Tagged as: crossfit open

Programming reflections

Developing our programming at CrossFit London is about merging the best of consistency with the benefits of variation; all topped off with obvious short and long term objectives.

It’s also about creating establish structures that deliver training gains.

Currently, we have a 3-day structure

Day 1) is titled All Elements and features the full squat version of the clean or the snatch. In the workout any elements can appear. As a regular skill we include some kipping practice

Day 2) is No Shoulder day where we alternate between the front squat and the Bulgarian split, and the back squat cycling with the deadlift plus the 1 legged Romanian deadlift.  The workout is limited to moves that do not include the shoulder. A shoulder rest day our skill focuses on the double under and the pistol.

Day 3) is No Squat day, currently upper-body orientated. We work through weighted pull ups/dips and cycle through the press, push press push jerk. The workout will not include a squat element- it needs a rest. Our regular skill is handstand based. It can be a 45 degree wall walk hold as your first step in getting upside down, to your first handstand push up, to handstand walking.

If you are following this programme, Day 4 is a rest day. However, as a gym with a big community, Day 4 is entitled Off Programme day.  We still schedule a great WOD, skill and strength for those who want to work 5 days straight through,  or it’s the only day they can make.

We are currently testing July’s  draft programme (about 2 weeks ahead of where you are) and are deep in designing the August/September programme. Interestingly, the 2 targets nudging our thought processes are Cindy and Isabelle. This has thrown up 2 issues

Issue 1 . Push-up homework

To achieve 20 rounds of Cindy, you need 200 push ups. It’s that simple and stark. We will prepare you by having push ups scattered throughout our preparatory workouts, but the reality is that you probably need more push-ups that we can ethically put in our sessions.

By ethically, I mean we cannot drag you, our beloved members, across London- often in rush hour- to charge you to do push-ups that you can do at home. Our dips, presses etc support this work. We set them, as in our mind you go to the gym to play with stuff you cannot reasonably have at home.

I have a plea. Over the next few week, please do push-ups at home. I’m hoping this week do 75 push-ups a day, the week after 100, 150, then 200. I need you to own 200.

This can be done as a hardcore task: three sets of 66! But it’s better to think about creating an easy habit. Five before you get in the bath, five in the  Starbucks queue, 10 while waiting for the bus, five before you brush your teeth. Why not post a clip of you  pushing up 9n public on the facebook group. Its now a thing.

When you come to do Cindy, I need you to know, know you can do 200 push ups.

Issue 2 Power snatch/power clean on day 3 WOD

The next issue is the power snatch versus squat snatch. I want to create 2  distinct pathways for these moves.  I want us to consistently pursue the squat snatch as a  thing of beauty, but develop the power/split snatching as the go- to workout move.

Day 1 will alternate (as it has done) between the squat snatch and squat clean. The focus will be on enough reps to develop the best form possible within the  20-30ish minutes allocated. For most, this is enough time to make substantial improvements (self-training and our Olympic lifting classes accommodate those who need more). Sometimes this will be delivered instructionally, other times as reflective individual feedback while you practice.  Often I suspect you’ll be sharing a bar and feeding back to fellow members as you watch them move. Peer coaching, under coaching supervision, can be very very useful as is using your phone’s camera to analyse and check form and spot weird habits in your classmates.

However, in the weeks  leading up to our Isabel test,  on day 3 in the workout, I  will often include a power snatch or a  power clean.

Yesterday we tested Isabel (30 snatches for time) as a day 3 WOD, therefore two days after the squat snatch element on day 1. It worked.  The next experiment will be to have squat cleans on day 1 followed by power clean in the WOD on day 3.  So over the next few months, note the pattern

Day 1  Squat Snatch dedicated session / Day 3 Power snatch in the workout

followed by

Day 1 Squat clean dedicated session / Day 3 power clean in the workout.

Obviously, we will vary the stimulus; different weights, different time domains, dumbbell versions.


Why you should sign up for The Open

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to encourage my athletes to sign up for The CrossFit Open. The overwhelming response received has been negative. Let’s be honest here, none of us like to lose. Paying money to have your fitness (or lack thereof) revealed to the world doesn’t sound like a great idea unless you’re Rich Froning or Sara Sigmundsdottir. Nonetheless, your fears are unfounded and here’s an answer to every excuse I’ve heard to date:

IMG_7701“I’ve just started CrossFit, I’ll do it next year.”

