Building Bodyweight Skills: March Programming Notes

Breaking From Barbells

This month we're focused on developing Gymnastic/Calisthenic Strength. There are tremendous benefits to strength training using only body weight, including the increased potential to develop muscle types that aren’t as well addressed when working with barbells.

In a nutshell, there are three muscle-fiber types in the body: Type I, Type IIA, & Type IIB. Gymnastics has a higher propensity to develop muscle Type IIB, which generate the most power and force. In addition, gymnastics training requires the body to work in perfect unison, and demands a tremendous amount of balance, flexibility, and strength to be expressed.  

It’s All About Progressions

When training with barbells, you can easily increase or decrease the intensity by changing the weight. If something is too heavy, simply drop some weight and get back at it.

Gymnastics is a completely different animal in that we need to be able to identify the appropriate progression that will enable you to build capacity in a safe and effective manner. Since you are leveraging your own body weight to complete movements, you need to be able to understand how levers work in order to manipulate the load to feel lighter or heavier.

Here’s a couple examples:
If standard push-ups are too difficult, you can do push-ups off of an elevated surface (like a box) to decrease the load angle and make the movement possible. If Toe-2-Bar is too challenging you can perform Knees-2-Elbows in order to build the baseline strength required to eventually execute the T2B.

We will be showing you a tremendous number of progressions for each strength movement - aim to pick a progression that enables you to perform 3 sets of 5 reps successfully.

The Little Things Count

One thing to keep in mind is that every single body part has a place regardless of what the movement is. Part of the goal of most gymnastics movements is to create tension in the body (this helps with balance and rigidity). A common fault I see is when athletes fail to point the toes away from the body in movements like the pull-up, handstand, and hollow rock. Pointing the toes activates the quads and if you’re guilty of this not doing this regularly, you’ll probably start to cramp the first few times you give it a try. Stick with it, and in time you will bloom like a beautiful flower. 

Feedback

Per the usual, if you have feedback to share hit me at ranier@marvelouscrossfit.com. I am waiting to hear from you. :)

Developing Strength: February 2016 Programming Notes

If you have yet to download the 2016 Level 1 Programming, you may do so here.

Powerlifting To Get Strong

This month, we are focused on leveraging 4 lifts for strength development: Back Squat, Deadlift, Strict Press, and Bench Press. The word “Powerlifting” is a bit of a misnomer as these lifts are typically performed without much explosiveness (i.e. power) unlike the Olympic lifts, which require a tremendous amount of power in order to be performed with heavy loads.

Why Two Presses?

These days, the sport of Powerlifting only includes 3 of the 4 lifts we are utilizing this month: Back Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. Way back in the day, the sport actually used the Strict Press instead of the Bench Press. But, competitors found that they could lift more weight in the Strict Press by employing excessive “lay-back”, which is essentially a hyper extension of the back that resembles a standing bench press with no bench. It then became difficult for judges to determine how much “lay-back” was permissible so they did away with the Strict Press altogether and replaced it with the Bench Press.

Both press variants are extremely valuable for upper body strength development and that’s why we’re using both in our training. 

Tempos, Bands, Burnouts, and Other Variants

You will perform variants of the aforementioned lifts in the form of changing tempo, adding band resistance, and changing range of motion. The higher level goal of all these variants are the same: to provide a different stimulus and force the body to adapt to something new. Training variance is proven to provide a much better stimulus (and result) on the body than merely performing the exact same movement pattern over and over.

With that said, whenever a new stimulus is introduced keep in mind that you should use working loads that are lower than what you would do normally to accommodate for the extra stress on the body. 

Total It All Up

I’ve programmed a couple CrossFit Total days at the start and at the end of the month. The Total is the sum of your best completed weight at three lifts: Strict Press, Deadlift, and Back Squat. It is the most commonly used Strength benchmark in CrossFit and serves as a good indicator for how you’re coming along in Strength development. While a cycle of 4 focused weeks is pretty short to develop significant Strength gains, I’m confident many of you will be able to set new PRs come month end. Keep in mind that there are 10 pillars of fitness in CrossFit. Strength, while important, is only 1 of the 10. 


