As many coaches found, programming for competitors in the CrossFit Games Open was incredibly challenging.

With the workouts coming out on Tuesday night for completion by Sunday night, you had to make sure athletes were rested and ready to go when it was time to do the workout. Depending on the equipment available or the host affiliate’s schedule, you might not be doing the workout at the same time each week. Finally, many athletes re-did the workouts several times.

So how do you train during a six-week competition period?

Well, with Crystal we decided that the Open was basically a period of maintenance. We realized she wasn’t going to make any major gains because I wasn’t about to program heavy deadlifts and then find out the week’s workout was heavy deadlifts. We also decided to dial back the intensity slightly early in the week to ensure she was fresh for the competition workout, which she usually did somewhere between Friday and Sunday.

Don’t get me wrong: Crystal still hit every workout hard, but when I might have programmed 225-lb. deadlifts, I scaled it to 185. Instead of 30 chest-to-bar pull-ups, I scaled it to 20 chin-over-bar. The whole point was to treat the workouts in the early part of the week as “medium days,” then program in a rest day right before the competition workout. The competition workouts were the focus and essentially became her main “training” over the period.

Due to some weird factors including scoring errors, technical issues with the Games site, sickness, minor injuries and schedules of the affiliates who welcomed us for the workouts (thanks Brad, Derek, Darren and Dale’s Garage), our plan was usually more an ideal than an actuality. While I like programming three-week or one-month blocks, we did a lot of day-of programming depending on what was sore, what was coming up, what equipment was available and how often Crystal was working.

Nevertheless, Crystal came through the Open in 18th (as it stands right now), so we must have done something right, even if we didn’t do everything right. With 22 days between now and the regional competition in Vancouver, we basically have a three-week block of training.

What to do, what to do?

We gave Crystal a few days off—and a few beers—after 11.6, and then we started her back into workouts that are designed to maintain the things she’s good at and bring up the things that need work. We’re emphasizing upper-body strength and muscular endurance in particular. She did Lynne yesterday, for example. We’re also going to integrate some heavy lower-body lifting, which we didn’t get to do very often in the last six weeks.

As for increased volume, we’re going to throw in some double days here and there within reason. For a person with a full-time job and a lot of balls in the air, too many extra workouts will just drain Crystal and reduce her intensity across the board. However, we want her to be ready for a weekend of competition, so we’ll cautiously increase the volume with some double days before tapering off in the last week before we head to Vancouver.

We’ll be integrating skill practice and loads of mobility work to keep her fresh, and I’ve locked the liquor cabinet, hidden the Easter chocolate and eaten all Crystal’s mom’s cinnamon buns to remove any and all temptations. That’s what a good coach does for his athletes.

The next three weeks will be a great learning experience for me and for Crystal. We’ll let you know how it goes.

We’re both looking forward to seeing our CrossFit friends in B.C.!

(Photo by Sandra Benz)

The (Insert T-Word) 20

20 dumbbell front squats

20 push presses

20 sit-ups

20 pistols (10 per leg)

20 kettlebell swings

20 burpees

(1 set of stairs after each element)

Form notes:

In this chipper, we’re looking to move medium-heavy weight with good form for 20 reps, so select a weight that will stop you from getting all 20 reps in a row. The rest you take during the 20s will allow you to push harder on the stairs.


5 rounds of:

Body-weight bench press

Max pull-ups

(There is no time limit for this workout – within reason.)

Form notes:

Load the bar with your body weight, and set the guards in the power cage (or use a spotter). Try to get as many reps as possible.

If you can’t bench your body weight, select a weight that will allow you to do somewhere between 5 and 10 reps with reasonable form.

Do not bounce the bar off your chest.

Any type of pull-ups may be used for this workout except jumping pull-ups. If you are using assistance (bands, gravitron), select assistance that will make you work for at least 5 reps and no more than 1o.

I started the week of training on Sunday. I worked on HSPUs and pistols to start. I was finally able to do pistols on my left leg without using a 10-lb. weight to balance. I hammered through a few sets on both legs and then did the following: 5 rounds of a 420-meter run, 50 double-unders and 2 pistols per leg. The pistols on the left leg were challenging as the WOD progressed, but I’m confident with practice they will be as smooth as the right leg.

Tuesday was the regular class at CrossFit 204. I started with front squats. Before class, I worked up to a triple of 160 lb. and then backed the weight down to 135 for 2 sets of 5. Afterwards I joined the class for some testing. We did a max standing broad jump (I got 6’10”) and a 3RM dumbbell press. I used 40 lb. per arm. My deltoids were a bit sore, and I couldn’t maintain my form if I increased the weight.

Thursday was 3 rounds of 10 deadlifts at 185 and 20 kettlebell swings at 35 lb. It took me 3:50. My forearms were wasted from this WOD. On Friday, Mike had me do 8 minutes of the following: 5 x 105-lb. power-cleans, 8 burpees and a 200-meter sprint. I don’t enjoy sprinting. Give me an 800-meter run instead of a 200-meter sprint any day! Mike realizes this and also knows I need to work on being more powerful. Sprinting definitely addresses that.

I rested Saturday and hit 11.6 on Sunday.  I scored 101 for the final WOD, and I’m so excited to be moving on in this competition. I’m really looking forward to training for the next month and I will see you in Vancouver!

Mike’s notes:

The end of the CrossFit Open marks the end of a yearly training cycle for Crystal. After she just missed going to regionals last year, she was driven to get there this time. We focused all our training on addressing her weaknesses, and I worked Crystal unbelievably hard over the last 12 months.  I’m always amazed at how dedicated and focused she is, and how she won’t hesitate to swear at me when I take a rep away.

Like many others, she had a challenging time in the Open but came through it stronger than ever, and I couldn’t be happier with her performance. I’m tremendously happy that she accomplished a major training goal, and I’m looking at the Canada West Regional as Crystal’s reward for all her work in the last year.

We’re going to put in one more solid month of training, then send Crystal up against the best athletes in the west. There are so many great competitors across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., and we’re looking forward to being pushed by all the amazing CrossFit athletes who will be in Vancouver at the end of the month. It will be great to be a part of the event that selects the west’s representatives at the CrossFit Games in L.A.

Congrats to everyone who competed in the Open, and we can’t wait to see the best Canadian CrossFitters in B.C. in a few weeks. Good luck to everyone training for the regional!