How to Get the Most Out of Your CrossFit Training (Part 2)

201501-201505 Strength Programming PreviewJanuary – May 2015 Strength Programming (click to enlarge)

How to Get the Most Out of Your CrossFit Training


How to Get the Most Out of Your CrossFit Training (Part 1)


Programming: What (updated)

The strength programming schedule has been updated for many of the same reasons outlined in the first installment of “How to Get the Most Out of Your CrossFit Training“. If you didn’t catch that post the first time around, take a look at it since most of that information still applies to what can be seen above. The major differences you will see in the upcoming months include:

    • squatting will still take place twice per week but now on a new alternating-week schedule:
      • Monday & Wednesday
      • Tuesday & Friday
    • the number of double strength days have increased to once per week by combining some of the Olympic weightlifting days with squat days
      • Olympic weightlifting + squat days will still finish with a metcon but it will be a short, intense workout in the range of 6-10 minutes
      • double strength days consisting of only powerlifts (squat, deadlift, press, push press) will also finish with a metcon but it will be in the medium time frame of 10-15 minutes
    • metcon only days will now occur once per week on alternating-week weekdays in addition to a majority of Saturdays:
      • Wednesday
      • Thursday
        • these metcons will be longer in duration (20-30 minutes)
        • if the workout contains technical lifts or gymnastic movements, the beginning of class will be utilized to practice those movements and to figure out your appropriate scales

The upcoming week’s strength work including set/rep/work schemes will still be posted on Sundays so you will know what to expect for the week.


Programming: Why

As mentioned in the first installment of this series, it’s not enough to simply DO something or even to do something WELL but that you should know WHY you’re doing something. This next portion should take care of explaining a majority of the questions as to why things are set up the way they are.


We’ll lead it off with a quote from the Two-Year Anniversary Survey which actually helped inspire this series of posts:

On what you enjoy most about Division St. CrossFit:

“….jj’s hair and….”

….wait, wait. No, that wasn’t it (but that IS an actual quote from the survey)….

On what you feel needs improvement:

“It might be interesting to have or understand a larger plan. Instead of workouts being seemingly random, have an understanding that this is working towards “a stronger deadlift” for example and then we could have finite goals to guage our progress against.”

Ah, yes. That was it. But, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. We’re getting there though! This next one put this whole thing into motion since this information was readily available for you all already….

On what you feel needs improvement with the programming/workouts:

“I am ok with the metcon being a ‘surprise’ every day, but I do wish the strength training exercises were on a schedule I could plan around. I find myself not having done deadlifts, or presses for weeks or sometimes months.”

It’s all yours! It’s great to know that that was desired. The strength training was already on a schedule, it just had yet to be provided ahead of time. Let’s continue with these next ones because they really struck a chord and will lead to the next point….

On what you enjoy most about programming/workouts:

“I’ve also grown to appreciate the strength portion at the beginning, which is something I hated at first.”

On what you feel needs improvement with the programming/workouts:

“Nothing with the workouts needs a change I just need to get stronger so I can do heavier metcons.”

On what you enjoy most about programming/workouts:

“I like that the strength training is split out from the metcon. A small set of specific exercises that I can improve/PR on gives me goals and motivation. I am generally just happy to survive the metcon, but the strength is what I look forward to most.”

Bingo. Bango. Bongo. Strength training. The number one, single-most complaint I heard before starting Division St. CrossFit was “I wish we were on a strength program.”/”What is a good strength program I can be on so I can get better at metcons?”/”I want to get stronger.”/etc. Because here’s the thing about CrossFit and lifting weights in metcons….it WILL get you stronger but only up to a certain point. If you came in with a moderate amount of strength or some amount of time in power-sport athletics, performing CrossFit metcons may take you further than most because presumably every time you touched a barbell, you got stronger (due to your previous experience and strength levels, body awareness, your understanding of strength movements, etc.). The more strength you came in with though, the more challenging it would be to progress further with heavier weights in metcons. Same goes for those with a very minimal amount of strength and experience but because they have not spent enough time learning enough kinematic awareness to develop strength outside of everyday movement. Eventually though, everyone hits that wall where progress stops. That’s when they came running with the questions.

This is why we strength train: the pursuit of continued progress in CrossFit.


At this point, it serves to explain a little bit more about the theory behind CrossFit/why we perform metabolic conditioning workouts in the first place and how they are created. For this, I will rely on the CrossFit Journal.

