Why we do what we do, when we do it
When you come to the gym, you expect to show up, do some work, sweat [a lot] and leave a little better than when you came in. And while that’s a common denominator to every class at Blues City, believe it or not, there’s actually some science behind the workouts that appear in your classes every day. And I’m going to let you in on the secret behind the way we start to think about our programming. It all starts with the calendar. But not the yearly calendar that the rest of the world considers. Our calendar begins and ends with the Crossfit Games.
Note: this year’s schedule got a little weird due to the games getting postponed and then modified due to COVID-19, but like we do during a workout, we were ready to scale and adapt as needed
If the Games is the equivalent to our New Year’s Eve celebration, Phase I kicks off on our New Year’s Day: the day after the big event, the day you are inspired to hit the gym, the day you think “this year will be different.” But unlike a cold, blustery January 1, this day typically falls in September/October — just in time for the holidays.
Phase I is focused on strength building because of a couple reasons:
- We know that we need a good strong foundation in order to be better at Phase II (spoiler alert: Phase II is all about gymnastics and cardio).
- We also know that what happens between halloween and New Year’s day typically involves A LOT of social eating and drinking… and those carbs are actually good for building muscle and high-rep movements (in moderation, of course).
- It’s also cold in the winter, which means cardio becomes grossly less enjoyable for a group that typically already greatly dislikes cardio
Phase I ensures that you’re at your strongest point of the year shortly after the holiday season – right around December/January
While the first phase carries us through the holiday eating season, the second phase kicks in just in time for that pre-spring break trip, frantic swimsuit slim down season. Phase II, as was spoiled above, is all about building up cardio endurance and mastering the gymnastics portion of Crossfit, especially as we get nearer to the annual Memorial Day Murph WOD. In this phase, you’ll see a lot of work on cardio machines like the bike or the rower, some longer distance runs, and a lot of high-intensity workouts that cycle quickly between movements.
Ultimately, Phase II peaks mid-summer – so you’ll be cycling through the movements best near the end of July and early August.
How the Phases work together:
No matter what phase we’re in, you can never assume that we’ll never do any gymnastics or any strength, we will always pepper in some pull-ups and toes-to-bar throughout our strength work, but we won’t prioritize those movements the same way that we will in Phase II. The same can be said for back squats and bench press – while we’ll still do them in Phase II, they won’t be prioritized the same as they are in Phase I.
These phases work together to lift up the foundation that you have when you begin the cycle. That means we’re going to focus on raising your baseline strength during Phase I to prep your body to be able to build up to more pull-ups during Phase II. During Phase II, we’re going to push the number of pull-ups you can string together so that your maximum number is higher than when you started. When we start the cycle over with Phase I, your baseline will be higher because we will now begin that phase closer to you maximum lift numbers, continuing to grow that strength over time. The same translates to pull ups during Phase II.
Of course within each phase, we think deeply about how each workout builds upon each other day-after-day, and how higher rep-schemes can ultimately prepare you for that one-rep-max effort. But that’s a lot to get into in just one post. Stay tuned for more on that later!