SISU Programming F.A.Q.

Welcome to the SISU Programming F.A.Q.

The purpose of this page is to provide references, guides, and explanations to all members, new and veteran.


“Which program should I follow?”
While the answer to this can vary based on your goals, the best starting place is CrossFit Class. All of our optional programs are designed around CrossFit Class and are meant to be supplemental. CrossFit class takes precedence over other programs in terms of equipment usage, gym space, and most importantly, provides coaching.

“Can I do all of the programs?”
We write all of our optional programs around CrossFit Class, and the goal is to provide multiple programs that could in theory all be completed everyday without vast overlap (e.g. programming back squat in class Monday, and front squat in SISU Strength on Tuesday). With that being said, most people would experience burn out, high injury risk, and high fatigue levels in a short period of time if they attempted that much volume. Talk with one of your coaches to come up with a plan right for you.


I. SISU Program Descriptions

1. CrossFit Class
This is CrossFit SISU’s staple program. CrossFit class is designed around challenging the individual with constantly varied, functional movements, and performing these movements at high intensity. All CrossFit Classes will be taught and led by a certified CrossFit coach. Classes will have a structured warm up, strength and/or skill segment, and a WOD.

2. SISU Strength Program
SISU Strength is an optional 4 day/week strength training program designed to be completed in addition to CrossFit Class. The focus of this program is to improve pressing, pulling and squatting strength. SISU Strength is ideal for someone who has a basic understanding of CrossFit’s foundational movements, but wants to make greater improvements in total body strength. SISU strength can be completed before or after class, during open gym, or outside of the gym. This program follows a 12 week periodization plan that when coupled with CrossFit Class can provide huge increases in strength and power.

3. SISU Performance Program
SISU Performance Program is an optional 4 day/week program designed to be completed in addition to CrossFit Class. This program is designed for an athlete looking to improve in the sport of CrossFit, but can be completed by anyone that is just looking for more! This program will emphasize energy system training, advanced gymnastics movements, and limited equipment usage (Pig/Tire/Sled etc.). Whether you are getting ready for next years open, or you want to participate in a local competition, this program is for you.

4. SISU Olympic Lifting Program
SISU Olympic Lifting is an optional 2 day/week program and class aimed at improving an athlete’s understanding, refinement and eventual mastery of the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. Classes are held Tuesday and Thursday nights at our Plymouth location. The program follows a 12 week progression that can be completed in addition to CrossFit Class, or on its own. Whether you are gearing up for your next Olympic Lifting Competition, or don’t know the difference between a Push Jerk and Snatch Balance, this class is for you.


II. Programming Cycle
Our programming cycle follows a 12 week periodization plan segmented into three distinct phases, each lasting four weeks.

1. Accumulation & Reprogramming (4 Weeks): 
– This is the foundation building phase. The focus is on developing a base level of strength and endurance that can later be translated into higher level skills and intensities.
– Re-teaching the body basic movement patterns utilizing less complex movements (Air Squat vs. Overhead Squat).
– Emphasis on single appendage movements and exercises that develop structural support.

2. Intensification Phase: (4 Weeks):
– Transition from basic movements into their more complicated forms (e.g. Strict Press into Push-Jerk)
– Increase in intensity, volume and loading
– Greater emphasis on higher skill movements in Gymnastics and Olympic lifting.

3. Realization Phase (4 Weeks):
– Taking all of the work developed in the previous two phases and putting them into a testing environment.
– Re-testing movements, strength numbers and endurance capacity.
– Highest level of intensity, volume, and loading.
– Completion of full Olympic lifts and high level Gymnastic movements.


III. Strength Training

1. What are reps and sets.  Example: Back Squat; 4×5 
A rep is the number of times you perform a specific exercise, and a set is the number of cycles of reps that you complete. In our design we will always write the sets first and then the reps. In the example above you will notice that the design calls for the athlete to do 5 reps for 4 total sets. So, the athlete would complete 5 back squat reps, rest, then complete another 5 reps until they have completed all 4 sets.

2. How do I know how much weight or how heavy to go in my strength training sessions? Example: Back Squat; 1×8 @ 80%
Most of the time we will use percentages to prescribe the amount of weight to use. These percentages are normally based off of the 1 rep max of the lift being performed. In the example above the athlete would complete 1 set of back squats at 80% of their 1 rep max.

3. What if I don’t have a 1 rep max or don’t know where to start?
While there are many different answers to this question that depend on a variety of factors including age, gender, fitness goals etc., here are a couple of basic examples that should help you figure out where to start:

        a.) “I’ve done little to no strength training in my life” 
The goal of the session should be on learning to properly perform the movement without using a load that will compromise your form. You should be completing a higher number of reps at a lower amount of weight.

        b.) “I’ve done a fair amount of strength training but never performed this movement” 
The goal of the session should be on learning to properly perform the movement without using a load that will compromise your form. You should begin the session by working with a light load and higher repetitions to help develop the movement pattern. If it feels comfortable you can progress into a medium load that will still continue to develop muscle memory without compromising technique.

        c.) “I have an extensive strength training background but don’t have a 1RM or the percentages are too light for me” Example: Back Squat; 4 sets x 6-8 reps
The goal of the session should be to select a weight that allows the athlete to complete the prescribed amount of reps. In the example above, if you can can only complete 5 reps the weight is too heavy and if you can complete more than 8 reps the weight is too light. The goal of the session should be to hit the highest rep range with maximal intensity. 


