From a Max Snatch to a 5k Run
What do a max snatch and a 5k run have in common? The average person would see very little resemblance between the two and you would mostly be right. What I see is two days that are likely to have a bit lower attendance than usual in a CrossFit gym.
Constantly varied means that we, as programmers, are intentionally changing up the movements, time domains, and loads used in your workouts. One day you may see a snatch programmed for 30 repetitions at a moderate weight for time. The next time the snatch comes up it will be paired with another movement as a couplet. And later still it will show up as the only movement for the day to be performed at the heaviest weight possible for you. Now add in every other functional movement you can think of (deadlifts, squats, pull ups, running, rowing, jumping, the list goes on forever) and apply all of the same principles. We do movements on their own for tons of reps, we do them paired with other movements, and sometimes we do very few reps at very heavy loads.
The goal of this programming is to keep your body in a constant state of progression. You come into the gym day after day, week after week, getting a different stimulus every time and your fitness continues to improve because it is always being challenged in new ways and adaptation occurs.
But what does this have to do with the snatch and the 5k run? The snatch is arguably the hardest movement to learn, let alone master, in our sport. It requires a great deal of strength, balance, coordination, power, and flexibility. A lot is happening in a movement that lasts about a second. Understandably, many people do not like to snatch. Unfortunately, this means people avoid it. A 5k run tends to get the same response. A few former runners trot into the gym all excited for the opportunity and find themselves alone in classes asking, “where the heck is everyone else?” Sometimes we even tell white lies on the website to keep this from happening (sorry if this means we lost your trust…). Running a 5k is not all that glamorous or exciting. It takes a long time (over 20:00 for most) and you are so far from the gym that you get stuck with your own thoughts instead of the sounds of the latest techno beats dropping in the background.
But these workouts are incredibly important to the evolution of our physical and mental health. Physically, nothing will truly test our coordination, strength, power, flexibility, balance, and speed all at the same time quite like the snatch. That is 6 out of 10 of the general physical skills all in one movement. Talk about bang for your buck! I truly believe that what we do in the gym carries over to our lives outside of the gym. Learning to be patient while learning the ever-frustrating snatch teaches you to be patient when dealing with a frustrating coworker. When we face our fears and come in for a 5k run, we get a little more mentally tough and increase our ability to deal with the day-to-day crap that life throws our way. Thanks to Elle Woods, we all know that exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make us happy. It is one thing to walk into the gym for a workout filled with movements in your wheelhouse and leave feeling jazzed. However, I tend to get an even greater sense of accomplishment when I walk into the gym to face something that I dread and get it done.
As we continue to roll out more of the “whys” behind our programming, we hope that you understand the reason behind particular workouts that may just seem like pure torture. Each one has a purpose and a goal to advance your physical fitness. If you are ever curious, then ask! I love answering questions about programming and filling you in on the behind the scenes work that goes into your daily workouts. Most importantly, we hope that you join us the next time you see your least favorite workout or movement programmed for the day and face it head on.