FRI: Backward Integrated Design

Backwards integrated design is a progressive model of teaching whereby professors focus on the end game purpose of their class, not simply learning the material in broken down chapters of the textbook. For example, most of us went to either high school or college and learned in a very traditional manner. We received a syllabus from our teacher that broke down each chapter we would learn, exam dates, and that was it. We focused on the starting line. Most of us are not stimulated by this learning process, nor do we retain the information we are shoveled because we don’t understand the finish.

When you took accounting or economics, unless you had a very progressive teacher, chances are they didn’t stand up in front of the room and tell you that by the end of the course they wanted you to be able to learn the skill of long-term personal budgeting, or understand how you can be ahead of any market crashes by understanding how the US treasury works.

No, he or she probably just said, “We are going to learn accounting.”


If your professor lead the first day with a “why” and tied your learning experience to a greater purpose, not only would you have likely bought in more, but the course would have been able to trim all of the fat and have a syllabus created that allowed you to develop life skills. First, the goal is established. Then, the journey to achieve it is mapped out. Unlike the traditional approach, this starts at the finish line.

This is backwards integrated design and is not terribly unlike how we set personal goals in fitness and nutrition. If we enter a gym with no plan, just hoping to “do fitness”, we may buy in for a while but ultimately, that’s going to lose it’s luster. That’s starting line oriented. Everything we do in this world must be tied to purpose, especially something that takes up roughly five hours of your free time each week. The very first thing each and every one of us needs to do is establish our finish line. Our greater goal. The greater purpose that you have for yourself with fitness and your physical efforts. If you don’t know that, you cannot possibly achieve any satisfaction from your efforts.

Here are a few examples.

  • Live healthier and develop proper eating habits.
  • Get stronger so I can be more confident in asserting myself.
  • Change paths to avoid x, y or z health concertn that runs in my family.
  • Set a positive example for my children.
  • Develop a social bond with people.
  • Look better with my clothes off.

Once you know your metaphorical finish line, from there, you can design your own syllabus of how to get there.

Let’s say for example that your goal is to get stronger so you can be more confident in asserting yourself. Think about your first semester as simply, “learn the strength building movements so you can apply them to further strength goals.” Great, in those first few months you focus on developing great technique 101. You’re able to tie your trips to the gym with After a few months, you’re ready for 202 and you decide that you’re going to set a 5R baseline in each movement. Then, 303, maybe you pick a more specific goal of a 200# squat. As you advanced up the chain with your own course material, the syllabus gets a little more specific each time.

This is contrast to the aimless, “Do fitness.”

Where the hell do you start with that?  More importantly, where the hell do you finish?

If you don’t know the finish line how on Earth can you develop a route to take you there?


PS. Beers and pizza tonight at Pizza Port in OB with Coach Lenny following the 5:30 class.

Friday, 4.13.18

First, Heavy.
1 Heavy Sled Drag
12 Floor Crush Press
Complete 1 set every 5′ for 20′

Then, for Conditioning.
Rest 30” where x exists. Go max intensity where it doesn’t.
5 Hang Power Snatch
5 Heavy Renegade Row
5 MB Slams
20″ Erg or Bike Sprint
(x13 Min)