Who You Are and What You Need: Part I

If you’re an athlete looking for online programming, you have a long road ahead of you – CrossFit mainsite , Invictus, OPT, Outlaw, Misfit, local box, remote programming, individualized programming,  etc, etc, etc, click, click, click – which one do I pick?

Rewind the clock 10 years and choosing a training program to follow was EASY – there were fewer options coupled with a healthy dose of ignorance – people simply knew less about what made a good program “good” and a bad program “bad”.

“WOD until you puke!!!!!” seems ridiculous now, but back then it was “hard training”.

The sport of fitness is growing and with it, the knowledge within the community – this is good. But couple this growth with the accessibility of the internet, the prominence of social media, and the eagerness of people to make money, it can be easy to become lost in the shuffle of training methods, philosophies, and implementations.

Every time a gym posts a lifter screaming “fuck yeah” with PR no-foot, no-hands, no-contact snatch off the high blocks with straps, knee wraps and a squat suit (you know who you are), the PR junkie in our brain goes “oooo I want that”. Follow.

Then we watch the CrossFit Games and find out that it’s now called the Invictus Games because they’re all going to win anyway, we say “oooooo I should follow them.” Follow.

Tomorrow, you hear that Froning makes up his workouts as he goes along through the week and “No plan as plan” seems like the magic bullet. ZenFit. Follow.

Or maybe you are getting bricked at the gym, maybe your joints hurt, maybe someone said something mean to you on Facebook, your marriage is falling apart, you ate some bad cheese – a new program will cure all your ills and lead you into a life of wealth, fame, and prosperity. IT. WILL. MAKE. YOU. WHOLE. AGAIN.


How do you wade through it all?

This is the start of series on navigating your fitness future: general principles an athlete should keep in mind as they figure out who they are and what they need.

Point 1: There are many ways to success

One coach believes in a strength and conditioning approach towards progress – an oversimplification would be more “working out” and less “WODs”.

Another’s belief is “to get better at CrossFit you need to do CrossFit”.

Or another combines the two thoughts.

Some programming is constantly varied and some is less so.

There are also coaches who believe less in individualization and more in allowing the demands of the sport elicit progress – “one size fits most” – and workouts are more general.  There are coaches who believe only in individualization as the way forward and trying to follow a program someone else is doing will simply lead to stalled progress and injury.

Here is the bitter truth some people don’t want you to know – All of these approaches can work.


I know this statement goes against the wishes of guru coaches who want to wag their super secret ultra specialized elite knowledges around in the air so they can lead the masses to fitness nirvana, and might be surprising coming from someone who writes programming. But it’s true – lots of things can work. There are many ways to improve fitness, but upon examination the most successful ways will have some things in common.

At the most basic level, training programs will understand and adhere to basic concepts; volume, intensity, fatigue management, movement proficiency, recovery, etc. For example, there are different ways to improve the back squat. Different kinds of sets, different reps, different percentages.

What doesn’t change is that as the weight gets closer to maximum, a person will be able to do less reps in a workout, less reps through a training week and will require more time to recover. The basic concept here is “as intensity increases, volume decreases”.

In other words, what people can do is lift heavier weight for less reps, or less weight for more reps.

What they can’t do is lift their heaviest weights for the most.

For example, this brain-busting prescription:  10 sets of 3 at 100% of 1RM.

Yes, this was actually a thing. Like, in real life a coach expected people to do for a workout.

A couple things to keep in mind here – just because many things work doesn’t mean everything works. Not all programming is created equal. Some coaches suck. Some are awesome. And even though there are different ways to successfully apply basic principles, there is a reason some programming is more successful than others – it’s just better.

This “many things work” belief also doesn’t mean that YOU are qualified to make your own programming. The internet is full of people who say things like, “Ok, I know what I need so I’m going to do 5/3/1 to get stronger then Invictus for my metcons then gymnastics wod for my gymnastics stuff then make up my own workouts on weekend because that’s what Froning does and…..”

Just because you can justify what you do doesn’t mean it works or even makes sense. Be humble enough to be able to admit you may have no idea what you’re doing. Your body isn’t an internet forum and it won’t take your bullshit.

Next Post – Point 2) Your success is your responsibility

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