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AOCF Spring Strength Cycle

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AOCF Spring Strength Cycle

Spring is HERE! At this point, not only is the cold weather behind us, but so is the 2018 CrossFit Open and our two test weeks! So what does that mean?

Strength Cycle in FULL EFFECT!

We’ve been talking about it, and now it is time to really get into our groove with building strength during the “off-season.” Our focus is to build raw strength across our three major, tested lifts: Deadlift, (High Bar) Back Squat, and Shoulder Press.

Our approach this strength season will include hitting each of these lifts in varying manners each week over the next 8 weeks. While there is a lot of truth to the tried and true linear approach, we feel that with strength (as with CrossFit, in general) variation is also key in making those gains.

Weekly Lift Variations

Tempo Training:


  • Improved body awareness
  • Improved control of lifts
  • Development of connective tissue strength
  • Improved stability
  • Focus on muscular elements versus tendinous elements (a slow, controlled motion is going to place more stress on the muscles, whereas a bouncy or ballistic motion will place more stress on the tendons, etc.)
  • Improve stability
  • Develop intermediate muscle fibers
  • Develop work capacity
  • Spend time under tension


There are four numbers that constitute the tempo of a lift. Let’s take our Back Squat programming from 4/24 as an example:

Back Squat 4×5 w/ a 32X1 tempo @ 60%

3 – The first number is the eccentric, or lowering, portion of the movement. For our back squat, we took 3 seconds to lower to the bottom squat position.

2 – The second number indicates any pause at the midpoint. We sat in the bottom of the squat for a count of 2 seconds.

X – The third number is the concentric, or lifting component. Since our third number was an X, you were to stand the bar up without any tempo.

1 – The fourth number is the time spent at the top of the lift. We paused at the top for just long enough to get a breath of air and engage our midline before going into the next rep.


Back Squat is defined above. For Shoulder Press @ 32X1 Tempo, you would count to three as you lower the bar overhead, stay active under the bar with it in your front rack for 2 seconds, press up without any tempo, and then pause at the top of the lift for a second before going into the next rep.

Deadlift is a little different. You notice us using a 3-stop Deadlift vs the 32X1 (or other numerical variation). Here, you will set up for a traditional Deadlift, push the knee back and lift to knee height, hold for a count of two; lift to the top position, hold for a count of 2; lower back to the knee position, hold for a count of 2 and then return to the ground before going into the next rep. While we always want the DL to be a posterior chain movement and light up those buns and hammies, be prepared to notice the tension and burning in your back from spending time under tension. This doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong! You’re simply forcing your core and back to stay tight under tension for a duration longer than traditional with this lift. That’s a good thing! Strengthening the back along with the posterior chain will cater to holding a tight set up for our Olympic lifts.

(Resource: T-Nation)

Speed Training:


There are two components to speed training: starting strength and explosive strength. Starting strength is the ability to turn on muscle fibers as quickly as possible, ultimately producing force as fast as possible. In simple terms, if you can learn to apply force quickly, you’ll get stronger. Take the deadlift, for example. More often than not, athletes hit their sticking point of the lift with the bar less than 10 inches off the ground; it is usually velcroed to the floor. Through training speed at lighter percentages (40-60%), we can learn to deadlift the bar and separate it from the floor with greater initial speed and finish the lift.

Explosive strength is the ability to keep those muscle fibers turned on for the entirety of the lift. This is the acceleration part of the lift. By focusing on accelerating the bar quickly, our bodies can become accustomed to moving through our sticking points with force before too many of our muscle fibers become depleted of their energy.



Again, nothing new here. Just move beautifully, quickly.


BE HUMBLE. Ideally, the bar is moving a meter per second, so please, PLEASE adhere to the percentages we prescribe and do not go heavier. If you do, you are missing the purpose and benefit of this variation.

HEAVY Training:


  • Strengthen connective tissues and bones. Lifting heavy weights is protective against repetitive use and degeneration.
  • Using heavy weights increases inter-muscular coordination. You will have to recruit more type II fibers to complete lifts at higher percentages. Ever realize why you shake during an extremely heavy deadlift? You are recruiting more muscle fibers to work in conjunction with each other to complete the lift.
  • Improves self-confidence. By training with heavy weights, you will be confident in your everyday life to tackle objectives, such as lifting a 50 pound bag of dog food into the car.


Nothing new or crazy do explain here; just good ‘ol fashion lifting at a higher percentage. Know your 1RM and pull up your percentages in Wodify. Newbies or those without a 1RM, ASK A COACH for your numbers. We got you…


Heavy lifting requires being in the moment. Your concentration on the task at hand is imperative to maintain good form and stay safe. Expect these HEAVY days to have lower volume, but the percentages to be much higher.


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