Training Before Testing

Now that the Open is in full swing, it’s time to test your training. Maybe you’ve discovered you don’t really know how to go long in a 20 minute workout. Or found some imbalances in your unilateral dumbbell work. You might already be thinking about how to improve this coming year. But hold up.

Are you making this training mistake?

Grinding away at AMRAP after AMRAP, hoping that this will build your movement efficiency and engine, when in fact, it will only leave you scratching your head as to why things aren’t getting better.

The answer to that question is that training and testing should look different. If training is too much like testing, it won’t provide enough of a chance to learn new skills and grow.

Here’s how to improve your efficiency, build confidence in pacing, and get stronger and more well balanced than ever in the year to come: train purposefully to build skill, establish strength over time, and come back to the gym day after day hungry for more, rather than burnt to a crispy crust.

Let’s look at how a typical intensity-focused approach to training looks much different when Functional Bodybuilding is applied, using the examples of the first two workouts, 18.1 and 18.2, from this year’s CrossFit Open.

Notes on reading tempo and supersets in the workouts can be found in the Awaken Training Series Participant Guide.

20min AMRAP
8 Toes to bar
10 DB Hang Clean and Jerk 50/35lbs (5/arm)
12/14 Calorie Row

Intensity Focus – Typical Training

A. Clean and Jerk – build up to 90% of your 1RM – followed by 4 more singles at 80%

B. 10min AMRAP
5 Toes to Bar
6 Hang Clean and Jerk 60/40lbs (3/3 per arm)
10 Cal Row

Quality Focus through FBB:

A. Push Press + Power Jerk; 3+3 Reps; rest 2-3mins x 4 sets

B. Hang Power Clean – 3 reps every 60sec @ 65% x 6-8 sets

C1. Strict Toes to Bar (3 second lowering); 4-8reps; rest 90sec x 2
C2. Seated Single arm Dumbbell Press; 31X1; 4-6/arm; rest 90sec x 3

D. 5min AMRAP @ controlled pace
5 V-Ups
5 SA KB Hang Clean R 53/35
5 SA KB Hang Clean L 53/35
100m Run

rest 2mins

5min AMRAP @ controlled pace
5 Kipping Toes to Rings
10 Alternating KB Push Press 53/35
10 Calorie Assault Bike

rest 2mins

5min AMRAP @ controlled pace

8 Sit Ups Abmat
8 Hand Release Push Ups
8 Calorie Row

By compartmentalizing the skills that we saw in the Open workout 18.1 in this training session, the athlete has a chance to focus on a skill at a time. We have single arm strength workconditioning sets to ensure that we are training with quality, and adequate rest intervals. Those rest intervals keep effort higher so we can build our aerobic capacity. Lastly, we are hitting core flexion in a variety of different ways to enhance not only strength but also endurance.


18.2: Elite Squatting Mechanics

In 18.2 and 18.2a, it all came down to the squat.

  • Squatting mechanics were critical – position and ability to maintain great torso angle on the DB Front Squats made a difference in how well you could sustain a strong pull for part 18.2a
  • Ability to sustain high cadence on the squat cycle time
  • Aerobic capacity was a key factor in the ability to recover from a threshold effort for a big lift like the 1RM Clean.
  • Clean mechanics and top end squat strength

So how can you get a superior squat? Below is a typical max-out approach that you might see to prepare for 18.2. Instead, try the Functional Bodybuilding take, where you can address a range of squatting patterns in a single session. We would repeat and build on this over many weeks in a training cycle if these proved to be areas of weakness for our athletes. These are also similar principles that we see in Awaken Training Series.


On a 12min Running Clock Complete

For Time
DB Front Squats 50/35
Bar Facing Burpees

-in the time remaining in 12mins-

18.2a – Find a 1 Rep Max Clean

Intensity Focus – Typical Training:

A. Clean and Jerk – build up to 90% of your 1RM – followed by 4 more singles at 80%

B. 10min AMRAP
5 Toes to Bar
6 Hang Clean and Jerk 60/40lbs (3/3 per arm)
10 Cal Row

Quality Focus through FBB:

A. Hang Clean + Clean; 1.1; rest 5sec/rest 2mins x 5 sets (work between 75-80% of 1RM)

B. Bottom’s Up Front Squat – 5,5,4,3; rest 2-3mins

C1. Clean Grip RDL 4111; 4-6reps; rest 90sec x 3 sets
C2. KB Rack Squat; 32X1; 4-6reps (focus is on perfect posture); rest 90sec x 3 sets

D. 3 Sets @ HIGHEST Effort
12 Air Squats
10 Burpees to 6″ Target
12 Air Squats
15sec High Effort Assault Bike Sprint
rest walk 4mins between sets

E. Row 60sec @ 2k Pace
rest walk 60sec x 8 sets

Again, we take one piece at a time in a progressive, thoughtful program that allows for detailed improvements that affect the entire performance, without depleting the athlete with too much intensity.

You can train year round with Functional Bodybuilding and still crush the Open – Awaken Training Series will be open for registration April 1-8, with programs starting on the 9th. Join us!

Awaken Training Series is open for registration until Sunday, April 8 at 5pm Pacific. Program starts April 9. Join Now!