By: Coach Iz

The “Sport of Fitness,” like most other sports, has a year-long season. For most of us, the competitive season is during the Open, from March to April. Coaches have many different approaches as to how they prepare their athletes for competition, but the approach that I have found to be successful is planning out a template for the entire year. Having the template allows me to focus on very specific adaptations designed to improve athletes’ Open performance. It also enables me to decide when it is appropriate to introduce new stimulus to elicit a different response.

The Open is primarily a test of endurance and stamina, so being proficient in these areas is very important. In order to develop proficiency in endurance and stamina, a good amount of work needs to be done throughout the training year, which starts in early April after the Open and runs through February, right up until the next Open.

Since the Open usually beats people down, I suggest resting for 4-14 days, based on training age and difficulty of the competition. The first cycle (4/1-5/1) is four weeks of hypertrophy training (body building) to increase lean muscle mass and allow some healing to happen.

After four weeks of hypertrophy training, we transition into 12 weeks (5/1-8/1) that are dedicated to absolute strength. In this phase, we work on power lifting, which includes bench pressing, squatting, deadlifting, and pressing.  Following the absolute strength phase, we transition to four weeks (8/1-9/1) of “mock Open,” with Open-style workouts twice a week. The intent is to give your body another dose of the Open-style workouts and provide the support you need to improve your performance.

Next, we complete 12 weeks (9/1-12/1) focused on strength speed (Olympic weightlifting). The following cycle of training is six weeks (12/1-1/15) dedicated to weaknesses and goats. The last cycle of training, the six weeks before the competition (1/15-3/1), is the Open prep phase. This phase includes a taper and peaks with the Open.

Each phase of training has an intended purpose and a specific desired response. Having this template allows you to know what we are doing and what the intent is. It also gives you framework for your accessory and auxiliary exercises. You can have peace of mind that all of the 10 fitness domains are being cultivated throughout the year.

Since following this program, many 718 athletes have seen improvements in their Open performances, as well as their overall strength. In the past, Michaela used to cherry-pick her WODs to avoid the movements she didn’t like. But she quickly learned that every movement eventually shows up in competition, so she began to see all WODs as opportunities to work on her strength and skill development. “I had a really fun time doing the programming and felt myself get stronger and more confident over the course of the five months I was on the program. I went from being 11,318th in last year’s open to 6,875th overall in the world this year and 55th in the region this year for masters 35-39, which I could not have been more excited about,” she says.

Chris K. also climbed the ladder in this year’s Open, moving from 2,831st place in 2016 to 2,145th place in 2017. He credits this improvement to adhering to the programming and resisting the urge to tack on more work throughout the week. “In the past I have tried to do extra work and supplementation, but it was only leading me to overtraining and diminishing the potential results from the program,” he says. “Since I started following Iz’s programming I have been experiencing constant improvements. My performance overall has gotten to a point where I can be a competitive athlete, as well as an effective coach who can demonstrate and assist other athletes with their training. I can snatch 215 lbs., string together 10 muscle-ups in a row, my Grace time is 2:35, and last time I did Murph (without vest) I finished in 40 minutes. All from following the program.”

Hal has also seen significant gains this year. “Since I’ve been doing his program, I’ve noticed differences in the weights I’m lifting and growth in my muscles. I’ve also hit major PRs this year; my snatch went from 185 to 205. I’ve also had PRs in every other lift. I never not follow the program. There’s a reason for the program, and the reason is to make you better,” he says.

All things considered, you know yourself better than anyone else, so you should modify your training as necessary. However, know that a ton of energy goes into planning yearly, monthly, weekly and daily WODs for you. So before you do Murph during an absolute strength phase, please keep in mind that you might actually be sabotaging your own gains without even knowing it.

For the rest of you who just want to look good naked, this template is also appropriate for that. Keep in mind that we do offer conditioning and strength classes that might be appropriate for your needs. If you have a very specific event or goal you need to prepare for, please email me at, and we can discuss other products and services such as personal training or Independent Program Design.

Remember guys and gals, “Trust the process.” Our WODs are backed by cutting edge training methods and years of experience, and they’re designed to get you in the best shape of your life.