Why I chose OPT – and am loving the decision so far

Today another trainer at the box I workout at (and coach at) asked my why I chose OPT programming to follow over my own boxes programming or Outlaw or CrossFit.com or any of the numerous other programs available to follow for free. I think this is a damn good question and I wrote entirely too much in response to him on Facebook so I figured I couldn’t let that jumbled mess go to waste on Facebook – sounds like enough of a reason for a blog post to me!

Unfortunately I couldn’t give him a short answer as I have become really enamored with programming. From checking multiple websites everyday to see what they program for no reason other than curiosity, to trying to program for myself for a period of time. The idea of helping someone simply by giving them work intrigues me. The idea of putting together mesocycles with perfection hits the correct part of my brain and makes me want to open an Excel spreadsheet and get to it. This is mostly why I have jumped around so much – too much – in recent months. I find it so interesting and so fun I always want to try something new. I want to find that one program that will not only prevent me from getting fat (most of them are good at this), but will also help me build strength as it just kills me how little I can squat (this is where most fall apart).

The second part of that last sentence above is what has kept me from following the programming at my own box. First, let me say that the owner is amazingly knowledgeable about the human body and its performance. He knows more about what makes an athlete truly an athlete than I will ever know. His hours spent in the gym being an athlete are more than I will accrue from this day forward (and I spend a LOT of time in the gym these days…). However, he is in a corner. Don’t get me wrong – my boxes programming will induce sweat and get the out-of-shape person in-shape and stronger and the vast, vast majority of my box wants that and that only – the perception that the more they sweat the more weight they will lose. By default they are now lifting heavy objects so they will get stronger without knowing it. An 135 pound clean and jerk (typical “RX” weight in CrossFit) is no longer heavy for me so I need to get stronger by lifting more specifically. I had the privilege of programming one month and I had a strength component everyday and so many people complained because “they weren’t sweating”. Now you and I both know that is not totally accurate. Building muscles will burn fat and if you goal is weight loss, that is the better method, coupled with high intensity resistance training. Most folks at my box want sweat and not so many barbells. So be it. Love the members, love the family and we can all have different goals.

I think there comes a time in all CrossFitters lives when “CrossFit” isn’t enough anymore. Constantly varied will only get you so far before you need programming that helps achieve a goal. I don’t like birthday WODs or hero WODs, “deck of cards” etc because that is just randomness – how is that getting me better? I tired to couple my own strength programming along with the programming at my box but it wasn’t having the desired effect. I was cherry picking at times and we KNOW that is a bad idea.

I needed programming from someone who had my goals in mind when they built the programming – strength along with overall “fitness”.

So I went searching – tried Outlaw for a month, tried TFBlack, tried CrossFit.com, etc and I always wanted the “new shiny thing” and never stuck with anything – MY BAD. I probably cost myself lots of development by jumping from program to program (while mixing in some of my own) month to month. I like Oly lifting, but not everyday – so Outlaw was out. I liked TFBlack but it has ceased. NorCal programming, to me, is just a lot of random volume and I don’t have two or three hours to spend in the gym everyday – out. I had been watching OPT for a while and LOVED how he has 4 different programs each day. That, to me, shows some knowledge and specificity that I might need. It just so happened that OPT was starting a new testing phase right about the time I ended a Smolov cycle I had programmed for myself, so I started OPT. I think it has been a month now – about – and I love it. LOVE IT. From a 90 min AMRAP one day to the sprints with specific rest built in, and, of course, the strength portion.

So here I am, following OPT, and that is why. I told a member of my box one day that I have to stick to a program for more than a month to see if I get results – get stronger while not losing my “engine”. That is what I am doing. So much so that I think I will pass on the yearly Murph WOD on Memorial Day. My long term gain is more important than a single WOD on a single day. This article can describe why jumping off program for one day or one activity can derail a week or months worth of work.

Finally, to be honest, I am not sure if I care if OPT brings a lot of real results, the programming is really fun (even with the impending dread of rowing 5k tomorrow). Everyday is different while at the same time there are trends (like every other week having a very similar WOD with a slight change which makes me believe this is all going in a particular direction). From having a 90 minute AMRAP one day to a WOD with six very short (about 1 minute sprints) with about five minutes rest between, it has been fun.

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