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Bench Press | WOD 1.26.15

Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Start at about 90% of where you left last cycle.
Performance: 90% x 1, 70% x 10 

Post loads to comments.

For Time:
30 Calorie Row
50 Wall Balls 20/10, 14/9
30 Calorie Row 

Post time and Rx to comments.

Gym Etiquette: Lift Offs
Always ask your partner if they want a "lift off" when sharing a rack during bench pressing. After the first one to two warm-up sets, many people prefer having an assist out of the rack. A little help often makes finding and getting into a good start position over the sternum a bit easier. Figure out which of you wants to do the 3-2-1 count down, then use a switch grip and gently assist them out. A really aggressive lift off can be a little jarring, so aim for smooth movement.

News and Notes 

  • UPDATED STORM NEWS: Tuesday's 6 a.m., 7 a.m., and 8 a.m. classes are all canceled because of the blizzard. We'll be running a normal schedule of classes from 10 a.m. onwards unless things get crazy. Stay tuned on here and social media (Facebook and Twitter), and don't forget to RSVP.
  • Happy belated birthday, Justin T.!

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail: Planning Your Lifts Before and During a Cycle

By Noah Abbott 

Next week we will begin a new training cycle at CFSBK. As per usual, our Fitness track lifters will follow a Linear Progression (LP), since it’s the safest and quickest way to build strength. Many of us have run multiple LP’s, and feel confident picking their starting weights for the new cycle, but for those of us with less training time at CFSBK, or who have had weights pre-selected for them in the past, this task can seem daunting. 

Every cycle, the coaches encounter people who choose poorly. It’s obvious to us in the first or second week that the lifter in question was too ambitious with their opening weight, as the grind, struggle, and often fail right out of the gate. There are numerous reasons this might happen. If it’s because you’ve got a big ego and still think you’re as strong as when you won the 2nd Team All County Badminton Doubles State Championship, well, just don’t be such a dingus. If it’s because you are unsure of where to start, here’s two approaches you can try, using a lifter who finished their last squat cycle at 150x5x3

Count Backwards
One approach is to pick where you want to finish the cycle, and count backwards from there in small, sustainable jumps. So, our lifter wants to finish this cycle at 160, a 10# PR for sets of 5. Counting back in 5# jumps (and assuming a 6 week cycle), our lifter’s cycle would look like this:

Week 6: 165
Week 5: 160
Week 4: 155
Week 3: 150 (Last cycle’s final week and current PR)
Week 2: 145
Week 1: 140 

Generally, we begin our cycles after 2 weeks “off” (Crush and Backoff weeks) so starting right where you left off will mean everything is immediately heavy. Conversely, planning to PR by a very slim margin means you are basically lifting all the same weights you lifted last cycle over again, and not pushing into new territory or past your comfort zone. Try and balance your ambition with a sober sense of the reality of the situation. I generally like to see lifters hit last cycle’s final weight at around the midpoint of the current cycle. In 6-week cycles that would be Week 3 or 4—I’d bias towards Week 3 if you are sticking with a lift from the preceding cycle and everything went smoothly. I’d shoot for Week 4 if you’re planning a lift you haven’t seen in a while (bench press, etc.) or if things last cycle were a little jagged towards the end. 

Percentage Based
Another approach is to back off a set percentage from where you finished or failed. Generally, 90% is a good starting place when considering resetting a linear progression. 

Using our theoretical lifter as an example: 150*.9= 135. So our lifter would begin the cycle at roughly the same place as they would with the Count Backwards approach. 90% works well if it’s a lift you saw and trained in the last cycle, but if its been a while since your last exposure, I’d suggest knocking down to 85% or so.

Art, and Science
Despite all of these numbers, planning your lifts is both art and science. Both of these approaches are simply ways to get a rough estimate of where to begin, and numerous factors can inform the raw data. With time, you get a better idea of your starting points and can work by feel a bit more. Always begin conservatively, and if things feel ridiculously easy don’t be afraid to take slightly bigger jumps in the first few weeks before tapering things as the weight begins to stack. Be brave. Many a lifter gets to the edge of their discomfort tolerance and swears there is no way they can possibly progress forward. Trust that each week you will be a little bit stronger, and don’t be afraid to try and fail, especially in the last week or two of the cycle.

As always, if you have any questions, ask a coach sooner rather than later. Now go out there and get to clangin’ and bangin’.

