Why an individualistic approach to training should be considered

Gepubliceerd op 9 mei 2020 om 11:09

General physical skills


CrossFit aims to increase overall capacity in all of the 10 general physical skills which are.

Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, 

Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, Accuracy. 


You can see that there are a lot of skills that need training in order to consider a CrossFit program to be balanced out. So let’s say a person does follow a program that is precisely accurate in balancing out these 10 skills. That would mean that an individual who most likely possesses an imbalance in these 10 skills, gets a program that trains all of these skills simultaneously. That would mean that you are just building on top of imbalances, while you are only as strong as your weakest link.


Training age


So what if you have 2 individuals who are both considered ¨well balanced¨ across these 10 skills? Should they both do the same stuff? 

Well, let’s say we visualized their competency in these physical skills. Rating their competency on a scale from 0 to 10.


Athlete A: Scores an 8 at every skill and has been doing CrossFit for about 7 years

Athlete B: Scores a 2 at every skill and has been doing CrossFit for about 5 months


You can see the difference right? Where athlete A would do difficult contractions under different intensities. Athlete B is just starting out his CrossFit journey and still learning a bunch of new stuff. Where athlete A would do a workout with snatches and ring muscle-ups, athlete B would probably do deadlifts and strict pull-ups.


So training age is an important piece to consider when putting a program together. Athlete A would probably be bored with the training of athlete B whereas athlete B is quite likely, not able to complete the training of athlete A or he does it with major compensations. Where athlete A is busy with gaining structural balance, athlete B should just focus on gaining enough motor control to effectively do the movements inside the WODs.




Athlete A could be a competitive athlete who is just a month away from competition, while athlete B wants to participate in his first competition in 11 months. The phases they are in are completely different. Athlete A finds himself in the pre-competition phase, athlete B 

finds himself in the accumulation phase. 


This means that, according to periodization principles. Athlete A should do: low -volume/high-intensity work, whereas athlete B should do the exact opposite: high- volume/low-intensity.


So if they do exactly the same program, one will not reap the optimal benefits to build op to a competition phase.


Goals and function


For training to be considered ´functional´ it should endeavor to improve the function of an individual. To determine the function, we must look at the priorities, daily activities, work, etc. ´Functional´ training should orient training based on these things as it would make them better at their function, hence functional training. This data can change the direction of a program tremendously as an individual who trains just for health should not train as an individual who wants to win the CrossFit games.


Training history


Some people have never done another sport than CrossFit, but most of us probably have a history of doing different sports. This can really impact your training. For me personally, I was (and still are) kind of a sports fanatic, I practiced Judo, basketball, tennis and more. I loved all of these sports, but the problem for me was that I always managed to sprain my ankles. So when I first performed a squat I struggled so much to keep my torso upright. The thing was that due to all these sprains, my ankles got really stiff and pushed my hips back during the squat making me automatically compensate through my torso.


This is just one example of how sports history can impact your training, for me, there was a lot of variance in my sports history but some people could just have one sport before CrossFit. This influences the muscle fiber composition If you have done a lot of sprint types of sports you´ll quite likely develop dominance in type 2 fibers, whereas if you have done a lot of enduring types of activities you are quite likely to develop a lot of type 1 fibers. 


For some sports an imbalance can be useful, think of a sprinter vs a marathoner. But for CrossFit and/or health, it is probably a good thing to balance the type 1´s and type 2´s out as they are both useful.




If you would have two people doing a back squat, there is a chance that one person will create stronger legs whereas the other person will create stronger gluteal muscles. This is caused by differentiation in limb lengths of individuals, creating different leverages when performing exercises. Knowing this, you can see that exercise selection should be carefully thought out and the outcomes should be constantly measured as it could even create posterior/anterior imbalances. 


How to measure? You could try using structural balance principles, make sure that motor control, stability, mobility are not limiting though as it could create unrealistic data.

Daily activity´s


24 hours in a day, which of we spend around 8 on sleeping, 1 or 2 on training, and the rest of those hours are up to you. Daily behaviors can have a big impact on training responses. For example: if one sits behind his office all day where is hip flexor muscles are in a flexed position this will impact the activity in the glutes. Sherrington's law of reciprocal innervation states that if one muscle is shortened the antagonistic muscle relaxes. So throughout the day of that individual, his gluteal muscles are relaxed/deactivated because his hip flexors are shortened. Also, because of his hip flexors being in this shortened position for such a long time, they adapt to it. Due to the hip flexors now being chronically shortened, the gluteal muscles are chronically de-activated. These types of daily behaviors have a big effect on the body´s internal response during training.




Today, a lot of people neglect on individualized training. They think it is not needed, but when we speak of diets, individuals are eager to say that, ´people are different´ and ´what works for him doesn’t necessarily need to work for me´. Why don´t we apply these thoughts to training? Currently, most people who do individualized training have to do it as a prescription of the physio. But what if we could prevent people from going there? Wouldn´t things be a bit better? Think of the negative thoughts people have when they are injured, this could all easily be fixed if we just get to know our weaknesses a bit more and intentionally erase them. Personally I have seen some people get injured from unbalanced training, I myself have had my fair share of injuries. I can tell you that, during these times the motivation and drive to continue are really low. I think a lot of people quit CrossFit due to injuries and that is a pity because the methodology of CrossFit (being good at everything) is something that can be really beneficial for every individual. How to monitor weaknesses is up to the coach, how to act upon it also. There are ways to assess people’s capabilities, based upon this the coach should reconsider the exercise selection.


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