For 100 different reasons, I absolutely love the open. Aside from the individual and group highs, it’s an incredible learning experience for me.
As a head Coach, I learn about your progress and our programming effectiveness. A year ago, we set out to focus on a few specific things. Did those things get better? What are the biggest development opportunities for the general group? What are the opportunities for each individual? What do I need to do to help everyone close those gaps?
As an owner, I learn how to continue to improve the experience for our SciCoh family. What went really well during the open? How do I incorporate that into the normal, everyday experience? What fell flat? How do we improve it next time?
I’ve had time to reflect from both angles and came up with some amazing observations and plans. I want to share these with you in a 3 part series.
- Part 1 addresses our general performance, key observations, and our programming plan for the next few months.
- Part 2 will talk specifically about you as an athlete. How to assess your own performance, set goals, and most effectively make progress.
- Part 3 is about the gym and how we are carrying some things over from the Open to enhance your experience.
OUR PLAN AFTER THE 2018 OPEN
After the 2018 open, Sarah and I met for hours to assess the foundational needs of our members and create a programming approach to address them.
We left with 2 key conclusions:
- Our greatest weakness was all things gymnastics. Specifically we lacked the midline and pull strength to adequately perform most rig related activities. We needed to make that a focus.
- We are serving a middle-aged population so we must focus on the things to maximize their health. This means:
- Limit volume (think number of reps throughout the week). Intensity is what makes you fit, not volume. While higher volume training is necessary to be a high-level athlete in the sport of CrossFit, it can do more harm than good to the average middle-age athlete using CrossFit as a way to get fit.
- Rarely use high risk low reward movements. Example: handstand push ups. There are certainly some benefits in training the handstand push up, but there is also inherent risk of neck injury if not performed or scaled properly. We can achieve those benefits in other ways, so we chose not to use the movement much in our daily training.
- Focus on unilateral, asymmetrical, and rotational movements. From lifting your child to spreading topsoil, nothing we do in life is a perfectly symmetrical movement like that of a barbell. Of course training the barbell carries over, but a succinct focus on the odd objects in different planes was a must.
DID OUR PLAN WORK?
In short, absolutely!
Our focus on midline and pull strength worked! We had more people hit pull ups, chest to bar pull ups, and bar muscle ups than ever before.
Our focus on single sided movements worked! Almost 90% of the gym actually Rxed the workout with single arm overhead walking lunges…and that was NOT a light dumbbell.
Ignoring handstand pushups showed up…and that’s ok. We didn’t have too many athletes get handstand push ups. On a group level, that’s completely ok, because injury risk was eliminated. On an individual level, that’s something we can work on together.
Our conditioning was just fine without all the volume training. We were not deficient in even the longer workouts. As I said, intensity, not volume causes the good stuff to happen.
WHAT WILL WE FOCUS ON NOW?
We are at a really cool time right now. Many of you have been here well over 2 years and have a nice solid foundation of fitness.
This allows us to do 2 things – focus more on individual progress and continue to work the higher skill movements
Based on what I observed, we will now do 4 things:
- Keep focusing on core and pull strength. We are so much better and it has worked, BUT there is still soooo much more progress we can make. I want us to be a gym where the MAJORITY of people can do a pull-up and our top 20% of athletes can rip out both kinds of muscle ups.
- Lay down an extra layer of base strength. You guys know how to move. Being stronger will make it easier. You did great on the snatches and thrusters but that was heavy for a lot of us. I want to build in more strength, so that becomes a legit repping weight for you!
- Keep a controlled volume approach with focus on the singular, asymetrical, and rotational movements. We need this stuff to keep healthy and perform in life, so we will keep doing it.
- Invest in the individual. A large part of our focus will be around YOU as the individual. YOUR strengths and weaknesses are defined and can be different than the group’s. Let’s address them! Part 2 will talk all about it.
As you have seen, we are starting our next cycle with benchmark week. Then for 8 weeks we will do a simple linear strength progression on the basic movements (back squat, front squat, strict press, bench press, deadlift, and strict pull-ups). We will then re-test and use that to develop the next mini-cycle.
With that increased strength, we will be able to do some really fuuuuun things during the summer!
Good luck this week and look out for part 2 later this week!