If you have read any of my articles pre-2019, you probably remember many of the articles I have previously written, like How to Improve Box Programming and The Future of Box Programming (part 2). These articles were geared toward improving programming for CrossFit boxes. Back then, my primary business was just that - writing programming for boxes. So, as you can imagine, a lot of the content I produced was geared toward that.
Since 2020, I no longer write programming for boxes anymore. I handed that business off to a coach I had running at the time. But before I did this, that coach and I had a conversation about how I would do things now vs. then. And, of course, a lot has changed since my first box programming client back in 2015, but even still, a lot remains the same.
To make this as easy as I can to understand, I will highlight the system I used then and the system I would use now, and then discuss how the system today could potentially work and how you could implement this.
Program Then vs. Now
Monday: Heavy Lower Strength Work + CrossFit specific conditioning piece (single element piece of couplet <10:00 time domain)
Tuesday: Upper Accessory Work + CrossFit specific (triplet or multiple element conditioning piece 10-15:00 time domain)
Wednesday: Aerobic Conditioning piece (multiple elements, but cyclical work would be the primary aspect of this session, 20-30:00 time domain)
Thursday: Speed Lower + GPP work.
Friday: Speed Upper + CrossFit specific conditioning piece (single element piece of couplet <10:00 time domain)
Saturday: Partner Conditioning piece, multiple elements, 30:00 minute domain with work/rest built-in.
Sunday: Yes, I used to program work on Sundays, but I hated programming these sessions and felt it was completely unnecessary, so I am not going to spend any energy talking about it here.
Monday: Full Body Strength Work + GPP Work Finisher
Tuesday: Mixed Aerobic Conditioning, 30-40:00 time domain
Wednesday: Full Body Strength + Single Element Finisher
Thursday: Mixed Aerobic Conditioning, 30-40:00 time domain
Friday: Full Body Strength Work + GPP Work Finisher
Saturday: Partner Conditioning Piece
Why the Change?
One of our major pushbacks was to schedule the “What if my client only comes these days?” My thoughts then were that we should tailor the program to the most committed people, as they are the ones who get the best results. And those who only come twice a week will eventually need to come more if they want to continue to make progress.
Now, I would argue that we have a duty to give everyone what they need to be successful, regardless of their schedule, and using a full-body split provides a bigger overall bang for the buck. Moreover, it is a great style of training to ingrain good motor patterns, get people strong, and of course, improve body composition.
New and Improved Box Program
I know you are probably wondering what the "new and improved" version of box programming looks like, so here it is:
Full Body Strength Circuit:
1a. Front Box Squat: 3 x 6-8. Rest 45s.
1b. Single Leg RDLs: 3 x 6-8 each. Rest 45s.
1c. Single Arm DB Push Press: 3 x 6-8 each. Rest 45s.
1d. Chest Supported DB Rows: 3 x 10-12. Rest 45s.
1a. Air Bike Sprint: 3 x 20 seconds. No rest.
1b. Heavy Farmer Carry: 3 x 100 ft. Rest 2:00
25 Calorie Ski Erg
20 Air Squats
15 Calorie Air Bike
10 Kettlebell Snatch each side
5 Burpee Box Jumps (30, 24)
Rest 60s between rounds
Full Body Strength Circuit
1a. Alternating DB Floor Press: 3 x 8-10 each. Rest 60s.
1b. Barbell Glute Hip Thrust: 3 x 15-20. Rest 60s.
1c. Close Grip Chin-up: 3 x submax (1 rep shy of failure). Rest 60s.
*8:00 time cap
Reps and Calories of
40, 30, 20, 10:
Ski or Rower
Walking BW Lunges
1a. Power Clean Technique Work: 3 x 3. Rest 45s.
1b. DB Split Jerk: 3 x 3 each. Rest 45s.
3 x 30s on/30s off:
1a. Russian KB Swings
1b. Goblet Squats
1c. Hand Release Push-ups
1d. Ring Rows
With a running clock in teams of 2 - one athlete completes a full round at a time:
0:00 - 10:00
Alt. DB Snatch x 8 (total)
Burpees Over the DB x 8
Wall Balls x 8
12:00 - 22:00
Air Bike Cals x 8
DB Clean + Press x 8 (total)
Overhead DB Carry x 50 ft. on each side
24:00 - 34:00
400 meter Run
This schedule, utilizing a full-body split, ensures that people showing up to your gym will get what they need to be successful. It also ensures your classes are time efficient, allowing you to maximize your 60-minute block of time.
Yes, there are no high-skill elements of CrossFit, like kipping or snatching, but use your best discretion with those things. I stopped writing programming for boxes, mainly because I did not believe in subjecting people to those things, and I know I could spend their time better elsewhere else, so you will not see me doing that here.
As far as the strength circuits go, these are designed to be challenging, where you build over the course of three to four weeks. - 3 sets means 3 work sets with all sets.
This program is overly simple on purpose, as you have a wide range of abilities in any group class. This means simplicity will go a long way for both beginners and advanced trainees.
The two biggest factors of what I would do now vs. then are switching to a full-body approach delivered twice a week in a circuit format and one day delivered in a power pairing format and completely simplifying the approach regardless of movement complexity and using conditioning work, where I know the large majority will receive the intended stimulus all while still keeping the CrossFit group training community feel.
I am sure many would disagree with this approach, as it negates many aspects of CrossFit. I would still encourage those people to consider how we can make a bigger impact on more people. You would be hard-pressed to find people who want to compete in CrossFit at a high level in a CrossFit group class.
Jason has been involved with the fitness industry for close to 17 years working with individuals and coaches. He is the owner of Jason Brown Coaching, specializing in working with ex-CrossFit athletes as well as providing education for strength and conditioning coaches to improve their programming. He has a Master's of Science degree in Exercise Science, is a CSCS, and is a Certified Special Strengths Coach through Westside Barbell.