your mindset…


When completing the workout, the sheer volume of repetitions can be staggering, especially in the second half of the push-ups. It’s exceedingly easy to get in your own head and have the inner monologue turn negative really quickly.
 

The key to this workout is focus on doing a set of 5, 10, 15, or 20 reps (depending on the movement) and focus on doing that set really, really well. Focus on mechanics, use all the repetitions as a lot of chances to perfect your air squat, push-up, or pull-up. Make that set your working on as perfect as possible, and think of nothing else, least of which should be all of the reps you still have to go. All of your attention needs to be on the immediate task at hand; you’ll be done before you know it. 

Good luck everyone!

While you are traveling…

 

 

With summer just around the corner, PCF athletes are sure to begin (or continue) their vacation or work travels.  The beautiful thing about CrossFit in 2018 is that there are affiliates everywhere and going away for a week doesn’t mean that your current, elite levels of fitness need drop off until you return home and through the doors of Potomac or Patriot CrossFit. You can almost always drop in at a local affiliate and get in a great workout.

With that in mind, it’s important to note good etiquette for being a drop-in on your world-wide travels. Here are some pointers on how to be the best drop-in athlete possible:

  • Try to sign up for a class ahead of time via their website; if possible, sign a waiver and upload credit card info online ahead of time as well
    • If it is not readily apparent how to do so, contact the gym and let them know you’d like to come for a drop-in, provide a date and a time, and ask if there are are any steps to follow to set that up ahead of time
    • If they are cash only, offer to pay before class begins.
    • ALWAYS assume there is a drop-in fee, and don’t ask if you can pay by buying a t-shirt unless they explicitly offer that deal
  • Look at the programming ahead of time, and figure out how you will scale the workout if need be
    • If the situation calls for it, inform the coach before class that you’ll need to scale back the weights/reps/distances/etc.
    • Your goal should be to be as low maintenance as possible
  • Show up early.
  • NEVER ask to do your own programming.
  • Respect the gym’s equipment: unless it is obvious that dropping is OK, don’t assume it’s OK to drop barbells. Wipe off sweat and other bodily fluids when finished. Bring my own sanitary wipes when you drop in as not all gyms provide them, and it’s a nice thing to do.
    • If you have one, try to bring your own jump rope.
  • Respect the hell out of their coaches. They may give you feedback that you don’t like, or give you information contrary to things you’ve heard at PCF or at other gyms; despite this, thank them for their input and feedback and take it into consideration. Everyone has something to learn from everyone else.
  • Be positive.
  • If you finish the workout before others, do not start cleaning up your equipment or pack your bags to leave. Cheer on others and encourage them as they finish.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, bring a t-shirt with you from PCF. I often try to buy a t-shirt at Potomac or Patriot before I know I am going to head out of town so I can leave it with the coach or the owner of the gym.

If you enjoyed your time at the gym, leave a positive review on Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Also, post to Facebook/Instagram, and be sure to “Check-in” with a photo. These go a long way in terms of helping their business.

We know you will represent the strong and positive PCF community well where ever you go, and we hope this Memorial Day Weekend is the start to a great summer. Safe travels!

SWEATCON: The Ultimate Guide

PCF’s SWEATCON is a brand new offering launching Summer 18 at PCF. Programmed as a completely different format than our regular CrossFit class, SWEATCON offers a high-intensity workout designed to make you sweat.
Programmed with CrossFit-style movements, we’ve taken out the Olympic-lifting so that any fitness level can join us in this hour-long class. There are no prescribed weights, so you can dial up or down the load as heavy or light as you need. We realize there are athletes who participate in sports or activities where lifting heavy weights do not translate to their needs or others who may have prior injuries that just don’t allow them to do so. We also realize there are many athletes no longer seeing results with their current bootcamp, spin or fitness class and want to try something new.
We’ve created SWEATCON keeping those ideas in mind. What you’ll get in class is a high-energy experience with extremely effective programming giving you a fat-burning, muscle-toning, peak-intensity workout that will push you past the goals you’ve set for yourself.
SCHEDULE and PRICING:
5/29-9/2
Potomac: Saturday at 930 AM, Tuesday at 6:45 PM, Thursday 6:45 AM
Patriot: Wednesday at 930 AM, Thursday at 6:30 PM, Friday at 3:30 PM, Sunday 9:30 AM + 5:00 PM
PRICE:
  • Included with your PCF membership OR
  • $1̶4̶9̶$̶ 75$ Monthly use coupon code SWEAT50
  • OR $3̶4̶9̶ $175 for the Summer (5/27-9/2) use coupon code SWEAT50 at checkout

BUY HERE

Join PCF on Slack!

