Cherry Picking and Changing Workouts


There’s nothing more frustrating to us then seeing people cherrypick workouts. Something will come up in the WOD and normal attendees will suddenly be no shows, yet post on their Facebook accounts how great a time a time they had at the bar or found some really cool ideas for knitting socks on Pinterest (sidebar: that ranks right up there in the lameness category with folks who cancel their membership for “financial reasons” then take a two week, all inclusive trip to Maui, or post pix of themselves working out at another gym – Jesus, have some decency and tell us the truth – you’re a noncommittal, easy-street wanker or you don’t like us…). Anyhow, here’s the deal, if you suck at it, if it challenges you, if it’s really a heinous mental and physical battle for you, you probably should be doing it.

CrossFit is predicated upon the concept of improving your weaknesses. That can be physical and/or mental. It is a program that is designed to develop a well rounded athlete who is ready for any task. This task may involve various metabolic efforts, muscular efforts, movement patterns and ranges of motions. Most likely the same ones that you suck at today and avoid doing since “it’s hard”. The newsflash is that you WILL not develop fully as an athlete if you don’t expose yourself to these weaknesses, in your head or otherwise, and go after them. Once you conquer something that scares you, you become inoculated to it a little more each time. Soon, the mental stress it gave you is gone and it’s now a matter of using the physical stress to improve your fitness. Yes, workouts are going to suck for a variety reasons, but if you want easy you can find another gym where you wander around aimlessly not knowing what to do and find your pant sizes going back up and fitness declining.

Now, onto the point of changing workouts.

I allow the coaches some discretion in changing workouts to some extent due to weather, scaling, equipment needs, or class sizes, but we will not be changing workouts because the workout looks boring. If you think 400m runs and Max. Push Ups is easy, you are not working hard enough. I do that workout and I am sore for days in the pectorals. When it gets easy, I put a 10 LB bumper plate on my back and do the push ups. How about dropping down some rings and doing ring push ups? Or putting your feet on an elevated box and doing ground based push ups? You ever try that workout with bench press? Damn hard. Yes, you actually can “scale up” and make things harder if you need to, and your movements and form are still intact.


All of our workouts at CFC are programmed over a year in advance. This allows yours truly to assess what we’ve done and where we are going with the workouts. If something is programmed, it’s likely with good reason. The programming is meant to move over and through the body so as not to overtax certain areas that have been stressed in the day(s) prior. In other words, it’s unsafe to randomly pull stuff out like Power Cleans one day, heavy swings the next and then Deadlifts on Friday – see a lower back problem there?

With shoulders and lower backs being the biggest concern for injury at CFC, we work very carefully around them. They get worked and then left to recover a bit. Now I know some of you are thinking, “Well, we seem to still do a lot of squatty/shouldery/abby/backy type stuff in the week!”. Yes, but let’s consider the plane of movement of the motion, the range of motion and the muscles being activated. If done correctly, you will get a “full body” workout over the course of the week and very thorough coverage through the individual training cycle.

This also applies when a “cardio” based workout appears. This is done on purpose to lower and/or change the intensity/stress levels on the body. There is a distinct need for exposure to these type of training modalities. We can’t just lift weights all day and do burpees, something’s gonna give.

There are occasions when a workout gets changed at the 11th hour due to a flaw I’ve seen in it or some other uncontrollable anomaly arises, but that’s relatively rare. Not to say it doesn’t/won’t happen, but it’s not the norm and you should be thankful we recognize that stuff and make the changes to avoid injury or other stupidity from happening. Another concern for changing workouts is that it may entirely throw of the desired time domain as programmed for the week in the current cycle. That means people didn’t get the intended intensity or recovery out of the workout and may have shot their wad for the following days.

Too many people get suckered into CrossFit gyms or dumb programming where they make huge gains by going stupid hard and heavy, with high volume/intensity for every workout, make some great gains and then all of a sudden start dealing with some pretty nasty injuries and/or burnout. Yes, I have seen great competitors develop this way (if they survive themselves), but more than often, they end up tweaked, or the average Joe gets sucked in and damaged. The very few that survive that type of randomized training are genetic freaks with a lot of time on their hands to eat right, do prehab/rehab work, recover and have no pressing outside life commitments. There’s a pretty good chance the other 99.8% of us are not Froning, Khalipa, Briggs, or Thorisdottir. There’s no need to try and break yourself to figure that out.

Anatoly Pisarenko – Lean, mean, fit machine. You think he cherrypicked or did something else not prescribed? (No, we will not be working out in Speedo’s…)

There’s also a reason why all the top strength coaches in the world follow a “progressive” pattern of volume and intensity – it works. That’s what our template is based upon. Slow, steady, methodical increases in intensity, volume and stress with periods of recovery introduced to allow adaptation. This is a long term, life long for some, process of strengthening and conditioning your body, not a 8 week “beach body” program. Don’t forget the adage, “if the Russians are doing it, you probably should too.”

The end story is that if you are one of the said cherry pickers/workout changers, it’s time to stop and suck it up. If you have questions about what we are doing, then by all means ask me (Crazy Ivan) and I will tell you why things are designed a certain way in my kind and thoughtful way. I am constantly considering leaving the WOD blank each day so it truly is unknown and unknowable, but that poses an issue in that our remote followers won’t get the benefit of tried, true, science based strength & conditioning program and I can’t keep track of the workouts properly since the website and programming template are intertwined.

~ Osiris ~
~ Osiris ~

CFC clientele are in good hands. You have great coaches and a very thought-out, science and evidence based program to follow. If you follow it, gains will come at you like you didn’t expect. If you screw around with it and do silly side programs that are poorly designed and incompatible with the everyday client, or cherry pick stuff, you are going to  be stagnating, falling behind or getting injured. You pay good money for programming and direction, now you just need to trust the program and coaching. It boggles me why people want to pay for a membership, then go off and do their own crap thinking they’ve found a better program with no understanding of our template and what we are trying to accomplish. Want more? Need it to be harder? Come see me and I will make sure you get what you’re actually paying for….

Trust yourself in that you can accomplish anything and attack your weaknesses with intensity and consistency. Follow the course and trust your Captain – battles are to be won!

3-2-1… GO!