Last Sunday, I gave the Programming lecture at an L1 in Boston.
After going through six days of well-balanced workouts, aimed specifically at general physical preparation, the cornerstone of the CrossFit method, I was approached by an aspiring Games competitor.
"I can tell that's not enough for me," he said, the implication that the workouts we'd programmed represented insufficient volume and skill development for him to progress as an athlete.
The WODs, in order:
Six Rounds for Time: Row 250m, 15 Wall Ball
He saw low volume, low coordination movement, and assumed inadequacy. He was wrong.
The vast majority of your training time, regardless of your aim, should be spent at general physical preparation, embodied in simple couplets and triplets, strength training, and the occasional long-duration effort. Short, hard, intense.
This intensity is much more important than volume. Remarkably more important.
For the newer trainee, this means no two-a-days, no four-WOD Saturdays. No flash-in-the-pan volume accumulation.
Volume accumulation, the method by which athletes are able to endure ever-more reps within any given time period, is not the product of a week of training. It is the product of a lifetime of training, years of consistent focus.
Competitors must treat intensity and volume accumulation like two different things, each with a different trajectory. Intensity is created in the moment, embodied through intelligent programming that allows for maximum output. Volume is accumulated over months and years, an extraordinarily gradual layering of intense workout upon intense workout.
Don't confuse the two.
If intensity and volume accumulation are confounded, the result is generally setback: injury, movement deficiency, short-term success at long-term cost.
I see it constantly, the rapid preparation for a looming contest consisting of a sudden, massive increase in volume, imposing huge loads on unprepared physiology.
Hear me now. If you're an aspiring Games competitor without years of volume accumulation through high school and collegiate training, without significant time under a skilled, veteran CrossFit coach, and you pursue volume with aplomb, you're going to crush yourself.
Stop setting your sights on the 2014 Games. Aim at 2016, 2017, 2018. Give yourself adequate time to develop a base of general physical preparation, to identify and remedy your movement deficiencies at their root level, to acquire new skills, to accumulate volume in a sensical way.
Go hard, and then go home. Be consistent in your training, but never overzealous in frequency. Never confuse simplicity with inadequacy. Never confuse volume with intensity.
Success is a lifetime pursuit. Treat it that way.