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Why the Quarterfinals Bubble Athlete Should Prioritize Weightlifting & Gymnastics

June 22, 2022 by

Quarterfinals Bubble Athlete: A person who is likely to be on the edge of the cut-off line for the CrossFit Quarterfinals stage of competition. 

Since the top 10% make the Quarterfinals, let’s define this athlete as a person who is likely to be between the 87th and 93rd percentiles.

Limitations of Online Competitions

For CrossFit HQ, the goal of the start of the season (ie. the Open) is to encourage mass participation.  They want as many people (general fitness & athletes) to do the event as possible.

The event organizers want to make the Open workouts as accessible as possible to the general population, which means limiting the movement & equipment selection to lower barrier to entry items.

In practicality, this means limiting the movements (at least in the first portion of the workouts) to lower skill, lower complexity and lower loads.  This also means limiting the equipment list to items that virtually everyone has access to.

Open Equipment List Implications

The equipment list has many implications for training the Quarterfinals bubble athlete, but one important one is the downplay of cyclical modalities, such as running, swimming, rowing, biking, skiing, etc.

Rowing was frequently programmed in past Opens (2014-2020), but didn’t show up in 2021 and wasn’t even included on the Open equipment list for 2022.

This really only leaves Double Unders, or possibly a Shuttle Run (per the 2022 Quarterfinals).

When there are only 3 categories of movements to pull movements from and one is minimized (cyclical), it means that the other two categories (weightlifting and gymnastics) increase in importance.

In this post, I’m presenting an argument for the Quarterfinals Bubble Athlete to focus the majority of their resources for adaptation and virtually all their attention and focus on weightlifting and gymnastics movements.

Improving Gymnastics Movements

Improving an athlete’s bodyweight movements should start with 4 major themes…

(1) Hanging Gymnastics (CTB, TTB, BMU, RMU)
(2) Inverted Gymnastics (HSPU, WW, HSW)
(3) Burpees & Bounding (BFB, BTT, BBJO, BJ, BJO)
(4) Bodyweight Squatting (Air Squats & Pistols)

Maintaining weekly touches of each of these categories, especially the first 3, should be a consistent theme in the Quarterfinals Bubble athlete’s training.

Building efficiency, volume tolerance will translate to density and intensity as the season approaches.

Every 2:30 x 6 Sets: 
-35-38% of Ring Muscle-Up Rep Max
*BikeErg @ Recovery Pace b/w 

This type of training turns into something more like the sample below as the season approaches.

Comp Prep
3 Sets: (rest 4:00 b/w)
AMRAP 4:00
-3 Ring Muscle-Ups
-6 Burpee over Rower Rail
-9 Cal Row

Improving Weightlifting Movements

Improving an athlete’s ability to move external loads is critical for success in the Sport of Fitness.

For the Open (and Quarterfinals) this is mainly barbells and dumbbells, but also includes other weighted objects, like medicine balls.

A good model for building an athlete’s weightlifting abilities is by splitting this category into two sub-sections: maximal and submaximal.

• Absolute Strength (BS, FS, DL, Press)
• Absolute Strength Speed (Snatch, Clean & Jerk)

• Battery
• Barbell Cycling
• DB Skills

For submaximal loads, focus on creating efficiency in a variety of variations in each movement.

Example of Items to Refine in unfatigued settings (pre-season):
• Power Snatch; Quick Singles
TnG Power Snatch
TnG Power Snatch; No Contact on Lower
TnG Power Snatch; No-Contact
TnG Muscle Snatch; No-Contact

After you have built efficiency is each movement’s variations in unfatigued settings, begin to build repeatability interval formats.

E2M x 4-5 Sets:
-8 Bar-Facing Burpees
-8 TnG Power Snatch; No-Contact 95/65lb

E2M x 4-5 Sets:
-6 BBJO 24/20”
-6 TnG Hang Clean + Push Jerk 135/95lb

Competition Preparation

Finally, in the Comp Prep phase, you put all the pieces together, and give the athlete exposure of the type of tester they are likely to see in competition…

Open Workout 20.1
10 Rounds for Time
-8 Ground-to-Overheads 95/65lbs
-10 Bar-Facing Burpees
[15 Minute Time Cap]

Planning & Programming

Everyone loves getting excited about programming.  The truth is the planning process makes the implementation of quality day-to-day programming exponentially easier. 

Personally, I set aside time every few months to look at the long-term vision for my athletes to make sure we have the right priorities for the program.

The job of the coach is to worry about the length of training cycles, the priorities in those cycles and the daily programming that gets built out. The job of the athlete is to execute.

Execution is worshipped.

Bryan St. Andrews

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