By | 2017-03-24T23:02:19+00:00 March 24th, 2017|

Today is the final (yes, final!) day of free programming posted on the TZ Strength website.

If you wish to continue following TZ Strength into the off-season and beyond, be sure to go here and get in touch with me ASAP so that you can get started on Monday!

Regardless of whether you choose to stay on board or not – THANK YOU for choosing TZ Strength to be part of your journey. Be sure to keep checking the blog for educational content.


Power Clean & Jerk 65%x1x3


Back Squat 4×2, use 65% of 1RM


Chest-to-Bar Pullup 1 x Max Reps


2 Rounds:
2:00 Assault Bike @ 6
2:00 Run @ 6
2:00 Row @ 22-26 strokes/minute

Post results to comments.


By | 2017-03-24T03:09:33+00:00 March 24th, 2017|


I actually did not see this coming. I thought to myself, “I know we’ve never had an Open without double unders, but I just don’t know if they’re a week five movement. I don’t think they have the kick.”

Sometimes I’m a real idiot, but hopefully I can still help you get through 17.5

Output Management

Today’s strategy post is a bit different. This is a relatively simple workout, and the most important advice will come from the analysis of Sigmundsdottir’s performance, rather than the subsequent recommendations.

I more or less flipped a coin to pick which athlete to follow, but I’m glad I ended up tracking Sigmundsdottir, as I think her performance tells an important story, which we can flesh out to our advantage.

Round Thruster Double Under
1 14.6 22.59
2 16.81 21.96
3 16.3 24.02
4 17.01 25.5
5 17.73 22.33
6 19.86 23.02
7 18.58 23.23
8 18.66 24.07
9 18.79 21.53
10 17.26 0:40
Mean 17.8* 23.1*
Final 6:56.2

Split times include the transition into the movement, i.e. I stopped the clock on thrusters when Sigmundsdottir completed the 9th rep so that her double under time includes the transition from the bar to the rope, and vice versa. This is why the first round of thrusters is so much faster than the rest.
*Mean splits do not include first round of thrusters or tenth round of double unders.

As one would expect, Sigmundsdottir’s pace was quite consistent, showing slight and gradual degradation in the thrusters and a very slight undulation in double unders with no real degradation – until a massive dropoff in the final round.

Understanding that dropoff is important. From the outside looking in, what appears to have happened is this: Sigmundsdottir picks up the bar for the final round of thrusters and realizes she is now neck-and-neck with Davidsdottir. She speeds up her thrusters in order to gain an edge. She succeeds – by my timing, it’s the fastest her thrusters were since round four taking a little over a second and a half off of the previous round, and about a half second off her average.

But, there is a cost. She gets back to the rope, and after nine near perfect rounds, has several misses. She comes in 17 seconds over her average split time, for an improvement of only a second and a half.

I am making a few key assumptions in my assessment:

(1) That Sigmundsdottir intentionally pushed the pace on the last round of thrusters to gain a lead on Davidsdottir.

(2) That the faster pace on thrusters was a major contributor to the decrease in pace on the subsequent double unders, rather than it being a relatively minor contributor compared to trying to push the pace on the double unders.

I think (1) is a very reasonable assumption, and while (2) is slightly less strong, I believe it illustrates the point I’m trying to make regardless of which movement ultimately led to the breakdown of her double unders: the point is that an attempt to sprint, even in the final round, will bite you in the ass.

The reasons are threefold. First, neither movement is particularly conducive to fast pacing. You’re just not going to increase your per rep speed by that much, no matter how hard you try. Second, the attempt to do so will result in an exponential increase in fatigue. Third, the increase in fatigue correlates with a much higher chance of missing on the double unders – and this is the mistake we cannot afford.

I had one of my athletes perform a quick test to illustrate the combined futility/risk of sprinting the double unders. He performed two sets of 35 double unders. The first set was done at his normal “working” pace, fast but smooth, no sprint, and the second was a max effort. Both sets started at a heart rate of 97. The first set took 19 seconds, brought his heart rate to 137. The second set took 17 seconds, and brought his heart rate to 147.

Two seconds faster, a difference of 10 beats per minute – and that’s one set. In short, the risk is high, and the reward is low. The best bet is to move at a challenging but sustainable pace for the duration of the event – even the final round.

Thruster: The goal here is to go unbroken, and athletes of intermediate level and above should be able to do this without trouble. If you cannot go unbroken, I would suggest that you use lockout speed as your guide: if you sense that you’re going to have to squeeze the rep out at the top, terminate the set prior to that happening.

Double Under: Unbroken, fast but smooth pace. If you’re going to have to break these up, break the set before you have to. Often, missing double unders occurs subsequent to a sharp increase in fatigue in the shoulders and forearms, and elevated respiratory and heart rates. If you already know you’re going to have to break your sets, do it at your own behest, not when your body forces you to.

Technical Considerations

Thruster: When performing light thrusters at a relatively fast pace, it can be extremely easy to short your lockout. In my experience, there are three places this is most likely to happen: the entire first set (you’re fresh and trying to go quickly), the first rep of every set (you’re trying to find a rhythm), and the last rep of every set (you’re already thinking about the next movement. For this whole workout, but especially at these points, make it your mission to lock every rep clearly, if quickly. You don’t have to pause at the top, but make sure your judge is totally certain that every rep is good, This is especially important on the final rep of each set, because it is quite likely that you will drop the bar before you figure out that the rep didn’t count.

Double Under: Shoulders, chest, and arms relaxed. Stay tall, focus on breathing. If you get to a point where you’re totally out of control of your breath, that’s a good sign that you’re going to fast.

