How We Program (to get to Madison)

In a blink of an eye, it seems I have seen a decade pass me by, submerged in a methodology so rich in success, and a sport who continues to push the perception of what our bodies are capable of. There are plenty of lessons, plenty of debates and naysayers who have eaten crow because the vision of our Coach and the steadfast determination of the Director have pushed a community to excel and they have not let them down. The most important thing in my mind will always be our affiliates, our community, our members!

Our sport has zero chance of survival if we forget this, so this is not an attempt to take anything away from the affiliates programming. For 99.9% of our community, the recipe for success is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. It works, it is potent, and it is the only chance this nation has to turn around our sedentary and chronically plagued health care.

This blog is simply to show how we program in our camp for that .01% who thinks they have the time and the ability to train for this sport. I can not stress that point enough because no program out there will succeed if the athlete does not have the mental capacity to endure, and the time to economize the extensive training required for success. Nicole Christensen says it best in this video, she’s someone I have the highest respect for as box owner and a coach, she’s 100% right in her assessment.

The SOAP note is a tool used by our Medical Community that allows health care providers to communicate among themselves in patient care. It is something I found useful and something I have borrowed when programming.

Subjective Data

Objective Data



Subjective Data is anything you can’t Quantify and in a sport that requires ultimate mental fortitude, I feel Subjective Data is as important as objective data. Psychology and mental balance are important and if you listen carefully, you might realize the biggest issue with your athlete will be the space between the ears.

Statements like, “I only”, “I would of”, “I hate (X)”, “if only”, etc., give me an idea of how stable the individual athlete is. Listen, I’ve seen this sport evolve and I’ve seen not only athletes but coaches of this sport come and go. This is a brutal life, that requires all of your time engaging in correcting weaknesses and preparing for an unknown. There are no chances for redo’s at regionals and there certainly isn’t a, “If Only” situation that will protect your athletes.

Times are dependent on rational thinking, on being able to accept, adapt, and move on. We practice this daily, not too high not too low, not putting too much emphasis on PRs or times but instead focusing on the process. One step at a time, talent is overrated, nothing is given.

Objective Data are weights and times you can define. Easy enough, except in this sport, there is the unknown and the inability to predict what exactly will be tested on game day. Our guide then is the words of our Coach, ” he or she who is fittest is fittest through each energy system through all domains.” Our job here then is to understand first the weaknesses of our athletes as it pertains to each energy system and then to balance them through each domain as best as possible.

Case in point, your 500-pound squatter is excelling in the CPK system of the squat but if his Tabata squat falls below a consistent 20 per round, and he can’t maintain the squat pace on say 2012 Regional Event 4, your assessment as a coach then should guide more endurance and glycolytic training within the squat. A runner may be able to cruise through a 5k run in 16 min but have a hard time pushing a sled 40 yards. The obvious holes would require more strength and power work in the glycolytic and CPK systems. Someone who is powerful may knock out 15 muscle ups unbroken but then gets slammed with a 40 mu for time test and is unable to perform this oxidative task in 10 minutes, would require more shoulder stamina.

We are past a point where people can jump right into this sport because of prior athletic endeavors. Athletes who either hire a coach or trust a coach to help them with their goal should entrust someone who understands the baselines, the trends and who is in touch with what the Founder and Testmaker believe. This is important!


My initial assessment begins with a why do you want to do this to yourself essay, as well as some other tasks that seek a better understanding of stressors, time restraints, gym availability etc.

Followed by a week to 2-week test of physical performances. My goal, of course, is to see where the athlete is lacking and where the imbalance is. A female athlete that can squat 300 but can only clean 50% of that may have some serious mobility or technique issues and this is where the assessment will guide the plan.

It is very important that you take the time as a coach to carefully analyze as much as possible. You both are committed to a long journey, so be patient and take the time to do it right.

Once we have all the data and have the assessment completed, we get to programming. This is not a static plan, it is a dynamic approach that allows for life and also a necessity for change. I program on a weekly basis keeping track of all gymnastic reps and we increase this weekly ensuring all domains and all the energy systems are covered. For example 40 muscle up for time is oxidative, max unbroken muscle ups would be CPK and Nasty Girls would cover the glycolytic system for that week, now find the time to include pull ups, hspu, toes to bar etc and you will have a well thought out program.

As a coach I believe the formula to succeed is outworking the competition, but it has to have an intelligent and well thought out approach to avoid negligent injuries. A patient approach requires acclimating your athletes to the volume while never allowing the body to form a ceiling that plateaus and frustrates them. Programming takes a lot of time, it needs to include mobility, strength and accessory work, aerobic capacity and anaerobic capacity, as well as skill and constant evolution in other sports such as hurdles, rock climbing, and parkour.

Good Luck to those of you who choose to program for someone who is dedicated and committed enough to get to Madison, it is definitely one of the biggest responsibilities you will face.


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