T Nation

Critiquing my Crossfit Program

I’m 19 years old and starting to train for competitive Crossfit.
I need serious work on my Olympic lifts and squat. I was wondering what sort of changes you would suggest for this template. I didn’t include any full versions of the Olympic lifts because I’m still working towards becoming proficient in them and I would be able to muscle up a lot more weight than I could lift with proper form. I also only included heavy deadlifts and high pulls once a week because I already have 2 squatting days involved and I think any more would be too taxing on my CNS. I would love any input on what you guys think about this program and how I could change or improve it.

Note: When I’m working up in similar exercises I basically start with my max in the previous exercise, this is similar to what CT recommended in this program from 2010, http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_thibaudeau/ct_football_?id=3662118&pageNo=2 ), If this is no longer considered the most efficient way to do it I would be more than willing to consider different optiosn

Sunday:
Gymnastics work/ General Crossfit Skill work (ex: light double unders, pistol Squats, oly lifts technique work etc)

  1. Overhead Squat 5RM
  2. Front Squat Max 5RM,
  3. Back Squat 5RM

Basically starting front squats at Overhead Squat 5RM (RM denotes max with perfect form and good explosiveness) then starting back squats at Front Squat 5RM

Monday:
Skill Work/ ex: handstand walking, technique work for olympic lifts

  1. Overhead Press 5RM
  2. Push Press 5RM
  3. Split Jerk 5Rm

Assistance Work
ex: Lateral raises, dips, handstand push ups, pull ups, etc)

Tuesday: Recovery, or light metcon

Wednesday:
Light Gymnastics work/ technique work for O-lifts

  1. Snatch Grip High Pull Work up to 3RM
  2. Chinese Pull Work up to 3RM
  3. Deadlift Work up to 3RM
    Assistance Work: (ex, reverse hypers, GHR)

Thursday: Same as Sunday

Friday: Rest or Light Metcon
Saturday: Same as Monday

Are you working metcons on lifting days also?

Are you working metcons on lifting days also?

[quote]ns182 wrote:
Are you working metcons on lifting days also?[/quote]
No I think I’m just sticking with 2 metcons a week for now, I’m going to focus on strength, explosiveness and technique for now and gradually integrate more metcons when I’m getting closer to competition.

I’ll take a longer look at what you are doing as a whole. But one thing that I would recommend is actually STOP DOING POWER SNATCHES AND POWER CLEANS.

At least until you are VERY good and have VERY stable technique in the full lifts.

That’s one of the problems I always have when working with Crossfit athletes. They are already pretty good at the power versions of the lifts because they have a decent strength base and practice the power variations often in the WODs. As a result almost all of them power snatch/clean more (sometimes a lot more) than they can do on the full lifts. Which is VERY bad since someone with efficient technique should be able to do about 10-15% more on the full lifts.

The thing is that the “power” version done by most crossfit athletes (and this holds true for other athletes as well) had NOTHING to do with a (full) snatch or (full) clean. They learn to pull as high as possible, never learn to pull in a precise manner (a few inches forward doesn’t matter that much in a power snatch but it will screw up a full lift), NEVER LEARN HOW TO RAPIDLY GET UNDER A BAR (this is the big one). In a TRUE olympic lifting power snatch/clean you should still go under the bar the same way as if you were going under a full lift, you just catch the bar a “little” higher.

If you do not pull yourself under the bar in a power clean it will have ZERO transfer to the full lift.

The more you do the “power version” of the olympic lifts, especially if you are not pulling yourself under the bar and the stronger you become at them, the lesser are your chances to eventually become technically efficient (thus strong) in the full lifts.

For example, my best Crossfit girl (4th at Canada east regionals behind Camille and Michele, was 3rd until the last WOD) snatched 185lbs and clean & jerk 230lbs… during our olympic lifting focus phase we trained the lifts 5 days a week, and she never did a single power snatch or power clean… not even when warming-up with the bar.

The only time I would actually consider it acceptable to do power snatches or power cleans are:

a) if you are efficient in the full lifts, lifting 15% more in the full lifts. AND if you are VERY constant in the full lifts (to me that means being able to ALWAYS nail 9 lifts out of 10 at 80%).

b) during a prescribed WOD

And even then, you should do the “power” lifts the same way you would do the full lifts, just catching them a LITTLE higher.

I would not even do the power versions in your warm-up. Do some mobility work, prepare the body with some high pulls + overhead squat + drop snatches (with empty bar) then start your warm up right with the full lifts.

HOWEVER YOU WILL NEED TO GET A QUALIFIED COACH IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT LEARNING THE LIFTS.

And the longer you “stick to the power versions” before committing to being good on the full lifts, the lesser are your chances of actually learning the lifts properly.

