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Rest Day

CFSBK's Calaveras softball team after their win on Friday

The Underlying Philosophy Behind Programming at CFSBK

By Chris Fox 

At CFSBK, we program for long-term health and fitness utilizing strength training, Olympic lifting, gymnastics, and mostly CrossFit-style couplet and triplet conditioning work. While some days look a bit different, a routine day at CrossFit South Brooklyn looks like this: DROMs, Warm Ups, Lifting, WOD prep, followed by a WOD. Let’s look at some of the reasons why we structure and program this way in terms of what each segment offers. 

DROMs: A general, light, dynamic warm up of joints and soft tissue will get your heart rate up a bit and help you enter a training mindset. It starts to get the sleep out of your eyes or the emails in your inbox out of your head. It also offers time for the QOD [LINK], which can lighten the mood and let you get to know a bit about the people you’ll be working hard with. 

Warm Ups: You need to be warmed up properly to move well and help prevent injury. Standardized warm ups move you through a wide range of motion, get you sweaty, and give you an opportunity to develop some strength in basic gymnastics and barbell movements you’ll regularly see in classes. Focused barbell drills review the positions and intentions of the lift you’ll be working on that day. We structure the drills so that you also get warm as you’re doing them.

Lifts: You need to be stronger, as strength is the physical adaptation with the greatest carryover to the rest of your training and to life in general. You may have noticed that we squat twice each week. We’ve been programming this way for years and for good reason. I can’t say it any better than Mark Rippetoe so here’s a quote from the man himself:

“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that provides the level of central nervous activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat.” 

We agree. 

The Olympic lifts train power, strength, coordination, flexibility, and overall athleticism. If you can throw a heavy weight overhead, catch it in a rock bottom overhead squat, then stand it up (PR bar slam optional), almost all of the other things we do will be easier. As far as the other lifts go, the bench is the best upper body strength developer and is simply fun. The press is another great upper body strength developer—it keeps the shoulder girdle healthy and works the muscles that stabilize your trunk extremely well. Every few cycles we’ll program an upper body gymnastics movement as a strength developer, as this allows us to have some fun and vary the stimulus a bit. The deadlift will get your back stronger like no other exercise can, and it’s almost always the lift where you’ll be able to move the most weight, automatically making it pretty cool. The average lifter should be able to deadlift more than they can squat. If that's not the case for you, we recommend coming in on days when we're pulling weights off the floor. 

WOD Prep and WOD: We discuss the intent of the WOD at the whiteboard, along with scaling options and strategies. The WOD is where we get our conditioning and develop the ability to work at high intensities for longer than a set of squats can take us. As stated above, we use mostly mixed modal couplets and triplets. Our conditioning tends to range from short, high intensity three- to seven-minute efforts, to medium intensity eight- 15-minute efforts on most days, with a lower intensity 20-minute-plus WOD thrown in once a week or so. 

Even when the total time is above 15 minutes, we’ll often use interval work so that intensity stays high, given that high intensity (anaerobic) training has positive carryovers to low intensity (aerobic) training and offers other benefits. High intensity training can develop and preserve muscle mass, whereas long slow distance training can cause you to lose it if used exclusively. High intensity training creates EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption), which sets your metabolism up to burn slightly more fat after exercise compared to endurance-type training—a boon if you’re looking to lose extra fat. Plus it’s time effective. If you can get the same or better benefit metabolically with shorter high intensity training, then the only reason to do the long slow stuff is if you don’t want to work that hard. 

Consider that maybe you don’t need more “cardio,” but actually need to work harder. I’d argue that hard work will also make you stronger in non-physical ways. We throw something like “Murph” at you a few times each year since we know you secretly love it and it’s cool to see that you haven’t lost your ability to go that long in spite of all your gainz. If we programmed hero type WODs all the time however, we'd likely have an oft-injured population with a narrow scope of fitness. Time and intensity have an inverse relationship in that the longer you work, the lower the intensity must be. By intensity, I mean power output. I know a marathon can be an intense experience, but you’re not working as hard on those miles as you would be while doing 800m repeats. Furthermore, the longer you go, the more reps you’re going to be doing and the more fatigued you’ll be. You don’t move better on the 69th deadlift compared to the 9th, trust me. Remember: we’re programming for our general population to be fit for the long term—not to crush a week’s worth of hero WODs followed by six weeks of PT. 

Cool Down: This portion is largely up to you, but you really don’t need us to babysit while you run, row an easy 1000 meters, or spend some quality time with a foam roller. 

