The next training cycle at Active Life Athletics
Following our 1 rep max on the snatch, clean and back squat, we will beginning a new cycle starting next week. This cycle will include a lot of the same structure you are used to, as well as a few new pieces. All of your coaches have gone over the reasoning and progressions behind each part, and we are all extremely excited to see the progress that everyone will surely be making in all the different areas we’ll be hitting over the next 12 weeks. Below you will find the weekly structure and a brief description of what to expect on those days going forward, and a little insight into the methods behind the madness.
Part of our job as coaches is not only to instruct, but to educate you and help you understand why we do what we do. Having an understanding of the intention and purpose of your training will only help improve that much more. We encourage you to ask questions and inquire further about the information provided if anything is not made clear or overlooked below. There are no stupid questions! Just make sure you read through this first.
MONDAY: Squats-High Reps
Weeks 1-4 Front Squats
Weeks 5-8-Back Squats
Weeks 9-12-Overhead Squats
TUESDAY: IWT (Interval Weight Training)
WEDNESDAY: Gymnastics Skills and Progressions
Weeks 1-3-Kipping/Butterfly Pull Ups and Bar Muscle Ups
Weeks 4-6-Handstands, Handstand Push Ups and Handstand Walks
Weeks 7-9-Ring Muscle Ups
Weeks 10-12-Toes to Bar and Advanced Bar Movements
THURSDAY: Olympic Lifts and Explosive Work (X-WODs)
Alternating Snatch/Clean and Jerks combined high box jumps and similar movements.
Weeks 1-8: Alternating Hero WODS and Benchmark WODS
Weeks 1-8: On Benchmark days, the strength will focus on improving the overhead squat and catch position for the snatch.
Weeks 9-12: Barbell cycling and past open/regionals/games WODS
MONDAYS: THE SQUATS
We’ve spent the past several months building strength in lower rep/high weight ranges. We focused on powerlifting leading up to the CrossFit total in the spring/early summer. We found a 5, 3 and 1RM back squat during our most recent cycle. Now, we are going to focus on building some muscle endurance that will help us more in our metcons (WODs), especially for the upcoming open season. This means higher reps and lower weight. For the front and back squats, we’ll be working on our 10RM. For the overhead squats, we’ll be working on improving our stability and maintaining through relatively larger sets. This will be complimented by the overhead squat work on alternating Fridays (more about that below) which will prepare you for this portion of the cycle.
Although these seemed intimidating and confusing at first, everyone has seen the benefit and developed a strong love/hate relationship with IWT Tuesdays. These allow us to work on a variety of skills and movements under fatigue, work on our monostructural conditioning (running, rowing, biking, etc), and our pacing. Plus, they leave us feeling extremely accomplished and make us question why we come in every Tuesday. Don’t worry, your favorite day of the week isn’t going anywhere.
WEDNESDAYS: GYMNASTICS SKILLS AND THE PROGRESSIONS
This will be a new style of training for most of us. We’ve heard everyone come in and ask “What can I do to get _____.” Your blank may be ring muscle ups. It may be kipping pull ups. It may be handstand walks. Everyone in the gym, at every level, has one or more gymnastics movements that they would like to improve or conquer. We’ve developed a comprehensive program that is going to not only help you improve that one skill, but improve ALL of your gymnastics movements. In addition, it will transfer and carry over to your Olympic lifts, and probably things like running and jumping as well. Furthermore, you’ll have the tools to not only get it once, but master it and continue to improve and refine your skills moving forward. Here’s a little intro to how the gymnastics days will work:
Each session will have a related warm up which will lead into a 25 minute skill session. This is just like our normal strength session. We will follow with a WOD that incorporates the skill we are working on so you can apply and put that skill work to the test. There are 4 levels to each skill, increasing in difficulty. Each level builds upon the previous one. Fundamentals are key. Therefore, EVERYONE will start at Level I for the first part of the first day. If you meet the necessary criteria and master that level, you’ll move onto the next one. This will continue until you’ve reach a level which you haven’t mastered, and you’ll spend the remaining time working through that level’s skills. Still at Level I? That’s fine. We predict that the overwhelming majority of you will be. I repeat, don’t be embarrassed if you’re at Level I. You’ve never done this before. That’s where you should be, and most of you will be. You’ll keep hammering away at those basic skills until you’ve mastered them. Each week, EVERYONE will start at Level I and work through the levels until they reach the appropriate one. Again, these skills all build upon each other, and the basics at Level I are pre-requisites to achieving the goals of the higher levels. You must learn to crawl before you stand, stand before you walk, walk before your run. Check your ego and listen to your coach. You will be that much better for it. Your coaches, the competitive athletes in the gym, the athletes at the games who can do handstand walks and muscle ups and back flips etc. all still work on basics every single week. I have zero doubt that if you come every Wednesday and put in the same effort that you do for strength and conditioning portions, you will grow and achieve that skill by the end of this cycle. Don’t think you need the skill work? You’re wrong. Don’t believe us? Fine. Don’t come or do your own thing on Wednesdays and watch those who follow the program pass you by. You’ve asked us how to do it, and we’re giving it to you. It’s up to you to show up and do it.