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Reader Comments (31)

6am with McDowell. Started out this cycle of benching at 155lbs 3x5. I think I was working at too low a weight last cycle and this felt like a good place to start. Challenging, but moving well still with plenty of room to add weight.
I finished the WOD in 7:15 with a 20lb wall ball to a 10' target. I went in planning to do sets of 10 wall balls, but that broke down into sets of 5 pretty quickly.
Stay safe and (reasonably) warm in the storm, all!

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Make-up post from yesterday:

First time really heavy deadlifting since I messed up my back about six months ago. I worked hard to make sure my back was flat, since bad form is what hurt it before.

505 PR - Good brace, felt fast.
555 PR - My shoulders were rounded a bit, but I kept a good brace otherwise and didn't feel this in my back at all. Speed felt good, but heavy. Really happy to make this.

Ended up doing 3 rounds of the NFT work after unloading all my weight. Went 135-185-225 on the lunges. The set of 225 was tough to balance, really felt that in my core.

Yesterday was my last shift on the front desk. I'll miss checking everyone into class. You all are awesome.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Katz

Enormous AM classes! Gotta get swole before the storm.

I did 135 for my single. This felt surprisingly heavy; 105x10 was actually easier than I thought it would be.

WOD in 6:35. I don't think I would have finished so fast if I hadn't been right next to Lil JB. She is superhuman but I wasn't going to let someone who's a good 8" shorter than I am beat me on a wall ball and rowing workout! Definitely took shorter rests than I would have had I not seen her I would have had I not seen her picking up the ball so quickly next to me.

Related to this morning's post: PLEASE don't do what your partner is doing just because s/he is doing it! You were paired together because you have similar weights, but that doesn't necessarily mean do exactly the same thing, especially if one of you is doing Fitness and the other is doing Performance. The weight your partner is doing for just one rep might not make sense for you to do for 3x5, and the progression by which you warm up to that weight might also be different.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Mad fun 2-1/2 hours of gymnastics yesterday with ML, MD, Ken and the Ring Dings. Was a little disappointed (actually more than a little) that I only managed one kick up. Lifetime total is now three. Don't bother writing that down. I will keep a running count for you and post it here everyday. My shoulders, lats and core are appropriately smoked today. Mission accomplished!

I am predicting a partner WOD tomorrow. In teams of 40, with every partner working at the same time. 60 minutes. AMFTOSAP.(As many f-ing tons of snow as possible). Be prepared.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJay-Star

P.S.: You have no idea how distraught I am that I did not coin the phrase clangin' and bangin'. Yet another hugh blow to my already subterranean self-esteem.

Damn you, The Rock! Damn you!

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJay-Star

Bench: 205x1, 155x10
Everything felt good. Went a little heavier than 90%.

Metcon: 6:25 Rx
1st Row: 1:30
WB: 3:45 (20/10/10/10)
2nd Row: 1:10

This is a tall man's workout. I am little surprised to see it took me that long for the WB. Definitely too much rest.

Side note: I have about 100 books I liked to donate / give away for free. Does anyone know a good organization?

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBK

6:30am Strength Cycle

LBBS: 115lbs 5 x 3
Press: 55lbsF, 50 3 x 2
Deadlift: 145lbs 1 + 3

I'm always surprised at how challenging squats are, even though I'd hit this number before. I'm sure it will get easy eventually. Right?

Helped moved roommate yesterday for 3 hours, which affected my press and deadlift. But that's ok. Happy I was strong enough to keep up with the boy movers yesterday :D

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B

7am megaclass,

Bench @ 145x5x3, I would like to finish this cycle in the 170s, lets see how it goes.
Got boxed out of Crash B workout because of the WOD, not like I'm too distraught about it. got some good mobility work done instead.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPigeon

@Jay-Star - ha!


95# x 5 deficit 45# plate
125# x 4 deficit
145# x 3 deficit
80% -- 165# x 3

Intense hip openers and twists which was perfect. Reached that heady trance state that I haven't gotten to in yoga in a while

Deadlifts and Yoga was a great combination

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Came in early ahead of Snowapallooza.

Close-grip bench: 155x5x3

WOD @20lbs: 7:51

I was slow on this. Wallballs took forever.

@BK: What kind of books? You can email me at samirchopra1 AT yahoo DOT com

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSamir Chopra

7am superclass!

