Tommy Tackles Semifinal Programming

May 21, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Torian Pro
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In less than one week we will have live, in-person CrossFit competitions to send individual and teams to the CrossFit Games.

Let that sink in a moment.

A year ago at this very time the Games were in serious Jeopardy, and Sanctional (RIP) events were falling by the wayside faster than Mario Kart characters on Rainbow Road. A year later, instead of the month of June bringing us socio-political turmoil, we’ll be getting a pair of in-person competitions on two continents, live streamed to the world for free. 

So what can we expect from these first two Semifinals considering that under the new season structure, they will be allowed the freedom to program their event? The leadoff position is an important role for this new era of the sport, and getting things off on the right foot with visually appealing tests, and quality event production is a must. 

  • Also consider the virtual events, and the fact that the safe money is on them all having the same or similar programming due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions, so the five events fortunate enough to hold a live competition have a golden opportunity to create a unique and compelling identity from the outset. 
  • I am also intrigued by the notion that by events having control over their program they also effectively get to choose who is their representative to the Games, which gives plenty incentive to make sure their programming is balanced enough to ensure their tributes qualifiers have a good showing at the Fitness Hunger CrossFit Games as validation. 

Both the Torian Pro and Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge have been forthcoming about the presentation and release of their workouts despite taking different paths to the same result of having the full slate revealed a week ahead of time. 

  • Torian released their events one at a time, giving all of us fitness hamsters a nice slow drip of programming to quench our thirst while we wait eagerly in our cages for the start of the show. 
  • MACC dropped everything at once like a raw scoop of preworkout straight to the dome, and now we have the weekend to swallow it all and deal with the impending rush like a Buttery Bros dance montage.

Programming at a glance: Looking at the full slate of workouts for weekend one, I decided to share some initial thoughts and evaluations about each event focusing on the individual programming.

Torian Pro: One thing that I think was factored into the programming that is worthwhile in my humble opinion is the fact that the event is also hosting multiple age group and skill levels, so the elite events have been adjusted to engage a wider range of athletes across the board.

  • Name and number: Seven total events, and a handful of unique names like Hann, Amanda ‘21, and Move It Or Lose It v3. I include names in the analysis because naming conventions become important when creating tests that will hopefully imprint into the minds of the community and become unofficial benchmarks in the future. 
  • Skill: Using the typical weightlifting, monostructural, gymnastics classification the tests include: six weightlifting, six monostructural, five gymnastics. 
  • Time: Looking at the timecaps and format of the seven tests, there is one long endurance event, two events in the 10-15 minutes middle ground sweet spot, a max lift ladder with a performance dependent cap, two sub-seven minute minute shorter tests, and a interval based, variable timecap workout (see: 2223 intervals) that could last as long as 15 minutes or be as short as sub-three minutes if you happen to be an Avenger. 

The verdict: Overall I feel like there is a solid balance here, but despite gymnastics showing up the least of the three classifications, when it does show up it is a heavily featured piece of the puzzle.

  • The muscle-ups in Amanda ‘21, the handstand walk in Hann, burpees over the box in Move It Or Lose It v3, and the chest to bar pullups all feel like the crux of those workouts in their ability to dictate pace and fatigue. 

Not to be overlooked is the format and in totality there is a good mixture of some classic CrossFit couplets and triplets, and a max lift event that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. For an event that was not even a Sanctional prior to this season, they are doing their due diligence as the official kick off to the Semifinal era.

Mid-Atlantic CrossFit Challenge: As a broadcaster, and someone who will be calling this event live, there can never be too much information as far as “the why,” behind what an event decides to do. That is something the MACC has excelled at in providing details around the programming in the weeks leading up. 

  • Name and number: Six total tests, with probably the best collection of names east of the Mississippi. Every workout name has a story and inspiration behind it, and my personal favorites are Triwizard Cup, Inception, and Kratos. Stay tuned for more of the inspiration in the live stream coverage.
  • Skill: Using the same classifications as above the individual programming breaks down to seven weightlifting, three monostructural, and 6 gymnastics. 
  • Time: The breakdown of time domains is interesting here when looking at timecaps, and outside of the max lift that will open the competition, there aren’t any threshold/interval style tests that could wildly vary the time domains from athlete to athlete. The numerical breakdown of timecaps from fastest to slowest goes 5, 12, 15, 18, and 27, so without seeing it translate to the field of play, timewise things are evenly spread out.

The verdict: Despite the balance of skills favoring weightlifting and gymnastics I do feel there is more than meets the eye as far as the big picture of programming is concerned. The inclusion of the rower might have balanced the scales a bit more, but the sled work in the form of the torque tank should be something an athlete that typically makes the rower hum also excels at. 

  • It’s worth noting that structurally you have all the usual suspects — a max lift, a couplet, a triplet, and a chipper — plus a format used for the Inception event that I’d like to call a “deconstructed triplet,” because I watch too much food network and deconstructed is the buzzword of the century. 
  • Including one of the new named workouts is also something I can get behind. Thematically it creates a connection between the elites and the rest of us as a benchmark we’re all likely to do multiple times over our fitness journey, while also highlighting just how fit the elites are by contrast. 

At every event there is usually one event that best reflects the eventual overall standings at the end of the weekend. For the Torian Pro I believe that to be Hann, and to borrow a take from my constituent Brian Friend I think that honor belongs to Triwizard Cup at the MACC.

Overall I think both events did a great job of programming, and the fact that CrossFit has signed off on these tests without any revisions (to my knowledge) cannot be overlooked. It is a big distinction to go first and have the opportunity to be the lead blocker in a new system, and I think I speak for many of us in the community when I say it will be a huge relief to see the athletes take the floor next weekend.

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