An introduction to programming

In the previous episodes of the series, we took a close look into our definition of health and fitness and we built a solid base around these terms. In this episode, we will have a look into the ways that we program to make you more fit.

One of the definitions we used in the first episode to describe CrossFit was: “Constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity”. Constantly varied allows for a wide variance of mode, exercise, metabolic pathway, rest, intensity, sets, and reps. This means that even if you would train a lifetime at CrossFit AKA, no week of training would be the same.

We program with deliberate variation and not with randomized systems like the hopper model, as the latter is only suitable in specific test environments. Variation is derived from the usage of different variables.

Three functional exercise modalities

The first one being the three functional exercise modalities: gymnastics, metabolic conditioning and weightlifting. Gymnastics are bodyweight movements, such as the push up, pull up, squat or muscle up. Metabolic conditioning includes rowing, running and jumping rope. Weightlifting contains all exercises in which an external object is moved, think of the kettlebell swing, the clean and the snatch.

A varied programming ensures that all three modalities are carefully chosen over the course of a training cycle for their  functionality, muscular and neuroendocrine response, and carefully combined to ensure a purposeful stimulus for each individual session. Note that all the movements we practice and train are functional, meaning that they either represent tasks could emerge in everyday life, or that they are extremely helpful in developing fitness. Most of these movements are compound movements, which means that they are driven by numerous muscles and distributed over multiple joints.

Time Domain

The second variable that is imperative for any exercise program to be efficient is the time domain. As you have learned in the previous episode, one of the pillars fitness is developing the three energy systems. Practically this means that our programming ranges from sprints to short, medium and long workouts.


 The third variable is the set up of the workout. This is either determined by the quantity of modalities, ranging from singlets to couplets and triplets to chippers or by programming for task priority (as many rounds in x time) or time priority (x rounds as fast as possible).

High intensity has been proven to be more effective in different metabolic and hormonal pathways, and is therefore an elegant measure against chronic diseases.

In the next episode, we will take a look in the “programming-kitchen” of CrossFit AKA.