strength cycle

29 Mar 2019 - WOD


A) Strength / Conditioning
4 x 2 minutes on : 2 minutes off
6 Power clean @ Heavy as possible
In remaining time row or bike for distance @ 90% effort

B) Strength
4 x 2 minutes on : 2 minutes off
5 Front squats @ heavy as possible
In remaining time perform as many single arm dumbbell rows as possible
* Switch arms every 10 reps
* This couplet is for quality, not speed

24 Mar 2018 – CrossFit Open 18.5

The CrossFit community voted, and this is what they asked for.... the best of three Evils??

Remember, after Open 18.5 finishes, we will be presenting the award for the winners of the 2018 CrossFit Open Team Competition, and Coach Phil will be giving a talk on our upcoming Strength Cycle! Make sure you stick around!


2018 CrossFit Open 18.5 - Rx

Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of:
3 thrusters (45 / 30 kg)
3 chest-to-bar pull-ups
6 thrusters (45 / 30 kg)
6 chest-to-bar pull-ups
9 thrusters (45 / 30 kg)
9 chest-to-bar pull-ups
12 thrusters (45 / 30 kg)
12 chest-to-bar pull-ups
15 thrusters (45 / 30 kg)
15 chest-to-bar pull-ups
18 thrusters (45 / 30 kg)
18 chest-to-bar pull-ups

If you complete the round of 18, go on to 21. If you complete 21, go on to 24, etc.

2018 CrossFit Open 18.5 - Scaled

Complete as many reps as possible in 7 minutes of:
3 thrusters (30 / 20 kg)
3 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
6 thrusters (30 / 20 kg)
6 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
9 thrusters (30 / 20 kg)
9 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
12 thrusters (30 / 20 kg)
12 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
15 thrusters (30 / 20 kg)
15 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups
18 thrusters (30 / 20 kg)
18 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups

If you complete the round of 18, go on to 21. If you complete 21, go on to 24, etc.

22 Mar 2018 – Strength Cycle Programming Update this Saturday

It's the last week of the 2018 CrossFit Open, which means we will soon be starting our post-Open Strength Cycle! Coach Phil will be giving a Programming Update talk on Saturday 24 March after the last Open WOD (c. noon). His talk will explain what strength is, why it's important to your training, what's involved in the cycle, and how the weekly training will be structured. Worried about your conditioning during this cycle? Never fear, he'll be talking about that as well! 

Get involved for some serious knowledge bombs! 


In teams of 3, 25 minute AMRAP of:
3000/2400m Row
50 Toes to Bar
75 Burpees over the box (24/20 in) 
100 Wall balls (9/6 kg)

16 June 2017 – Testing Week, Day 5


A) Conditioning
For time:
1000m Row
100 Double unders
50 Kettlebell swings (24/16 kg)
40 Wall balls (9/6 kg)
30 Burpees
20 Pull-ups
10 Power cleans @ 80% of yesterday's 1RM

Engine Work : Aerobic Capacity

A) VO2 Max - Row

4 rounds, each for time:
250m Fast
200m Easy
250m Fast
200m Easy
Rest 4 minutes

Fast = 500m PB pace or faster

Reminder: Our Goal Setting Workshop is this Sunday! The workshop will start at 9.30 am and finish at 11 am (there will be no Competition Class this weekend). The workshop is free to all members. Sign up via Team-up here.


13 June 2017 – Testing Week, Day 2



"CrossFit Total"
Establish a 1 rep max for each of the following lifts:
Back squat
Strict press

* For each lift use the following loading sequence:
2 @ 60%
2 @ 70%
1-2 @ 80%
1 @ 85%
1 @ 90-95%
1-2 attempts @ 100%+

Engine Work : Aerobic Capacity

A) Lactate Threshold

2 sets: 
800m run @ moderate pace
Rest 1 minute
300m run @ fast pace
Rest 2 minutes

2 sets: 
600m run @ moderate pace
Rest 1 minute
200m run @ fast pace
Rest 2 minutes

2 sets: 
400m run @ moderate pace
Rest 1 minute 100m run @ fast pace
Rest 2 minutes

Moderate pace = Mile PB pace
Fast pace = Fast as you can maintan for that distance


05 June 2017 – The Last Week of the Strength Cycle


This is the last week of our dedicated strength cycle, which means next week is testing week!

This week Monday to Thursday will look similar to the past couple of weeks, Friday to Sunday will see a reduction in volume/intensity to allow you to be ready to crush some PB's in testing week.

Testing Week Details

Below you will find the plan for testing week. It largely follows the same structure as the testing week we had at the beginning of the strength cycle, however we are also including a few conditioning-based tests ready for the next phase in the programming.

Where possible, try and attend the same days as last time so you can see how far you have progressed! It's a good idea to use any of the same scaling options so you can have a fair comparison... 


