The off season is officially over, and it’s time to get back to some serious Crossfit training. Don’t make the mistake of working out without a well thought out plan. This is a 6 week high volume plan, designed to increase muscle mass, and muscular endurance, two deficiencies common in almost all crossfitters.
This is the first part the 12 week program. After completing these 6 weeks you will be more muscular, and your ability to handle heavy weights for high reps will be at an all time high.
I like many crossfitters out there have kind of just been doing a few wods, and relaxing after the crossfit open. It’s good to relax in the off season, and try new things, as well as allowing your body to recover from the niggling aches and pains that accumulate over the year.
That time is over now. We need to get back to serious training, if we are to increase our fitness in the coming year. Before we get into the details of this 6 week block, that will kick off our training year, lets first discuss what a training year should look like for those that really want to peak for the open.
The Yearly Training Plan
The plan we will be talking about is very similar to what many strength and conditioning athletes do for their long range plans. This is a year long cycle that prioritizes certain aspects of training, depending on how close we are to the crossfit open.
The first phase of training is the hypertrophy/muscular endurance training phase. This is key for those looking to maximize their performance for a variety of reasons. First, increasing muscular size is important to increasing strength, which is a key predictor of crossfit performance.
Several exercises that appear in this phase are very grip intensive. I recommend getting some lifting straps, such as these Harbinger padded straps (Amazon Affiliate Link).
These are not like olympic lifting straps, they will lock into the knurling on the bar, and allow you to hold very heavy loads on deadlifts, and rowing movements. I’ve had a pair for about 14 years, and they are very durable.
Here we will focus on getting stronger in both power lifting and olympic lifting, as well as our gymnastics strength. We will also start to incorporate some cardio vascular training.
This block is fairly long because we need to give the body time to generate new tissues that will augment our performance later on in the season. An example of this is when you perform cardio vascular training over several months, your body will actually generate new blood vessels, and capillaries, to fuel your muscles.
Here we work to maintain our strength gains, and shift our focus to anaerobic capacity. Really this means that we will practice working above the level where our circulatory system can sustain, for long durations.
We will be working on the bodies ability to clear cellular waste products from the cells quickly, allowing a high output rate. Those new blood vessels will be key to this process.
We will also add in specific skill work in areas that we are deficient in. This will be variable, but for almost all crossfitters it will include: olympic lifts, and higher skill gymnastics like, muscle ups and chest to bar pull ups.
This is our competition phase. Here we will do only enough strength work to maintain our hard won gains from the previous months. The only thing that we will continue to work on is our anaerobic capacity. The focus here is the crossfit open.
This is the off season which is a time to recover, and relax a bit. I always encourage my athletes to try some new events, a spartan race, or mountain biking, or hiking. Anything active is fine.
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Phase 1: The First 6 Weeks
Now that we know what we will be doing for the year, we can get into the details of the day to day for phase 1.
You will notice that the strength work is always two paired movements that don’t interfere with each other. This is by design, because it allows us to work those same muscle groups multiple times each week, allowing for a high total volume. This is also the easiest week. It only gets harder.
The WODs are also designed not to interfere with the strength, and hypertrophy work. The WODs are obviously still important, but the main goal of this phase is to increase muscular size, and muscular endurance.
This week increases the volume from 4×8 to 4×10. We’ll continue with our Wednesday sprint workouts as well. These are really thrown in there because I find that most crossfitters don’t ever run at this pace, and it is a real deficit in their training. Yeah, it won’t show up in the open, but you can’t really say your in shape if you can’t sprint at a decent speed.
This is the highest volume week until we switch programming next week to a different hypertrophy method. You will also notice that many of the WODs are a bit longer this week than the previous weeks. This allows you to get a little more volume in than you would otherwise be able to get.
You will notice that while we have maintained the same movements, we have changed the execution and reps. The goal here is to achieve a 3 sec eccentric, or lowering phase, for the specified movements.
Lowering a weight increases the time under tension for the movement, which is one key factor to increasing muscle mass. The goal here is good form, and a true 3 second lowering phase. Don’t cheat on these, and don’t be afraid to go a bit lighter to make sure you are doing these moves correctly.
You will notice that we’ve added more volume on the strength/hypertrophy work. We’ve also added in some 50 meter sprints after the 100’s. I caution you here not to go as fast as possible, as your hamstrings are probably not ready for that yet, and you could pull them.
Stick to RPE 8 (rate of perceived exertion 8 out of 10 effort) which generally means a hard effort, but not maximal. You will also notice that there are some different WOD styles here than you have seen before. The goal is to switch it up a bit, so you don’t get burnt out doing one type of WOD.
This is the final week for the first half of phase 1. This is also the final week for the controlled eccentric portion of the lift. I’m sure you’re probably cursing my name, but don’t worry it gets worse in the coming weeks.
You won’t find a plan like this anywhere else on the internet, and there are reasons for that. Most crossfit coaches underestimate the need for hypertrophy and muscular endurance in their programing. They see video’s and articles that show top level crossfitters hitting big lifts, and doing a lot of olympic lifting, but they don’t see the work that goes into hitting those big numbers.
Because I’ve taken the time to analyze these top level athletes, I can provide more effective programing, that will help you increase your performance. One thing most coaches don’t understand is that the best crossfitters have reached their muscular limit. This article shows you the science behind determining muscular potential.
It is also well known that increasing muscle size carries over to increasing strength very well. It has the added benefit of scaring the crap out of your neighbors, when you workout without a shirt on. Give this program a shot, and feel free to post your times, questions, and results, in the comments section below