ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS
First and foremost, the concepts and ideas that go into 5AC’s programming are not original. Nor is our programming “perfect.” It is built around the methodologies of many coaches; old and new. For the most part, we follow the programming set forth by Ben Bergeron of CrossFit New England. Bergeron has been in the CrossFit game for a long time, and his list of certifications and coaching accomplishments is more than enough to brand him one of the best coaches in the business.
As always, it’s not just having the knowledge but what you do with it that matters. Our programming here at 5 Alarm CrossFit will always be changing and evolving. For now, while we may make small additions or changes to the CFNE programming, they will always be based on two things: (1) the best information available at the time, and (2) the needs of our athletes. We strongly believe that our program, coupled with taking care of yourself outside the gym (nutrition, sleep, etc.), can help get you into the best shape of your life.
GRASSROOTS (A HISTORY LESSON)
Does the pyramid look familiar? I hope so. I believe CrossFit introduced the pyramid in 2002. So, how has 14 years of rapid growth and an insane amount of data collection changed the pyramid? It hasn’t. The pyramid highlights a preferred hierarchy of training and foci that individuals should work at in order to develop overall, non-specialized health and fitness. Classic CrossFit.
By no means does it imply that one needs to “master” a lower level before moving on to a higher one, only that the lower levels do have an impact on the upper ones. It is simply a guide, designed to help direct you on how to become the fittest and healthiest version of you for the long haul.
There is A LOT more that goes into this, but it’s not the focus of this article so I’m going to leave it there for now. Suffice to say, we do our best here at 5AC to adhere to classic CrossFit principles.
NUTS AND BOLTS
A. Fitness & Performance
Every day at 5AC there are Fitness and Performance options for the day. Full descriptions of what we envision those programs to be can be found on our website at www.fivealarmcrossfit.com/programs/.
The biggest difference between the two will be the difficulty of certain movements. Fitness will likely never have some of the more complex and skill based movements such as barbell Olympic weightlifting and higher level gymnastic skills (think muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, pistols, etc.). That is NOT to say that Fitness is easier than Performance. Just different. BOTH programs will challenge you. Both have the ability to push you physically and mentally (maybe even spiritually!).
Any day that you come into the gym, you have the option to choose Fitness or Performance for each part of that day’s workout, Skill/Strength and WoD. Maybe you’re normally a Fitness person, but would like to dabble in higher skill movements from time to time. Or maybe you’re a Performance person, but would like to drill more fundamentals occasionally. And yes, you can choose to do the Performance Skill/Strength and the Fitness WoD, or vice versa. Either way, listening to your coaches and proper scaling are of paramount importance to keep you safe and keep you progressing.
Our Warm-Ups at 5AC are greatly varied, while holding true to a few themes. The goal of any warm-up should be just that, to warm you up and prepare you for the training ahead. They should not feel like miniature workouts. Warm-Ups are also a great place to practice skills in a non-WoD environment. Lower rep ranges and/or less weight in a controlled setting allows people to focus on technique and develop the neurological component of specific skills or movements.
The focus here is on learning or improving upon skills, or gaining strength in specific movements through a full range of motion. Maybe it’s an Olympic lifting day, and the weight is lighter to really focus on the positions and moving through them. Maybe it’s a gymnastics day and we’re working on building up the strength required to get our first strict pull-up. Maybe it’s a squat day and we’re shooting for a new 3RM. In any scenario, our primary focus should be on technique development and consistent, safe progress in the movements being performed.
Gymnastics and bodyweight work. Should you expect your body to move well under a load if it won’t move will on its own? The goal of gymnastics work is greatly varied…building essential bodyweight strength, building a solid core, improving body awareness, gaining mobility and range of motion, etc. Remember the CrossFit pyramid from earlier? There is a reason that gymnastics is at the bottom of the pyramid as far as specific movements and training are concerned. Gymnastics will build you the best foundation from which to base all other training modalities.
Powerlifting and weightlifting. Our number one goal here is technique development and consistent, safe progress. Squatting, pressing, pulling, cleaning, and snatching are our staples. Being stronger not only helps us in the gym, but carries over into our everyday life. Need to put that storage box back on the top shelf? Press it. Want to pick up that grandkid? Deadlift him. Need to get that 40 pound bag of dog food to your shoulder? Clean it.
It is also worth noting that here at 5 Alarm CrossFit we do not utilize percentage based strength programs. Percentage based systems have their place, and we will not rule out the possibility of one showing up one day, but for the most part we utilize something closer to a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) model. Our lives are not constant, and any minor fluctuations can have a large impact on how we feel on any particular day. This requires some auto-regulation on the athletes’ part, with a coach always on hand to provide guidance. If an athlete feels worn down on a given day, they can lift less without stressing over hitting a specific number. If they feel amazing, they can push the envelope and lift more.
Integrated mobility. Mobility and flexibility are two of the most underutilized aspects of general health in many gyms and fitness programs. Our current answer to that is integrated mobility. For our purposes, integrated mobility could involve muscular flexibility, joint health (mobility and stability), or connective tissue strengthening (ligaments and tendons). On some days, skill/strength exercises will be paired with an integrated mobility exercise or two focusing on one or more of the above items.
D. Metabolic Conditioning (MetCon/WoD)
Metabolic conditioning is where your “classic” CrossFit-style workout comes into play. Our WoDs will generally fall within the 5 – 20 minute time frame, and are meant to be relatively intense (though scaled for individual ability). They are not the proper time to learn or practice newer skills, but rather a time for members to demonstrate their skill in movements they are already proficient in. The reasoning for this is three-fold:
• One, it is more safe – as one begins to fatigue in a WoD, proficient movements will tend to have much less technique break down. This leads into…
• Two, it allows for increased intensity – being able to keep moving with good technique and not having to slow down to think about a newer movement will increase the effectiveness of the WoD. And…
• Three, it reinforces the basics – development of a strong movement base sets the groundwork for higher movement progressions.
A FINAL NOTE
The programming here at 5 Alarm CrossFit is necessarily designed to be finished within the one hour time slot devoted to a class. Similarly it is designed to give broad and general improvements in health and fitness for our community as a whole. Depending on individuals’ goals, some additional work outside of the usual class programming may be necessary. Think of it as homework, accessory work, or extra credit. This might include a mobility program to target specific areas, extra skill work to speed up progress for a specific movement, or even extra strength or metabolic conditioning work for more competitive athletes. The nature of the goal will also determine the best course of action, whether it is assigned homework to be completed on one’s own or the occasional Skill Session. Either way, if you’re struggling with a goal, ask a Coach for help! It’s what we’re here for!