What is Programming?

Programming refers to the actual design of the WODs and the workout program and plays a key role in CrossFit. A program that is built on firm principles of strength and conditioning will provide customers with a purpose to their training, an understanding of how to train correctly, and a solid foundation of fitness.

  • CrossFit programming should be designed to boost General Physical Preparedness.
  • A good program consists of constantly varied movements, functional exercises and high intensity workouts.
  • Programming is not one size fits all.
  • Recovery should be part of a solid program.

Understanding Programming

The core of CrossFit programming lies in what they define as a General Physical Preparedness program (GPP) which is achieved through “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity.” The goal of GPP is to create a fitness program that prepares athletes for whatever life may throw at them: this ranges from picking up heavy boxes, moving things around to simply being able to sit down and get up again without assistance.

The notion of variance is crucial to programming. Variance in CrossFit is not random, it is intentional. Variance refers to constantly trying to use different movement patterns, loads and durations to best increase fitness and to keep challenging athletes to grow.

What defines a good program?

By definition CrossFit is “constantly varied, functional movement, performed at high intensity”. This core principle should be kept in mind when programming WODs.

Constantly Varied

A box with good programming will keep their WODs constantly varied. Mixing up the movements and the patterns will keep athletes engaged and challenged. A program should include gymnastics, Olympic Weightlifting, metabolic conditioning, and mobility. The ability to program these movements with variety, in various arrangements, is where the art in programming lies.

Functional Movements

Functional movements mimic movements that are performed in everyday life. An example of a classical functional movement includes the deadlift, which simulates picking something heavy up.

High Intensity Movements

High intensity movements are the key components that drive the results that come from good CrossFit programming. A cleverly designed program must include high intensity if they want results. Good programming can also lead to good intensity levels.

Bringing it Together – How to Program for CrossFit

A good program will be designed across comprehensive time and modal domains. This means that it will include quick, explosive WODs, long, grinding WODs and everything in the middle. It will vary between movements at low and high rep counts, short and long distances, light and heavy weights. This variety will lead to very well-rounded athletes.

Programming is not one size fits all.

Athletes may have vastly different goals, and this is where different goal-specific programs can be used. For an athlete who comes to the box to lose a little weight, or generally get a bit fitter the general CrossFit program should suffice. However, for a high-level athlete looking to compete they will need a different program, as would someone coming in post knee surgery. Programs can be adjusted and adapted to the individual needs of athletes.

It is key to understand the demands that any given WOD creates, as well as the capacity/skillset/limitations of the athletes. When in doubt scale down!

Last But Not Least- Recovery

Results are impossible without recovery, but recovery is a very personal concept. While some people can train for six days one take one day off, others may need to train for two days and take one (or even two) days off in between, in order to feel completely recovered.

There are of course a number of different elements that influence an athlete’s recovery and ability to recover (age/diet/sleep patterns/work etc.). Programming should reinforce that athletes listen to their bodies and take days off when needed.

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Steph Contomichalos

Stephanie is a sports enthusiast, an avid crossfitter, wakeboarder and yogi. An advocate for women’s sport who strongly believes in the use of sport as a tool for development. She is currently living in Athens, Greece where she runs a hiking and yoga wellness retreat.

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