Categorized as: Powerlifting

Back Squat Regime August to October.

Those of you who keep your ears to the ground will know that  I’ve  been taking various soundings from some trainers, therapists, physio’s, and clients about our forth coming back squat regime.
Everyone recognises the value of the back squat, even though it isn’t one of the CrossFit fundamental moves.
I originally thought of  a squat phase  in terms of  promoting our Olympic weightlifting work, having debated the issue with an Olympic weightlifting coach who suggested a  snatch/back squat relationship (snatch =60% of 1 rep max) but it is obviously part of the puzzle as far as the front squat, wall ball, thrusters, cleans etc goes.
Obviously, we all know correlation does not prove causation.
What we do know is that strength , if combined with Crossfit WOD capacity, is a winning formula
The issue, as far as I see,  is about the sets and reps over the next few weeks. I have spoken to some of our long standing members, especially those who lift regularly and who counsel staying in the 5 -2 range or 70%-95%. I’ve also spoken to some trainers about their experience of using %  in class which has been, in level 2,  overwhelmingly negative. Never the less some love percentages and everyone should learn about them
So in outline,  we will be doing  this:
On the No shoulder sessions, normally meaning twice a week, for the next 2 months (or so) we will set the back squat as a regular feature. Obviously with an amazing Wod to follow.
The coaches will have:
A)  the opportunity of designing hip activating warm ups and rest fillers, using whatever their views are: They may use stretching,  hip thrusts, 1 leg work, kettlebell swings: as they feel appropriate.
I’ve seen science and therapy reports justifying every approach. Even visualizing helps!
B)  the gift of setting sets between  8 and 3  sets. It will be their choice. I’d personally go 5 to 3 sets of 5’s   5 sets of 3, and 6 sets of 2, but the coaches can expand or contract the session as they feel appropriate.
c) The opportunity to educate the members on % and use % if they feel it’s useful for the clients in front of them.  In general, it’s useful making the %/ rep connection,
To make it clear, whatever you use ( a 5 or an 80% 0r 85%) you’ll be encouraged to sneak on a bit extra, or a “thin mint” if you, can on that day.

 Equally, you’ll be allowed to drift down if that day isn’t working for you and you feel you’ll explode if you add any more
d)  the freedom to  add pauses if  the coach feels the clients in front of them  would benefit from  this
Starting next week, it will look like this
week 1
Back squat 3’s ( I would start at 5’s but we have had quite a lot of that  recently)
Week 2
Back squat 2’s.  On the second day, after the 2’s you’ll strip weight down  to 70% and do one set of the 20 rep protocol
week 3
Back squat 5’s
We may repeat this 3 times then retest the total.
As an aside, Deadlifts will appear in the WoD, Ideally once a week.
(NB: Dedicated regimes, where people “buy in and buy out” normally have a de-load week. I’d suggest most clients randomly take weeks off anyway,  but we will be advising a self-administered week off or  “lite” week every 10 weeks or )

What’s level 3 about?

One of the weird classes we run is  Off peak level 3. It requires no special skills to join as its an “output” class.

As an output class it focuses on your ability to  develop barbell and skill cycle whilst introducing the ability to do 2 wods.

To achieve this you simply need more time.

Snatching and the Olympic lifts really respond well to leisurely deliberate practice. The off peak 2-hour level 3 classes allow this.  Work, rest reflect: get quality practice. Often we olympic lift  for 45 minutes. After this, we work on “those skills”.  Everything from muscle up to handstand push up. From your 1st one to 5 in a row

To compete and excel you need to be able to cycle these skills( or, do more than one) Level 3 gives you the time to rest and repeat. It’s crucial. Then it’s on to 2 Wods.


We need to start to develop your ability to “back to back” workouts, even if your second wod is just having a gentle row. It’s as much about building mental capacity as physical.

Any level 2 person can go. The coaching is under your control. You can get lots of coaching help, or be left on your own. You can even switch skills and Woods.

It’s really 2 hours of fun practice with you in charge, but with help, if you want it.

For some, it’s useful that it’s a 2-hour session for the price of a normal class.

Well, its every Monday, Wednesday,  Friday 9 am to 11 am with access to every bit of kit!

CrossFit Powerlifting: 2nd quarter cycle 2017

IMG_8400The end of the current cycle

It’s week 11 of 12 of this Powerlifting cycle, and that means one more chance this week to chase those gains. For those of you who have been following the cycle, we’re one week away from retesting. For those that haven’t dipped their toe yet, this week or next will be the perfect time to jump in, try out the class, and establish a 1RM ready for the new cycle.

The programme: Wendler 5-3-1

We’ve seen a steady increase in numbers over the last few months, so for those who haven’t been with us from the beginning, we’re on a Wendler 5-3-1 cycle.

We hit our numbers in 3 phases; every 4 weeks, we go back to our original percentages and add a little extra weight to our 1RM. So week 1, 5, and 9, the percentages are the same, but your theoretical 1RM goes up; adding weight slowly to push the boundaries of what you’re able to lift.

The last set of every session is a max effort set, which means you can push yourself to the max every class, and then compare your numbers against previous weeks.

If you want to read about this cycle in more detail, go here.

Tried and tested

I’ve been following the exact same cycle along with the classes and recording my numbers. Here’s what I got on back squat.
Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 15.39.43

(NB. my 1RM is calculated a little low due to a back injury, so these numbers are perhaps a little higher than I would expect)

If you’re following the cycle, you should have a set of numbers recorded somewhere a bit like this (even if there’s a week or two missing).

You can see a clear progression in numbers over the 11 weeks. In week 1, I managed 10 reps at 115kg in my max effort set. 8 weeks later and I managed the same number of reps at 120kg. Not only does this progression in numbers give you confidence to lift more, but it’s tangible evidence that you’re getting stronger and more proficient.

IMG_7352Next up in Powerlifting

Next week – week 12 – will be retesting. In all the classes over the week, you’ll have the opportunity to retest all your 1RMs, including secondary lifts like front squat, pull-up, sumo DL, etc. If you fancy starting with Powerlifting, or just want to test your 1RMs, come on down.

The following week – w/c 26.06.17 – will be SWOD week, where we’ll put our new strength to the test in some powerlifting benchmarks (“Linda” will feature).

Then, in two weeks – w/c 26.06.17 – we’ll be starting a new cycle. I’ve liked this Wendler programme so much we’re going to do it again. But, now that you’re all acclimatised, you can expect more accessory work, and some more challenging workouts. We’ll still keep our explosive work and sprinting, but we’re going to add in some more hypertrophy and bodybuilding-type exercises.

Who is CrossFit Powerlifting for?

The only prerequisites for the Powerlifting class is that you know the lifts in question: back squat, bench press, and deadlift. That’s it. If you’ve done the Level 1s, or are familiar with them from your own gym work, that’s enough.

You don’t need to have a minimum level of strength. You don’t need to know your 1RMs (yet). You don’t have to do low-bar back squats or conventional deadlifts.

IMG_4810The only thing you need is a desire to be stronger. Whether that be for CrossFit, for Olympic Lifting, maybe that was your weakness in the Open, or just for its own sake.

The lifts are all on rotation, so even if you can only commit to once a week, you’ll still hit all lifts over the cycle. Similarly, if you want to work specifically on one lift, say bench press, you know exactly which classes to come to.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be fleshing out the new programme. Feel free to email or FB message me with any questions. Otherwise, good luck retesting next week!