Clean & Jerk 12×1 Every 90 Seconds

Start at 75%. Add load after no fewer than two, no more than four good lifts.


Front Squat 1RM


Assault Bike
2:00 @ 6 + 2:00 @ 7 + 1:00 @ 8
2×10/5 calories, hard but not maximal
50/40 calorie time trial, absolute max effort (paced appropriately!)
5:00 @ 6

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By | 2017-03-17T23:25:34+00:00 March 17th, 2017|1 Comment


Happy St.Castro’s Day!

I’m not gonna lie – I was hoping 16.4 would be our repeat this year. Lucky me!

Much of my approach from last year will remain the same, but with the advantage of hindsight, there will be some small differences in strategy for 17.4.

Output Management

No intensive breakdown this week, for two reasons: (1) most of the strategy recommendations will come from experience with 16.4 rather than any individual performance, and (2) the camera cut away too many times to get accurate rep counts, and I didn’t want to post “best guesses”. Instead, we’ll move to general strategic recommendations for each movement.

I will quote one section of my post from last year verbatim:

“In all movements, bear the following in mind: there is no point in doing a larger set unless it reduces the total number of sets the exercise will take you. There is no appreciable difference between 15/10/10/10/10 and 11/11/11/11/11, except that the first set of the first scheme is more taxing than it needs to be. Whenever you increase the size of a set, it should be in service of reducing the total number of sets, which is useful so long as it doesn’t cause your rests to get too long.”

This is pertinent to any workout, but the more the repetitions climb, the more important it is – especially in a workout with three very systemically stressful movements.

Deadlift: Depending on the athlete, I think sets of up to 11 (5×11) are fine. However, I’m not sure they’re strictly speaking necessary. Even for excellent deadlifters, sets of 5 (11×5) with very short rests (drop, take 2-3 seconds, reset) may pay off by allowing you to keep the heart and respiratory rate down by granting yourself a brief reprieve of muscular tension.

It is, of course, acceptable to break this rule. In particular, if you know that the deadlift for reps is a very strong movement for you, and that you are good at controlling your heart/respiratory rate in fairly high rep sets, it may be beneficial to reduce the number of sets you perform. But keep in mind that it is only worth doing so if reducing the number of sets also reduces the total time. In other words, if the cost of reducing the number of sets is longer rests to the point that the total time ends up being the same, it’s better to perform smaller sets and reduce the accumulative fatigue.

Wall Ball: We’ll see a lot of variance here. Pacing of the wall ball has a very specific goal, in addition to our standard practice of keeping heart rate and respiratory rate in check: sets must be appropriately sized to delay and reduce the onset of local fatigue in the shoulders, lest you reduce your ability to execute the handstand pushups. This is especially important if you are an athlete who struggles with HSPU in general – and in many cases, the athletes who have trouble with them are very proficient at wall ball (relatively tall, and sometimes heavy and long limbed as well), and may be tempted to push the wall ball. While I certainly wouldn’t recommend sandbagging the wall ball, do bear in mind that taking the set to maximum or near maximum may have a detrimental effect on the HSPU, which are likely to eat up far more time.

Here are five possible breakdowns for wall ball, depending on your level of proficiency:


If necessary, reduce further than sets of 11 to save your shoulders. As I’ve said for many years, the key on wall ball is keeping your rest under control. 5×11 with strict (on the clock, not in your head) 5 second rests is a perfectly viable strategy.

Row: Your task here is essentially to (1) avoid burning out and (2) avoid falling back. You don’t need to push the pace hard, but you can’t fall too far off the pace that you set for yourself. Relatively small differences in output have a much more significant impact when rowing for calories than when rowing for meters. This chart should give you a good idea of what pace you should be holding – and it will also illustrate just how much your calories/hour can fall off with a relatively small (5-10 second/500m) reduction in pace.)

I want to make it clear that this does not mean that you need to crush the row. It just means that relatively small drops in your output from the pace you plan to hold can have a big impact. So, be realistic with your goal pace, and hold on!

Finally – I’d advise easing into the row. When you get on, take the first 10-15 seconds at a pace 50-100 calories/hour lower than you intend to hold. Use this time to get your breathing under control (not slow, but rhythmic) before picking up speed.

