New Programming Cycle – January 2016 – Open Prep

The 2016 CrossFit Open begins on February 25!!  So the goal for our next programming cycle will be to help prepare mentally and physically for the challenge.  The cycle will include the following:

1) Barbell cycling – develop an ability to effectively and efficiently cycle through high rep Olympic lifts.  Typically, our approach to olympic lifts from a strength standpoint has been maximal strength in all forms of the movements.  We will now place our focus on developing some endurance in these movements, (specifically Power Snatch, Power Clean and Push Jerk) that will help translate in the sub maximal weight used in CrossFit WOD’s.

2) Gymnastics Volume Training – The typical gymnastics movements found in the CrossFit Open are Pull-ups, Toes-to-bar, Muscle-ups, and Handstand Push-ups.  Our plan to improve proficiency of these movements is through On the Minute Volume training.  Volume training is characterized by specific and repetitive training for a particular weakness with the goal to develop proprioception and endurance in the particular movement.  Volume training is best performed at a sub maximal effort to allow for near perfect form – it is not to create a metabolic conditioning response.   Strength and technique still remain the critical component to gymnastics movements, so those athletes still seeking their first reps will be challenged through a variety of scaling options, including isometric holds, eccentric loading and assistance work.

3)11.1 – 15.5 –  We now have 5 years of CrossFit Open WOD’s, so we’re going to get really familiar with them!  These workout are mostly classic couplets and triplets in the form of AMRAP’s and AMRAP Ladders.  We believe that familiarizing ourselves with the challenges of these workouts will better prepare us for the 2016 Open WOD’s and give us a chance to compare past results.

4) Warm-ups – During this cycle we will be instituting a standardized warm-up to be completed every single day!  The movements used in the warm-up will increase body temperature, stimulate biomechanics function, and provide practice for basic movement patterns.  Over the course of the 8 weeks, you will increase movement difficulty, increase repetitions and improve stamina.

5) Absolute strength work to maintain all the gains made over the last year.  Over the last year we have put a significant amount of time towards building our strength in the major lifts.  We do not want to lose any of that, so we will continue to perform heavy squats to help maintain that strength.

Schedule and Daily Breakdown

Unlike previous cycles, this cycle will rotate through 7 days.  Saturday and Sunday are not scheduled days in the cycle.  Below is the daily breakdown of each of the 7 days:

Day 1:  Back Squat + WOD

Day 2: Pull-up Volume Training + Power Snatch Barbell Cycling

Day 3: Handstand Push-up Volume Training + WOD

Day 4: Front Squat + WOD

Day 5: Muscle-up Volume Training + Power Clean Barbell Cycling

Day 6: Shoulder to Overhead Barbell Cycling + WOD

Day 7: Toes to Bar Volume Training + WOD


The Turkish Get Up – Where Strength meets rehab

My case to warm up with the Turkish Get Up (TGU) every day!

Most of the movements we do in the box with a barbell are flexion and extension (sagittal plane) dominant movements and it is important to also do rotation and side-to-side movements (transverse and frontal planes).  By moving in the other planes it loads our joints at different angles and works on shoulder stabilizers.  Our stabilizers protect our joints, they make sure that the ball stays in the centre of the socket.  In general, when ball moves off centre you start create pressure in areas that are usually the source of pain.  That is where the Turkish Get Up (TGU) comes in: it works on your shoulder stabilizers by moving through different planes of movement.


The TGU is a great exercise and teacher.  When doing the TGU try to pay attention to the different positions of the get up and allow the movement to teach you about your body.  One main principle is how to STACK—Stacking allows you to align your skeleton to handle the weight of the kettlebell.  Look at Pavel (seen below) in the first position. You will notice that his lower shoulder blade is actively engaged to support the weight of the bell.  As you work with your positions you will notice how to organize your body and that will make the movement easier or harder. You could also test this lesson by putting a barbell overhead to see how actively engage your shoulder blade.  The more we can use our skeleton to handle the load the easier its is on our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.


You can also test your stack by practicing a ‘naked get up.’ Start by having someone press down on the top of your fist at each stationary position.

Click on the pic below for a video about TGU basics.  If you are stacked well you should feel the force transfer through your body into your bottom elbow or hand.  If not you will feel discomfort usually in your shoulder, back or hips.


As a therapist I use the TGU as a diagnostic tool and also for rehab.  I can tell a lot about how a person moves and their lack of range of motions in their hips and shoulders as they transition through the get up.  You can use the TGU to help understand your own stability, or lack thereof.  Also, I use the TGU or portions of it to work on shoulder stability because I find that these exercises are a good transition from band work to loaded pressing and overhead catches.
Put it into action:
Try working on 5 TGUs on each side before every workout with a light weight and gradually build up.  Ask your self how does it feel?  Where are you having issues?  This can help unlock why you are having issues with other movements and lifts.  
Look for future articles on the TGU and its applications to movement and strength training and life.
Feel free to chat with me at the gym or send email to tell me how your TGU journey is going.  Where do you have issues?  Which positions are difficult? 
I look for to hearing from you.
-Dr. Paul Oh