Coach’s Corner with Drew Hammond

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Jen Wirth | February 27, 2017 | no comments |

New Wildcat Programming Explained

by Coach Drew Hammond

Disclaimer: this post is probably a few weeks late, but now that you guys have completed almost two months of the new Wildcat programming, I suppose the argument could be made that you’ll have a better understanding of what I’m getting at here. Onward!

Unless you live entirely under a rock when it comes time to workout at Wildcat, you’ll notice a rather drastic shift in the way the workouts have been presented since the beginning of the year. Now that I’m writing the daily workouts for you guys, I wanted to take a chance to explain a little bit better why we’re doing what we’re doing and what you can expect in the future as we progress through the various cycles. I’ll do my best to address some of the questions I’ve heard pop up at the classes, but if after reading this you’re still completely lost, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me specifically! I don’t bite.

Task-Based Periodization

Admittedly, the first month of this year’s programming was rather boring. I made the executive decision to hit the reset button for everyone and start fresh with a foundational cycle to kick off the New Year. You guys are all obviously capable of handling a decent amount of volume and intensity, but the hope was that we could return to the basics with an emphasis on form, easy progressions, and light metcons designed to reinforce pacing strategies, movement patterns, etc. I implemented a strategy that I call “task-based periodization.” Essentially, the tasks (i.e. workouts) from one week to the next were more or less identical with some variation in rep count or workout length. Here’s a quick example of what I’m getting at:

Week 1, Day 1
10 min AMRAP8x Box Jumps4x Pull Ups25x Double Unders
Week 2, Day 5
12 min AMRAP8x Box Jumps4x Pull Ups25x Double Unders
Week 3, Day 3
10 min AMRAP10x Box Jumps5x Pull Ups50x Double Unders

You can see that the workout itself doesn’t change at all as far as movements are concerned. From Week 1 to Week 2, 2 minutes of work are added to the same basic task, pushing you to see how much more work you can do given a longer time frame. The third week defaults back to the 10 minute time frame, but the task is made slightly more difficult via increased volume. The assumption here is that, as an expression of increased fitness, you would be able to do a similar number of rounds in Weeks 1 and 3 regardless of the fact that Week 3 has seen an increase in volume of 53 reps per round (2 jumps, 1 pull up, 25 DUs). Make sense? This type of periodization is, in my opinion, very effective for a foundational cycle because the very purpose of such a cycle is to increase proficiency in the movement. If I change the movements every single session (see: random), you’ll never achieve proficiency. Boring? Yes. Effective? Also yes.

Time-Based Periodization

Moving to the second month, I switched gears and implemented a concept that I call “time-based periodization.” The CrossFit Open, as you may or may not be aware, starts at the end of February. My goal with this cycle was to prepare everyone for the types of efforts you’ll see during the five weeks of the Open. Historically, the Open has favored Olympic lifts and bodyweight gymnastics movements, with each of those two components contributing to about 36% of the points. Conditioning (i.e. double unders) makes up about 10%, and powerlifting (deadlift, basically) makes up around 7%. Going even further, about 70% of the Open workouts over the past several years have been between 8-12 minutes long, with 15% falling below 8 minutes and an equal 15% pushing 12+ minutes (the longest workout in my memory was last year’s 20 minute effort).

A standard 4-week cycle has 20 sessions (5 per week, 4 weeks). If we do a straight up breakdown based on the Open statistics (which I did), we get 14 sessions of 8-12 minute efforts and 3 sessions each of <8 minutes and 12+ minutes. This is the essence of time-based periodization. Largely speaking, the movement within the actual metcons don’t matter too much; the important thing is capturing the time domains to prepare the body physiologically for the type of effort it will likely experience in the Open. Here’s another example:

Week 1, Day 1
12 min AMRAP12x Wall Balls8x Pull Ups6x Burpees

3x Box Jumps

Week 2, Day 1
21-15-9Thrusters (95/65)Bar-Facing Burpees100m run between each round
Week 3, Day 2
12 minute EMOM12-15 unbroken wall balls


Unlike last month’s progressions, in this case the movements DO change. Using the statistical breakdowns from earlier, you can see a fair smattering of barbell movements (thrusters), gymnastics skills (pull ups), and general conditioning (box jumps, wall balls, etc.). Additionally, all of these sessions fall within that 8-12 minute time frame. In order to make that happen, I have a few tools at my disposal. Specifically, I’ll interchange locked-in time components (i.e. AMRAPs and EMOMs) or free-flowing time components (21-15-9) that I estimate will fall somewhere within my 8-12 minute limit. For the most part, you guys have done a great job of finishing the assigned tasks within the supposed time frames, so well done you!


Drew teaching Foundations class, squat day

Assistance Work

The remainder of each session for the past two months has consisted of a much heavier emphasis on assistance work. You may have found yourself doing hip flexor stretches between sets of squats, random kettlebell holds and carries, various ab exercises, etc. There is a method to all of the madness, I promise.

One combination you’ll all be familiar with is the back squat/hip flexor/goblet squat combo. Here’s my logic: the back squat is the strength piece, the hip flexor stretch opens the joint capsule to increase leverage capacities between sets, and the goblet squat reinforces the movement pattern to prepare you for your next set of squats. Make sense? Instead of standing around watching each other with your arms crossed (I’m looking at you, 5pm), you get a bit of active rest and recovery that’s actually productive!

The ab/core pieces are a bit different. Here I’m looking to practice common core/low back positions, specifically Flexion, Rotation, Isometric Holds, Anti-Rotations, Extensions, and combinations therein. If you’ve trained with me before you’ll recognize a few personal favorites such as kneeling half-moons, planks, one-arm KB holds, bottoms-up KB presses, etc. It’s good stuff, I promise.

Wrap Up

All of this stuff is basically designed to give you guys an idea of where my head is at when it comes to programming for the general workout of the day. Yes, at times it will be boring and at times it will seem random, but I promise you that everything written on the board is there for a reason. If you trust in the process and do the work on your end to prevent injury, maximize sleep, and dial in nutrition, you’ll see wonderful progress for as long as you choose to stick with us!

Happy lifting,


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