New Programming Cycle – April 2017

The 2017 Open is officially in the books. We’d like to congratulate everyone who participated this year. It makes us incredibly proud as coaches to see the hard work, determination, and support all of you guys put into these past five weeks. You guys are awesome!

With the Open officially behind us for another year, it is time to look ahead to how we are going to help you all continue to improve and grow as athletes and human beings.  The next two months of programming will be devoted to attempting to address common structural imbalances through a mixture of bilateral and unilateral loaded movements, holds, and carries.

This cycle will represent somewhat of a departure from the more traditional barbell movements you guys are accustomed to, swapping them for other movements and implements, in order to provide new stimuli that will allow your bodies to adapt differently, and hopefully become more structurally sound in the process, in order to keep seeing overall strength, mobility, and joint health improvements.

Over the next few months, you’ll also be getting rather well acquainted with our new sandbags, which we’ll officially be introducing during this upcoming strength cycle, so get ready for that!

To help you understand some of the programming rationale behind using sandbags, check out this article by CrossFit HQ European flow-master Nolan Mooney: “Why Sandbags?”.

Below is a brief overview of how the six weeks of the cycle will look.

Week 1
Monday – Vertical Pressing + horizontal pulling (Volume) + WOD
Tuesday – Deadlift (Intensity) + Finsher
Wednesday – Sled conditioning
Thursday – Squat (Volume) + WOD
Friday – Horizontal Pressing + vertical pulling (Intensity) + WOD

Saturday – High Volume Benchmark WOD

Week 2
Monday – Deadlift (Volume) + Finisher
Tuesday – Vertical Pressing + horizontal pulling (Intensity) + WOD
Wednesday – Sled Conditioning
Thursday – Horizontal Pressing + vertical pulling (Volume) + WOD
Friday – Squat (Intensity) + WOD

Saturday – High Volume Benchmark WOD

You’ll be exposed to each week three times throughout the duration of the cycle, and we’ll add a testing week at the beginning and end of the cycle in order to assess the benefits of the variations in our programming.

We hope you guys are excited as we are to get this new cycle rolling.


17.4 Tips and Strategy


Mobility & Warm-up: Glutes, hips, ankles, shoulders, triceps. Get comfortable in your squat, make sure hammies & glutes are fired up. Go into this workout fired up and with a sweat!

17.4 is…16.4!!!! A repeat workout. One of the beautiful things about CrossFit is your ability to measure progress, and by repeating past workouts you put yourself in a position to do exactly that. If this is your first time doing this workout then this is your chance to set your first benchmark!

What we have in store this week is a chipper, but a chipper including movements that compliment one another. The order of movements go from a pull (Deadlift) -push (Wall Balls) -pull (Row for calories) -push (HSPU), which will still require you to work and breathe hard but muscle fatigue between movements won’t be as high allowing yourself to go straight into the next movement.

Let’s break down strategy within each movement but keep one thing in mind, DO NOT GO TO FAILURE! Red-lining during this workout is setting you up for a no bueno situation.

Deadlifts: You want to complete smaller sets that will allow short, consistent rest. If you complete them in bigger sets, that will force you into a longer rest period which is not favorable in this workout. Depending on your own personal strength and work capacity the RX weight can be heavy enough to cause fatigue fairly quickly so be smart with your reps and sets!

Wall Balls: Break these up into bigger sets than your deadlifts, but once again let’s choose an amount that will allow you to stay consistent prioritizing short rest periods. Make every rep count so hit your target so hit your depth! Wall balls can be taxing on the lungs, so remember to breathe at the top of the movement and stay strong in the catch and squat portion of the movement.

Row: This is all about tempo and breathing! You either love the rower or you hate it, no matter what the trick about this is to make each pull count. Being consistent with proper technique will go a long way to ensure you maintain a low heart rate so that you’re not huffing and puffing before the next movement. Choose long, powerful, consistent pulls over short and fast if you want the calories to tick away faster. Maintain strong consistent breathing to keep the body relaxed as well a loose grip on the handle to avoid expending more energy than necessary. PRO TIP: when the arms bend, the power ends!

HSPU: Break these up into smaller sets, smaller than you think! We do not want to be going to failure to risk any no-reps throughout this set, so choose smaller sets with consistent rest. The standard for this movement is challenging, so if you notice that you are missing the target try getting closer to the wall and/or bringing your hands closer together. Note that changing your set up will make these feel different so make sure during your warm up sets you are hitting the standard each time! If you are not competent with this movement, we want to ensure that you do not go to failure. So think big explosive kips, heels up and head through the window!

