Programming: Begin with the end in mind. – Stephen Covey
The CrossFit Games define a season for fitness training. Each July the CrossFit Games seek to identify the fittest, most broadly capable humans on the planet. Athletes must be ready for anything—maintain pace in a multi hour event, win a sprint, excel at gymnastics, and crush weightlifting—many times in the same event. Athletes must be ready to reach and eclipse personal records in all time and modal domains. Athletes need to be able to adapt to challenges that they have not specifically prepared for. The Games expose weaknesses in the athlete and in their preparation.
The Journey – Why train for The Games?
Training to participate in the Games is a process. Programming must lead to developing high work capacity in all areas of the 10 General Physical Skills (Jim Cawley/Bruce Evans). The training cycle should systematically broaden and deepen the athlete’s capacity and strength. Each year the athletes competing are stronger and faster, and therefore the ability to apply specialized games skills is of increasing importance. The journey of training for The Games is a path that brings the athlete to work beyond their physical and mental limitations. Prioritizing training to realize maximum physical potential and expand mental strength, allowing the athlete to truly compete, is a worthy endeavor for anyone – including those who may never compete in The Games. The process of training for The Games teaches people about themselves.
The Games Process:
The Open – The high school athletics of CrossFit. The Open involves 25,000+ athletes worldwide. The workouts tend to be simple, easy to judge, easy to score, and most people should be able complete most of the workouts as prescribed. Stepping back from competition, if an athlete is able to complete the entire Open as prescribed they have developed an exceptional level of fitness. Regardless if that person moves on to the next level, they have already reached a better level of fitness than the vast majority of people on the planet. The very best of this group will move on to the next level. In high school athletics there are many people who participate but few who go on to compete in college athletics. This division is similar in the CrossFit season—of the 25,000+ competitors, there are only about 60 men and 60 women who go on to each of 18 Regionals worldwide. A reasonable goal for most people who train for CrossFit is to do the open as prescribed. Similarly, The Open is crucial to master’s athletes as it establishes who qualifies for The Games.
The Regionals – The NCAA of CrossFit. About 8% of the people who do The Open move on to the regionals, and less than 1% of people who participate in The Open make it to the games. Most everyone can participate in the Open, but The Open filters out the vast majority of people. The regionals are the next level of the selection process. The regionals seek to establish people who are in serious contention for the title of “the fittest person on the planet.” The margins of error are tighter, the judging standards are more rigorous, and the loading (much, for some) heavier. The best, most broadly capable people will move on to The Games. Three men and women from each region will move on.
The Games – The Pros. The neck of the CrossFit funnel, bringing together the top 60 men and 60 women worldwide. The Games athletes truly need to be capable of PR’ing their Fran, Helen, Snatch, Clean, Jerk, Murph, Isabel, Triathlon, Sprint, sled push, and also be able to adapt to unknown combinations of movements and loading. The programming necessary to succeed at the games level needs to support and develop greater capacity.
So, how do I train athletes to be capable of participating in the games?
Phase I: Fundamentals
- Post Games: August to October
- Gross Strength Development
- Skills Development (Olympic Weightlifting + Gymnastic Skills)
- Movement and Mobility Development – Perfect Basic Movement
- Mental Prep – Focus on Training Attitude
- Lower relative volume
- Build base of strength and durability to support later higher volumes of training
Phase II: Applied Fundamentals
- October to February (1-2 weeks before The Open)
- Continue Gross Strength Development
- Semi Gross Strength Development
- Movement and Mobility Development – Perfect Basic and Semi-Skilled Movements
- Skills Development (Advancing in Olympic Weightlifting and Gymnastic Skills)
- Mental Prep – Focus on practicing positive outcomes in training
- Higher relative volume
- Continues base of strength and begins to develop more applied capacities.
Phase III: Open Prep and Open (5-6 Weeks)
- Strength Maintenance
- Open Strategy
- Assumption (Released Wednesday, Completed by Sunday)
- Movement and Mobility Development – Perfect Open WOD movements
- Specific Practice for Open WODs
- Mental Prep – Visualization and execution for Open
- Lower Volume
- Recovery – Capacity Maintenance
Phase IV: Regionals Prep
- March to May
- Strength/Speed Development
- Skill Refinement (Weightlifting and Gymnastics)
- Skill Development (Running and Swimming)
- Mental Rehearsal – Competition Visualization
- Competition Skills
- METCON Prep to regional WODs
Phase V: Peak Prep
- Regionals to 3 Weeks from Games
- MoFo – High Capacity Development
- Skill Polishing
- Mental Prep – Confidence Skills
- Broaden Training Domains
Phase VI: Taper and Games
- Three weeks to Games
- MoFo Polishing – Very High Capacity Tuning
- Skill – Polishing Continues
- Mental Visualizations – Comfort in the Uncomfortable – Confidence Skills
- Volume Drops and reset for games
The primary requirement for athletes to train for The Games season is heart. There is no amount training, coaching, or programming that will compensate for a lack of passion and commitment from the athlete. Making the commitment to figure out how much you can get out of yourself is your decision to make. The system has the ability to develop you to your potential if you are committed to it. Examine why you want to train for The Games and where your motivation comes from. If the answer is that you truly want to do it, then keep reading.
Skills: The athlete must diligently work to improve their skills. The System has many skills and drills to make the athlete better. The Athlete must commit to videoing and reviewing their movements. The athlete needs to approach their skill development with the same focus and intensity they approach WODs. Commitment to constantly practice good movement is essential to success.
Attitude: The athlete’s attitude needs to be developed as much as any skill or strength. The athlete must commit to being positive, having positive self-talk, and committing to training the mind as much as the body.
The Season: Commit to the season. One of the primary reasons people fail in all areas of fitness is lack of follow-through. Take a snapshot of where you are when you started and where you are at the end of your season. There are very few people who truly have the potential to be a contender for the podium at the CrossFit Games. Everyone can train to reach their potential – self-actualization is the real quest for most athletes.