Oct 25
Conscious Coaching - favourite quote

Build a Program – Brick by Brick

You’re looking for that next kick to take your training to the next level. You’ve been working hard at your training, you’ve put in the hours and the effort and reaped the rewards, but perhaps now you need something a little extra? Maybe you’ve signed up for a competition, you’ve had a change in focus, or just want something new. So you go to your coach and explain your situation, you have a little chat about the possibilities and your coach agrees that a little bit of additional programming could be just ticket. A few days later your new program comes through and over the coming weeks you (hopefully) progress above and beyond your previous level of fitness. Everyone is happy and there are no losers in the game of fitness!
But where did your new program come from? What inspired your coach to come up with this very particular combination of movements and repetitions? Maybe you’ve thought about it, maybe you haven’t, either way, I hope that this post will give you a brief insight to how a coach (yours truly) approaches the complex web of program design.

Know Your Goal

You can’t ride two horses with one ass…
Goal. Singular. It is far easier to make progress and see changes when you focus all of your efforts on one goal. It is for this reason CrossFit can be both so frustrating yet so rewarding, with such a broad range of tests.
It is a lot easier for both you and your coach if you know exactly what you want to improve on. Want to attain a strict pull-up? That can be done. Want to improve your 1RM back squat? We can get your squat stronger. Want to improve your 2000m row time? You betcha. Want to achieve all of these at once? Slightly more difficult, but still achievable.
Coaches are not miracle workers, and we don’t have all of the answers all of the time. But you and your coach can achieve near enough anything – as long as you have enough time.

Craig approached me asking for extra help to work on his squatting strength. This was 4 weeks through his program, and he was already seeing fantastic progress. When you commit to a program, magical things can happen!


Time is one of the biggest variables to account for in programming, and it is something that – personally – I try to prioritise when writing. Only professional athletes have the time and resources to train twice a day, six days a week. If an athlete tells me they have 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week, I will ensure that is what they get. With more time, comes more results, the athlete has to be aware of what they can expect with the time they can commit to training. You can make a heck of a lot of progress by taking on a little bit of extra each week. It’s how most athletes begin to increase their volume. The difference is that having more time enables you to progress further or focus on more than one goal.


Once you know your goal, and how much you can give in the pursuit of the said goal, we can then identify what movements are going to form the foundations of your program. You have to be ruthless with exercise selection. If you want to add kilos to your snatch and clean and jerk, we’re going to need to start with the exercises that are central to getting you closer to that goal. Let’s get a hierarchy down:
  • Snatch, clean and jerk
  • Snatch, clean and jerk variations
  • Squats and variations
  • Presses
  • Anything else

This may vary from athlete to athlete, but by and large, this is how it will go. Most of your time will be spent on the exercises in the top groups, the rest of the exercise selection will depend on where weaknesses are and athlete preference.

The main take home from this is that accessory work means accessory work. Just because an exercise looks cool, or your favourite Instagram athlete does it a fair bit, it doesn’t mean that it needs to be the focal point of your training.

Curls are for the girls, but maybe not for adding weight to your back squat. They sure are fun though…


Despite the need for specificity, overload, and good exercise selection. Your program absolutely, positively. Must. Be. Fun. How we define fun will vary from person to person, but whatever it is that makes you tick, gets you in the gym and enjoying yourself. That is what we need to tap in to and nurture. Right now, do you walk into the gym with tangible excitement? Or do you walk in dreading what snooze-fest awaits you?
I only ever walk into the gym intending to enjoy myself and come out the other side feeling a lot more empowered and content than when I entered. You should too.
As the quote from Conscious Coaching in the title says, excellence is self-evident, so is bullshit. If you want to chat about your training ideas, or where a program could take you, I’ve always got time to chat. Drop me a message on Facebook or Instagram, we can talk training, chew the fat, or you can tell me my writing sucks! I’m always happy to help.

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jordan, a 22 year old pharmacy student/CrossFit L1 trainer working at CrossFit Norwich in the UK. I've been coaching for over a year now, I'm always striving to learn more and applying it in the gym, I hope you enjoy reading my musings and thoughts.

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