You Be the Trainer, #2

By Tony Budding, Maggie Dabe, Lisa Ray, Andy Stumpf

In Coaching, CrossFit, CrossFit Games

June 27, 2009

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Tony Budding’s latest creation is a client who is training hard to get to the CrossFit Games. The qualifier is coming up fast. What are the pitfalls? Compare your opinion with those of Andy Stumpf, Maggie Dabe and Lisa Ray.

Jenn has been doing CrossFit for just under a year. She has her heart set on competing in the CrossFit Games. Her qualifier is in five weeks. Jenn has tremendous gas and tons of heart. She’s extremely competitive.

At 28, Jenn is five-foot-seven and 140 pounds. Pull-ups are her self-proclaimed nemesis. She has a 275-pound deadlift, a 200-pound back squat, a 175-pound power clean and a 165-pound squat clean. Her max overhead squat is 120 pounds, but she can do 20 reps at 95 pounds. She can press 105, but her best jerk is 130.

Jenn comes in at least five times a week, and on several occasions she’s been forced to take a rest day after training nine days straight.

Her training so far this week:

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Six 400-meter sprints with a timed 2-minute break. Her times (in seconds) were 72, 79, 74, 76, 73 (threw up), 96.

Tuesday: Three sets of overhead squats: max reps at 110 pounds, max reps at 88 pounds, max reps at 65 pounds. She got 6, 29 and 46 reps, respectively.

Wednesday: The pull-up ladder (1 pull-up in the first minute, 2 the second, etc., until you can’t complete the required number within 60 seconds). She failed at minute 11 but kept doing as many pull-ups as she could each minute. She went 25 minutes until she ripped her right palm badly. She left very frustrated.

Thursday: Ran 5 kilometers in 21:03.

The proposed workout on Friday: Cindy (max rounds in 20 minutes of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups and 15 squats).

Jenn showed up with her hands taped up, eager to break 20 rounds for the first time. What do you do?

Post your opinion to comments and read on to compare your answer to those of top CrossFit trainers.

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15 Comments on “You Be the Trainer, #2”


Edward Stedman wrote …

Great scenario with Jen. She is obviously a hard-charger. She has her goal set (qualifying for The CF Games) and it seems she has gotten bitten by the bug of, "more=better."

In my opinion, I think she needs to understand how and why rest is beneficial. I would definitely have a conversation with her about this, and give her some weekend homework of reading up on some of the Journal articles that cover this topic.

Even though she has worked out hard this week and torn her hands, I'd probably let her get some work in on Friday, but not Cindy. As much as possible I would keep stress off of her hands.

Keeping in mind that Jen is trying to qualify for The Games in 5 weeks, I would have her work on some skill work in areas that she is weak. Off the top of my head, I'd have her work on squat drills to bring her hamstrings into play, and probably also have her work on her push press and jerk technique with light to moderate weight (I'm sure faulty technique plays some role in her low jerk PR, considering her 105 press PR). Towards the end of class I may let her go through a short Met-Con that doesn't require a lot of hand use. Then I would send her home and not let her workout again until Monday.

That weekend I would assign myself the homework of putting together a 5 week program to prepare Jen for the games, making sure to keep her from over-training between now and then.


wrote …

Good answers from all three. Lisa kept it especially real. The only thing I could think of when I read Jen's profile was "This chick is crazy!" Hope she does well in the games.



Ross Blake wrote …

She's a pretty bad ass athlete already. Motivated, committed and ready to go places. I feel she may be running a fine line with over training if someone doesn't step in and enforce proper planned rest days.

I'd ditch the cindy workout, save the hands for the up coming weeks and take a closer look at how we can get her squat and jerk numbers up. Pretty sure she'd have a little mhf and other mid line stability issues that if addressed would improve her not only with her weaknesses but across the board.

How i'd see the next 3 weeks:

Focus on the fundamentals, Olympic lifts, 3 on 1 off, nutrition and physcological factors needed for game day. I'd also (depending on how she's coping and adhering to rest days) give her a few double and triple days to ready herself what games day will be like.

Last 2 weeks:

Move to a 3 on 1 off 2 on 1 off for an added rest day.

Bring it on


wrote …

Jenn is highly motivated athlete. Which is a great quality to have, but Jenn takes it a little too far. She doesn't allow herslef enough recovery and she is more focused on her strengths which probably stem from her previous athletic training.
For Friday, I would let her do a workout but focused more on Olympic lifts. Maybe a 3-3-2-2-1-1-1 of hang power snatches and a small METCON, 10min of 100' of Overhead snatch grip walking lunge w/ 45# and 10 push-ups. SAT/SUN off no exceptions.
Transition into 3 on 1 off regiment for 3 weeks, then 2 on 1 off for 12 days then rest last few days prior to qualifiers. Focus for the next weeks will be on her weaknesses. Some squat terapy, press and jerk work, olympic lifts, pull-up work, midline stability work, nutrition and recovery. Jenn is an athlete that needs the "I say and you do" coaching mentality with some explination to whats going on.


