An Insight into our Programming

Programming at CrossFit 1864 is guided by our three key principles:

First, quality of movement and coaching are imperative and at the core of every good CrossFit box. They should be sought after tirelessly. 

Second, your development as an athlete (and ours as Coaches) never ends and we should continue learning from as many different sources as we can get our hands on. 

Finally, the only thing that comes close to the importance of quality movement is the importance of having fun and enjoying your training.

So you can get a better understanding of the finer details of what we do, we have detailed our basic programming structure for all levels of athletes, both for our strength pieces and our conditioning and gymnastics work....

General template

The general training week template follows a simple structure of a strength biased day followed by a conditioning biased day. 

*Please note that the description below is purely an example of how we structure our programming. This will evolve and adapt as our community grows and your needs change.

Strength Bias Days

Each of our strength days has a main lift: a squat variation (e.g front squat, back squat), a hinge variation (e.g. deadlift, power clean) or a press variation (e.g. strict press, push press). Each movement rotates through a five week cycle and each fifth week will be a ‘Benchmark Week’ where we will test certain rep-maxes on the present lift, as well as hitting some benchmark workouts. The following week, we will change the movement variation in order to keep providing a fresh training stimulus.

For beginners we follow a linear strength progression based on adding load to the bar each week and performing that weight for a given number of sets. 

Here is an example:

Week 1: Back squat 2-4 x 8 

Week 2: Back squat 4-6 x 5 

Week 3: Back squat 5-7 x 3

Week 4: Back squat, new 1 Rep max

New cycle & new movement variation 

Week 1: Front squat 2-4 x 8

Week 2: Front squat 4-6 x 5 

…etc...

When you see a set and rep range like 4-6 x 5, this means perform 4-6 working sets of 5 repetitions at the same weight across all sets. This is after a warm-up in which you build up to your working set weight. The use of 3-5 sets allows for a little individual variation based on how you feel that day. 

This linear progression works very well for beginner to intermediate athletes as they have the advantage of ‘the novice effect'. Explained simply, when a person fairly new to training begins to lift weights, they get stronger very quickly due to rapid Central Nervous System (CNS) and muscular adaption. 

What is very important in the early stages (and also for more advanced lifters) is ensuring that load is increased in a controlled manner and only added to correct and consistent technique and proper movement mechanics. By adding small amounts of load each week, the training stimulus can still be applied in a safe and controlled manner.

This 'novice effect' can last anywhere from 3 to 18+ months. When results start to diminish then new training methods need to be applied and we move to more advanced strength progressions...

For Intermediate & Advanced Athletes you will follow the same movement cycles as beginners, but your strength work will vary slightly in how it will be presented on the whiteboard and how it will be performed.

Here is an example of what you might see:

Back squat @ 75-80% 1RM. Perform 2-4 reps per set. Totalling 18-21 reps.

This means you perform sets of back squats at any load between 75-80% of your 1 rep max back squat. Each set should be between 2-4 reps, and you will do as many sets as needed to total somewhere between 18-21 total reps.

There are several reasons we use this approach with more advanced lifters. The main reason is that the use of percentages and rep ranges allows us to account for variation between individuals. Depending on your genetics (e.g. muscle fibre make-up) some people could perform 4+ reps at 80% while others may only be able to do 2 reps.

The use of these ranges also allows for each individual to go ‘by feel'. Some days your sleep and nutrition has been spot on and you're ready to go in and crush the workout, while other days you may feel a little fatigued and have to go easier.

Why these specific numbers? The percentages and ranges come from years of widely respected Russian Weightlifting literature. Researchers looked at what percentages work best for different adaptations – Hypertrophy (growth and increase of muscle cells), Endurance, Speed, Max strength, etc. – and what rep ranges need to be used to ensure the right amount of stimulus is applied in order to achieve the best results.

Advanced Athletes

When athletes reach a higher level of fitness, they need more volume/intensity to keep pushing their progress. After the main lift session, we will sometimes program  ‘advanced methods’. These methods may include (but are not limited to) tempo method, shock method, complex method, dynamic effort etc, and they will vary along with the movement cycles (see example below).

Regardless of your level, all athletes will perform an additional movement that will usually be gymnastic-based e.g. a horizontal push or pull (push-ups, ring row), or a vertical push or pull (ring dip, chin-up). These movements will build strict gymnastics strength through the addition of load, tempo, deficit etc.

