I’ve recently seen an uptick on social media about people discussing the need for individualized programming as opposed to group programming. Everyone that advocates for this neglects to mention one key aspect of whether or not you should do it. IF you are preparing for a specialist event, then there’s a POSSIBILITY you should take part in some individualized programming. What’s a specialist event? In my opinion, the only real event that should be treated as a specialist is a powerlifting competition. If you’re planning on entering a powerlifting competition and you have aspirations of being competitive in it, you should probably abstain from general physical preparedness programming. The strength required to be competitive in powerlifting can only be acquired through rigorous hours of solely lifting heavy weights. You don’t need to be doing double unders. You need to spend virtually all your time under a barbell. Most of us are not interested in becoming powerlifters.
In order to be a competitive powerlifter you have to skew your fitness so far to one end of the spectrum that basic rudimentary conditioning tests become nearly impossible. If you have a 1000-pound deadlift, it is HIGHLY unlikely that you can walk a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. The same thing goes for the other end of the spectrum. If you want to be a competitive marathon runner, you need to be running SO MUCH that a bodyweight deadlift is a serious strain.
The problem with arguing with a premise you didn’t establish is you subject yourself to the logic of your opposition. When I see these discussions on social media about “why no one should be doing group programming,” I just roll my eyes. The person offering up the viewpoint is operating under the guise that we ALL want to be a specialist. CrossFit has NEVER claimed to be the program of the specialist. The CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide calls the CrossFit methodology a GENERAL physical preparedness program.
We claim to be the jack of all trades. We don’t want a 1000-pound deadlift or a 2-hour marathon. At least I know I don’t. I want a 500-pound deadlift and the ability to run a marathon without stopping. If your goal is to be FIT, and again, we have to agree on what fitness is, then there is no better program than CrossFit. Fitness is work capacity across broad times and modal domains. What does that mean in plain English? It means being able to complete work efficiently across any time or modality. You have to be good at everything, not just GREAT at one thing.
I’m not saying it’s bad to be GREAT at just one thing. If that’s what you want to do, then by all means go for it. You just have to be willing to sacrifice a certain aspect of your physical skills to get there. The elite powerlifter or weightlifter likely does not have any cardio respiratory endurance or stamina. The elite marathon runner may have less any strength or flexibility. Do we all have weaknesses that we can spend extra time working on? Sure, and if you have something in mind, just let us know and we can work on it. There’s a difference though between targeting a weakness and working on it in personal training sessions versus biasing an entire program. A bias pushes you towards specialization. A bias is a direct deviation from things we aren’t good at. A target of weakness makes you more whole. So, if you want to be good at a lot of things but not great at anything then I’ll see you ready to hit tomorrow’s WOD.