“Observable, Measurable, and Repeatable,” you’ve probably heard this phrase a bunch of times from your coach or seen it in HQ literature. This lies at the very heart of the ethos of CrossFit, and it especially becomes relevant during the Open. Essentially, an Open WOD is no different from the workout you do everyday at the gym. The difference lies in the information and ranking surrounding the WOD. You will have hundreds of thousands of athletes’ workout data that you will be able to compare yourself against. This is an incredible tool that you can use to mark your progress. This should be exciting for any beginner, especially because the first year you do CrossFit you’ll see some incredible gains. Imagine repeating 17.1 in six month’s time and seeing that you not only can do it RX but now lie midway in the global leaderboard! Assuming that your goal for starting CrossFit was to become a fitter, stronger, sexier version of yourself, why would you shy away from an event that will give you concrete proof of your undeniable progress in achieving that goal?


“I can’t do muscle-ups.”

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve been doing CrossFit for literally ages, and I only got muscle-ups in the past year. Sure, it puts a damper on your overall score–but so what? Since I got muscle-ups, my life hasn’t changed whatsoever. Girls are still repelled by my chat, and I’ve been told from reliable sources that I’ve lost followers on Instagram due to my CrossFit incessant posts. Getting a muscle up is not everything you think it’s going to be. Beware of the poison chalice.


“It’s too expensive.”

Really? You spend over a hundred pounds monthly on your gym membership. You have several pairs of Nanos, Metcons, lifters, wrist wraps, knee sleeves, and enough rogue t-shirts to clothe an African village. You’ve dabbled with Progenex (don’t worry I won’t tell your mum). The open is like any other CrossFit-related expense, and it costs the equivalent of a drop-in at any box in the world. You don’t want to fund Castro and his glock habit? That’s noble of you, but then again, you would also have to stop buying all the other Crossfit paraphernalia. Ask yourselves: is a life without CrossFit accessories a life worth living?


“I have an injury to my __________.”Nic Denby

If you’re training everyday with an injury, scaling and adapting workouts around it, I see no reason why you can’t do the Open. I had three hip surgeries and worked out in the Open 3 months after my last surgery. I scaled everything to my ability at the time, but I still showed up. There will be people competing who have real disabilities and would scoff at your excuse. You should never put yourself in harms way for the sake of a workout, and I’m certainly not advocating that. However, there’s a difference between a niggle and an actual injury. If you’re suffering from a broken heart, remember there will be pizza, and pizza is love.


“I won’t be here every weekend.”

If competing every weekend is the be all and end all for you, there are tens of thousands of boxes around the world where you can complete the Open WOD. If you want to travel somewhere and not CrossFit, that’s fine too. For the majority of us, CrossFit is just a fun hobby so missing a workout or two shouldn’t affect your decision to sign up. I don’t think I’ve participated in the full five weeks any year due to work or travel commitments. We might disappoint our Lord and savior Greg Glassman and his prophet Dave Castro, but that’s the risk we have to take.


IMG_7704Whatever your concerns about signing up for The Open, you ultimately need to ask yourself, “What is the downside?” The downside is that you need to take a risk by exposing yourself to the World. However, nothing great was achieved without taking risk. You may surprise yourself with a higher than expected position on the leaderboard or you may realise this is the kick up the bum needed to train more. Maybe the benefit is not physical but social and you end up making a bunch of new friends. No matter what way you look at it, The Open can only be considered a positive experience.



Rowing Seminar (Open prep)


The Open is fast approaching and there’s a few movements we can guarantee will feature: thrusters, pull-ups, burpees (eurgh) and, of course, rowing. Last year it was rowing, deadlifts, wall-balls and HSPUs in week 3. The year before it was rowing and thrusters in week 5. We don’t know when, and we don’t know with what combination of movements, but it will happen.


With only 5 rowers we don’t get to practice our rowing technique as much as we would like, so in the run-up to the Open our resident rowing expert, Tim Harley, is going to run two seminars specifically to prepare you for the challenge of the Open.IMG_6768

Tim has been rowing since he was 15 and after falling in love with the sport, went on to row and captain various state crews back in Australia. He’s also competed at Youth Olympics and Henley Royal Regatta and has 5 years of elite experience at University, State and National levels. So, safe to say he knows a thing or two about rowing. Take a look at all the pictures here; they’re not stock photos, these are all pictures of Tim in action.

The sessions will run on the following days in 9 Malcolm Place:

  • Friday 17th February – 17:30
  • Sunday 19th February – 9:30

The sessions will be limited to 10 people (2 per rower), and will contain a warm up, plenty of rowing technique, as well as tips, tricks and strategy before you put them into practice in an Open-style workout. Each session will have a different workout, so feel free to book in to both if you want the extra practice.

Even if you don’t plan on entering the Open, these sessions will be invaluable for improving your rowing technique and performance, and a rare opportunity to learn from an expert in the sport.