To wrap up, CFSBK’s programming is designed to give you the most training value. We do these things because they are effective, not because they are in vogue or even because our members demand that we do things a certain way. We’ve withstood a few silly fitness trends in favor of what science and experience says works and will continue to do so, evolving as we learn. Training here is hard, it’s consistent, and it isn’t always exciting or sexy, but it works. We’re lucky to have so many of you who seem to agree and are willing to put in the hard work!


  • Come get mobile tonight with Coach Fox at 6:30pm for Active Recovery. Why do we run AR classes at CFSBK? Coach David wrote a whole article about it over on his blog, ITA. Check it out!
  • Check out Pilates with KH at 7:30pm tonight, but remember that next week's session is canceled. 

Chad Vaughn, 315 pound Clean and Jerk in Slow Motion CrossFit
Why I Hate CrossFit The Box Magazine
Losing Weight May Require Some Serious Fun New York Times
Ballet Dancers' Toughest Moves, Explained In Slow Motion The Hairpin 

Reader Comments (27)

Wednesday's Programming

Clean and Jerk

Fitness: Halting Clean Deadlift + Clean + Jerk
If you have a hard time organizing the pull off the floor, perform the clean from the mid-hang, after the clean halting deadlift.

Performance: High Hang Clean + Knee Hang Clean + Jerk at 70% x (1+1+1) x 2


Front Squat

Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Start at a weight that allows you to make jumps for the next 5 weeks.

Performance: 70% x 8 x 4
Rest two minutes between sets. Use 105% of the 1RM you used for last cycle.

June 9, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio


Left my asthma inhaler from last night's Olympic lifting class. It's light blue with a darker blue cap. Coming in tomorrow morning to get it. If I'm successful, clutch. If not, and someone finds it, could you bring it to the front desk please? Thanks!

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKarl

Strength Cycle - Class #4

Same rack with Pablo and Scott and his new flashy yellow and silver lifting shoes!


Still not using belt and I was very happy when I hear Erica saying it makes a huge dfference when you use one. Then I must still have got some room for future. Good to know. Feeling dizzy from holding my breath and not coordinating well enough when to exhale and duration of the pause before the next rep. Will get there eventually. As usual our Master the barbell whisperer's cues were very helpful.


Still feel weak on this lift yet learning how to deal with it without killing myself for the ideal form. I maintain an acceptable form. Also Jeremy showed a stretching technique that will be very helpful with my mobility issues.


Had to start using underhand with my right hand grip. Makes it easier to grab the bar.
I don't like this lift being rushed as not much time left at the end of the class before the Oly Lifters coming. As the squats getting havier we need more time for warm ups and proper recovery time between work sets... It sure will be a battle to do finish this class in time soon.

I feel lost when there is no QOD posted here on the blog for me to rant on. I will now bury my face in the pillow and wail the night out of profound anguish due to that.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMurat A

6am with Jess and McD. Tomorrow's C&J work, fitness version, working up to 103lbs to start the cycle. I enjoyed the complex today. Need to remember to bend my back knee more on the jerk.

FSQ - 140x3x5. These felt good and moved pretty well. My legs felt like jello on the cashout though.

@RobU - I can't take credit for the NickDowell. Someone else here posted it before me. But it works so well - it's like they were meant to be together!

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

Celebrating my birthday with a 2 hour mandatory anti-money laundering meeting. So why not post yesterdays numbers instead.


Feeling pretty confident at this level. Have a decent speed and using that bounce to help me up.


Dead Lift

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPablo

Nice write up Mr. Fox. Thoughtful, intelligent programming that makes us strong and keeps us healthy is what makes CFSBK such a great place to train. Much appreciated.

Olympic Lifting Class Yesterday.

Snatch – Goal was to work up to 80-85% of 1RM and then do 3 singles at that weight and try and add some weight for reps 4-5. Worked up to 85 pounds than added 5# more for last two reps. Things felt good. Landed on my toes a bit. Gong to focus on dropping straight down so that I am catching the bar in a consistent position. Dave and I finished early so I threw on an additional 5# and hit 95lbs pretty cleanly (old “legitimate – i.e., bore a strong resemblance to a snatch” PR) so am going to try to work from there next time.

Moved on to the Clean and Jerk next. Tried to work on getting my knees out of the way so that the transition from the first to second pull is smoother. Ended up thinking too much the whole time so the cleans were kinda choppy. When Frank told me just to lift at normal speed things cleaned up. Going to practice visualizing the lift then executing it more organically.

