What is it?
Well it’s where you just throw a bunch on stuff on a whiteboard and hit the clock. With workouts most likely found from scrolling through Instagram and finding something that is completely in your wheelhouse, that you know you will be good at. This method is repeated daily, essentially never targeting weaknesses and likely working below progression levels.
Hear’s the problem.
1: Adaptation. Or lack of.
2: Periodisation. None
Well if you want to get the most from your training sessions, vomit programming simply won’t work.
Adaptation in the body can only occur when the body is reacting from a new or increased stress or stimuli. Although, initially when starting out any form of physical exercise this is easy, as the body will likely respond to anything. But after a period of time, the stressors will need to be measured and consistent to see progress. For example, regulating a certain about muscle mass or strength, this will take continuous work in those specific movements. Now, if you wanted to increase those strength / muscle gains your body will need consistent and specific strength and hypertrophy sessions based on proven metrics and percentages.
Sure it’s fun sometimes to pull something together with a bunch of friends and hit some intense workouts. But it certainly isn’t a long term solution and should really only be a top-up or now and then thing.
The solution is simple and one that is required in any sport or fitness endeavour. Recognise and target those key movements and muscle groups for your chosen sport, by conducting a needs analysis. This would also include identifying the fitness levels and performance indicators of the level of athlete you inspire to be and recognise the gap from where you are currently at.
1: Athlete Profiling
2: Sport-specific analysis
3: Comparative analysis
The results will likely include both wide and specific movements necessary for your chosen sport. For example compound lifts like deadlift and squats are regarded as a wide. Whereas double unders are specific, but equally essential if you do CrossFit. Programming would position the 10 components of fitness in order of importance and the same with the 3 energy systems. The base blueprint will be drafted as simply fundamentals that need to be completed weekly. These will be your tier one movements or exercises. These will likely containing majority wide effect movements and very specific weaknesses that require particular attention. The rest of the programming will be a combination of fillings the gaps based on your current fitness levels and where you want to be. Plus layering the components of fitness in priority order for you and the sport. Tier systems are very fluid and can shift from week to week, but it’s worth bearing in mind that some adaptation takes a long time to see progress and some will likely require constant attention.
A high level CrossFit competitor weekly
Tier one split could be:
Squat heavy twice a week – Back and Front
Clean twice a week – Power and Squat or variations
Snatch twice a week – Power and Squat or variations
Press twice a week – Doesn’t have to be barbell
Deadlift once a week – for the sake of your CNS once is enough unless it really needs work
Tier two could be:
Monostructural work – Row, Run, Bike, Ski
Carries twice a week – Farmers, front, yoke etc
Hamstring and glute isolation – Hip thrusts, RDL, GH Raises etc
Unilateral work – Single Arm press, box Step Ups, Split Squats etc
Stretch reflex / Power Dev – Throws and jumps
Core stability – Holds, tempo, control etc
Tier three could be:
Weaknesses – RMUS, HSPUs, Snatch Drills, Pistols
Conditioning 1 – Higher intensity reps of snatch, cleans, squats, pulls, press, gymnastics.
Conditioning 2 – Narrow moments but essential – Box Jumps, DUs, KB Swings, DB Snatch. All the weird and wonderful.
Conditioning 3 – Combination of 1 & 2
Of course this tier system would be fluid and change on a number of occasions. From the individual, the calendar / training season, competition prep, recovery and injuries. Now the real challenge with programming comes from blending these tiers together, in a way which allows for maximum adaptation and minimal fatigue to be able to training the next day and the rest of the week. In addition, being aware of other considerations such as: overtraining, competitions, qualifiers, injuries, time constraints, to name but a few. Programming can quickly become a complete minefield.
Notice how the 3rd tier is nearly always the things that people associate with functional or CrossFit style training. It’s also the first thing people look to do when vomit programming. At the end of the day you can train and do whatever movements or style of training you want. But the athletes or guys and girls at the higher levels will continue to keep increasing in ability and fitness levels because of structured and periodised programming. If you’re not, it’s likely you will not see progress very quickly or consistently.
Alex Rees – BSc Hons Stength and Conditioning