Programming at OnSide

September 20, 2020

Programming at OnSide

Sep 20, 2020 | Uncategorized

Nathan jeffrey

The Down-low

Every so often I like to give people the down-low on the programming at OnSide AND our philosophy. In the same way that knowing how to approach a workout helps you succeed in the day-to-day, having a better understanding of philosophy behind the programming you follow breeds success in the long term.

So, for the past 4 years we’ve been following Invictus programming. If you don’t know who Invictus is, they are a small chain of CrossFit gyms that started in California in the early days of this fitness movement. The owner, CJ Martin is a bit of a legend when it comes to programming and a big reasons why we’ve followed along for so long with such success. I’ll talk a bit more about who these people are, why we like them and their programming and what makes their program successful.

But before we get into what our program is like, I think the most important thing is the philosophy that the coaches at OnSide prescribe to.

our philosophy

Be safe. That’s what we’re here for.

Enjoy the process. Have fun with your workouts and the people around you.

Scale the workout. Just because we have a prescribed variation and weight for each workout, doesn’t mean you need to do it. Scale to your needs.

Do the best you can. Some days you aren’t going to be at your best – just be happy that you made it and move through the motions. It’s still a win.

So, who is Invictus?

Invictus started in the early days of CrossFit. They were one of the first gyms to open multiple locations under the same name and over the years this program has sent literally hundreds of athletes to the CrossFit games. Names like Lauren Fisher, Jared Enderton, Josh Bridges, Maddy Myers, Kristi Eramo and so many more have been successful under the Invictus program. They are the real deal.

All that stuff is pretty neat, but its not why we chose them all those years ago. Here’s why:

Tried and True

By the time the program hits the whiteboard at OnSide, the programming cycle and the daily WOD have been through enough iterations to get the kinks out. The knowledge squad at Invictus builds the WOD based on the cycle we’re in, then the WOD is tested at Invictus and adjusted, then we get the program and make any tweaks that can better suit the community at OnSide and make sure the logistics of it all are sound.


The strength and WOD share enough common ground that one warms us up for the other. For example, often if we have a bunch of wall balls in the workout, we’re going to start with a strength like back squats. If we’ve got KB swings in the workout, we’re going to try and deadlift or clean before. And before you ask – no, doing back squats before your wall balls isn’t going to slow your WOD down enough to matter, it’s likely to help you and keep you from injury due to an insufficient warm-up.


The workouts are accessible – meaning it’s easy to participate in the workout with the rest of the class regardless of what you need to modify or scale.

Even if you’re brand new, the workouts are structured in a way that easy to follow along.

The Generalist

It’s one of the best generalist programs out there. CrossFit is built on the idea of being a generalist since we consider that to be a good representation of fitness. It’s not a heavy Olympic Lifting Program, it’s not an endurance program, it’s not a miserable grind either. It’s a little bit of all of those things –  and we love that.

Our favorite aspect of Invictus programming?

It’s for everyone. We’ve seen success stories from old and young, experienced and inexperienced. How neat is that.

Now, the idea that I would put my grandmother on the same program that Josh Bridges is silly.

There are levels to all of this.

Levels Jerry!

Programming Tracks of OnSide

If you’re an OnSide member already, you already know about these levels. Each day, Invictus programming is built with two levels in mind – Performance and Fitness. Outside of that, our coaches are scaling for the individual on a case by case basis. This is what makes the one of the most versatile and successful programs around.




Performance Track

Performance programming is a track of programming that assumes that you want to learn as much skill work as grunt work. Here’s what I mean. Performance assumes that you’re going to be ok with spending a certain amount of time putting in the work to learn new movement. Performance includes those tough movements like kipping pull-ups, cleans, snatches and toes to bar. These are all movements that most people are going to need to spend a certain amount of time learning before they can go crazy in a workout with these movements in them. If you’re just looking to get a good sweat on, reach your goals without learning about the benefits of external rotation in bottom of an overhead squat – fitness track is your jam.

Fitness Track

Now, over the years people have confused Fitness with being an easier workout. This isn’t the case. The only difference with fitness workouts vs performance workouts is we’ve taken away the complicated and technical movements. Typically, there isn’t much barbell cycling, olympic lifting or high skill gymnastics. This means you can put your head down and just work. I’ll often do fitness if I’m sore from the day before or if fitness includes important prehab work that I know I should be doing.

Personalized Training

I mentioned earlier that this is a generalist program. If this surprises you, I hate to break it to you but that’s exactly what CrossFit is through and through. If you have specific goals, we might not be doing enough of what you’re looking to improve in on a weekly basis. For example, you come to the gym, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Since our program is designed for everyone, regardless of what day you workout, AND rest is critical to getting stronger and improving, you’re going to miss some days and some of those days might be ones you need.

Let’s say you want to get better at Olympic Lifting. You now officially have specific goals – not general. If you’re serious about improving and getting better at olympic lifting you need to be practicing. Last week though, we did our Oly work on a Tuesday and you were out lawn bowling with the squad. This week we did Oly work on a Wednesday but you were too hungover (from lawn bowling) to make it to the gym. In this scenario you can see why your progress would be slow… you better be getting better at lawn bowling.

This is where the highest track of programming comes in – personalized programming. Programming that is specific to your goals and programming that is going to help you success based on exactly what you need.

Let’s bring it back…

If you look closely at the Invictus programming, it has everything you need for success. We don’t think on a weekly or even monthly basis – the programming is structured with periodized cycles in mind that are designed to make sure we are constantly improving without hurting ourselves, getting bored or building big imbalances.

If I’m being honest, for me, I think the most important part of a good program is that I enjoy it. We say this all the time “You could have the best program in the world, but if you don’t enjoy doing it eventually it will be worthless and ineffective.” These Invictus workouts are humbling, exciting, challenging and genuinely a lot of fun.

If you want to talk programming slide into our DMs at [email protected]

Did I do that right?

OnSide Performance Centre

114 Chain Lake Dr. Suite 5

Halifax, NS B3S 1B1

[email protected]

902 404 5647

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