Frequently Asked Questions
How should I schedule my rest days?
All four of our training paths have Thursdays and Sundays as rest days. If you still want to train five days per week and your rest days don’t line up with that you can adjust it in a variety of ways. Here are two examples:
5 days in a row of training with two days off. This might be an example for someone who need their weekends free from training.
Mon-Fri ON, Sat/Sun Rest/recover
1 day on - 1 day off - 4 days on - 1 day off. This might be for someone on shift work.
Fri/Sun OFF, Mon-Thu/Sat ON
Tue/Thu OFF, Fri-Mon/Wed ON
You can adjust however you’d like. If you are going to adjust, be mindful of a couple things:
1- Reporting results will be a bit different for you. The people following the work/rest layout of the program will open the program in the morning and do the program for that day and post on the same day. You might be doing a training day later in the week before it has posted as a page. So report results on the appropriate day even if it’s a couple days later. We are notified of comments on all the pages so we will still be able to respond and pay attention to your results.
2- Performing 5 straight days or 4 straight days is more than the rest of the community. I use the training results and adjust training relative to how the group responds. I advise you to go to the video library and watch the videos on “deloading” just in the event you can’t sustain the training intensity and need to adjust it. This goes for people following the program as written as well, but I figured it is worth reiterating to this group specifically.
What is Tempo?
Tempo prescriptions will come in a series of four numbers representing the times in which it should take to complete four stages of the prescribed movement. In your program, the tempo prescription will follow the assigned movement, such as:
Back Squat @ 31x1 tempo; 5 reps x 5 sets; rest 3 min bw sets
The First Number – The first number refers to the lowering/eccentric phase of the lift. Using the example above, the ‘3’ will represent the amount of time, in seconds, that it should take you to descend to the bottom of the squat. It is important to note that the first number will always refer to the lowering phase of the movement, even if the movement begins with the ascending portion, such as a pull-up or ring row.
The Second Number – The second number refers to the amount of time spent in the bottom position of the movement, the point at which you are static before transitioning between the eccentric and concentric portion of the movement. In the Back Squat example above, the ‘1’ means that the athlete should pause for 1 second at the bottom of the Squat before beginning their ascent.
The Third Number – The third number refers to ascending/concentric phase of the lift – in our example the time it should take you to get from the bottom of the squat back to the top. The ‘X’ in our above example signifies the athlete to ‘explode’ out of the bottom back to the top of the lift. Of course, there will be times where the athlete may not be moving fast, but it is the ‘intent’ to move at maximal speed that counts. In another example let’s say the tempo read Back Squat @ 3121, then the athlete would take 2 seconds to return to the top. *Along with ‘X’, you may also see other letters used for the third number: ‘A’ (stands for assisted in eccentric training), or ‘J’ (stands for jump, which is typically used for eccentric only pull ups).
The Fourth Number – The fourth number refers to how long the athlete should pause at the top of the lift. In our Back Squat example that would mean the athlete should pause for 1 second before moving into the next rep. Let’s say, though, that our prescription was as follows: Pull-up @ 21x2 tempo. This would mean that the athlete would then pause for 2 seconds above the pull-up before descending on a 2 second count back to the bottom of the lift.
How should I scale workouts?
There are two major reasons that we recommend scaling adjustments:
1- You are unable to perform the weight listed for a specific movement.
Solution: Lower the weight to a load that you can execute the movement with technical proficiency so that you can safely try to get the 'intention' of that training session.
2- There is a movement that is beyond your specific skill set. (example: handstand walk)
Solution: Ask a question in the comments of that training session as early in the week as you can so a TTT coach can provide alternatives to help you select a movement that gets a training response similar to what was intended for the training group.
Remember if you are 'scaling' something in a competitors program that is a skill that you should aim to cultivate and develop since the movements and loads are those that will be prescribed in competitive environments. If you have a major weakness and need additional work on any specific movement, remember you can always hire a TTT coach in a consulting format or as a coach to help you refine that specific skill before coming back to the competitors program.
What is A/B/C versus A1/A2/A3…?
Below are two program examples to help you better understand how to move through your program design.
A. Squat Clean; 5 singles @ 83%; rest 2min
B. Back Squat; 5x5; rest 2min
C. Russian Step-ups; 8-10 reps/leg x 3 sets; rest 1min bw legs
In this example you move through exercise ‘A’ at the prescribed tempo, for the prescribed number reps, you then rest for the prescribed amount of time after the set is completed. For the example above that would mean you do one squat clean, then rest exactly 2 minutes before doing your second single. Once you have completed all of part ‘A’, you then will move on to part ‘B’. As you did for part ‘A’, you will move through part B at the prescribed tempo, for the prescribed number of reps, then rest for the prescribed time until you have completed all of your sets before moving on to part ‘C’. You would continue to move through the workout in this pattern until all part have been completed.