Handstand Pushup: And so, we come to the end. The best way for me to describe how you’ll pace this: you need smaller sets than you think you need. The first three movements in this workout are driven primarily by some of the heaviest duty musculature in the body. By comparison, HSPU will be dependent on, and limited by, relatively small muscles. If you hit a wall here, you are finished. Your rest times will become untenably long and your pace will fall to pieces.

Many athletes will be best served by sets of 5 (11×5). If you can hold them all the way through, with controlled rest, you will get done with the HSPU in good time.

Some higher level athletes will be able to perform one of the following rep schemes, depending on proficiency with the movement:


A very few athletes, those who possess very high levels of both local and systemic capacity, and who are particularly proficient with and well built for HSPU (short athletes with short levers) will be able to perform this in two sets. You’re probably not that athlete. Pick the rep scheme you think you can hold – and then do the one below it. If it turns out it was too easy, you can always redo, but once you peter out here, there is no coming back.

Finally, you must be willing to adjust your pace on the go. If you need smaller sets, just do it.

Technical Considerations

Deadlift: These are high rep, relatively light deadlifts, and the temptation will be to more or less stiff leg them. Since your reps will mostly be touch-and-go, I think this is fine. However, do bear in mind that the more back dominant your deadlift, the more it will affect your rowing, so a little knee flexion goes a long way in mitigating that. When you drop the bar from the top, try to guide it slightly with your hands, so you don’t have to run around to follow it. If possible, use plates without much bounce.

Wall Ball: Drive hard with the legs. Don’t make your shoulders do the work here – you’re going to need them. Ideally, use a wall rather than a rig for your target. That way, you can take your rests by placing the ball against the wall, leaning on it, and letting your arms hang by your sides. This makes a surprisingly significant difference in how quickly you’ll get back to work.

Row: Nothing fancy here, folks, If you don’t know how to row by now, I can’t help you.

Handstand Pushup: Powerful, technical, efficient kip from the very first rep! Oftentimes, the temptation is to slam through the initial reps of a set as quickly as possible, and this may result in under utilizing the leg drive. If you want to get through the HSPU as quickly as possible, you must delay the onset of shoulder fatigue, and that means you must kip well the whole time.

Pay close attention to the standard. Double check it, and do some reps for your judge before you start the workout. You may want to take your shoes off for the HSPU, as socks slide along the wall more easily. If you choose to do so, make sure that you measure your line with your shoes off! You want to move quickly, but if you’re in too much of a rush, it’s easy to get no repped here, and those aren’t reps you want to waste. Get those heels over the line every time.

Obligatory: Read and reread the standards. Go over them with your judge. Charge your batteries, empty your memory cards, make sure people know when and where you’re filming. Etc. Of particular note on the standards: “Starting at the floor, the barbell is lifted until hips and knees reach full extension with the head and shoulders behind the bar. The arms must be straight throughout. No bouncing.” The head behind the bar rule is new (I think), and be careful with the touch-and-go, don’t slam the bar into the ground like an asshole.


1) Row 45/35 Calories @ 6-7

2) 3 Rounds @ Easy Pace:
10 Russian Kettlebell Swings + 5 American Kettlebell Swings, 24kg/16kg
0:15 Hollow Hold + 15 Hollow Rocks
12 Steps Forward Crawl
5 Squat + Broad Jump

3) EMOM 12, alternating:
a) 8-5 Deadlifts (add weight and drop a rep each set, 95#/65#, 135#/95#. 185#/135#, 225#/155#)
b) 10 Wall Ball Shots, 20#/14# to 10’/9’
c) 4 Handstand Pushups to Standard

CrossFit Games Open Workout 17.4

55 Deadlifts, 225#/155#
55 Wall Ball, 20# to 10’/14# to 9’
55 Calorie Row
55 Handstand Pushups


Snatch + Overhead Squat

65%x1, 70%x1, 75%x1, 80%x1, 85%x1x2-3

If your back is totally shot, keep it down around 75% (or skip if it’s really bad.)

Gymnastics Endurance

3 Rounds:
1:00 Max GHD Sit-Ups
1:00 Max Handstand Walk
1:00 Rest

Allow 10 seconds of transition time between GHD and handstand walk, so that you have the full 1:00 allotted for each element.

