There are three main tenets of CrossFit’s program. The definition of CrossFit is: constantly varied, functional movements at high intensity. Functional movements all these years later still gets mistaken by those outside the community and even some inside it. Intensity is also tough to explain especially to those that are not in the community. But, variance was supposed to always be the easiest one. It was supposed to be the one everyone understood, no explanation needed. Well, recently I’ve heard more and more people get confused by variance and what real variance is. The method behind the madness of our programming is NOT random. Variance takes careful planning and thought. Random is throwing things at a wall and seeing what sticks.
At the CrossFit Level 1 seminar, one of the early models for fitness is explained to the attendees. The hopper model. Basically this idea that you can write down any physical task down on a piece of paper, the more the better, and put them in a bin and crank the wheel and mix them all up; a la a lottery ball being drawn. Pull a pre-agreed number of tasks out. Line up the participants and have them perform the tasks. He or she who performed best on average of these RANDOM tasks drawn would be considered the fittest. This is made clear to us at the seminar that this is a great TEST of fitness but it is NOT a great way to create a strength and conditioning program. The reason being is because random can create overlap. It is altogether possible that two people can write down the same task. Repeating a task over and over will create adaptation, yes, but it also means you’re spending less time doing something you aren’t great at. Every athlete, no matter who, will fail at the margins of their experience.
Variance on the other hand requires a constant look back at what’s been done and even more important what NEEDS to be done in the future. Does variance mean the same movement might be used again? Sure. But, the way in which it is delivered will be a new stimulus altogether. It’s one thing to do a 5k run. It’s a completely different thing to run 400m after having deadlift 185# for 21 reps.
Variance does not mean you won’t perform the same movement twice or even 3 times in one week. It means you will always be provided with a different stimulus than the day before.
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