First of all, sorry for the sudden drop-off in new content. I got a new full-time job, and the initial training is taking up far more of my time and brainpower than I thought it would. I’ll be back to at least semi-regular posting after I figure out what the hell I’m doing (probably in a month or two).

Anyway, I was talking with a friend recently, and she brought up a problem she was having at her gym. It’s a problem I have had at other gyms, and probably one that more than a few of you have had at your respective gyms. I call the problem, “The 20 Minute AMRAP Trap”. Allow me to explain.

Programming for a gym is an art. It’s a delicate balance of giving your clientele what they need (what they are uncomfortable with) and what they want (what they are comfortable with). Unfortunately, all too often, programmers compromise that balance by giving their clientele too much of one and not enough of the other. One specific example of this tends to occur frequently at newer gyms, with newer programmers, when the majority of the clientele is newer to CrossFit.

Many people coming into CrossFit come into it from other forms of group fitness. Many of these other forms utilize methods that don’t stress intensity the way that CrossFit does. Because of this, these people are comfortable performing at lower levels of intensity, and might not even know how to perform with the level of intensity that certain CrossFit workouts, ideally, require. Programmers recognize that the level of intensity isn’t where it should be and try to compensate by increasing the length of time that the workout will last in order to increase the overall amount of work. That’s how you end up in the 20 Minute AMRAP Trap, programming 20 Minute AMRAPs (or other similar workouts), multiple times a week, every week.

The programmers caught in the 20 Minute AMRAP Trap have the best of intentions; they want their clientele to get a good workout. But, by consistently programming longer workouts to make up for the lack of intensity, they may actually be hurting their clientele. For more information on what, exactly I’m talking about, take a look at
this article.

The article linked is one of the fundamental articles of CrossFit. It explains what CrossFit is and why it does the things the way it does. The article talks about the three metabolic pathways and explains that too much time spent in one pathway can be detrimental to your overall fitness levels. Too much time spent in the oxidative, or aerobic, pathway, by exercising in excess of several minutes at “low power” (i.e. doing too many 20 Minute AMRAPs), can cause “decreases in muscle mass, strength, speed and power”. For the full write-up, check out the section titled, “Metabolic Conditioning, or Cardio” starting at the bottom of the third page.

So, how do you avoid the trap? Address the problem at its source instead of trying to compensate. If you recognize a lack of intensity within your clientele, start programming intense workouts. Program short workouts with lower-weight lifts and bodyweight movements in rep schemes that will ensure the majority of your clientele won’t have to stop to catch their breath until the workout is over. Stress the importance of intensity in these workouts, to your clientele, and explain the benefits of operating in the glycolytic pathway. As with any other healthy relationship, the coach(programmer)/client relationship is all about communication and addressing problems, not manipulation or compensation.

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First of all, sorry for the sudden drop-off in new content. I got a new full-time job, and the initial training is taking up far more of my time and brainpower than I thought it would. I’ll be back to at least semi-regular posting after I figure out what...