Ballston CrossFit » Programming: February – May 2020

Programming: February – May 2020

Great job in the 2020 CrossFit Open! It was so fun to see how our 2019 programming led so many of you to take your fitness (and skills) to new levels (so many PRs!). Starting Monday, November 11, we will begin a new cycle of programming at BCF and CF Route 7. This cycle will consist of 4 programming blocks of varying lengths and will take us through October 2020. Each programming block will have a unique and specific focus that will lay the groundwork for the blocks that follow. The full year’s programming will come together so that you have developed a new peak level of fitness just in time for the next CrossFit Open where you can put all of your hard work on display. 

Keep reading to find a detailed breakdown of each block of programming.

Block One: Strength Endurance/Functional Bodybuilding (November 4, 2019 – February 2, 2020)

The goal for this block of programming will be to first  increase our Base Level Strength and then begin developing Strength Endurance. While we are doing this we will also be maintaining the work capacity and skills that we have developed during our lead up to the Open season.

Base level strength represents the most basic ability to stabilize your own body and produce force efficiently. Base level of strength is largely dependent on your ability to maintain the best posture and positions as you move.

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 this is your ability to move a moderate to heavy weight for high repetitions.

There are a few reasons why we have decided to use these aspects of strength as our focus for the next block of programming. Developing your base level strength requires focus on quality over volume or intensity. We want you to learn to move as well as possible so that when you apply speed and weight to your movement patterns your body will move more safely and efficiently. Ultimately, this means that you will be faster, stronger, and more injury resistant.Strength endurance training will help you build muscle and increase your 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, training both of these aspects of strength calls for the use of submaximal weights and higher repetitions. This will give all of you an opportunity to refine your movements and make adjustments to your technique that are not possible when lifting heavier 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.

Base level strength development will be the main focus for the first month of this block of programming. During this time you can expect to see:

  • More accessory movements and “Functional Bodybuilding”
  • Specific development of core strength and stability
  • More unilateral and rotational exercises
  • Fewer long metcons

For the remaining two months of this programming block we will shift focus to developing strength endurance. Some overall themes that you can expect are:

  • More days per week with barbell strength work
  • More classic barbell strength (squats/deadlifts/pressing)
  • Higher repetitions (8-12 rep range)
  • Fewer long metcons

With these specific goals in mind, you will notice come obvious changes in the programming but, DON’T WORRY!!! We are not abandoning the core CrossFit methodologies. The painful metcons you all love will still be there. Most of our metcons will be in the 7-15 minute time domain but, there will still be some grueling 30 minute chippers, long AMRAPs, and plenty of running, rowing, and burpees. We will also still be testing benchmarks and Hero WODs regularly.

Block Two: General Strength/Aerobic and Anaerobic Capacity (February 3 – May 3, 2020)

Starting Monday, February 3rd we will begin a new block of programming at BCF and CF Route 7. This programming block will be three months long, going through the end of April.

The goal for this block of programming will be to increase our general strength and to more specifically target the development of our aerobic and anaerobic capacity while maintaining the skills that we have developed through our previous blocks of programming.

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 for a moderate amount of reps. 

There are a few reasons why we have decided to focus on this type of strength for the next block of programming. First, 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. 

One reason for a shift in focus to aerobic and anaerobic capacity development is that it will fit well with the reduction in lifting volume that occurs during general strength programming. Simply put, we have more room in our daily programming for longer metcons and extra conditioning work. The most important reason for this focus, though, is that developing these capacities is necessary for efficient use of your body’s energy systems. The more developed you are in these areas, the longer and more intensely you can exercise without your body fatiguing and the more quickly you will recover during and after workouts.

A definition for aerobic capacity is: your body’s ability to consume oxygen for energy production. Aerobic exercise consists of lower intensity, longer duration workouts. These are workouts where you are still in control of your breathing (conversational pace) and you experience minimal muscle fatigue. Success in this style of training requires some restraint and consistency. To work within your and expand your aerobic capacity you have to establish and maintain a pace that is just below the threshold where you would shift into anaerobic energy consumption.

Anaerobic capacity refers to your body’s ability to continue doing work after you have surpassed the intensity level where oxygen alone is enough to sustain energy production. In anaerobic exercise your body will begin to use other energy sources and will also more rapidly accumulate metabolic waste products like lactic acid. Anaerobic workouts are the workouts where your muscles begin to burn, it becomes hard to control your breathing and you may even get deep enough in the pain cave to start to feel a little nauseous.

Most CrossFit metcons fall under the anaerobic training umbrella so this style of training will not feel very new to most of you. During this next block of training, there will be workouts specifically designed to take you to the edge of your anaerobic capacity (a.k.a. lactic threshold) and keep you there as long as possible. To really improve in this area, though, it will take some commitment on your part. This style of training demands intensity and it HURTS. You have to be willing to push yourself near your limit and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is the only way you can expand your anaerobic capacity.       

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

  • Slightly fewer days per week with barbell strength work
  • Lower repetition lifting (Mostly 3 – 6 reps)
  • High percentage lifting (Mostly 75 – 90%)
  • More rest between sets!

To help contribute to the goal of developing aerobic and anaerobic capacity you can expect:

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

As we look to the rest of 2020 you can expect to see us continue building on the strength and conditioning that will happen in the next block. The low volume, heavy lifting and CrossFit-specific skills will make a strong comeback in the months leading up to the next CrossFit Open in October.

We are very excited to roll out this new programming and see all of the improvements that our members will make!!!

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