A General Look at the Puzzle of Programming: Part 2


When we are programming, there is a gamut of things we try to focus on when it comes to varying movements that involve pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, and a list of other motions we want to see athletes making throughout each month, week, and class. Our training is different than that of a bodybuilder whose sport focuses on specific muscles in each workout.



It is important to try and have at least 3 days a week of this type of functional training to be most effective, even if they aren’t consecutive. Within the programming, we incorporate gymnastics and other movements such as lifts, like the clean, jerk, snatch, squat, bench press, and deadlift to name a few. Some single arm, single leg. Some combined with higher repetition endurance movements like assault bike, row, jump rope to each achieve a different stimulus or metabolic response.


The science behind long term progression and periodization is very independent of each athlete. Some start a season next month, while others are looking for a lifetime of maintained and sustained health. It’s important to understand your goals vs. the person next to you. We can train athletes of all ages and ability levels using the same workouts. Our specialty is the ability to take those workouts and modify them to complement each athletes’ goals. Goals can vary from an athlete trying to build muscle, to an athlete preparing for a rigorous hike or a professional competition. Understanding and discussing with your coach about where you should be is crucial in your development as an athlete. It will also help you build a stronger coach-athlete relationship.




Above is a template I use to help make sure our workouts vary across all domains and pathways. There are thousands of exercises we can use, but the goal is to fill in as much of the space as possible across all domains throughout a week’s time. We adjust this typically on a 3-4 week cycle with longer cycles depending on our goals. This helps determine if we need to make changes in our work capacity to make us better well-rounded athletes. I look at 3 main pillars of programming when developing a group or individual workout. We need to constantly vary our workouts across all domains. All of these workouts should be done at relatively high intensities and measurable.


In order to accomplish a measurable and successful program, we use 3 main pillars: Time, Repetition, and Load.


Each is a measurable tool that allows us the ability to measure change over short or extensive periods of time. Let’s briefly discuss each one and how they fit into the puzzle of programming. Recognize how each one plays a crucial role with the other. By the end of your week of programming, your template should look a little bit like this.


Time: It can take you less than 10 seconds to complete a 1 repetition maximum lift, 2 minutes or less to complete a 200m run or row, or 1-24 hours to complete your race or activity. Each of these are representations of time. While shorter more explosive workouts and exercises use anaerobic capacity (without oxygen) to complete a task like the Clean and Jerk or Snatch. Longer duration or a combination of movements will tap into and utilize aerobic capacity (with oxygen) to complete those longer workouts or races. Time plays a role in the other pillars.


Repetition: As we talked about above, time plays a role here as well. Repetitions take time. We can focus on a single repetition at our heaviest weight for a 1 repetition maximum lift(1rm). This is a single repetition for the heaviest load moved in a single exercise. We could lighten the load and try and complete 2 repetitions, eventually lightening to a load that we could complete 100 repetitions or more of. Now, obviously, it would take a lot more time to complete 100+ repetitions than a single, but it is another way we can measure our workouts.


Load: Above we just mentioned going from a 1RM lift to 100+ reps of the same movement. We also talked about the only way to do so in a reasonable amount of time is to lighten the load. Load, or total weight being moved, plays a distinct role in time and repetition. The heavier the load, the harder it will be to complete a certain number of repetitions in a specific amount of time. See how this is all tying together? It’s amazing that without one, the other can’t exist.


The program only works if you show up! Consistency over intensity, Intensity over Volume! There is a lot that goes into programming, especially when programming for individuals of all ages, abilities, different schedules, and all sorts of other small factors thrown in. Our Coaches take pride in the ability to take our programmed WODs as a foundation and mold those individual workouts to suit each individual athlete, so they have a better opportunity to reach their specific goals. Having a consistent schedule and showing up is the first step. I believe there is more benefit in showing up 2-3 days a week and giving it your absolute best effort and intensity, rather than show up 5 days a week and just go through the motions. Warm-Ups are for injury prevention, practice, and skill development and should be taken just as seriously as your workouts. Be proactive with your own program by showing up on time and keeping yourself accountable. As coaches, we plan our program and do our best to adjust on the fly, but it always throws off the flow of the ENTIRE class when someone shows up late. It also increases the stress levels of the athlete and may cause you to have a poor warm-up which leads to a poor workout. Practicing good habits at the gym plays a large role in how our programming becomes effective.

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