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Should You Do Competitive Programming?

Time for me to sit the f*** down, have a beer, and tackle this beast… For clarification, we are talking about competing at Regionals here [or whatever the recent equivalent is]… Not having some fun at the local level… [Although a lot of it still applies...]


Before you jump head first into competitive programming, there’s a couple of questions you need to ask yourself…  


1. Have you built your base?


Competitions and competitive environments are for people who have mastered the basics: nobody goes into a cage fight without a martial arts background, nobody jumps in off the top diving board if they can’t swim, and nobody performs high intensity, functional movements without first becoming proficient in those movements… Or at least they shouldn’t…


When it comes to building your base, here’s the gist:


Conditioning:


This is the easy stuff…


You can be in your best cardiovascular shape within a couple of weeks. On the flip side it can also leave you just as quick - don’t train for two weeks and you’ll see what I mean…


If your cardio is an issue, sprint hills three times a week for three weeks and you will blow your Fran time out of the water [assuming of course that you have adequate strength levels to do Fran in the first place…].


Since it is easy to acquire, conditioning doesn’t need to be a priority when building your base… There is only so much time in the day, so prioritize accordingly.  


Strength:


This takes a while…  


Real, honest strength takes time… True, in the beginning, new members experience massive leaps in strength gains - a combination of acquiring skill, improving the neurological firing and gaining a little true strength - but after a while these gains will slow… True strength gains are slow, and you have to earn them with nutrition and training and effort and time… They are also slow to leave you - don’t train for a few weeks and you’ll see what I mean…


Lift heavy consistently every week for the next 1-3 years and you’ll be pretty strong. Lift heavy consistently every week for the next 3-5 years and you’ll be a beast. Lift heavy consistently every week for the next 5-10 years and you’ll be a monster… And only monsters make it to Regionals…


If you’re going to make it to the 5 year mark your program has to be sensible, enjoyable and constantly varied… This tasty beer has just informed me that I can’t be bothered to type out the intricate details of why this is so crucial, but in brief: if two people only ever back squat, one might develop their arse and quads while the other might develop hamstrings and low back. Different exercises need to be implemented to keep s*** balanced and to avoid overuse injuries as well as boredom and stagnation.


Strength should be a priority when building your base. Even if you give zero f***s about competing, strength training is what sends the strongest signals for body transformation… It’s the money maker... For more on this, click the link:  http://www.crossfitblackbrook.com/transform.html 


I’m not going to give you any benchmarks you need to hit if you intend to compete, but I will leave you with this nifty little guide…

- Look up the Regional level athletes on games.crossfit.com and check out their stats.

- Find one that’s your height and gender and make a note of their [lean AF] bodyweight and best lifts... Even better if you can find one with a similar build to yourself - long torso, etc...  

- 1 hour a day, 5 days per week, crush sandbag carries, zercher squats, close grip bench, prowler sprints, farmers walks, T-bar rows, etc... Have some fun throwing some weight around. 

- Add calories and get as much sleep as much as you can.

- Enjoy the process, stay safe, and one day you will be a monster… Your strength will be roughly where it needs to be for a Regional level athlete, and then you can think about advanced programming.


You can skip this process if you really want, but if there’s one thing all non-brain dead coaches and athletes will agree on, it’s this: taking on advanced programming when you’re a beginner is really f***ing stupid…


Inappropriate programming is inappropriate. Remember that. [Yes it is obvious, but people trip up on this all the f***ing time…]


2. Do you even want to do competition programming? Really? 


For me personally this is a resounding f***ing no.


So, you’ve built your base… It’s been sensible, enjoyable and constantly varied… Your joints are bullet proof, your strength is where it needs to be, you feel happy and healthy, and training hasn’t taken over your life - hell, you may even still have some non CrossFit friends that don’t mind talking to you for a bit - and for some reason you’d like to change all of that…


Cool! If Regionals is what you want to do, then that’s what you want to do.   


But have you ever even seeeeeeen competition programming...?


