Group programming by its very nature is imperfect for the individual, in terms of the training stimulus. But we also have to consider the mental aspect of training, what is going to get people to create consistency with their workouts? We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and group training can be REALLY damn good.
We are social animals, and the group suffering/bonding experience is in my opinion the reason why CrossFit is so successful. We just need to be smarter about how much suffering we inflict 🙂 Additionally, there will always be people who cannot afford individualized training, or are simply not motivated to train on their own consistently.
Even with the limitations of group, at No Excuses CrossFit we strive to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. The majority of our clients are going to be overly stressed, working desk jobs, and lacking in both strength and conditioning.
Knowing this, we can start to take a top down approach to programming:
- Managing stress. Training is a stress on the body, too little and there is no adaptation, but too much and we stop progressing or get injured. Balancing lower and higher intensity work is key.
- Improving posture through posterior chain training. Horizontal pulling, band work, direct glute and hamstring training and loaded carries are key as well.
- Separating strength & conditioning modalities as much as possible. The interference effect is well documented and shows that combining strength and conditioning in the same session has to be done very carefully, and furthermore combining those modalities in the same circuit or WOD, we are blunting both of those stimuli. Not only does paying close attention here deliver a better training effect, but it also significantly reduces injuries.
This “greater good” approach, is also why we prioritize lower skill over higher skill work. Everyone can benefit from doing a Sled Pull, a Box Squat, and a Push-up. Not everyone is going to benefit from doing Barbell Cycling twice a week. I always have to say it, that doesn’t mean we never do higher skill work, it’s just not the focus of the program.