One of the most basic concepts of CrossFit is the idea of mechanics, consistency intensity. Simply put, learning the correct movements, practicing them regularly and then pushing power output. The step by step process of learning a movement and practicing it enough to move large loads, long distances quickly is the art underlying the fantastic results people get from the program. It is also a place where people can go wrong. Create a systematic approach to learning movements are of paramount importance to success.
We tend to be pretty big on definition. One of the operative words in the last paragraph is "enough." Here is the part of a sticky wicket. The legal profession tosses around the concept of "reasonable man" though no one has met one. We tend to think getting to prescribed weight is the ultimate goal. A different way of thinking about it is to be strong enough to use prescribed weight and the mechanics to do it well. The real art in the training is getting people to move well enough and fast enough. How is that done? What is enough?
Each affiliate has a different method of bringing new people on board. Some do 3 sessions to get people ready, others use one month programs, others still have special classes after people join other still just throw people into classes. It really comes down to how much is enough for the individual. Getting to know someone takes time. Understanding their strengths and weakness, evaluating what needs to be emphasized and taking the appropriate steps help that person overcome their performance shortcomings.
Indoctrination (INDOC): The concept. There are several major rolls that indoctrination provides. First and for most – It is an opportunity to ease people into learning movement and scaling intensity. Many people who come to us think that barbells are used for curling, kettlebells are vinyl encased things some TV celebrity used to tone her ass with, and television is how you pass the time while you are in your fat loss zone. The initial meeting is to understand the new person and explain what we do, why we do it, and let them experience a small dose. The initial screening allows people an opportunity to make a good buying decision. In our heart of hearts we know that we can help anyone get fitter – just not everyone is willing to invest the effort into getting the results they said they wanted. Some people will not make the commitment to training to the level we provide – it is a way of identifying people who will and will not fit into our culture.
Another aspect of an intro session is it lets us see people move for the first time. The intro session is essentially a scaled down mock class. We take people through a warm up, a basic skill set, the baseline assessment and then cool down. It gives the person a chance to understand how things work in terms of the flow of the class and the intensity level of the training. It is an opportunity for the new person to understand that coaching movement is about. At this point of the intro process people may choose to join or not. They have been exposed to the culture of performance based fitness and they have and idea of what that culture looks and feels like. They can decide if it is for them or not.
Teaching and reteaching movement is the cornerstone for us in ensuring good mechanics. We use 10 half hour training sessions to build a foundation of good movement. We have the new person come in 15-20 minutes of before their session is supposed to start and do a warm-up consisting of rowing and squatting drills. The culture of personal responsibility begins by placing expectations of performance by having them do their own warm up. It isn't done in a vacuum, we often coach people up some it they are deviating from the points of performance. When someone is in our building, they should expect to be coached.
The sessions are barbell complexes with a workout at the end that reinforces the movements learned during the session and builds a base of conditioning. Baby steps. The vast majority of people who INDOC with us fit into this mold. Most problems come from the tails – the super fit coming in and the very deconditioned. Either case it the discretion of the coach to decide what is right for those people in terms of load and intensity. Each session builds on the next and reinforces the good movement. Many times we video the new person so they can see what they are doing and understand the corrections we are recommending. The commitment to doing things right is engrained in the people throughout the sessions. Doing things right is a part of our culture.
We rotate trainers through the sessions so that each new person gets an opportunity meet and train with our staff and our staff become familiar with the capabilities of our people. Each trainer has their unique wrinkle and cues on teaching the movements so the new person gets a chance to benefit from a slightly different point of view. Think of it as residency – exposure to different disciplines to broaden and deepen the new person's base of knowledge.
The final concepts of INDOC: The INDOC series gets people up to speed and a basic level of exposure to the movements so when they integrate into classes, they have the skill sets do the class. We changed to this method of bringing people on board about two years ago. The impact is profound. The clients who have gone through this process move better and have a deep understanding of what they are doing and why.
Post INDOC – Commitment: Regular training. Exposure to good movement. Including movement based warms up is not new. The question is how much and how often to include them in training. Consider complex/high skill movements being added to workouts. How often does a snatch come up? Probably not often enough for someone to be "good" at it without spending time working on the movement. Including planned exposure to various component – skill transfer – snatch balance for example – provides some skill in developing the snatch, overhead squat, balance in the bottom, and overall awareness of body position. Planning exposure to stimulus – if you are going to do a short couplet as part of your training, then spend an extended time working on various skills. Especially if you know you are going to see that skill in regular programming soon. Include group movement drills – command oriented and organized skill sets are part of warm up. Specific skill workout for technique driven movements (Snatch and Clean and Jerk). Maybe one rep every minute on the minute for 20 minutes to give people a chance to work on skill and give the coaches an opportunity to provide feedback between reps.
Have a plan and teach people to move better, slowly raise intensity over time, expose people to skills that reinforce movement.