Friday, 30 October 2009

Uncommon Training Methods

You probably know this, but variation is important.  You've also probably got a good amount of variation in your training.  But is your training as varied as it could or should be?  How often do you try something completely new?  We've assembled here five training formats that we think are somewhat underused, and that provide a stimulus different from anything else.  We hope you'll add your own to our list.

1) Litvinovs.  More commonly known as Litvis, Litvinovs are one of my favorite things ever.  I think they should be an Olympic sport.  Litvis are as simple and primal as it gets: Lift something heavy, run really fast, time the entire effort.  Litvis are metabolically devastating, and the format can be manipulated to elicit any number of effects.  A few we've used at CrossFit Monterey:

3 clean & jerks, 185lbs/135lbs
Sprint 200m

8 thrusters, 155lbs/105lbs
1oom sprint

7 power snatches, 45lb dumbbells/25lb dumbbells
50m sand dune sprint

3 power cleans, 205lbs/115lbs
100m sprint

You can add resistance to the sprint (drag a tire, sled, moderately sized person, etc), or do it up a hill for variation.  We've also used "sprints" that aren't a run.  Rowing, box jumps, double unders, bike sprints...anything can work, as long as it's metabolic hell.

Always recover fully between rounds.

2) Lullaby Style.  I first saw this done by Blair Morrison, but I believe it originally comes from CrossFit Coronado.  At the top of the minute, perform a set number of reps of exercise A.  For the rest of the minute, perform as many reps as possible of exercise B.  Repeat this process at the top of every minute until you've completed a set number of reps for exercise B.  For example:

At the top of the minute, perform 5 power snatches with 95lbs.
For the rest of the minute, do burpees.
Repeat at the top of every minute, until you have completed 100 burpees.  Record your total time.

3) Sprint Start.  As obvious as it seems, we don't see this done enough: rather than ending with a sprint (like in the Litvi), start with one.  For example:

3 rounds:
400m sprint (SPRINT)
Max ring dips
Max pullups
Full recovery between rounds.

Russ and I did this with 20lb vests.  It was awful.  I thought I was going to die.  Something about running an all out sprint and then having to keep working left us wrecked like few things ever have: Russ was resting close to 30 minutes between rounds, and after the second round I was shocked at myself for even considering a third.  Try it.  You'll like it.

4) Reps Over Time. How many reps of Exercise A can you complete over alloted Time X.  That's it.  This SUCKS.  For example:  How many 225lb back squats can you do in 20 minutes?  How many muscle-ups can you do in 10 minutes?  For a more multimodal stimulus, how about 10 minutes of handstand pushups, 5 minutes of air squats, 2 minutes of pullups, 1 minute of pushups, with no rest between?  We're talking some serious metcon and muscular endurance.

5) Max Rep Supersets.  Max reps of Exercise A followed immediately by max reps of Exercise B.  Rest.  Repeat.  Plenty of CrossFitters have done the WOD "Lynne," but apart from that, I don't see this format as much as I'd like to.  Try these on for size:

5 rounds:
Max reps, press 135lbs/95lbs
Max reps L-Pullups

3 rounds:
Max reps, overhead squat 95lbs/65lbs
Max reps pullups

5 rounds:
Max reps, front squat 135lbs/95lbs
Max reps, pushups

Got some uncommon training methods you've used successfully?  Post thoughts to comments.


traucer777 said...

you went from something that sounded "fun" to progressively more disgusting things. def trying these out...

John Frazer said...

I'm a fan of the "on the minute" format, especially for WODs that include barbell O-lifts. Coach Rut programs these often in the 10-15 minute range and we've done longer ones at Crossfit DC.

I find I can get a startling volume of work done with better form than I could maintain blasting straight through. It's a good combination of strength endurance and a solid metcon hit.

