To know what you don't know..

Change, a fickel beast.. No one likes you, everyone needs you, and somehow you always show up at what seems like the worst times. This week marks the fourth week of a specific change, and you likely already know this is going to be about the program. The program that if Im being direct, I have written for over 7 years directly now. Of those 7 years not only have you entrusted me with your progress, we have succeeded. We have hundreds of success stories, thousands of PR's, and an unaccountable amount of high-fives. Let me also be very honest, of all those 7 years I have been constantly learning, and if you were around from day 1, man did you take your lumps. To be clear, every single day of the last 7 years has led directly to the success and evolution that you guys experience today. I have been obsessed with constant improvement, not just of you, but of the program, the delivery, and the maintenance of. 

Ironically the best tool for administering these changes has been simply tricking you... Sorry? Not in like the dishonest variation though, more in the "give you what you need packaged in what you want" sort of trick. So here we are, and some of you have noticed the "lack of skill/strength" in the workout of the day. This has raised some eye brows, some emotions, and some disdain. Ironic in that I am responsible for your supposed value in such segment. In defense of its existence, I created the Skill/Strength segment to address individual weakness, and skill-sets that weren't always allowed for mid-workout. The main reason I wrote this segment though? So that the coaches knew what skill/strength segment to work on. It in essence was simply a lesson plan. This was also its biggest downfall. It required very little creativity, emotional interaction, or expression from your coaches, and in short made them basically robots. Thats never good, have you seen Terminator?? 

Then comes the part very few of you are going to want to admit, and what all of us need to understand. You're all sandbaggers... "Oh no he di-int" Chill.. Deep breaths! I don't mean it in a bad way. Its actually evolutionary, genetic, a survival mechanism. By giving you two seemingly difficult tasks, you will survive them both. Why is this bad? This means that now we do two things "ok" instead of one thing "great" or more-so we do each with 90% intensity, simply to conserve.

Except that wasn't really the request, or the intent. This meant a multitude of considerations for me as the programmer. The first of which was making sure that what was written, was written so to allow for you to allocate intensity where I needed you too. If you got that right all was well, except that was rarely happening. No matter how much I augmented or manipulated the program. We were focusing on the wrong things. Skill/Strength was never meant to be the program, the focus, or the intent of your days. It was meant to support and develop your ability to apply peak intensity to the WOD or Metcon. Except it wasn't happening. No surprise really, its easier to lift heavy, than to go hard. Adding two more pounds to a bar, feels better than the effort it takes to go :20 faster. Couple that with the whole constantly varied thing and having no comparative basis from workout to workout because they are so rarely repeated. You can see why you all loved skill/strength too much. I made you all addicts, but on like the wrong drug.. 

So here we are a month later of "Just WOD's" and while this month should have been a further exploration of human physiology, it has been a bigger exploration of human psychology or behavior. Fascinating really. You see, the skill/strength hasn't even left, its just not written. Meaning you cannot focus on it, or worse record it on the board. Its incredible how valuable that whiteboard is to your emotional, and physical development. We have still squatted, a lot in fact over 1200 reps in the last month alone. We have still developed Gymnastics, in fact we did Pull ups over 1030 reps actually. This doesn't even include the amount of auxiliary or accessory pulling. In comparison to October of last year we squatted approximately 1100 times, and Pulled 1050 reps average. Gasp... Can it be, he tracks these things? As best I can yes. There are a lot of factors of course amraps, load, distance moved etc that change the number a bit. However I know that in order to achieve mastery you guys need to load your hips through flexion and extension at least 10,000 times a year, this rings true for Pull ups as well. Therefore, I attempt to average you out to around 1000 reps of each a month. Squatting always over-achieving as theres just so many variations and you're just that much stronger. This accounts for warmups, skill/strength, and WOD's because Im going to tell you a secret. Your body only understands two things as it applies to adaptation (the thing you all want) stress, and time-under-tension.