Feeling off and a little irritable this morning. Woke up in the middle of the night panicked that I didn't have enough vegetables to get me through the snow-pocalypse.

Bench LP 3x5 at 105, felt harder than it usually does at this weight.

WOD in 7 something? Totally forgot to take a mental picture of this. Somehow, I think I've managed to avoid wall-balls since FGB, and I definitely felt it this morning! Started strong with a set of 20, but was then reduced to 5's and 3's at the end. These will never be a strong movement for me, but, with consistent work, I've gotten to the point where I can be proficient at them. May try to start incorporating these into my warm-up when there is room! I totally petered-out on my second row. My legs just weren't having it.

Looved the Sampson stretches on the cash-out.

And nice job this morning, Stella! Now you can no longer make a scene when you have to be next to me. :P

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLil JB

Dude, JB, I do it because you're awesome ;)

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStella

6am with McDowell running solo

Bench felt good and crisp this morning. Partnered up with MattyChm and Jon. Working off my new 1RM from last cycle of 250#, so I did my 90% at 225#. Moved it quick and fluid. The 10 reps were at 175# and they felt good too. Ah, the start of the cycle. Everything seems possible.

The WOD was one of those where my heartrate got super jacked up but I barely started sweating until sometime in the cashout. Did it in 5:24 with the 20# ball. Finished the first row in 1:26, then wanted to do the wall balls unbroken but at 25 I had to drop, then did up to 40, then finished the last ten. Last row was in 1:22.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael A.


Did my heavy bench at 220# which is at about 93.5% of my 1RM but I did the last cycle at 215# and I wanted to raise it a bit. Hit all 10 of the rep out at 165#. Felt crisp and easy enough.

WOD Rxd at 6:52. I could have pushed harder on the Wall Balls. Did 5 set of 10 with minimal rest. Technically one of those was broken up 7/3 but only because the ball slipped through my hands.

Stella has a good point in her post above. I am guilty of that a lot of the time.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMattyChm


I don't have a recent bench 1RM so I added a little to last weeks paused 1RM (255) and went with that. Did a single at 235 and 10 at 185. All felt nice and light

WOD in 5:32. Could have moved faster through the wall balls

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDan L

Make up post from yesterday

Yes! Back where I was in sept. No belt. No pain. Good speed.

Pause bench

WOD: 21-15-9 for time
Wall ball - 14#,9'
Ring row

1/2 tabata Lsit (4 rds was enough)

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWhit H


Bench: 205x1 / 165x10. Haven't tested a 1RM in bench so McDowell helped me come up with a theoretical 1RM based on last cycle's fitness, which finished at 200. Set my 1RM at 230. Everything moved well here.

WOD: 6:14 Rx. Man, my throat was burning for an hour after this one!

January 26, 2015 | Registered CommenterElliott

STORM NEWS: Tuesday's 6 a.m., 7 a.m., and 8 a.m. classes are all canceled because of the blizzard. We'll be running a normal schedule of classes from 10 a.m. onwards unless things get crazy. Stay tuned on here and social media, and don't forget to RSVP.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMGMT

Weekend Post:


3RM thruster w/ jerks allowed:
130# x 3
got 135#x2 but was completely wiped and failed the last rep, feel like I can hit this weight for the comp! Jerked every rep to save energy

Squat clean @ 115#/bar over burpee: 12-9-6-3, finished in 8:49

Holy smokes this hurt, I've been struggling with a chest cold for the past few days and I was sucking wind within the first 12 burpees. I also felt slow and weak. Definitely room for improvement here on comp day, hoping to shave at least 45 seconds-1 minute off my time with proper rest/training.

Workout 2 completed in 8:26
50 DU
25 pullups
50 DU
25 hand raise PU
50 DU
25 situps
50 DU
25 goblet squats (53#)

Deadlift at Sunday OG: worked up to 255#x5
Already established my 1RM a few weeks ago, wanted to get in a little bit more volume/see if I could still hit the heavy 5 I did at the end of the last deadlift cycle.

Wednesday's Kettlebell TABATA: 28kg Russian swings, 75 reps

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterK HarpZ

@MGMT: Is it the normal schedule for tonight's classes? I saw the note about tomorrow morning. Thanks.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlan C.