JOIN PCF ON SLACK

Today we’re launching a brand new way to connect our members and Coaches together in one place. 

We’ve created our very own Slack workspace!

What is Slack?
Slack is an app that functions as PCF’s own chat forum, simplifying and streamlining communication. You can direct message any member or Coach at PCF or participate in a channel which functions similar to a chat room. We’ll be pushing out announcements, daily WODs and other cool content on this workspace going forward. This is exclusively for current PCF members.

To get started: 

Step 1: Visit https://publicslack.com/slacks/pcf/invites/new

Step 2: Watch this video

Step 2: Download the Slack apps for iOS or Android.

Step 3: Add yourself to Slack channels by clicking the + sign next to the channels.

Step 4: Start slacking!

If you have any questions, email me at LJ @ PCF.FIT.

 

Best,

 

LJ

 

P.S. To get 50% off our new shipment of t-shirts (coming soon) show a Coach you’re chatting on Slack when purchasing. 

“Balance your Buckets”

“Balance your Buckets”
By Colin Farrell

In front of you are three buckets. It is your task to carry these buckets for the rest of your life. Surely, it will be arduous; but there is no way around it, these buckets are coming with you everywhere you go. You have a specified amount of liquid, and you may fill the buckets as you wish. The buckets are to be carried on a yoke across your back, you may also shift the buckets from left to right across the yolk to redistribute the weight as needed. From time to time, you may pour liquid out of one bucket and into another. There will be days in which one bucket will be empty and all of your liquid will be in just two; there will be days in which the liquid will be evenly distributed across all three. For better or for worse, there will come a time when there is not a drop of liquid in two out of your three buckets, and the last bucket is completely full and, maybe, even overflowing.

Your buckets are labeled as follows:

  • Nutrition
  • Lifestyle
  • Fitness

The liquid you have to fill each of these buckets is your fixed amount of time and energy. With that quantity being fixed, it is up to you to decide which buckets to fill and how much to fill each of them. As mentioned before, there are days where you can fill one or two pretty high, and the third remains somewhat empty. The goal is balance. Depending upon what’s going on in your day-to-day life, at work, and at home, make the necessary adjustments, but always aim for long-term balance.

If you have very young children, especially for new parents, you will not have a lot of time or energy or even the ability to ensure that you have low stress, are getting lots of sleep, and hitting all the aspects of your morning routine. Your lifestyle bucket will be a little bit empty. With that in mind, it is important that you pour a little extra time and energy into your nutrition and fitness buckets.

If you are on the road all the time for work, and rarely have the opportunity to eat at home, it will be hard to maintain strong and healthy nutritional habits, or at least harder than for someone who is at home seven days a week. If that is the case, it becomes more important to ensure you get to the gym, do some more mobility work, get lots of sleep, and ensure proper hydration levels in addition to well-structured morning and night time routines, etc.

If you are injured, and getting into the gym is not something your doctor is on board with yet, it becomes exponentially more important that you invest more time, energy, and effort into ensuring your nutrition is on point, you should be getting lots of sleep, mobilizing as much as your body will allow, and reducing stress levels where possible.

Balance is key. Your life does not revolve around ensuring these three buckets are equally filled 365 days a year; that is simply not realistic. It is up to us to constantly pour from one bucket into another, and shift their positions across the yolk.

Method behind the Madness, Parts I-III

The Method Behind the Madness, Part I: Programming at Potomac CrossFit

By: Colin Farrell

“Increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” This was, and is, the revolutionary definition of fitness proposed by Coach Greg Glassman over 15 years ago.  To put it simply, be able to do more work, and be able to do it quickly. Be able to go long, short, mid-distance, heavy or light, with equal ability; be as proficient at the deadlift as you are at running and climbing ropes.

We achieve this increased capacity by performing “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movements.” We regularly engage in metabolic conditioning (“cardio”), gymnastics and bodyweight movements, in addition to weightlifting and throwing. We mix these as often as we can, in as many variations as we can, and with as many different objects and environments as we can.

The above definitions of fitness and how to achieve greater levels of it are almost universally accepted among CrossFit trainers and coaches. The devil, naturally, is in the details. Do we bias strength (“No one ever said, ‘I wish I wasn’t so strong’”)? Do we bias longer, lighter workouts that keep us moving constantly for 20+ minutes (“The average athlete needs to ‘work’ for more than 18 minutes every time they come in the gym”)? Do we do only strength or only a metcon, or do we do both each day?

If you travel much or spend time dropping in at other boxes, you will notice a massive range of answers to these questions, and many more. Many of the answers to these questions end up falling into the “six of one, a half-dozen of the other” category. In the end, if you’re doing some version of CrossFit, you’re going to get fitter.