"Damnit, that means warmups matter?" Uh-huh. It also means that everything you do goes into your "bank account". As in position matters, form matters, virtuosity matters. Scores come after that. This is the only problem with the whiteboard. Ego. If you know you're going to put your score up for the world to see, you're going to do whatever it takes. We have a greater fear of sporting failure than we do of death, we will die for points. This is awesome when eliciting intensity, not when it comes to improving skills, and movement patterns. This meant that the bulk of your skill/strength work was in a less than satisfactory-any-means-necessary fashion. Putting bad reps in the good rep account. I have an assumption of degradation that accounts for mid to late workout breakdown and fatigue, what I don't, and have never accounted for was pre-workout, or skill work positional breakdown. Aside from max effort days, I always assumed you were prioritizing position over repetition or volume. Except the numbers don't lie, you weren't.

Few gyms coach as much as we do yet we weren't getting much further with virtuosity. This is where the "tricks" come in. You have all squatted heavy, cleaned, and snatched heavy, and done heavy squatting workouts still, despite its absence from the board. What you likely haven't noticed as much as the missing section, is the increase in quality, and decrease in ego as it pertains to skill/strength work. Lets take last week for example where we had OHS, and Double unders in the Workout. You all had a heavy double leading up to that workout. Except a lot of you did something different. You shut it down when you started moving poorly, so you could save yourself for the scoreboard later. Had I asked you to record that, you all woulda went full mashed-potatoes in pursuit of that score. This means a couple things. First above all else, skill is the new priority as it was always meant to be, and were putting good reps in the bank. Second, you gotta be a bit more honest with yourself, intrinsic perhaps, because now the heavy lifts "don't matter" on the board so the only reason you're doing them is for you and your goals. As it should have been all along. Now you're more likely to shut it down when it feels off than to run head first into a wall. Perhaps more likely to listen to your coach.. 

Ahh Coaching, the forgotten art. As a coach theres pretty much only one place to deliver an effective change on you as an athlete, and thats in the warmup. Why is that? Theres no ego in the warmup is why, you're likely unaware its even happening because its "just a warmup" but it is. This also means that by removing the segment from the board, this leaves a lot more room for instruction, drilling, and progressions we never had before. If it was written on the board, I couldn't get two sentences out before half of you already had your squat rack set up looking at me like "ya-ya we know can we get this over with so I can rest before the WOD". Now you're stuck listening to your coaches because you don't know whats coming next. Maybe this is the part you all hate most. Listening to your coaches isn't fun, we point out what you do wrong. We know. We understand, but trust me, we want you to be better. Leaving you in your den of inequity to squat alone isn't helping anyone. Not even your coaches, who rely on your coaching opportunities to also improve.

In the past I could have "Coached" and entire class with a handful of words, more akin to a zombie than a passionate coach. Today, now your coaches all rotate writing your lesson plans. They get to express themselves as a coach, discover weakness's in their knowledge, invest themselves more in your pursuit, and learn from each other. You might think this is no big deal, but this is a massive step forward for you guys. If nothing else your coaches have a lot of knowledge they haven't ever been able to share, only my knowledge. (which they still share relax) This also means a lot more variety. Like variance, as in Constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity. Which is the literal definition of CrossFit. 

Intensity is and will always be the most valuable aspect in the development of adaptation. Its avoidance or acquiescence is a direct limitation to your pursuit of health and wellness. Whether you choose to admit it or not, you've all gone harder the last 4 weeks, and you've likely felt the soreness to suggest it. Leaving yourself primed for the Metcon as was always the intention for the last 7 years, all while still getting the same skill/strength work youve always appreciated. For 7 years you have all trusted me with your physical development, a responsibility I have never taken lightly. Nor one I ever will. I have never stopped trying to advance you, myself, us, paradigm. This is still just as true today. If I can say one thing, just trust me, you're going to appreciate the result. I will always do whats best for you, even if that means dealing with some push back, confusion, even frustration. You trust me for a reason, and I hope thats because you know Ill always keep it real with you. I also guarantee your squat is still going to go up, guarantee it. 

-Tony