On strength-biased days, after the lifting section of the class we will follow up with a short (<10min) heavy met-con. The movements chosen for these will always vary, but they will be based around assistance exercises that complement the main lift of the day.

Gymnastic strength

As well as working on barbell strength, we also have to develop gymnastics. We split our gymnastics into 5 categories: vertical pull, vertical push, horizontal pull, horizontal push and midline. With each lifting session we choose one of these categories to focus on and at the gym we have a series of progressions to cater for complete beginners to the most advanced athletes.

After each set of your barbell lift, your peform a set of gymnastic strength work.

To tie all the above together, here is an example of a strength day:

Beginner

A1) Back squat : 4-6 x 5 
A2) Vertical pull

  • Rest 30 seconds between A1 and A2

  • Rest up to 2 minutes after A2

Intermediate & Advanced

A1) Back squat @ 75-80% 1RM. Perform 2-4 reps per set. Totalling 18-21 reps.
A2) Vertical pull

  • Rest 30 seconds between A1 and A2

  • Rest up to 2 minutes after A2

Advanced only

B) Tempo Method: Back squat

  • Perform 3-5 x 8-10 @ 50-60%1RM. Tempo 2020

All Athletes

C) Workout of the day

10 Minute AMRAP:

12 Front rack lunges
9 Toes to bar
6 Box jumps 24/20"

  • Beginner aim is 40/30kg lunge

  • Intermediate aim is 50/35kg lunge

  • Advanced aim is 60/40kg lunge

Conditioning days

While any training is technically ‘conditioning’, CrossFit 1864's conditioning days refer to non-strength biased days where we will typically have some of our longer workouts.

These days will follow a simple structure where we have two parts: 

A) Gymnastics / Barbell skill work
B) Workout of the day (WOD)

The Gymnastics / Barbell skill work will be 15-30 minutes (depending on WOD length) where we focus on particular progressions for some of the more complex gymnastics and barbell movements such as muscle-ups, kipping pull-ups, handstand push-ups, pistols, cleans and snatches.

We will then move into the WOD which will include the movement (or a scaled variation) that was covered in Part A. Here is an example:

A) Gymnastic skill work: Toes to bar
B) 5 rounds for time:

Run 400m
5 Cleans
10 Toes to bar
15 Wall balls 9/6kg

  • Beginner aim is 40/30kg Hang Power Clean
  • Intermediate aim is 60/40kg Power cleans
  • Advanced aim is 80/50 Cleans

Tracking Results, Athlete Levels & Progressing your 'Level of Fitness'

A training program is only as good as its results. What makes CrossFit so effective is that it enables coaches and athletes to obtain observable, measurable and repeatable data. By measuring workouts through time, speed, load etc, we can track an individual's ‘fitness’ and their progress. For example if you do the CrossFit benchmark workout 'Fran' (21-15-9 reps of thrusters and pull-ups) in 9 min 31 sec, and then repeat it 6 months later and your time is 5 min 57 sec, we can say your fitness and ability has improved (LOADS!).

To help us keep track of your progress, we use an online system called Beyond the Whiteboard

Not only can you log your workout results, but we can record lifestyle factors as well, such as sleep quality, nutrition and body measurements.

This system will help each of you discover your relative strengths and weaknesses. As your coaches, we can then use this information to analyse our programming and develop a plan of attack that will turn gym weaknesses into strengths. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to make it to the CrossFit Games, or you are simply looking to stay healthy... it's all about progress!

Here is a great article from BtWB that we suggest you read in addition to taking a look at the video above

At CrossFit 1864 we have set ‘fitness level’ ranges used on Beyond the Whiteboard to assess our athletes fitness levels from beginner to advanced.

1-60 = Beginner level
61-80 = Intermediate level 
81+ = Advanced level

This 'fitness level' takes into account 8 categories (power lifts, olympic lifts, speed, endurance, bodyweight met-con, light met-con,  heavy met-con and light met-con). For your fitness level to be accurate you need a score for each of these categories.

The role of nutrition

You have to complement your hard training with a solid and well rounded nutritional program. The hard work you put in at the gym will only pay dividends if your nutrition matches your goals. So, we also provide nutritional programming which we encourage all our athletes to take up.

If you have any questions about anything, or would like more information on our programme, please feel free to get in touch.