A1. Close Grip Bench Press; 4 sets x 12 reps; rest 1min
A2. Strict TTB; 4 sets x 12 reps; rest 2min
B1. Weighted Vest Ring Row; 4 sets x 8-10 reps; rest 90 seconds
B2. Ring Dips, 4 sets x 12-15 reps, rest 90 seconds
In our second example the athlete should move through exercise A1 at the prescribed tempo (if one is given), for the prescribed number of reps - in our case that would mean the athlete would do 12 reps of close grip bench without a tempo. The athlete then would rest for the prescribed time given, which would be exactly 1 minute. After the athlete has completed his/her 1 minute rest they should move on to ‘A2’, which in our example would mean they should do 10 strict Toes to Bar. Once they have completed 10 strict TTB, the athlete will then rest 2min before preceding back to A1. They will go through this sequence until they have completed the required number of sets for part ‘A’. Once the athlete has completed all 4 sets of part ‘A’ they will then move on to part ‘B’ and follow the prescribed tempo/reps/sets/order.
*Keep in mind that this style of workout could look like this with a variety of groupings: A1/A2/A3/A4 and so on. Nothing will change for the athlete, they should simply follow the prescribed design in the manner above.
What are reps and sets?
A rep is the number of times you perform a specific exercise, and a set is the number of cycles of reps that you complete. In our design we will always write the reps first, then the sets. In the example above you will notice that the design calls for the athlete to do 4-5 reps for 5 total sets with a 3min break between sets. So, the athlete would complete 4-5 back squat reps, rest 3 minutes, then complete another 5 reps until they have completed all 5 sets.
What does a ‘+’ sign mean in the workout?
Power clean; build to a ‘tough’ single in 10 minutes
In our designs, a ‘+’ means “rest as needed”. In the above example, you should build to a tough power clean single in a 10 minute time frame, then, once you have completed part ‘A’, you can rest as needed to prepare yourself for the upcoming piece in your design. This time is built into your design so that you can properly warm-up for the next portion of your workout. Almost always, you should dedicate this time to a specific warm-up that will help you properly prepare for the next part of your training session. It is important to note that there may be times where you are not feeling at your best, whether you are hungry, need a nap, or just need to take a break, the ‘+’ indicates that it is okay to take extra time to do that before beginning the designated design after the ‘+’. With that said, if you have more sessions to do later in the day, you need to ensure that you are still getting adequate rest between AM/PM sessions, which we will discuss in a later question.
*One important note: If you see a ‘+’ sign between endurance training, your rest break should not last longer than 10-15 min. For example, let’s say your coach programs:
1k Row @ 30min TT pace
rest 30 seconds
1k Skierg @ 30min TT pace
rest 30 seconds
In this case, you should only rest to recovery (10-15min) before moving on to the next part in the prescription. In other words, you should not separate energy system prescriptions by long breaks or putting them into two separate sessions throughout the day. Ensure that you plan ahead so that you have adequate time to complete both pieces in the same session.What are reps and sets?
If I follow the SANCTIONAL path, how long should I wait between my sessions?
If you have multiple sessions throughout the day ideally you are completing your first session, cooling down, refueling and resting to recovery before starting your next session. Typically this should be at least 2-3 hours between triple day sessions or 4-6 hours between double sessions.
In between sessions is a great opportunity to get the proper nutrition into your body to re-fuel and take care of the minor aches and pains that may come with training so that you can continually optimize your performance. We understand that sometimes you do not have this many hours before you can start you next session, so in those instances, be sure to plan ahead so you can get as much down time as possible in between sessions to ensure you are getting the most out of each session. The goal of this rest period is to allow your intensity and focus to be as high as possible without too much influence from the fatigue of an earlier workout.
How much should I be sleeping?
Most likely the simple answer to this question is: MORE THAN YOU ARE SLEEPING NOW.
In multiple research studies, it has been shown that quality sleep for longer periods lead to better athletic performance. Most athletes are serious about their training and even more serious about their nutrition, but completely neglect their sleep cycles. Getting the proper amount of sleep is essential to your athletic performance by allowing you to properly recover from tough training bouts. The recommended amount of sleep for the normal population is typically 7-8 hours (keep in mind this is for someone that is not physically active). Those on a serious training regimen (anyone reading this) should be sleeping AT LEAST 8 hours a night, with a huge emphasis on AT LEAST. We highly recommend that you accumulate 9+ hours of sleep throughout your day so that you are properly recovering from bouts of tough training.
Link to sleep study for athletic performance: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21731144
*Side Note: naps can be a valuable way to improve your recovery. Napping just 15min can result in an improvement in nervous system function and naps of 60min + can contribute to your total sleeping hours for the day. Keep in mind that naps are not a substitute for sleeping at night, but can be a great way to aid in recovery and can be VERY beneficial for those with multiple training sessions.
