How Has Programming For An Affiliate Changed?

Last time, when we talked about the basics of CrossFit programming, we discussed how the CrossFit Home Office programs for their mainstay programming. In that discussion we talked about how CrossFit programs 1 workout per day on a 3 day on/1 day off rotation.

The Hopper

When Glassman was creating CrossFit, he was coming from an olympic gymnastic background and was starting with the idea of “Forging Elite Fitness.” He wanted to create a program that would make the best all around athlete possible based off of the “Hopper Principle.” This principle basically means if we threw a bunch of ping pong balls into a bin, shook it about, and pulled out any random combination of movements, the fittest athlete would complete these random tasks at a higher average level than any other type of trained athlete.

This randomness was sewn into his programming and it is what keeps CrossFit so fun for athletes who do it everyday! If you hate routines, coming into a class where it’s something new every day is gonna make each day new and exciting!

The problem with this style of randomness, however, is that there are so many combinations that are possible for a workout that you could conceivably never hit the same workout in your lifetime. Which means, how do we know that you are progressing?

Progress Must Be Tested

Glassman got around this by making note of particularly difficult combinations and giving them names. Workouts like Dianne, Helen, Fran, Annie, and more were created to test athletes and give athletes and coaches feedback on if their training was working. These workouts are repeated at most 3 times per year and would be linked back to their previous implementation through a link at the bottom of the WOD.

While Home Office programming is amazing and has it’s routine down cold, it is still relying on the idea that athlete’s mold their schedule to their program and that routine is the enemy of success.

The Affiliate Model 

In order for CrossFit to grow beyond the original location, CrossFit Santa Cruz, Glassman put his libertarian principles to the test and decided to grow his brand via an affiliate model. This means that CrossFit leases its’ name out to gyms that promise to teach using their principles (enforced through the requirement of coaches have a CrossFit L1 to teach). CrossFit does not care how you program, where you open up, and only a little bit about what you call yourself (you can’t use city names anymore and of course you can call yourself CrossFit Arby’s or F@#$ CrossFit). 

This business model allowed for adaptions to be made to the original programming philosophy and it started getting mixed with coaches who came from different backgrounds. 

New Eyes Means New Programming

The average athlete really can’t follow a 3 day on and 1 day off program. For the most part, people have 9 to 5 jobs that are Monday-Friday and a life to plan. If you have a constantly floating 3 day block of exercise, the risk of missing workouts is high (which if you have read our blogs before, adherence is important for a training program to work)!

What affiliates started to realize was that a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday model fit way more people’s schedules. While not perfect for everyone’s schedule, this is the most efficient schedule for the most athletes and what is used as the underpinning principle for most programmers. 

On top of this, the SAID principle (Specific Adaptions to Imposed Demands) began to be pushed to its’ limit as affiliates tried figuring out the most effective way to implement CrossFit for real world athletes.

If you believe in SAID, then you believe that humans can adapt physically and neurologically to new stimuli as long as it is introduced gradually and that our capacity is what we make it. In other words, you can fit more into an hour of training than 1 WOD and it could be an even more effective training routine.

This is where some gyms began implementing periodized weightlifting and metcon plans (as a Vegvisir Athlete, you would know these as our training cycles). All this means is that instead of things being random, workouts were still following the CrossFit principles of trying to cover all the training domains we can, but, a theme would be laid out for the duration of a 8-12 week period. On top of this, gyms would include a weightlifting or skill portion prior to a MetCon as athletes performing these cycles would be found to be capable of doing both WODs in the same hour without seeing negative effects on their abilities to perform.

Programming out a full cycle ahead of time, steering workouts for a given goal, implementing strength routines, and programming testing weeks saw an increased level of output from athletes. This led to more athletes achieving their goals and higher levels of fitness being achieved by those athletes chasing elite fitness. 

The Dichotomy 

Now, these are just two ends of a spectrum of programming in CrossFit. If you find a program any where along this spectrum, it can be effective! Training functional movements with high intensity is a proven model for improving fitness! Training programs that offer just 1 training piece a day can establish more time to work on skills within a class that you might not have time for outside of that class. While programs that offer both a strength piece and metcon within the same hour pack as much fitness as possible into your day. All we as coaches care about is that you are safe, achieving the goals you set out to achieve, and that you’re enjoying your training!

Next time we will break down what a cycle of our programming looks like and why we make the choices we make to improve your fitness.

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