Shoulder mobility causing some minor issues with my jerk. Will do more dislocates, trying to march my hands in a bit more each day. Luckily I have about 4 PVC pipes in my house.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

CFMNL OG > Group Class marathon session

High hang snatch triple
95 105 115 125 135 140 145

Front squat w 3 sec pause (unbelted)
135x5 185x4 215x3x5


EMOM for 12min alternate:
4 push press at 155#
8 ring dips

(Last 2 push presses were jerks)

Then 5 rounds for time (6:58) of:
12 front rack lunges at 95#
10 toes to bar

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

I left Rogue black wrist wraps in my lifting shoes under the pull ups bars. I just got those wraps, after losing one of my other ones, so if someone would put them aside until Wednesday I would appreciate it. I was dazed after that workout.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBen W

Make-up post from yesterday: 7:30pm with Melo and Ro

Press: 45x5, 75x5, 95x3, 105x5x4
Buying low at the start of this cycle in the hopes that I can sell high in six weeks, so to speak. These felt good. Going to try and keep my tempo up a bit to get some extra sets in as we go along.

10 rounds + 11 kb swings with my partner. Everything RX'd, good pacing throughout. This one was way tougher than it looked. The swings got rough by about round 3 for me.

Great post, Fox.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

6am with McDowell and Jess. I was doing Monday's press work @ 95#. This weight felt heavy, but with some room to add more as the cycle progresses.

Partnered with Eric on the WOD. We used a 24kg kettlebell and Eric did toes-to-bars while I did v-ups. We got through 9 rounds plus 20 swings and 10 burpees. I kept everything moving and mostly unbroken (a couple of slow transitions between movements notwithstanding) until the last set of kb swings which I think I did as 12, 8. My forearms are still feeling rough after Sunday's farmer carries and I really started to feel that during the last couple rounds of swings. Overall, this one kicked my ass.

Thanks for the detailed explanation, Fox. I appreciate the evident thought and care that goes into the programming and I particularly appreciate the transparency about why we're doing what we are.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Strength cycle continued yesterday, and it's so nice to be back at the gym. Jeremy started me with some low numbers post knee and ankle surgeries, and I'm progressing well through the lifts. I know I'm protecting my knee more than I should, gotta get over the psychological hump that's still there.

@Murat maybe you could reply to the QOD we overheard last night, or you could start randomly replying to your own questions made up on the spot.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScott F

I just moved to Los Angeles and I'm looking for a new box here. I'm working downtown and will likely end up living on the East Side. I know there are a few different boxes downtown but don't know much about them. I'd appreciate hearing about people's experiences at different gyms in LA. Thanks in advance.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJeff B

@Jeff B, I've been to CrossFit 213 and CrossFit Mean Streets in downtown LA. Would not recommend Mean Streets as I witnessed poor coaching that compromised the safety of its members. 213 was OK, although I had only one exposure to an actual coached class, but they do seem to be friendly and they are newly expanding to double their floor space. Hope that helps! Outside of downtown, Dogtown was great, although I think that is further East than what you are looking for.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMare

6am with Jess and McD.

Did tomorrow's workout with Jess, Linda, and John. Went light on C&J @ 135. I had a couple of good ones but mostly need a lot of work. Jess helped a lot with my starting position which definitely helped improve the entire movement.

Starting the FSQ cycle @ 165 after finishing at 190 last cycle. I'm planning to move up 10# for the next 2 weeks and then move up 5# after that depending on how things are feeling. FSQ felt good today.

Finished with lunge/run cash out. Tried to do some ring dips but only made it through 10 as I was pretty tired. I'm getting a massage tomorrow which I'm really psyched about. I'm hoping to get rid of some of this soreness that has been lingering for weeks!

June 10, 2014 | Registered CommenterElliott

High noon w/ Coach McDowell

Monday's Press: Fitness:
95x5, 105x5, 105x3
First time in 3 months. Again, shoulder/bicept felt decent.

