A few of you have asked for me to share my thoughts, reasoning, etc. for the change you’ve seen to the programming, so here that is!
First of all, if you didn’t notice, the programming may have looked and felt different starting this past Monday. Yes, we did indeed switch the vendor that we get our programming from. We had been using Jeremy Jones and Thrivestry programming and now we’ll be using Jason Brown and Box Programming (original name, huh?).
So, why the switch? First off, I have nothing bad to say of JJ and his programming. We’ve used it for a good two and a half years and in that time most of you have hit PRs, seen improvements in your overall fitness, and done really well with it in general (that goes for me as well). JJ’s programming got us doing things that we didn’t do often (dedicated skill work on gymnastics movements, for example), and created an opportunity for all of us to be more consistent with logging our workouts and introducing us to Beyond the Whiteboard). His programming is consistent and reliable, and you know exactly what you’re gonna get. But, after listening to you and giving an honest assessment myself to the program, I decided it was simply time to make a switch and hopefully alleviate what might’ve started to feel like a bit of monotonousness. Enter Jason Brown and Box Programming.
The big thing that caught my eye about Jason Brown and BP was the wide range of methods he employs in his programming, whether it be in the strength or the Metcon portions of the training (EMOMs, intervals, “long, slow distance” training, bodybuilding-esque strength training, powerlifting-esque strength training, etc).
Here are some other things that I noticed and to be on the lookout for:
- Regarding the strength training, use of max effort, repetition effort, and dynamic effort methods. Without getting too nerdy, those are
- Max Effort: training at high loads (>90% of max) and lower volume (last Monday’s 2RM front box squat is an example)
- Repetition Effort: training with moderate to low loads but higher volume and sometimes going to failure (a lot of the accessory work is this, 3×30 banded hamstring curls, 3×15 triceps/biceps, 3×25 band pull-throughs, etc)
- Dynamic Effort: using moderate loads but moving them as fast as possible (Thursday’s 8×3 front box squats at 60% were that)
- Speaking of accessory work, we’re going to try to fit it in during the hour rather than leaving it up to you on your own after class. The accessory work will be beneficial for a number of reasons including injury prevention, bringing up generally weaker or lagging muscle groups (hamstrings, low back, triceps, biceps, etc), and maybe even adding some muscle mass. Be sure to execute the accessory work with as much purpose as you would the “main” lifts for the day.
- Energy system training. JJ/Thrivestry did this but now it’ll be specified or highlighted more as to what system a given metcon is targeting. Again, without getting too deep into the exercise physiology weeds, there are three energy-producing systems in the body.
- Aerobic/oxidative energy system: provides energy with the use of oxygen and fuels long, slower efforts (in running terms think 5k, 10k, and longer)
- Anaerobic lactic energy system: provides energy for higher intensity, moderate duration efforts without enough oxygen present (think 400-800m sprints, “Fran,” and 4 min max cals on the airbike). This is the system that causes the build-up of lactate that you sometimes feel in your muscles, that burning sensation
- Anaerobic alactic energy system: again, this system does not rely on oxygen being present and provides energy for maximal efforts of very short duration (think 40-yard dash, 100m sprint type of stuff, even 1RM deadlifts and dynamic effort squats, etc.)
Jason is very mindful of how much and when he prescribes that really intense stuff as that is what can wear a person down physically and mentally if it’s used too frequently. Therefore, pay attention to the effort recommendations that are typically provided for the metcons. If it says “60% effort, conversational pace,” try to stick to that because more likely than not, the high-intensity stuff is coming soon and that lower intensity, aerobic work forms the foundation from which you can execute those high efforts. Don’t poo-poo the “easy” stuff. It’s extremely valuable.
- The cycles. With Thrivestry the strength cycles were very apparent with clear starting/ending points and they were linear in nature, meaning we’d start light at the beginning and finish with the really heavy stuff at the end. This can be quite effective, but it can be boring, admittedly. Jason Brown uses something called conjugate or concurrent training where in any given week there will be both heavy stuff and light, speed-based stuff (see my first point above with max, dynamic, and repetition efforts). The “cycles” are still there, but it’s a little less obvious when they begin and end (one of the reasons we started his programming last week was because it was the first week of a short, 3-week cycle using speed front box squats).
Those are a number of the main things to note. Certainly, there are other nuances, but I’ll just let you figure those out in time. If you would like to peek behind the curtain a bit, here’s an article by Jason himself giving some insight into his programming philosophy: Box Programming Methodology
As always, if you have thoughts, questions, general comments or observations, feel free to let me know! I’m always eager to hear what you all think about what we’re doing.