2023 – 2024 Programming (Peak Strength and Strict Gymnastics)


2023 – 2024 Programming (Peak Strength and Strict Gymnastics)

Overall Programming Plan

As we look at our programming through 2023 and into 2024, you can expect to see us work through a cycle of programming blocks similar to last year with the long term goal of building capacity across all the components of physical fitness. We will slowly build upon the different aspects of your fitness to make you even faster, stronger, and healthier!!!

The different blocks of programming will be as follows:

We are very excited to roll out another year of excellent programming and see all of the improvements that our members will make!!!

If you have questions or comments, please let us know.

Aerobic Capacity, Mobility, and Durability (April 3 – May 14)

This programming block is where we hit the reset button and start our programming back at the beginning. The work we do in the next 6 weeks will lay the foundation for our training between now and the 2024 CrossFit Open. 

The strength goal for this block of programming is to make our bodies as durable as possible. This durability will come from building new muscle, increasing the quality of our existing muscle mass, and building strength in our tendons and ligaments. But, more importantly, it will come from doing strength training that challenges and increases our mobility. To increase mobility (the ability to move or be moved freely and easily), we need to develop three key areas: strength, technique, and flexibility.

By putting and emphasis on these areas, we will be stronger and more stable through larger ranges of motion, making us more injury resistant and ready to lift big weights with quality. We will achieve this with the use of “functional bodybuilding” strength work as well as strict gymnastics strength.

You can find a lot of different definitions for what functional bodybuilding is but essentially it is using things that are seen as traditional bodybuilding movements (e.g. isolation exercises) and accessory movements and putting an emphasis on quality and range of motions over intensity/volume to achieve the goals outlined in the previous paragraph. In addition to this we will be focusing on developing our gymnastics movements and positions in an effort to master the movement of our own bodies. If you don’t have a good grasp on how to control your bodyweight you will never be as successful, effective, and safe as you could be when moving external objects (kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, etc.) in your training.

Our conditioning focus for this block of programming will be on building aerobic capacity. A simple definition for aerobic capacity is “your body’s ability to consume oxygen for energy production”. 

The main reason for this shift in focus is that well developed aerobic capacity is necessary for efficient use of your body’s energy systems. The more developed your aerobic capacity is, the longer and more intensely you can exercise without your body fatiguing and the more quickly you will recover during and after workouts. This is the “cardio” equivalent of our durability/bodybuilding focus for our strength. Without a good base of aerobic capacity your other energy systems cannot be maximized or trained to their full potential.

Some overall themes that you will be seeing in regard to the strength training will be:

  • More days per week with non-barbell strength work
  • Bodybuilding and gymnastics strength multiple times each week
  • Higher repetitions (Mostly 10+ rep range)

Some overall themes that you will be seeing in regard to the conditioning will be:

  • More long conditioning (25+ minutes)
  • More monostructural cardio (Running, Assault bike, Rowing, Ski Erg)

Aerobic Capacity and Strength Endurance (May 15 – July 2)

The main goal for this block of programming will be to increase our strength endurance and aerobic capacity. Some elements from our previous block of programming such as and functional bodybuilding and gymnastics strength will remain in this block as well but at a lower frequency. 

One definition for strength endurance is: “the specific form of strength displayed in activities which require a relatively long duration of muscle tension with minimal decrease in efficiency” . In more simple terms, we will be helping to develop your ability to move a moderate to heavy weight for high repetitions.

There are a few reasons that this will be our focus for the next block of programming. Strength endurance training will help us build muscle and increase our strength work capacity, allowing you to lift more weight with less fatigue. These factors will contribute to much larger strength gains later in the year. Additionally, this type of training calls for submaximal weights and higher repetitions. This will give all of you an opportunity to refine your movements and make adjustments to your technique that will help you more safely and efficiently move heavy weights. This will not only contribute to increases in your maximal lifting capabilities but also your ability to maintain form and efficiency during metcons that involve strength movements (e.g. DT, Grace, Isabel).

Some overall themes that you will be seeing in regard to the strength endurance training will be:

  • More days per week with barbell strength work
  • Bodybuilding/Core strength weekly 
  • More classic barbell strength (squats/deadlifts/pressing)
  • Higher repetitions (8 – 10 rep range)

General Strength and Conditioning (July 24 – September 17)

The goal for this block of programming will be to increase our general strength and conditioning. The conditioning portion of our programming will remain mostly unchanged through this block of programming but, you will see a slight reduction in the frequency of super long workouts and more of the mid range, higher intensity conditioning. 

General strength as defined by Scientific Principles of Strength Training is: “the general ability to exert force using the body’s musculature”. Basically, in this programming block, we will be developing our ability to move heavy weight. 

We have just finished up a block of programming focused on building muscle and increasing your strength work capacity. Focusing our strength training on general strength at this point will best utilize those newly developed aspects of your fitness. Better strength endurance means better recovery between your working sets of lifting, leading to higher quality training sessions. 

