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  • Writer's pictureTy Jones

Go At YOUR OWN Level

The Level Method is an athlete roadmap

One of the challenges every CrossFit gym struggles with is how to give every client the most appropriate workout for them for that day. Obviously, a good coach will really help this process. But coaches are just people and we sometimes overestimate or underestimate the athlete's abilities. What we need is an OBJECTIVE way to guide our athletes and make sure they are getting the maximum intensity at the most difficult point along movement progressions that they're ready for. At CrossFit Initiative, we've adopted The Level Method. This system is unique in that it has been calibrated against thousands of athletes from beginners to Games athletes. It has undergone years of testing. And it provides not only a measurement for athletes to gauge their progress, but it does it in a progression oriented manner.

The Level Method does NOT replace good coaching. What it DOES do is provide the coach and the athlete with a very real road-map to assess the athlete's current abilities, address weaknesses, and progress them toward their goals.

The system follow the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu belt color system and tracks 15 athletic categories. From the day people walk in the door at CrossFit Initiative, they are provided a starting point for their journey and many steps along the way toward their goals. The black level is essentially a Games level athlete. In fact, what we see is that athletes that are talented but have never made it to regionals (back when those were a thing) will achieve black in many categories. But they typically have some holes in their fitness. The average american adult walking in the door would likely test into White II or Yellow overall. The point here is that it's very difficult to make progress when there is no clear goal or if the steps are too big and overwhelming (can't do a pull-up, trying to accomplish muscle-ups...).

The key to fitting this all together MUST be the programming. That is, the prescribed daily workouts the athlete is doing. Here, we follow the Level Method programming. It's level-based and gives athletes daily guidance toward achieving their goals. The programming helps our athletes walk the line of prioritizing safety while still working the appropriate energy systems each time they come to the gym. We've moved away from the "Rx'd vs Scaled" model. And we've moved toward the "Intended Stimulus" model. A games level athlete needs the same stimulus as a 45 year old software engineer. BUT, getting them the same stimulus requires a different workout for each of them. For example, if we're trying to work our lactic tolerance on a given day (how you should feel when you do Fran), the Games level Athlete may do something like:


Clean & Jerk 185/135

Calories on Assault Bike

But for our software engineer, untrained, normal person, they might need to do something very different for the workout to affect them the same way metabolically, for example:


Kettlebell swing 53/35

Calories on Assault Bike

And the reality is that MOST people will be at some place in between. Without leveled programming, the coach is programming on-the-fly for almost everyone each class rather than helping athletes with technique. For the beginner to try to do the first workout would be insanity. Yet we know through experience that people take GREAT PRIDE in doing workouts "Rx'd". This leads to injury, burnout, discouragement, and a workout that accomplishes something completely unintended. And the fact is, without levels, programming becomes somewhat arbitrary. What if the workout was:


Clean & Jerk 405/315

3 x Calories on Assault Bike

This is absurd right?! But it's not that different than asking a total beginner to repeatedly clean & jerk 185/135.

In summary, we must ask ourselves when we step into the box, "Why am I here?". If the answer is: "To do the hardest thing I can physically do today and safety be damned!", the Level Method is not for you. If your answer is one of these:

"To become healthier"

"To become fitter"

"To prolong my life"

"To get better at sports"


Then the Level Method, that we employ at CFI, is exactly what you need.

I'll see you at the gym!

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