For example, this recent one started out easy (30 seconds rest on the first interval) but I finished just under the wire as my shoulders fatigued:

Every Minute for 10:00:
3 Max Vertical Jumps
10 DB Split Jerks (5 right / 5 left )

His various Bear Complex variants (usually something like a deadlift/clean/thruster or clean/front squat push press for 3-5 reps of each exercise) are of this nature.

An appropriate load will usually give you 20-30 seconds rest on the first round, seem relatively easy until about halfway through, and have you finish with a sense of desperation.

The "Lullaby" format is a monster. I've only [tried it/been sentenced to it] once, by Steve O. at CFDC. It was just 3 burpees at the top of every minute, with thrusters for the rest of the minute until you get 100 thrusters.

It's a mental nightmare because just when you get in the groove on the thrusters, the whistle blows for burpees and when you're done with those, you have to clean the bar and start all over again.

Rich Vos said...

Fuck that 5 Power Snatch/Burpee WOD. Fuck it.

Tsypkin said...


At least I let you use a barbell. I did it with two 45lb dumbbells. Be grateful.

Russ said...

Traucer (Rios),

Litvis are not fun. At all. Please try one and get back to me.

Russ said...


How did you determine how high to jump? Just as high as possible or did you mark your max jump and then match that?

John Frazer said...

Russ -- I just jumped as high as possible. My target was my garage ceiling, but I never quite made it.

Jay Ashman said...

ladders from 10-1 and 1-10 of two movements. One weight and one explosive. Say a ladder of deadlifts and KBS to really make that pchain hate you.

Jay Ashman said...

Litvis are amazing though. You can't argue with their success at all. They really, not to sound cliche, mess you up.

Russ said...


I did a 1-11 ladder of 30 in. box jumps and 50 lb. db push presses a few weeks ago. Man that sucked.

metric said...

Jeff Martin's been using "liftivs" and the sprint starts for short metcons in the CFSB program for his 1400 "Skunkworks WODs" (ie his own training) for a while. He doesn't rest between rounds, he uses them as AMRAPS and 3 and 5RFT.
The other thing he plays with is mini-cindys, eg
x RFT of
Heavy whatever eg power cleans
5 rounds of Cindy.

Very nasy, but very effective.

John Frazer said...


If there's no rest between rounds, it doesn't sound much like the Litvi or sprint start concepts -- "just" a heavy metcon a la Crossfit Football. Or am I missing something?

Tsypkin said...


Not resting between rounds on litvis or sprint starts nullifies the point. Not to say that those can't be good workouts, they're just not litvis or sprint starts, since the goal of litvis and sprint starts is for the athlete to achieve maximal intensity every time, and that can't be done in a multiple RFT or AMRAP format.

Jay Ashman said...

Metric, rest is key to the Litvi workout.

And I quote from the article:

1. Pick a lift you know. Hit eight good reps with it, then sprint away for five seconds. Rest and repeat this two more times.

2. Next time you try the workout, try another lift and maybe go a bit longer on the sprint.

3. Do this easy progression about twice a week. If you choose to make this your whole leg workout, you've "chosen wisely." If you're preparing for an athletic competition, try to see if this workout carries over to your field of play.

4. Don't measure rest periods the first few workouts. Let yourself recover fully. As the weights go up in the lift and the sprint gets around ten to twenty seconds, then try to zero in on three to five minute recoveries. You'll need it.

Martin may be doing his own version of them, but they are not Litvis. Try them the way they were intended and you will see how much more intensity you get from doing them this way, and how much more terrible they are.

Sometimes conditioning workouts are best achieved with a well-placed rest, recovery and going balls out again.

Tsypkin said...

Another one I should have mentioned in the article is using ascending rep schemes. For example, the WOD for 10/31/2009:
For time:
25 squats
25 pushups
25 pullups
25 situps
50 squats
50 pushups
50 pullups
50 situps
75 squats
75 pushups
75 pullups
75 situps

Apart from the obvious physical challenge, this is a mindfuck and a half. The comfort of thinking things like "I've already done (insert relatively large number) reps, another (insert relatively small number) reps us nothing" is conspicuously absent.