There are many naysayers out there in the fitness world claiming you cannot develop both strength capacity and “cardio” capacity in tandem. Our goal this month is to prove them wrong. :)

Feedback

If you have any feedback regarding the programming that you’d like to share, please contact me directly at ranier@marvelouscrossfit.com. Love it or hate it, I wanna hear about your experience. 

2016 Level 1 Programming

Programming For The Entire Year Is Here

The Level 1 programming for all of 2016 is complete and you can download the PDF guide here:

Marvelous CrossFit 2016 Level 1 Programming

I personally haven’t seen a box publish it’s entire year’s programming in advance and this is one of the things we’re doing to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Programming is the heart and soul of your experience and we put serious thought and effort into making it awesome. Every month, we’ll be publishing in depth analysis of the daily programming. For now, let’s talk about the entire year at a high level:  

Macrocycles, Mesocycles, & Microcycles

2016 contains two, 6-month macrocycles (larger training periods). The first transpires between January to June, and the second runs from July thru December. Each macrocycle can be considered a “complete” CrossFit training experience.

Each macrocycle contains six, 4-5 week mesocycles (smaller training periods) which are essentially a month long. Here is the focus for each month:

  • January - Baseline: Establish 1/3 RM for all major lifts and benchmark WODs.
  • February - Power Lifting: Focus on “absolute” strength development by developing the Back Squat, Deadlift, Strict Press, & Bench Press.
  • March - Gymnastics: Bodyweight strength is excellent for building both neurological and physiological adaptations. 
  • April - Clean & Jerk: Increasing technical competency in the C&J through the full movement, as well as it’s component parts like the Deadlift, Front Squat and Press variants. 
  • May - Kettlebell: The kettlebell is one of the most versatile and efficient pieces of workout equipment around and we’re going to show you all the awesome exercises you can do with it.
  • June - Snatch: The most technical lift you can do with a barbell.
  • July - Baseline Retest: Mid-year testing point to re-establish 1/3RM loads for the major lifts and times for all the benchmark WODs.
  • August - Power Lifting: Strength is a cornerstone of any solid fitness program.
  • September - Advanced Gymnastics: We’re talking about the stuff you see people do in the Olympics. Fear not - we have scaling options and progressions for every movement we teach.
  • October - Clean & Jerk: More positional work, complexes, and strength training pertaining to this particular lift.
  • November - Skill: A month of focused skill work to refine form and technique.
  • December - Snatch: Overhead Squats, Snatch complexes, and tempo work to finish off the year.

Each mesocycle contains four to five, 7-day microcycles (mini training periods) that include workouts varying several training conditions: load, duration, skill, reps, sets, and movement.

Here's how to make sense of it all:

Start with a single day of programming. 

String 7 days together to form a microcycle (one week).

Add 4 microcycles together to create a mesocycle (one month).

Layer 6 mesocycles together to complete a macrocycle (six months).

Add 2 macrocycles together to form the training plan for the entire year. Boom.  

How To Get The Most From Your Experience

The programming is thoroughly varied, broad enough to encompass all skill levels, and cohesive enough to ensure you achieve measurable progress. It doesn’t matter what days you train, if you attend at least 3 classes per week you will have a well-rounded experience. Here are some additional tips to maximize your training:

  • Avoid training more than 3 days in a row. If you’re going as hard as you should be, your body will want that 4th day off. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it is generally a good idea for 95% of our community.
  • Come on days you hate the programming. We naturally like things we are good at and hate things we suck at. This causes most people to cherry pick the programming and only come on days they like. Practice what you suck at. With enough effort, any weakness can grow into strength. 
  • Mobilize on your own. Taking 10-15 minutes per day mobilizing at home or early before class will reap tremendous gains in every other aspect of your training. 

WODs May Change

We strongly believe that a WOD should be tested by the coaches before we dish it out to the athletes. After testing a WOD, we sometimes adjust the loads, reps, or duration to ensure the best possible experience for you. So, please keep in mind that when you see a WOD on game day it may be slightly different than what’s contained in the PDF.

Questions Or Comments

After you’ve had a chance to review the programming, please send any questions or comments you may have directly to me at ranier@marvelouscrossfit.com. We constantly striving to improve your experience and welcome all feedback to help us achieve that. Happy WODing!

