I mentioned in a recent email to our community that we would be sharing some information on how we look at programming at Saxon CrossFit and how the workouts we all do end up on our whiteboard.

Today’s blog post is a little insight into how I look at programming and the things I consider when writing the workouts we will all be doing.

So, programming for a whole community is not as easy as it might seem. We have to program for a huge range of abilities, experience levels, goals and age ranges. We work on the simple principle of increasing peoples work capacity across different time frames and through different movements. We focus on what we term general physical preparedness – is your fitness up to any task thrown at you.

Whilst thinking of improving people’s general physical abilities we have to think of, generally, what people need to do to be fitter. Most people need to get stronger. Although the internet and magazines would try to convince you that good cardio respiratory endurance is the only important part to fitness, I have learnt otherwise. The vast majority of people who walk into a gym have an ok level of cardio ability (Obviously there is always exceptions to rules). The vast majority of people who walk into a gym, however, are not as strong as being truly fit requires. We therefore have a good emphasis on strength work in our programming.

This includes squatting, pressing, Olympic lifting and gymnastics work. We want our members to be strong, have great ligament and joint health, have good bone density and the confidence that comes with lifting something heavy on a regular basis.

We then look at conditioning. We want our workouts to be intense, intelligent, varied and all whilst being fun.

We work on the basis of the vast majority of our workouts being between 8-12 minutes in length so we can focus on intensity and to stop them dragging out. We also try to stick to simple couplets and triplets so we don’t have to overthink too much when we’re dying mid-workout.

We then work tirelessly on the fundamentals: simple movements that when done well will help us progress time and time again.

Then we look at the program generally and think: is this fun? Is it engaging, is it progressive and interesting? Will people have a smile on their faces after and tell other people about their workout.

All the time I am writing programming I am trying to think of everything above to provide the best workouts possible. I then have two over-riding principles that I apply to our workouts:

1 – there is no such thing as perfect programming. Sometimes I get it wrong and a workout is too easy, too hard, too short or takes longer than I expected. As long as I learn from that then all is good. I have been programming CrossFit classes for over 8 years and learn something new every single week and from every single workout. Time spent trying to implement the perfect program will just yield over thought, over complex and probably incredibly un-fun workouts.

2 – remember who you are training. It’s easy as a coach to bow to certain pressures when programming. People watch the CrossFit Games or see some dude on social media doing a workout and expect the classes to be like that. They want 1000’s of muscle ups, rope climbs, custom made kit and insanely heavily barbell complexes. However, the vast, vast majority of people don’t need that, including the person who thinks they do. We are a community of normal people trying to be healthier, more athletic and live a little longer. The work we do should reflect that.

So now you know how I think about programming. The next post will be a deeper look into how I actually write a workout: how do I pair movements, pick time and weights and how do we decide on scaling for people.

If you have any questions on workouts or programming get in touch and I’ll be happy to help where I can.