Walden said...

You people are terribly, completely, and successfully awful! Looking forward to them, no matter the form they come in.

Russ said...


I'll take that as a compliment. Thanks!

Tsypkin said...

"Succesfully awful" is a new one. I think I like it.

Jason Lyons said...

i agree with the ladder comments. we did 10-1-10 ladders of c&j with 115 and pullups. if you dropped the bar or came off the pull-up bar, you needed to buy back in with 5 burpees each time. it was a nightmare. not one person got through without some burpees.

Russ said...


What time did you get on that? Just for the 115 lb. clean and jerks, that's over 100 reps!

Jason Lyons said...


I actually forgot something, when I looked up my time, the workout was 10-1-10 of 115# C&J, 55# KBS, and pull-ups. I finished the WOD in 51:38 and I needed to do 55 burpees. Only a few of us finished, two other guys got around 46 minutes with around 20-30 burpees each and the best was my wife Aimee who finished in 31 minutes only doing 5 burpees. I think the womens weight was 75# and 35#.

In doing this, you prayed to get back to the KBS because they were the easiest to string. Your grip just eventually became shot. I loved it but those last round of 8-9-10 sucked very badly.

It really got to the point where you were really thinking if you should start because you did not want to come off the bar or drop the weight. In the end, I probably took too much recovery time between some rounds. Oh well, I will know for next time.

Russ said...


That reminds me of a WOD I did for the last chance qualifiers:

155 lb. power clean
chest to bar pullup
55 lb. swing

It was less reps though.

What affiliate do you train out of?

Jason Lyons said...


I train out of CrossFit King of Prussia in Pennsylvania.

My wife and I run the business and one of our clients pointed me to this site for some valuable reading. This site has been very informative for me.

We actually used one of the workouts that I saw posted in one of the replies, 15 KBS, 30 DU AMRAP in 25 and it had to be strung. It was an eye opener for many of our people. I scored a 13 and I wanted to know what people at your box scored. Our highest was 18.

Jason Lyons said...

The WOD is question was also not given to all clients. We have a "Level 2" class once a week where we try to step it up a notch. The winner of the WOD gets to choose the following weeks WOD. This was one that I designed. Needless to say, I did not play to my strengths since I did not even come close to winning this one. This week we did a pain storm from awhile ago. Last week we had a date with all of the ladies in which we basically did the first round of Fran, Elizabeth, full Grace, full Isabel, Nancy, Helen and maybe a few others. That was actually pretty awesome. I can get exacts if you are interested.

Jay Ashman said...

Chris, I am from the Reading/Philly area and when I come back home I plan to visit your new box, the pictures are amazing.

I'd love to see the exacts of that workout and what you did, it would be something I would love to try myself.

Jason Lyons said...


I saw that you posted on Aimee's FB page that you would stop by...we would love to have you drop in. Here is the WOD that we did if anyone is curious. Aimee was the one that picked this WOD...I do not know if she made it up or got it from somewhere.

"Party with the Ladies"
Grace – 30 Clean and Jerks 95#/65#
Angie – 20 Pull Ups – 20 Push Ups – 20 Sit Ups – 20 Squats
Nancy – 400m Run - 15 OHS 95#/65#
Helen – 400 m Run – 21 KB Swings (53#/35#) – (21 Pullups) (should have been 12 Pull-ups but we did 21 Pullups by accident)
Fran – 21 Thrusters 95#/65# – 21 Pullups
Diane – 21 Deadlifts 95#/65# - 21 HSPU
Elizabeth – 21 Squat Cleans 95#/65# - 21 Ring Dips
Isabelle – 30 Snatches 95#/65#

My time was 34:29

Jay Ashman said...

Jason, I will definitely do that... but I will warn you, if you give me THAT workout to do, I will tackle you. :D

Russ said...


I'm sorry; I don't remember the top scores for our box. It was a while ago and we hadn't yet given all our athletes notebooks to write their WOD results in. I can tell you with full confidence that 18 is a very good score though.

