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
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.
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.
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:
A1) Back squat : 4-6 x 5
A2) Vertical pull
Intermediate & Advanced
A1) Back squat @ 75-80% 1RM. Perform 2-4 reps per set. Totalling 18-21 reps.
A2) Vertical pull
B) Tempo Method: Back squat
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
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:
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