A) Gymnastics
Make 2 attempts at each of the following: 
A1) Max set strict pull-up
A2) Max set strict HSPU
A3) Max set toes to bar (kipping)

B) Conditioning
"Black and Blue" 
5 Rounds for time: 
10 Power Cleans 60/40kg
10 Burpees


CrossFit Total
Establish a 1 rep max for each of the following lifts
- Back squat
- Strict press
- Deadlift


Time Trial: 2km Row


The Other Total
Establish a 1 rep max for each of the following lifts
- Power clean
- Bench press
- Front squat


Skill Development


Alternating EMOM for as long as possible (40 minute cap):
20/17 Calorie row
1 round of Cindy (5 Pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 Air squats)


A) Strength
A1) Back Squat: 15 minutes to build to a heavy 2

A2) Alternating EMOM x 24
Minute 1: 10 Back squat
Minute 2: 10 Chin-ups
Minute 3: 10/10 SIngle arm strict press
Minute 4: Rest

Guidelines for A2
– Barbell movements: Increase by 2.5 to 5kg from last week
– Gymnastics: Unbroken is the aim, scale as needed

B) Strength Accessory
3-5 Supersets

8/8 Single arm suitcase deadlift
8/8 Dumbbell box step-up
8 Box hamstring curls

15 Apr 2017 – The Myth Behind the Muscle, or what's the Beef with Bulky?

Coach Maria circa 1989 (left), circa 2011 (middle), circa 2017 (right). Coach Maria trains 1.5 - 2 hours a day, 5 days per week. She consumes at least 2600 calories per day (aka A LOT).

We are well in to our strength cycle now and our blogs and social media posts abound with jokes about "Making the Gainz". We’re asking you to lift heavy, we’re decreasing the volume of conditioning workouts, and we’re programming dumbbell bench press.

Ladies, I think it’s a pretty good time to address the elephant in the room… 

What if you don’t want to get the gainz?? What if you don’t want to increase the circumference of your biceps? What if you just want to get a bit more toned? 

What if you don’t want to get bulky?

This post is going to start off as a bit of a rant, but bear with me. It gets more motivational towards the end.

The first rant begins…

American gymnast and 2016 Olympic individual all-around, vault and floor gold medalist, Simone Biles (top); British Track and Field Athlete and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, Jessica Ennis (bottom left); 2015 CrossFit Games Athletes preparing for the Open Water swim event (right)

What is bulky?

Am I bulky? Is Simone Biles bulky? Is Jessica Ennis bulky? What about these CrossFit Games athletes?

What’s the difference between bulky and muscular? Muscular and lean? Lean and toned?

Why is it ok and acceptable for someone or something else to shape your opinion of what too bulky is for you, if you’re enjoying your training? 

Followed quickly by the second rant…

Let’s say you consider any of the aforementioned women to be too bulky for your tastes - their body shape is not what you would desire for yourself. Fair enough, again, to each their own and who am I to shape your opinion of what too bulky is! 

But take a minute to rationalise… Do you believe that these athletes picked up a dumbbell one day and their biceps grew exponentially, immediately? Do you think they did three sets of 60 kg back squats and the next day their ass and quads became so large that none of their jeans fit anymore? Do you think that the volume and intensity of strength training the average woman does every day in her CrossFit box or gym is enough to make her body look like this? If you answered yes to any of these questions, that's straight up ignorant and naive. Furthermore, by thinking that, you have completely undermined the effort these women have put in to get to where they are today. 

These athletes train at least 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week. Not to mention the time (and money!) they spend on recovery. They are meticulous with their nutrition and eat A LOT to support that training. They miss out on social engagements and make loads of sacrifices to develop their bodies into finely tuned, highly trained machines in order to achieve the goals they set out for themselves. And it takes a long time.

::Deep Breath::

Calming down, most women I have spoken to choose not to lift, or are tentative to increase the weight that they’re lifting, because they do not want to get bulky, i.e. gain too much muscle. Again, what “too much muscle” means is entirely subjective to you, but know that it doesn’t happen over night, and you have to put in some serious hours and make some difficult choices and commitments to get as muscular as these athletes. 

As explained by Molly Galbraith of Girls Gone Strong:

Because most of the studies done on hypertrophy have been on men, post-menopausal women, or women with health conditions, it’s impossible to state with certainty how much lean mass a woman can expect to gain when she starts strength training. What I can tell you is that not a single expert guessed that it was greater than .5 – 1 lb. a month for the first 6-12 months, and that it slows considerably the longer you’ve been training. And this is in women who are making a conscious effort to gain lean mass, and eating to support these goals.

So Why Should You Lift?

