Consistency is key, right? You need to consistently eat well and train to get results. Consistency is defined as the quality of always doing something in a similar way–keeping the same. For example, training at least three times a week and only having two treat meals a week might be what you need to consistently do to get results. There’s a problem with consistency, though. It gets derailed easily.
Here is an example of great consistency getting derailed.
You’ve been having only two treat meals a week for a couple of months and are feeling great. Your body fat percentage is down and the headaches from too much sugar are even gone. And then you have a social event to attend, a Christmas party. So you ‘let your hair down’ and have a bender. A b.e.n.d.e.r! You feel sorry for yourself on the next day so you comfort yourself with more
drugsbad food. Monday comes and you haven’t prepared any food because of the weekend’s activities. You buy some “healthy” convenient snacks and meals, and that’s what you do for the rest of the week because you’ll only have time for shopping on the weekend.
You make it to the supermarket on the weekend, but by then the taste of
cocainesugar is back. You’re off the rails.
It might sound a bit dramatic, but it’s a scenario I’ve witnessed far too many times in my 15 years in this industry. Consistency gets you going. Persistence is what keeps you going.
Persistence is defined as continuing on the course of action in spite of difficulty. It’s getting right back on track after having a bender, and after all the setbacks and detours that life will throw at you.
Our definition of fitness is increased work capacity across many activity types and durations through life. Lifelong health and fitness. So you are able to go snowboarding in your 70s, play sports with your grandchildren, and get yourself out of bed until the day you die.
A few six week challenges or one year of good training isn’t enough to get you there. Persistently working on your health and fitness–your nutrition, training, recovery and lifestyle habits–will.
The purpose of strength training is to enhance your ability to apply productive force. Whereas metabolic conditioning (metcon) improves endurance and stamina–your ability to gather, process, deliver and utilise oxygen and energy. Strength, endurance and stamina are all important pieces of fitness with each skill requiring unique training methods. Hoping to achieve the benefits of one skill through training in another skill is like eating an apple but expecting it to taste like an orange.
This is often seen in metcons that include weightlifting movements. You want to get stronger so you opt for the prescribed load because you understand that to get stronger you need to be able to move heavier loads. You know that you can manage the heavier load too. And you do manage it–you get through some rounds and reps, but because the load was relatively too heavy for the metcon, you either didn’t complete a decent amount of reps or came well short of the time cap.
You ate an apple hoping for it to taste like an orange. But you got neither apple nor orange.
Metcons improve your endurance and stamina. That’s precisely what they are programmed for, even if they include weightlifting movements. That is why, depending on the goals of the workout, the guideline loads are relatively low to moderate–to enable you to get lots of work done in minimal time. When you opt for a load that is too heavy, you don’t get enough work done. You don’t improve your endurance and stamina. No apple.
Metcons do not make you stronger. They are not programmed to make you stronger. No orange.
Strength days are programmed to make you stronger. So on strength days, go as heavy as form permits. Even risk failing a lift here and there because that’s part of the strength process. But go into a strength-based session with the go heavy mindset and with consistency and persistence you will get stronger.
In contrast, go into metcons with the hard and fast mindset–get as much done as you can in as little time as possible. That will improve your endurance and stamina.
There certainly is some carry over between training methods, but it’s indirect and minimal. Strength training gets you strong, metcons improve your endurance and stamina. Apples and oranges 😉
I’d like to interrupt the nutrition and lifestyle blogs for an update on the programming. I’ve been slack with giving you insights into the programming, so back to it at the start of new training blocks.
A quick review on the previous two training blocks first. The 12-week block that began in April had a strength focus. We managed that by keeping strength work to the the first piece of a session IF there were two pieces to that session. Everyone knows that the barbell is a strength development tool, but gymnastics also plays a massive role in strength development. We therefore performed a lot of strict gymnastics work for the L2 stream, and either static or eccentric work for the L1 streams.
The 13-week block that followed that (the most recent block) continued with a strength focus but with less overall volume to make way for better intensity.
Remember, a focus is NOT a bias, because a bias would require sacrificing other components of fitness. Our aim is a broad and inclusive fitness so although we focused on strength, we didn’t overlook conditioning work. And the great results we had in tests of stamina and endurance during Test Weeks proved that all components of fitness improved.
