Thursday 112510 – Power Cleans


5 Rounds for time of:

10 Power cleans (115/85)
21 Kettlebell swings (53/35)
40m Shuttle run (4 lengths)

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Andy M asked a good question yesterday, “how are prescribed weights chosen on workouts?” Here’s how I (Mike) program workouts, please note that everyone programs slightly differently and might start in a different place than I do. I program workouts by the week, within a rough 3 month time period that includes the benchmark WODs that I want to cover, a loose strength progression, and the season we’re in. The first thing I select are the strength components, e.g. back squat on Monday, cleans on Tuesday, push press on Thursday, deadlift on Friday. I then decide what type of metcon I want to do on days that don’t include a strength/power component, which might be a long/light “cardio” type workout, a short and heavy workout, a moderate load max intensity workout, or some mix that includes a heavy component in a longer duration. With the desired stimulus in mind I’ll usually program those workouts, with the lifts we’re doing the day before and after in mind. First I’ll pick the movements usually, then the rep scheme, then the loads. The same process occurs on strength days, where we program a shorter duration workout that sometimes includes the movement we just performed during the strength portion, and sometimes doesn’t include it.

The prescribed weights are chosen after I have selected the desired stimulus for the workout, and have chosen the movements involved. With the desired stimulus in mind, I’ll have a good idea how long I want the workout to take, and I’ll select the reps and loads accordingly. The prescribed loads are selected to be challenging for the theoretical firebreather, who would complete the workout at the selected weight within 2-3 minutes of the desired workout duration. Sometimes the prescribed weight/reps is something most people in the gym can do, often it’s something only a few people can do. This is done on purpose and is at the heart of CrossFit’s methodology – program to challenge the most elite athletes in the world, and scale to appropriate loads/reps for everyone else.

The weight used is one of the primary ways we can set the stimulus we want to result from the workouts. Using Fran as an example, the standard workout is 21-15-9 reps of 95# thrusters & pullups. This workout develops cardiovascular endurance, stamina, and power primarily, and is meant to be done at the very near end of the glycolytic pathway in a short duration. Heavy Fran is 15-12-9 reps of 135# thrusters and 45# weighted pullups, and is primarily a strength and power workout, which also develops stamina and a little bit of endurance. This version is meant to be a little longer and put the athlete closer to muscle failure than the original. Both workouts use the same movement but develop somewhat different areas of fitness.

Hopefully this sheds some light into how these workouts are programmed. Programming a month of CrossFit WODs is as much an art as it is a science, and is extremely easy to do to make deconditioned athletes make initial improvements; but is not so easy to make experienced athletes make consistent improvements over a long period of time. Our benchmark WODs are our measuring stick to make sure that we’re causing positive adaptation in our experienced athletes on a consistent basis – judging by last week’s Cindy scores and this weeks CFT scores, I believe we’re on the right track!

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