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Old 07-26-2009, 12:08 PM   #1
Emily Mattes
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Default How do you program a good metcon?

I've wondered how one goes about programming effective metcons. How do you know what is a "good" metcon and a "bad" metcon? How do you know what is an effective load, choice of exercises, and rep scheme? How do you figure out whether today you should do 15-10-5, or three rounds of the same thing, or interval-type stuff?

There are basics--if you've been training heavy snatches you don't want a metcon workout involving kettlebell snatches the same day, and it is probably not good to follow up a heavy deadlift workout with high box jumps. If you're in a power sport you probably want to keep your metcons to 10 minutes or less, if you're into endurance you might want longer.

But I've heard discussions about how one website has "smart" metcons, and another doesn't, and because I know jack-shit about programming, especially metcons, I don't know the difference. Can anyone offer insight, or point me to some good articles?
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Old 07-27-2009, 04:06 AM   #2
Allen Yeh
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Good question, I'd like to see how some of the affiliates answer this. As someone that only programs his own now and then and perhaps a friend of family member I'd like to see what the consesus is here.
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Old 07-27-2009, 09:19 AM   #3
Steven Low
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From Getting Scaling Right: A Systematic Method for CrossFit Programming by Pierre Auge, Performance Menu Issue 53

http://www.performancemenu.com/zen/i...duc ts_id=201

Probably the best take I've seen on it. And very in depth.
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Old 07-27-2009, 11:42 AM   #4
Garrett Smith
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Greg's metcons here are generally awesome.

I'm a big fan of metcons that are right in the range of being able to move relatively continuously through them, maybe only needing to take a couple big breaths between some reps or exercises.

Effective is all in the goals of the exerciser.

I'm of the opinion that marathon metcons (over 20 minutes) should be saved for testing, not training, as they lend themselves very well to burnout and/or injuries.
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Old 07-27-2009, 01:03 PM   #5
Jesse Woody
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Default Good question

Totally agree with the above. At Primal I set up each week to hit certain specific skills on certain days. For the most part our workouts can be split up as:

Heavy lifting + assistance work- 1-2 days per week
Heavy lifting + short, power-biased met-con 1-2 days per week
Skill work + medium met-con (15:00 or less) 2-3 days per week
Skill work + mobility/recovery ~1 day every 8-10 days
Warm-Up x Longish Met-con (15:00+) ~1 day every 12-15 days

I definitely see a lot more benefit in our athletes from higher-skill and/or heavier days with short met-con so that's the majority of our week. If we hit a more than average number of heavy days one week, we will usually switch the focus of the next week to more skill/met-con focus. Beyond that, paying attention to the rotation of exercises and whether or not they compliment the overall plan of the week is important, as well as keeping track of specific skills that have either been cycled away from for a week or two, or pop up as obvious weaknesses in workouts with our athletes in a certain week.

So, keeping all of that in mind, to me a good met-con is one that first fits within the energy system and movement pool that you want to focus on for the day, and uses just enough variation to make sense without being overly complicated for no reason. If, for instance, I'm planning a medium-length met-con after a session of static gymnastics skills such as L-sits and handstands, I will probably shy away from handstand push-ups or hanging leg lifts, and go for a more running/burpee/pull-up type workout in the 3-4 round range.

So...all relatively subjective, but basically the overriding point is you first have to know your goal, then you design your workout and compare it to the goal to see if it makes sense. Takes a bit of practice and experience, but as you train more people or train yourself more it starts to come together a bit easier.
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Old 07-27-2009, 11:50 PM   #6
Greg Chin
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I agree with the general consensus that there needs to be some specificity to one's MetCon programming. What I have done in the past is made numerous microcycles/short mesocycles of training blocks that feed into a more overarching fitness goal, following a sort of rough concurrent training methodology. An example might be that I feel my run times are weak so for two weeks I put an emphasis on running in MetCons, mixing modalities and volume, but always including some sort of running work in it, be it a hill sprint with a bag for short distance or a few rounds of 400M with, say, Sandbag Thrusters for rounds. You can further specify from there depending upon your training knowledge of the individual you're programming for in the context of their goals.

My math is no good so I have no formulas for power output, set/rep distribution, etc, but it seems to make conceptual sense to me to order training depending upon categories of stimulus/response (and recovery ability) in the context of what one wants out of their training. If you want to increase general strength in MetCon, then, you'd program a bias into MetCon movements where this was appropriate. If greater work capacity was desired, then, you might put more emphasis on a chipper-style workout. I guess the trick is identifying how one responds to various training modalities and volume/intensity distributions to better order individual training models.

As far as figuring out good programming... Well, it shouldn't hammer you into the ground (too often anyway), and should produced the desired adaptation. While I only dabble in this, and have never studied it formally, my gut tells me that figuring out or defining good programming takes some intuitive thought, again, in the appropriate context of what one wants. And, of course, good programming for some is crap for others. The only programming I can think of that tends to be outright bad is macho-style stuff that is designed to make you feel annihilated as opposed to training economy. I saw some member-made WOD on the CrossFit forums once that was something ridiculous like 3 rounds for time of every barbell squat imaginable that seemed silly.

Ah, here it is:

3 rounds for time of:
225lbs Back Squat x 15 reps
135lbs Front Squat x 15 reps
95lbs Overhead Squat x 15 reps
Air Squats x 55 reps
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:43 AM   #7
Garrett Smith
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It is too bad that the supposed "genius" of CF programming is too complicated to share with the unwashed masses...
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Old 07-28-2009, 06:22 AM   #8
Allen Yeh
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Hey now....play nice.
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"And for crying out loud. Don't go into the pain cave. I can't stress this enough. Your Totem Animal won't be in there to help you. You'll be on your own. The Pain Cave is for cowards.
Pain is your companion, don't go hide from it."
-Kelly Starrett
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:17 AM   #9
Craig Brown
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I think it's really worth rooting around over at www.mtnathlete.com . Rob is killer, explains his thinking clearly, ALWAYS gives creidt- all around good guy. If you look at the differences between his hybrid training which is aimed at mountain guides, his rock climbing training, and his military stuff (now on it's own site) you can see why he's biasing the way he is. Like anything else, you have to know what you want, and be willing to learn/change as you go.

My approach for me is straightforward and set up like my lifting: am I training power (so power bias, pretty heavy, not very long), strength endurance (heavy longer grind), or basic 'cardio' or work capacity which can be lighter or heavier, slower or faster, longer or shorter depending on what I need. I'm just starting to program for others, so I'll be figuring out my approach to that more as I go.

Sometimes the best 'metcon' for me is just one straight blast...100 step ups on a 20" box with a 40# pack followed by max heavy kb swings. Doesn't NEED to be multiple rounds or anything.

I don't do chippers at all. My work is chippers.

Craig
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:56 PM   #10
Donald Lee
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Joel Jaimeson over at www.8weeksout.com breaks conditioning down into a science. He just came out with a book that explains his approach. If you just want some general conditioning though, what's said has been good.
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