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programming my little heart out

I had programming on my mind lately. Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I want my programming to prepare me to compete during a particular season. Thankfully, there have been tons of articles out to help guide me along my though process. All of them can be found at

The first thing that I think of when I try to program my year are my goals and desired outcomes. Jimson Lee talks about developing a programming philosophy based on knowledge of biomechanics and physiology. I couldn't agree more. This year, I wanted to do a triathlon. I had never did one, I couldn't swim. I looked at what was needed for me to have a "stellar" finish vs and "safe" finish. I opted for the goal of a safe finish. I was picking up a new skill in a new sport, that was plenty.Without thinking about biomechanics and physiology, it is easy to overshoot goals and misinterpret the learning process involved in an activity. Before figuring out what my programming goals, I layout my understanding of the activity and see if you can fill in the knowledge gaps.If I can't or I'm too lazy, someone else does it. I joined the local Team In Training which came with a nifty tri coach who had way more experience and knowledge programming workouts for triathlons.

Before I could do a triathlon, I had to learn to swim. An article on the 3 Laws of Speed Development go over the concept of grasping fundamentals. You can trash your progress by training beyond your skill level. Get a firm hold on skill before moving to advanced programming. Programming should also allot time to develop an appropriate level of strength before moving onto another phase. Don't believe me? Read these articles on improving acceleration and training to run a faster 400. What's appropriate? If you understand the activity, you should understand where the building of strength starts to hamper performance. Not knowing this point is why people "tweak" programs. I'm not totally familiar with Crossfit and how my body reacts to certain programming, so I can't make precise predictions. I can make educated decisions and keep an eye on performance and adjust accordingly though.

In track and field, we spent our prep phase/preseason building strength and on running drills. Many coaches acknowledge the role of strength and power in running speed. Before we ran our hearts out, we had to develop a good strength base. The drills helped us grasp the proper way to run...and to do it consistently!  If you have a Crossfit Journal subscription, you can watch the Conjugate System series to hear Louie Simmons talk about starting athletes on his programming before they are strong or skilled enough to handle it. Why train someone to do weighted squat jumps when they can't even do a squat? Get a grip on the skill.Why train someone to use a program that uses barbells if they can't lift more than a 5lb dumb bell? Get a grip on strength.

So going back to having a philosophy based on biomechanics and physiology, I've come up with some priorities.

1. Develop sound lifting and skills biomechanics
2. Train for speed and explosive strength
3. Work advanced skills into training

Common sense? You couldn't guess how many times I've tried to complete a Crossfit WOD before having a grasp on a required skill. Modifying is meant to make programming SMARTER, not allow for poor decision making. There comes a time when skill meets training. You know what that is, the point when you have a skill/weight, but the workout pushes how many times you can do it. A focus on sound biomechanics should drive decision making from this point, not ego. When this question comes to my mind, I'll be ready to move onto priorities 2 and 3.
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