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We are now within the final two weeks of free programming on the TZ Strength website.

As of Monday, March 27th, TZ Strength programming will be a subscription only service. We will offer three programs: the base program, built for all around, even focused fitness, and our two specialized programs: strength & power, and endurance & gymnastics.

If you want to be sure that you are receiving programming from the first day of the off-season (3/27), and that your training continues uninterrupted, be sure to visit this page and fill out the contact form ASAP! Let me know which program you want, and I’ll make sure you’re set. If you’re unsure about which program is right for you, I’d be happy to help you figure it out.

Whether you choose to stick with TZ Strength or not – thank you for following along for the last nearly four years!

By | 2017-03-17T05:15:41+00:00 March 17th, 2017|0 Comments



Run 30 minutes @ 6 + 400m Surges

@ 5:00, 10:00, 15:00, 20:00, and 25:00, Run 400m @ 9

Over the course of each 5 minute set, you should be gradually building your pace to a near maximal effort at the allotted time. Then cool down/recover as you enter the next segment, and start building your pace again.

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By | 2017-03-15T23:29:57+00:00 March 15th, 2017|1 Comment



Power Clean 15×1 EMOM

Start at 65%. Add load after no fewer than two, no more than four good lifts.


1) 4 Rounds, each on a 4:00 clock:
400m Row
10 Burpees Over Rower

2) Two Dumbbell Hang Power Snatch, 40 Reps For Time, 45#/30#

Row/Burpee: Start rounds @ 0:00, 4:00, 8:00, and 12:00
Snatch: Hang above knee. Dumbbells held at sides, as you would for a dumbbell clean.

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By | 2017-03-15T06:03:05+00:00 March 15th, 2017|1 Comment



Back Squat 1 @ 7, 1 @ 8, 1 @ 9, plus 3 down sets (load drop -10%)

Be sure this is a TRUE 1 @ 9 for today, not a 1RM attempt!


Rope Climb
2:00 Max Reps
2:00 Rest
1:30 Max Reps
1:30 Rest
1:00 Max Reps


10 Strict Handstand Pushups
10 Toes-to-Bar
100 Double Unders

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By | 2017-03-13T23:27:24+00:00 March 13th, 2017|4 Comments



Snatch 20×1 EMOM

If you’re redoing 17.3, do it in place of this. Start at 75%. Add load after no fewer than two, no more than four good lifts.


Push Press 1RM


1) 5 Rounds For Time:
15 Calorie Row
12 Thrusters, 115#/75#

2) 21-15-9 For Time:
Burpee, touch target 6″ outside of max reach
Chest-to-Bar Pullup

If redoing 17.3 today, skip this.
Burpee: Both hands must contact target simultaneously.

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By | 2017-03-12T22:47:54+00:00 March 12th, 2017|2 Comments



Power Clean & Jerk 10×1 Every 90 Seconds

Start at 65%. Add load after no fewer than two, no more than four good lifts.


Back Squat 4×2, 80% of last week’s 2 @ 9


2:00 @ 22-24 strokes/minute + 2:00 @ 24-26 strokes/minute + 1:00 @ 26-28 strokes/minute
2x125m @ 38-40+ strokes/minute
500m Time Trial, absolute max effort (paced appropriately!)
1000m @ 22-24 strokes/minute


Handstand Pushup

2:00 Max Reps
2:00 Rest
1:30 Max Reps
1:30 Rest
1:00 Max Reps

Open Standard.

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By | 2017-03-11T04:38:15+00:00 March 11th, 2017|2 Comments


I had a hope that we’d be seeing some heavy snatches in the Open this year, and I guess it turns out TDC is inside my brain. It’s actually a less disconcerting feeling than I would have thought.

Output Management

17.3 isn’t merely “seeing” some heavy snatches – it’s almost nothing but heavy snatches. Although the chest-to-bar pullup volume climbs fairly high, the structure of the workout allows the athlete to take them at a comfortable pace from the very beginning and still meet the timecaps with little to no trouble.