Mindset: Strategy is required when completing a chipper, so make sure you have a game plan to set you up for the most success throughout the workout. Know your limits with each individual movement and manage fatigue by completing smart sets and reps. If HSPU are your limiting factor for this workout, set a goal to bang out a couple, maybe even your first!! If you are a HSPU wizard, then remember that this is an AMRAP and let’s get back to the deads and wall balls. But as always, we should always prioritize our FUN!

17.3 Tips & Strategy

17.3 Tips & Strategy


17.3 is a C2B and Squat Snatch couplet! Every 3 rounds the C2B reps increase and the snatch reps decrease, however the weight increases significantly. So before looking at the weights that you CAN’T do, let’s focus on what you CAN do and set you up for a successful workout!!


Mobility: Ankles, hips, glutes, lats, shoulder internal rotation.


C2B: Butterfly, kipping or strict. Use the variation you are most comfortable with, this is not the workout to try a new technique, every rep counts! Complete them in sets that won’t tax you out, quick singles on and off will also help make up some time. Avoid double kipping or hanging on the bar for any unnecessary time. If you struggle with C2B, use the initial jump up to the bar as momentum into your first kip and give a big pull!


Squat Snatches: Looking at the loads right away you can probably identify that weight is the deciding factor on whether you make it into the next round or not…. don’t let this discourage you!!! Focus on completing the reps at the weights you’re capable of as fast as you can and treat any remaining time on a couple attempts at a new snatch PR!


Warm up smart. Start with an empty barbell warm up that is focused on technique, speed and consistency then start working up to the weight that you will be successful at. Have confidence in your lifts, big chest, eyes forward.


Barbell cycling will save some time so use this technique if you can complete 15 unbroken comfortably and consistently when fresh. Break it up into manageable sets that will allow quick breaks. If you are not consistent with barbell cycling then complete the reps in quick singles, make sure you set up properly and don’t rush it!!



This is a snatch workout not a pull up workout. High rep Olympic lifting under fatigue can breed interesting technique and form. It is always important to remain focused and calm throughout and in between movements. Coming off the C2B’s will make the heavy snatch weight feel even heavier – so don’t be afraid to take a bit of time to regroup and attack the weight. Treat that heavy barbell like your prey in the jungle, focus your gaze on it, envision a successful lift then GO FOR IT!!!


If you have a lot of time remaining for snatch attempts, optimize the time to build up to the next weight and gain some confidence before hitting the next load that does count.


Remember: don’t be discouraged by the loads in this workout. 17.3 is forcing us to get uncomfortable which all helps us grow as athletes. You may fail some reps, you may PR, whatever happens remember that this is just another test! This is Castro lighting a fire under your ass to always strive to be better. Let’s get our mind right and have some FUN!!!!!!

17.2 – Tips and Strategy

Pep Talk

17.2 is grippy as hell!! Every movement in this workout requires you to be holding on at some point so we need to prioritize grip management. Break-up the movements from the get-go and save your forearms. You want to avoid them blowing up early in the workout!! Quick breaks will be key in continuous movement throughout this workout and minimizing forearm fatigue. We want to make EVERY REP COUNT!! The bar muscle ups will be what separates most people since they are a more technical movement and require more grip strength so we want to set ourselves up for the most success in previous rounds to have at er!


Mobility: Internal shoulder rotation. Barbell smash, lacrosse ball smash, banded bully. Opening up and working on your internal rotation will allow for smoother transitions and more comfortable hanging positions on the bar

– Forearms lacrosse ball smash



Poor grip leads to re-grips which taxes the forearms. So wrap your thumbs around on pull-up bar, and do not death grip the dumbbells.


Dumbbell Walking Lunges: Must have your hands wrapped around dumbbells & bisecting your body

  • Grip: Loose grip, hold the back of the DB handle. Allow the dumbbells to rest on your body as much as possible.
  • Do not death grip, unnecessary
  • March: ensures consistency that you finish each rep full ROM. Slower but accurate. Keep breathing throughout each lunge and keep your torso upright, you want to keep your lungs as open as possible
  • Continuous: will allow for a faster completion, but make sure you fully extend your hips at the top otherwise your reps will not count.



  • Grip: Thumbs wrapped, knuckles up, outside shoulder width. Palms in contact with the bar, wear fucking tape!