Here’s a quick sample I stole from instagram…  


Monday A/

Back squat: x 10 - 1 - 8 - 2 - 6 - 3


Assault bike: 8x4 mins w/ 2 min rest between rounds


Monday B/

For time…

60x Strict banded C2B

20x DB push press

40x Strict banded C2B

40x DB push press

20x Strict banded C2B

60x DB push press


- Rest 3 -


AMRAP 5

20x Push ups

15x Pull ups


Monday C/

5 Sets with a weight vest:

2x Strict muscle up

3x Muscle up

4x Strict ring dip


4 Sets no vest:

3x Strict muscle up

5x Muscle up

7x Strict ring dip


3 Sets:

Max strict medball muscle ups


For time:

8x Muscle ups

30x Burpee over bar

8x Muscle ups


Tuesday A/

3x [2x Snatch push press + 2x Snatch balance] @75%

3x [2x Power snatch + 3x OHS] @80%

2x [1x Snatch + 1x Hang snatch] @90%

2x [1x Snatch + 1x OHS] @95%

3x5 Snatch deadlift on raiser @115%

2x4 Snatch deadlift @ 125%


For time, with a weight vest:

3km run


- Rest 5 -


4 Rounds for time with a weight vest:

400m Run

20x Handstand push ups


Tuesday B/

AMRAP 20

8x Strict DB pull ups

10m DB overhead walking lunge

12x DB burpees


AMRAP 2

100x Double unders

Max rope climbs

- Rest 1 -

AMRAP 2

80x Double unders

Max rope climbs

- Rest 1 -

AMRAP 2

60x Double unders

Max rope climbs


Tuesday C/

For time...

50x Medball cleans

50x Medball thrusters

50x Medball OHS

50x Wallballs

50x Medball OHS

50x Medball thrusters

50x Medball cleans


For quality…

80x GHD sit ups

40x Strict T2B


Wednesday A/

Front squat 6x3

Assault bike: every 2 mins for 12 rounds, 1x 20 second all out sprint.


Wednesday B/

On a 27 minute running clock [27 minutes for f*** sake!]

AMRAP 12

6x Push jerk

6x Burpee over bar

AMRAP 9

9x Hang power clean

9x Burpee over bar

AMRAP 6

12x Deadlift

12x Burpee over bar


Wednesday C/

4 Rounds for time…

5x Deadlift [180 / 120]

15x Box Jump

Run 400


For time…

20x Sumo deadlift high pull

50x Air squats

20x C2B pull ups

50x Sit ups


Do you see the need for a solid base yet?


You need volume for competitive CrossFit - it is what it is - but without a solid base the volume will flat out f*** you sideways.


In Monday C you do:

- 25 Muscle ups in a vest - some strict, some kipping [plus 20 dips]

- 32 Muscle ups - some strict, some kipping [plus 28 dips]

- 3x Max muscle ups with a med ball between your legs

- 16x Muscle ups as part of a metcon…

[73 reps + 3x max reps with a med ball…]


And this is after all that f***ery in the session before with the 120 banded [and I don’t know if they’re band resisted or band assisted] strict chest to bar pull ups and however many pull ups in the following WoD...


People... You’re looking at 3 long sessions a day… That comes with 3 warm ups, all the meal prep, the eating, travel to and from the gym, soft tissue work, showers, assistance work [everyone needs bent over rows], f***ing how much of the day are you willing to spend and CAN you spend on this?


And just look at Tuesday…


Go back and really look at it, and just appreciate the vicious b*stardry on display from whoever wrote it…  


Tell me that looks like a good time.


Look me in the eye and say you want to do that med ball workout.


Look me straight in the eye and tell me you’d rather do 350 med ball squats, 80 GHD sit ups and 40 strict T2B and all the other s*** that day instead of some heavy yoke carries and power cleans.


Yeah, that’s what I thought…  


Now, some of you may be thinking, “yeah, but maybe I could scale it…”


Yeah, you could... But - and this kind of takes us back to the very beginning of this blog post - you’re scaling it because you aren’t strong enough. These are, for the most part, conditioning pieces that you aren’t strong enough to do… Remember at the start when we covered conditioning?


“Since it is easy to acquire, conditioning doesn’t need to be a priority when building your base… There is only so much time in the day, so prioritize accordingly...”


Prioritize your strength. You can only recover from so much, and if you’re doing 3+ conditioning pieces a day, how will you ever grow stronger or pack on any appreciable muscle mass?


There is a huge difference between CrossFit the training system [for health and fitness] and CrossFit the sport [purely performance based]... No one does 73+ muscle ups for the health and longevity benefits, and no one squats a medball 350 times for fun… Know what I’m saying? And you need to distinguish the difference between the two, figure out if competitive programming is something you are actually capable of right now, if it’s something you actually want to do, and finally if it’s actually worth it...


To summarize…


Boys and girls, it needs to be sensible, fun and sustainable. If it doesn’t tick those boxes then the chances of you doing it in a couple of years time is slim to none. Consistency is far more important than intensity in this game.


Ultimately it is entirely up to you what you do - you’re a grown up and can make your own decisions - but if you attempt to skip ahead and bypass the body’s natural rate of progression, competitive programming will bum your head into the sand…



“Sit the f*** down and have a beer…”


~ Coach Collins


Copyright 2017


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