Hopefully this post stays on track….. If you read this blog, chances are you exercise regularly. If you do not, you probably used some buzzwords like “fitness” “Crossfit” or “weightlifting” in your search bar and then clicked the link for this blog. Most people read articles and blogs to obtain information that they do not currently have or to approach an issue from a different perspective. In the case of training, or more specifically, programming for ones own fitness, we can all be guilty of heading to the search bar a bit too often. This can be for a myriad of reasons not limited to: bordem, lack of results, frustration, unrealistic expectations, ect. Are we sabotaging our own health and fitness goals via Training Attention Defict Disorder? And if its not us, is someone else at fault? I recently spent a week out of town on a fantastic vacation with my wife and friends. Because we make fitness a strong component of our regular routines, we usually end up feeling a bit soft and slugish by trips end. This is not because we haven’t found other activities to fill the void, it is simply due to being out of our daily routines. As we were packing up to leave, my wife had asked what I thought would be programmed at the gym at the start of the week. It was a simple, unremarkable question and yet something hit me….relief. You see, although I only work out for three main reasons 1) staying functionally fit for my career, 2) staying healthy for my family and 3) desserts, I do put a premium on knowing the how, why and what of my training. When my wife asked about what our programming would be, I knew because there was a plan. I have confidence in the work that is programmed for me and thusly it allows my the freedom to use that energy and effort into performing the work without second guessing it’s motives or design. The key factor in all of this is reason. What is the reason being for your program and are you confident in it? Just over a year ago I had what could be described as an athletic ephipohony. The expensive “program” that I had subscribed to was not all it was cracked up to be. I had noticed that even though my attendance at the gym was between 5-6 days a week, my strength and endurance was not increasing at a rate that it should be. I will be the first to say that more often than not, the customer is usually the weak link in the succesful realization of his/her fitness goals. Success or failure usually amounts to how much quality time you put in and the diet that you support that work with. I knew that neither of those two things were my issues. I was putting in quality time and eating exceptionally well, especially considering the amount of volume I was doing. That left me with one other variable, the programming. I ended up taking a sample size of six months of past programmed WODs. What I found shocked me. There was no rhyme or reason to it all, I had been bamboozled for $200 a month! There was no set rotation for Olympic lifts and no discernable reasons for %’s, sets or reps. This randomness continued over into the programming for traditional power lifting movements. There wasn’t even a back squat performed for 2-1/2 months. You could see things like high rep, high weight posterior chain exercises programmed for four of five days, with some movements duplicated, it made no sense. So what does a responsible person do? Well they certainly don’t bitch and complain about their findings and leave it at that. They ask their programmers for reasoning behind the methodology. The reason? Each of the three programmers were doing two weeks at a time and not discussing directions or goals with one another. They each had their own specifc likes, dislikes, stengths and weaknesses. Three unique, intelligent people with their own set variables interefering with overall composition. What we have is a case of Programming Attention Defict Disorder. Before we move on to the individual and possible ailments contributing to lack of success in obtaining fitness goals, lets identify some ADD habits of Crossfit gyms that may be hindering a customer’s ability to reach their goal. – How long has your gym been programming for? If they are newly opened, perhaps they are trying to get their base clientele (demographic) figured out and have yet to set out a direction. – How many times has your gym openly announced changes in their programming? Do you find that every month there is a new “Fitness Challenge” “Competition Program” “Gymnastics Blast!” Ect. being added but then slowly disappears into oblivion as fast as it came? – Are there regular classes and then extra pay-for-use programs being offered that are embattled to one another? If the main program that you are paying $$$ a month for is effective, why is there other Crossfit programming being offered to anyone, but for more money? – Do you know what the goal of your gym’s program is? This is simple because as a customer, you can ask. It should have a specific goal in mind and it should have a time frame associated with it. If not, you are paying a lot of money for a glorified bootcamp. – If the programming is great, is the instruction equally as good? Do you find that you are lost amongst your peers during a class? It’s great to show up and make it through the class but are you being coached? Is your form or posture being critiqued, are you being challenged during the class rather than allowed to float through? – What do your fellow classmates think? The vibe of a group can be a powerful representation of the overall direction you are going. Are long time members leaving? Why? Is retention good? Why or why not?
Individuals A couple quick points to set you on the right path…. – Who did you consult for your last program? We’re they a professional? Did they do an assement of your current fitness level. Did they take into account past injuries, nutritional requirements, monetary and time restraints? Did they actually listen to your goals (did you tell them)? – How long have you been on your program? Health and Fitness is a lifelong journey. If you can’t stay on a singular path, it is going to be hard to see results, and if you mix and match, even though you may see marginal results, you may not know what the greatest or most effective contributed was. – Do you find yourself reading/searching for the same articles over and over that give you the same tired advice? – Do you record your personal bests? How do you know if you can squat more, run faster, jump higher if you have no stats to compare these to? Creating an honest baseline is integral to recognizing your success.
Summary When I search through the training methods by the top Crossfit athletes in the world, not your local box beasts, i mean the real professionals, I see one similarity between all of them. Dedicated programming that they stick with. Whether it’s Outlaw, Conjugate, Invictus or Power Athlete, the game plan remains the same. Find a program and stick to it to see success. I am not saying that you are anything like these top athletes, I mean you probably have a full time job, maybe kids, perhaps you are full time student. Your time is precious and it shouldn’t be spent doing something that is going to cost you results. The next time you see your affiliate create some sort of new option for training (only to have it disappear weeks later) or you find yourself looking for another squat protocol half way through your current flavour of the month, stop and ask yourself…”Am I in the right place with the right people?” Or “Have I followed my program fully for the duration of its cycle?” Focus is key. Pinpoint your desire and make it happen. Rather than stating “I don’t want to be fat” change your mindset and say “I will be more fit!.” Then devise three ways in which you will conquer that statement. In my household we use a three month approach. We stick to something wholeheartedly for three months and at the end, rather than quit or change immediately, we assess what worked and what didn’t. We identify what could have went better, if anything, and adapt from there. “Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.”