 

Q4 Programming Is Ready To Rock!

The final quarter of the year is upon us, and here's the programming to close out 2015:

Marvelous CrossFit Burlingame Q4 Programming

Here's some thoughts specifically on October programming:

Move & Mobilize

You'll notice on some days the programming appears as if it would not warrant the entire 60 minutes of class. That's done purposefully as we're focused on providing extended mobility sessions, per the feedback you've given us. The coaches are constantly digging for better mobilization exercises and leveraging a variety resources (Becoming A Supple Leopard, Mobility WOD, ROM WOD, Gymnastics Bodies, Trigger Points Therapy Workbook, etc.) so you can give your body the suppleness it needs to smash through the WODs. 

Balanced Attack

This month we're going back to our CrossFit roots and are specializing in not specializing. The WODs are designed with the traditional CrossFit spirit in mind so you can expect healthy doses of barbells, gymnastics, and mono-structural (running, rowing, jump rope) movements combined in fun and interesting ways. 

A Note On Intensity

One of the primary goals of CrossFit is to maximize intensity when performing WODs. One way to define intensity is work performed over a period of time. For this definition, there are a couple of ways to maximize intensity: 1) maximize the work performed for a set period of time, and 2) minimize the time required to perform a set amount of work. 

Work can be defined as the product of load and reps. While we will always have prescribed (Rx) weights for a given WOD, you should have an honest conversation with yourself on whether or not the prescribed weight is conducive to maximizing work. For example, if the load is too heavy for you then you will gas out early and will have to take too many breaks; thus overall work will be reduced. If the load is too light, you will plow through the workout without getting the muscle and systemic fatigue you are seeking. The trick is to find that sweet spot where the load is appropriate such that you can perform enough reps to stress you out, but not burn you out. :)

As always, please send all your thoughts and feedback about the programming to team@marvelouscrossfit.com.

Coach's Notes: September 2015 Programming

Training For Strength

Our programming focus for September is Strength development - lifting heavy weights at a slow(ish) pace. If you haven't already downloaded this quarter's programming, you may do so here:

Marvelous CrossFit Burlingame Q3 2015 Programming

What Is Strength

Strength is simply the production of force. In training, this force is applied against gravity and performed with heavy weights at a slow pace and low reps. Strength training results in the ability to lift heavier weights, bigger muscles, and higher raw force production. The best measurement for absolute Strength is the 1RM.

Why Develop Strength?

Strength training is an important pillar of any well rounded fitness program. Going heavy burns fat, increases muscle size and density, hardens bones, and strengthens tendons and ligaments. It's also an excellent way to stimulate the central nervous system and force the body to adapt (grow). 

Example Movements

Here are some movements you can expect to perform this month:

Barbell & Dumbell

  • Tempo Squats
  • Tempo Deadlifts
  • Tempo Presses
  • Deficit Deadlifts
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Pendlay Rows
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • DB Front Raises
  • Shrugs
  • Wrist Curls
  • Good Morning
  • Glute Bridge

Gymnastics

  • Strict Pull-ups
  • Strict Push-ups
  • Strict Toe-2-Bar
  • Strict Dips
  • Strict Handstand Push-ups
  • Wrist Push-ups
  • Typewriter Pull-ups
  • Around The World
  • Pistol Squats
  • Planks
  • Hollow Holds
  • Superman Holds
  • Ring Supports
  • Skin The Cat
  • Ab Roll-outs

Specialty Movements

  • Loaded Carries
  • Turkish Getups
  • Loaded Pistol Squats

What To Expect

The general pace of classes is a bit slower compared to last month. Not only do we aim to increase the load but we may also purposefully change the pace at which an exercise is performed - time under tension is an important factor in developing strength. We encourage you to "go heavy" for both the strength pieces and WODs, assuming you are able to maintain proper form and technique. If you are still relatively new to CrossFit, as always please listen to your body and take a rest day when needed. 

