We’re all familiar with the term, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” While clearly a literal fact, in its literal sense when applied to CrossFit this usually means deficit in one of the 10 CrossFit foundations or CrossFit defined components of fitness:
- Cardio vascular endurance
- Co ordination
More broadly this is generally a weakness with gymnastics, strength/weight lifting or “engine” – fitness/capacity.
The concept of CrossFit is GREAT – it has changed my life and the lives of many. As a fitness regime CrossFit has rewritten the text books, once a simple philosophy of training developed by Greg Glassman (a former gymnast) back in the year 2000, CrossFit has gone on to revolutionize the fitness industry. The typical CrossFit prescription is three days on, one day off – using a combination of simple and complex movements that fall into either barbell, gymnastic or monostructural categories. This prescription delivers a great foundation for fitness, however these days a little more specificity is needed in individuals’ training programs if they wish to be a competitor OR just better themselves to get the most out of their affiliate programming.
RAW receives a lot of enquiries from people wanting to improve their performance. Many think they need to get fitter, “I finished 400th in the open and I want to get into the top 100….” Many think they need more volume in their training because they see Rich Froning doing 4 workouts a day…. This in almost 99.9% of circumstances will NOT be the answer. You do not need to train 4 times a day, every day all year round, and most of you won’t be able to sustain such volume.
The CrossFit prescription of fitness being broad and inclusive is fantastic BUT what if you have a specific weakness? Is the general CrossFit WOD enough to progress in those areas? If your box programs 30 muscle ups for time and use an old school way to scale of 120 pull ups and 120 dips will that actually help you get 30 muscle ups for time in 7 months when your affiliate programs that again? NO it won’t. You will get a good workout that day, get sweaty, probably some torn skin and a tight chest. Despite the success of CrossFit there are still places for smartly thought out, periodised programs that are developed to build capacity in individual areas. Why not run a separate gymnastic program for 3 days a week working on gymnastic strength and technique that won’t take up a whole lot of time BUT will give dedicated focus and progressions needed to get that strict muscle up, build capacity in kipping HSPU or just develop core strength that can be adapted to MANY other movements..
Two of the biggest improvers RAW has had the pleasure of coaching are James Newbury and Brent Fikowski. Over the years they have developed as athletes NOT by doing MORE work but by doing smarter work and building their competency in areas that they lacked. As a side note I would also like to point out that in the off season Brent trained the least out of ANY athlete I have coached instead we concentrated on building him up in areas he lacked. For instance he is the only person to finish every workout every year of regionals. Specially the long chippers BUT in 2015 strict HSPU let him down in event 6. He had to do only 45 small deficit strict HSPU. That year he finished 20th out of 37 competing athletes. This year he finished regional Nate with 70 strict HSPU in 3rd. He bettered himself considerably as did all the other athletes that he competed against. They would all have improved in that year. Did he get better because he though he had to train 3 times a day to increase performance? No, he increased his capacity in that area by following a weakness program that concentrated on his gymnastics.
I would argue that the core of any program is strength, both gymnastic and barbell. It won’t matter if you have the lung capacity of Lance Armstrong, if you cannot deadlift 275lb/125kg in a workout. What if the workout is 21, 15, 9 deadlift, burpees over the bar and 200m run. This should be a lung busting typical CrossFit style metcon. HOWEVER if your 1rm deadlift is 375lb/170kg, that barbell is going to slow you down more and more as the workout progresses, remember you are lifting 73% of your 1rm. Wouldn’t it be better to have a 1rm of 510lb/230kg and be lifting 55% of 1rm? Just by being stronger and NOT any more “cardio fit” you will increase your work capacity across broad time and modal domains….. which funnily enough is the CrossFit prescription.
RAW Strength and Conditioning offers individual programming which is tailored to the individual to sharpen their performance. Our RAW online general programs, offer Novice, Open, Regional and Masters options – smartly tailored and periodised to a CrossFit season without missing the fun aspects of training. HOWEVER we recognize that it is NOT in everyone’s budget nor interests to have an individual program, you MAY in fact benefit by picking up the slack, developing your capacity and increasing your performance in some areas MORE than others. A strength, gymnastic or engine building program to coinside with your current CrossFit box/affiliate program might be the answer.
By subscribing to a RAW weakness program you gain access to your chosen weakness program (1) Gymnastics, (2) Strength, or (3) Engine. This is established through a questionnaire to help you decide your focus area. You also have the opportunity to submit your results and videos to maintain accountability as well as ensure you are getting results, and join a Facebook group with athletes on the same program. Complete our online enquiry form for a sample or more information.