Training bias – strength, conditioning, other?

I Will CrossFit, the affiliate I train at, has a more conditioning biased training regimen. The programming is an oft-discussed topic in the #530crew conversations. We’ve all made remarkable progress over the last year or so, in terms of strength and conditioning. This is evidenced by┬áthe fact that our PRs have all been moving steadily upwards for the various weightlifting benchmarks and downwards for the timed benchmarks.

Ben Bergeron, legendary coach of the two fittest people on Earth, Katrin Davidsdottir and Mat Fraser, has podcast series called, Chasing Excellence. In a recent episode he discussed Conditioning-Biased Training. Give it a listen.

BB chasing excellence

I love that there is a copy of Seth Godin’s “What does it sound like when you change your mind” on the shelf behind them.

In this episode: We talk about the difference between programming for competitors versus members of our affiliates, the downfalls of strength-biased programming, & why less is almost always more.

It’s a great discussion and offers excellent insight into the different programming approaches which can be followed. What I found just as interesting, though, were the comments about the podcast. Ben divides the programming needs for an affiliate between competitors (Games- and Regionals-level athletes) and ‘regular’ members. And rightly so. The programming required to reach Regional level is so far beyond what most people want from a training program that they bear little resemblance to each other. However, there is another group of athletes not addressed with this approach. These are the guys who are not going to be in the top 20 in the Games and they’re not looking to beat Dan Bailey’s Fran time. They’re also not just trying to keep fit. Many of them played or still play other sports. They’re competitive. They want to improve. They want to get stronger. They want to learn how to do all the gymnastics movements. They want to get faster. They use CrossFit to supplement and complement their other sporting activities. Often making great strides in the other sporting disciplines because of the work they do in the CrossFit box. A program that suits some looking to keep/get fit may not suit this sort of CrossFit athlete. I think there is room for something in between. In some affiliates they program three versions of the workout: scaled, Rx and Rx plus. Perhaps this does address it to some extent. In ours, we have scaled and Rx but people do their own scaling depending on their experience and strength, often ending up somewhere in the middle.

I’ve only trained in one other affiliate when I was on holiday, so I don’t have a frame of reference for how other philosophies on programming work. I know I’ve improved significantly in the last year in all aspects of CrossFit that I’ve focused on. For me, I tend to trust the process our Coach has us following but it’s interesting to think about progressing to the next level. And trying to define that next level. I think if I discuss this with my coach we can work out a plan to address whatever it would take. But I also think that despite my progress, I’m still at a level where I can continue to improve just by following his current program. Intensity during the workout can make quite a difference without changing the program. But that’s a topic for another post.

In what direction is your programming biased? How are your WODs structured? If you changed affiliates was it because of the programming?