Getting stronger on the basic strength lifts (pulls, squats, presses, deadlift) will give you the strength gains you need while learning the full lifts. You cannot use the “power” variations to gain strength for the full lifts SINCE YOU SHOULD USE MORE WEIGHT ON THE FULL LIFTS. The “power variations” are actually used by lifters who have great technique already to improve power but MOSTLY to reduce the neural and physical stress of a session not really to build anything up.

And so in conclusion: power variants have their place, but full Olympic lifts and a general strength base are best

[quote]Pabro wrote:
And so in conclusion: power variants have their place, but full Olympic lifts and a general strength base are best[/quote]

NO! Do not misinterpret what I’m saying.

If someone needs to become good at the full olympic lifts then he needs to focus on the full olympic lifts and the power variations will make the learning process more difficult.

If someone had no need or desire to become good at the full lifts and only used the OL to improve their power and athletic performance then sticking to the power variations would be perfectly fine.

NEVER think in term of absolute… what is optimal is dependent on the goal and situation.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
I’ll take a longer look at what you are doing as a whole. But one thing that I would recommend is actually STOP DOING POWER SNATCHES AND POWER CLEANS.

At least until you are VERY good and have VERY stable technique in the full lifts.

That’s one of the problems I always have when working with Crossfit athletes. They are already pretty good at the power versions of the lifts because they have a decent strength base and practice the power variations often in the WODs. As a result almost all of them power snatch/clean more (sometimes a lot more) than they can do on the full lifts. Which is VERY bad since someone with efficient technique should be able to do about 10-15% more on the full lifts.

The thing is that the “power” version done by most crossfit athletes (and this holds true for other athletes as well) had NOTHING to do with a (full) snatch or (full) clean. They learn to pull as high as possible, never learn to pull in a precise manner (a few inches forward doesn’t matter that much in a power snatch but it will screw up a full lift), NEVER LEARN HOW TO RAPIDLY GET UNDER A BAR (this is the big one). In a TRUE olympic lifting power snatch/clean you should still go under the bar the same way as if you were going under a full lift, you just catch the bar a “little” higher.

If you do not pull yourself under the bar in a power clean it will have ZERO transfer to the full lift.

The more you do the “power version” of the olympic lifts, especially if you are not pulling yourself under the bar and the stronger you become at them, the lesser are your chances to eventually become technically efficient (thus strong) in the full lifts.

For example, my best Crossfit girl (4th at Canada east regionals behind Camille and Michele, was 3rd until the last WOD) snatched 185lbs and clean & jerk 230lbs… during our olympic lifting focus phase we trained the lifts 5 days a week, and she never did a single power snatch or power clean… not even when warming-up with the bar.

The only time I would actually consider it acceptable to do power snatches or power cleans are:

a) if you are efficient in the full lifts, lifting 15% more in the full lifts. AND if you are VERY constant in the full lifts (to me that means being able to ALWAYS nail 9 lifts out of 10 at 80%).

b) during a prescribed WOD

And even then, you should do the “power” lifts the same way you would do the full lifts, just catching them a LITTLE higher.

I would not even do the power versions in your warm-up. Do some mobility work, prepare the body with some high pulls + overhead squat + drop snatches (with empty bar) then start your warm up right with the full lifts.

HOWEVER YOU WILL NEED TO GET A QUALIFIED COACH IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT LEARNING THE LIFTS.

And the longer you “stick to the power versions” before committing to being good on the full lifts, the lesser are your chances of actually learning the lifts properly.

Getting stronger on the basic strength lifts (pulls, squats, presses, deadlift) will give you the strength gains you need while learning the full lifts. You cannot use the “power” variations to gain strength for the full lifts SINCE YOU SHOULD USE MORE WEIGHT ON THE FULL LIFTS. The “power variations” are actually used by lifters who have great technique already to improve power but MOSTLY to reduce the neural and physical stress of a session not really to build anything up.[/quote]

This makes a ton of sense, that’s why I didn’t put any olympic lifts into my program yet, because i’d end up doing the power variations. I go to a Crossfit gym for my metcons, should I avoid the “WODs” that involve the olympic lifts too?

[quote]cghiassi5 wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
I’ll take a longer look at what you are doing as a whole. But one thing that I would recommend is actually STOP DOING POWER SNATCHES AND POWER CLEANS.

At least until you are VERY good and have VERY stable technique in the full lifts.

That’s one of the problems I always have when working with Crossfit athletes. They are already pretty good at the power versions of the lifts because they have a decent strength base and practice the power variations often in the WODs. As a result almost all of them power snatch/clean more (sometimes a lot more) than they can do on the full lifts. Which is VERY bad since someone with efficient technique should be able to do about 10-15% more on the full lifts.

