Understanding your strength and conditioning program

Howdy Riptide Athletes!  As you know, Najeeb and I are always doing our best to create a program that not only yields physical results, but mental results as well.  We thought we would take this time to go over our current training cycle and shed a little light onto exactly what our aims are due to questions like… “When are we going to do more OLY lifting?”, “Why are we doing so many squats?”, “Can’t we do more abs?”.   In order to fully understand our response to these questions, lets first break down why we cycle on and off of strength, endurance, skill, core, etc…


This is now our second week of a brand new strength cycle.  There are lots of squats (front and back) supplemented with clean complexes, lunges, and squats on squats…  This cycle will last 6-8 weeks, focusing on volume and technique.  As you can probably tell, we are using most of the class time to focus on static strength lifts with a little skill sprinkled in the warm ups and occasionally throughout the wods (double unders, HSPU, muscle ups etc..) and short simple metcons (metabolic conditioning, aka WODS) to close out the session.  We need to separate strength cycles from endurance cycles because your body will not be able to retain your strength results when fatiguing it with cardio and burning off too much body weight during a cycle.  Let’s face it folks… Weight moves weight.  If we are trying to focus on losing weight while trying to build muscle, its counter effective and you will not yield consistent results in strength or body composition.  So this is why cycling your strength and cardio/endurance is so important.

Once our strength cycle is complete, we need to let our bodies rest and begin to work with our newly developed strength.  We now redirect our focus towards a new cycle of endurance and cardio​, around January​.  If we were to keep lifting heavy and never cycle off of strength, our body actually gets weaker.  YES! WEAKER!  Think about it… Heavy lifting is very taxing to your body and nervous system.  After a while, without rest from any one thing, your body will begin to breakdown, get injured or stop performing how it should.  Then, during these new cardio and endurance cycles, we get our body used to moving weight under time constraints for a different type of stimulus.

Why should we care about our 1 rep max (1RM)?  If you pay close attention to the prescribed weights of a metcon (WOD) you will understand that those weights are “working percentages” of our 1RM.  What’s a workable percentage?  A workable percentage is a weight or load that your body can consistently move/lift/push/pull without having to compromise speed and intensity during a workout.  How do you figure out how to scale a workout that has a 185lb clean in it when you can’t clean 185lbs?  The answer is, you scale it based on a percentage of your 1RM or your “workable weight”.  Your workable weight is generally about 55-65% of your 1RM.  So for example… Our WOD today has 10 power cleans @ 200lbs… I know that my 1RM power clean is only 100lbs.  So from that 100lbs I will scale it down to 65% of that and do my WOD with 65lbs on the bar.  This is a general rule of thumb for scaling weight during a workout.

So what are we really doing by completing a strength cycle?  By the end of the cycle, we are increasing our 1RM in order to increase our workable weight percentage to be able to lift heavier weight at a consistent speed during our metcons (WOD).  So now after 5 weeks of a strength cycle, my new 1RM power clean is 125lbs…  which means that my new workable weight is somewhere around 80lbs instead of 65lbs.  Now I have increased my weight during the WOD while keeping my intensity high and not slowing down during my workouts.  This is tried, tested, and proven to yield results.

So now onto the question of OLY lifting (olympic weightlifting).  These lifts consist of the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch.  The most important thing to understand about these movements is that they are not performed to increase strength!  WHAT???!!! then what are they for?  OLY lifts are very SKILL oriented and are performed as so.  Guys and Gals… If you want a heavier clean, the answer is not to do more cleans…  The answer is to breakdown the movement and focus on the static portions of the lift and increase strength in those areas.  So for example… in order to build a heavier clean we need to increase our deadlift (to pull heavier weight from the ground) and our front squat (to be able to stand up once we have received the bar in the front rack position).  We use different techniques and positions to work on the skill aspects of these lifts too… such as cleans from the high hang, low hang, off the blocks, touch and go, complexes etc…  During these phases we learn about becoming proficient in the way the bar moves (bar path).  Building these skills ​plus your newly found strength from static lifting will increase the weight of your overall lift.


This is one big question that only you as a person can truly answer.  Why did you choose crossfit as your means of exercise?  Well… they way we see it, there are a few different types of ​C​ross​Fitters…

1. Those who chose ​C​ross​Fit as​ a fun way to work out and get out of the old gym routine.

2. Those who chose C​rossF​it as a way to train and develop their bodies to exceed current limitations in strength, skill and endurance.

Is there anything wrong with either of these 2 types of athletes?  Absolutely NOT!  It is only up to YOU to figure out your goals, why you train or workout, and how committed you want to be to your hobby.  If you want to come to the box, lift some weights, keep your heart rate up, get a good workout and go home, then we are there to help you achieve this.  If your goal is to come to the box looking to gain strength, skill and endurance, we are there to help with this as well… BUT!!!!  yes… there is a “BUT”…  You need to be upfront with yourself as to what your goals are and we will help you plan how to yield those positive results.  You also should not be shy or embarrassed to express your goals with your coaches.  Which brings us to our next topic… believing in the method.


“It’s better to fully follow a crappy program than half way follow an awesome program…”  In order to fully benefit from any program or method you need to believe in what you’re doing.  If you don’t understand why or what you are doing during your training then ASK YOUR COACH.  Most importantly be consistent in your training.  If you want to take full advantage of the program your coach is writing, then you need to find consistency in your training.  Otherwise, don’t expect to constantly see positive results.  Results directly reflect your consistency in the box.


A coach is someone who fully excepts responsibility for the wellness of their athletes.  They care more about the wellbeing and safety of an athlete than their numbers.  A coach is there to remind, correct, inspire, and answer questions or concerns that an athlete may have.  So when your coach scales you down in weight, or corrects your movement, or asks you something that you might not understand first understand that your coach is not trying to “keep you down”… They are thinking of your safety and getting you more athletically ready to accept bigger challenges (increasing the weight of your lifts, cleaner and smoother OLY lifts, new skills etc..).