I first started coaching in CrossFit back in 2010, and at some point in 2011, I transitioned into the role of writing programming for the gym that I was working at.

In typical information hoarder practice, I began to search out as much as I could find on the principles of program design. I started reading dense training manuals from Yuri Verkhoshansky, Vladimir Zatsiorsky and Louie Simmons.

I remember downloading a PDF of Zatsiorsky's "Science and Practice of Strength Training" and somehow managing to read that thing on my Kindle – which is insane and a testament to an attention span that I think I no longer have.

Throughout this process of research, I started following along with James FitzGerald's "Big Dawgs Blog" and being confused at the contrast between the somewhat silly name and the extremely technical training prescriptions that made no sense to me.

James was well known within the CrossFit community as the champion of the inaugural CrossFit Games as well as the coach to many athletes competing at a high level in the sport.

At that point in time, I wrote my own training, but I would read the Big Dawgs blog and try to understand some of the "whys" behind the complicated prescriptions of tempos and work-to-rest ratios. I remember trying to put together my own lactate power training sessions with airdyne and sled dragging and heavy touch-and-go deadlifts, and just tragically missing the point – but simultaneously feeling like this guy FitzGerald was on to something.

I've taken all of James's OPEX CCP modules through Level 2, and that – coupled with my mentorship with his younger brother Michael – has had more of an impact than anything else on my understanding of not just the Xs and Os of program design, but the big picture questions that need to be asked to progress athletes in sports like CrossFit, soccer, and rugby vs. corporate wellness clients vs. doctors, consultants, and students who are members at my gym.

In this episode, James discusses what he learned from his relationship with strength & conditioning masterminds like Charles Poliquin and Paul Chek, how he integrated those learnings into his own coaching within CrossFit, how he removed himself from his coaching role with CrossFit Games athletes, and how he plans on growing OPEX's remote coaching services as well as his own continuing education modules.

James will be at South Loop Strength & Conditioning on April 23-25th leading the OPEX Program Design Level 1 module – any coaches or athletes interested in an upgraded understanding of the "whys" behind program design should click here for more information

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Show Notes

  • [0:23] Introduction of James Fitzgerald
  • [4:53] How did the guys that inspired you create their different systems?
  • [07:50] How do you figure out what works and what doesn't?
  • [09:39] How did you come up with the original models for training energy systems?
  • [14:32] How do you figure out what is actually limiting people?
  • [17:08] What separates the best from the rest?
  • [20:49] It's about fatigue repeatability…
  • [25:37] The concept of dampening relevant to fatigue repeatability?
  • [28:06] Nervous system fatigue; what do you think is going on there?
  • [31:08] What's the value around learning? How are you continuing your education?
  • [35:45] What personal systems have worked for you?
  • [36:39] What does the internal OPEX structure and process look like?

  • [39:10] What have you changed in terms of how deliver information based upon what you have been learning?
  • [40:52] Have you found anything that helps people learn to learn?
  • [42:22] What for you is the process that helps you actually learn, retain, implement…
  • [43:18] How do you come to peace with things that fulfill only you?
  • [46:56] What challenges do they (your coaches) have that stops them from learning/retaining new information?
  • [48:38] You recently delegated most of your coaching roll. How did you come to that decision?
  • [51:07] How do you attempt to separate yourself from OPEX?
  • [54:37] What is a potential coach going to get out of the program design course being held at South Loop Strength & Conditioning?
  • [55:36] What do you get out of coaching from OPEX?