CrossFit Nucleus after Open thoughts.

-April 2016-

After we get done with the Open we start to ask ourselves how could we improve? Were we not strong enough? Was our Gymnastics not good enough? Were we just not in good enough shape? Was it all of the above?

Along the way we get lost on trying to fix too many things and we think we need more volume, extra lifting sessions, more high volume gymnastic sessions, etc. For some of us this may be true, kind of. However, we cannot lose the simple fact that ALWAYS Intensity > Volume, no matter what! If the increased volume decreases your intensity then you are wasting your time in my opinion.

You want to get stronger? Stick with a simple weight lifting program and focus on perfect movement mechanics. I know at CrossFit Nucleus we do more then enough lifting in our regular programming if you are showing up every day. Another important part of increasing strength is allowing your body to recover properly. When we lift we are basically “injuring” ourselves and we need to allow time for our body to “repair” our tiny little injuries. If we allow for the repair process to take place correctly then we will come back stronger and better for it! On the flip side, if we do not allow our bodies to repair then we will end up going backwards in our strength and fitness.

If you want to squat 2 days a week, separate them with 2-3 days in between. Same with other strength moves as well.

You don’t have the Gymnastics skills? Focus on STRICT Gymnastics work… Pull ups, Handstand Push Ups, Push Ups, Ring Dips, Chin Ups, Toes 2 bar, Muscle Ups, etc… It is important to use most of the year focusing on strict gymnastics work. It is good to utilize EMOMs in small time domains here. 5-10 Minutes using a rep scheme that allows you to stay consistent across the entire EMOM time you choose. If you do not have full range strict movements then you can use Negatives/Tempos where the eccentric (lowering) movement is as slow as possible OR static holds (HS holds, ring dip lock outs, etc..). Another thing that gets missed here is tons of core work… Hollow body stuff, L-sits, and low back strength.

Conditioning. This is tricky but also the simplest piece of the puzzle at the same time. Lets not forget what and why CrossFit got us the results it got us in the first place. The appeal of being able to work out in a short time (30 minutes) and feel like you did more then anyone in the rest of your city. I like the saying “you don’t need harder work, you need to work harder.” This is so true, no matter what the metcon (metabolic conditioning) of the day is; just attack it with maximum intensity. Most days of the week, try not to game it too much and just move as quick as you can and rest as little as you can.

For those wanting “more” then the regular programming, start small. Add one extra 20-30 minute session a week in focusing on what you need the most work on. If the Open is your goal and you need work on gymnastics or mobility and conditioning then focus on movement/mobility first. As we get closer to the open you should shift the focus to the conditioning weakness (4-5 months out). For the next few months work through your gymnastic progressions and build your skills, utilize emoms, and don’t find yourself doing so much work that it negatively impacts the rest of your training. This is designed to be complementary and not crazy taxing, just you working on getting better at movements and/or mobility in certain positions. As far as extra mobility goes, you can do that for 20-30+ minutes everyday if you really need work on it. If you had all the skills, strength isn’t holding you back, and the only thing standing in your way significantly is your “engine” then its time to start adding 1-2 extra 20-30 minute bouts of conditioning in a week. Again, this is not designed to destroy you. Be smart, work your engine, and make sure you have a good 5-10 minute warm up and cool down. Start with 1 day a week for 3-4 weeks and if your body responds well and recovers good from it then add a day for another 3-4 weeks. Do the same for up to 3-4 extra days a week. Mix up the training, by going longer in duration (20+ minutes) or small bouts of interval work with timed rest. Focus on pushing your aerobic threshold and not your glycolytic threshold. (It shouldn’t feel like Fran). Consistent moderate intensity will allow you to push yourself harder in your metcons during regular training. You can also sprinkle in certain aerobic weaknesses here (burpees, DU’s, Rower, Running, Bike, and Swimming… Be creative and build a skill while building an aerobic base simultaneously).

This may not have all the answers but it is a heck of a place to start and build from as we start a new training season.

Remember always Intensity > Volume. Don’t just do more work for the sake of doing more work. Focus on Recovery: Nutrition, Stretching, Mobility, Sleep, Massage, Etc…

You don’t need harder work, you need to work harder


-Mike Whetstone/Co-Owner and Head Coach at CrossFit Nucleus