Rep strategy

  • Complete in sets of about 30% of your max reps to save your grip
  • 4 x 4 maybe 8 & 8 first round
  • 180 TTB for singles to save precious time. Singles are only effective if you KEEP MOVING. Could be a good choice to save grip for upcoming BMU
  • Low bars are your friend. If you choose a bar that’s too high to get up to, you will expend more energy than necessary jumping up to the bar and jumping down.
  • Keep your kips tight, you want to minimize the distance your body has to travel


Dumbbell Power Cleans

  • Muscle Clean: More efficient movement and time saver. The key is to think about using your legs!! Think kettlebell swing. Arms stay long at the bottom of the movement to relieve unnecessary tension in your arms throughout the movement
  • Power Clean: If the weight is a limiting factor, use a power clean and jump your feet out. Think big shrug and using your legs to get the weight up to your shoulders. Since the dumbbells aren’t a fixed object, gaining control of the weight can be tricky. Use your whole body to lift these weights
  • Rep Strategy: If you intend on breaking them up and weight is not an issue 7 + 1 then go straight into the next round of lunges. If weight is an issue in sets of 2 or 3, go with what is manageable without taxing your grip.


Bar Muscle Ups

  • Jump into your first kip to gain some momentum. Keep your body tight during these kips.
  • Kip: When pulling, think hips to the bar and slightly bend your arms. Keep toes low.
  • Turnover: Tight body position and think fastest sit up ever! Avoid chicken wing arms by pushing down on the bar using both hands
  • Linking reps: rest on your belly and re-grip at the top. Momentum downwards will help propel you into your next reps.
  • Singles: Jump into first kip


Kipping Pull Ups

  • Avoid stringing together big sets
  • Jump into your first kip
  • Body positions: squeeze your butt and lock your legs
  • Momentum: If you are linking reps, ensure you are pushing away at the top and are not holding at the top. Holding will tax you out more than necessary!


Game Time Strategy:

  • Understand what your capabilities are and plan around it. Linking reps when fresh is incredibly different than linking reps in the middle of a workout. Think smart and set yourself up for success!
  • Warm-ups are incredibly important. It is getting your body primed and ready to attack this workout. Don’t skip past it, enjoy it and take advantage to get FIRED UP.
  • Once you’re warmed up, take 3-5 minutes to get your mind right.
  • No freaking out allowed


Mental Strategy

  • Movements may feel easy from the get-go, but devise a plan and STICK TO IT.
  • Stay calm during the workout and think about the task at hand
  • If you miss a rep, do not freak out! Shake it off and get right back on to it. Freaking out doesn’t help anyone
  • MOST IMPORTANT: Your priority- HAVE FUN.



Programming During the 2017 CrossFit Open

Congratulations for all the hard work during the last 6 weeks of programming!  We saw a lot of amazing improvements in strength and work capacity.

During the next 5 weeks as we work our we through the Open we’re going to try to add some variance week to week in our programming to keep improving.  We will also include some new Skill Warm-ups to keep you improving in your gymnastics skill work.

Below is the weekly template:

Monday:   Push/Pull EMOM(Every Minute on the Minute) + WOD

Tuesday: Olympic Lifting EMOM (Varied Movements) + WOD

Wednesday: Squats + WOD

Thursday: Strongman/Odd Object conditioning workout

Friday: CrossFit Open WOD

Saturday: Partner WOD

Sunday: Varied WOD + Active Recovery


17.1 Recovery Tips

17.1 was a hard workout on the low back.  To help you get moving again and recover a little faster follow the soft tissue work and active recovery workout below.

Soft Tissue Work

Low Back Smash:

-Using a lacrosse ball lay on your back and place the ball just above your pelvis and position your feet up on a box.  Focus on keeping your midline engaged so that you can maintain a neutral spinal position.  Overextending by tilting your pelvis will make the pain worse.

-Shift your hips toward one side, and grind back and forth against the grain of the muscle and slowly smash the tissue.

-Spend 2 minutes on each side of your spine.


Oblique Side Smash

-Using a foam roller start on your side with the roller positioned between your rbcage and hipbone

-Roll toward your toward your side and twist your torso over the roller, smashing your oblique, QL , and high glute

-Put your arm overhead to increase the smashing sensation

-Spend 2 minutes on each side


Classic Spinal Twist

-Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground

-Keep your left shoulder flush with the ground, drop your knees to your right side

-With your right hand over your left knee, pulling it toward the mat, straighten your left arm, and turn your head toward your left side


Active Recovery 

Further to the soft tissue work, the guys at ActiveLife Rx put together a great active recovery workout, to bring blood flow back to your low back and glutes and prepare you for the next week at 17.2.  Here are the movements, and check out the video below.

Row, Run, or Bike for 5 minutes

For 10 minutes at light tempo:

5 x Sciatic Nerve Flossing each leg

5 x Cat Camel

5 x Plank to Down Dog

5 x Paused Overhead Squat with Dowel


10 Minutes at a light tempo:

15 Sec Supinated Bar Hang

10 sec Alternating Reverse Samson Stretch Lunge

5 x 1 Arm DB thrusters each side, pause at top and bottom