CYCLE 2 COACHES LETTER
Dear Anchor Members,
Welcome to Cycle 2 of programming, as we continue working towards your goals. The premise with Cycle 2, the same as it will be every cycle going forward, is to build. To build towards new skills, strengths, and capacities. Below, you will find a detailed overview of the warm-ups, strength, skill, structure, and metcons. As always, to begin, here is the template for Cycle 2:
Monday: gymnastic pushing development + snatches + metcon
Tuesday: back squats + “work capacity” metcon
Wednesday: gymnastic pulling development + clean & jerks + metcon
Thursday: deadlifts + “interval” metcon
Friday: gymnastic development & conditioning + no-barbell metcon
Saturday: overhead squats + metcon
Let’s dive into the details of each component, before we go any further
Strength – Back Squats + Deadlifts
Your most challenging back squat day is behind you, as the 5x5 at 85% is one of the highest volumes we ask of you in this entire 16-week back squat cycle. For this cycle, your back squats will be done as EOMOM (every OTHER minute on the minute) format with waves. Waves are where we ask you to complete a high volume of reps at a lighter load (e.g. 5 at 80%), followed by your next set being a lower volume at a heavier load (e.g. 3 at 85%). This is done to progressively increase volume and percentages as we get ready for moving 90%+ routinely in cycle 3 and cycle 4.
Your deadlifts will continue to progress linearly with the percentages increasing and the sets decreasing to keep the volume the same. Deadlifts will be on Thursday’s this cycle. As they are in the middle of the week, and become heavy in the strength work, you will see heavy deadlifting in metcons less often. Similar to the back squats, our deadlifts will run on an EOMOM style.
Strength – Overhead Squats + Snatch Grip Push Jerks
Each cycle we will have one new movement added in for strength and power work to develop specific needs of our community. This cycle, it will be a 5:00 EMOM consisting of snatch grip push jerks, a movement that has been very consistent in our warm-ups, will now be used to test loading and develop stronger overhead stability, strength, and squatting positions.
This will be followed by the Overhead Squat work, with sets and reps fluctuating each week, incorporating pauses as needed. This is designed to focus on time under tension and developing as much stability in the bottom of our overhead squat. We have seen great progressions with this so far across all classes, and as we continue to build with this pattern the strength, stability, and patterns developed here will continue to carry over to your snatches, cleans, jerks, barbell cycling, midline, everything!
Olympic Lifting – Snatch + Clean & Jerk
After we completed our 1RM testing, one common denominator was found across the community. We have plenty of strength to pull the bar high, but lack speed, strength, and stability in the bottom position of our snatch and cleans. This causes many of us to pull a bar as high as our collar bones, but be unable to get under the bar. It’s very common and we are going to make it something of the past.
A scary reality, is that the bar only needs to reach your naval in order to have “enough room” to catch a snatch, and it only needs to reach your waist line in order to have “enough room” to catch your clean.
Therefore, we developed a 9-week Olympic lifting cycle designed around pauses. As you may already be aware from the last two weeks, we are working to catch as low as possible and pausing in the bottom positions. This is done to create the same idea as our OHS, to develop stability, strength, and support in these more challenging positions. As such, there is no prescribed percentages or loading, most days are allowing you as the athlete to build how you would like to. With the goal simply being to develop stronger snatch and clean & jerk patterns to get you lower. Resulting in more weight being lifted, and numerous PR’s to come when we 1RM test again. More than likely, a few of you will find some PR’s along the way too as we get strong in these bottom positions.
Continuing with the format of Cycle 1, we have development 3x a week. One is dedicated soley to pulling (strict CTB), while one is dedicated solely to pushing (strict HSPU). We begin back at 5 reps, where you will find a slightly more challenging progression then where you finished your 5-6-7 with last cycle. The difference this cycle, is the secondary minute now directly fatigues the CTB or HSPU. You will see movements like handstand holds and l-holds. These are designed as twofold: (1) to make the strength work more challenging for your sHSPU and sCTB, and (2) to begin specific strength development towards toes to bar and kipping handstand push-ups that you will see come the next few cycles.
The third day of gymnastics, on Fridays, will be the back to back EMOMs we became accustom to in Cycle 1. These EMOMs will involve extreme muscle fatigue and failure for both the pulling and pushing actions. Minutes will push your strength and conditioning the same way we did in Cycle 1, with a small overlap of CTB/ring rows and HSPU, combined with more of the new movements like handstand holds for handstand push-ups, d-ball holds (upper back development), and hanging leg raises for toes to bar development.
Simply put, the gymnastics progressions and improvements will not only continue, but will get better! All of this in store for setting the foundation to begin kipping skill work and implementation come Cycle 3.
There are a few specific warm-up components that are new to this cycle. First, we are including GHD extensions and GHD sit-ups every week. These will be used to get everyone comfortable with these machines and to add additional development to the glutes, hamstrings, and midline.
Second, more mobility has been added and in specific areas. In line with all of the pause overhead squats and snatches we are doing, scap development and t-spine opening will be added consistently to improve the upper back activation in these positions. As well, bottom up kettle bell presses and single arm overhead walking lunges have been added to replace the overhead carries and begin developing the overhead shoulder stability in more active ways.
Finally, you will see once a week, on Wednesdays, “rebounding plate jumps or box jumps”. At first, we identified across the board the challenge to do double unders. This project to make double unders a skill we have began with doing high jump singles to develop the height and jumping power needed to perform double unders. This was Cycle 1, and we developed great patterns. Now, in Cycle 2 we are going to take this and add it to “rebounding jumps”, the act of jumping right back up when your feet touch the ground. This in short, is the reaction time needed to perform consistent double unders. Especially for those of you who have a double under but struggle to find consistency in stringing them together.
You will notice a few additions to our programming for metcons this time around. First, our “work capacity” days, now on Tuesdays, will incorporate various types of EMOMs. One week includes a straight 20-minute EMOM with no rest, one is traditional for us with 4 minutes working, 1 resting for 4 rounds total. While the other two are two 10-minute EMOMs with a 2-minute rest between them. Tackling various couplet style movements. New to work capacity, we will be incorporating barbell cycling or db cycling each week to push different stimulus of work capacity. Simply put, if we only ever do burpees, rowing, and biking for work capacity, that is all we will ever get good at for 20+ minutes. From a programming perspective, it’s imperative we constantly change what is being tested in these time domains, to improve as much as possible.
Second, just as it is a founding pillar to CrossFit that we do constantly varied movements or functional movements, we must re-test. This does not mean every year at the open. It means every cycle for us. Every cycle, a handful of workouts are selected and placed in a “retest database” to be tested later on. Therefore, for this cycle, two workouts have been selected as retest workouts both placed in Week 4. As we go forward, you can expect to see retest workouts as often as once a week from various past cycles. This is the best way to see where you are, how you’re improving, and for us as a coaching staff to know where to go next.
Cycle 2 will build on the foundation we established in Cycle 1, it is designed to develop us towards further skills and strengths for the future and to improve upon the opportunities we found in Cycle 1. From being inverted on the wall to becoming stronger in the bottom of your squat, this will set us up for even more success as summer approaches. Leading us towards lifting weights we never thought we could, to doing movements we once believed to be unattainable, and to finishing workouts that once seemed impossible.
Here is to the next 4-weeks of working on ourselves, and to working with this amazing community!