What are training cycles? What’s the next cycle on?

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What are training cycles? What’s the next cycle on?

The definition of CrossFit is “constantly varied fuctional movements performed at a high intensity”. One aspect that attracts many athletes is the “constantly varied” part. Every day is a different workout. It never gets boring. You are always finding things to improve on. “Constantly varied”, though, is very different from “random”. These two words are sometimes tossed around interchangeably when they really shouldn’t. This is where training cycles come in.

Doing something randomly means that there is a chance you might do the same exercise two or three times in a row. Or two very similar movements for a long period of time. There is no planning and everything is left to chance. It doesn’t take a professional coach to figure out that’s not a good idea.

On the other hand, “constantly varied” implies thought, planning and structure to the training. It means that we are actively trying to hit your bodies with as many diverse stimuli as possible. To have you do a task in as many different ways and conditions as we can imagine. By getting better at that, we increase our overall fitness. The goals is to NOT have something you cannot do well.

Another big part of CrossFit is that it’s measurable. We can look at our squat weights, our number of unbroken pull ups, our “Fran” time and see where we are compared to fellow athletes and with where you were months ago. To do that we need a starting weight/time/number and we need the re-test score. This is always an exciting time as many athletes are striving for a PR, or personal record. Achieving a PR validates that all our training is paying off and we are getting fitter, faster, stronger.

But, as you all know, there are a lot of movements in CrossFit, and a lot of ways to do each movement. Take the clean for example. We can work on power cleans, squat cleans, muscle cleans, high hang cleans, low hang cleans, pause cleans, touch-and-go cleans. Then we can alter the rep scheme: 1 rep max, 3 rep max, 10 rep max, etc. So, even if we constantly vary the movements and exercises, it could take a long time to re-measure a movement pattern and see where your fitness is.

A common way to fix that problem is with training cycles.


These cycles tend to be a few weeks long and focus on a single movement pattern. The biggest difference between cycles happens not in the metcons, but on the strength/skill sessions and on the accessory work. With metcons we are still trying to achieve a high intensity stimulus, by affecting the body’s energy systems. Outside of the conditioning is where we want to work on our technique, or strength, or whatever it is the cycle is on.

Earlier this year we finished a cycle on body-weight movements. We used many skill sessions practicing the gymnastic movements and many workouts were made of body-weight exercises. Many athletes improved on their pull-ups, pistols and handstand push-ups. Some even got their first during that cycle! That cycle ended just before the Open and now it’s time to start out our next one.

During the CrossFit Open we didn’t focus on anything as most of our attention was turned towards the workout on Friday. The week after the Open also didn’t have any specific goal as we used it as a deload week: a little break to let our bodies recover. This week we are picking the intensity back up to start the new cycle next week. For the following 4 weeks we will be focusing on…

Lower Body Strength and Stamina.


The goal for this cycle is to:

  1. Update your measurements for most lifts.
  2. Create strength, explosiveness, awareness, mobility and flexibility in your lower half.
  3. Get yourself ready for a *possible* Olympic Weightlifting cycle that we *might* do later on.
  4. Get stronger legs and at the same time improve cardiovascular ability on lower body movements like running, box jumps and lunges.

Starting next week, be ready for some sore legs, many PRs and the start of a brand new cycle!

by Coach Matt