Beginning in January of this year we changed how we did our programming. Since we opened we had followed the general CrossFit way of writing a workout, which is writing a workout for the top athletes in the gym and then scaling the weight, movement, and reps down to the rest of the athletes. When you did the workout you would get an Rx by your name if you did the workout as written, or you would get the modifications listed if you did the workout scaled. We saw over time that this did not best serve our members for several different reasons. With progress in mind we switched our daily program into three tracks-Fitness, Performance, and Competition, with each track having a different goal. Since we have made the switch we have seen a big increase in attendance, results, and overall positivity day to day. We are very happy with how things have gone and will continue to do this type of programming going forward. I want to use this article to walk you through how you pick your tracks and how that might change over your time at our gyms.
First, let's break down the three tracks. The Fitness track is for people who just want to be fit and healthy. They are not interested in competing in CrossFit and do not play sports outside of the gym. There is no need for this track to be lifting super heavy weights or doing high skilled movements. The main goal for this track is to get a good workout in, have a great time, and be able to come back tomorrow. This is the longevity focus group and you should be able to follow this track for years (or the rest of your life) with no issues. The next track is the Performance track. This track is using CrossFit to help them get better for a sport outside of the gym. Maybe they play baseball, or run 5ks on the weekend, or want to perform at their best on their ski trip this winter. There is definitely a place to be doing doing a little bit heavier weights and trying to acquire some higher level skills, but the idea of this track is to use CrossFit to better themselves outside of the gym. They will do heavier power cleans, for instance, to help them get better at their sport, but the ultimate goal isn't necessarily to clean as much as possible. Finally, the Competition track is for people who want to compete in the sport of CrossFit. Whether you just want to compete in the Open or in local competitions, or you want to go to the CrossFit games, then this is the track for you. The goal of this track is peak performance in the sport of fitness, so you will see lots of heavy weights, high skill movements, and higher volume. This is the least sustainable track of the group and the track where lifestyle outside of the gym and recovery matter more than the others. You should only be following this track if you are serious about competing. We also have supplemental tracks outside of the class (Strength, Conditioning, Competition, and Games Prep) but we won't talk about these for now.
So now that you know what each of the tracks are it is time to decide which one you should do. One thing to note is that this is a fluid decision. You can switch back and forth from day to day if you want. However, over time you should be doing the majority of your workouts in a given track. How you decide is simple. What are your goals? If your goal is to lose weight and be healthy then it doesn't make much sense for you to be doing Competition workouts. You also shouldn't be planning on doing a local competition and only doing Fitness workouts. Your track should match your goals AT THAT TIME. This is an important point to make. We have members who have been doing CrossFit for 6 plus years. People's goals change over time and we have seen that with our members over the years. There might have been a season where they wanted to compete but now they just want to be healthy and look good at the pool. They might do Fitness workouts now but catch the bug to compete again next year and jump up to the Competition track. Our goal with this program is to provide a workout to help you achieve your goals, no matter the stage of life you are in or what your current fitness goals are.
Let's say you are a still a little hazy on what to do. You are in between the Fitness and Performance groups. What should you do? We always want our athletes to error on the conservative side. If you aren't sure what to do then go with the lighter weight or the lower skill movement. You will be able to go fasters and push yourself harder if the movements are simpler and easier to perform. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds then it doesn't make much sense for you to be struggling to perform one rep of a movement every minute while everyone else is done with the workout. Being conservative with the weights is also going to keep you healthier. If you are constantly battling nagging injuries because you are always going too heavy or doing movements above your current skill level then you will never be able to make progress. Check your ego at the door and drop the weight down. You will get much more out of it by going lighter and faster than by going heavy and super slow. (Now there is a time and a place for going heavy and slow but these should be few and far between and not every day).
Let me use myself as an example of how to use the tracks. I started competing in CrossFit in 2011 and have been training to compete at a high level for a very long time. I have competed at regionals as an individual and on a team many times, as well as competed at many high level competitions. I tried to add up how many competitions I have done over years and it's well over 30, maybe even more. All of those years of training and competing left me tired. Competing is no longer my goal so it doesn't make sense for me to do mostly competition workouts. My goal is to be healthy and to be able to perform any athletic activity that I want to do with little to no preparation. It makes sense for me to be doing Performance workouts at this point in my life. If you see me in class I will most likely be following this track. That's not to say that I won't see a Competition workout that I really want to do every now and then, or that I might not have slept well the night before and am feeling beat up and will do the Fitness workout. Over time I will be doing mostly Performance workouts though. Since I have made the change from Competition workouts I have noticed a drastic decrease in my daily soreness and general wear and tear on my body. If you are someone who struggles with constantly feeling beat up then consider changing tracks for a while.
The main takeaway here is that you should constantly be evaluating yourself. Don't' fall into the trap I did where you are just doing certain workouts because that's what you have always done. You should constantly be evaluating what your health and fitness goals are and if your training matches those goals. If it doesn't then see what you need to do to change it. Use the tracks as a guide. Over time you will probably spend time in all 3 tracks and that is perfectly fine. That what they are designed to do. No one track is better than the other, just like no one person's goals are better than the other. Our goal is to help our members to get in the best shape of their lives, at their own pace, in a supportive community, and we believe that this system helps us do that better. If you aren't a member of one of our gyms and want to see how the tracks work in detail then look up Coyote Fitness on the Sugarwod app and follow along. As always if you have any questions on the tracks or which one you should be in ask a coach or reach out to me!