Local CrossFit Competition Programmers: Your Strength Events Suck

Local CrossFit competitions are not The CrossFit Games, and I understand that. What I will never understand, is where in the hell these folks come up with some of these complexes. If you are one of the programmers out there throwing one-reps in your comps - kudos to you. Go spread the gospel to some of these goofs elsewhere. -SW

 

Christian Hines of CrossFit Sua Sponte, Raleigh, NC - hitting a backflip celebration after hitting this smooth complex PR - oh wait, nobody celebrates like this after hitting a 12 rep PR.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the time you spend every year putting on your annual CrossFit competition. You help thousands of athletes every year be able to experience the joys of competing, gain all the valuable knowledge about themselves that competing brings us - and most of us know how much work goes into these events. So again, thank you.

One thing I would like to ask you about, respectfully of course, because of how much time you spent on the event - what in the holy fuck were you thinking about when you programmed your “strength” event?

 Malachi Bennett during the 1rm snatch event at the 2017 Turkey Challenge at MBS CrossFit

Malachi Bennett during the 1rm snatch event at the 2017 Turkey Challenge at MBS CrossFit

I have competed in 37 CrossFit competitions. I’m sure there are thousands of people who would laugh at that number, while others may see it as large. What it is, is a number that shows you I have at least a decent amount of experience with local CrossFit competitions. I am by no means a great athlete or CrossFitter, just an older dad who likes to spend the occasional weekend exercising for time. I would say about 15 of those events, as well as another dozen I have attended over the years, featured what my friends and I now refer to as “Creative Strength Programming,”

 Brooke Austin celebrates a PR at the buzzer during the 2018 Wyoming Open at CrossFit Frontier. August 2018.

Brooke Austin celebrates a PR at the buzzer during the 2018 Wyoming Open at CrossFit Frontier. August 2018.

"Creative Strength Programming" is when you, the organizer or person in charge of programming the events, decides that what the people really want to see, and what the athletes really want to do, is a weird, confusing, high-rep complex, rather than a one rep max. One programmer who decided that instead of a one-rep max clean, he would make athletes perform an L-Sit for max time, then clean, but only two attempts, with a miss counting as zero, told me he would “never program a straight one-rep max” for his event. Cool, I’ll pass on coming to watch amazing athletes forced to play it safe and lift less weight. I’ll be across town at the comp with a 1rm snatch event - because it will be far more enjoyable to watch.

Two weekends ago, I attended a competition in Fort Collins, CO. The “strength” event was:

  • 1 hang power clean
  • 1 hang squat clean
  • 1 front squat
  • 2 shoulder to overheads

On it’s own that is a six-rep complex for a strength event. That’s cardio bruh. Nobody wants to watch strong athletes struggling to stand up 185 pounds. It’s fuckin' boring. Further more - this event wasn’t simply one time through - it was THREE TIMES THROUGH WITHOUT DROPPING THE BAR! Athletes were getting confused by the third round, skipping movements, with a few failing the final jerk at 175 pounds, after 17 reps - for a no rep. It was by the far the silliest event I have ever seen programmed at a local event - but it does not stand alone when it comes to the concept and thinking behind these events.

 Seth Waggener during the 1rm Snatch event at 2017 Tuff Love at CrossFit Sanitas. Photo: Scott Brayshaw.

Seth Waggener during the 1rm Snatch event at 2017 Tuff Love at CrossFit Sanitas. Photo: Scott Brayshaw.

There is a reason we don’t see these type of events at The Games. Mostly because they are boring - and people want to see big weight getting thrown up, PR celebrations. How many times have you watched someone stand up their 18 rep “silly fuckery” complex PR and the crowd went crazy? Yeah, me neither.

You want to test the athletes - you want to see them perform under stress, under fatigue - fine, do a ladder. Run a sprint event before the 1rm with a set remaining time to establish a 1rm like the Open does sometimes. Running strength events that are actually just cardio, doesn’t test across different domains. You are seeing endurance, ability to perform high reps - just skip the strength event and run another metcon if you are gonna throw 18 reps at someone. Hell, you are only 12 reps shy of Grace or Isabel.

Your “creativity” is harming your event, is not creative at all, is boring and in some cases, if it’s above 6 reps or so, potentially dangerous to the athletes.

Take pleasure in knowing you have one less event to program for your competition next year. Just throw a 1rm snatch, clean, clean and jerk, whatever - give the people what they want. We want to watch guys and girls clout chasing out there - not doing some high rep, low weight foolishness that would be better off left to crowd at Curves or Planet Fitness.

I look forward to attending your event next year, and screaming encouragement to all the athletes as they fight to stand up 1rm PR’s. Please note in your event announcement next year if you will be creatively programming your strength events, so I can plan to get a haircut or run errands that weekend - because either would be infinitely more entertaining than your competition.

Sincerely,

Seth Waggener

 

P.S. Hire a decent DJ. Your cousin’s playlist sucks, doesn’t have any lit bangers on it, and if I have to snatch for load to Evanescence one more time, I might go to his job at 24/7 Heating and Cooling and either smack him in the face or steal his phone and just download my playlist to it so we can throw some weight around to 6ix9ine.