A miserable 5 rounds. My allergy-induced asthma (or allersthma) kicked-in after round one. I nearly quit.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChris Yun

@Jeff B, I've been to CrossFit 213 and CrossFit Mean Streets in downtown LA. Would not recommend Mean Streets as I witnessed poor coaching that compromised the safety of its members. 213 was OK, although I had only one exposure to an actual coached class, but they do seem to be friendly and they are newly expanding to double their floor space. Hope that helps! Outside of downtown, Dogtown was great, although I think that is further East than what you are looking for.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMare

@Jeff B, I've been to CrossFit 213 and CrossFit Mean Streets in downtown LA. Would not recommend Mean Streets as I witnessed poor coaching that compromised the safety of its members. 213 was OK, although I had only one exposure to an actual coached class, but they do seem to be friendly and they are newly expanding to double their floor space. Hope that helps! Outside of downtown, Dogtown was great, although I think that is further East than what you are looking for.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMare

Oly Class:
-for me I'm doing a complex of Knee Snatch + Snatch
-3 sets at 40kg, then 3 at 42kg.
-failed on one of the Snatches at 42.
-better at hitting my positions today but now need to have a faster turnover.

-were supposed to work 85% but MeLo and I were feeling good so Frank let us go for PR's.
-(35kg, 45kg, 55kg, 60kg) 65kg, 70kg, 72kg, 77kg (PR Jerk), 80kg PR Clean, failed the Jerk.
-the clean at 80kg was out in front and I caught it with my elbows really low. Not pretty. Need to work on extending more vertically and pulling the bar into me more.
-either way, happy to hit 169.4# for my jerk and 176# for the clean.
-Thursday will be a light, technique day for sure.

Then decided to run home (1.6 miles) for my cashout. It's a sticky one today!

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

@Lady Fox. Your 1.6 mile jog negated all your OLY GAIIINNZZZZ!!!

Last day (possibly ever) lifting out in Garden City

Snatch Doubles@80% ish
225x2x4 (Missed the Second one on the second set)

Clean and Jerk@80% ish

HBBS 80%x2x6

4Rds NFT
3x315# Snatch DLs
10 Chinups

16KGx5x3 Hold the kettle bell by the handle presses while bell facies upwards (THESE ARE AWESOME for grip strenth

50 GHD sit ups

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

is fox calling his own shot in that pic?
also happy birthday pablo.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteruzef

Great post, Fox!! I really enjoy the programming here.

5:30 class with Miss Whit
Push Press 3x5 @ 53#, need to squeeze a little more and keep bracing!

WOD: 9 rounds total with my partner with a 16kg kettlebell. Felt very sticky/sweaty but great workout!

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCamille

Gettin' strong. The first half hour of class Whit had '80s tunes on, which meant I was hitting the high notes of "Take On Me" between squat sets. AWESOME.

Squat 185x5x3, which strangely felt easier than 180 did on Sunday. Press 75x5x3, and I worked like HELL for those last reps. Deadlift 220x5, room to grow. Then chins 6x3.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

I forgot my headphone at CSBK after the 6:30pm class. They are black with a orange cord. If anyone finds them please give them to the front desk.



June 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpierre

6am with McD & Jess...First day back after a week off...

Press: tried 53# and felt it in my shoulder so dropped to 48# for the last 2 sets. Feeling like I will need to keep it real light this cycle

WOD: paired up with Blair and we got 10 rounds + 17 KBS...16kg & V-ups

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNan

5:30pm class with Jeremy tonight.

I haven't cleaned since my shoulder started hurting, so I slowly worked up to 83# (very light) from the mid-hang to see how things felt. It's a bit sore so I'll see how I feel tomorrow. If I keep cleaning, I'll stay light and not jerk this cycle (and no snatching). But it felt good to work on this movement again.

Then I totally messed up my front squats. I was supposed to do 105x8x4 but got confused in a way I'll keep to myself since it's embarrassing. It was awesome to work with Jeremy, which I rarely get to do. He taught me all kinds of neat things. Anyway, my mess-ups led me to 3x4 and 2x5 at 105# and I called it because I got really light-headed and felt weird at the end. CrossFit is a good experience in humility. :)

Cash-out with Penny Lane, then a great AR class with Sir Fox. Wonderful article today, as always.

Also, fun quote: When I talked to Jeremy about how I was experimenting with cleaning again to see how it would feel, he paused and then said, "Oh great, so like a blind man in an orgy." Yes. Exactly.

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

@Murat: I would also like to (in love) point out that I posted a QOD last Friday on the blog to which you did not respond. I realize upon review that I placed it in an awkward section of the post so many people perhaps missed it, but still. :P

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

@Kate - sorry I missed it! I have the bad habit of nit rading the blog everday. Bad boy, me.
@Scott - I only take joy on ranting on QODs posted by others... Another disorder.

Happy birthday Pablo the Strong Swede!

June 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMurat A

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