Becoming a well-rounded, fit individual requires a very broad training program. As set by the CrossFit ideology, there are 10 domains in which to improve upon : Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.
Most of us do not train 10 times per week. So how do we hit each of these targets?
Our current program template that we are conducting is addressing all of these domains as evenly as possible to make each of our members into a well-rounded athlete. Below is a quick look into how we address each of the 10 domains of fitness in our programming.
Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance:
We address this specifically once per week with long-cycle cardio modalities such as rowing. Once in awhile, we will replace that day with something that is more focused on coordination, balance, and flexibility through not-for-time WODs that emphasize quality of movement.
Once per week we focus on muscle endurance. As we train for muscular endurance, athletes will usually feel as though their muscle’s ability, not their heart rate, is what prevents them from continuing forward with the workout.
As strength is a limiting factor for most, we try to train this twice per week. Strength is the maximal weight you can lift… period. That is our heavy squats, pulls, and presses. Your body needs about 48-72 hours to recover from these workouts. Your muscles will not necessarily feel like you cannot continue, but your central nervous system will need the added recovery time. To account for this, our strength days are spaced out near the beginning and end of the week.
This is sprinkled in throughout the warmups and the occasional routine at the end. We also encourage members to spend additional time working on mobility and flexibility in our ROMWOD room.
We currently focus on this once per week, although that is subject to change. Power is how far you can move X amount of weight quickly. This is definitely demonstrated with the Olympic lifts.
We attempt to target speed 1-2 times throughout the week. Speed training is achieved through intervals. Intervals are always changing, as are rest times. The constant variations of time domains is how we encourage our bodies to adapt.
This is the ability to link multi-joint movement patterns together. Burpees, Olympic lifts, gymnastics movements, and many of the warm-up drills that we see all work together to improve coordination. Coordination is not “targeted” into specific days of the program, but rather through the selection of movements each day.
This is a lot like coordination in that it is targeted through movement selection and combinations. The idea is to be able to transition from one movement to the next quickly. Going from rowing to snatching expresses your agility level. Taking no break and very little setup time shows that your body can transition efficiently from one movement pattern to the next, seamlessly.
This is the ability to control your center of gravity. It is challenged through EVERYTHING that you do. You might specifically target it through pauses in positions you are used to passing through, like a lunge (remember holding the bottom of the lunge?). Moving weight further from the center of gravity is another way that you might see balance specifically targeted.
Wall Balls, Olympic lifts, Burpee pull ups, and anything wherein you have to use hand-eye coordination or proprioception in order to produce/resist force on an external load (catching/throwing). You might also see this in the ability to provide the exact same force over and over again, like trying to hit an exact pace on the rower.
Putting it all together
As you no doubt noticed, there is a lot to cram into each week in order to improve evenly in all 10 domains of fitness. That is why classes go right up to the last minute. Time is valuable and every minute of class should be spent on getting better!
When it comes to focused strength training, it is best to not vary too widely week by week. Throughout a year you want A LOT of variation, but week by week there should be very little to ensure that our bodies are adapting to the stimulus and not just being confused all the time (and therefore never improving). This would explain why you typically see periods of time where we perform things like the sumo deadlift every week. We are trying to get you to be more efficient in that motor unit pattern before switching it up on your body. I chose the sumo deadlift specifically to target the outer glutes. The idea is that squatting will improve because of the hip mobility demands. It should also improve because the wide stance of the sumo position forces the abductors to work harder to pull your knees out, thus improving your body’s ability to do so during a more traditional squatting movement! One last reason for the sumo is that most of you either have never done it at all, or very little. Many powerlifters train sumo for improve their conventional deadlift… and it works!
Hopefully this gives everyone a little insight into why the program is doing the things it is doing. There are more factors that I consider, but this is the base template that I work within. Every 6 months I will revamp the template to make sure that true variation occurs. Trying to target these 10 domains weekly is very tough, but looking at it from this perspective you can see why CrossFit is so effective at creating very fit individuals.