The thing is that the “power” version done by most crossfit athletes (and this holds true for other athletes as well) had NOTHING to do with a (full) snatch or (full) clean. They learn to pull as high as possible, never learn to pull in a precise manner (a few inches forward doesn’t matter that much in a power snatch but it will screw up a full lift), NEVER LEARN HOW TO RAPIDLY GET UNDER A BAR (this is the big one). In a TRUE olympic lifting power snatch/clean you should still go under the bar the same way as if you were going under a full lift, you just catch the bar a “little” higher.

If you do not pull yourself under the bar in a power clean it will have ZERO transfer to the full lift.

The more you do the “power version” of the olympic lifts, especially if you are not pulling yourself under the bar and the stronger you become at them, the lesser are your chances to eventually become technically efficient (thus strong) in the full lifts.

For example, my best Crossfit girl (4th at Canada east regionals behind Camille and Michele, was 3rd until the last WOD) snatched 185lbs and clean & jerk 230lbs… during our olympic lifting focus phase we trained the lifts 5 days a week, and she never did a single power snatch or power clean… not even when warming-up with the bar.

The only time I would actually consider it acceptable to do power snatches or power cleans are:

a) if you are efficient in the full lifts, lifting 15% more in the full lifts. AND if you are VERY constant in the full lifts (to me that means being able to ALWAYS nail 9 lifts out of 10 at 80%).

b) during a prescribed WOD

And even then, you should do the “power” lifts the same way you would do the full lifts, just catching them a LITTLE higher.

I would not even do the power versions in your warm-up. Do some mobility work, prepare the body with some high pulls + overhead squat + drop snatches (with empty bar) then start your warm up right with the full lifts.

HOWEVER YOU WILL NEED TO GET A QUALIFIED COACH IF YOU ARE SERIOUS ABOUT LEARNING THE LIFTS.

And the longer you “stick to the power versions” before committing to being good on the full lifts, the lesser are your chances of actually learning the lifts properly.

Getting stronger on the basic strength lifts (pulls, squats, presses, deadlift) will give you the strength gains you need while learning the full lifts. You cannot use the “power” variations to gain strength for the full lifts SINCE YOU SHOULD USE MORE WEIGHT ON THE FULL LIFTS. The “power variations” are actually used by lifters who have great technique already to improve power but MOSTLY to reduce the neural and physical stress of a session not really to build anything up.[/quote]

This makes a ton of sense, that’s why I didn’t put any olympic lifts into my program yet, because i’d end up doing the power variations. I go to a Crossfit gym for my metcons, should I avoid the “WODs” that involve the olympic lifts too? [/quote]

If it’s not heavy, no. During a WOD with a lightish weight all Crossfit atletes end up doing a lift that isn’t really an olympic lift so I believe that it wont have that much negative transfer.

BUT practice the full lifts… and practice them EVERY DAY. No need to go heavy right now, focus on perfect form, solid positions, keeping the bar close to the body AT ALL TIMES (do not let it move away from the body in any phases of the pull) and speed and depth under the bar.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]Pabro wrote:
And so in conclusion: power variants have their place, but full Olympic lifts and a general strength base are best[/quote]

NO! Do not misinterpret what I’m saying.

If someone needs to become good at the full olympic lifts then he needs to focus on the full olympic lifts and the power variations will make the learning process more difficult.

If someone had no need or desire to become good at the full lifts and only used the OL to improve their power and athletic performance then sticking to the power variations would be perfectly fine.

NEVER think in term of absolute… what is optimal is dependent on the goal and situation.[/quote]

Thanks for all this info Christian,and this has really cleared some things up for me.I do the power variations for the reasons you stated above and have no real reason to learn or do the full lifts so this is good to know.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]cghiassi5 wrote:

This makes a ton of sense, that’s why I didn’t put any olympic lifts into my program yet, because i’d end up doing the power variations. I go to a Crossfit gym for my metcons, should I avoid the “WODs” that involve the olympic lifts too? [/quote]

If it’s not heavy, no. During a WOD with a lightish weight all Crossfit atletes end up doing a lift that isn’t really an olympic lift so I believe that it wont have that much negative transfer.

BUT practice the full lifts… and practice them EVERY DAY. No need to go heavy right now, focus on perfect form, solid positions, keeping the bar close to the body AT ALL TIMES (do not let it move away from the body in any phases of the pull) and speed and depth under the bar.[/quote]

Thanks for all this help, i’ll make a point of avoiding heavy olympic lifts until my form is tight and avoid doing the power variations.

I have benefitted from this as well. I have found a level 2 Olympic weighting coach close by and will be going there wednesday night to make sure I learn the full lifts correctly. I am looking forward to this. Thank you!

[quote]sput79 wrote:
I have benefitted from this as well. I have found a level 2 Olympic weighting coach close by and will be going there wednesday night to make sure I learn the full lifts correctly. I am looking forward to this. Thank you![/quote]

Good move… NOTHING can come even remotely close to live coaching

Sorry for highjacking your thread OP.

