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Gant Grimes 06-02-2008 11:02 PM

Hybrid programs
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Several months ago, I had some conversations with Garrett Smith and a few others regarding the potential benefits of increased strength and gymnastics programming and shorter metcons sessions. I embarked on a 12-week project where I was going to do a mixture of gymnastics, Olympic lifting, and slow lifting with limited metabolic conditioning. All metcons were to be kept under 10 minutes, and most of them had a strength-biased. We suspected that 1) strength is the most important aspect of metcon, and 2) excessive metcon is unnecessary and possibly counterproductive.

Going into the project, I was a 33 year old trainee with a little over a year of CF. I was reasonably strong (total in the low 900s) and decently fit (upper quartile in most exercises in logsitall), but nothing special. I had enough ďtime in gradeĒ to test the program without having to worry about skewed results due to the novice effect. In other words, I was a pretty good lab rat.

It didnít take 12 weeks to see results. Within the first month I hit 7 PRs spread across several domains, strength, metcon, and mixed metcon (death by pullup). After 8 weeks, I had a cheat day because Murph came up. Despite only having run about 2.5 miles to date in 2008, and not having done anything over 10 minutes in two months, I ran my first sub-40 Murph. I ďcheatedĒ again two weeks later, setting a 2 round PR in Cindy although I had done very few pushups or air squats in the past weeks.

Over the course of the project, I ate mostly Paleo (I say mostly because I took substantial liberties with dairy, ice cream in particular). In Zone terms, I was probably consuming ~ 26 P, 12 C, 40-50 F. I didnít measure.

I unofficially ended the project last week with PRs in the CFT and deadlift. Over a 10.5 week training period (45 training sessions to be precise), I hit 21 PRs in strength, metcon, and mixed workouts. Several of those broke long-standing PRs. A couple of them broke PRs set during this project.

I am making no conclusions beyond what worked for me. And what worked for me was a blend of strength, power, and gymnastics training with short, intense, and usually heavy metcons. I didnít have to put up with sore joints like I did doing pure strength work, and I didnít have to deal with a fried CNS like I did doing pure CF. Itís a nice blend that kept me interested and focused every training session. I also recovered well (Saturday was an optional training day; I often skipped it, giving me a 4 day training week). Incidentally, I dropped body fat and increased my LBM over the last several months.

I am attaching my results below for those that are interested in this sort of thing. I will also post three templates for hybrid training programs. For more detailed information, look at my training log (linked below) started on March 17.

I will continue to train like this because it has been extremely effective for me. It might work for some of you, too.


[U]PRs @ ~186 lbs BW: [/U]
107.5 kg (236#) power clean
110 kg (242#) split jerk
Fran (4:17)
Grace (3:40)
Death-by-pullup (19 rounds + 7 pullups)
Helen (8:52)
100 kg (220#) hang power clean
Elizabeth (8:25)
305# bench press
120# weighted pullup
77.5 kg (170#) OHS
105 kg (231#) thruster
Murph (38:52)
Fran (4:03)
122.5 kg (269#) front squat
30 MU's (6:16)
Cindy (26 rds + 5 pulls)
82.5 kg (181#) snatch
125 kg (275#) front squat
1019# CrossFit Total
451# deadlift


I will attach three hybrid programming templates (along with commentary) tomorrow (I owe several of you an email; give me another day).

Charlie A Nilsson 06-02-2008 11:45 PM

Re: Hybrid programs
Hmm... looks very interesting :)

Looking forward to the templates, might come in handy for my own programming for the summer.

Nice list of PRs :pepper:

Steven Low 06-02-2008 11:52 PM

Re: Hybrid programs
Great post Gant.

I've always been one of the proponents of higher strength = better applicability to fitness so I think it's great that your results are showing as such. Interesting that it's on a more strength biased program as well.

Hmm, well CF has indeed become a bit more strength biased anyway so we'll see.

Derek Maffett 06-03-2008 12:05 AM

Re: Hybrid programs
Very interested in this.

Ash Sinclair 06-03-2008 05:07 AM

Re: Hybrid programs
Hey Gant,

great post, thanks for sharing mate. I'm very interested to read more about it. I would love to have a crack at this myself :)

Susie Rosenberg 06-03-2008 05:22 AM

Re: Hybrid programs
Gant, I just love reading about your "experiments"---first, your Tabata data, and now this.

You write that this experiment "ended." Do you have another direction in mind?

If nothing else, it shows that gains are made when we vary the demands we put on our bodies. Certainly, that's built into the daily structure of the Crossfit program. I haven't followed the sequence of WODs closely enough over the time I've been around, so I haven't perceived larger cycles imposed upon (emerging from) the WOD sequence.

One thing I do know is that really elite athletes have seasons in which they train to a peak, so there is seasonal periodicity built into their programming.

There are two ways to "go at" Crossfit: as a fitness program in progress is a side benefit, and as a sport in which performance uber alles.

For those folks whose [I]sport[/I] is Crossfit, more attention to seasonal periodicity---larger patterns of training variability----might be useful. I'd be interested if you took on an endurance running or cycling program next!


Benjamin Walsh 06-03-2008 07:39 AM

Re: Hybrid programs
Very interesting. Thank you.

Alexander Kornishev 06-03-2008 08:11 AM

Re: Hybrid programs
I was closely following your log Gant and was amazed at your results (congrats on joining 1000 club!). I was doing something very similar on my side. I started a bit earlier than you and used slightly different combination of heavy lift, gymnastics, Olympic lifts, KB, short metcons and different schedule (I think your schedule is more efficient though). But I can confirm everything you experienced, increased lifts, faster metcons times during long/short WOD (Murph is under 30 min, Fran is under 3 min...). I tried to switch back to Home Page WOD only and progress stopped almost immediately. And finally the most important it is much more fun to workout like that.

Tirzah Harper 06-03-2008 09:00 AM

Re: Hybrid programs
Glad you posted this. I'm taking a month off of longer-than-five-minute metcon per consult with Dr. G (and doing some other things for my adrenal system), and it's good to hear that your metcon capacity increased, not diminished, with a similar pattern that I'll be working on this month.

Ben Moskowitz 06-03-2008 10:21 AM

Re: Hybrid programs
If we subtract endurance and aerobic conditioning from the fitness equation (which it seems like you did) we get...? Just curious, how long were your workouts?

I'm also curious as to how this compares to more focus on speed-strength a la CA WOD.

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