Within the past four weeks, we’ve run the ‘Goat WOD’ as one of our daily workouts, twice. The format for this session is simple: Pick two ‘Goats’ (movements you struggle with or don’t have yet) and alternate them across a 20-minute clock. The intent is to refine or gain new skill in an area that needs work, so that when you return to the gym, you’re able to do more (or to be more efficient).
You won’t find this kind of workout at other gyms. That’s because most fitness programs are set up around the concept of EXERCISE, which is physical activity done for it’s own sake. At CFDV, we don’t ‘exercise’ (well, maybe during Bootcamp we do!).. We TRAIN, which is physical activity performed for the purpose of satisfying a long-term goal.
If your long-term goal is to develop a broad base of physical capabilities, then you need to work your Goats. You need to acquire the skills that allow workouts to become challenging, and to take meaning.
A quick example of this in practice is the difference between two athletes doing the benchmark workout ‘Fran’. The athlete performing full kipping pull-ups is the one that’s on the floor at the end of the session! The athlete who did ring rows worked hard, but the effort delivered is simply no match for the kips. To be clear - I’m not trying to shame anyone here.. But unless the athlete with the ring rows is ACTIVELY SEEKING kipping pull-ups (and eventually gains them), then the long-term results will be a fraction of what they could be.
Take a look at the pyramid to the right. This is Greg Glassman’s ‘Theoretical Development of an Athlete’ and it serves as a great model for your road map in CrossFit.
First, work on your nutrition. Provide yourself with quality fuel, reduce your chances of chronic disease and get your body composition in line with your genetic blueprint (i.e. lose the extra pounds).
Second, develop your lungs. Gain or improve the ability to run, row and bike. Develop your metabolic engine so you can do work, for a sustained period.
Third, develop body control. Start with the basics: squats, pushups and chins. Progress to box jumps, pistols, handstands and then to levers and muscle-ups. Have confidence moving your body.
Fourth, get strong. Develop and improve your deadlift, squat and press. Clean and jerk your bodyweight. Work unilaterally and bilaterally, across a wide range of equipment.
Finally, put it all together in your ‘sport’. Yours might be basketball, soccer or hockey. Or maybe it’s CrossFit or lifting competitions. Or, it could be that your sport is keeping up with your kids in the backyard or taking long walks with your dog. Regardless of the goal, the approach (i.e. CrossFit) will improve or enhance your execution of any physical activity.
Back to the Goat WOD.. This is your opportunity to work on the things that make this pyramid wider and taller. How much quicker will you achieve your goal if you have better conditioning? Maybe you can use running, or burpees, or rowing during the Goat WOD, as one of the two movements..? How about gymnastics? Practice kipping, or toes-to-bar, or air squats. Need strength? Throw in a heavy clean or squat. The choice is yours!! When choosing movements, think strategically about your current abilities and how they line up with the long-term goal. Attacking the weaknesses will deliver a greater return than if you chose to reinforce your strengths. And work with your coach. They see you all the time and can help you decide on what to prioritize. You joined our gym because you wanted great coaching - take advantage of it!
Kelly Tobin (longtime Early Bird CFDV athlete) said this about CrossFit: ‘CrossFit is a lot more fun when you’re good at it’. I think this quote directly underscores why the Goat WOD is a staple in our gym. The workout makes you improve what you suck at. And it’s ok, because we all suck at something!