How To Set CrossFit Goals

It’s January, the month we all tend to make annual plans, we’ve wiped out the 2016 goal board and are starting to push you to put new goals up, and registration for the 2017 CrossFit Games Open is live.  There you have it:  THREE MAJOR REASONS for putting some thought into your CrossFit training and what your goals are for this year.

But many of us have trouble figuring out what we need to work on, typically because the answer is often “EVERYTHING!”.  Here’s a quick way to evaluate where you are and what you need to focus on.

Let’s break down what we do into just a few categories:

  1. STRENGTH (Barbell/Loaded)

Pretty easy right?  You could say I’m pretty strong, I do OK with my gymnastics and I have a decent engine.

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And if that’s your response, good – you don’t feel generally any weakness in one specific area. So let’s break it down a little further.

  1. STRENGTH (Barbell/Loaded)
    • 1RM’s in all the major power and olympic lifts. Is your press up to par with your DL? How is your snatch?
    • High repetition/muscle endurance. How you you do on heavy barbell WODs like DT? How about lighter high repetition WODs?
    • Technique. Is your technique spot-on with your lifts or could you still use some fine tuning to make you more efficient? The first two bullets here are improved by technique.
    • Benchmarks: How does your 1RM rate with the rest of the box or other CrossFitters? How is your DT score, Complex 1, Grace, Isabel, Karen?
    • Strict gymnastics: 20 strict pull ups, 50 pushups, 10 strict HSPU, 15 strict dips, 30 UB pistols…how we doin’?
    • Dynamic gymnastics and in high repetition: kipping and butterfly pull ups, kipping dips and HSPU, T2B
    • Advanced gymnastics: muscle ups (bar and ring), handstand walking
    • Skill/technique.  How is your technique on all of these? Is your form broken or solid, tight and springy? The first three bullets here are enhanced by technique.
    • Benchmarks: Cindy, Angie, Barbara, Mary…how does your score rate on all of these WODs?
    • Your work capacity is the key to improving your CrossFit performance.
    • Straight line cardio: your 5K run, 1 mile run and 400M run, your 500M and 2K row, and 100 DU for time. Benchmarks for this steady state cardio include Triple 3’s and Jerry.
    • Mixed modal training: the combination of a loaded movement, a gymnastics movement and possible a mono structural cardio element is the magic in CrossFit’s programing and the true test of your CrossFit performance.  Benchmarks for this include Helen, Eva, Kelly and Jackie.  Couplets can be even more challenging!  Diane, Fran, Nancy and Nicole.  How do your scores on these benchmarks rank?


It’s a lot of stuff, I know!

So where do you go from here? There’s so much!

You have a lot of options. If you’re a good goal setter and planner, start making a list!  If you need help, we’re here for you! Over the years we created several guides to help you identify the areas you need help with, and then you have your team of coaches to help you from there.  In that file crate that sits on the top west side of the desk are several things that can help you.


We created the Suck List for those who needed a guide to identify what they sucked at, so they could make a list.  Check it out: SUCK LIST

Next up…

Early in 2006, I believe, Dave Werner of CrossFit Seattle developed the four Skill Levels to help his athletes learn their priorities for progressing in order to remain “balance”. In other words, not just barbell strong, but bodyweight strong. Fast, strong and agile.  Everything in balance. We adapted these Skill Levels to our box back in 2013 and they’ve remained a part of our athlete development program since. It might be time to take a look at them!  They’re also in the crate. We have a binder we keep them in at the desk. Coaches “test you out”. Once you’ve completed every test in Level 1, you can move on to Level 2, and then Level 3 and 4.  Check them out:  SKILL LEVELS 1-4


Ed and I were lucky enough to attend the CrossFit Competitors Course in 2014 in Boston led by Chris Spealler and Matt Chan.  From that weekend, we came home with a list of loads and scores that they had compiled and created as Open-worthy, Regionals-worthy and Games-worthy scores.  It’s both enlightening and humbling to review this, as these are numbers from 2014! CROSSFIT COMPETITORS BENCHMARKS

The system they used to determine where we needed work was this SPIDERWEB.SPIDERWEB

And finally, in 2015 ( yes, two Open’s ago) CrossFit posted this infographic as the standard for the Regionals Athlete. Pretty humbling.

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90% of us are generally happy with a good workout, a healthy checkup at the doctor, being full of energy daily, and looking pretty darn good (even if you have to add “for your age”). But most of us do want to see improvement, and we can guarantee you that you’re never going to be fast or strong enough – you can always improve. The question is where to put your energies to get better.  And here you have it.

You have options.  You have two or three systems here from which to draw up a list of things you need work on to bring you into “balance”, and you have a host of seasoned coaches just dying to help you.





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