This is a re-post from a blog I wrote a while back. I thought it was time for a refresher. In addition, I updated it quite a bit as I have learned even more about these systems since that last time I posted this back in 2016. Even though CrossFit may seem random to you day in and day out. A good programmer will always have a plan and will understand these concepts when figuring out their yearly training calendar. The coaches and I often refer to these systems in class while coaching. Enjoy!
How does CrossFit programming work and why is it effective? This is a commonly asked question. There really is no short answer to this question because it is all based off body physiology. You see the body has three energy systems. The Phosphagen system, which consists of workouts less than 7 minutes. The glycolytic system, which are workouts ranging from 10-20 minutes, and the oxidative system workouts that are over 20 minutes. Within these systems are several components all of which stress different portions of our anatomy. For example the Phosphagen system consists of capacity based workouts or explosive lifts. So your “Fran” type Wod’s and Olympic based lifts fall into this category. When I want to stress this system I like to mix and match between the two and throw in additional movements with the idea of lung capacity in mind or lifts that will stress the neuromuscular system.
The glycolytic system can be broken up into two parts; fast glycolytic and slow glycolytic. Our fast glycolytic workouts range in that in between time domain 7-10 minutes in length. They can have many different movements make up a workout and tend to still fall on that capacity side of things. For example; “Fran” which is 21-15-9 consisting of Thrusters and Pull Ups falls into this category. This system is all about high intensity and are often the most uncomfortable workouts.
Now, the majority of CrossFit workouts, and most fitness routines for that matter, fall into the slow glycolytic category. These workouts last 10-20 minutes in length but on average are about 15 minutes long. These are wod’s that tend to be very creative and allow you to find paces within them. You can mix and match all kinds of different elements to make these fun. Your classic met-con, that sexy term you hear CrossFitters throw around all the time, are all glycotic. The problem is many programmers stay in this range because results happen quickly, within the first 90 days, you do not have to weight lift and in all reality they are safe. Stressing this energy system can take up a bulk of programming but it should not be the only system that is stressed and this is where many boxes lose results over time with their members. The classic girl wod “Helen” is a great example of a glycolytic system stressor. However, what often gets over looked, and even I have been a culprit at times, is the oxidative system.
The oxidative system is workouts ranging over 20 min. in length. They are considered aerobic while the other systems are anaerobic. This means it requires more oxygen and recruits the majority of slow twitch muscle fibers. Your classic 5k can be considered oxidative or any of the workouts we do on Thursdays or at Endurance Club. CrossFit requires the stressing of all three systems for it to be completely effective. These oxidative workouts tend to be the boring ones that nobody wants to do. However, they are the most essential to achieve the results everyone desires. If you want to be successful you can’t shy away from this but rather need to embrace them head on.
What is fun for me as a programmer, and all programmers that understand the body’s energy systems is attempting to mix and match with them to stress the body on different levels throughout a workout. For example, a wod that consists of three 4 Minute AMRAP’s. Such as:
10 G2O (95/65)
20 Double Unders
Rest 1 Min
Find 1RM Snatch
Rest 1 Min
DL (With Snatch Weight)
Last’s a total of 12 minutes which stresses the glycolytic system. However, in breaking it up into three separate 4 Min. AMRAP’s we stressed the fast glycolytic system and in doing the max snatch in the middle we hammered on the phosphagen system, fun stuff!
There are many other ways to stress your body’s energy systems so you all can get the best results possible. When we lift before we do a “wod” we stress the phosphagen system and then go into a glycolytic or oxidative stressor workout. I heard the statement on several occasions that when you walk into Precision our members all look fit. Many in the community can misinterpret this as us just having a bunch of bad ass competitors. A small majority of Precision actually competes. Maybe we are just doing our job with the programming, and using CrossFit the exercise routine as it was intended to be used. This leads to results, plain and simple. The goal of CrossFit is to make you fit. Our members follow a plan to achieve this goal. We are not a bunch of CrossFit competitors with our only job being that of CrossFit. We are doctors, lawyers, teachers, officers, business professionals, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters and parents. We are everyday people that choose to live a healthy lifestyle. By doing CrossFit the way it was intended to be done we can accomplish this goal with flying colors.
400 M. Row or Run
10 Wall Slides
10 Wall Facing OHS
10 Lunge w/ Pass Through
10 Good Mornings
10 Front Squat
10 Clean Extension
5 Inch Worms + Scorpions
Tabata Ring Swing
(8 Rounds 20 Sec. On / 10 Sec. Off)
*Work on Length and active shoulders.
Clean Pathway Complex
3 @ 65%
3 @ 70%
2 × 3 @ 75%
*1st Pull to Above Knee’s (3 Sec. Hold), Move to 2nd Pull Position (2 Sec. Hold), Hang Clean from 2nd Pull Position.
30 Clean & Jerks (135/95) (115/75)
*EMOM 2 Ring MU
10 Weighted Ring Rows
10 Weighted Push Ups
8e Bulgarian Split Squat
8e Single Leg Glute-Bridges
30 Med-Ball Cleans (20/14) (16/10)
*EMOM 6 Push Ups