As someone who prides himself in his programming, I know that I have a lot to learn.  I find myself being more critical of my own programming than I am of others.  One way to be a better programmer is to study other programs and what better program to analyze than that of the CrossFit Games and Dave Castro.  Every year I like to break down the tests, as he calls them, to see if I can decipher his methodology.  
One of the major criticisms I have heard about the Games programming this year is that there was an over emphasis on running.  At first glance I would have said the same thing.  In phase two of the games it seemed as if they ran during every other event- day one had two running events alone.  It is important, however, to take a step back and look at the big picture because when it comes to programming that’s what you have to do.  You cannot throw a bunch of movements on a whiteboard and throw a bunch of reps at the athletes and expect to have a good result.  I have seen many competitions do this.  Just because one workout is good it does not mean that it compliments the rest of what you are trying to accomplish.  So when we take a step back we know by his social media posts that the final workout “Atalanta” was the base workouts for the rest of the weekend.  That workout consisted of a 1-mile run followed by 100 handstand push ups, 200 pistols (single leg squats), 300 pull ups, and a 1-mile run.  So now we have our base we can start to dissect the rest of the weekend.  We have one mono-structural movement and three gymnastics movements.  The distance is moderate and the skill levels for the gymnastics are all high skill.  I am including the pull ups as high skill because of the fact that athletes were made to wear a weight vest.  Again this was the base of the programming and every thing else was built around this long and high skill workout.  When we now bring in phase one and phase two we can start to see where he was going with the program.  In phase one of the games we saw 13 mono-structural elements, 12 gymnastics elements, and 12 weightlifting elements.  In phase two we saw 10 mono-structural elements, seven gymnastics elements, and seven weightlifting elements.  In total thats gives us 23 mono-structural elements, 19 gymnastics, and 19 weightlifting elements.  This seems to be a very balanced approached to training when you look at it in this sense.  If we break it down even further we start to see an even better picture.  In the mono-structural elements, four were long distance, two were moderate distance, and seven were short distance.  In the gymnastics we had eight high skill movements, one moderate skill, and three low skilled events.  With the weightlifting we saw eight heavy workouts, one moderate weight workout, and three low weight workouts.  So even though the mono-structural elements outnumbered the gymnastics and weightlifting they were high skill whereas the mono-structural elements had four shorter sprint type events.  The weightlifting and gymnastics had four higher skilled events compared to only four longer distance mono-structural events.  This is where you are able to see the balanced programming.  If you have a short distance mono-structural you have to pair that with a high skill and a longer distance paired with a lower skill movement.  As you can see the criticism of the games programming being too endurance heavy starts to fall short.  Balanced programming requires you to take a step back and look at things from the bigger picture.  
The programming for this years games were unlike what we have seen before.  In some respects it didn’t have the extreme fan fare with the bells and whistles of new equipment that we haven’t seen in the past.  This year was very simple and it makes sense that COVID-19 restrictions and supply issues hit everyone hard.  But just because on paper the workouts are very simple does not mean that they cannot be effective in their purpose and goal which is to find the fittest man and woman on earth.  This is a lesson to all programmers for large or small events: you do not need fancy equipment or rep schemes to challenge your athletes.  Take a step back, hit all major elements of fitness, and create a repetition scheme that hits long, moderate and short time domains.  This is the definition of good programming.  

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