Front Desk - voicemail is unable to be left on the gym phone. I've been trying to cancel my 430 class for the last 15minutes with no luck. It's 3:41pm - can someone please remove me as I am unable to attend due to subway snow times stress? It's a damn mess out here. Help plz thanks!

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterOGJB

If you run classes tomorrow, I'll come. I don't care how high the snow is.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Derbes


My quest to post every day is not going well. Anyway...

260x1 then 205x10. Everything felt good today. good thing it is week one

4:40 rx'd . finished the first row right around 1:00. I attempted to do the WB's unbroken, although i didn't drop the ball, I did take a little break at 40. the second row was at about 1:15. This was a real lung burner.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJason M

Bench Press

I actually prefer to use what I call the "Jeremy Method" of pulling a bar out for a lifter on the Bench Press, especially when it's a heavy bar. I grab it the crook of my elbows and basically Zercher squat it out. It saves my shoulders, allows me to use my legs on the lift off, and hands the bar off more evenly, IMO. The switch grip has the potential to cause a bit of rotation on the bar. A good or bad lift off has the potential to make or break a lift.

Update: It's still snowing outside.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFox

12pm lifting:

(45x5, 135x5, 185x3, 215x1, 230x1)
-all sets belted today. went surprisingly well. video shows good speed on the bar but I'm still shifting forward to my knees too much.

(45x5, 75x5, 95x3, 110x1)
-these felt much more challenging this week though it was only a 2.5# jump. 8 sets are a lot.

Took a break for lunch, walking dogs, playing in snow, stocking up on wine and then decided to do some conditioning. Hit a version of Today's WOD using the equipment we had at home:

30 calories, erg
25 KB 1-arm Thruster, left
25 KB 1-arm Thruster, right
30 calories, erg
Time = 8:28 with a 16kg bell
-both rows in just under 2 mins. Did all 25 reps on my left side unbroken. Broke up the right side in 12-8-5 though I should have fought for unbroken.

Cashed-out with about 18mins foam rolling.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

Also, great article by Noah.

You win a special place in my heart when I am pairing a class up on bars/racks and you know what weight you expect to lift, and how to warm up to it. You secure that place in my heart when you plan out your whole cycle so that you make all of your reps through the end. It's a shame that some folks choose to fail the slow lifts week in and week out, thus denying themselves gains they might otherwise make.

I'm pretty sure my feelings are shared by all my colleagues as well.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFox

we'll take care of it

Alan C
Normal classes tonight!

4:30pm Group Class

2 Rounds NFT
8e Rev Lunges 45lbs OH
8 Strict Pull-Ups
12 Push-Ups

Bench Press
(45x8, 115x5, 135x5, 155x3)

Felt good, each set felt easier than the last. Finished last cycle at 175 so dropped back 10lbs

Row, WB, Row Metcon
6:48 as Rx'd

First Row was 1 pull per calorie
Wall Balls were: 20-10-10-10
Second Row I just tried to keep over 1000 cals/H

Weighted Sit-Ups

Parallette Handstands
Was not clicking today, could not get true hollow or keep my knees locked out. Oh well

January 26, 2015 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

430 Group Class

2 Rounds NFT
10 Overhead Squats
10 Ring Rows
20 Hollow Rocks

Need to do the overhead squats with lifters to make sure get the ankle flexibility to get low enough in the lift.

Bench Press
(45x5, 115x5, 135x5, 155x3)

30 cal row
50 wall balls (using 16lb wall)
30 cal row


rows felt good, and was doing like .75 calories per pull. I scaled down to 16lb pound wall ball because of volume but should have done it as Rx'ed. Wall ball splits were 20, 15, 10, 5.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBen A


Clean+2 Jerks

Clean Pulls

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

Thank you DO!!!!!!!! It took me 3hours to get home. Bleh. Much appreciative!!

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterOGJB

8:30. Olympic lifting homework. Front squats: 245x3x2, 245x2x5. Was having trouble keeping my elbows up on the last rep of each set. Only resting 36 hours since back squatting was not optimal, but this was the only time for me to get in this work this week. Cleans (1 clean pull + clean): 135x3x5. Jerks: 125x3x5. Video showed the cleans mostly looking good. A few reps I started with a back angle that was too upright and I still tend to pause too long in the power position. Still struggling to extend my front foot far enough on jerks. No real short stepping, but just on the border of doing so. Want to give myself a little more breathing room. Overhead position looked better today.

January 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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