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.

Crossfit Yearly Training Plan
Crossfit Yearly Training Plan

Phase 1 

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.

Phase 2 

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.

Phase 3

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.

Phase 4

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.

Phase 5 

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.

Week 1

Phase 1: Week 1
Phase 1: Week 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.

Week 2

Phase 1: Week 2 Crossfit Plan
Phase 1: Week 2 Crossfit Plan

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.

Week 3

Phase 1: Week 3 Crossfit Plan
Phase 1: Week 3 Crossfit Plan

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.

Week 4

Crossfit Plan: Phase 1 Week 4
Crossfit Plan: Phase 1 Week 4

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.

Week 5

Crossfit Plan: Phase 1, Week 5

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.

Week 6 

Crossfit Plan: Phase 1, Week 6
Crossfit Plan: Phase 1, Week 6

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.

Final Thoughts 

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


    • Yeah, ideally they should be the heaviest weight you can manage for all 4 sets. But, if you’re having an off day you can go down for a set if you need, and conversely if you feel great you can increase. The goal is the most weight total.

  1. To what press movement are you referring on Tuesdays? Leg press? Shoulder press?
    Thanks for this routine. Am doing it now.

    • Press refers to standing strict press for your shoulders. Glad you like it, feel free to post your results in the comments.

    • Yeah I’m going to put it all together once I finish the full 12 weeks. I’ll probably email it out, so sign up for the email list if you haven’t already, and I’ll get it to you.

    • Strict press is pressing a bar from your shoulders to lock out with out any assistance from your legs. Shoulder to overhead means you can use your legs for assistance. Google Push jerk or push press and that should demo the difference. Death by anything means you do 1 rep on the first minute, 2 on the second, 3 on the third, until you can’t make the reps in the minute.

  2. My coach and I just started this on Monday and we are loving it! Quick questions- for Friday’s dumbbell press- is this a shoulder press or a chest press? We did shoulder press today but wanted to clarify for future reference. Also, for dumbbell work (e.g. Bent over rows) should we assume all of this is to be done on both sides unless noted as single-arm? Lastly, in the 4×8- should we be doing all sets AHAP or building? Thanks again- we really look forward to continuing with your programming and tracking our results- those sprints were no joke! 🙂

    • 1. Dumbbell press is a shoulder press you are correct.
      2. All dumbbell work is for both arms. So 4×8 dumbbell row is four sets left, four set right.
      3. Generally your sets should be the same weight for AHAP, but if you find you can do more, add the weight!

      Feel free to post your experiences and results on the comments section. Good luck.

  3. Most of this can be done at home with minimal equipment. The rower however is the only thing that’s bigger.

    What’s your recommended sub for the calorie rows?

    • If you are constrained on equipment then you can sub double under, or burpees for calories. I generally do 1 burpee = 1 cal , or 3 double under = 1 cal .

    • What ever you schedule allows. If you can spread it out through the day you’ll probably get a little more out of it, but I do them together. Your preference.

    • What ever you schedule allows. I do them together, but spacing them out will probably allow you to go harder on the WOD.

  4. This is a great program that is a perfect fit for me. I’ve been looking for something other than main site WOD’s and I really like what has been put together here.
    Thanks Jake!

    • Thanks for the kind words. It’s nice to know that my hard work is appreciated. Keep a lookout for the next 6 weeks which will be coming out in a week or two.

    • Marcelo, I’d say that you could do one of two things. Substitute exercise for something else, say pull ups or hand stand push ups with a deficit. Or you could increase reps to make it more challenging.

  5. Is week 5 on Thursday an EMOM or an AMRAP with the 1,1,2,2,3,3…
    Loving the program and the strength building is on point. Hamstrings and quads are shot after sprints though. Can’t wait for the next cycle.

    • It’s an EMOM increasing by 1 rep for each on the minute. You do 1 of each on the first, 2 of each on the second, till you can’t finish. Glad you like the programming!

  6. Just seeing this program for the first time…looks great! Did the file (for printing) ever get emailed? (I just signed up today.)