CFD – programming philosophy


CrossFit Dublin Programming Philosophy

Below is an outline of how I plan the workouts and program the training for the Gym. I have compiled this from 8 years of playing a high level of sport and 6 years of being a Strength a& Conditioning Coach working with athletes of all abilities. It is a complex process, taking many factors into account. Rather than writing a book detailing everything, I thought I would share some of the basic principles I use to program the WODs.

1) Mobility and Flexibility for Performance: This is an area often neglected by many programs. We prioritise it. Once you have improved this ability, your recovery will be quicker. You will get through your daily life more pain-free, and your workout times will improve as you no longer have to fight against your own body mobility issues while training. We will have warm-ups and cool downs that will serve to both release tensions from the workout just performed, and to improve typical problem areas. Albert our registered physiotherapist runs mobility workshops and the attendees have made impressive improvements.

2) Strength Priority: If one is to progress to optimal fitness, high levels of strength are vital. Strength is a physical skill and is the foundation that your fitness will be built upon. Endurance without strength will lead to lack of progress and even eventual injury. It will also be the limiting factor if you expect to perform well at many of the benchmark workouts (WODs). If you are a guy or girl, you will never have a good “Diane” time until 100 kg or 60kg respectively has become a light Deadlift for you. Many days will have strength work, reflecting this priority.

3) Emphasise Shorter WODs with a Higher Peak Power Output: There are many reasons to emphasise shorter metabolic conditioning workouts (metcons) or to perform them in more of an interval style with prescribed rest between rounds. Long workouts necessitate pacing yourself and a game plan, just as if you where going to run a marathon you would not start sprinting from the word GO! Shorter workouts allow a trainee to attack and leave it all on the table, leading to a higher intensity workout. To create changes in your metabolic pathways and to reach peak physical condition we are looking for it to come primarily from the intensity we can perform at and, not the overall volume. If one trains like this to improve peak power output, then when necessary, they will perform well at longer WODs or real life efforts. The reverse is not necessarily true.

Also, we can limit some of the negative hormonal responses from exercise by training this way. You will get an overall lower release of stress hormones (that will break the body down) and a larger release of anabolic hormones (that will accelerate repair and regrowth).

4) Spend Time Periods/ Cycles Concentrating on Bringing Up Physical Skills: If you are not regularly hitting Rx (doing workout as prescribed) on a daily basis then you should aim to get there first before you start to worry about posting a time. Progress is made more quickly when there is greater exposure to a stimulus. We spend blocks of time, often 3 month periods, with a greater focus in some areas. I will use our Benchmark Workouts to test the gym for areas of a common weakness as a whole. From there we go about trying to turn the weakness into a strength. For example, if you feel like we do more strength work while we have colder weather, you would be correct!

5) Tailor the Workouts to what a Majority of the People Need: I try to program workouts for where a majority of our clients are at. The excessive volume of some programs can simply be too much for the average trainee. More is not necessarily better when it comes to athletic conditioning. Connective tissue takes much longer to adapt to new workloads than muscles do. I would rather see the few people who are ready for more, scale up or do our ‘advanced’ WODs.

6) Build in Recovery Periods, Alternate Intensity and Overall Volume: Adaptation is faster when the main training stimulus varies from time to time. I program periods where the overall workload is higher, then this will alternate with periods where the workload is lower, but the work being done is more intense.

7) Benchmark WODs: These will be used for exactly that, to set benchmarks! Why don’t we do the benchmarks more often? We save them for their intended purpose: to test and retest so we can confirm that we are moving in the right direction. If we train lots of benchmark WODs or long met cons
It is not necessarily beneficial to our long term or short term fitness. When the benchmark WODS do come up, you should have the that last time firmly in your head when you come to train that day and want to do what it takes to beat your time from your last effort at that workout!

8.) Equipment Needs and other Variables: There are some workouts that are difficult to do in a class setting. I must take into account class size, and also any other classes that might be running simultaneously. (If you are really itching to try “Linda”, a workout that is very difficult to do in a class, let us know, and we can arrange a special time.)

9) Constantly Varied: Most of the time, we vary the muscles worked or energy systems trained. One gray area in programming the WODs is not knowing everyone’s training schedule. I plan as if everyone will come all six days of the week. In reality, with the exception of a few, no one comes every day. However, many will come on back-to-back days, so usually we complete workouts that will not exhaust the same movements (e.g. front heavy Back Squat on Monday and heavy Front Squat on Tuesday) on two consecutive days. There will be some exceptions to this, as life does not take into account that your legs are sore and today you need to lift something (e.g. heavy Back Squat Monday, light over head in a metcon on Tuesday).

10) Varied! Yes, there are many reasons to keep workouts constantly varied. Our workouts have a structure behind them as described in the prior points, but within this structure is plenty of variation. This keeps things from getting stale or boring but also keeps asking the body questions, which is constantly creating change in your physical appearance and fitness levels!

Hopefully, this gives you a clearer picture of how things are planned here, and what some of our priorities are. If you have any additional questions, I am always glad to answer them. Good training!

All the Best,


Workout of the day:


5 sets of

A – Push Jerk of 2

rest 2.30 mins b/t set

B – max height box jump in 10 mins


5 Rounds

20 Kettlebell swings 24/16kg

10 Up and over the box jumps

(you can clear the box completely or jump up and then jump down)

Level 2 20/12kg

Level 1 16/10kg

ADV- Jump over the box for all 50 reps

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