IV. Strength Training Miscellaneous Descriptions

1. Tempo

Tempo prescriptions will come in a series of four numbers representing the times in which it should take to complete four stages of the prescribed movement. The tempo prescription will follow the assigned movement, such as:

Back Squat @ 31×1 tempo;  5 reps x 5 sets; rest 3 min bw sets

The First Number – The first number refers to the lowering/eccentric phase of the lift.  Using the example above, the ‘3’ will represent the amount of time, in seconds, that it should take you to descend to the bottom of the squat.  It is important to note that the first number will always refer to the lowering phase of the movement, even if the movement begins with the ascending portion, such as a pull-up or ring row.

The Second Number – The second number refers to the amount of time spent in the bottom position of the movement, the point at which you are static before transitioning between the eccentric and concentric portion of the movement.  In the Back Squat example above, the ‘1’ means that the athlete should pause for 1 second at the bottom of the Squat before beginning their ascent.  

The Third Number – The third number refers to ascending/concentric phase of the lift – in our example the time it should take you to get from the bottom of the squat back to the top.  The ‘X’ in our above example signifies the athlete to ‘explode’ out of the bottom back to the top of the lift. Of course, there will be times where the athlete may not be moving fast, but it is the ‘intent’ to move at maximal speed that counts. In another example, let’s say the tempo read Back Squat @ 3121, then the athlete would take 2 seconds to return to the top. *Along with ‘X’, you may also see other letters used for the third number: ‘A’ (stands for assisted in eccentric training), or ‘J’  (stands for jump, which is typically used for eccentric only pull ups).

The Fourth Number – The fourth number refers to how long the athlete should pause at the top of the lift. In our Back Squat example that would mean the athlete should pause for 1 second before moving into the next rep. Let’s say, though, that our prescription was as follows: Pull-up @ 21×2 tempo. This would mean that the athlete would then pause for 2 seconds above the pull-up before descending on a 2 second count back to the bottom of the lift.

2. Clusters

Example: Back Squat Cluster; 2.2.2 x 4 sets; rest 20 seconds; rest 2min

Cluster training utilizes short, inter-set rest periods to allow the athlete to do more reps with a heavier load than what they would typically use for straight sets with the same volume. Following the example above; you should perform 2 back squats, rest 20 seconds, then do another 2 back squats, rest another 20 seconds, then do 2 more back squats to complete your 1st set. Once you have completed your first set you will then rest 2 minutes before starting your 2nd set where you will follow the same rep scheme and rest breaks as prescribed above. The built in rest breaks should allow you to lift a heavier load than if your coach prescribed 6 reps x 4 sets of Back Squats.

3. Waves

Example: Back Squat; 5,10,5,10

Waves utilize a set and rep scheme that repeat a certain number of times with the goal being to increase in weight each wave. In the above example you should perform a heavy set of 5, then a heavy set of 10. The next wave would then be a set of 5 heavier than your first set of 5, and a set of 10 heavier than your first set of 10.

5. Intervals

Example: 500m Row @90% effort, x5 sets, rest 1:1 (or work = rest)

Interval training allows athletes to perform a higher level of intensity over time by utilizing inter-rest periods. In the above example you should perform your 500m row at 90% effort level and then rest the same amount of time it took you to perform the work. You would complete this for a total of 5 sets. The built in rest breaks should allow you to row at a much higher intensity over the 2,500 meters than if you were to row 2,500 meters without rest.


V. CrossFit Lingo, Abbreviations, Acronyms etc.

AMRAP: As many rounds or reps as possible. Type of workout format where the athlete is asked to complete a circuit of movements as many times as they can in a given amount of time.

Box: A CrossFit Gym

EMOM: Every Minute On the Minute. Type of workout format where you complete something at the top of every minute for a given number of minutes

WOD: Workout of the Day. Usually references the conditioning part of the workout, or Metcon.

Metcon: Metabolic Conditioning. This is usually referencing the conditioning workout.

K2E: Knees to Elbow
TTB/T2B: Toes to Bar
CTB/C2B: Chest to bar pull-up
DU/Dubs: Double Unders. Jump rope passes under feet twice in one jump. Very easy to learn.
MU: Ring Muscle-up
HSPU: Handstand Push-up
DB: Dumbbell
KB: Kettlebell
Pistol: One legged squat
GHD: Glute-ham Developer
BJ: Box Jump
WB: Wall ball shot
BP: Bench Press
BW: Body weight
DL: Deadlift
BS: Back Squat
FS: Front Squat
OHS: Overhead Squat
PR: Personal Record
Rx; Rx’d; As Rx: As prescribed; as written. Workout is performed without any adjustments
RM; 1RM: Repetition Maximum. Your 1Rm is your max lift for one repetition. Your 10RM is the most you can lift 10 times.

The “Girls” : A series of benchmark workouts created by CFHQ that are universally known among the CF community.

The “Heroes” :  A Hero workout is a tribute workout in honor of a fallen CrossFitter (either Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, Firefighter, Police officer) that died in the line of duty. They are tough and among the most difficult of WOD’s. There are sadly too many of them.

Tabata Interval: A workout of 8 intervals alternating 20 seconds of max rep work with 10 seconds of rest. Total is 4 minutes per exercise. Score the lowest interval rep count.


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