627. Pat Barber | Unleashing the Power of Heavy Days in CrossFit

Jul 19, 2023


Unleashing the Power of Heavy Days in CrossFit Training


In the dynamic world of fitness and strength training, one concept stands tall, both in significance and challenge – heavy lifting. The essence of heavy days has evolved over time within the CrossFit community, but its impact remains unparalleled. In this comprehensive article, we embark on a journey to understand the true value of heavy days, how they have evolved, and the art of programming them effectively in CrossFit classes.

Understanding the Value of Heavy Days

Defining Heavy Days: A heavy day in CrossFit training revolves around a single-focused session dedicated to one intense lift. Athletes might tackle heavy sets of threes or fives or even venture into higher percentages, like the mighty 20-rep back squat. The key to a successful heavy day lies in a thorough warm-up, ensuring the body is primed for the upcoming intensity.

The Evolution of Heavy Days: Initially not part of the CrossFit Level 2 curriculum, heavy days emerged out of necessity due to misconceptions about proper heavy lifting techniques. Over the years, the concept of heavy days has grown, addressing the challenges faced by participants while maintaining CrossFit's core programming principles.

Navigating the Challenges of Heavy Days

The Importance of Context: Context is king when it comes to heavy days. There's a divide in opinions, with some advocating for strength training always combined with metabolic conditioning, while others value dedicated strength-only days. Recognizing the intended outcome of each session and considering long-term training programs offer clarity and direction.

Challenges in Communication: Effective communication plays a pivotal role in how heavy days are perceived and executed. Challenges arise from conflicting definitions of "strength," individual variation in optimal execution, and sometimes inconsistent or unclear communication.

Managing Recovery: Implementing heavy days without sufficient recovery time can hinder progress and lead to overtraining. Understanding the impact on the central nervous system, peripheral fatigue, and muscular damage is essential to ensure the body can effectively repair and adapt.

The Impact of Heavy Training Days in CrossFit Programming

The Importance of Heavy Days: Heavy training days are a cornerstone for building strength and resilience in athletes. By challenging the body with high loads, athletes experience significant adaptations and improved performance over time.

Rep Schemes: CrossFit programming utilizes various rep schemes on heavy days, from sets of seven or ten repetitions to threes and fives. Rep schemes may vary based on an athlete's skill level and goals, with threes often preferred for newcomers to ensure safety.

The Role of Coaches: Coaches play a vital role in achieving effective heavy training days. Their guidance aims to lead athletes to physiological exhaustion through heavy loading rather than cardiovascular strain. Adequate warm-up and focused working sets contribute to optimal performance and safety.

The Art of Programming Heavy Days in CrossFit Classes

Finding the Right Balance: Programming heavy days requires a delicate balance between challenging athletes and maintaining class engagement. Tailoring workouts to individual abilities fosters a sense of community and ensures long-term success.

Guidelines for Programming: To program heavy days effectively, consider exercise selection, metcon combination, scaling options, coaching guidance, preparation, and variability to keep athletes engaged.

Strategies for Gym Success: Encourage community interactions during heavy days, manage group size effectively, and focus on gradual progression to foster a positive and supportive environment.


Incorporating heavy days into CrossFit programming unlocks the true potential of athletes, building strength, and achieving long-term fitness goals. The evolution of heavy days and their impact on athletes have solidified their importance. By mastering the art of programming heavy days through effective communication, thoughtful planning, and individualized attention, coaches can usher athletes towards their peak performance, creating a strong and united CrossFit community that conquers challenges and celebrates success together.


Jason Ackerman, CF-L4, and Jason Fernandez, CF-L3, are Affiliate Owners and CrossFit Seminar Staff Members dedicated to the pursuit of helping Affiliate Owners and Coaches alike become the best in the world at what they do.


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