CrossFit programming is defined as constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. To some, constantly varied appears to be random but in well-planned programming it is anything but. Lets start by defining some important terms.
constant – occurring continuously over a period of time.
variation – a change or difference in condition, or level, typically with certain limits.
random – made, done, happening, or chosen without method or conscious decision.
Now that we are clear on what the terms mean it should be clear that constantly varied programming is one that uses continuously changing or different workout stimuli. Those stimuli can be exercises, loads, time domains, ranges of motion, etc. The possibilities are truly endless, but by definition of varied stimuli can begin to repeat themselves as well so it becomes important as a Coach to keep an eye on what movement patterns we are hitting, at what time domains, what loads, and what amount of volume so that we don’t overdue any one particular stimulus. That doesn’t mean that we’ll never use the same stimuli back-to-back (remember the back-to-back chest-to-bar pull-ups last week?) but it ensures that we’re aware of it when we do and that we don’t do it too often.
Random programming would be throwing exercises into a hat and then pulling them out, assigning rounds loads and reps without any method and calling it good without any real analysis of how that looks over the course of a week, a month, or a year. This style of programming could setup an athlete to squat seven days straight or maybe not squat at all in a week. It doesn’t take into account what was done the day before and what is programmed the day after. More than likely it would create an athlete who was either injured a lot, very sore all the time, or very imbalanced in their skill set.
Constant variation allows us to build athletes that are more well-rounded and up to any task that life could throw at them at any given moment. It keeps things fresh, athletes humble, and workouts fun and effective. The art of constantly varied programming is keeping just enough of a grip on it that workouts don’t become random and unsafe but free enough that our own biases don’t sneak in and takeover.