Our philosophy is rooted in the fact that you, our athletes, deserve to have a great deal of CrossFit built into the one-hour you are able to spend with us each day. You are here to be coached and to learn movements, but we learn best by doing. Coaches can provide better instruction when they are able to see more repetitions so as to provide the most appropriate feedback. With that in mind, each day you attend a CrossFit Class at Potomac CrossFit, you will have 7 to 10 minutes of warming-up, 15 to 25 minutes of strength or skill work, anywhere between 6 and 20 minutes of a dedicated workout, as well as 5 minutes +/- of mobility work. We want to keep you moving as best as we can, ensuring we also provide the best feedback we can as coaches between repetitions, sets, and/or rounds and repetitions.

Before the conclusion of this blog post, let it be clear: we are always seeking to improve.  Mike Giardina, a CrossFit Level 1 Seminar “Flower Master” once remarked that if it became scientific fact that shake weights and hoola-hoops brought about long term health and fitness, we would program it. At PCF we are constantly trying to find the program that will bring about a broad and inclusive fitness. This is not to be confused with implementing the latest fad or gimmick. Too many affiliates get sucked into programming for the CrossFit Games (Assault Bikes and Peg Boards, anybody?) or some such other fleeting and ephemeral trend in fitness. Potomac is coming up on its 10th anniversary–rarefied territory in the realm of CrossFit–and we are planning for 20 and 30 more years of providing the best gym experience in Arlington. That can only be achieved by implementing a fitness program that stands the test of time, as our community has, and altering it, adding to it, and building upon it responsibly.   

Between Sunday and Saturday, Potomac athletes are exposed to four “strength” sets and two “skill” sets prior to the workout, with Saturdays typically being dedicated to a longer workout, such as a Hero workout or classic CrossFit benchmark, such as Fight Gone Bad. In Part II of “Method Behind the Madness”, we will take a specific look behind the strength portion of each days’ programming.

 

The Method Behind the Madness, Part II: Strength Programming at Potomac CrossFit

By: Colin Farrell

In Part I, we took a look at the overarching philosophy of the programming here at PCF. The main principle–of course–is to create a broad and inclusive level of fitness by way of packing a great deal of CrossFit, and therefore more opportunities to be coached, into your hour here at Potomac. In Part II, we will have a look at the nuances of our strength work that occurs prior to the workout or metcon.

To dissect our strength program, we will start with the broad brush basics, then dive in deeper and deeper. Our strength work has a fairly regular schedule, but with a layers of variance.

 

 

  • (Thursday: Gymnastics Skill Work)

 

There are, of course, some variations in this schedule in order to keep you guys on your toes and to accommodate other programming considerations, but this is largely the set-up from Monday through Friday.

Now for the real meat and potatoes: the undulating percentages. We reverse engineer from max out dates (theoretical or actual), slowly building back from a 1-, 2-, 3-, or 5-repetition maximal effort for each lift.  We will use the back squat max out as an example, scheduled for Week 6.

Week 1: 5×5 @ 75%
Week 2: 5×4 @ 80%
Week 3: 4×3 @ 85%
Week 4: 3×2 @ 90%
Week 5: 7×3 @ 60%
Week 6: Find a new 3 repetition maximum

Notice that from weeks 1 through 4, the volume (number of repetitions) decreases as the percentage (weight on the bar) increases. In week five we dramatically increase the total repetitions while simultaneously decreasing the percentage by 30 points:

Build strength across multiple weeks, then drop the percentage so as to hammer on mechanics the week prior to attempting a maximal effort lift.  

This methodology is used by CrossFitters, powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters, strongman athletes, even endurance athletes. By no means is it the only strength program (Google Wendler, Conjugate or West Side, for some commonly used strength-building protocols), but this program offers the flexibility to fit our Monday-through-Friday lifting schedule and varying athlete rest days.

The exact repetitions and percentages above change slightly from lift to lift and week to week, but charted across multiple weeks they follow the aforementioned pattern. In the interest of variance and the fact that hundreds of human bodies that roll through the gym don’t always adhere to the machinations of the above program each day, instead of “Back Squat 4x3x85%” the strength work will occasionally be written as “Back Squat 5-4-3-3-3-3” or as “E2MO2M for 14 Minutes Back Squat, 3 Reps.” The goal of all three versions is similar, but the latter two offer athletes an ability to scale up or scale down based on personal goals, fatigue (or lack thereof), as well as a variety of other personal factors.

Many gyms rotate their strength days so as to be “random” (surely there is a rhyme and reason to the rotation, but that is not to be expounded upon here) as far as which days of the week/month they perform specific lifts. There are, to be sure, benefits to switching up which days of the week and month we perform and practice the major lifts.  As mentioned in Part I of “The Method Behind the Madness”, at Potomac we implement what we know works and what has stood the test of time: when it comes to building strength, a more strict schedule, or periodization, works extremely well.

