This is a very slightly modified version of a post that I wrote three years ago. I think the concepts are as true now as they were then, especially given the growth and progress of our athletes in that time. I hope it's helpful or at least mildly interesting.
2016 has been a pretty cool year thus far. We set some baseline markers in the winter & spring, tested and measured our fitness in the worldwide CrossFit Open, crushed an integrated 8-week squat cycle that gleaned dozens of 200+/300+/400+ back squats (including a handful of double bodyweight lifts) and then embarked on our current cycle of programming (hello classic CrossFit and increased volume of Olympic-style lifts and basic gymnastics!) which has already seen many PRs from those who have consistently put in the work at the gym.
Keeping the class programming varied and effective for everyone, while integrating a purposeful weightlifting template & layering in skill/bodyweight/gymnastics/agility pieces and dynamic conditioning, has always been a fun experience for Sarah and me (grammar PSA, sorry I can't help it).
As coaches we're often asked by athletes how they can get better... stronger, faster, fitter. Our answer is always some form of the same sentiment: know what you're training for (i.e. what are your goals?), stick to a trusted program, work hard, be consistent, and be honest with yourself. Not sexy, I know. People usually want to hear a magical revelation-- some form of a silver bullet that is the path of least resistance and can provide a quick fix. Something like "follow Starting Strength for a month," or "get on Wendler 5-3-1 for a couple of waves," or "stop running and start doing only [fill in the blank]", or conversely "stop doing [fill in the blank] and just start running all the time." It's easier to think that a new program, methodology, or training regimen will fix everything ASAP, than to think harder work and more consistency will. We call this the "shiny new object syndrome." The truth is that the answer is usually simpler than one thinks, and more straightforward than they care to accept.
Glenn Pendlay is credited as being one of the best weightlifting coaches in America over the last decade or two. He has coached countless lifters to national and international success, and he tips his hat to CrossFit for increasing awareness around - and breathing new life into - the sport of Olympic weightlifting. In short, legions of CrossFitters and weightlifters alike hang on his every word-- whether it be about technique, training, programming, or whatever he chooses to discuss in a public forum. And with good reason-- he is a leader in the community of weightlifting and a champion of the positive influences CrossFit has made. Years ago on his blog he once discussed how his lifters train-- if you're interested I suggest you take a quick read. Now these are high-level Olympic weightlifters mind you, so they are athletes training for that specific sport, and the goals of their program are geared as such-- so bear in mind that their training has far less variance, and much more specificity, than does ours.
If you read Coach Pendlay's post linked above, you'll realize that (even with his sport-specific methodology) there are many common themes with what a lot of you are already doing at Arena Ready. Pick up heavy things often. Perform the Olympic-style lifts regularly. Squat. Work on overhead strength (and mobility). Volume and rest. Light and heavy. Power variations. If you want to get better at weightlifting you're in luck-- AR programming integrates classic progressions with proven methods in order to target proficiency (and for some, eventually mastery) with the Olympic-style lifts. We've sent multiple athletes to US Nationals and the American Championships, qualified lifters for the Masters Nationals & Worlds, and taught newcomers to strength & conditioning how to snatch and clean & jerk with better technique than you'll likely see in most non-weightlifting specific gyms. But don't take my word for it-- ask any one of the people who have PR'd their squat, snatch, clean, or jerk in recent months (or even their "Nasty Girls", "Diane", or "Murph" times). Funny thing is, the better they get at Olympic weightlifting-related stuff the better they get at other stuff too: muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, jumping, running, pulling from the floor, balance, agility, speed, flexibility, stability, coordination. Weird. It's like the Olympic lifts train athleticism or something.
What if you don't care about Olympic weightlifting and you just want to show up and workout and get fitter? Great. Show up. Work hard. Take your recovery (nutrition, sleep, mobility, rest days, etc.) seriously. That's the beauty of an integrated program which prioritizes variance in an effort to increase your work capacity across broad time, age, and modal domains. That's fancy talk for saying that the normal class workouts are geared toward making you better at just about any physical (and in many ways mental) challenge life can throw at you. You train hard inside of AR so you can be better outside of AR.
We coaches and owners worry about what to cram into the hour of training you spend here so that you don't have to - we painstakingly develop and write the programming with the goal of getting you better over time at as many things as possible. Steady, sustainable, smart progress. Varied, not random. Effective, not trendy (to paraphrase our friend Pat Sherwood). In most cases simple and (hopefully) elegant, not overly fancy or novel (i.e. we don't mindlessly throw fifty movements at you in one workout/day/week in an attempt to break you in a "cool new way"). We approach the months and years of training from a big picture standpoint, and fill in the weeks and days with specifics that contribute to the overall goal. We monitor the light days, the heavy days, the long aerobic days, the high intensity days, the work/rest days, the skill focused days, the highly technical and not so highly technical days, the pulling days, the pushing days, the high volume days, the low volume days, and on and on and on. WE FOLLOW THE PROGRAMMING OURSELVES. We know how the workouts feel and what the intended stimulus is, every day. Our competitive level athletes take classes 5-6 times per week, they don't follow outsourced programming during Open Gym, nor do they try to cram mindless extra volume on top of what they're already doing in an effort to simply do more stuff (the end result of that for most athletes is usually a decreased intensity in training). It's worked pretty well over the years from top to bottom - from high-level CrossFit Games Regional athletes to the brand new, de-conditioned athlete who just started CrossFit at AR.
So whether you're training to be competitive at CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, GRID, any number of other specific sports, or simply to be the fittest person in your office, make sure your consistent hard work is in line with your goals. Then trust in the program, put your best efforts into the training, enjoy the camaraderie along the way, and celebrate the results.
A throwback photo of a few of the AR ladies who have been with us for a while, and who are still getting better every day... through consistent hard work, smart training, and having a helluva lot of fun along the way.
You'd think that after all that soapboxing Wednesday's WOD would include a bunch of snatching or cleaning to drive my point home with a tidy segue. Well, you'd be wrong in this case, but I like where your head is at - after all, we're talking about variance, right?
WOD for 06-15-16:
Alternating EMOM for 5 Rounds (10 Minutes):
Minute 1: Strict Pull-ups, you pick the number
Minute 2: 12 Hollow Rocks
You pick the number for strict pull-ups. Feel great? Go for a max set. Not so much? Break it up as needed and get the strict pulling work in. In other words, take what's there today - but move well regardless.
Alternating EMOM for 5 Rounds (20 Minutes):
Minute 1: 15 Kettlebell Swings @ 70/53 lbs
Minute 2: 10 Burpee Box Jumps @ 24/20 in
Minute 3: 200m Sprint
Minute 4: REST
Face the box on the burpee box jumps. Dial up the speed on the 200m sprint if you have juice left in the tank.