“….the aim of CrossFit has been to forge a broad, general, and inclusive fitness. …. Looking at all sport and physical tasks collectively, we asked what physical skills and adaptations would most universally lend themselves to performance advantage. Capacity culled from the intersection of all sports demands would quite logically lend itself well to all sport. In sum, our specialty is not specializing.

In conjunction with the reasons why we strength train, this somewhat answers the “stronger deadlift” question above – we are looking to build a stronger deadlift among everything else which we do. Let’s continue.

“The CrossFit prescription is “CONSTANTLY VARIED, HIGH INTENSITY, FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT.” FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS are universal motor recruitment patterns….they are compound movements – i.e. they are multi-joint. They are natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. But no aspect of FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly. Collectively, these three attributes (load, distance, and speed) uniquely qualify FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS for the production of high power. INTENSITY is defined exactly as power, and INTENSITY is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise. Recognizing that the breadth and depth of a program’s stimulus will determine the breadth and depth of the adaptation it elicits, our prescription of FUNCTIONALITY and INTENSITY is CONSTANTLY VARIED.” (CrossFit Journal Issue 56 – April 2007)


    • Perform FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENTS because that’s what our bodies are designed to do.
    • Perform those movements with HIGH INTENSITY because that will force a change in our bodies.
    • CONSTANTLY VARY these stimuli because that allows us to do so many different things.


So that’s the theory. How are workouts constructed? I’m not exactly sure if this is what CrossFit HQ is still doing these days but here’s the background.

“In the broadest view we see a three-day-on, one-day-off pattern. We’ve found that this allows for a relatively higher volume of high-intensity work than the others that we’ve experimented with. ….workouts are composed of three distinct modalities: metabolic conditioning (“M”), gymnastics (“G”), and weightlifting (“W”). The metabolic conditioning is monostructural activities commonly referred to as “cardio,” the purpose of which is to improve cardiorespiratory capacity and stamina. The gymnastics modality comprises body weight exercises/elements or calisthenics and its primary purpose is to improve body control by improving neurological components like coordination, balance, agility, and accuracy, and to improve functional upper body capacity and trunk strength. The weightlifting modality comprises the most important weight training basics, Olympic lifts and powerlifting, where the aim is primarily to increase strength, power, and hip/leg capacity. …. The workouts themselves are each represented by the inclusion of one, two, or three modalities for each day. Days 1….are each single modality workouts whereas days 2….include two modalities each, and finally, days 3….use three modalities each. …. When the workout includes a single exercise (day 1) the focus is on a single exercise or effort. When the element is the single “M” the workout is a single effort and is typically a long, slow, distance effort. When the modality is a single “G” the workout is practice of a single skill and typically this skill is sufficiently complex to require great practice and may not be yet suitable for inclusion in a timed workout because performance is not yet adequate for efficient inclusion. When the modality is the single “W” the workout is a single lift and typically performed at high weight and low rep. …. On the single-element days, recovery is not a limiting factor. For the “G” and “W” days rest is long and deliberate and the focus is kept clearly on improvement of the element and not on total metabolic effect. For the two-element days, the structure is typically a couplet of exercises….designed to be moderate to high intensity and work-rest interval management critical. …. For the three-element days, the structure is typically a triplet of exercises, this time repeated for 20 minutes…. This is in stark contrast to the two-element days, where the elements are of much higher intensity. This workout is tough, extremely tough, but managing work-rest intervals is a marginal factor.” (CrossFit Journal Issue 06 – February 2003)


    • 3 days on, 1 day off
      • Day 1 (long, slow, plenty of rest)
      • Day 2 (3-5 rounds for time, couplet, high intensity)
      • Day 3 (20 minute AMRAP, triplet, moderate intensity)
        • M, GW, MGW, off
        • G, WM, GWM, off
        • W, MG, WMG, off
        • repeat


This is plenty (or more than enough) for now: the reasons and ideas behind strength training and CrossFit programming. In the next installment we’ll discuss how we can improve upon classic CrossFit programming (by combining those two ideas above) and the challenges of programming for a group. In a later installment, we’ll discuss how you, as an individual, can approach training to address your specific goals and needs. After that, we’ll even dive into how to foster a richer, more rewarding experience with the community of members and coaches. Stay tuned!

by admin in Coach's Tips

5 Responses to How to Get the Most Out of Your CrossFit Training (Part 2)

  1. Chris

    This is great stuff, thank you!

    • JJ Christopher

      glad to know you enjoyed it!

  2. Patrick

    Great post! It’s stuff like this that assures me I picked the correct box.

    P.S. If anyone is interested I made a PDF so I could store the schedule on my iPad.