At CrossFit Crusade, we write programming that encompasses all areas of fitness. In fact, we have each year planned in advance so that our programs follow a pattern. This pattern of progressive overload and linear progression contains workouts we repeat annually to track progress. Each day in our gym has a specific focus to it. If it’s a strength day, we’re lifting heavy. If it’s a metcon day, we will be out of breath from the intensity. On skill days, we will focus on the quality of movement. In this blog, we will dive deeper into what these three different days should look like and why they are in our programming.

Strength Days

“You can’t build strength and endurance at the same time.” This statement from my high school weightlifting coach holds more truth now in my career than ever before. After years of cramming my “strength day” into a 20-minute window of my 60-minute CrossFit class, I realized what he was saying–you can’t expect to get stronger without the focused stimulus of a strength day.

How does this reflect in our programming? It means that on our strength days at CrossFit Crusade, there is no “WOD.” You should give your all to the strength program, including all the accessories to improve your strength, skill, and form. Building strength will also build your foundation in the Nine Foundational CrossFit Movements–doing thrusters is a whole lot easier if you have a strong squat.

Strength days also keep you safe. They act as a chance for your body to turn off one energy system and turn on another. If we are always slamming our heads into the wall doing hard conditioning, we never give our bodies the chance to build back stronger. Last but surely not least, strength days are why you’ll look good naked. Muscle burns fat, and the more lean muscle we can have, the better we will perform and the better we will look.

Metabolic Conditioning Days

Metabolic conditioning, or “Metcon,” means training specifically to improve the efficiency of the body’s intermediate and long-term energy pathways. Metcon workouts are short and intense and use two energy pathways: anaerobic and aerobic energy pathways. Like the premise set earlier with strength days, you must focus on these energy pathways. Otherwise, your fitness will suffer.

We are not looking to go slow and easy. We need intensity on our metcon days to achieve results. Metcon days allow us to do the hard conditioning that isn’t present on strength and skill days. This means that on a metcon day, there is no “strength” portion. The metcon workout (we often call this the WOD) is your chance to push the intensity and your threshold. I love these days because they light a fire in me to go hard. Having the WOD as the sole focus these days also allows me to coach athletes appropriately. It gives us time to go over the movements and warm them up properly so you are primed and ready at 3, 2, 1, Go!

Skill Days

These are few and far between, but they will show up in our programming at CrossFit Crusade. As with strength and metcon days, skill days will be repeated annually to track progress. On skill days, we will take the time to perfect movements that take “synaptic facilitation” or “practice” to do. You cannot muscle your way through a skill movement. A great example of a skill day we will repeat every September is from 2017 on CrossFit.com.

20:00 AMRAP:

30 sec. Handstand Hold

30 sec. Squat Hold

30 sec. L-Sit Hold

30 sec. Chin Over Bar Hold

A workout like this doesn’t contain elements of cardiovascular endurance, strength, power, or speed like the other two days in our program. Instead, it emphasizes balance, flexibility, coordination, and accuracy. These things are only mastered through practice; we must train the body specifically for those functions.

When we mix these three days together, we get an effective and safe CrossFit Training Program. We lose track of our goal as CrossFit athletes when we stray too far into one style. We aim to be good at anything thrown our way, so if we bias ourselves to strength days, we will suffer when a metcon day shows up. Having a specific focus in your daily training sessions will make a world of difference. Focus allows you to put effort into one area of your fitness rather than being spread thin. Our training focus is separated daily for a reason: not overloading your training sessions will make you a better athlete in the long run.

Remember—you can’t build strength and endurance at the same time.