Training for the Test

When I was a teacher, I had two choices – teach to the test or test the teaching.

The first option would guarantee good results on a test, but produce kids who were less intelligent, creative, or capable.

The second would carry the risk of poor results on the test, but would cultivate kids who think instead of simply kids who know, as well as providing valuable feedback about my abilities as a teacher and the course my classroom was on.

Athletes and coaches in competitive fitness have the same two choices; train for the test or test the training. 

“If I just get my squat/snatch/clean and jerk up…..”

“I need to run an endurance cycle….”

These things could be true, but they also might be tricking people into training for a test and in the process become less capable athletes.

Want to improve your Fran time? Do lots of thrusters and pullups. Want a bigger squat? Run a squat cycle. Improving these things can improve your ability in those areas, but in chasing them you run the risk of becoming a less capable CrossFitter.

To coaches, training for a test has a danger. They want to prove to athletes they can produce results, and so the programming is “padded” to win approval while sweeping possibly more important skills and qualities of fitness under the rug.

To both athletes and coaches, training for a test can give the illusion of improved fitness. You think you’re getting better, when you’re getting worse. You think your programming is great, when it’s not.

The numbers are real, but they’re just not…true.

So this is where the real test of programming in CrossFit is: whether or not programming and coaching improves the results of a general population in tests that aren’t trained for. 

Freak athletes can improve in spite of poor coaching and programming. Anyone can prescribe more thrusters and pullups and have people get better at thrusters and pullups.

But a coach taking any population of people – unfit, fit, elite – execute a programming philosophy, testing something not specifically trained for and get better results?

That’s the truth.


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