In Athletes, Coaching, CrossFit, HD Videos

August 22, 2012

Video Article

CrossFit is training for the unknown and unknowable, but for top athletes, knowing the date of game day changes the game, Ben Bergeron says.

“We’re no longer training for the unknown and unknowable. We’re no longer training for ‘a constant, ready state,’” the co-owner and head coach of CrossFit New England says of athletes competing at Regionals and the CrossFit Games.

He adds: “We know when game day is. It’s the middle of July.”

Likewise, Bergeron breaks up the year so his athletes peak at the Games:

  • August: rest and recovery.
  • September and October: strength.
  • November and December: speed strength.
  • January: solely dedicated to weaknesses.
  • February and March: met-cons.
  • April and May: Regional prep.
  • June and July: Games prep.

In the case of Regional competition, where the workouts are known weeks before game day, it’s “irresponsible” not to train the movements if the goal is to go the Games, Bergeron says.

“Those six weeks, we are no longer CrossFitters,” he explains. “We are deadlift-box jump specialists, we are thruster specialists, we are Amanda specialists. … We specialize those workouts. We excel at them. We know the workouts inside, outside cold, frontwards and backwards. We know exactly the stimulus. … We are peaked at those movements.”

Video by Again Faster.

7min 24sec

HD file size: 168 MB
SD wmv file size: 88 MB
SD mov file size: 43 MB

Please note: These files are larger than normal Journal videos. For smoother viewing, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional audio: CrossFit Radio Episode 202 by Justin Judkins, published Dec. 14, 2011.

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14 Comments on “Periodizing for the Games ”


wrote …

Interesting video. I have no doubt Bergeron is a good coach, and the program he is describing (I'm assuming it's his idea) is good.

The weird part is that he is saying to win the CrossFit games, don't do CrossFit. Sure, he is taking a CrossFit-inspired approach to using periodization. However, addressing your weaknesses more regularly can easily be incorporated into a general CrossFit program. Saying get strong at the expense of your metabolic conditioning is opposite to things I've read/watched on the CFJ as what CrossFit is about!

On a different issue, I understand that many people use strength and 'speed-strength' the way Bergeron did in the video. But it seems like the wrong term. Powerlifting and getting strong are not "slow". Louie Simmons, Mark Bell and all the rest of the really strong lifters out there are always talking about how FAST people move when squatting and deadlifting and the rest. There seems to be nothing slow about it. It seemed liked he was talking about powerlifting and then olympic lifting - but he likely would have called it that if there wasn't more to it. So is there? Am i missing something?


wrote …

For the pure fact that people are training like this now, regionals should start being random/anything workouts and the games should change the time slot or format every year. Don't change Crossfit to suit the games, change the games to suit Crossfit. I train to be the best I can be all the time.


wrote …

Nice lecture Ben.


wrote …

Agreed. But, it's pleasant to do crossfit during July vice fall/winter time frame. All this clip proves is if your around something long enough you can predict (not 100% but close) of how to game it. Take ANY sport for example, Lacrosse. If they aren't on a program which keeps them moving year round. They are falling behind. And that's just how it is today.


Patrick Mcelhone wrote …

"Variances in effort, intensity, enthusiasm, and performance are an inescapable part of life. The belief that these natural variances can be planned for months in advance in order to optimize performance at a later date is hogwash.”
- Greg Glassman, April 25, 2003,


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

I would agree, they are no longer doing CrossFit. However, I would also say that they are no longer trying to get good at "CrossFit". They are trying to excel at the CrossFit Games, which by definition is no longer "CrossFit", as competitive CrossFitting has a much more narrow definition than the original "CrossFit".

Take jump roping for example. To excel at the CrossFit Games, you don't need to be good at singles, triples, crossovers, backwards jumping, jump roping while running, etc. All you need are exceptionally efficient double unders. The same goes for many other aspects of CrossFit in the competitive sense.

Thus, the athletes competing at CrossFit now have defined parameters in which they need to excel. This allows for periodization, sport-specific strength training, and other sport-specific prep that is outside the normal realm of "CrossFit".

- Cody


replied to comment from Cody Rice

Although, Castro will likely read this and then proceed to change the entire mix for next year.... haha

- Cody


replied to comment from Matt Solomon

Watch a powerlifting contest.
Watch an Olympic weightlifting contest.

Ultimately the powerlifts are about strength. They can be executed without pursuing speed and the weight lifted is not impacted. They're called the slow lifts for a reason.
The Olympic lifts are about speed strength, power, and can't be executed slowly without resulting in a much smaller weight lifted.

Powerlifting training may be executed quickly, but contests are slow.
Olympic lifts are faster in both training and contests.


wrote …

Hey Ben,

Really great video, thanks for posting.

Just a quick question: would you say that there is a place for periodization in a programme for someone who is not a competitive athlete, or looking to make it to the games (and just following CrossFit to progress and become a better person all-round).

Is a general CrossFit programme the best way to make long-term all around gains, or could 'general programming' be improved upon by having periods of specific focus (again thinking long-term)?



wrote …

Nice talk, Ben.
How would you adjust this periodization for masters athletes preparing for the Open?


wrote …

Interesting take on periodization for CrossFit. Ben said it himself that when you specialize other things suffer. While it is interesting to think about. Not sure that linear periodization, which is what he is describing, is the right fit for CrossFit. He referenced the comparison of CrossFitters to runners, rowers, etc. What makes them that much better at their sport is time in the saddle or time on the road, etc. Using periodization cannot adequately prepare you to for the broad time and modal domains of such a wide variation in movements. I suppose part of the test is to see how well CFNE does in the coming years using that approach.

Using more of an undulating periodization approach may be a reasonable fit where training can be weighted to a certain emphasis, but not dedicated to a specific biomotor ability. This can still fit the functional movements across broad time and modal domain creed that CrossFit is based on.

It would be interesting to hear from many of the top athletes from across the country about how they would describe their approach.


Chris Sinagoga wrote …

Chris and Cody,

I was gonna say the same thing!

I can almost guarantee that idea has been brought up. It would just be extremely hard to coordinate everything (video submission, rankings, judges, etc.) without a lot of prep. Then the argurment will come up "Well, I couldn't compete because I have work and didn't get enough of a heads up to take time off - so this is a test of the fittest person that had a free schedule that day" - or something to that extent.

But I'll bet once they figure out a way to organize this, we will see it. And that will be fun to watch.

Also, after watching the olympics, anyone think it would be cool to throw like team handball or something in as an event for the afiliate competition? Regularly learn and play new sports.

Maybe some old fashioned 3-on-3 basketball!!


wrote …

A general crossfitter (not games athlete) should absolutely be ready for anything and everything! The approach Ben is talking about is for the athlete that is preparing for the games and needs to be ready for a specific date. With the level of competition and amazing athletes going to the games these days, you'd be pretty irresponsible (and obviously not serious about winning) if you did not direct your training to be ready for the Games! I don't recall Ben saying don't do CrossFit. If you don't remember...EVERYTHING (including strength) is CrossFit!


wrote …

I'd love to know how coaches deal with the problem of reeling in CrossFitters to only work on strength for 8 weeks. Are metcons gone completely? What way do they get brought back in?

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