Quick Note on Programming…

Typical scene while I'm programming. Yellow legal pads because I'm old-school and prefer to write everything down.
Typical scene while I’m programming. Yellow legal pads because I’m old-school and prefer to write everything down.

About two weeks ago, I programmed a WOD for all of you CFG members that looked like this:


Hand Release Push-Ups

Shoulder to Overhead

Front Squat

The weight that I prescribed for all of you was 95/65 for both barbell movements. The day prior, I had given my competitors (that I program privately for) the same workout, but the prescribed weight was 135/95 for them. There was some good back and forth banter between us, as they know I usually just do whatever we program at CFG, but in this case they expected me to do the same weight I programmed for them…135. I told them that for me, its more appropriate to do it at 115. After a few blows to my ego, it was not long before I received the following text message:

“So I’m curious as to why you came to 115 for you and 135/95 for us?”

So…this post will give you a glimpse behind my thought process behind how I program. This is by no means the end-all, be-all, but rather a starting point. A start to the conversation if you will…

In a nutshell, every workout that I design, I program with a specific intention or stimulus in mind. Some workouts I want to be short, fast, and light. Others I want to be long, light, and steady. Others might just be heavy.
How do I determine this? Well, without going off on a scientific tangent/rant and boring most of you to sleep, its relatively straightforward – I look at the things we’ve done lately, what we’re lacking, what my goals are for the current point of the year, and go from there. Easy, right??
Then I also take into account what I want the limiting factor to be – in some cases, its engine. Some, its strength. And some I program to have a limiter that people might not expect – grip…or in the case of this one – local muscular endurance. More specifically – anterior shoulder fatigue.
So the goal with that wod was to have a triplet that really hammered people in their upper body pressing prowess. For those that could blaze through it relatively unscathed (like Coach Steph did), it became a different WOD – one limited to her engine. For my competitors, they were right in the sweet spot – they’re used to TONS of upper body pressing in the form of push-ups, so that was almost a pre-fatgiue before you got to pressing the barbell. The reps that they told me they broke it into was perfect.
As for me (and nearly all of you), 135 would have made it a strength limiting WOD – one that, again, would miss the point of the workout. Where they are at (not just ability/capability) in the competition season/training cycle is far different from where we are. Each point in the season, we have specific things that we are working on. And for each subset of athletes, that means that even if workouts look the same at first glance, they can be made to feel drastically different just by varying the load. Remember, after mechanics and consistency are demonstrated, then and only then can we increase the intensity.
So to summarize its two fold – (1) intention/stimulus of the WOD, and (2) current state of training block of the athlete.
If you have questions or would like to hear more about this, post questions to comments!

people working out in a group fitness class


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