In the coming year we will begin to implement additional accessory and auxiliary lifts to give you a more well-rounded strength and help athletes break through any plateaus you may have found yourself stuck on. This also adds additional layers of variance. The more you are exposed to, the better off you will be as athletes.

We will continue to research, study, test, and retest various methodologies and movements in the world of strength-training so as to deliver to you the best possible programming to increase your work capacity across broad time, and modal domains. Of course, we want to have fun and be safe along the way, and that is something we will never lose sight of.

In Part III of “The Method Behind the Madness” we will take a gander at the methodology behind the metabolic conditioning workout (“MetCon”) programming for each day of the week.

 

The Method Behind the Madness, Part III: MetCon Programming at Potomac CrossFit

By: Colin Farrell

In Part II of “The Method Behind the Madness” we took a dive into the world of Potomac CrossFit’s strength development program. We have chosen and implemented a system that fits well into our gym’s community while considering a variety of factors, chief among them safety and effectiveness.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of strength programs CrossFit affiliates around the world follow. Even more numerous, however, are the methodologies surrounding the programming of the metabolic conditioning workouts.

Many are extremely similar, many are immensely effective, and some are not as effective.  As with our strength program, we will continue to research, test, re-test, and implement (when appropriate) improvements to our program.

When looking at our MetCon programming, it is important not to use “random” and “varied” as synonyms for what is going each day of the week.  There are a dozen or so factors to consider when putting together the workout of the day, here are just a few:

  • Anterior chain- vs. posterior chain-dominant lifts
  • Cycling through pulling, pushing, “cardio”, and conditioning movements
  • Number of days we squat in a row, number of days we press overhead in a row
  • Class attendance as it corresponds with day of the week
  • Average athlete work:rest ratio
  • Number of modalities/movements (couplet vs. triplet vs. chipper)
  • Workout length
  • Strength programming for the week
  • Weather/time of the year
  • Et al.

All of the above factors are listed in no particular order, and that is not a complete list. Data shows that most athletes who work out 3 or more days per work most often come every other day, so many workouts are programmed with that in mind.  Secondly, we balance anterior chain movements (things like lunges, squats, wall-ball shots or thrusters) with posterior chain movements (kettlebell swings, deadlifts, power snatch) so as to ensure we don’t hit one or the other too many days in a row.  Additionally, we layer on pushing movements (ring dips, push press, etc.), and/or pulling movements (rope climbs, toe-to-bar, etc.), and/or conditioning (burpees, box jumps, etc.), and/or “cardio” (running, rowing, double-unders). These movement categories are kept in a constant rotation to ensure balance and calculated variance.

How many, and which, movements we choose are based on day of the week, in large part. Mondays and Tuesdays we usually have a higher volume of members in the gym. For that reason, we don’t often do chippers, workouts with 4 or more movements (i.e. potentially lots of equipment), as there is often not quite enough room. Because we squat every Monday and Friday, when possible, we try to avoid high volume or heavy squats more than one day in the middle of the week.

Saturdays are typically Hero workouts. These are benchmark workouts that we prefer not to tweak or change too often. Silly as it may seem, those workouts were written with a person in mind, and we don’t like to make too many adjustments to them. When choosing a Hero workout each week, we simply look to see which movements we have not used recently, which will fit within the confines of a one-hour class, what workout can safely be done given space, equipment, and athlete capability.

The factors are many, but in the end we aim for safety, effectiveness, and balance when choosing what movements to perform, how many repetitions, the loading, the length of workout, etc. We want to constantly shrink the margins of our experience so as to broaden our base of fitness. We will implement new strategies, movements, and methodologies when appropriate and when we can.

The MetCon-only Day

After looking at the results of our benchmarking back in January and early February, it became apparent that we had a large number of athletes that were quite strong and proficient when it came to barbell lifts. However, those same athletes (in general and across the board, not any one or set of individuals in particular) were not as proportionately capable during benchmark workouts like Fight Gone Bad, or Fran.  For example, we had a number of men in the gym that had 400+ deadlifts, 300+ back squats, but very few could go sub-4 minutes on Fran.

With that in mind, one day each week we will substitute our lift + a workout, for merely one, long workout.  This will allow more time to develop gymnastics skills, and expose us to longer workouts more often, hopefully building up our cardiovascular engines a bit more. Which day of the week this is will be determined by where we are in our lifting cycles.  

As ever, we are aiming to be as well-rounded as possible. You should be just as comfortable deadlifting heavy as you are running a 10-km or completing Isabel

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