I like the level 2 class idea to give the more experienced Crossfitters a challenge. Do you vary the time domains in it or all they all long WODs?

I just checked out your CF KOP sites and read your success story. Jason, you've achieved some very impressive results. Do you think that following and prioritizing your Crossfit performance data had much effect on your weight loss and body composition changes?

How is the zone and no sugar challenge going?

Good luck with your training.

Jason Lyons said...


Unfortunately, most of our Level 2 WOD's have been longer in duration. I think this is due to the fact that the winner of the WOD gets to pick the next WOD. This can be dangerous and it is a learning process. Many of the people in the Level 2 class are not trainers and do not have a great understanding on what should and should not be done. In the past, we would kind of go with the flow but I remember one workout that was just stupid and one of us should have said something to the winner to change it but we did not. We were doing something that involved a ladder with a 135# bear complex. On top of that, we needed to do something else and it was just unsafe. It was WAY too much weight to do that many reps. Other than that, the WODs have been decent but as you may have noticed, all pretty long in duration. I think our shortest one was this:

Max reps in one minute of:

Air Squats
Shoulder Press (125/85)
Deadlift (315/205)
Front Squat (185/135)
Push Press (155/105)
Sumo Deadlift Highpull (135/95)
Overhead Squat (155/105)
Push Jerk (185/110)
Med Ball Clean (20/14)

You had teams of three so you would work for one minute and then get two minutes of rest as the other two teammates went through the exercise and then you were back up on the next exercise. The clock never stopped. I think our team scored 346 or something like that. It was really the only short workout we had thus far but I am told another one is coming up next Monday. Heavy Fran is being hinted at with chest to bar pull-ups. Ouch.

I thank you for your nice words regarding my improvements. I attribute the results to many things including:
1) eating healthier
2) being faithful to the 3 on 1 off mentality
3) taking a break every 2 months or so
4) keeping track of my scores so i can visually remind myself how much i have improved
5) continually finding better people in the gym to chase.

i find that you need to have that person in the gym that you chase. when you see them put the bar down, force 2 more reps and when you see them getting ready to pick the bar back up, get to it first. you continually push yourself and before you know it, they are chasing you and you are on to person number two. this is especially useful in WODs that you hate. I hate running so I pick the best runners and try to stay with them as long as I can.

Jason Lyons said...

the zone, no sugar challenge went very well. this is the second one that we have held. we introduce people to the paleo diet and the zone and we go through a lecture talking about types of foods and which fats to eat and which carbs to avoid and hand out glycemic index charts and what have you. then we have the members of the gym document what they eat and at what times and they are also asked to write how they feel and how they felt their energy level was. the winner is the person that can do the most CONSECUTIVE days adhering to the diet. The latest winners went the entire month and both saw incredible improvements. One member lost 25 pounds in a month and saw dramatic improvement to his cholesterol and tris. Really amazing stuff. To attract people to the challenge, the winner has gotten a free month of membership. It has worked out really well and people have stuck with their new diets when the contest was over.

John Frazer said...


I think the overly long WOD is a common phenomenon. People get carried away trying to top one another, so if 100 reps was good, 200 reps must be better. If a 400m run was good, make it 800. If the load was 95, make it 135.

On a business trip once, I worked out at a brand-new affiliate. One of the WODs was this:

For time:
50 back extensions
200 squats
75 SDHP (can't recall the load)

It was horrible while it was going on; it made me very sore for a couple days; but I'm not sure if I got much benefit out of it, or what the point was except to pile on a lot of reps in a row. Why not 75 back extensions? Why not 150 SDHPs?

Russ Greene said...


I've been thinking about how to more effectively motivate athletes to commit to nutrition. Your example seems practical and effective. I'm going to put a post up on this topic within a week, if you don't mind.

Jason Lyons said...


Go for it. If you go to our website and click on the nutrition button, I believe all the handouts that we use are there. If you need anything, email me.