Periodization is for Competitors – Guest Post By Timmy Francis

Let’s cover the most obvious question first.  This post has nothing to do with tampons (gag x 10) or that “special time of the month”.  Periodization isn’t about a monthly celebration of not being pregnant.  It’s an organized approach to training that involves cycling of various aspects of a program in order to peak at a specific time.  In CrossFit, randomization (which is important) is a bastardized concept often applied incorrectly.  “Anyone can throw a list of exercises and numbers on a whiteboard; far fewer can create workouts that, over a given period of time, ensure an athlete accomplishes his or her goals.” – Greg Everett, Catalyst Athletics.  Everyone drop your tampons and let’s get to periodizing.

It uses butt tampons.

Remember when Lance Armstrong was running train on the androgynous European bikers who had ruled the sport for most of its history?  Each year, he’d ride in the Tour de California and get his face fucked off, and everyone would lost their goddamned minds, only to watch him haul his single nut over the Alps and Pyrenees each July to win the Tour de France… SEVEN TIMES.

How is that a guy who was so terrible every February could improve so much in only 5 months to win the much more competitive and strenuous Tour de France?  Cue doping cracks – stfu, bro.  The answer is that the Tour de California didn’t fall into the period of Lance’s training where he was peaking for competition.

Wouldn't you beat cancer just to embarrass this eurodouche? His hands are begging for some photoshop.

If you have no desire to compete, there’s no reason to periodize, and typical CrossFit GPP programming is absolutely your best bet on achieving overall physical fitness.  If, however, you plan to compete for something, periodization should be a part of your training plan.  Make no mistake, competitors plan their training.  Basic periodization involves three stages: preparation, competition and transition.

When I was rowing in college, we had a long preparation phase that was subdivided into endurance, stamina and speed.  We built our lungs, then our muscular stamina then our power.  The preparation phase even continued into the first part of the competitive season.

The whitest sport ever.

The beginning of the season wasn’t our focus – league championships and the national championship were the focus.  The focus on peaking at the right time was very apparent my senior year when we got fourth at league championships, but second at the national championship about a month later.  We entered the competitive phase at the right time because of strategic programming of our training.

Your body can’t live in the competitive phase for long.  For high-level competition, athletes’ bodies are in a tenuous state.  They’ve pushed the limit of their performance so far to the edge of their genetic potential, that injury and over-training become a hazard.  That’s what it takes to win at the highest echelons.  Nowadays, that’s even true of CrossFit. 

One of Holmberg’s friends said that in 2010 Graham did little to alter his training heading into Regionals, but the period between Regionals and the Games was an intensebeastmodefuckfest in the gym.  This is basic preparation phase and competition phase periodization.  Note: intensebeastmodefuckfests yield championships.

Graham Holmberg, 2010 CrossFit Games Champion

For CrossFit competition, I would suggest the subdivisions of strength, stamina, and work capacity (ranked in that order of importance) during the preparation phase.  If you don’t know the distinction, work capacity is the ability to perform short, intense sessions, and stamina is the ability to go long (like those “stamina in the bedroom” ads I always respond to… shit works, son).  Strength is being like Ronnie Coleman. Yeah, buddy.

Gonna wait til he leaves the room before I make fun of the pants and the fanny pack...

It would work like this: for a given week with 5 workouts that’s occurring during the strength period, you would do 3 strength workouts, 1 stamina, and 1 work capacity.  For the stamina phase it would be 3 stamina, 1 strength, 1 work capacity and so on.  The only way to make big gains in a given area is to focus on it.  You could cycle through these 3 subdivisions multiple times during the preparation phase, if you so choose.  During the competitive phase, you would work all areas evenly in preparation for the competition.  The most important thing is to have a plan.

So next time your lady starts complaining about cramps and chocolate cravings, tell her you understand periodization too, so she should back the fuck up, double-knot that tampon string and go Beastmode on a WOD.

  1. #1 by brandylpeterson on September 14, 2011 - 1:26 PM

    Fabulous post! Informative and entertaining!!

  2. #2 by Ben on September 14, 2011 - 2:26 PM


  3. #3 by Dustin on September 14, 2011 - 3:45 PM

    Don’t think that’s a fanny pack…

  4. #4 by Andy G. on September 14, 2011 - 5:38 PM

    Great post dude! Some things I’d like to highlight in your post and add too. First off the biggest distinction between proper crossfit programming and countless hacks out there…some in the Hampton Roads Area :)…is that they confuse randomization for constantly varied. Proper programming is balanced and aggressive. Not “lets see how hard we can make a workout”. So good on you for pointing out that random bullshit is counterproductive.

    I also like how you pointed out that periodization is a training tool that should be reserved for those with competitive aspirations. Finally, I see alot of athletes who watch the mainsite videos and get the idea in their heads that they should be doing 3-4 wods a day. Im guilty of doing multiple wods from time to time and also like to do strength/ metcon two-a-days following rest days but too many wods in a short period time and intensity will drop injuries will occur! Great post, enjoyed it!

