Training for the Sport of Fitness

The CrossFit Games recently announced that the next Open is scheduled for the Spring of 2021. This is welcome news for athletes who haven't had a competitive event to train for in quite some time. The CrossFit Open is a global fitness competition that spans five weeks. Over the course of the Open, five workouts are released, complete with Rx and Scaling options. Athletes complete the workout at their home gym and submit scores online. Scores are then ranked amongst over a 100,000 other athletes and determine who qualifies for the next level of competition. The beauty of the Open is the standard. All athletes are held to the same standards of movement, allowing an athlete to truly assess their progress from year to year. Magical moments are frequent, with athletes breaking through the ceiling of their fitness by achieving new personal records and confidence in their abilities.

When viewed through the specific lense of the Sport of CrossFit, we look at training in a slightly different way than we do in terms of exercise or traditional strength and conditioning. In this article, I intend to cover the 7 different domains of specific training necessary to prepare for competition in the Sport of Fitness. You will notice patterns in the Sport and Performance tracks of programming at CrossFit Fargo that lend themselves to development in these categories.

  1. Strength. Perhaps one of the most straight-forward domains, strength is simply about getting stronger. Raw strength training typically involves low-skill exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses, and their variations. It also includes accessory work such as functional body building to increase muscle mass, support joints, supplement the classic lifts, and benefit overall health.

  2. Olympic Lifting. This domain includes the Snatch and Clean and Jerk, with the ultimate goal of increasing your 1 rep max in each. Here we introduce more power and speed, as well as a level of technical difficulty not seen in raw strength. More drills and variations are usually required for mastery in olympic lifting. This takes practice and training.

  3. Barbell Cycling. This domain is the skill of efficiently cycling through weighted exercise reps, usually under fatigue. Barbell cycling can also include dumbbell cycling, medicine ball cycling, kettlebell cycling.. any weighted exercise with multiple reps. Not only is muscular endurance required in this category, but also acquisition of the skill of efficiently performing multiple reps of a very specific movement pattern with minimal rest. It does not necessarily require training to go unbroken, rather it means traning to perform a high amount of reps in the least amount of time with the least amount of energy and fatigue. This takes focused practice and training - in order to get better at it, you simply have to do more of it.

  4. Gymnastics Strength/Skill. The gymnastics strength domain includes developing the necessary strength to perform a specific gymnastics movement - typically a "strict" exercise such as strict pull up, strict handstand push up, strict toes to bar, strict muscle up, pistol. Similar to olympic lifting, a multitude of progressions and exercise variations can utilized for progress in this domain.

  5. Gymnastics Cycling/Volume. The Gymnastics Strength domain lends itself to the Gymnastics Cycling domain. This category is similar to the Barbell Cycling category in that it requires not only muscular endurance, but also the skill of proficiently cycling through a higher volume of reps in the least amount of time while expending the least amount of energy. Here we get into higher skill kipping and butterfly variations of the strict exercises. Kipping and butterfly pull ups, kipping handstand push ups, kipping muscle ups. Getting better at gymnastics cycling requires focused practice and training - you simply have to do more of it.

  6. Aerobic Capacity. Aerobic capacity encompasses all the other categories. The majority of our training (especially the WOD) is done in an aerobic state. Specific work on aerobic capacity includes monomodal and low skill pieces such as just rowing, just running, just biking, etc. where it is easier to regulate and track pacing.

  7. Anaerobic Lactate Capacity. Lactate capacity training is typically your high intensity pieces - especially those done in intervals with a rest period. Sometimes programmed as a low-skill monomodal piece such as biking intervals where it's easier to regulate pace and track pacing and push HARD. During a WOD you may naturally drift in and out of utilizing the anaerobic energy system. The shorter the WOD, the higher the likelihood that you are accessing the anaerobic system.

In order to maximize your competitive training, be aware of the 7 domains and how they show up in your program. We have a slight bias in our program towards raw strength and aerobic capacity, as these are the base of general physcial preparation for sport. Mastery of strength and aerobic capacity lends itself to all other 5 categories. In our program, we also focus on olympic weightlifting and gymnastics strength and skill development, as well as plenty of barbell and gymastics cycling. We have specific lactate capacity or aerobic capacity training pieces once per week, with the acknowledgement that these categories automatically get trained in our everyday WODs as well.

A good strategy is to look at a workout, and be purposeful in how you approach it. Look at it as practice. It's training. If your WOD has toes-to-bar in it, decide ahead of time how to break them up and how long of a rest to take inbetween sets and transitions (goal is to get down to 3-5 seconds of rest between sets). Learn what a fast rep feels like, and what a slow rep feels like. Is there a way you can make your rep even more effortless? This is how you practice any kind of cycling. During your toes to bar, focus on being as technically sound, efficient, and consistent as possible. Stay relaxed and focus on your breathing as you work through your reps and take your rests.

We are committed to supporting your training in the Sport of Fitness through consistent and progressive programming, professional coaching, and goal review meetings. Goal review meetings are complimentary for CrossFit Fargo athletes and are designed to help you make an action plan towards accomplishing a specific objective (get a muscle up, train for competition, etc.). You can schedule a goal review meeting with a coach by clicking this link, or email if you would like to schedule a meeting with me.

As always, I love hearing from you. Please send me an email at if you have any questions on your training or our program here at CrossFit Fargo.

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5292 51st Ave S
Fargo, ND 58104
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