Goodbye Open–Hello Strength Bias

March 31, 2014

Thank Goodness the CFG Open is OVER  (The exception being those athlete’s performing 14.5 on Monday).   

Monday 3/31  is the first day of what will be a 12 week shift in the programing towards a strength development phase. Some of what is written below is a direct repeat of the last time we started our strength bias cycle but some is new. Please read all of this posting so you come in to the gym prepared.

The Weekly Schedule is as follows:

Monday-  Back Squat or Front Squat

Tuesday- Shoulder Press

Wednesday-  Strict Pullup

Thursday- Deadlift or Sumo Deadlift or Cleans

Friday- Bench Press or Close Grip Bench Press

Our last 2 cycles of linear progression were pretty successful, resulting in an average of 16% gains across the 3 lifts tested. First timers can expect more than that.  We will keep the same format for the lifts but we will change the way we apply the supplemental action (Strength 2)  and the Metcons.  These changes are detailed below.

First, Some FAQ’s

Why a strength bias? Strength is the critical component of fitness. Your Strength drives your metcons and your metcons drive your Long Slow Distance, but the LSD does not reciprocate and drive your strength. Every one of you will see improved performance in CrossFit workouts as your strength increases. For the newer athletes amongst you, this might be the difference between scaling every workout and completing workouts as prescribed. For our members with competitive ambitions, this format will serve as better prep for the CrossFit Games Open. If you have been following the Open, the Regionals and the Games, you will see that the workouts are getting heavier and harder. In an effort to remain competitive in the CrossFit world we are trending heavier too.

In addition to the strength workout, there will still be a second period devoted to work capacity. This is a format we have used often so it really won’t seem very different to what you have already experienced. Expect short durations, heavy loads, couplets and triplets. Do not expect multi-event chippers.

Hmmm…I don’t know…Wont This make me bulky? Dont I need more Cardio? No and No. It is my sincere hope that the diet contest has made you aware of the following FACT. Your bodyfat is what make you look bulky and the means to address this are best achieved by changing what you eat. Hopefully, some of what you are paying for (In addition to the charm and wit of our staff, the access to equipment and our legendary parties) is our expertise about how to make you as FIT as possible. Not as thin as possible. Sometimes those goals coincide for a while and sometimes they do not. Yes, if you build muscle and remain fat, you will indeed appear bigger/bulky but VERY few among you will not see positive appearance changes by following this strength-bias program IF your food is in line.

That said, if you want more, do more. Miss the old 5k? Waxing Nostalgic for the 60 minute Step Aerobic class you used to take? Feel free to do so, but AFTER your Strength action.

How do I get this most out of this? 

A) FREQUENT ATTENDANCE. I put that in all-caps to emphasize it’s importance. You need to get here and hit these lifts regularly. Much like Rxd is an ambitious standard, we are programming for the athlete who is prioritizing his/her fitness and progress. If that’s not you via circumstance or attitude, your progress will suffer in comparison. To that end, however, I DO recognize that life intrudes in unavoidable ways. Therefore, if you cant get here very often, I would prioritize as follows 1) Squat 2) Shoulder Press 3) DeadLift. That means if you only get here 3x in a given week, you should Squat, Shoulder Press and deadlift. So if you only make it in M and TH in a given week you may want to Squat and Press in that order, despite being the only person doing so that day, then do the work capacity test with the class.   If you have your own personal goals, and your attendance is limited, push those lifts to the front burner.  So if, for example, a bodyweight pullup is your priority and you can only come 1x that week, get your pullups in.

B) Record Your Numbers:  This is absolutely essential!  Having a record of what you did before will make your lifting more efficient and effective. anything else is playing darts blindfolded.  You cant improve on last week if you dont know what last week even was.   You can journal on a blog, in a calendar, or in a good old-fashioned notebook: anything works as long as it’s written down somewhere.  

This sounds complicated.  I kinda wanna just work out and sweat?   Aim higher.  You can sweat almost anywhere.  Get something out of your money and get dramatically stronger.  

I’m down for strength bias, I’ve done it before and it kicks ass,  but what’s different about this 12 week period?  Glad you asked.  Please see the schedule breakdown below

Week 1– Test 1 Rep Max  Perform Target Lift 3×8.  Work capacity.

Weeks 2,3,4 Target Lift 4×8, Supplemental Strength,  Work capacity.

Week 5– Deload.  3×5 Target Lift, No Supplemental, Work capacity.

