eWOD Programming Note

The back squat cycle we’ve been running for the past 12 weeks is over (finally!).  The cycle was five sets of five reps (5×5).  The squat is a cornerstone exercise for strength development, and the 5×5 format promotes good form and is done at a weight that steadily fosters strength gains and muscle growth.   Adding 5-10 pounds each week probably doesn’t seem like much, but after a few weeks the weight starts to get very challenging.  This added an element of mental toughness and intensity to the workouts.

Now we will transition to a new phase of our squat training. We’ll still squat 1-2 times per week in the coming months, but we will decrease the repetitions from 5 to 2-3.  (See today’s WOD: 7×3 Back Squats).

Fewer repetitions will allow everyone to squat more weight without completely draining them for the rest of the week’s workouts.  This in turn will maintain and even improve the strength gains we have acquired. During the final week of September we will test our back squat 1 rep max (RM) to see how much we have improved upon our baseline test back in May.

After we test our 1 RM, we will continue to back squat but alternate with the front squat.  An improved front squat will translate to an improved thruster and thrusters are bound to appear during the CrossFit Open this spring.


  • Robert Gillespie

    I wanted to say how much I have appreciated the squat cycle, and the experienced programming in general. My squat had not gone up in over a year, but through the consistent squat programming, it now has, substantially. The forced rest days have certainly contributed to that as well. I have made it a point to have taken a day off before any of the squat days, and as a result I have gone in able to lift with more intensity on those days. Thanks.

  • Raul

    My squat has gone up a lot too, I just wish my split jerk was as good. I always feel like a Jenga tower when I do that move. 🙁

    • Avery W

      Raul – We’ve been programming a lot of technique days on Sundays for All Levels classes, so members can get some dedicated practice with the lifts not in a conditioning WOD setting. We’ll also be layering in more Olympic Lifting work into the programming over the next months as we prepare for the Open, which generally features the snatch and clean and jerk as a movement in one or more workouts.

      • Addie B

        Love the Sunday snatch technique days. Thanks for keeping those in the lineup.

  • Rich J

    I hope new squat cycle will be mirrored in beginner classes as well as it has in the past.

    • Avery W

      Yes, we are doing our best to mirror the squatting in Beginners classes, so you can expect to see the same in both classes but perhaps different rep schemes. Most Beginners need higher volume at consistent (sub-maximal) weights for improving their squat. Since most people are still learning how to back squat, they need to worry less about going heavy all the time.

      Sometimes squatting won’t happen on the same exact days because of logistics, but will at least happen with similar frequency during the week. We program with the expectation that members will stick to one track of programming (Beginner’s or Experienced) – not that they “cherry pick” what movements or WODs that they like and go back and forth between the two. Therefore if you find yourself squatting two days in a row, you know you’re doing it wrong with the programming!

      • Rich J

        Great! Different days isn’t a big deal since I stick to 7am class. The frequency is the important part. Rep scheme shouldn’t be a big issue either as long as its not 5×5 again. Its tough to get practice on heavy weights doing 5×5. Thanks Avery!

      • Avery thanks for explaining that – super helpful!

  • Matt Braunstein

    Avery is the best. I for one really appreciate her and her squat cycles.

    • Raul

      She really is the best.

    • Michael J. Bultman

      Dude, really fine selfie upvote. It’s important to be comfortable with yourself.

      • Matt Braunstein

        Dude, one comment and no upvotes?? To say my feelings were hurt would be an understatement. I had to take matters into my own hands.

  • Losis2honest

    This programming in general has made me a lot stronger. Even strong from when I was in the comp team last year. I’m still terrible at DU’s though. I doubt i’ll ever get any good at them. Ha

  • Glenn McMahon

    Love the squat programing. I am not lifting as heavy as a lot of the other people, but I am feeling so much more comfortable with the weight and feel like my form and technique is better, stronger. Plus I’m loving my Kim K ass.

  • angie McKay

    I joined two months ago, and stared back squats in the midst of the cycle and have notice significant increase in strength. I went from 115lbs to 150 lbs. in 8 weeks. It may not seem like much compared to other crossfitters but its very encouraging to me and i look forward to growing from there.