Several of the members of our Competition Program have signed up to compete in late August. This post will give some detail as to how they’ll be training leading up to either the Oregon Summer Games or the CrossFit 45 Summer Showdown.
To give a bit of context, here’s brief review of the training they’ve done up to this point.
The Competition Program started back in late December, and jumped almost immediately into training for the CrossFit Open. After the Open was over, there was a testing phase, and then a big cycle of mostly strength, moderate aerobic work, and “injury-proofing” training.
This most recent cycle has continued to focus on strength and aerobic fitness, with a special focus on repeated tough efforts, such as the ability to rep out 90% of your 1 rep max in something without amping out. Not everyone has done every cycle, many people joined later (you can start at any time!), but that’s been the general path so far.
Our peaking cycle for these summer competitions will start with a concentrated loading block of some higher-intensity-but-still-aerobic work. What this means is that the group will endure basically 4 consecutive training days where they do repeated 5-6 minute intervals of work at about 90% of a maximal pace.
After this week, that style of training will drop down to only once per week. Front loading much of the training volume has proven to be more effective than spreading it out equally across the cycle, even if the total volume of work between the front-loading and spreading-out methods would be roughly the same.
This approach will also allow us a chance to phase in some true high intensity work starting in week 2. All out anaerobic work in the 30-60 second window can be very taxing (and can easily be overdone), but can have a very positive effect on fitness if introduced in small exposures as a sort of “finishing touch” to the training. The huge volume of aerobic work that the group has done in the last several months will actually make this last bit of high intensity work even more potent.
Most of the exposures the group will have to strength work will be in what you could call “compromised scenarios.” These are strength based events that are limited by time (e.g. build to a max Snatch in a 5 minute window) or fatigue (e.g. Run 1 mile, then establish 1RM Thruster in remainder of 10 minutes; start at 135# and add 10# every 45 seconds until reaching a max Clean & Jerk).
It is a safe bet to assume that something like this will show up in competition, and so regular practice with a variety of scenarios will make sure that the group is able to apply all the strength they’ve built in the previous phases to gameday type situations.
The training will also include some focused running interval days. Up to this point, running has been included most in mixed circuits, or at low intensity, but a higher volume of specific run work will be necessary leading up to the competitions. There will surely be running involved in these events, and it is another thing that when applied correctly, can be a potent builder of fitness when building to a competition.
As far as skill work goes, it will be included in two ways. Much of the above conditioning work will be “mixed,” meaning it’s not just rowing, biking, and running, but actually includes many moves you’d recognize as common to CrossFit.
For example, the anaerobic training will include a touch-and-go barbell move (such as a power clean) coupled with a jumping variation, like a burpee box jump. Many of the lower-skill moves that still require efficiency, such as double-unders, wall ball shots, and kipping pull-ups, will be included in the aerobic training.
The second way skill work will be included is in low-intensity, coach-led sessions. This is where we’ll focus on the “tougher” skills that our group is not yet ready to take on in higher intensity situations, such as kipping handstand push-ups, pistols, and kettlebell snatches (all moves which were included in previous years of these particular competitions).
While we of course want everyone to be able to do these moves at a high speed and with a high heart rate, it would be irresponsible (and not very effective) to apply them in situations like that just because a competition is coming up. Skills should always be developed at a low intensity and with an eye for movement quality first.
And of course, our competitors won’t just jump into August’s events without doing any “CrossFit.” There will be CrossFit-style testers sprinkled in on Saturdays (a few from last year’s iterations of these particular competitions), where we’ll try to simulate the intensity of game day as accurately as possible, while getting our athletes familiar with rep schemes and combinations that could arise in competition.
While this all sounds like a lot, our programming keeps an eye towards longevity, and blends all of these traits into a schedule that is tough, yet sustainable. To see what this all looks like in practice, you can check out our Competition Program training calendar here > http://crossfitportland.com/competition-wods/
See you on game day!