Current Programming Block Explanation (Peak Strength/Strict Gymnastics Development)


Current Programming Block Explanation (Peak Strength/Strict Gymnastics Development)

Peak Strength and Gymnastics Development

Starting Monday, November 15, we will begin a new block of programming at BCF and CF Route 7. This programming block will be 2 months long, running through the end of the year.

The goals for this block of programming will be to focus on developing and testing peak strength for barbell movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, Olympic lifts, etc.). Peak strength is the maximal ability to produce force or, in the most simple terms, the heaviest weights you can lift. We will also begin putting a bigger focus on developing gymnastics strength/skills. The first phase of this will involve a focus on strict gymnastics strength. Mastering the strict versions of our gymnastics movements will allow you to more safely and efficiently execute the dynamic and skill-based “kipping” versions of these movements. During this time, our approach to the conditioning portion of our program will be mostly unchanged. 

Some overall themes you can expect to see in our barbell strength training this block are:

  • Lower repetitions (Mostly 1-3 rep range)
  • More full Olympic lifts (Squat cleans/snatches from ground, Split jerks, etc.)
  • 1 Rep Max testing towards the end of this block
  • Continuation of our back squat and deadlift progressions

Some overall themes you can expect to see in our gymnastics strength/skill training this block are:

  • More gymnastics strength/skill days per week
  • More focus on strict gymnastics strength
  • Specific development for muscle ups/pull ups, handstand push ups, and handstand walks
  • Testing of muscle up/pull up and handstand proficiency
  • Gymnastics movements in metcons on a regular basis (muscle ups, pull ups, pistols, toes to bar, handstand walking, etc.)

The reasons for the direction of this programming block are as follows:

You have all increased your general barbell strength and Olympic weightlifting skills over the course of this year. We will continue to develop these attributes by lifting heavier weights at a lower volume (less reps per set). As we come closer to the CrossFit Open in the spring we want to have our gymnastics skills dialed in so that we are able to implement them more regularly in metcons and safely perform these movements with more intensity.

As we look ahead in our programming moving toward the CrossFit Open in the spring you can expect to see us apply the strength and technique that has been developed with the barbell through lifting tests and heavier metcon weights. We will also continue to sharpen up our conditioning with higher intensity, anaerobic metcons. Starting in January you can expect the programming to transition toward prepping specifically for the CrossFit Open. During that time, you will see a higher volume of intense and strategy-based conditioning work, benchmark workouts, as well as CrossFit-specific skills practice.

General Strength

The goal for this block of programming will be to increase our general strength. The conditioning portion of our programming will remain mostly unchanged through this block of programming but, you will see a slight reduction in the frequency of super long workouts and more of the mid range, high intensity metcons. You will also begin to see some more emphasis on gymnastics strength and skill building as that will be a main focus later in the year. 

General strength as defined by Scientific Principles of Strength Training is: “the general ability to exert force using the body’s musculature”. Basically, in this programming block, we will be developing our ability to move heavy weight. 

We have just finished up a block of programming focused on building muscle and increasing your strength work capacity. Focusing our strength training on general strength at this point will best utilize those newly developed aspects of your fitness. Better strength endurance means better recovery between your working sets of lifting, leading to higher quality training sessions. 

Some overall themes and changes that you will be seeing in regard to the general strength training will be:

  • Lower repetition lifting (Mostly 3 – 6 reps)
  • High percentage lifting (Mostly 75 – 90%)
  • Continued Development of Olympic Lifts

With these specific goals in mind, you will notice some changes in the programming but, DON’T WORRY, the regular CrossFit-style metcons you all love will still be there. Most of our metcons will stay in the 7 – 15 minute time domain as usual but, there will still be some super long workouts. We will also still be testing benchmarks and Hero WODs 2 – 3 times each month.

As we look to the rest of 2021 you can expect to see us continue building on the strength and skill work that will happen in this block.

Strength Endurance

The main goal for this block of programming will be to increase our strength endurance. Some elements from our previous block of programming such as aerobic capacity development and functional bodybuilding will remain in this block as well but at a lower frequency. 

One definition for strength endurance is: “the specific form of strength displayed in activities which require a relatively long duration of muscle tension with minimal decrease in efficiency” . In more simple terms, we will be helping to develop your ability to move a moderate to heavy weight for high repetitions.

There are a few reasons that this will be our focus for the next block of programming. Strength endurance training will help us build muscle and increase our strength work capacity, allowing you to lift more weight with less fatigue. These factors will contribute to much larger strength gains later in the year. Additionally, this type of training calls for submaximal weights and higher repetitions. This will give all of you an opportunity to refine your movements and make adjustments to your technique that will help you more safely and efficiently move heavy weights. This will not only contribute to increases in your maximal lifting capabilities but also your ability to maintain form and efficiency during metcons that involve strength movements (e.g. DT, Grace, Isabel).

Some overall themes that you will be seeing in regard to the strength endurance training will be:

  • More days per week with barbell strength work
  • Bodybuilding/Core strength weekly 
  • More classic barbell strength (squats/deadlifts/pressing)
  • Higher repetitions (8 – 10 rep range)

Aerobic Capacity and Durability

This programming block is where we hit the reset button and start our programming back at the beginning. The work we do in these next two months will lay the foundation for our training between now and the 2022 CrossFit Open. We were super proud to see both gyms have a significant bump up in the worldwide rankings for the CrossFit Open this year and we are excited to see how much more improvement we can make in 2022!!!

The strength goal for this block of programming is to make our bodies as durable as possible. This durability will come from building new muscle and increasing the quality of our existing muscle mass. But, more importantly, it will come from doing strength training that challenges and increases our mobility. We will be stronger and more stable through larger ranges of motion, making us more injury resistant and ready to lift big weights with quality. We will achieve this mostly with the use of “functional bodybuilding” strength work.

You can find a lot of different definitions for what functional bodybuilding is but essentially it is using things that are seen as traditional bodybuilding movements (e.g. isolation exercises) and accessory movements and putting an emphasis on quality over intensity/volume to achieve the goals outlined in the previous paragraph. 

Our conditioning focus for this block of programming will be on building aerobic capacity. A simple definition for aerobic capacity is “your body’s ability to consume oxygen for energy production”. 

The main reason for this shift in focus is that well developed aerobic capacity is necessary for efficient use of your body’s energy systems. The more developed your aerobic capacity is, the longer and more intensely you can exercise without your body fatiguing and the more quickly you will recover during and after workouts. This is the “cardio” equivalent of our durability/bodybuilding focus for our strength. Without a good base of aerobic capacity your other energy systems cannot be maximized or trained to their full potential.

Some overall themes that you will be seeing in regard to the strength training will be:

  • More days per week with non-barbell strength work
  • Bodybuilding and accessory work multiple times each week
  • Higher repetitions (Mostly 10+ rep range)
  • More strict gymnastics

Some overall themes that you will be seeing in regard to the conditioning will be:

  • More long metcons (20+ minutes)
  • More monostructural cardio (Running, Assault bike, Rowing, Ski Erg)
  • More interval-based metcons