Edward Stedman wrote …

Tony, I have a question/request...

Any chance of possibly breaking up the "You Be The Trainer" series into two parts. One part where you release the athlete info on on day and then post the CF Coach's thoughts and recommendations a few days later.

My thought is, it may promote a lot more conversation in the comments, plus it would give people a chance to really think about how they would coach this particular athlete. Some good and healthy back-and-forth could get going between journal readers/coaches/trainers about their thoughts on programming for each athlete, and then (after a few days) we could get the thoughts of elite CF Coaches and compare to what people are saying in comments.

Just a thought. Keep it coming!


wrote …

I have been doing Crossfit for just over 2 years. I have had a set back (knee injury) for about 3 months. I train my self and use two sites. I use the HQ website and then I use the Since I train myself, I would tell Jen to look at what she is trying to get to, then I would explain to her that REST is the key, if the WOD is a Rest Day then that is what it should be. The WODs are designed to maximize the training of the groups of muscles that are being targeted. She also needs to look at maintaining her energy through diet. If she feels like she need to work out everyday, there should be some days that Jen can get on a bike, and take a ride. This could be done on a rest day. It will keep her body active on some level, but at the same time it will rest some.

There should be some mental training and film watching. All of this could be used for jen to make it. She also needs to understand that if she is mentally ready, she will be able to push through the heavy weight when she is making it to the finals. Reading and thinking about doing the WOD is the part of it. Seeing you snatching a PR, or seeing you running the 5k under 20 min. All of this is key.

The last thing I would tell Jen, its great to quallify for the games, but the journey does not end until the games are over. It is real easy to burn out. Stay focus, but do it right.



wrote …

Surprised nobody specifically mentioned Jenn's PowerCleans stronger than her SquatCleans. Maybe I missed something.

This a function of her strength accelerating faster than her technique?


wrote …

She has done single modality everyday so far this week. She might need a rest day to be honest. Cindy is definately a bad idea. She had done no explosive olympic lifts all week. This is what needs to come next.

So, if she does not rest and works out on Friday I would do a short explosive workout. And since she needs to work on her jerk and seems proficient in all other olympic areas (no info on the snatch) i would have her do tabata push jerk @95lbs.

If she takes a rest day and works out on sat, i would say that task/time priority doesnt really matter. So either double tabata hang snatch and push jerk @95lbs (or less for the snatch depending on her ability) or a 10,9,8... of the hang snatch and push jerk.

I would especially work on the snatch because if she is in the mid-atlantic region (as blaur trians in VA Beach) i know jeff tincher is doing the programming and he loves the snatch right maggie!?


wrote …

Let's keep her intensity high and totally change gears.
There has been no pushing movements and no good body strength movements as well.
I would also work on her cardiovacular capacity in longer distance than 400m but shorter than a 5k.

2 Rounds for thime of the following:
1 mile Run
50 handstand pushups
50 situps
50 pushups
50 squats


wrote …

Wadd, spot on - thats the first thing I saw - PC'ing more than Squat cleaning?!, perhaps this is indicative of her being more strong than having higher levels of body awareness, timing and so on.

I'd say her technique with Oly lifitng and gymnastics should be the key focus along with her general upper body capacity.

I'd can the session for that day and use that time to go through with her a 'check up'- honest self appraisal of whats working or not in her training and approach.

She's not doubt spent many years being a 'hard charger' so this would be a great time to explain how cleaning up her nutrition (if thats needed), focusing on recovery day strategies and mental approach to the games could be crucial.

I like Andy's approach with increased rest (3on1 off into 2 on 1 off), I would couple this with 95% of the WOD's being shorter time domain (15min or less). Incorporating upper body gymnastics into the W/U alternating the next day with the Burgner W/U could build volume and 'grease the groove'.

Increasing her body awareness, timing and co-ordination I think would be the key to unlocking her pull up and Oly lifting prowess.

In short: Staying sharp with short intense WODS, focusing on OLY and Gymnastics and increasing rest component gradually.


wrote …

i agree with her needing to take it easy for a few days. then come back with a moderate wod,, one day off, and then hit cindy with all she's got.
her hands should be healed by then.


wrote …

I like these case studies. Keep them coming.


wrote …

the fact that her squat clean is less than her power clean indicates a weakness in that area. But... the article focuses on Friday.

After working out 4 days in a row and being 5 weeks out from the games, she needs a rest day. So tell her to untape the hands and rest up, maybe get some stretching in and just chill out around the gym. 4 days in a row is a lot for CrossFit and even though the games are grueling and tough, one doesn't have to overtrain to get to that point.

5 weeks may not be enough time to really get all the skill work done for the games she needs to work on, but you can take a couple movements and really focus on them and do what you can with the rest of them. I would definitely choose the Oly Lifts and focus on them. She is a strong girl, but lacks the Oly power...


Justin Riley wrote …

She should try taking some ginger tablets. I heard they help with the gas.


wrote …

I'm looking for You be The Trainer # 1 bu can't find it.
Will you please help me?

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