Experienced Programming (May-July)

Since the Open, the programming has reflected a slight de-load in overall intensity and volume in workouts to allow both the mind and body recover from the CrossFit Open. For some people, the Open involved testing the weekly workouts multiple times, giving each attempt their all.  For many, it was a celebration of achieving firsts: muscle ups, handstand push ups, or chest to bar pull ups.

We have been slowly ramping back up to testing 1 RMs again with the introduction of more frequent squatting, pulling (deadlifts), and jerks this past month.  While we don’t expect everyone to match or surpass their old 1 RM during our tests (though some people have reported on the blog doing so already in practice), we do want to give people a chance to grease the groove with their squats and other lifts before we start the next cycle after testing.

Notes from the 2015 CrossFit Open for Experienced

For Experienced WOD members, those who we’d consider intermediate to advanced, we saw that a majority of the members struggled with similar movements to the Beginners but to a lesser degree. We are happy to see that the gym has made great strides in their overall strength compared to the 2014 Open.  A few of our eWOD members were in the top 30 of the gym for both men and women, which is fantastic!

We saw a major improvement across the board (eWOD and Beginners) on overall conditioning in the longer met-cons. This year, more members were able to complete difficult skills such as muscle ups, HSPU, and double unders.  Grip and lifting technique under fatigue is still a major issue for most Experienced WOD members, as well as their strength endurance with upper body pushing and pulling/grip strength (ie. dips, strict HSPU, chest to bar pull ups).

Next 12 Week Programming Cycle for Experienced

The next cycle of Experienced Programming will focus on building upper back and “core” strength, while working on more difficult progressions for a variety of gymnastics skills required to do more advanced movements (HSPU, dips, muscle ups, chest to bar pull ups, etc.). A strong focus on the addition of accessory work will be featured in class. This work will be scalable – either more beginner or advanced depending on the member’s needs.

Testing Week for Experienced WOD will be the first two weeks of May:
Sunday 3rd/Monday 4th – Front Squat 1 RM
Tuesday 5th – Push Press 1 RM
Wednesday 6th/Thursday 7th – Clean Deadlift 1 RM (must use hook grip)
Sunday 10th/Monday 11th – “Fran” 21-15-9 reps for time of: Thrusters (95/65) and Pull ups

Kate Parker pain cave
A. Squat Cycle: Front Squats

This summer we will perform a Front Squat Cycle. As always, it will be important to get in your exposures and follow the percentages as they are written and follow your coach’s advice.

Exposure 1: Find 3 RM in 15 minutes. (Sunday/Monday)
Exposure 2: With a % of 3 RM, perform 5×2 reps (Wednesday/Thursday)

This cycle is similar to the one used by the Competition class in 2013-14, which yielded great results for the class.  Many class members reported that after this cycle, it was the strongest they had ever felt and had great carryover to other CrossFit movements (i.e. thrusters, jerks, wall balls).

Why do we like Front Squats so much?

Front Squats are awesome for developing midline stability as well as developing better glute and hip strength.  Working in the front rack more often and developing a better front rack position will yield great dividends in the future. An improved position will allow you to transfer more weight overhead because your movements will be efficient. Jerks, Push Press, Thrusters and receiving Cleans will improve by virtue of a better front rack. Even wall balls get easier!

The other great thing about the front squat is that it’s almost impossible to “cheat” the squat by leaning forward or shortening the range of motion as much as you can in the back squat.  If you try to do that, you will most likely dump the lift forward.

Finally, for members struggling with their range of motion and mobility in the Olympic lifts, improving their front squat will help their Olympic lifts tremendously giving them more confidence in the receiving position of their lifts.  We will be adding in specific front squat related mobility exercises in our warm ups to address these deficiencies. By the end of the cycle you should see significant improvement in both your position and overall strength.

Note: If you miss a squat exposure you should do your best to make it up during Open Gym on the weekend. Alternatively, if you miss your 3 RM that week, perform 5# more for your 5×2 than the week before in your next session.


B. Overhead Lift Priority: Split Jerk/Push Press (Upper Body Push)
Primary focus for our overhead lifts is to continue to improve our technique and position on the jerk. We will use the push press as our main movement for upper body pushing. The mechanics of the dip in the jerk will be reinforced by the push press practice. Emphasis on these two lifts should also help with bodyweight pushing skills like HSPU.


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C. Lower Body Pull Priority: Snatch Pull/Deadlift (Segmented) and Clean Deadlift 

The primary focus of choosing these two lifts is to improve both technique and flexibility for your Olympic lifts. Most people still suffer from an inability to get into a decent starting position, which ultimately compromises the entire pull of the lift.  If your starting position is wrong, chances are the entire pull ends up being incorrect.

By introducing segmented pulls, you will build endurance in various “uncomfortable” but important positions you need to hit during your pull. Snatch grip pulls and Romanian deadlifts as well as a focus on using the hook grip will emphasize very important grip training (great carryover to our gymnastics pulling: toes to bar, pull ups, etc). These movements will also emphasize upper/mid back strength and posterior chain development.

D. Gymnastics Movements 
Weighted Dips or Strict Dips
Weighted Pull ups or Strict Pull ups
Strict HSPU

You’ll see these movements in warm ups, skill practice, workouts, EMOMs and as accessory work at the end of a WOD.  Range of motion and building strength in a good position should take priority over volume at this point.  Not cheating ROM and focusing on quality rather then quantity will pay large dividends in the following months. You will also see long AMRAPs that should be treated as skill work. For more advanced members, they can treat these AMRAPs as conditioning, but for most members, they should consider it as very focused skill work.

E. What about Conditioning??!?!?
You’ll continually see a good mix of CrossFit movements in your conditioning (wallballs, double unders, kettlebell swings, box jumps, thrusters), but we’ll be focusing on interval work this summer.  Hello 90 seconds on/90 seconds off! (I swear that’s not a threat.)

Intervals are great for building up a foundation of conditioning (and skill work) over the course of the year. It also gives you multiple chances to try out new techniques, new strategies, and new pacing plans for movements you are learning or improving upon (i.e. your weaknesses).Intervals will help eWOD members learn how to stay under their threshold and pace their workouts rather then sprinting the WOD then doing the crash and burn. What separates some of the eWOD members from more experienced CrossFitters/competitors is their inability to pace appropriately for a given volume of work. These intervals will teach you how to break up movements, how long each movement should take at varying intensities, and learn when and how to find rest during a longer workout.

It is important that we don’t do conditioning too often or with every workout (not every WOD needs a Part B or C), but we’re not going to dump it completely in favor of just lifting. We can get strong and maintain our conditioning/improve our skills at the same time. We can also use monostructural movements (running, rowing, jump rope) to aid our recovery from heavier workouts and more frequent lifting.

This cycle will end in July/early August and retesting dates TBA.

Excited yet??
YES. So are we! The thing that always helps us the most is when you post your results (good or bad) to the Photo of the Day comments. We use your scores, weights, times to design your workouts. The more results we get, the more data we have to make the right choices about what to program next. We know it takes a little extra time and if you workout late, you think no one is reading, but the programmers (and fellow athletes) do.