How should I better manage my stress?
Stress can be a difficult hurdle to overcome. Learning how to properly manage your stress is a vital part of your training and overall health. Below are a few recommended resources that can help you learn how to properly manage and overcome stress in your life.
A- Meditation resources:
Meditation can be a great way to ease your stress and lower anxiety levels. Below are a few examples of meditation practices that you can try:
Guided meditation: Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.
Mantra meditation: In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts. Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment.
Mindfulness meditation: In this type of meditation, you broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions, but let them pass without judgment.
Feel Free to check out these, and other great meditation resources at the link below: https://www.dartmouth.edu/~healthed/relax/downloads.html
As well, for continued education purposes, the following is a list of recommended books that give insight into managing stress:
The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive
Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most
Elite Minds: Creating the Competitive Advantage
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
How should I track my heart rate?
There will be workouts written with heart rate prescriptions throughout the competitors program. We recommend using a reliable HR monitor that will track it for you doing your workouts. Below are a few links to some of our most recommended HR monitors. They are a valuable resource and worthwhile for your training. If you have the resources, buy one or borrow one from a training partner for sessions that require heart rate metrics.
Polar H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor: http://www.amazon.com/Polar-Sensor-BLE-BLK-M-XXL/dp/B007S088F4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445202957&sr=8-1&keywords=polar+hr+monitor
What does a certain % effort on a workout mean? (i.e. 80% effort)
Often times we will prescribed a certain percentage of effort for a training session. For example, the competitor design may say:
3 sets @ 80% effort:
15 Kettle Bell Swings
45 Double Unders
If this is the case, you are expected to guide your session by perceived exertion throughout the set. 80% does not mean 80% of the time it would take you to do the set at max effort, instead it is a simple guideline on what your perceived exertion level should be at. This can vary greatly between trained and untrained athletes and your 80% effort will continually change as you progress in your training design. Learning how to properly pace workouts and knowing how to stick to different percentage efforts is invaluable for the fitness athlete and will become an important part of your training. Over time we will adjust your percentages so that you are getting the proper training stimulus.
What is a ‘tough single’ versus a 1rm?
You may see a prescription in the program that asks you to do a “tough” single. Because people competing in CrossFit need to train a variety of skills, it is not always a good idea to test to the limits of one's capacity in training. We aim to hit heavy loads in training and push up training pr's, but ultimately we are aiming for longevity of training so that you can continue to attend competitions.
We feel it is best to think of your 1RM as your absolute best lift for the movement prescribed. Whereas a ‘tough’ single for the day is going to be based on how you feel during THAT training session.
So, if you have a prescription of a ‘tough single’ snatch in your training session, you can use your 1RM for the snatch to help guide your approach. For example, let's say your max is 225lbs. So, as an athlete you should know that as you build up, you are not aiming to hit 225#. Instead, based on how recovered you feel, the intensity of the rest of the session, what you did the day before, you should work up to something that will create a tough training stress without putting your body at unnecessary injury risk.
In other words, if I work up to 210lbs and miss the lift and I feel slow and sloppy, I may call it for the day instead of repeating the lift for 5 attempts just to tie my PR.
Note: A ‘tough’ single can sometimes be a PR attempt if you are feeling like the hulk that day and each attempt feels good leading up to that attempt, don't limit yourself by knowing it is a 'tough single' day, we just want you to understand that striving for training pr's is not always the best long term approach.
How do I select weights in a bracket for strength training? (ie 6-8 reps)
When using a rep bracket the weight selected should enable the athlete to complete the prescribed number of reps. As an example, if the session is written:
6-8 reps x4; rest 2 min
In the example above, if you can can only complete 5 reps the weight is too heavy and if you can complete more than 8 reps the weight is too light. The goal of the session should be to hit the highest rep range with maximal intensity. Let’s say, for example, you did your first set at 225lbs and you completed 8 reps, but the 8 reps was extremely tough; Then, on the next set, you could only complete 7 reps. Most likely this is the ideal weight selection for the rep bracket so long as you can complete your last two sets within the 6-8 rep bracket that was prescribed to you.
What does 2.2.2x3 mean?
What is a “cluster”?
When the reps are split up by periods, we call this type of set format a cluster. Cluster training utilizes short, inter-set rest periods to allow the athlete to do more reps with a heavier load than what they would typically use for straight sets with the same volume. If the example is:
Back squat; 2.2.2x3; rest 20 sec/rest 2 min
Following this example; you should perform 2 back squats, rest 20 seconds, then do another 2 back squats, rest another 20 seconds, then do 2 more back squats to complete your 1st set. Once you have completed your first set you will then rest 2 minutes before starting your 2nd set where you will follow the same rep scheme and rest breaks as prescribed above. The built in rest breaks should allow you to lift a heavier load than if your coach prescribed 6 reps x 4 sets of back squats.