BlackFly CrossFit Programming
Why Pursue Fitness?
We are motivated to exercise by three primary reasons:
- – Improved health and well-being
- – Changes to physical appearance
- – Athletic performance
These are not mutually exclusive – we are often motivated by more than one – and, as many BlackFly veterans will attest, if you work out at BlackFly 3-5 times per week you will likely see improvement in all three aspects.
While looking good without a shirt and being able to mountain bike longer with less fatigue are certainly valuable endeavors, BlackFly is most concerned with improving the long term health and well-being of every BlackFly athlete.
The objective of BlackFly programming is to develop and optimize all 10 general physical skills:
- – Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance: The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
- – Stamina: The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
- – Strength: The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
- – Flexibility: The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given join.
- – Power: The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
- – Speed: The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
- – Coordination: The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a single distinct movement.
- – Agility: The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
- – Balance: The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
- – Accuracy: The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
To the extent that the athlete achieves proficiency in all 10 general physical skills, the athlete will enjoy increased health, well-being, and longevity.
GPP and Variability
General physical preparedness (GPP) is a common term that describes the basis of our programming. GPP is often used as merely a starting point, a baseline to be achieved before starting more specialized training. We at BlackFly do not hold this view for we have no specialized training to do. All specialization comes at the detriment of something else and since we aim to achieve proficiency in all areas, we avoid specialization. Our only specialty is not specializing.
Instead, our aim is for our athletes to “outlift a runner” and “outrun a lifter”. We achieve this by intentionally varying the workouts. By always changing movements, times, weights, rep schemes, modalities, distances, intensity, etc. we can continually improve in all aspects without getting into a routine that favors one thing over another.
That being said, there are two areas where we will deviate slightly from GPP and will intentionally emphasize more than other areas – Strength and Skill Acquisition.
The majority of the general population has very little exposure to true strength training. As a result, newer BlackFly athletes often have a strength deficiency relative to many of the other aspects of fitness. By devoting a somewhat disproportionate amount of time to strength training, the newer athlete can experience a profound increase in absolute strength, which contributes to rapid (within 6 to 12 months) changes in body composition and overall performance.
While athletes of all abilities will benefit from continuing to strength train, this strength bias is not intended to provide a pathway for a never ending increase in max lifts. As an athlete matures, gains will become smaller and less frequent. As this happens, the amount of time and energy required to achieve even a modest increase is significant.
Dedicating more and more time to achieving gains in a single aspect of fitness is not part of the objective of our programming. The goal of the strength section for the more mature athlete is to maintain strength while they work on getting all other aspects of fitness up to the level of their strength (e.g. How many muscle ups can you string together? What’s your 5k time?). Mature athletes who would like to continue increasing their strength may do so, but they will need to dedicate time outside of class to achieve this.
A significant and important aspect of training at BlackFly is the continuous development of new skills (gymnastics and olympic lifts). We strongly encourage everyone to devote time to learning new skills. Skill acquisition requires consistent practice and class time will be devoted to skill practice.
The process of trying to learn double unders, muscle ups, snatches, handstand walks, etc. develops coordination, accuracy, and balance – three of the 10 general physical skills which are often overlooked. In addition to this improved mind-body awareness, it is hugely rewarding and motivating when you get your first unassisted pull up. While the amount of time and effort required to acquire a particular skill can differ significantly from athlete to athlete, there is a path for everyone.
Here’s How You Acquire Skills
- Pick a skill to learn. Much of this is a progression (e.g. pull up – chest to bar pull up – muscle up). Pull ups and double unders are a great place to start.
- Pick a progression. Talk to a coach or veteran member and decide on a progression. Youtube can provide a lot of ideas on this, but it helps to ask someone with actual experience.
- Do the work and stick with the progression; you have to give it a serious chance. It’s virtually impossible to acquire skills by doing them only when they pop up in a workout. There will be some class time devoted to skill work, but you really need to spend time outside of class in order to master a skill. Five to ten minutes a session for 3 to 5 sessions per week is much more effective than an hour once a week. Give it time. Do not get on YouTube looking for “the” solution. You don’t need another video – you need to DO the work. Ask coach Tiffany about how she got handstand walks.
- Remember your focus. There is a long list of skills we will teach and learn at the gym, but it’s important to take them on one or two at a time.
- Do not give up. Stick with the program and enjoy the process – the power is in the process.
While we program workouts for 6 out of 7 days a week, the programming is not written in a manner that supports coming in every day. We program 6 days a week because we know that everyone has different schedules and is coming to the gym different days of the week. In fact, we take great care to move things around from week to week so that athletes get exposure to as many variables as possible (short/long, heavy/light, varied modality, etc.)
Coming to the gym 5 or 6 days a week and expecting to crush every workout is setting yourself up for disappointment and also opening the door to injury. Rest is extremely important. Rest is when all of the good happens. Exercise tears things down while rest (and good nutrition) builds it back stronger. It’s okay to still come to a class and go easy, focus on form – provided you have the discipline to take it easy.
Remember, your gym schedule is another opportunity to keep things “constantly varied.” If your life schedule allows, don’t let your gym schedule become too routine.
We at BlackFly will make mistakes with the programming from time to time. We know that we are not perfect, but we are always learning and trying to improve. Please do not hesitate to send us any feedback that you have about the programming. Getting input from a variety of athletes helps us keep things varied and fresh.