Let’s take a look at the performance of the reigning champ, Mat Fraser:

Chest-to-Bar Breakdown Squat Snatch Breakdown Round Time
6 6 6 (95#) 6 0:28
6 6 6 (95#) 6 0:39
6 6 6 (95#) 4/1/1 0:41
7 7 5 (135#) 1/1/1/1/1 0:47
7 7 5 (135#) 1/1/1/1/1 0:46
7 7 5 (135#) 1/1/1/1/1 0:46
8 8 4 (185#) 1X/1/1/1/1 0:59
8 8 4 (185#) 1/1/1/1 1:05
8 8 4 (185#) 1/1/1/1 0:59
9 5/4 3 (225#) 1/1/1 1:13
9 5/4 3 (225#) 1/1/1 1:12
9 5/4 3 (225#) 1/1/1 1:17
10 6/4 2 (245#) 1/1 1:16
10 6/4 2 (245#) 1/1 1:07
10 6/4 2 (245#) 1/1 1:15
11 5/4/2 1 (265#) 1 1:13
11 7/4 1 (265#) 1 0:56
11 7/4 1 (265#) 1 0:58

Times include transitions and are hand timed while also typing notes and admiring Mat Fraser’s hot bod, so they’re slightly approximate.
For the remainder of this post, I will use the terms “set”, “round” and “series”. For clarity’s sake, I will define them here.
Set: A single iteration of a single exercises, e.g. “a set of six chest-to-bar pullups.”
Round: A single alternation of one set of chest-to-bar pullups and one round of snatches, e.g. “the first round of seven chest-to-bars and 5 snatches.”
Series: Three rounds of the same size sets, e.g. “the third series of the workout is three rounds of 8 chest-to-bar pullups and four squat snatches.”

In my view, Fraser’s effort was characterized by a fast but controlled pace, which allowed him to accomplish two important goals:

  1. Keep heart rate relatively low, and muscular fatigue in check
  2. Put time in the bank for the later series, during which both movements become more difficult and time consuming

The crucial thing to understand is that this approach does not change for any athlete. What changes is the pace which the athlete can hold with regard to (1), and the point for which they are “saving time” with regard to (2).

Most athletes will have a pretty good idea of at what weight the snatch will start to become problematic. The goal is to get to that load as quickly as possible while accomplishing the aforementioned goals.

Chest-to-Bar Pullup: Err on the side of caution. Breaking early is better than breaking late, so long as you’re keeping your rests under control (say it with me: on the clock not in your head), and are using the early series to get ahead of the timecaps. It’s probably a good idea to do the pullups in no more than two sets, but three sets with shorter breaks is fine as well. Remember, what matters is the combination of the time it takes you to finish the work, and the amount of fatigue it induces – the way you break your sets is relevant only in how it impacts those two factors.

If chest-to-bar pullups are a strength, a good rule of thumb is to break them beginning one series before the weight on the snatch becomes challenging. E.g., if the first weight that challenges you is the third series (185#/135#), break the pullups in the second series. If the first weight that challenges you is the fourth series (225#/155#), break the pullups in the third series, etc.

If chest-to-bar pullups are a relatively weak movement for you, absolutely break them early on, as early as the first round, going 3/3, 2/2/2, or even singles. As I mentioned last week with bar muscle-ups, there’s an inherent risk to singles – every time you break the set, you add a rest period, and increase variability. However, this is a much safer approach in 17.3 than it was in 17.2, because (1) you are far less likely to take excessive rest on pullups than you are on bar muscle-ups, and (2) there are fewer reps per set, especially in the early series.

Snatch: I see no reason not to perform singles for the entire workout. If you really want to pick up some speed in the first series (for example, if chest-to-bars are a weakness and you choose to break into 2/2/2 or singles) you could perform the first round in two sets of three touch-and-go reps. Beyond that, there’s no point in trying to string reps together.

Your focus should be on controlling your rest between reps. Before the workout begins, have an idea of how long you plan to take between reps during each series. If desired, you can further break it down by round, but I wouldn’t bother – that’s going to be more thinking than you want to deal with, and you’re going to need to adjust on the fly anyway. Get a reasonable idea of how long you’ll need between reps at each weight, and then stay as close to that as you can. Add seconds as needed (on the clock, not in your head.)

