Developing Strength: February 2016 Programming Notes

If you have yet to download the 2016 Level 1 Programming, you may do so here.

Powerlifting To Get Strong

This month, we are focused on leveraging 4 lifts for strength development: Back Squat, Deadlift, Strict Press, and Bench Press. The word “Powerlifting” is a bit of a misnomer as these lifts are typically performed without much explosiveness (i.e. power) unlike the Olympic lifts, which require a tremendous amount of power in order to be performed with heavy loads.

Why Two Presses?

These days, the sport of Powerlifting only includes 3 of the 4 lifts we are utilizing this month: Back Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. Way back in the day, the sport actually used the Strict Press instead of the Bench Press. But, competitors found that they could lift more weight in the Strict Press by employing excessive “lay-back”, which is essentially a hyper extension of the back that resembles a standing bench press with no bench. It then became difficult for judges to determine how much “lay-back” was permissible so they did away with the Strict Press altogether and replaced it with the Bench Press.

Both press variants are extremely valuable for upper body strength development and that’s why we’re using both in our training. 

Tempos, Bands, Burnouts, and Other Variants

You will perform variants of the aforementioned lifts in the form of changing tempo, adding band resistance, and changing range of motion. The higher level goal of all these variants are the same: to provide a different stimulus and force the body to adapt to something new. Training variance is proven to provide a much better stimulus (and result) on the body than merely performing the exact same movement pattern over and over.

With that said, whenever a new stimulus is introduced keep in mind that you should use working loads that are lower than what you would do normally to accommodate for the extra stress on the body. 

Total It All Up

I’ve programmed a couple CrossFit Total days at the start and at the end of the month. The Total is the sum of your best completed weight at three lifts: Strict Press, Deadlift, and Back Squat. It is the most commonly used Strength benchmark in CrossFit and serves as a good indicator for how you’re coming along in Strength development. While a cycle of 4 focused weeks is pretty short to develop significant Strength gains, I’m confident many of you will be able to set new PRs come month end. Keep in mind that there are 10 pillars of fitness in CrossFit. Strength, while important, is only 1 of the 10. 

There are many naysayers out there in the fitness world claiming you cannot develop both strength capacity and “cardio” capacity in tandem. Our goal this month is to prove them wrong. :)


If you have any feedback regarding the programming that you’d like to share, please contact me directly at Love it or hate it, I wanna hear about your experience. 

2016 Level 1 Programming

Programming For The Entire Year Is Here

The Level 1 programming for all of 2016 is complete and you can download the PDF guide here:

Marvelous CrossFit 2016 Level 1 Programming

I personally haven’t seen a box publish it’s entire year’s programming in advance and this is one of the things we’re doing to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Programming is the heart and soul of your experience and we put serious thought and effort into making it awesome. Every month, we’ll be publishing in depth analysis of the daily programming. For now, let’s talk about the entire year at a high level:  

Macrocycles, Mesocycles, & Microcycles

2016 contains two, 6-month macrocycles (larger training periods). The first transpires between January to June, and the second runs from July thru December. Each macrocycle can be considered a “complete” CrossFit training experience.

Each macrocycle contains six, 4-5 week mesocycles (smaller training periods) which are essentially a month long. Here is the focus for each month:

  • January - Baseline: Establish 1/3 RM for all major lifts and benchmark WODs.
  • February - Power Lifting: Focus on “absolute” strength development by developing the Back Squat, Deadlift, Strict Press, & Bench Press.
  • March - Gymnastics: Bodyweight strength is excellent for building both neurological and physiological adaptations. 
  • April - Clean & Jerk: Increasing technical competency in the C&J through the full movement, as well as it’s component parts like the Deadlift, Front Squat and Press variants. 
  • May - Kettlebell: The kettlebell is one of the most versatile and efficient pieces of workout equipment around and we’re going to show you all the awesome exercises you can do with it.
  • June - Snatch: The most technical lift you can do with a barbell.
  • July - Baseline Retest: Mid-year testing point to re-establish 1/3RM loads for the major lifts and times for all the benchmark WODs.
  • August - Power Lifting: Strength is a cornerstone of any solid fitness program.
  • September - Advanced Gymnastics: We’re talking about the stuff you see people do in the Olympics. Fear not - we have scaling options and progressions for every movement we teach.
  • October - Clean & Jerk: More positional work, complexes, and strength training pertaining to this particular lift.
  • November - Skill: A month of focused skill work to refine form and technique.
  • December - Snatch: Overhead Squats, Snatch complexes, and tempo work to finish off the year.

