Programming Philosophy

In a recent survey, we received a bunch of questions asking for more information regarding  how I program and the WHY of what we do here at Crossfit Primal Energy.

I wrote a blog post about my personal philosophy last summer, and I will take this opportunity to address this topic from a different perspective, in an effort to add a bit more detail.

Crossfit HQ offers a theoretical template for fitness programming, and if you are interested, I suggest you check it out. You will definitely see similarities between the way I program for Crossfit Primal Energy and this template.

To delve into a bit more detail, I’m going to address three aspects of training I always try to incorporate into my programming.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and programming can be quite complex, but my effort is always to find the most simple, most efficient method for achieving the most broad, most inclusive “fitness”.

Creating a safe workout environment helps you get stronger and improves your overall quality of life.

Creating a safe workout environment helps you get stronger and improves your overall quality of life.

Safety

If a strength and conditioning program produces negative results, it isn’t working. If a strength and conditioning programming only offers “exercise” and makes no mention of recovery practices and injury prevention, it isn’t working.

An effective training program must first seek to improve quality of life, whether through improved function or decreased pain/dysfunction. Therefore, an effective training program must be SAFE before it is anything else.

What does this look like? How does this take place in real life at the gym?

In my programming philosophy, there are two specific ideas that help me create a safe training program. They are Progression and Transferable Skills.

The progression is all about learning and growth. 

The progression is all about learning and growth. 

Progression

In my mind, one thing should ALWAYS lead to another. There should always be a step-before and a step-after.

That way, we always know where we were, and where we want to go. I’m sure you can find a metaphor-for-life somewhere in that last sentence, right? You should always have something that you are working on. You should always be seeking to improve. Progression is the perfect recipe for never getting bored with training.

/Singles, double unders, triple unders/  /Push-up, dip, ring dip/  /Deadlift, clean, snatch/

Progression also encourages safety because you don’t move on to the next step until you achieve proficiency at your current ability level. Progression allows your body to adapt to the rigors of physical  training by making it a stepwise process. If you aren’t aware of movement progressions, I’ll leave a nifty flowchart right….HERE   

If you are familiar with Kelly Starrett, he offers a Crossfit-specific movement hierarchy in his book, “Supple Leopard”, and I suggest you check that out as well.

An effective training program produces observable change. To do this, an effective program must be based on a system of progression that allows an athlete to avoid “plateauing” and hopefully avoid boredom.

An effective strength and conditioning program must apply the principle of progression in terms of load, duration and movement complexity. This helps reinforce safety a priority, and allows a training program to remain as varied and complex as necessary to develop a broad, general, inclusive fitness.

In my perfect world, progression is reinforced by the principle of skill transferability, so that when you practice to get better at handstands you get better at jerks and get better at pullups and get better LIFE!

You start to find similar positions and movements, you begin to understand the larger picture of using your body in as many ways as possible, because that is what we are built to do!!

It's all about creating workouts that are useful and transferable. 

It's all about creating workouts that are useful and transferable. 

Transferable Skills

Life is short, right? Especially if you have a “real” job, a family or dog to take care of, a social life and all that other stuff.

If you only spend 1 hour a day training, you need that time to provide a physical stimulus that is effective as possible at making you as fit as possible. This kind of training creates another level of connection and awareness, greatly increasing an athlete’s ability to improve on a broad range of skills without being forced to spend time working on each specific skill individually.

If I can teach you how to engage your core and brace your spine, then you should be able to apply this skill while performing a pushup, while performing a deadlift, while performing a sled push.

If I can teach you how to properly organize your shoulder then you should be able to apply this skill while performing a ring dip, a handstand or a split jerk.

Making skills transferable to other skills reduces the risk of injury and improves safety because you actively work to make yourself better at something without “really” working on that thing. Do you understand what I mean?

If you work to achieve a perfect squat, you will get better at jumping, EVEN IF YOU NEVER PRACTICE JUMPING. If you work to achieve a perfect push press, you will get better at handstand push-ups, EVEN IF YOU NEVER PRACTICE HANDSTAND PUSHUPS.

It is imperative that athletes understand this principle. Another way to put it, is to say we should never practice “moves”, but rather we should always be practicing MOVEMENT.

Eventually, the movements and positions begin to blend together, and you attain Virtuosity. Even the most complex movements feel smooth and strong and natural. You no longer “think” about holding a hollow body position, you just DO it.

We’ll talk more about this later, but for now, please understand that VIRTUOSITY should be your biggest goal, beyond how strong you are or how fast you are, or trying to get your “summer abs” to reveal themselves ;).

I’m sure you can see, at this point, how the trifecta of safety, progression and transferable skills create an infinite feedback loop that an athlete can follow FOREVER, making the pursuit of fitness no longer a hobby, but rather a lifestyle.

For those of you who have more questions about why I program the way I do, or why our program is constructed the way it is, I hope this has provided some sensical rationale you can understand.

Thank you all so much for the hard work you do every day at Crossfit Primal Energy, and thank you for reading my words! Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

 

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