Let’s start with the physical benefits…

Increase your lean mass

Often, when people say they want to tone their physique, what they’re actually saying is they want to gain lean mass, and for good reason! Increasing your lean mass (aka your muscle mass) not only helps to give the appearance of a toned physique, it also helps maintain a healthy body composition because muscle is a metabolically expensive tissue, i.e. it burns more calories than fat tissue.

Put yourself ahead of the game (Bone density and Sarcopenia)

Strength training will also put you ahead in the Age Game, helping you maintain your good health as you get older. Lifting weights and lifting heavy not only increases bone density, which will help to prevent the effects of osteoporosis as you get older, it also helps reduce the effects of sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass, strength and mobility as you age. You’ll be the kick-ass 80 year old Grandma forgoing the zimmer frame to go hiking with your grandkids!

Fat loss (oh wait, wasn’t that your goal to begin with??)

As mentioned above, an increase in lean mass means an accelerated metabolism, which in turn promotes fat loss (assuming you’re eating as you should do).

Now the mental benefits, because you should all know by now that training encompasses so much more than a 20 minute AMRAP to get you sweaty! 

Set more rewarding goals

Weight training gives us the opportunity to set positive, performance-based goals instead of negative, aesthetics-based targets (“I want to gain speed by getting an 8 minute 2k row, gain strength by adding 10 kg to my back squat, improve my fitness by being able to complete Murph as Rx” as opposed to “I want to lose 5 kg, drop an inch around my waist, fit into those size 10 shorts”).

Whereas training for an arbitrary aesthetic goal can be demotivating, training for a physical, tangible goal is much more rewarding and more exciting to follow through. 

Develop confidence in overcoming a challenge

You know that little internal monologue you have before you approach a heavy bar? “I got this, the last set felt easy, I’m feeling strong today”. That’s called confidence and the bar is your challenge. Think that that confidence leaves you as soon as you walk out of the gym? Think again. The confidence you develop in your training will transfer directly over to any challenges you face outside of the box. You’ll find an increased sense of confidence overcoming any obstacle you face, regardless of if it is measured in kilos or in a presentation at work.

Learn to deal with failure and character building

I can’t sugar coat everything. There will be days when your lifts won’t go as planned. Or a goal you set for yourself might take longer to achieve than anticipated. Strength training is a great exercise in building character, in learning to deal with failure, in picking yourself back up and trying again when you fail, in sticking with it when you can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just like your improved confidence, these skills from your training will transfer over and help in the way you deal with problems in your every day life.

Become a positive role model

Although I questioned if there was such a thing as too muscular (determined by one’s personal taste and preference), I’m certain there is such a thing as too skinny, which comes down to health and wellness. In a world dominated by unattainable notions of beauty, why not be the woman that shows younger girls not what they should look like, but what they can do. 

Let’s refer back to those women I mentioned before when I was ranting about what ‘too bulky’ actually means. I selected their photos because I know that we all look up to them. We are awe-struck when we see them on television, we well up with patriotic pride when they stand on the podium, and if we saw them in the street, you better believe we’d stop them for their photo. However, I bet you that we don’t do this because of the way these women look in their Instagram selfies or the way they rock a bikini. These women are empowering to other people (both women and men) not for how they look, but for how they perform. Their bodies have a purpose and they are doing everything in their power to fulfil that purpose. That is inspiring. 

Regardless of your training background, your goals, what you want your body to look like, or what other people think about you, know that you can be strong, you can be athletic and you can move well. Focus on these positives in your training, instead of focusing on how you should look, and in addition to being strong and healthy, you might also possess that one thing that makes you more attractive than anything else... Happiness :)

* I would like to give credit and thanks to one of our members (who shall remain anonymous, but is known by all as an incredibly strong, gifted athlete and a beautiful person) who was kind enough to share their own experiences with body image and weight training with me and whose feedback helped to shape this blog.


A) Strength: Deadlift

1 x 5 @ 75%
1 x 3 @ 80%
1 x 3 @ 85%
1 x AMRep @ 95%

B) Strength Accessory

3-5 rounds:
20 Alternating arm dumbbell bench press (top down)
10-12 Single arm dumbbell row
10-12 Bulgarian split squat
Max set strict toes to bar

* Move with purpose from movement to movement
* Rest 2-3 minutes between rounds

27 Mar 2017 – Congrats to Liv, Dre and Luce, our Whole Life Challenge Top Finishers!

The results are in, the final numbers logged, and we would like to give a big congrats to the top finishers of our Whole Life Challenge, Olivia Simpson, Lucia Sansone and Andreea Caua!

Awesome work ladies!


A) Strength: Shoulder Press

1 x 5 @ 70%
1 x 5 @ 75%
1 x 5 @ 80%
1 x AMRep @ 85%

B) Strength Accessory & Gymnastics

Every minute for 12 minutes, alternate between:
30 seconds: Max push-ups
30 seconds: Max ring rows
30 seconds: Max sandbag walking lunge
30 seconds per side: Side plank with hip abduction


This will be our last Mobility Drill of the Week until May. For the month of April, we want everyone to focus on the Hanging Challenge for their mobility work.

