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Our CrossFit training program: the basics

Posted 27th December 2016 by Geoff Stewart

On one level, training program design is fairly complex – it involves combining theory, empirical evidence/experience and a bit of magic. There are many, many views on how to design programs and many different methods of going about it depending on what your aims are. There is a lot of chaff amongst the wheat in an area that is too often based on conjecture rather than hard science. The digital revolution has exacerbated this by creating a platform for meat-heads with thesauruses (thesauri?) looking for fame. If you’re interested and want to read some good quality material about some different approaches and types of training, then you could have a look at Power, Speed, Endurance by Brian MacKenzie, Olympic Weightlifting – A Complete Guide for Athletes and Coaches by Greg Everett, Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe, The Poliquin Principles by Charles Poliquin, Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength by Steven Low or the heavyweight daddy of them all, Mel Siff, in his book Supertraining. There is also good quality material on the Breaking Muscle site and the CrossFit mothership site, amongst others, as well as on our blog, obvs. As with anything in life, and certainly anything that involves so much testosterone, approach training theory critically and if something isn’t working for you then move on.

What is the basis of our CrossFit program?

At Momentum we put a lot of time, thought and planning into your training. We keep abreast of new theory and research in this area but we also measure it against the benchmark of our experience and your results. We aim to condense it all down for you into something simple and effective and, crucially, something fun. If you are interested in a bit of the background, then here are the key characteristics of our CrossFit program design:

Tripartite cycle

Those of you who have been doing this a while will know that the basis of all progression in training can be reduced to a tripartite cycle consisting of adaption, intensification and realisation segments. This basically means (1) putting your body under stresses so your body adapts, then (2) intensifying the stresses so you continue to progress and avoid plateaus, then (3) finally testing how far you’ve come to measure your progress and feedback what you’ve learned into your next cycle. This tripod forms the basis of our CrossFit program design.

Conjugated method

Another mainstay of our program design is our use of a conjugated method, which basically means that we work on multiple training qualities (strength, cardiovascular capacity, skill etc.) simultaneously, rather than dedicating ourselves to one at a time. We use a conjugated method as it sits well with the CrossFit principle of GPP, but in a broader training context there are various views on the efficacy, or otherwise, of this approach and if you’re interested to read more, there are articles discussing this on the Breaking Muscle and T-nation sites.

Undulating periodisation

Finally, we use an undulating periodisation from week to week, which simply means that the stimuli (sets and rep ranges) will change on a weekly basis to keep your body guessing.

We also adjust tempos, rest periods and exercise variations (e.g. back squat/front squat/quarter squat/box squat/sissy squat) to maximize your adaptions, broaden your skill set and keep things interesting. 

How is our CrossFit programming structured?

Our program cycle lasts 9-12 weeks. Each week will generally look like this:

Monday – lower body pull (deadlift/variation)

Tuesday – upper body pull

Wednesday – breathing and Olympic lifting

Thursday – gymnastics

Friday – lower body push (squat/variation)

Saturday – upper body push

Sunday – breathing and Olympic lifting

Although we program a realisation (testing) segment at the end of the cycle, we also test intermittently throughout the cycle to help you make adjustments as you progress.

What else do I need to know?

If you want a bit more of a steer on some of our acronyms and the other instructions that accompany our programs, such as tempo, we’ve written a very comprehensive article on this as a standalone topic.

Where can I find the CrossFit Hackney programs?

We design our programs*, ahead of time and post them on our blog to help you plan your training and allow you to follow the program on your own, even if you are unable to make it into class on a certain day.

Any questions at any time, please feel free to approach one of our coaches, we’d be delighted to chat more on this topic.


* As well as CrossFit programs (both regular CrossFit and our Blue Bear competitors program), we also publish Barbell Club and Olympic lifting programs. Our Metcon classes are programmed but in a more fluid, ad hoc way, by individual coaches.