Programming Progressive Overload In CrossFit

Programming for Vegvisir is a constantly evolving thing. When we talked about CrossFit programming, we talked about how some boxes started to implement strength and conditioning practices to their WODs. 

As you know from going to this gym, we are one of those gyms that have a strength portion and then a MetCon portion. We program both of those in concurrent plans that run about 8-12 weeks in length (our next cycle is 8 weeks). The primary underpinning ideology for our strength and conditioning? Periodization of Progressively Overloaded Movement.

What is Periodization?

Periodization is a programming technique that involves manipulating loads, volume, frequency, and specificity across the length of an exercise plan. Originally covered in a book by Tudor  Bompa, periodization is the corner stone of programming for long term success of any athlete wanting to improve their strength, abilities, and efficacy in any physical movement.

Instead of focusing on training an athlete by doing squats one week and lunges the next or just 3×10 back squats until the sun falls out of the sky, periodization involves changing the aforementioned variables with the same movement over a period of time.

For example:

Week 1

Back Squat 3×10

Week 2

Back Squat 3×8

Week 3

Back Squat 3×6


And Progressive Overload?

Progressive Overload is just adjusting your periodized cycle based off of loading, by increasing the total load of a day week by week.

This is illustrated by looking at the example cycle above and adding load multiplied by the total volume. 

For Example:

Week 1

3 Sets: 10 Reps @ 100lbs = 3000lbs Total load

Week 2

4 Sets: 8 Reps @ 105lbs = 3360lbs Total load

Week 3

5 Sets: 6 reps @ 115lbs = 3450lbs Total Load


Put Em Together?

Progressive overloading is just a way of periodizing programming, and it’s the way that we program. The simplest version of this is actually what guides how we program the “No 1RM?” track on our lifts! If you do a 3,4,5 rep maxes each week without having done these movements, your body responds incredibly well to just repeating the same volume but increasing load each week! It’s why in your first or second testing week you might have seen an insane 30+ pound PR! (Kids have it easier learning and untrained muscles have it easier growing).

But, what about me getting my first pull-up?

Programming MetCons with Periodization

Now MetCons are a different animal than weightlifting because we no one will ever finish the workout in the same time, do the same rounds, and definitely have the same goals. So, what do we do?

Goal reviews and your results leading up to them are the #1 factor in determining what we program for the gym. If a majority of people say they want pull-ups? We are going to progressively overload pull-ups as one of the main goals (i.e. our current cycle!). 

We get around the tricky nature of MetCons by using our tracks and associating a goal for the workout and creating pathways in the WOD for athletes to hit that goals (this is gonna see a slight change in our upcoming cycle so get excited!).

We then take those goals and increase the overall loading we are expecting for a given movement week over week. 

For instance, in week 1 we might do 20 total pull-ups, week 2 will be 28, week 3 32. 

You might see that as:


Every 5:00 for 20:00

30/22 Cal Bike

20 Burpees

5 Pull-Ups


14 Minute AMRAP:

28 DB Snatches

14 Box Jump Overs

7 Pull-Ups

WOD 3:

4 Rounds For Time

8 Pull-Ups

16 Burpee Box Jump Overs

While we also put things like intensity, central nervous system load, length of MetCon, and the overall enjoyment of a workout into consideration when making our programs. Progressive overload is the chassis from which our programming sits.

Making That Pancake

If ya view it like making good pancakes, the basic CrossFit movements are the flour (you can’t have any pancake without it), your coaches are the pan that makes sure your safely becoming a pancake, and things like progressive overload are like the butter, eggs, and sugar we use to make that pancake damn good. The heat to make it? That’s all you and the work you put in. If you make the habits, that’s like a nice warm pan making the pancake you want!

Wanna learn more about programming? Send us your questions to and we will help answer them as soon as possible or turn em into future blog post if we get multiple asks of the same question!

If you are looking to train under coaches who execute successful programming like this, schedule a time to talk with a coach through the link HERE!


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