Boot camp. Bodybuilding. Spin class. Aerobics. Kickboxing. You’ve tried it all but still aren’t seeing the results you want.

Maybe you’ve even trained at a CrossFit gym, but after months—maybe even years—of scaling the same movements the same ways, you still can’t do a pull-up or run a mile without stopping. Plus, it’s disheartening to see your slow, scaled time on the board next to all those Rx’s.

That’s why Brian Bender, owner of Ideal Collaborative and CutThroat CrossFit in Lafayette, Colorado, offers functional-fitness classes based on the Level Method: an objective assessment tool designed to customize the group-training experience to the individual and deliver real, measurable results.

It’s better than just scaling,” Bender said, comparing the Level Method to the system used by most CrossFit and similar gyms. “‘Rx for the best and scale for the rest’ is good, but this is better.”

Customized Group Training for Measurable Results

Designed by Nathan Holiday, the Level Method takes 15 categories of fitness tests and assigns a spectrum of levels to each category, with progressively more difficult standards for each level. For example, to achieve level Yellow 1 in the front-squat category, athletes need to be able to front squat 8 reps at 75 lb. for men and 55 lb. for women.

Each daily workout at CutThroat CrossFit comes with a different prescription for each level, displayed on a 65-inch digital display in the workout area. Clients’ overall levels are re-tested every 12-16 weeks, but athletes can mix and match levels for individual movements in daily workouts.

Consider a male at a purple level—a high level—in weightlifting. If the strength portion of the workout calls for snatching, this athlete might work up to a 1-rep max snatch while an athlete at the blue level works on triples and someone at the white level—the first level—does Russian kettlebell swings to work on hip extension.

But perhaps the next day our purple athlete follows the yellow track when working on sprint repeats. 

“So the workout is custom-catered to him for his level in those different categories,” Bender said.

Objective Goals, Measurable Results

Aside from complete individual customization in a group-class setting, what makes the Level Method special?

For one, safety is built in. Progressive levels ensure that athletes do not attempt a skill or lift they’re not ready for.

The levels also take the guesswork out of modifying movements—for both athlete and coach. 

“What I’ve observed is given my level, I have a prescribed workout, and I know if I do that workout … it’s gonna be a good workout,” said Scott McBeth, a 59-year-old CutThroat CrossFit member of five years. 

And the incremental system delivers real results, quickly. 

“Because there are so many measurements and there are so many levels on each exercise … you don’t have to wait six months to achieve an objective,” McBeth continued. “You can really expect to get some kind of an incremental improvement on a regular basis. … Every week or two you’re making progress in something and you get that immediate feedback in terms of accomplishment.”

Celebrate Every Step

The benefits are as much mental as physical, McBeth said.

Consider an advanced skill such as the muscle-up. Instead of seeing the muscle-up as a discouraging and unattainable goal, McBeth can use the Level Method to “visualize and work toward the next step,” he said.

While purple or black-level athletes might do 30 muscle-ups for time, McBeth, an orange-level athlete, might practice ring dips.

“So it gives nice, sustainable goals given where you are, what the next step is, and then the progression ultimately to what seemed like would be an impossible goal today. It helps you to be able to break it down and get there,” he said.

Plus, it’s just plain fun to level up. Think of the muscle-up: Without the Level Method, you either can do a muscle-up or you can’t. And it can take years to earn one. With the Level Method, you have milestones along the way the create a host of opportunities for celebration. It feels great to reach the next level and see proof that you’re getting results.

“It ‘gamifies’ the whole journey; that’s what’s fun about it,” Bender said of the Level Method. “But the other thing that’s awesome … is that it stops that measurement to other people in the same class. In most CrossFit gyms, everybody only recognizes the person who does a sub-3-minute Fran. 

“Well, what if the same recognition is given to somebody who gets their first pull-up or the person who runs 400 m without stopping? Those are both on the map in the Level Method.” 

McBeth recalled celebrating the moment he leveled up his deadlift, hitting 385 lb.

“When you do achieve a new level on a specific exercise or even an overall level, everybody’s there to celebrate. Brian and the rest of the coaches, they make a big deal out of it. They really give you positive feedback in terms of achieving that next step.”

So if you’re ready to get the individualization and results of a personal-training program with all the sociability and economics of a group-fitness class, book your free intro with Ideal Collaborative and CutThroat CrossFit today.

“There’s a system, and we’re constantly re-evaluating all the time,” Bender said. “In levels-based programming, we’re getting the right program for the individual that day.”