Thursday 160519

Complete as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes of:
50 Double-unders
10 Chest-to-bar pull-ups
5 Hang power cleans, 155#(105#)

Post rounds and reps to comments and BTWB

More true words have never been spoken.

More true words have never been spoken.


Is a 5 x 5 back squat really a WOD?

In a word, yes. 

Please note that this is a post based entirely on my opinion. . . oh, and the CrossFit methodologies taught in all Level 1 seminars, and wholly supported by CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman. . . and then sandwiched again with personal opinion. 

Over the years, and in my opinion mostly as a result of the CrossFit Games and the idea that volume makes a better athlete, daily WODs have become distorted. I saw this post on Facebook, it’s author is a member of CrossFit HQ Level 1 seminar staff. The gym he is referencing is owned and operated by another Level 1 staff member. Both gentlemen I consider friends, incredibly knowledgeable in the world of CrossFit and then some, and I have an enormous amount of respect for both. When I read this post it made my heart sing, because I too believe in it’s concept. Eric and I both do. This concept was ingrained in us by Matt, Cherie, Mas, and Joylyn, and we continued to carry on with it. What concept am I talking about? The idea that a WOD does not need to have:

A) Some heavy lifting

B) Possibly more heavy lifting

C) The workout (most often called “the met con”)

D) Post workout work, often looking like a secondary, smaller workout

If you look at a gym’s programming and say to yourself, “that’s looks like a lot of stuff to fit in an hour”, guess what, it is. Don’t get me wrong, you probably can fit it all in an hour but it will be at the expense of several things, 1) a proper warm-up, 2) a proper introduction to the movements/ warm-up to each movement, 3) the opportunity to address modifications, and the most important thing. . . 4) you as an athlete being coached. Instead you turn into kittens being herded from A to B to C. In my opinion this is what leads to plateaued athletes (as they are rarely coached or helped to improve technique) and injuries.

Now some of you may be saying to yourself, “didn’t we just do 3 different heavy squats yesterday? That seemed like a lot.” Our goal for yesterday was 30-35 minutes of squatting. Boom, that’s what we got. We did not expect yesterday to be big PR days for any body, even though for some it turned into that. It was more a day of volume below parallel. Not every heavy day looks like that for us at Verve. What it definitely does not look like is a heavy lifting session everyday, followed by a met con everyday. Why? Because the concept taught in Level 1’s, the concept held near and dear to our hearts, and the last thing that will be sacrificed by constantly programming this way. . . . INTENSITY. 

Intensity is what gets you the results you want. So if you really like heavy lifting, that’s where you will put all your intensity, and then where is your intensity for that met con? If you really like the met cons and don’t care so much about the heavy lifting, the first session of heavy lifting you may choose to sandbag while you wait for met con time. The point is that you are not giving 100% effort and 100% intensity to any one thing. This leads to us not getting the results we want. I don’t think the CrossFit Games are the only thing to blame for this style of programming. I also blame inexperienced coaches that are not sure how to fill an hour with appropriate coaching and gym owners concerned that they need to make everyone happy by always having heavy lifting and met cons everyday. If it’s a heavy lifting day, lift heavy. Get scared and nervous to pick up that bar. If it’s a nasty triplet day meant to take 5 minutes or less, do it. Go HAM until you feel like your heart might burst out of your chest and when you’re done lay on the floor and sizzle like bacon. Put 100% effort and 100% intensity into the workout of the day, which includes the warm-up. 

But what about all those programs out there that are written with 4 different pieces, the ones written by games athletes and the ones followed by games athletes? Those programs are written for highly competitive athletes with a built up capacity for volume. They are also written to be done over more than an hour, sometimes over the course of two sessions in a single day, morning and evening. These programs and their volume have merit, we simply need to think about merit for whom. Who are you as an athlete? What do you need? What are the results you seek? The number one thing you need is intensity, period. We can give it to you in one hour with a great warm-up and one workout. Think you need more? Stay tuned for next Thursday when I blog about who actually needs more.


The giver of mass amounts of intensity. . . and opinions, A.K.A. Courtney


  1. Charles :

    This is the truth.. when ive traveled and dropped into to other gyms and the WOD requires three whiteboards of space to write out all the various permutations going on i feel like its going to be a bad day. Main thing ive noticed is lack of instruction is fairly epidemic. There are obviously (happy) exceptions but.. pretty much at this point ill just find a globo gym and work out on my own when traveling.

  2. rob bell :

    I think hidden in this #truthbomb is another oft-ignored maxim: you need variety for continued gains. It’s common with runners as well: too little differentiation between hard & easy days.
    To train different systems & pathways you need different levels of intensity. If you go kinda-heavy on heavy workouts, kinda fast on fast workouts, etc
    Hey, if continual improvement isn’t your game and you’re just trying to maintain a reasonable level of fitness (unlike 80% of the country), cool. I applaud you for that and still enjoy WODing with you.
    But if you want gains…you gotta plan the work (actually we fortunately have Courtney Eric and the other Verve elves to do this for us) so you just gotta: WORK THE PLAN

  3. rob bell :

    PS What’s the fascination with double-unders of late? This is why I have to go away to NY for weeks at a time. 😉

  4. Melissa W :

    Same! I travel a lot as well and have now started avoiding dropping in on some gyms because of this and opting to do a workout of my own at the hotel gym. I miss Verve so much when I am away! Big thank you to all the coaches for your work and thoughtfulness to keep us moving well at high intensity! You guys are the best!!

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