Technical Considerations

Chest-to-Bar Pullup: Not much to say here. Keep basically good technique, keep the hands loose/relaxed as with last week’s toes-to-bar, to help stave off grip fatigue.

Snatch: Although mechanics will inevitably change as the load increases, there is no reason to use “maximum speed” technique here (i.e. snatching like an asshole.) There aren’t enough reps in the early series to make it worth the additional back fatigue you will accumulate in going for speed, and you will reap greater benefits by locking in your technique early on. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but I recommend using a relatively lower hip, more forward knee set-up than you would when performing light-to-moderate weight for maximum speed.

Other Notes

Setup: This changes drastically depending on how many barbells and how much space you have. The best case scenario is to have some friends to load your bar, because then it’s as close to the pullup bar as possible the whole time. Second to that is having six bars loaded, but if you have more barbells and plates and space than you have friends…

If you have no recourse other than to load a single bar yourself each round, make sure the plates are set up in the order you’ll need them, and that you use collars which come on and off with ease. Plan ahead for when you’ll be changing weights. I would suggest that the best method is to change one side of the bar immediately after completing the final snatch of a given series, and then changing the other side when you break the first set of pullups in the new series. If you do not break your pullups, change the second side after finishing the first set of pullups in the new series.

Hand Care: As last week, there’s a risk posed to your palms here. Take good care of your hands before and after! Prior to beginning your warm-up, I recommend washing your hands with soap and warm water to help prepare the skin. After the workout, immediately wash all of the chalk from your hands.

Footwear: Assuming you normally snatch in weightlifting shoes, wear them here. If they hold you back some marginal amount on the pullups, it will be more than balanced out by the benefit they give you on the snatch.

Obligatory: Read and reread the standards. Go over them with your judge. Charge your batteries, empty your memory cards, make sure people know when and where you’re filming. Etc. Of particular note on the standards: “…catching the bar while above parallel will only be allowed if the athlete continues to drop below parallel in a smooth motion, without pausing or rising before achieving the required depth. A power snatch followed by an overhead squat will not be allowed.” This shouldn’t be a problem for most athletes, but pay close attention to it.


1) Row 1000-1500m @ 6

2) 3 Sets @ Easy Pace:
10 Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlifts, empty bar
10 V-Ups or Tuck-Ups
10 Overhead Squats, empty bar
10 Tap Swings on Pullup Bar

Tap Swing: Emphasize tension through midline quads, and glutes, and work on keeping hands loose/relaxed.

If you have a specific complex or series of exercises you like to perform to warm up for heavy snatching, do it here, prior to the 10 minute alternating EMOM.

3) EMOM 10, alternating:
a) 2-6 Chest-to-Bar Pullups (add one rep each round)
b) 6-2 Squat Snatch (add weight and subtract a rep each round, weights are 95#/65#, 115#/85#, 135#/95#, 155#/105#, 165#/115#)

Rest 2-3 minutes, and get after it.

CrossFit Games Open Event 17.3

Prior to 8:00, complete:

3 Rounds:
6 Chest-to-Bar Pullups
6 Squat Snatch, 95#/65#

3 Rounds:
7 Chest-to-Bar Pullups
5 Squat Snatch, 135#/95#

Prior to 12:00, complete:

3 Rounds:
8 Chest-to-Bar Pullups
4 Squat Snatch, 185#/135#

Prior to 16:00, complete:

3 Rounds:
9 Chest-to-Bar Pullups
3 Squat Snatch, 225#/155#

Prior to 20:00, complete:

3 Rounds:
10 Chest-to-Bar Pullups
2 Squat Snatch, 245#/175#

Prior to 24:00, complete:

3 Rounds:
11 Chest-to-Bar Pullups
1 Squat Snatch, 265#/185#

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By | 2017-03-10T04:58:36+00:00 March 10th, 2017|143 Comments



Assault Bike 30 minutes @ 6 + 40/30 Calorie Surges

@ 5:00, 10:00, 15:00, 20:00, and 25:00, Bike 40/30 Calories @ 9

Over the course of each 5 minute set, you should be gradually building your pace to a near maximal effort at the allotted time. Then cool down/recover and start building your pace again.

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By | 2017-03-08T22:34:47+00:00 March 8th, 2017|1 Comment
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