Building Blocks for Strength and Fitness

Here at ION Strength and Conditioning our CrossFit programme follows a block periodisation structure. Meaning that every 6-8 weeks we identify a few core goals and targets for our members and design our training specifically to meet those targets, building on the work done previously. Each one of these 6-8 week segments is called a block.

Every CrossFit gym is different in how they programme and that’s part of the beauty, there is a great variety in ways to make people better, and we’re not saying our is the only way. However, in our experience the way we layout the programmeming has had great results that have far surpassed other formats that we have tried, or been involved in, in the past.

Our ‘Blocks’ often have 2-3 lifts and skills that will be targeted throughout that particular period in an attempt to improve either strength, power or proficiency of movement. For example in our current block we are concentrating on back squats, power cleans and strict press. In our last block over 80% of our members managed to get a new PB in their deadlift, with this new found strength we are now building on our power cleans to harness that strength and improve our power, the next block will see us bring in some power snatches (same principle as the cleans) but also squat cleans, so we are building on the ability generated in the current block to pull from the floor and then looking to improve our technique on a more technical lift having ensured that there has been plenty of time spent developing the required strength to develop the skill safely.

This doesn’t mean we neglect our conditioning in favour of strength work, far from it. We base our conditioning around the strength work and use this as accessory to the lift, the workouts are constantly varied but will carry a theme – for example we will often do wall balls, lunges, thrusters, air squats, KB swings or other lower body movements on squat days. This allows us to attack certain muscle groups and rest them on certain days to ensure the best adaption to training. We vary our conditioning sessions across broad time and modal domains, but regularly test with benchmark workouts to see how we are progressing as a gym and what areas need the most work. We retest CrossFit Open workouts, CrossFit benchmark workouts and have written several of our own benchmark tests all of which provide us with data we need to see where the focus needs to shift to ensure we stay as well rounded and fit as possible.

As we are getting to a point where we are implementing a waiting list to join the CrossFit programme we are in a very fortunate position where we can try and develop the entire gym and progress from block to block without having to worry too much about turnover of members impacting on the classes. This way we can periodise our strength work to ensure the best possible results.

 2017 So Far

In the two blocks we have done in 2017 so far we have seen some tremendous results, with over 160 PBs in each block!

Here are the stats:

Block 1 Results:

  • Fran – 10 PBS + 6 people RXing for the 1st time
  • Grace – 6 PBs + 5 RXing for the 1st time
  • ElizaHOG ( ION Benchmark) – 7 PBs + 8 people RXing for the 1st time
  • Helen – 8 PBs + 4 people RXing for the 1st time
  • Back Squat – 38 PBs
  • Push Press – 37 New 1RMs + 27 New 5RMs
  • Power Clean – 23 PBs
  • Hang Power Clean – 8 PBs
  • Front Squat – 34 PBs

Block 2 Results:

  • ElizaHOG (Ion Benchmark) – 8 PBs + 5 people RXing for the 1st time
  • Grace – 14 PBs + 4 people RXing for the 1st time
  • Helen – 5 PBs + 6 people RXing for the 1st time
  • Fran – 5 PBs + 5 people RXing for the 1st time
  • Front Squat – 39 PBs
  • Deadlift – 56 PBs
  • Bench Press – 40 PBs

Trust The Programme

Obviously we are thrilled with the progress we have shown as a box over the last year and the first few months of this year, but it’s not all about high 5’s and patting each other on the back for a new PB. I’ve seen a few people starting to shrug off hitting a new personal best because it was “only 2.5kg” or they wanted more, think of things in the long term. We have 8 blocks programmed in a year, if you can add just 2kg per block on your squat, or press, or you can knock off 2s off your benchmark workouts then by the end of the year you’re staring down the barrel of over 15kg worth of progress – I know lots of people who train incredibly hard that won’t put 15kg on their back squat in a year, and even fewer would consistently knock 15s off their Fran time. So, next time you hit a new PB don’t be disappointed you didn’t get more, just think of how far you’ve come and how far you are going to go. Every tiny bit of progress is a step in the right direction.

It’s been so great to see how well you’ve all done so far this and we look forward to building on these great foundations in Block 3!


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