Each mesocycle contains four to five, 7-day microcycles (mini training periods) that include workouts varying several training conditions: load, duration, skill, reps, sets, and movement.

Here's how to make sense of it all:

Start with a single day of programming. 

String 7 days together to form a microcycle (one week).

Add 4 microcycles together to create a mesocycle (one month).

Layer 6 mesocycles together to complete a macrocycle (six months).

Add 2 macrocycles together to form the training plan for the entire year. Boom.  

How To Get The Most From Your Experience

The programming is thoroughly varied, broad enough to encompass all skill levels, and cohesive enough to ensure you achieve measurable progress. It doesn’t matter what days you train, if you attend at least 3 classes per week you will have a well-rounded experience. Here are some additional tips to maximize your training:

  • Avoid training more than 3 days in a row. If you’re going as hard as you should be, your body will want that 4th day off. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it is generally a good idea for 95% of our community.
  • Come on days you hate the programming. We naturally like things we are good at and hate things we suck at. This causes most people to cherry pick the programming and only come on days they like. Practice what you suck at. With enough effort, any weakness can grow into strength. 
  • Mobilize on your own. Taking 10-15 minutes per day mobilizing at home or early before class will reap tremendous gains in every other aspect of your training. 

WODs May Change

We strongly believe that a WOD should be tested by the coaches before we dish it out to the athletes. After testing a WOD, we sometimes adjust the loads, reps, or duration to ensure the best possible experience for you. So, please keep in mind that when you see a WOD on game day it may be slightly different than what’s contained in the PDF.

Questions Or Comments

After you’ve had a chance to review the programming, please send any questions or comments you may have directly to me at We constantly striving to improve your experience and welcome all feedback to help us achieve that. Happy WODing!


Coach's Notes: September 2015 Programming

Training For Strength

Our programming focus for September is Strength development - lifting heavy weights at a slow(ish) pace. If you haven't already downloaded this quarter's programming, you may do so here:

Marvelous CrossFit Burlingame Q3 2015 Programming

What Is Strength

Strength is simply the production of force. In training, this force is applied against gravity and performed with heavy weights at a slow pace and low reps. Strength training results in the ability to lift heavier weights, bigger muscles, and higher raw force production. The best measurement for absolute Strength is the 1RM.

Why Develop Strength?

Strength training is an important pillar of any well rounded fitness program. Going heavy burns fat, increases muscle size and density, hardens bones, and strengthens tendons and ligaments. It's also an excellent way to stimulate the central nervous system and force the body to adapt (grow). 

Example Movements

Here are some movements you can expect to perform this month:

Barbell & Dumbell

  • Tempo Squats
  • Tempo Deadlifts
  • Tempo Presses
  • Deficit Deadlifts
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts
  • Lunges
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Pendlay Rows
  • Bulgarian Split Squats
  • DB Front Raises
  • Shrugs
  • Wrist Curls
  • Good Morning
  • Glute Bridge


  • Strict Pull-ups
  • Strict Push-ups
  • Strict Toe-2-Bar
  • Strict Dips
  • Strict Handstand Push-ups
  • Wrist Push-ups
  • Typewriter Pull-ups
  • Around The World
  • Pistol Squats
  • Planks
  • Hollow Holds
  • Superman Holds
  • Ring Supports
  • Skin The Cat
  • Ab Roll-outs

Specialty Movements

  • Loaded Carries
  • Turkish Getups
  • Loaded Pistol Squats

What To Expect

The general pace of classes is a bit slower compared to last month. Not only do we aim to increase the load but we may also purposefully change the pace at which an exercise is performed - time under tension is an important factor in developing strength. We encourage you to "go heavy" for both the strength pieces and WODs, assuming you are able to maintain proper form and technique. If you are still relatively new to CrossFit, as always please listen to your body and take a rest day when needed. 

Marvelous CrossFit Burlingame WOD: 4/2/15

"Thrust This!"

Here's a fun couplet that I drew up and am looking forward to testing with the coaches later today:

20 Thrusters @ 95/65lbs
50 Double Unders
10 Thrusters @ 115/75lbs
50 Double Unders
5 Thrusters @ 135/96lbs
50 Double Unders
10 Thrusters @ 115/75lbs
50 Double Unders
20 Thrusters @ 95/65lbs
For Time

Q2 Programming Has Arrived!

A new quarter of programming has arrived and includes: a new Marvelous Capacity Challenge, Double Under progression, and MetCons utilizing work-rest ratios to help improve your work capacity!

Download and review the programming, then let us know how you feel about it. :)

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