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When choosing or designing your training schedule, I recommend taking the following five steps:

1. Measure your baseline

2. Define your goals

3. Assess how well your current program meets your goals

4. Research the different options available

5. Choose the right option

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These five steps help you clarify your objectives and ensure that the program you choose supports them.

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1. Measure your baseline

The first step in programming is to assess your current ability. Most likely, you already do this informally. You have some idea of which aspects of the sport are strengths for you and which are weaknesses. However, this informal assessment has the downside of not being measurable.

To accurately assess your current level of performance, use the key benchmarks for the three domains of fitness skills, strength, and conditioning from post 6 and write down the results. This will form the baseline for your program.

2. Define your goals

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The next part is to define what you want to achieve. This will be your guidance when assessing your current programming and also when choosing from other options.

Consider the following example. Let’s say the Open is six months from now and you have just finished the baseline measurement. You have great conditioning according to the benchmarks, but you are lacking in both skills and strength. As we saw in post 2, eliminating your weaknesses will give you the biggest boost when it comes to the Open Leaderboard. Keeping that in mind, you define the following goals:

• Skills: Reach an intermediate level in all skills within three months. Reach the benchmarks in all skills within six months.

• Strength: Reach 80 percent of the benchmark levels in all movements within four months. Then maintain those levels until the Open.

• Conditioning: Maintain current level for the next four months. Then emphasize conditioning until the Open starts.

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This type of goal setting is well defined, time-specific, and realistic. Knowing that skills improve faster than strength, you aim for bigger improvements in that area. Knowing that you are punished more for your weaknesses than rewarded for your strengths, you focus on increased balance. And knowing that conditioning will be the main test, you aim to maintain your strength and skill improvements while building power until the Open begins.

Go through the same goal-setting exercise after assessing your current level of performance. Equipped with the insights from this blog, you will have no trouble setting clearly defined goals in a similar way.

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