Now that we’ve talked about some classic issues we see with Group programming, and issues that can arise in terms of shoulder and back issues, let’s delve into the last two scenarios that are common in group CrossFit classes: knee issues and burnout. If you have not read our first article on these topics, please do so here before reading this one.

Knee Issues

CrossFit athletes love to squat. Many do so multiple times a week, alternating between front squat, back squat, and overhead squat. This theory of squatting heavy every day is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. If your goal is be injured and broken, then go for it, but if your goal is to get stronger, you’ll need a better plan. The reason why athletes’ knees act up with so much squatting is due to joint angle. All of those variations I listed place a great deal of stress on the patella tendon and can contribute to knee issues. If you’re in the camp of squatting daily you probably know what I’m referring to.

The Solution

  1. Have a plan that allows for built-in recovery: Repeating heavy sessions in too close proximity to each other is a recipe for overuse injury and overtraining. Allow for 72 hours between your most demanding sessions. This will allow for proper recovery and put you in a better position to succeed.
  2. Alternate between hip and knee dominant movements: Rotating your max effort work is paramount to keeping you healthy and avoiding accommodation. I recommend performing your max effort work on the same day every week (we perform our max effort lower body work every Monday) and rotate between squat variations and pull variations. In addition, including variance among of compound movements is incredibly important so don’t just stick to the classic variations, go outside your comfort zone and then retest your classic variations every 12 weeks.
  3. The Wide Stance Box Squat: The wide stance box squat puts the shin in a vertical position, placing more load on the posterior chain and less pressure on the front of the knees so including this in your programming will not only help people in terms of teaching them how to use their posterior but also mitigate the risk knee injury. If you’re someone that already suffers from knee issues then this variation is a must. Secondly, we cannot load the box squat as heavy as the classic squat, simply because we are purposefully breaking up the eccentric and concentric phase of the lift, which decreases axial loading, giving your joints a much-needed break!

Feeling Rundown

Decreased motivation to train is a classic sign of overtraining, and if you ignore these warning signs and fail to listen to your body, the risks can be deleterious. Indeed, the value of high-intensity training goes without saying, but too much of anything is a bad thing. The need for aerobic training carries a long list of benefits and, contrary to popular belief, you won’t lose your “gainz” if you engage in some low-intensity work a few times a week. Aerobic work is crucial for facilitating recovery by promoting blood flow and improving the cardio-respiratory system, but it’s also instrumental in improving work capacity. Your ability to increase volume comes at a cost, and if your aerobic system is not on point, you’ll inevitably be limited by how much volume you can tolerate. Moreover, being well-rounded is important to developing multi-faceted fitness, and only training anaerobic qualities won’t do much for improving your ability to recover; not to mention the ability of your aerobic system to replenish ATP!

The Solution

1-2 sessions a week that include low-intensity steady state work between 30-60 minutes in length. The benefits of this training in addition to facilitating recovery is increasing cardiac output by building the left ventricle of the heart, so that will we not only able to sustain more volume down the road, but we’ll also be able to replenish ATP more quickly for explosive movements like max effort squats or deadlifts. Also, it’s likely you’ll feel more “recharged” and ready to take on your other training. If you use a heart-rate monitor, try to keep your heart-rate between 130-150 BPM during these sessions.

In short, if we follow these basic tenets of efficient programming, we can avoid many issues that can potentially take us or our clients out of the game. Overall, implementing single-limb work, increasing our volume of horizontal rowing/banded pull-aparts, separating our lower-body strength work by 72 hours, implementing the wide-stance box squat (as well as rotating our variations consistently), and including low-intensity work weekly, we’ll have you well on your way to feeling better, looking better, and living longer!

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