Indeed there is a delicate balance between programming for performance and for aesthetics, and as Charles Poliquin says, “it’s like trying to ride a horse with two asses when you can’t focus on one goal.” There is definitely some truth to that, but what some coaches forget about is the inter-relationship between all qualities of fitness that exists.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and if you’re preparing for a specific event then specialization is definitely needed.
Today I hear more and more people talking about their goals with similar statements:
“All I want to do is look good, feel good, and have fun”
“I want to avoid movements that cause me pain and really focus on looking as good as I can perform”
“I’m not trying to go to the CrossFit games, but being able to feel good while still being able to beat my bros in a few workouts is important”
The consensus among the clients I work with is a balance between body composition and performance. The good news is that with our Affiliate Programming you’ll receive just that, because we include a large dose of single-joint work.
This past year, I decided I start training myself a little differently. I’d perform fewer sessions a week (4x a week) in which each session would have a single focus and occasionally this work would be accompanied by something that got my heart rate up.
The sessions were concise in that I don’t waste any time bullshitting (mainly because I train alone) and would have me done in under an hour.
A while back I wrote an article for T-Nation.com called “CrossFit for Meatheads.” This article was basically a depiction of how I program for myself (which is quite similar to my CrossFit Affiliates), and it drew a lot of interest.
Many people want to know how they can train to look as good as they can perform, as well as avoiding the common pitfalls of most boxes’ programming, such as burnout and overuse injury.
The tough part of the equation is finding a balance between all modalities. I’ll admit this is one of the hardest aspects of programming while using a concurrent model – trying to fit everything into one program can be daunting.
It’s also easy to get lost in the number of variations we have available, but the important thing to remember is that we don’t need to do it all every day. This is where having a template comes in handy, as it gives you some clear guidelines to adhere to.
The idea is to encompass all the best aspects of strength and conditioning into one cohesive plan of concurrent fitness. With that said, this plan is intended to be used by type A people that normally gravitate towards CrossFit, but simply want to avoid things that “tear them up” or don’t agree with their bodies.
This plan spawned from my own conclusion that while I still love CrossFit, I’d prefer to fine-tune my plan to produce more results in terms of maximal strength and hypertrophy, all while avoiding anything that causes me nagging pains.
Years of training more to get “more” brought me the conclusion that there may be a better way to do things. I fell in love with CrossFit, but I also still loved doing hypertrophy work and seeing improvements in body composition – so the question became, can I have it all?
The answer is yes and no. If your intentions are to compete at the highest level in CrossFit, then removing certain pieces from your programming definitely is not the answer, but that’s not the objective here. The objective is to be able to perform well, look good, and feel good.
Here’s the template:
Monday: Max Effort Lower Body + Finisher. This finisher typically entails 1/2 Mile light sledpull or a loaded carry. Overall, there is some type of “conditioning” but it more than likely includes “accessory elements” in it.
Tuesday: Dynamic Effort Upper Body or Repetition Upper + Finisher. This finisher entails high-rep work for the upper-body as well as recovery elements for the previous days training session.
Wednesday: Active Recovery or Completely OFF. Restoration work may include a light sledpull or correctives. This work does not last longer than 30 minutes.
Thursday: Dynamic Effort Lower Body. This session is fast paced so no extra conditioning is needed most times, but you can expect a loaded carry of some sort at least a few times a month.
Friday: Max Effort Upper Body.
Saturday: OFF or your choice. Go take a class at your box and train with your friends, but be smart.
A Typical Week of Programming
Monday Max Effort Lower
1) Anderson Back Squat: 1RM + Drop set @70% of 1RM. Rest 2:00
– use heavy chains if available. Set pins so you start at parallel.
2) Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats: 3 x 10 ea. Rest 60s.
3) Glute Ham Raises: 4 x 10-12. Rest 60s.
– add weight if needed.
4) Reverse Hypers: 3 x 30 @30-50% of Back Squat. Rest 90s.
5) Landmine Rotations: 3 x 30. Rest 60s.
Farmer Carries x 6 Minutes Max Trips.
Tuesday Dynamic Effort Upper
1) Speed Bench Press against bands: 9 x 3 @40%, every 30s.
– close grip x 3 sets
– medium x 3 sets
– wide grip x 3 sets
2a) Close Grip Bench Press off pins: 5 x 6. Rest 45s.
2b) Ultra Wide Grip Pull-up: 5 x 5. Rest 45s.
3a) Straight Leg Raises w. light medball: 5 x 10. Rest 30s.
3b) Banded Pushdowns: 5 x 30. Rest 30s.
DB Lateral Raises
DB Hammer Curls
Wednesday Active Recovery
High-Performance Recovery Training
Light sledpull x 20-30 minutes
A combo of rowing, air bike, and ski erg
Done at 120-140 BPM.
5 Minutes of Parasympathetic Breathing Drills
Thursday, Dynamic Effort Lower
1) Wide Stance Box Squat w. chains: 5 x 5 @50% + 25% chain weight, every 60s.
2) Sumo Deadlift against bands: 6 x 3 @50% + 30% band, every 60s.
3) Belt Squat Walking + Belt Squats: 5 x 90s. Rest 90s.
4) Reverse Hyper: 5 x 25. Rest 60s.
5) 1-Arm DB Rows, chest supported: 5 x 8 ea. Rest 60s.
6) Banded Pull-throughs x 300 Reps.
Friday, Max Effort Upper
1) Half Rack Pin Press: 1RM + Drop set @70% of 1RM. Rest 2:00
2a) JM Barbell Press: 5 x 10. Rest 30s.
2b) Lat Pulldowns: 5 x 10. Rest 30s.
3a) Alt. DB Curls: 3 x 20. Rest 30s.
3b) Banded Pull-apart: 3 x 100. Rest 30s.
4) Standing Side Bends: 5 x 10 ea. Rest 60s.
Optional 30-60 Minutes of Zone 1 Work, comparable to Wednesday.
*This could be a light jog, weighted vest or ankle weight walk, or light sledpull
At the end of the day, it’s about being happy with your progress and enjoying your training. I’ve found the above system to be quite useful in helping me to maintain all aspects of my fitness. More importantly, I notice improvements in recovery and body composition when I allow for more recovery days.
Overall, riding a horse with two asses isn’t possible, but hitting personal goals, staying healthy, and having fun is!