Programming For The People Part 1

The most consistent questions comments and/or concerns (ok...all the alliteration ends now) we’ve received over the past few weeks are “whats going on the with the programming?”

Sometimes it’s phrased as “I don’t like these workouts...what’s up with them?” and other times it’s kinda like “hey I’d like to know more about what and why we’re doing what we’re doing.”  Both of those are perfectly fair. So this is my attempt to explain how the sausage gets made.

Warning: this post is pretty long so if you don’t particularly care… that’s fine.  Don’t really read this beacuse it’s not gonna affect your workouts per se. Just keep showing up and keep working hard and you’ll get better without ever needing to know why.

If you do care, read on dear reader….

Considerations and Context

As with most things, context matters.  So before we can dive into the nitty gritty it’s important to understand the training milieu we have at DCF.  I have no doubts after reading this every single person will think we’re not doing enough of Y and we’re doing too much X.  And almost as assuredly someone else feels the exact opposite. It’s our job to try and balance everything out. So here are a few things to understand before you can understand the programming at large.

Consideration #1: A Program for Everyone is a Program For No One.

Whether you’re talking about DCF, Invictus or Wendler’s 5/3/1; any program meant to address the needs of everyone can never be the perfect solution for everyone.  Everyone is a unique little snowflake with their own piccadillos. Injuries, genetics, experience; every single person has unique variables that can never, ever, ever be addressed with a program that’s designed for 350+ people (like DCF’s).  So while it may be very true that you would do better with more squats, that isn’t necessarily true of all 350+ DCFers.  The only thing we can do is try our best to meet the most needs of the most people.

Consideration #2: Programming is SEVERELY overrated.

Programming to me is similar to IQ tests.  Once you pass a certain level, there’s absolutely no marginal benefit.  In other words someone with an IQ of 100 and 150 will have virtually the same “success” rate in life.  I feel the same way about programming. Once you get past a certain level of “acceptability” there’s very very very very little marginal benefit.  You’re more likely to overthink it than to improve it. In the words of the Princess Bride, “Anyone who says different is selling something.” Far more important is to find a great training environment that will push you and great coaching that will help you improve.  With those two things you’re 99% of the way towards getting better. Training by yourself with some super secret special programming is absolutely retrograde. In the words of the great Louis Simmons, “the first thing you need to get better is a workout partner, the second thing is a barbell.  The rest doesn’t matter.”


Here’s the basic situation.  We program 3 months at a time (quarterly).  At the end of each quarter we do a test week that will test the efficacy of the last 3 months.  The test will always include some “classics” like 1RM Snatch, Back Squat and Deadlift. And then some specific things that we want to see if we improved: maybe endurance, or more strengthy stuff, or maybe skill efficiency.  

So where are we now?  Well incase you didn’t know the CrossFit Open runs from Feb 21-Mar 25th.  In other words, through the end of this quarter. So we’re going to be gearing all the workouts toward success at those events.  So even though we don’t know exactly what the workouts will be, we have a pretty good idea.  It’s not going to be overwhelmingly heavy and it’s not going to be overwhelmingly technical.  They are going to largely be test of engine capacity. So over the coming weeks we’re going to be doing lots more engine building and lots of pacing-specific WODs.  

Now I know that not everyone is planning on doing the Open.  But enough people are, and those that aren’t will still improve by following the same programming.  It doesnt mean we’re going to abandon all strength and short WODs. It just means we’re going to be slightly biased towards Open type WODs.  

Think of it this way, if each week has 20 “components”.  16 are always the same no matter the quarter. 4 will shift depending on the time of year.

So what are we going to focus on for the rest of the year?  Well normally it’s:

  • Q2: General Strength and Skill Acquisition

  • Q3: Max Strength and Power

  • Q4: Power and Aerobic Capacity

  • ...then 2020 Q1: Aerobic Capacity and Endurance (for the open)

The problem?  Well in their infinite wisdom CFHQ will be moving the Open to October of 2019.  That’s right! Two Opens for the same year!!! HOOOOORAYYY!!!! ::side-eyed emoji:: So for this year we’ll be doing this:

  • Q2: Max Strength and Power

  • Q3: Power and Aerobic Capacity

  • Q4: Aerobic Capacity and Endurance (for the open)

  • 2020 Q1: General Strength and Skill Acquisition

Alright this is going to go on a lot longer than I thought. I think it makes the most sense to break this into two parts so your eyes dont glaze over.  But you’re probably furloughed so who knows you’re probably bored.

Coming up on Part 2 on Friday:  

  • Weekly Oview

  • The Nitty Gritty day by day breakdown

  • FAQ’s

If you’ve got any specific questions you’d like me to address please let me know!  Shoot me an email and I’ll do my best to weave them into Part 2

Andrew KillionComment