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What Do CrossFit Open Max Strength Tests Tell Us?

Morning Chalk Up

February 5   |   POWERED BY


Good morning and welcome to the Morning Chalk Up.

In today’s edition:

  • Iron Tide CrossFit’s “BoneFit” helps women fight osteoporosis
  • How can you add endurance training into your CrossFit programming?
  • What can we learn from Open strength tests about training biases?
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“I can put that darn suitcase in the overhead compartment and nobody rushes to help me anymore.” - Dr. Mary Katherine Lawrence, reflecting on her CrossFit journey

  How Iron Tide CrossFit’s “BoneFit” has Helped Dozens of Women Reverse Osteoporosis, Osteopenia  

How Iron Tide CrossFit’s “BoneFit” has Helped Dozens of Women Reverse Osteoporosis, Osteopenia

Eleven years ago, Dr. Mary Katherine Lawrence decided to try CrossFit as a way to improve her upper body strength.

  • “I was weak. When I would travel, people would rush to help me put my suitcase in the overhead bin,” said Lawrence, an endocrinologist at Carteret Health Care in Morehead City, NC, who largely works with patients with diabetes, thyroid disease, and osteoporosis.

Not only did she feel weak, but Lawrence, now 68,  also had osteoporosis and had watched her bone density decrease for years.

A year after starting at Iron Tide CrossFit in Morehead City, not only had her upper body strength increased, Lawrence checked her bone density and it, too, had “improved significantly,” she said.

  • “I didn’t do this for my bones, but damn they were getting better,” Lawrence said. “How is that possible for my bones to be getting that much better? But they were.”

As a doctor who works with patients with osteoporosis or osteopenia—meaning those with decreased bone density who aren’t yet osteoporotic—she realized she was onto something.

And so she helped launch “BoneFit” in 2015, a CrossFit class for older adults suffering from osteopenia or osteoporosis who would rather try to improve their bone density through “natural means” than through medication, Lawrence explained.

Eight years later, BoneFit classes at Iron Tide CrossFit have helped dozens of aging adults improve their bone density, and, in many cases, cure their osteopenia or osteoporosis diagnosis.

  • Ninety percent of the people who have stuck with it see improvements, even those in their 60s and 70s,” Lawrence said.

The details: There are currently 58 adults enrolled in BoneFit, which focuses heavily on absolute strength and bodyweight strength, and generally 15 to 20 people come to each class, said Iron Tide CrossFit owner Cassidy Morgan.

Most of the attendees are women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s (the oldest being 85), who join “because they want to avoid medication,” Morgan explained.

After some time in the program, though, not only does their bone density and overall health improve, but they also start to make friends in the community. For the coach, there’s nothing more rewarding to watch, Morgan said.

  • “They’re healing their bodies, but they’re also enjoying it…They come to us to improve their bone density, but they end up loving it,” Morgan said, adding that some have also recruited their spouses or friends without a bone density condition.
  • “They clear their schedules to make sure they can make the class. They’re all in the same stage of life and are working out because they want to — because it’s fun,” Morgan added.
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🎙️ 🎙️ Good Listen: Last week, legendary coach Ben Bergeron and long-time affiliate owner of CrossFit New England joined host Greg Williams on the Rox Lyfe Podcast, the biggest podcast in the sport of HYROX. In the interview, Ben talks about mindset, sporting experiences, and HYROX.

👟👟 TYR x Dani Speegle: On Friday, TYR, the title sponsor of Wodapalooza, announced its first signature shoe with Dani Speegle. The DELLE edition TYR CXT-1 Trainer is available now.

New Reyllen Brand Ambassador: The popular grip maker, Reyllen USA, announced yesterday that four-time CrossFit Games Masters Champ, Jason Grubb, was the newest member of Team Reyllen.

  • From the post: “We are so excited to partner with Jason. Most importantly because he is a great ambassador of the sport and community. He is also a perfect fit to represent every athlete striving to change their lives and become better! We love Jason’s story and what his journey represents FOR EVERY ATHLETE. From humble beginnings can come great things!”

Working with Larger Bodies Seminar and PRVN Fitness: Athena Perez and Scaled Nation will be joining PRVN Fitness at their new headquarters in Nashville, TN to present the “Working with Larger Bodies” seminar. The event will take place on April 21, 2024, beginning at 9 AM. Register now!

  • And if you haven’t been following Athena’s “Hiller Challenge” on social media, read her multipart journal starting here. New entry out next week!

ICYMI: Kara Saunders and her Aussie “Old Dogs” get ready for the 2024 season.

  How to Incorporate Endurance Training into Your CrossFit Training  


How to Incorporate Endurance Training into Your CrossFit Training

Every week on Chasing Excellence, we answer questions from our listeners across the “Five Factors of Health” — movement, nutrition, connection, recovery, and mindset.