The way you drop the rope matters here. Letting go of it while it’s still in the air is a big mistake. If your judge didn’t count your last rep, the rope is now out of your hands. And if you release the rope while it’s moving, it’s likely to fall in an unpredictable place and position. Instead, upon completing the final double under, wait until the rope is lying on the ground unmoving, and then drop the handles straight down from arm’s length.

Finally, double unders are a difficult movement to judge and count. Have your judge watch a few sets of 15-20 during your warm-up and count them, to make sure you’re on the same page. If they’re way off, get a new judge – this workout presents three hundred and fifty opportunities for poor judging to mess you up. Don’t let that happen.

Other Notes

Set-Up: Obviously you want the rope and the bar close together, but always be aware that if you’re too close and at the wrong angle, you could end up catching the barbell and messing up your double unders. I would suggest performing the double unders profile to your barbell, i.e. whichever way you’re facing when you do your thrusters, you should step back a couple of feet and turn 90 degrees to do your double unders, so that your shoulder, rather than your chest or back, is facing the barbell.

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.


1) Assault Bike 10 Minutes @ 6

2) 3 Sets:
40 Single Unders + 10-15 Double Unders
10 Goblet Squats w/Pause, 24kg/16kg
5 Kettlebell Push Press/side, 24kg/16kg, pause final rep at top for 5 seconds

3) EMOM 8, alternating:
a) 6-7-8-9 Thruster, 95#/65# (add one rep each set)
b) 20-25-30-35 Double Unders (add five reps each set)

4) Assault Bike 0:10 @ 9/0:50 Rest/0:10 @ 9

Rest 2-3 minutes, and kick 17.5 in the teeth.

CrossFit Games Open Workout 17.5

10 Rounds For Time:
9 Thrusters, 95#/65#
35 Double Unders

Post results to comments.


If you’re a TZ Strength athlete and want your programming to continue uninterrupted, or if you’re ready to become a TZ Strength athlete and want to make sure you get started on Day 1 of the off-season or Regionals prep, make sure to go here and get in touch with us today!


By | 2017-03-22T21:07:04+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|


Assault Bike 10 minutes @ 6
Run 10 minutes @ 6
Row 10 minutes @ 22-26 strokes/minute

Post results to comments.


By | 2017-03-22T00:35:28+00:00 March 22nd, 2017|

Just a few more days of the Open remain, and just a few more days of free TZ Strength programming. Here are the answers to a few questions:

When do I need to sign up by?

If you want your training to continue uninterrupted, please make sure to go here and fill out the contact form no later than Friday, so that I have time to get you set up before Monday! However, there is no deadline – you can get signed up whenever you want.

Same goes for Affiliates – if you want to get in on the next macrocycle, go here and contact me by Friday for best results, but you can get on board at any time.

What will happen to the TZ Strength blog?

Don’t you worry! The blog will still be active, but the focus will shift to providing helpful content about programming, training, and coaching. Stay tuned!


1) Clean 75%x1x5
2) Overhead Squat 1 @ 7, 1 @ 8, 1 @ 9


3 Rounds For Time:
10 One Legged Squats, alternating
10 Box Jump Overs, 24″/20″
10 Dumbbell Hang Power Cleans, 55#/35#
10 Back Extensions
10 Pushups

Post results to comments.


By | 2017-03-21T01:27:11+00:00 March 21st, 2017|


Back Squat 1RM

Plan your attempts, be smart, minimize volume to maximize output on the top effort. If you miss, you’re done. If you decide to take a bunch of cracks at various weights, or to keep going after you miss, it is going to impact your performance on 17.5. Prioritize.


Muscle-Up 1 x Max Reps


21-18-15-12-9-6-3 For Time:
Row Calories
Assault Bike Calories

Post results to comments.


By | 2017-03-19T21:49:06+00:00 March 19th, 2017|

Thus commences the final week of free-of-charge TZ Strength programming.

Beginning Monday, March 27th, all programming will be subscription only. There are three programs available:

Base: This is the programming which has been available on tzstrength.com since 2013. The program is designed to treat all areas of fitness equally, with an emphasis on sport specific development.

Strength & Power: This program is designed to bias the development of hypertrophy, top end strength, and the Olympic lifts, within the scope of improving the athlete’s sport specific fitness by bringing up these areas.

Endurance & Gymnastics: Essentially the inverse of the Strength & Power program, this specialization is designed for the athlete who is relatively superior with heavy weights, but needs to improve their gymnastics strength, skill, and capacity, as well as their general and sport specific endurance.

The S&P and E&G programs are all inclusive. The Strength & Power program includes your endurance and gymnastics training. The Endurance & Gymnastics program includes heavy lifting. Rather than layering unrelated programs on top of one another, these programs allow you to bias your training towards your weaknesses, while still focusing on the sport as a whole.

If you’d like to learn more or get signed up, go here to do some reading and drop me a line.


A new macrocycle of TZ Strength Affiliate Programming also begins on the 27th. If you’re looking to provide your members with programming that is equal parts inclusive and challenging, varied and consistent, serious and fun, all while saving yourself hours every week, fill out the contact form here to get started!



Snatch 75%x1x8


Push Press 2-3×1 @ 90% of 3RM load


1) “Helen”
3 Rounds For Time:
Run 400m
21 Kettlebell Swings, 24kg/16kg
12 Pullups

2) 5 Rounds For Time:
7 Overhead Squats, 165#/110#
21 Double Unders

Post results to comments.


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


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

Post results to comments.


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

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.

Post results to comments.


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


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.

Post results to comments.

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