Some overall themes and changes that you will be seeing in regard to the general strength training will be:

  • Lower repetition lifting (Mostly 3 – 6 reps)
  • High percentage lifting (Mostly 75 – 90%)
  • Continued Development of Olympic Lifts

With these specific goals in mind, you will notice some changes in the programming but, DON’T WORRY, the regular CrossFit-style metcons you all love will still be there. Most of our metcons will stay in the 7 – 15 minute time domain as usual but, there will still be some super long workouts. We will also still be testing benchmarks and Hero WODs 2 – 3 times each month.

Peak Strength and Strict Gymnastics (October 9 – December 10)

One goal for this block of programming will be to focus on developing and testing peak strength for barbell movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, Olympic lifts, etc.). Peak strength is the maximal ability to produce force or, in the most simple terms, the heaviest weights you can lift. We will also begin putting a bigger focus on developing strict gymnastics strength. This will involve a focus on strict gymnastics strength. Mastering the strict versions of our gymnastics movements will allow you to more safely and efficiently execute the dynamic and skill-based “kipping” versions of these movements in our next block of programming. During this time, our approach to the conditioning portion of our program will be mostly unchanged. 

Some overall themes you can expect to see in our barbell strength training this block are:

  • Lower repetitions (Mostly 1-3 rep range)
  • More full Olympic lifts (Squat cleans/snatches from ground, Split jerks, etc.)
  • 1 Rep Max testing towards the end of this block
  • Continuation of our back squat and deadlift progressions

Some overall themes you can expect to see in our gymnastics strength/skill training this block are:

  • More gymnastics strength/skill days per week
  • More focus on strict gymnastics strength
  • Specific development for muscle ups/pull ups, handstand push ups, and handstand walks
  • Testing of muscle up/pull up and handstand proficiency
  • Gymnastics movements in metcons on a regular basis (muscle ups, pull ups, pistols, toes to bar, handstand walking, etc.)

The reasons for the direction of this programming block are as follows:

You have all increased your general barbell strength and Olympic weightlifting skills over the course of this year. We will continue to develop these attributes by lifting heavier weights at a lower volume (less reps per set). As we come closer to the CrossFit Open in the spring we want to have our gymnastics skills dialed in so that we are able to implement them more regularly in metcons and safely perform these movements with more intensity.

CrossFit Open Preparation and Gymnastics Skills (December 18 – Start of CrossFit Open)

The main goal for this block of programming will be to focus on skill refinement and preparing you for the CrossFit Open. Some of skills we will be working on that are relevant to the CrossFit Open are unique movements (e.g. crossover jump roping), kipping gymnastics, and barbell cycling.

The CrossFit Open is a three-workout competition held over three weeks at CrossFit affiliates and garage gyms around the world. Workouts are released online each Thursday, and athletes have until the following Monday to submit their scores. Signing up for the CrossFit Open is an excellent way to test your fitness and see how you compare to the rest of the CrossFit community. The CrossFit Open is a great opportunity for experienced CrossFitters to test their fitness in the Rx division as well as new members to participate in the scaled division. Most importantly, we always have a lot of fun!

The reasons for the direction of our conditioning programming are as follows:

  • For most CrossFitters, the CrossFit Open is the biggest test of fitness that we have each year and we want you all to have the best results possible.
  • Our programming has been slowly building our strength, gymnastics skills and conditioning all year and now you can put it all to the test and see what you are truly capable of.

Some overall themes you can expect to see in the conditioning programming this block are:

  • More “Open Style” workouts and Open workout retests
  • More strategy-based metcons
  • Application of gymnastics skills and strength in metcons

During this time, our approach to the strength portion of our program will mostly be designed to solidify and apply the new strength levels you developed over the last year. This is not to say you won’t be getting stronger during this time but the main goals will be to dial in technique and give our bodies a little rest from intense, high percentage lifting. We will also take this time to shift our focus away from back squats and deadlifts and work on some other barbell movements/skills that we might not do as often. 

Some reasons for this direction in our strength programming are:

  • We have taken our strength just about as far as we can get it for this cycle and now our bodies will get some much needed rest from the intense, heavy lifting we have been doing.
  • Dialing back the intensity of our strength programming will allow us to push the pace on our metcons even more and get our conditioning as dialed in as possible for the CrossFit Open.
  • Taking the strength we built in our squats and deadlifts and applying it to other similar movements will provide some extra technique refinement and strength development in those patterns of movement.

Some overall themes you can expect to see in the strength programming this block are:

  • Mostly moderate loads and volumes for barbell work (3 – 6 rep range, 65 – 85% of 1RM)
  • Frequent “Olympic” lifting movements (snatches/cleans/jerks, etc.)
  • Inclusion of new/different barbell movements (e.g. front squats, overhead squats, Romanian deadlifts, bench press, Pendlay rows, etc.)
  • Occasional max effort lifting