Here’s one of those questions from a recent episode about incorporating endurance training into your fitness when you go to the gym 5-6 times per week.

We’ve edited the conversation for brevity and clarity.

Patrick: This comes from Tom, a CrossFitter who’s been training for over a year. He says he’s seen improvements in his performance in short, intense workouts and strength but wants to ensure his fitness is well-rounded and applicable in all areas of life.

He feels the one area not addressed by his CrossFit classes is endurance and wants to balance what he’s doing in the gym with longer runs and bike rides, but he finds it difficult with his five to six times weekly gym training.

How would you recommend balancing CrossFit workouts with maintaining endurance capacity?

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  Where Are The Biggest Performance Gaps Between Elite and Average CrossFit Athletes in the Open?  

Where Are The Biggest Performance Gaps Between Elite and Average CrossFit Athletes in the Open?

When reviewing the 2023 Open, we noticed something pretty interesting among the world’s top athletes.

It turns out that among the top 50 men and women on the worldwide leaderboard, many of them had their worst Open workout finish on the exact same workout.

This workout happened to be 23.2B:

  • Five minutes to find a 1-rep-max Thruster
  • This was immediately after finishing 23.2A

Since this workout was a test of max strength, it showed us that a lot of athletes who are typically lower on the overall leaderboard are likely spending a bit too much time trying to score higher in strength events when, in reality, their weaknesses are in gymnastics skills and conditioning.

Let’s take a quick look at the results from 23.2B among the top athletes and then make some more conclusions.

23.2B Results Among Top 50 Men and Women

Among the top 50 men in the 2023 CrossFit Open, 26 of them (52%) had their worst finish in 23.2B, while the other 24 men had their worst finishes divided among the other three workouts.

Among the top 50 women in the 2023 CrossFit Open, 22 of them (44%) had their worst finish in 23.2B, while the other 28 women had their worst finishes divided among the other three workouts.

It is important to note that this doesn’t mean these athletes are weak. It simply shows that their abilities in other areas, such as gymnastics and conditioning, are much better than the rest of the Open field, whereas the rest of the field ever so slightly closes the gap regarding one-rep-max strength.

For example, Jeffrey Adler, the 2023 Open and 2023 Games winner, scored 312 pounds on his max thruster, which is extremely impressive and happened to be the fifth-heaviest thruster out of all men in the top 50.

Still, he placed 59th worldwide in that workout, which was his worst of the year.

If we look at the women’s side, the difference is even more dramatic.

Mallory O’Brien won the overall Open last year with three of four workout finishes in the top five worldwide (2nd, 1st, 5th), yet she still received her worst score by far in workout 23.2B, where she placed 107th globally.

The Bottom Line

Unsurprisingly, almost all of the athletes in the top 50 in the Open last year have competed at the CrossFit Games before.

By looking at this information above, we can tell that the average person is performing better than average in strength and way below average in other modalities.

To truly compete with the best in the world, the average person is going to need to get their strength to levels where it is in the range of the best, but it doesn’t have to be the best overall.

Instead, they should maintain that level of strength or build slowly while intensely focusing on improving the skills that seem to be making the biggest difference: gymnastics and endurance.



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New Gym Red Flags

Coach Ben Bergeron gives us some things to ponder when joining a new gym. Things to notice are the timing of classes, the effort coaches put out, and the overall cleanliness.


Celebrating a PR, hosting a fundraiser, this, that, or otherwise? Send us a tip.

  • 🎂Happy birthday to Lindsey Johnson and Sean Woodland.
  • 🎁Happy birthday to Morning Chalk Up’s Emily Beers.
  • Congratulations to Chance, of All Level CrossFit in Canada, on being the athlete of the month.
  • Congratulations to Jessica of CrossFit Epsilon in France on her first bar muscle up.
  • 💪Nice work to Games athlete Matilde Garnes on the 230 pound/104 kilo power clean.
2/17 - 2/18: Busto Throwdown (Busto Arsizio, Italy)
2/17: Cupid’s Throwdown (Las Vegas, Nevada)
3/2: The LKW Games (Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina)
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3/16: Upper Hunter Strongest Novice (Muswellbrook, Australia)
3/16: Oceanside CrossFit 1st Annual Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
3/16: Shamwod & Shenanigains (Oceanside, Ca)
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3/23: CFL Teen Take Over (Lorton, VA)
4/6: Girls Gone Rx Minnesota (Austin, Minnesota)
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4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, Alabama)
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4/6: War Off I-4 (Deland, FL)
4/6 - 4/7: No Pain No Game (Legnano, Italy)
4/6 - 4/7: Shack Team Edition (Rome, Italy)
4/6: Best Babes South Carolina (Beaufort, SC)
4/6: Best Babes Decatur (Decatur, AL)
4/6 - 4/7: Landifornian Battle (Seignosse, France)
4/6: Two Peas in a Pod: Mixed Gender Partner Comp (Burlington, MA)

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