THURSDAYS: OLYMPIC LIFTS AND EXPLOSIVE TRAINING WITH X-WODs
We’ll continue working on our Olympic lifts on Thursdays. We’ll alternate between Clean and Jerks and Snatches. Whichever lift you don’t do on Thursday, you’ll get plenty of between the regular WODs, IWTs and Hero and Benchmarks on Fridays. Want more? Hit Coach Joe’s lifting class on Saturdays. He’ll give you all the lifting you can handle. Then 5 more. We’ll be working from the top down with the lifts again. This means we’ll start working from the high hang position to keep the movement simple and develop speed under the bar. As we work our way down, the weights get heavier and the movement gets more complex. We’ll be doing a lot of complexes with percentage ranges as guidelines for where your working sets should be. Hit the top of the range and crushing your lifts? Awesome! Add some weight. Not feeling comfortable with the movement and still below the bottom of the range? No worries. Keep drilling that movement pattern at weights you can handle. These lifts are complex (they’re in the Olympics for a reason) and you’re going to have good days and bad days. The key is to focus on technique and keep coming back.
Along with the lifts, we’ll be bringing back the X-WODs. We have touched on these before, and they are great for developing explosive power and to transferring that power to whatever movement you couple them with. As a reminder for those of you who have done them and an introduction to those of you who haven’t, here’s an example:
2-1-2-1-2-1 Box Jumps
For this, you would warm up to your first working set of snatches. You hit your 3 snatches. Then walk over to the box and jump on it twice. Then take your normal rest. Hit your second set of snatches, walk to the box and jump on it once. You continue to switch from 2 box jumps to 1 box jump each set. The box height for the 2s should be slightly lower than the 1s. Both heights should be challenging, but not necessarily a max. You should walk up to the box with some question in your mind that you might miss it if you don’t go all out. If the box makes you nervous, you know it’s high enough. We’ll be hitting box jumps, knee jumps, jumping over PVCs, etc. If you’re not comfortable with one of these movements because of an injury, we can try and find an alternative. Even if it means keeping the box or jump low and focusing on landing with control and good depth, we’ll work it out. If you can’t jump and land AT ALL, chances are you’re not healthy enough to be Olympic lifting, and therefor we’ll figure out something else. For more information on the why’s and what’s on the X-WOD, ask your coaches or check out http://www.thexwod.com/. I promise you’ll see at least one person you know under the coaches and ambassadors. For those of you who took interest last year, we are going to try and bring the Explosive Seminar to the gym again this winter as long as the interest is there. Let us know!
FRIDAYS: HERO/BENCHMARK WODS AND OVERHEAD SQUAT WORK/BARBELL CYCLING
We’ll be alternating weeks between Hero and Benchmark work outs. We still want to give you the opportunity to challenge yourself and honor our heroes by hitting Hero WODs. However, with IWTs already in the weekly schedule, devoting two full sessions to very long work outs can overload you and doesn’t allow for skill development. With the Benchmark work outs every other week, you’ll still be challenged and have a chance to compete with your old PRs and those around you for leaderboard status. The benchmarks we do will follow a strength or gymnastics cycle that fit that WOD, so your performance should improve as a result. In no particular order, here are the benchmarks you can look forward to PRing on:
Grace (at Barbells for Boobs October 18th)
At the same time, we’ll be able to spend some time on something that a large number of people need work on: their overhead squat, and specifically, bottom position in the snatch. Through the past few months, we have spent some time hitting things like SOTS presses and snatch balances. It’s something we can definitely improve on. There have been people attempting to snatch up to 100 pounds over what they can successfully snatch balance. This is not good. It shows a major deficiency in mobility, stability, speed under the bar, and comfort in the position, and it seems to be consistent across the board with a few exceptions. The good news? Once you get better with this, your chance of injury will decrease and your snatch will improve with no other changes whatsoever.
Towards the end of the cycle, our snatch positional work will give way to barbell cycling. By this point, we will have spent a great deal of time on improving our lifting technique and strength, and our general muscle endurance through our squat programming. Barbell cycling will allow us to put that to work in high-paced, intense strength sessions that will help us work on touch and go reps and speed and efficiency. The Hero and Benchmark WODs will give way to past Open, Regionals, and Games WODs to help us starting prepping for the Open.
ACCESSORY WORK: As many of you know, we work with a large number of athletes, from the top 1 percent in the world, to the weekend warrior and everything in between. Our accessory work will be a generalized program to complement our regular programming based on what we find to be the most common inefficiencies in athletes, specifically those who train with CrossFit. It is not a requirement for each class and is to be done outside of the class time, but we do encourage you to take it on if you have the time and want a little more work. It will make you a more balanced athlete, add some variety to your training, and help to prevent injuries and improve your performance.
We are all extremely confident that the next few months will provide you with a great deal of improvement in all facets of your fitness and be extremely fun and exciting to be a part of. Be patient with what is new, different, and difficult. Smash your weaknesses, refine your strengths, and enjoy the process. Again, if you have any questions at all about the structure, purpose, or meaning behind the programming, ask one of your coaches.
FRIDAY: Hero or Benchmark WODS/Overhead Squat Work/Barbell Cycling