Will's CrossFit Competition

Will just completed the Rainhill Trials in Manchester, ending the day in 21st - that’s a mega achievement. As his coach I thought it would be great sharing how we got there, less on the competition day and how we did this as a remote ‘coach and client’ (not in the same gym).

So let’s back up 6 months to July, when Will and I decided to work together Rainhill was not on the agenda. The first call was a discussion about his goals, where he sits now and where he wants to go. That’s all pretty standard between coaches and clients, you are coming to us to solve a problem you can’t figure out yourself and need expertise.

With Will, it also cementing his ‘why’ in training and where training was in his priority list in life. We both agreed that we could commit 5x 1 hour slots from Monday to Friday, that as a new Dad, family and providing for his family was always going to be higher on his list than training. Will was already a good CrossFit athlete, he had all the skills in his bag, completed the Open as RX and had been jumping into classes for a couple of years. So as his coach, I took the decision to focus exclusively on his weaknesses. Training commitment at 5 hours was limited, recovery was sometimes sporadic with shift pattens and running training 5 days in a row meant I had to be careful about volume. He was also training in another gym, so I had to quickly assimilate with the equipment they had on offer and the layout.

Will had a good idea of his weaknesses, so we quantified them through a testing week, then starting building out a training plan. In the interim Will and I decided to look for Rainhill or local comps as these matched his level. There is no point for coaches to give false hope and ‘take an athlete to the games’ if their abilities or commitments can’t sustain that goal. There is also no point in coaching an athlete without a goal. My role is to lead the athlete down a path that they enjoy and can succeed in.

Will’s weaknesses were his Olympic Lifts, density on gymnastics and pacing on workouts. He would race out and not keep an even pace. So we built a training plan for 12 weeks with 3 focuses:

  • Better squat mechanics a wave cycle squat program

  • Shoulder stability, push//pull volume

  • Long range pacing workouts with a rowing progression.

We mapped this out over the week and, tested at the end of 12 weeks and then refocused on 3 new objectives for 9 weeks.

  • Power cleans and snatches

  • Gymnastics volume now we have better pulling strength

  • Rowing progression at a medium time domains

These two blocks were purposely built in this order. You can’t be powerful without being strong (those are different things). You can’t build gymnastics volume without strength and stability in all planes in the shoulder and you have to earn the right to go short hard in aerobic training by first going long and slow. Rowing was also chosen in single modality as we had trouble engaging hamstrings - the row is at its essence a seated power clean at very low weight, that would help up with motor pattern and hamstring activation.

We then peaked for Rainhill Trials 3 weeks out, practicing the ‘sport’ of Crossfit 2-3x a week and running very hard short intervals on the bike to build front end power - we are talking 20s max effort here, painful stuff. Again, will couldn’t have created that power if we didn’t first spend the time going through squat cycle 22 weeks before. You need to build a house in the right order if you want to maximise training efficiently.


As we peaked on the buildup, we went over some previous years workouts, retested our energy system and then de-loaded in the final week. As a coach I couldn’t be happier with how we performed, we mapped out a plan perfectly - but it was down to Will to turn up every day and execute on that plan. Our goals now are to enjoy some team competitions over the summer, enjoy the Open and begin building for our next competition.

Well done Will, what a result!

Coach Nathan

Smart Performance