    Andy G.

    • #5 by EPIC on September 14, 2011 - 6:25 PM

      Shit slinging! Love the hack callout. Cheers to the point about periodization being for those targeting competition. Hence the title of the post. CrossFit as GPP will always be the best option for those who are preparing for unknown and unknowable. Since I got out of the Marine Corps (no deploying anymore) – I know exactly what to prepare for. Competition. Mil/LEO/FD/etc who don’t compete should focus on GPP.

    • #6 by Tim on September 15, 2011 - 12:56 PM

      Andy, thanks for checking this out and giving feedback. I actually just introduced my brother to Crossfit, and I have him following your WODs. He has to do some subbing and whatnot, but he’s faithful to Takeover WODs. I’m a self-admitted volume whore. Even on a day where I’m solely working strength, I hit a few different things, and I’ve started adding a few assistance exercises as well primarily influenced by reading Louie Simmons, Kilgore, 70sBig and others.

      One thing I couldn’t address in the post due to my draconian editor’s word limit was how super compensation fits into all this, especially for beginners and randomization vs. competitors and periodization. Alas, another time…

      • #7 by EPIC on September 15, 2011 - 1:46 PM

        Draconian editor? Until Andy steps up as your Areopagus, you will adhere to the Athenian laws of the Beastmodal constitution and not question my levied word count. I’d love to see your take on super compensation, though the linear progression camp may give us some pushback. After all, I got called out by the folks on Andrew Wilson’s thread on Catalyst Athletics by suggesting CrossFit has room for both super compensation AND linear progression in my WODaholics post. They said, ” anyone else catch how he tried to say crossfit somehow follows a supercompensation model, but then further down alludes to it being linear progression? Does he just like big exercise words?” To answer that guy – I LOVE using big words. More so, I love using words like: “faggot”, “cunt” and “I will fucking fight your face off you internet pussy”. Of note from the Catalyst Athletics thread: the guy who said, “His name is Epic? Why would a grown man call himself that?” I gotta admit… that’s funny.

        • #8 by Pegasus on September 15, 2011 - 5:43 PM

          Why would a grown man call himself “Epic”? Because Fuck You, that’s why.

        • #9 by Tim on September 16, 2011 - 1:24 AM

          They’re not as smart as they’d like you to think. Linear progression is predicated on super compensation, especially when you’re talking about the linear progression of a beginner. A beginners super compensation takes place so quickly that they continue to progressively weight the bar heavier and heavier in a very short amount of time. Supercompensation for elite athletes takes place over the course of a few weeks which is why people like Lance can peak for the Tour de France. Crossfit, particularly for someone new to working out–and when programmed correctly–, absolutely allows for linear progression over the strength, endurance, and stamina modes. If you’re improving in any way–including linearly–, you’re making use of supercompensation. Anybody who says otherwise is a mother fucking window licker. Word to their sexy mothers.

        • #10 by Tim on September 16, 2011 - 1:56 AM

          I might as well just finish the thought and connect it back to periodization. Here’s the issue with linear progression: When you try to do linear progression across multiple disciplines, it slows the linear progression in each. In other words, if you concentrate on just strength linear progression and bias your workouts as such, you’ll progress very quickly and linearly in strength. Seems obvious, right? You can use linear progression for strength, work capacity, and stamina simultaneously, but each discipline will suffer as a result of the other, though in time you’ll absolutely see progression in each, possibly linear, possibly not. That’s why I’m a fan of cycling through strength, work capacity, and stamina cycles. Diatribe finish. Suck it, Wilson Thread automatons.

    • #11 by brandylpeterson on September 23, 2011 - 2:18 PM

      Ahhh Andy, your hack call out makes me smile more than you could possibly know at the moment 🙂

  5. #12 by Jeff on September 16, 2011 - 8:17 PM

    Nice…my head just exploded.

  6. #13 by Paul Foote on September 16, 2011 - 9:07 PM

    I truely love this blog. it’s just so refreshing to hear someonwho knows what they are talking about from real life application to just talk shit. Then back it up with killer time!\s!

    • #14 by EPIC on September 20, 2011 - 8:55 PM

      Thanks Paul. Once I get this achilles healed, I wanna drop in at Clique. Also, I’m a Ravens fan and want the right to wear purple. I’ve heard I gotta do Karen to earn that right, no?

  7. #15 by john on October 3, 2011 - 9:40 PM

    Awesome post. Laughing out loud and my wife is like ‘what the fuck are you laughing at?’

    perfect combo of humor and knowledge

    • #16 by EPIC on October 3, 2011 - 10:44 PM

      Wives never recognize true humor. Thanks for the love. It’s about time Beastmodal got some exposure in Northern Ireland.

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