Optimizing Your Training

After getting a few weeks into The Ground Up v.2 cycle, our team has seen lots of progress and hard work from everyone! With all things considered and everyone getting their feet wet into this cycle, we must address how to maximize (or in this particular case, optimizing) your time in the gym with our program. After watching a vlog from a mentor of mine who gave me my first experiences coaching at Regionals and the Games, I would like to share with you some ways to help EVERY athlete take some ownership into their training and programming.

To keep things broad but specific at the same time, I will separate the gym into 4 categories: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Scaled. In order to define what category you fall under, use the descriptions below! Key to success: Read ALL of them.

  1. BEGINNER Athlete (approximately 10% of Derive, 0-8 months of experience)

    Defining Factors: Little to no experience with functional movement, low strength base and/or aerobic capacity, TIME and EXPERIENCE are the biggest separating factor.

    How BEGINNER athletes should be approaching every WOD
    1. Consistent scaling of range of motion and mechanics. Always scale specific movements the same way (ex. HSPU are done as regular push-ups, pull-ups as ring rows, all cleans in power or half-squats etc.). 
    2. Consistent scaling of weight and/or reps. Gradual and linear increases in weight for slow lifts: squats, deadlifts, presses. Little to no increase on fast lifts: snatch, clean, jerks.
    3. Focus on developing good habits FIRST. Get the mechanics down first, create consistency on those mechanics through repeated practice, then and ONLY then, add intensity/speed.
    4. Pay attention to the goal stimulus. Essentially, what should the workout FEEL like? Ask if the coach doesn't mention this! Knowing WHY you are doing a workout will go a long way into improving your fitness.
  2. INTERMEDIATE Athlete (approximately 80% of Derive, 6 months - multiple years)

    Defining Factors: Is seeing consistent progress in all facets of fitness, including but not limited to: increased loading in lifts, range of motion and capacity in gymnastics and aerobic capacity. Does NOT have the broad spectrum skills needed when looking at their GPP (general physical preparedness). In simple terms, there are large weaknesses in their skillset.

    How INTERMEDIATE athletes should be approaching every WOD
    1. VARY the scaling methods and stimuli for weaker movements. The best way to make a skill better, is to create a voluntary adaptation by "forcing" yourself to change the way you scale certain things. For example: scale pull-ups with ring rows, jumping pull-ups, strict banded pull-ups, kip swings with little pulls, etc. Scale muscle-ups with jumping muscle-ups, ring swings, ring transitions, etc. Get creative and ask a coach!
    2. Be honest with yourself and stop playing to your strengths. Start focusing on the specific movements or sections of a workout that aren't in your favor. Check your ego and make yourself better. Some examples:
    • You are awesome at running but are terrible at heavy lifting or barbell work. Lets say you're doing
      3 Rounds
      400m Run
      10 Clean and Jerks, 135/95
      Instead of gunning the run like you usually would, and scaling the weight pretty light, stop worrying about the run and don't scale the weight or scale the weight UP to focus more on your barbell work and mechanics.
    • Vice versa, using the same method above, if you are terrible at running and great on the barbell. Scale the weight down, and absolutely BOOK the run!

      By using this method, you are creating good adaptations for your body. You can always ask a coach for help!
  3. ADVANCED Athlete (less than 10% of Derive, 3+ years)

    Defining Factors: 
    Can do pretty much all workouts and movements as written without scaling. Generally isn't limited by load, movement mechanics, or range of motion of any sort. Capacity across the board in all categories is very good. Any weaknesses are very, very specific in nature.

    How ADVANCED athletes should be approaching every WOD
    1. This is where INTENSITY MATTERS MOST. No longer should this athlete be worried about getting the "best" time at the gym. Your focus is now "how can I make this workout harder or more challenging?". The answer to that will almost always be MOVE FASTER. Challenge yourself to different approaches and strategies to try to increase the intensity. Rep scheme and loading are almost irrelevant here, and most of the time counterproductive-- it will actually cut you intensity down. Or, ask a coach "Whats a GREAT time for this WOD?". This way you can push yourself to move as fast as you can.

      An example would be: Say you are great at "Amanda" 9-7-5 MU/Squat snatches, 135/95. You can increase the difficulty by trying to touch and go all the snatches, going big or unbroken sets on MU, cutting your rest time much shorter, or doing fast singles on snatches. Challenge something in the workout that allows you to push out of your comfort zone.
    2.  Think about how you can make your movement better or more efficient. Similarly to #2 for intermediate athletes, focus on your deficiencies in your game when doing workouts. Blinders should be on and not focused on what others are doing or loading on the bar. Perfect your movement. Better movers move faster for longer periods of time. Check your ego.
  4. SCALED or Injured athlete

    This should almost be a separate category, but should be addressed. As an athlete, we all get tweaks, pulls, and bumps. However, to ignore or not care for that ailment is an unnecessary and irresponsible. Here are the steps you need to take as an athlete with an injury.
    1. DON'T keep it a secret. Let a coach know. We can help you with exercises, scaling, and workout adjustments. Let us know in or outside of class.
    2. Most of the time, REST & INACTIVITY is NOT the answer. To be as brief as possible, often times, that injured part of your body needs bloodflow. Inactivity hinders that. Now that does not mean go out and throw baseballs on an injured shoulder. We are talking about active movement, stability exercises, and a controlled environment to get new blood to that potentially inflamed and/or hurting area. Talk to a coach to help figure out if you actually need rest. Note: I'm talking relatively minor strains and pains here.
    3. Scale, move perfect, slow the fuck down. Speed is your enemy here. You can still increase your fitness even with slower movements. Decrease the load, go back to the bare bones of each movement, and move with intention.
    4. For the more serious injury, rest/immobilize that body part, and continue to do other slower, perfect movements with the other parts of your body (i.e. unilateral movements, single arm/leg, upper or lower body, etc.). Talk to a coach to see if this is your best option and how to scale.

I write all this because I know the large majority of our athletes, if not all, can use more individualized approaches to workouts and movements. Our Performance Targeting program is nice, but there are always more proactive ways to attack your weaknesses. We are all different shapes and sizes, so we shouldn't necessarily be taking the same approaches to workouts. The beauty of CrossFit and CrossFit Derive is that we all get the same workout, but we can all get what we want out of it based on our goals.

I hope this blog allows you to take more ownership of your training. Our coaches do their best to help you target your goals, now its your job to really hone in, track your workouts (ask us about Beyond the Whiteboard software), and do the things that hit your target points the best. To discuss more about your goals, schedule a sit down with myself or any one of our coaches. Ask any athlete that has-- you'll be glad you did!


Full Effort, Full Victory.
Coach Frank