Here’s what you can expect over the current training block:
- Firstly, every time we do strength work it will continue to be max effort work. That means you’ll go to the heaviest load you can manage, for that day, and for that rep scheme. You’ll typically see “heavy single/double/triple” in the notes. The differences between a heavy single and a 1-RM, for example, is that on a 1-RM attempt you may end up failing a lift because you’re attempting a PB. Whereas on a heavy single there should be no misses because you aren’t maxing out. This develops confidence in the lift, which in turn develops strength, and stronger people are harder to kill.
- The strength movement will change on every max effort day. For example, a sumo deadlift today for lower body strength and a squat next time. This helps to prevent or break plateaus, and also give you more exposure to different strength work more often.
- There are always differences in the L1 and L2 streams here. L1 athletes will simply have more volume and relatively less load.
- Strict gymnastics movements will still be used for upper body strength development, but the L2 stream will have these movements in conditioning workouts too.
Endurance & Stamina Conditioning
- This will be the new focus. It doesn’t mean more conditioning workouts than previously, in fact, we’ll be doing less overall work because we want good intensity (power output) in metcons. But metcons will be the first piece IF there are two pieces in a workout. IF there are two pieces, the barbell strength work will come after the metcon.
- As always, there’ll be a good variety of low, medium and high rep workouts along with a good dose of long interval-based workouts.
- The Endurance Club is going to hit a running cycle. This will be interval-based training and it will include a lot of accessory-based metcons as part of the sessions. I’m also going to program a ‘Day 2’ for anyone who wants to do a second day of running in a week (this will be self directed, though).
- The amount of gymnastics work we’ve done in previous cycles remains largely the same but moves from being a part of the strength pieces to the metcons. There’ll be high volume gymnastics movements in metcons and they’ll often be combined with interfering movements.
- Gymnastics comes before weightlifting in the hierarchy of athletic development, so we’ll never sacrifice it.
- As noted above, instead of just strict gymnastics work you’ll be doing more gymnastics-based metcons in order to improve upper body endurance and stamina. Sometimes a gymnastics movement will be coupled with a weightlifting movement that will interfere with the working muscles. You may not feel the lungs work much on these, but you’ll feel a lot of local muscular fatigue. Aside from swimming and cross country skiing (like the ski-erg), this is the best way to improve the endurance of upper body musculature.
- On other days, gymnastics conditioning will be more skill-based. This is where you’ll learn the progressions for a new skill, improve a skill, or improve your capacity in a skill. As Greg Glassman says, a fitness program devoid of gymnastics practice and skills is deficient. This is also the sort of stuff you can’t do anywhere else. Even many CrossFit affiliates don’t have the space or resources for gymnastics skill work like rope climbs.
- For those who are able to perform the more technical gymnastics movements, we’ll be increasing technicality and growing your capacity in those movements.
- The Barbell Club will have a low volume on-the-minute style program to develop consistency under heavy loads. This format also develops your ability to complete technical movements under tight time restrictions and fatigue — that carries over in to every other aspect of fitness too.
- The UpSkill plan is there for anyone who needs individually tailored work. We have people working on gymnastics, weightlifting, strength, conditioning, and even rehab or basic skills like skipping. If you’d like more info on this plan, get in touch!
- A good CrossFit program should be injury prevention by design. However, I do still believe that there is room for accessory work. Such work is intended to keep you injury free by preventing any imbalances from developing while keeping the areas of most use (shoulders, midlines, knees) strong and stable. This work will be programmed on occasion to keep you healthy. You can either ass around while we do this, or you can care about your health and performance and apply yourself just as you do in metcons.
This 12-week block will take us right into the December holiday season and when we’re back in the new year we continue the conditioning focus to ensure that you’re all ready for the Open!
To remind you yet again, the big picture is to continue developing a broad fitness throughout life. We’re always working on all aspects of fitness.
Sometimes, you need a more tailored approach. That’s why we have Tayla, the Client Services Manager, to help you with goal setting, but more importantly to direct you to the best services we have to offer for YOUR goals. So if you’re feeling a bit stuck, get in touch!
The gym is a lab, and you are all the lab rats. Our training methods and how it affects human performance, both mental and physical, is constantly under the microscope. So throwing “Fran”, the most common CrossFit benchmark, in after testing fitness levels was no thumb suck. It was programmed for training, not testing.
Training is the process of learning and conditioning. In the gym you learn skills that condition your fitness, and better fitness is greater work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Testing assesses those changes in your fitness and therefore evaluates the effectiveness and efficacy of the training program. Training makes you fitter, whereas testing evaluates your fitness.
