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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.