How it all works: Shapesmiths Coaching & Programming Part III

Goal Setting, Judging Potential & Modifying workouts.  

An important point to note. Here at CrossFit® Shapesmiths We Don’t Judge Potential.

Belief is the main tenet that all our coaches at Shapesmiths are here to re-enforce. We all understand it’s really important to focus on sensibly building self-belief within our members. In short, we care.

Any major goal, lose 30 kilos, get off diabetes medication, compete. We don’t judge a person’s potential. We are here to try and help by setting clear thought out goals. When talking about goals relative to CrossFit® specifically it’s important to utilise the three types of personal best numerical, technical and consistency. This could apply to any skill or lift and will help keep your progress in an upwards trend.               

Scaling/Modification is a huge part of what we do at CrossFit® Shapesmiths. Modification is, simply put, a way of preserving the stimulus or intent of the workout.   

A long term goal of modification is to create the ability to perform workouts ‘as prescribed’ or Rx. A properly scaled workout maximises relative intensity (load, speed, range of motion) to continue developing increased work capacity, despite limitations.   At Shapesmiths when modifying your workout the coach goes through a two-part process. Firstly, the coach addresses the intent of the workout, and secondly the individual needs of the client.   The intent of the workout can be broken down into three parts: 

  1. Target Time Domain: How long should the workout take?
  2. Target Intensity: At what pace should the athlete be moving through the exercises?
  3. Target Movement Patterns: What general movement patterns (squat, hip hinge, vertical press, vertical pull, etc) should the athlete be developing?  

Individual athlete needs can be broken down into three parts:   

  1. Limiting Factors: What particular facets of the workout limit the client?
  2. Impact on Intent: In what way(s) would allow the client to attempt the workout as RX’d preclude them from achieving the desired intent?
  3. Safety Precautions: Are any aspects of the workout a risk to the client?

As an example, take the following workout:  

21-15-9 for time: Deadlift, 85kg/65kg Bar Facing Burpees  

-Target Time Domain can be estimated at 5 minutes or less -Target Intensity is high, this is obviously designed to be a scorcher of a workout

-Target Movement Patterns are a hip hinge and a movement to get the client down to the floor and then up and over an object  

Here are some potential individual needs:  

A member has a 1RM deadlift of 100kg. 85kg will likely be too heavy to maintain the target intensity or time domain, so the simple answer is to reduce the load.  

A member who has poor position, when deadlifting from the floor, and the coach deems it unsafe to allow them to perform the movement at high intensity and for repetitions. In order to maintain the hip hinge movement pattern, a deadlift from an elevated surface, or a kettlebell swing, may be an effective substitute.  

A member has poor cardiovascular conditioning and will be unable to complete the workout as prescribed at a high intensity. Reducing the reps to 15-12-9 is a simple way to reduce the endurance requirements of the workout and help keep the intensity

An overweight client has a lot of trouble with burpees and will likely be very slow. Additionally, the coach deems that having them jump forward over the barbell will be unsafe. Scale the movement to a squat thrust (down to top of push-up position, stand back up) and stepping over the bar will both increase the intensity and keep the client safe. 

Hopefully the last three parts of this series give you a good insight into the how and why of what we do.  Coming NEXT will be a bonus feature called The last word on Programming and getting better at CrossFit®.  Stay tuned…