There are 210 days until you compete in the OPENS. (gulp)
If you train 5 times per week that is 150 sessions.
If you need to improve a significant amount in a skill like MU’s under fatigue that is max 60 sessions, with recovery included.
Now all of those MU sessions won’t be fatigue based, so you can really only test them 30-35 times in a year under fatigue at high effort.
And let’s be realistic, you know that you might miss a few times, as well as not peak at those times effectively so it’s really only 20 times in 210 days where you can practice it.
Don’t have a MU?
Can’t perform them under fatigue?
20 sessions you said????
This is just one example where time is NOT on your side.
You have to appreciate the many skills that are required to compete in the sport.
It’s why I love the athletes and the coaches and the style of the sport of CrossFit.
I have always said that it is NOT that impressive in the eyes of a coach to see the program of the elite. I love seeing the person with a training age of 5 years go from 250th for 3 years in the Open to 19th the next year.
THAT is the program I want to see.
You give me a coach and athlete relationship that takes someone like this on, KNOWs the intricacies of HOW TOUGH it is, and really appreciates it.
In most cases it was a well designed balance of training and lifestyle and mental approach that created those changes.
A few things to understand as you now have some anxiety around those 210 days and know that time is NOT on your side right now.
Get after it, but remember these things as you start:
1) Fitness Characteristics Change
Know and understand that fitness characteristics change at different rates.
Know this WELL!
It took me many, many attempts with different people on the physical continuum to improve their performance.
Once I began to understand that holding back or maintaining some characteristic in order to balance others is key as you begin the trek on your season.
This puts you and the athlete in a calm place, both knowing it’s ok right now if the 2K time trial remains as is and the muscle endurance longer work for pull ups don’t change, as long as your max TnG overhead work improves with mobility.
It is too complicated for this time and place to make sense of all those intricacies. Just know that you CANNOT balance all balls at once – the strength, power and aerobic capacity balls.
Pick and choose what you need changes on – direct your attention there – BUT ensure you are maintaining all other pieces along the way.
As you begin the season, know where your CNS stands.
One can begin to understand this by reviewing times of training when the metabolic demand was high alone and see how you recovered.
Then review when the mechanical demand was high and see how you recovered.
This of course takes awareness (which I am making an assumption that EVERYONE does right? Knowing how they feel and doing litmus checks daily)
For example, someone mentions they need help on the front rack position, with upper back mobility, and depth in FS and thruster.
And remark that when they do a lot of them at moderate loads they are “trashed,” that day as well as the following day, strength is down.
This is a signal and sign to NOT do more thrusters as practice “because they are a weakness.” To attack your weakness, those thrusters must be placed in a skill adaptation format in linear progression for that person.
They are a mechanical demand. So low CNS demand practice into higher CNS demand into low CNS and added metabolic demand practice into higher CNS demand higher skill practice etc…should be the layout. This is where constantly varied and throwing thrusters in every few days makes ABSOLUTELY no sense.
So, know your limitations on what you need work on, metabolics or mechanics. Know the effect of each of these and how the rollout in your recovery so you can progress and also drop the needle when you need.
4) Max Height in Peak vs. Ups and Downs
As you begin the off season, you might have all this piled up piss and vinegar in your system and you want to GET IT OUT.
Well, I like to remark to athletes to put this energy into time in the gym, TRAINING, not COMPETING.
The more and more the sport progresses, we will see less and less better athletes competing in the off-season away from the Opens.
This is due to the demand that is required for the overall volume of the Open.
As I have always said, it’s NOT just the volume that you can do, BUT how you recover from that volume that you can do is what determines moving on or packing up the bag for the next season.
Ensure you know as you start the season, that liner progressions that get you to a max peak that can last for a few months is better, than ups and downs in the season with varied competitions that pull you away from the overall top peak of the year, March 1st onward!
If you do anything, ANYTHING in the year that prevents the highest end peak for Mar – July – then you cannot do it.
The reasons why some are not able to keep their max peak from the Open through Games season are varied and beyond this teaching, but know yourself and know how you respond and leave ego at the door and keep training to get the highest possible peak this season.
A simple method for most is varied curves and blocks of volume, into intensity, into some small testing and back to accumulation work. The more experienced folks will spend more time in the accumulation work longer, with small touches in intensity and testing, and the less experienced will spend 50% of time in accumulation and intensity phases throughout with little tests along the way.
5) Know the Long Term Goal, Priority A vs priority C
Photo courtesy of Crossfit HQ
As you begin a SINGLE season, also know the long term goals.
It’s ok to tell no one your long term goals and what you dream about.
Not a lot of people are open enough to speak of these.
High-end, elite athletes only talk about what was in their head once their career is over. They use this “withholding” of information as a survival mechanism. All animals do in order to not allow the competition to smell their weakness or get an edge up on them.
But I’m telling you its ok to think about what the BIG goals are.
The reason for this is that it allows you to write plans and designs that are career based and NOT week to week based.
For example, there are things that can benefit you every few days in absolute strength and aerobic work that HAS to be done to build a career that lasts.
If you design ideas around working against someone else and doing everyone else’s COOL program, you can get caught in that trap of never really realizing your career long MAX potential. You are SO caught up in the day to day of Facebook and Instagram posts of people getting bigger, faster and stronger than you.
Ensure you plan the big ones out LONG TERM! Know your training age, biological age, and how fast you recover can be simple ways of looking at what progression for you MIGHT look like.
When you see this progression possibility charted, lay it out and follow it with the long term plan in mind.
Don’t allow the “holy crap, was that a squirrel” to side track you from the overall big picture.
I have done this successfully with many athletes and it puts them at ease with comments like this;
“We are going to put a lot of work into this season, but you might not be at your maximum physical peak this year. We will still compete, but in 3 years we will be refined and be able to put it all together to see what you can really handle and dive in 100%, then there is magic”
I am not sure how else to mange or describe this one.
It is now kind of like nutrition USED to be.
We all KNOW how to eat, when, what kind, etc…it IS pretty simple, but marketing and sales make it complex as they want to make you feel more inferior if you don’t do it their way.
Those times have changed more recently where we all agree on some things as a fitness athlete; carbs are good, sugars are required, being ripped is NOT the goal but might happen, and carbs are good.
For lifestyle, there are still some folks living off cortisol and “managing” and still making some progress for 2 years, but then after 2 years they are simply pale, lack libido, are stronger but don’t have drive for recovery or aerobic capacity.
This is due to believing that they can live like a rock star and still make it, cause others do.
Well, let me tell you a little secret: They DON’T make it.
Those that live long and prosper, sleep “well,” eat to fuel and recover and follow some good lifestyle guidelines.
So as you begin the season, get the schedule out, mark off the training sessions IN this calendar as well as recovery sessions, food sessions, down time session, THEN AND ONLY THEN, can you add in plans for family, work, video games, Facebook, Instagram thumb flipping, etc… These need to be scheduled AROUND your training schedule, not in the middle of it.
Are you serious and want to improve? PLAN the stuff out that is important and make it happen.
Don’t have the time to do this? Then you simply don’t want it bad enough.