In fitness it’s easy to fall into the trap of testing everyday. Especially because the people we have in the gyms are driven and love a good test. That’s going for max load, your best reps and your fastest time. Every. Day. That is focusing on an end result–testing–instead of learning and conditioning–training.
Let’s consider “Fran.” The workout brief from your coaches yesterday was to modify the workout to ensure that you completed the workout WELL under the six minute time cap, and they provided you with suggestions on how best to modify the workout to achieve that. So many people, in fact it was probably most people, didn’t do Fran. They completed a variation of the workout, but everyone completed the workout at similar times and they were all just as smoked.
When that workout comes up as a test the approach is to attempt the prescribed workout, IF you have the necessary skills to do so safely. I asked one of the members yesterday how he felt after the workout, and he said “different.” He went lighter to be able to move faster and achieve the goal of the workout. When doing the workout previously he attempted the prescribed version because he is can do both movements, but in those instances he was always slower. The results from his tests told us that while he can do both movements as prescribed, his capacity in those movements in a short time domain is lacking. Sure, he still got a good workout from the test. But what he meant by the training approach feeling “different” was that it “f*&^#d” me up more!”
If you keep testing every day you are sacrificing power output. You will not get fitter. You do still need to work hard AND smart to get results, but it’s ultimately training that ensures we pass our tests 😉
While we are a fitness facility, fitness is the service and the business is people. We are here to help make people better, and make better people. Much of that coaching, in both nutrition and training, is based on adapting behaviour. And that is based heavily on habit formation.
Habits are the small decisions and actions you perform daily. What you repeatedly do ultimately forms who you are. Therefore, if your nutrition is poor it’s a direct result of bad dietary habits.
Likewise, if your nutrition is on point, it’s a direct result of good dietary habits.
Habits are thought to be developed through a 3-step loop.
- Step 1 is a trigger – an event or action that reminds you of and initiates a habit. Example: Becoming “snacky” between meals.
- Step 2 is the habit itself – the behaviour you (repeatedly) perform in response to the trigger. Based on the above example: Eating a sweet treat.
- Step 3 is the reward – the benefit associated with behaviour. Following on with the example: Energy levels and mood are lifted for a bit.
You can layer any habit, dietary or otherwise, onto these three steps. While people may display the same behaviours (habits), their triggers and perceived rewards will all be different depending on their personality traits.
How rewards are perceived are especially different between individuals. For some, the reward from that sweet pick-me-up is better energy levels for the next 40 minutes. For others, the reward is more psychological – a comforting feeling. Either way, the reward keeps refueling the behaviour.
So how do we improve dietary habits? I think that reverse engineering the 3-step loop works like magic.
- Start with the reward. What will your reward be for eating better? Improved performance, losing body fat, greater self confidence, fitting your wedding clothing perfectly, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. There are many, but you have to pick one to three rewards for YOU.
- Now look at what habits you need to change and develop in order to get you to that reward. This will again be different for everyone, but make them relevant to the reward. If you know what the benefit will be, it motivates you to maintain the habit.
- Find a trigger that initiates the required behaviours. Triggers can be a time, location, event, emotion or other people. Set an alarm for each meal and snack. Associate the work canteen (location) with bad food to prevent you from eating there. Post-exercise (event) is a good time for a more high GI meal or snack.
Emotions are typically triggers for bad behaviour (like comfort eating) so implement an exercise behaviour for when you’re feeling down. The people one is more powerful than you realise, so surround yourself with people who are at the very least supportive of your goals.
There’s a fourth step that I think fits in under the rewards step – visualisation. Visualise how you will feel when you attain the reward. “I will feel [insert emotion] when I lose some body fat.” It’s a well proven method.
It’s all a bit easier said than done, though. And that’s exactly why we run lifestyle challenges. Sure, we teach you a bit about good nutrition, but more importantly, the challenges are a method of instilling better (sustainable) lifestyle behaviours. So, if you need to tidy up your health and fitness, sign up for the Summer Lifestyle Challenge. If you’ve done a challenge or two but feel like you need more individually tailored advice, we do have one-on-one nutrition coaching too.
Whichever route you choose, “I struggle to eat well” is the poorest excuse you could have for not optimising your health because all the tools you need are right at your finger tips!
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