CT: The world of Crossfit has really motivated me into leaving the traditional bodybuilding training and go back to increasing my athletic ability. My goal is to increase my athletic performance and basically just polish my strength while training with a more “training economy” approach.

Here is what I had in mind, its basically most of the common exercises you see in any given crossfit WOD or strength program but in a structured template.

Day 1)

Workout:
Bench press/Pullups
DB Incline Bench/ DB Rows
Weighted Dips/ Bicep Curls variation

Conditioning:

  • Rowing on C2

Day 2)

Workout:
Squat variation
Deadlift variation
Lunges/KB Swings

Conditioning:

  • Thrusters/Burpees (I’ll use my imagination to do something fun with these two exercises)

Day 3)

Workout:
Overhead Press variation
Power Snatch/Power Clean
Weighted Dips/ Weighted Carries

Conditioning:

  • Sprints

Wildcards:
Muscle Ups
Handstands
Pistol Squats
Double Unders

*To clarify some things, the Bench/Pullups for instance is a superset of the two exercises back to back.

  • Rep ranges for the mentioned exercises will be a combination of ramps and or low/high reps depending on how I feel.
  • I don’t really plan on competing nor on becoming a full-fledged olympic lifter so for the sake of simplicity I’ll stick with the power variations of the snatch and clean with pretty light loads just to get a good shoulder workout.
    *Abs are thrown in here and there
    *Wildcards are exercises that I’ve yet to completely learn so they will be practiced at the beginning of each session.
  • I do 3 on/1 off and repeat.

Its a very general overview of the program, I would really love to hear your opinion on it CT. My age is 25, i’ve been into sports most of my life (Basketball, soccer, football) and i’ve been strength training for 4-5 years. I would love to just stay healthy, be athletic while improving my performance.

Here are some of my lifts:

Bench Press 330 pounds
Back Squat 330 pounds
Deadlift 507 pounds
Overhead press 200 pounds

My squat is extremely weak I know, I bench what I squat and my front squat is almost as high as my back squat numbers. I usually squat high bar medium close stance. My inner thighs are relatively large while my outer thighs are almost completely flat with no sweep. Not sure what the reason for my weak squat might be. I am 6 feet 4 inches tall and I weigh 230 pounds.

Thank you=)

Also, I was wondering about the session length, on days when I practice lifting technique that takes up roughly 1 hour, and the crossfit WOD’s end up taking up around the same amount of time, (including warm ups). When I do my strength work directly after this the entire session ends up taking roughly 2 hours. Should I try and split these up into 2 separate sessions? Also should I be worried about burning out with multiple 2 hour sessions per week?

Why is your crossfit work taking so long? How many WODs are you doing?

[quote]nkklllll wrote:
Why is your crossfit work taking so long? How many WODs are you doing?[/quote]

I agree, a “true” WOD for a competitive athlete lasts about 10-20 minutes. The longer WODs are normally for people doing Crossfit as their only training method, and even then it shouldn’t be longer than 25-30 min (and that is mostly because the people doing the WOD are lower level and can’t go as fast) with some mobility and skill work on top.

Just to clarify: Do working high pulls decrease your ability to later learn full Olympic lifts, or is it just power snatches/cleans that do that? I have been hitting high pulls hard, and I think moving a decent amount of weight. I have no experience in Olympic lifts but would like to learn them. Thanks.

[quote]lotsi81 wrote:
Just to clarify: Do working high pulls decrease your ability to later learn full Olympic lifts, or is it just power snatches/cleans that do that? I have been hitting high pulls hard, and I think moving a decent amount of weight. I have no experience in Olympic lifts but would like to learn them. Thanks.[/quote]

Honestly in some people it helps, in some others it hurts.

Really, the big key in learning the full snatch (and full clean) is becoming fast, efficient and comfortable switching from an explosive upward body movement to an explosive downward one to get under the bar that you pulled.

The high pull can teach you the proper pulling mechanics and to keep the bar close. However it can also teach you to “hang with the pull” (slow/inefficient transition to getting under the bar) and to pull too much with the arms.

Some chinese coaches teach the snatch first by combining high pulls and drop snatches then moving on to full snatches. But that is with very young lifters who don’t have the strength to muscle the weight up. But it can be done. But to be effective the lifter would have the have perfect technique on the high pull (same pulling technique as in a snatch) and be coached by a qualified coach when learning the snatch.

As someone who works primarily with pulls because of a chronic injury, I’ve probably my pull-full lift ratio is probably somewhere in the 3-4:1 range. I focus on making sure that my pulls look just like my snatches and its definitely transferred over. I have hit PRs in both hang and power snatch, and hang clean.