Coach's Notes: August 2015 Programming

The remainder of Q3 programming is complete and you can download it in it's entirety here:

Marvelous CrossFit Burlingame Q3 Programming

Training For Power

Strength Versus Power

What Is Strength

We first need to define Strength before we can discuss Power. Strength is simply the production of force. In training, this force is applied against gravity and performed with heavy weights at a slow pace and low reps. Strength training results in the ability to lift heavier weights, bigger muscles, and higher raw force production. The best measurement for absolute Strength is the 1RM.

What Is Power

Power is the production of force over time, i.e. the rate at which Strength is produced. It can be generally understood as: Power = Strength x Speed. High Power results in explosive movements commonly seen in sports and other competitive activities.

Why Train For Power?

Aside from it’s obvious applications in sports, training for Power is important because it enables a greater level of control over Strength. It’s also more balanced in that it has two dimensions (speed and force) while Strength training only has one (force). Power is an essential component for success in CrossFit.

Example Movements

Any movement performed with sub-maximal loads (80% or less of 1RM) at a high speed triggers Power development.

Barbell & Dumbbell

  • Power Cleans
  • Power Snatches
  • Hang Power Cleans
  • Hang Power Snatches
  • Push Press
  • Push Jerk
  • Speed Deadlifts
  • Speed Squats
  • Pause Squats
  • Speed Bench Press

Gymnastics

  • Jumping Air Squats
  • Clapping Push-ups
  • Launch Push-ups
  • Box Jumps
  • Weighted Box Jumps
  • Depth Jumps
  • Kipping Pull-ups
  • Kipping Knees-2-Elbows
  • Kipping Toe-2-Bar
  • Kipping HSPU
  • Jumping Lunges
  • Weighted Sit-ups
  • Plate Jumps

Specialty

  • Russian Kettlebell Swings
  • Kettlebell Snatch
  • Sled Sprint
  • Ball Rotational Throws
  • Wall Balls
  • Ball Slams
  • Power Pulls On Rower
  • Sprints
  • Battle Ropes

Programming

Instead of a typical Strength piece, most of the movements this month are Power pieces. Aim to optimize for speed, not load - if a particular weight causes you to slow down for a given exercise then you should lower the weight. 

Generally speaking, most CrossFit WODs inherently train Power (since time is almost always a factor) and this month emphasizes that notion to a greater extent. Training for Power can be very taxing on your Central Nervous System (CNS) so please listen to your body and take an extra rest day (or two) when you need it.

Coach's Notes: July 2015 Programming

July programming is complete and you can download a copy to pore over here:

July Programming

Here's the method to the madness:

Testing 1RM Or 3RM

This is a month of testing maxes for all the major lifts (there's 11 of them). For each lift you have the option of testing either your 1RM OR your 3RM, but not both in the same day.

Why do you have the choice?

While testing a 1RM is cool, there's not much value of knowing that number other than bragging rights. Also, the 1RM is extremely taxing on the Central Nervous System and the amount of energy and focus required to lift your 1RM doesn't always provide the training payoff we are looking for.

 3RM provides more training utility and presents lower potential training risk. I personally find it to be more useful as a working weigh than the 1RM. 

Testing Benchmark WODs

July programming has many WODs that we've done in the past in addition to several benchmark WODs. This is an excellent opportunity for you to see how you've improved this past quarter and reach for new PRs. :)

Give Me More Dumbbell!

You'll notice the programming is more DB heavy than usual. DBs are an excellent training tool, and we've historically shied away from them because we haven't had enough to satisfy the needs of the athletes. Well, we just got a huge Rogue shipment in that includes enough DBs for everyone so you'll see a more balanced use of these awesome tools.

August & September Programming

We typically release the programming in quarters but Augusta and September are still being finalized. You can expect the remainder of Q3 programming to be released by mid month.

Questions/Comments?

Please feel free to email me, ranier@marvelouscrossfit.com, with any questions or comments you have about the programming. It is our goal to provide robust programming that meets the needs of our community and any and all feedback is welcome. 

Q2 Programming Has Arrived!

A new quarter of programming has arrived and includes: a new Marvelous Capacity Challenge, Double Under progression, and MetCons utilizing work-rest ratios to help improve your work capacity!

Download and review the programming, then let us know how you feel about it. :)

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