21 Mar 2017 – Programming Update: The Strength Cycle

The last 3 or so months have seen us work hard to develop your conditioning and skills specific to the CrossFit Open.

For the past four weeks, you have taken on whatever Dave Castro has thrown our way and as your coaches we are very proud of each one of you.  It is clear that you were all focused on doing the best that you can do, do this and you are successful.

In typical fashion we like to transition from the Open season into something a little slower paced…

Introducing our 2017 Strength Cycle

It's everyone's favourite time of year! It's time focus on getting you strong!

Strength is the ability to produce force, and it is possibly the most important component in athletics. It is dependent on muscle mass, on the nerves that make the muscles fire, and on the will that fires the nerves. Power depends on it, as does balance, coordination, speed, quickness, and endurance.

Absolute strength is the catalyst to all strengths. The greater the athlete’s absolute strength, the greater the capability for all other types of strengths.  This is because increasing your absolute strength levels will increase your overall work capacity (the ability to do more work in less time).

And most importantly it's fun to lift some heavy stuff!

Strength Cycle Overview

Our strength cycle will work in four week waves.

The first three weeks will feature a weekly layout and movement selection that will remain largely unchanged. Over the course of the three weeks we will progress the loading/reps/times/% etc

Week four will be a de-load to allow your body and brain time to recover.

After the de-load, we will start the wave with new movement variations and repeat the process.

The reasons we keep the days static is so we can make sure you get enough recovery between our heavy days, and secondly so you can plan your schedules around hitting the strength days or the skill/conditioning focused days (depending on your flava!)

Each week you will perform a variation of the main slow lifts (press, squat and hinge…heavy). In addition, on each of these days you will also work on strict, high rep gymnastics strength as well as some accessory work for the main lifts.

Our 'non-strength' days will focus on shoulder prehab (to keep you injury free) and work on skill development and some base level aerobic conditioning.

Here is the weekly plan laid out...


Strength (Press variation)
Gymnastics Strength & Accessory work


Shoulder Prehab
Skill Development & Conditioning


Strength (Squat variation)
Gymnastics Strength & Accessory work


Shoulder Prehab
Skill Development & Conditioning


Skill Development


Strength (Hinge variation)
Gymnastics Strength & Accessory work

Sunday (Specialist)

This will vary week to week but it will be skill heavy

There are a few other very important points to note...

There will be very few high intensity conditioning days outside of our strength days. In order for you to recover, grow and get stronger we need to keep the metabolic stress low, so our conditioning days will be easy paced aerobic activity layered with lots of skill work.

We recommend you have 2 rest days per week, anything less and you will just be limiting how much progress you can make. In the case of strength work less is more.

If you don't take rest days, or we beat you down with lots of heavy days AND high intensity conditioning then we will only succeed in running your Central Nervous System (CNS) into the ground.

Famed track and field coach, Charlie Francis, described the CNS as a cup and every intensive stressor (sprinting, jumping, lifting above 90% intensity, dynamic effort lifting/Olympic lifts, lactic threshold training, etc.) you place upon your body fills up that cup to some degree. The cup is finite in its capacity and once it is full or overflows, the athlete will be in a state of overtraining, which can take weeks or months to recover from, so we need to fill your cup without having you spill over the sides.

Now, what better way to prepare ourselves for the Strength Cycle than today's workout!


"The CrossFit Total"

Establish a 1 rep max for each of the following lifts:
Back squat
Strict press

For each lift, use the following loading sequence:
2 @ 60%
2 @ 70%
1-2 @ 80%
1 @ 85%
1 @ 90-95%
1-2 attempts @ 100%+

17 June 2016 – Testing Week, Day 5

This is the final day of Testing Week!

You have smashed it so far, and your coaches have been wicked impressed with all the effort you've given on some very tough workouts - PBs all over the place!! Let's finish it off with a bang... bring on the DEADLIFTS!

WORKOUT OF THE DAY: Testing Week, Day 5

A) The 'Other' Tests
Anaerobic Power Test
500m Row time trial

B) Strength Testing
Deadlift: Establish a 1 rep max

C) CrossFit Games Open 14.3

8 Minute AMRAP:
10 Deadlifts (60/40 kg)
15 Box Jumps (24/20 in)
15 Deadlifts (85/60 kg)
15 Box Jumps
20 Deadlifts (102.5/70 kg)
15 Box Jumps
25 Deadlifts (125/85 kg)
15 Box Jumps
30 Deadlifts (142.5/92.5 kg)
15 Box Jumps
35 Deadlifts (165/102.5 kg)
15 Box Jumps