Programming Update 8/1/17

 In News & Events


When we program at Four Barrel, we dissect our training into layers. We divide functional areas into strength movements, olympic lifts, gymnastics, and conditioning. There is some crossover in these areas, but the purpose is to separate our training into component parts for evaluation and planning purposes. As an example, if I randomly insert pull-ups into my workouts at completely random intervals and rep schemes (which many gyms do) they will only improve for a short period of time; however, if I plan specific pull-up skill and strength progressions and then fold them into our daily programming over the upcoming cycle, I can ensure more consistent and continuous progress. The same holds true for any movement or energy system that we train in CrossFit. If I set a long term plan, I can then back that into the daily variability that we all love so much without sacrificing progress.


So for this update, we’ve broken down each layer and given a brief explanation of our plan for the next 8 weeks.



We’ve reached the peak of this max strength phase and will be testing out with heavy singles next week. In order to avoid plateaus, we’ll shift to a hypertrophy phase to start our next wave. The body can’t perform at peak intensity 365 days a year, thus continual progress happens by building strength in waves. We start with longer higher rep hypertrophy sets to build muscle size, a stronger base, and improve technique, and then shift to lower reps and heavier loads for max strength work in order to improve recruitment of the new muscle we’ve built. We’ll spend 8 weeks in this hypertrophy phase, and then build back into max strength for another 8 weeks.


Olympic Lifts

For the Olympic lifts (snatch and clean & jerk) we’ll be working on technique development and capacity in the squat versions of the lifts. We’ve built a ton of strength and explosiveness with the power versions recently and and we’ll now shift to more development of strength and technique in the full/squat versions. This includes complexes and longer sets. Each lift will pop-up at least once a week in training – sometimes more. We’ll still see the power versions from time-to-time as well (especially in metcons).  


Gymnastics Work

Over the last 6 weeks our focus has been on building capacity in Pull-ups, Dips, HSPUs, and T2B. We’ll continue to focus on these movements, but will shift from capacity work (e.g. kipping pull-up EMOMs) and will start working more on the strength piece during our skill sessions (e.g strict sets and reps). We’ll still be seeing different versions of all of these movements in metcons as well, and we’ll be adding in pistols and more single leg work over the next 8 weeks.


Conditioning (WODs / Metcons)

We use the terms “WOD” and “metcon” almost interchangeably. WOD (workout of the day) is the original term used to describe any CF workout. More often than not, WODs are characterized by traditional CrossFit couplets or triplets of movements performed at high intensity, but could also be used to describe a lifting day or really any other workout. Metcon is short for “metabolic conditioning” which describes the short intense workouts popularized by CrossFit. Something to point out, is that we build more than just conditioning in our WODs. Strength, flexibility, gymnastic skill, conditioning, and even mental toughness can be built during WODs/metcons. For purposes of planning our training and ensuring that we hit all aspects, we group WODs and metcons under our conditioning section.


Our metcons over the next 8 weeks will look similar to what they have recently. The biggest shift will be that we’ll actually hit one or two more “long” workouts (16min +)  each week to help expand our aerobic/endurance base. Improving your aerobic base will help your recovery time between training days/WODs, and your time to recovery during WODs. It also builds a better heart and lungs, which is great for your health, but can also equal higher and more consistent output in shorter more intense WODs.

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