Weeks 6,7,8 Target Lift 4×5, Supplemental Strength, Work capacity.

Week 9– Deload. Target Lift 3×3 No Supplemental Strength Work capacity.

Weeks 10,11,12 3×3 Target Lift, Supplemental Strength, Work capacity.

Week 13 — Test Out 1 rep max.

Significantly, for the first time we will be repeating our work capacity metcons at the same point in every 4 week cycle.  So for example if you perform HELEN on Day 3 week 2 during the 4×8 block, you will again perform HELEN on Day 3, week 6 which is during the 4×5 and a final time on day 3 week 10 during the 3×3.  You still get 20 WODs between similar efforts, so variety remains high, but we’ll see how your strength gains affect your metcon capacity.


Get excited kids.  You’re about to get very strong!



  1. Quick Words re: the deadlift: People are afraid of this lift’s potential for injury, and rightly so. Although a properly aligned spine is safe even during maximal efforts, it’s very easy to LOSE proper alignment and when it happens it’s often very quick. However, you can have no claim to being remotely fit if you cant safely do something as fundamentally human as pick a moderate load up off the ground. So, what’s the solution? ….. Work the deadlift, but do so at moderate loads. If you work at 80% of full intensity as opposed to 100% (like you might on other lifts) and yet you still add a few lbs to your total load lifted every week, 3 months from now at the end of the strength bias, you will still be dramatically stronger.

    • Along this line, I did the clean (doing full “squat cleans”) last cycle and added 30 lbs to my deadlift. Some of you may want to try the clean this time around for variety sake.

  2. all i got out of this was LSD and legendary parties. CANT WAIT!

  3. Sooooo – the work capacity tomorrow will be what?

  4. I am excited and I want to get stronger!!

  5. So in my case, since I can’t make it on M and TH until after the week of May 17th, I should plan to do squats and DL on Wed and Fri instead of pull-ups and bench press?

    • No Kathleen. As well as!!! They don’t interfere with one another. Alternate sets and try to get them all in (or make one up at open gym). If that can’t be done, choose whichever is more important to reaching your specific goals.

      • The problem is I will probably only be able to make it on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays for awhile. So if I cram all the strength stuff in the days I won’t have time for the work portions. Is that ok?

  6. Gonna try to keep a record of this stuff……BS 365x8x3

  7. Front Squat for this Strength cycle.
    1 rep max 265 FS
    3×8 205×8, 195×8, 195×8 = 4760
    Kettle Bell/burpee/box jumps. My partner was Ryan P. Our time was 5:59. We would like a rematch to Glen and Clark who beat us by 4 seconds. I also would to congratulate Ryan P for his 345 back squat today. A PR for him.

  8. BS 1RM 155
    115x8x3 = 2760

  9. FS: 1rm = 135
    100 x 8 x 2, 100 x 5 = 2100 (wrist inflexibility and lost grip on bar)
    Dawn and I @ 7:10

  10. 1RM BS 325. Very stoked on that. Last 1rm before back surgery was 315, so thats a 10 lb improvement before even starting. Im definitely glad I had the surgery!

    245X8 235X16 Total 5,720

    Work. 6:41 split 3 ways 120 KB, 60 Burpees, 30 BJ’s. Not much work, but Im tired!

    • That is great news to hear Marcos! Surgery + Rehab + Crossfit = more strength than before.

  11. Hey Brock CONGRATES on the 14.5 13:20 number Great Job!

    Clark thanks for being my partner this morning, fyi I will have to miss the next few days 😦 hold the fort!
    100 KB, 50 Burpees, 25 BJ’s 5:55

    • Will miss you brother!

      • Back Squat – 295… down from 315
        3×8 @ 205 – 4920 total

  12. Back squat 235. Same as before…boooo. 175x8x3=4200

  13. Back squat 1RM = 205#
    3×8 @ 155# = 3,720#

    KB, Burpees and 20″ Box Jumps =
    ~8mins (I don’t remember the exact time)

  14. FS 200lbs 1rm….140×24….wod with Steve 5:25

  15. 1 rep max back squat-175, 3×8 at 3080
    wod c Pam- 5:34

    1 rep max FS- 265, 3×8 at 4360
    wod c Cedric- 6:35

  16. from the land of where they squat 2000000lbs.. i must say, i giggle at the response of failed snatches. hehehehe

  17. BS 305

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