Invictus Athlete Cynthia Snatch
New Invictus Competition Training Cycle Begins Monday!
Written by C.J. Martin

Every year following the CrossFit Games I get a surge of excitement for the upcoming season. I love the Games, but it’s the preparation and journey of helping athletes get there that is the most rewarding part of my job.

The off-season is now upon us, and I am extremely excited to start preparing athletes for the 2016 season. Our new Invictus Competition training cycle begins on Monday, August 3rd and will focus on developing the strength and aerobic foundation athletes will need to build upon over the next several months of training. Our off-season program will be built to allow for small peaks along the way for major competitions, with the overarching goal of having all of our athletes peaking for the 2016 CrossFit Open.

Our initial phase of post-Games training will be a 6-week cycle focused on developing maximal strength, Olympic weightlifting technique, upper body pressing strength and aerobic base. We will have touches on short, lactic threshold training, but the main focus will be on establishing the foundation upon which we can build our athletes over the next 6-9 months – which means getting you all strong, healthy, mechanically sound and tolerant to volume.

Our initial 6-week training cycle wraps up to coincide with the Kill Cliff Granite Games – September 11-13, 2015. Whether you are competing at the Granite Games or not, that will be a good weekend to push your limits before we launch into our second post-Games training cycle the following week.

Our weekly template for this cycle will be as follows:
Monday – Single Training Session
Tuesday – Single Training Session PLUS Optional Additional Conditioning Session*
Wednesday – Single Training Session…the return of the Wednesday EMOMs πŸ™‚
Thursday – Swimming Technique Work by Heidi Fearon and Active Recovery
Friday – Single Training Session
Saturday – Single Training Session PLUS Additional Running-Intensive Conditioning Session*
Sunday – Full Recovery and Meal Preparation

*The optional conditioning sessions on Tuesday and Saturday are highly recommended for those who are not 100% confident in their aerobic base.

If you have questions about the upcoming cycle, please post them to comments and I will answer reasonable questions to the best of my ability.

Whether you have been a long-time follower of our program, or you’re just hearing about it now, please make a concerted effort to log your results on a daily basis. We have a team of coaches, including myself, who will review the results throughout the day to provide feedback and answer questions, and we’ve created a very supportive community that will help give you some comparisons by which you can push yourself each day of training. We love our online community and it only gets better as it grows, so please help us spread the word and encourage your friends to join you in this new Invictus training cycle.

  • Anu K

    I guess no ‘reasonable’ questions are there. One (maybe an observation as well) question: Is this cycle going to take off from last years’. This is my second year with Invictus and loved comparing results from last year. Statement: I also felt that split jerk grip OH squats didn’t seem to have a larger carry over. Thanks CJ, Love the shoes πŸ™‚

    • Cj Martin

      Anu, this is a brand new cycle that will incorporate some cool new concepts that we’ve played with in-house with our competitive athletes with great success. So no, it probably won’t match much to last year’s cycle.

      In terms of your statement on the transfer of the narrow-grip overhead work, we actually will be incorporating that into the next six weeks. It has been an extremely successful tool that we’ve run with many of our athletes and seen tremendous results. I can think of at least two people from our training group in San Diego off the top of my head who improved their 2-RM Overhead Squat by more than 40 lbs in 4 weeks. This cycle will allow you to test at the beginning and end to see whether you benefited. Also remember that it impacts much more than OHS numbers, and if you notice how many of our successful athletes perform things like overhead lunges, you’ll note that they utilize a narrow-grip…so I would encourage everyone to get comfortable with it.

      • Anu K

        Thanks CJ, look forward to this wave.. Definitely not to the Wednesday EMOMs πŸ˜‰

  • Tony Gulotta

    How different will this be from the masters programing?And do you think the volumn and weight loads will be to much for old bone and joints? I have been doing the masters and love it, just curious. Lastly, time frame how long do you think sessions will(should)last? I truly respect your advice!

    • Cj Martin

      It will be quite different Tony. May have some similar priorities, but they’ll feel quite different. Our Masters program puts a much greater emphasis on helping athletes address mobility issues that we’ve found hold them back. Additionally, the volume and loading is certainly considered for the masters athletes, and will be less than our free online program.

      As to whether the Competition program will be too much for your old bones, I really don’t know. Everyone has a different tolerance for volume and intensity. You will be your own best assessor as to how well you’re recovering between sessions.

      Finally, ALL SESSIONS SHOULD BE COMPLETED WITHIN 90 MINUTES!!! We run these sessions at Invictus 3 times per day, and we only allot 90 minutes. It can and should be done in that time frame. If it is taking longer, it’s due to lengthy transitions between portions and creates a significant and detrimental decrease in intensity and training effect.

      • Michael Mclean

        Hey CJ, We are curious if the 90 mins includes warm up? We feel our sessions go for too long and that is killing our gains so will be starting to enforce a time cap.

        • Anu K

          I would say end to end no longer than 90 minutes. Many of us are restricted by getting to work, so have no choice. Maybe set a cap time so you can pick up slack if you feel you are dragging ?

        • Cj Martin

          If you need an additional 10-15 minutes to sneak in a warm-up before you start the 90-minute clock, I am fine with that. But don’t let your warm-up drag on for more than that, and don’t exceed 90 minutes once you start moving.

      • Tony Gulotta

        Thanks Cj, makes sense! Been doing your Master’s programming since you started it up last year and have been enjoying it and making strides, you and Nicole have been great! I recently won a Silver Medal in the World Police and Fire Games(49 yrs old).

  • Scott Winges

    Thanks CJ for providing such detailed programming notes! This is really helpful.

    I have a question, though I’m not sure how reasonable it is… In the past I’ve had issues hitting some of the percentages for things like snatches, back squats, and jerks mid way through the cycle (especially when the volume is catching up to me). The question is: When I’m part way through a set and I don’t hit my percentages how should I proceed? Stay at a lower weight and mod my next set, or aim for the stars? I usually keep the weight a little lower than RX’d percentages and “work technique”, but the result is that usually going into the next week I feel like my confidence is toast because I didn’t make the lifts last week, so I find it this compounds on itself a little.

    An example would be something like those snatch complex ladders where the %’s just keep rising. Do I just stay low and focus on technique when I miss and have 3-4 more sets or keep trying for more weight? Maybe this is too specific to be a broad realistic question and is more individual athlete based, but it’s worth a shot πŸ™‚

    Thanks again!

    • Cj Martin

      Good question Scott. If you’re unable to hit your percentages, shut it down for the day. For example, if you’re aiming to hit 3 reps at 90%, but you only got 2 reps @ 85%, just move on. Alternatively, you can try one more set at 85 and shoot for more reps, but it would be pointless to try to go up. Just respect that your body adapts at it’s rate, and some days will be better than others. It shouldn’t impact your confidence, it’s just an understanding of the training process that progress isn’t linear unless you’re a beginner.

      • Scott Winges

        Thank you CJ! Sounds like maybe in the past I was just burning myself out pointlessly and perhaps not recovering well. Also, definitely thinking too linearly. Looking forward to this one, especially the Weds EMOM’s πŸ˜€

  • Robbie Crabtree

    If we can’t get the optional conditioning done on the prescribed day is it better to do it on Thursday (rest day) or just move on without it? As always thanks for all you do and looking forward to new cycle.

    • Cj Martin

      Tough call Robbie. Probably best to move on without it. If you add it in on the Thursday you’ll likely have a tough time recovering for the weekend sessions.

      • Robbie Crabtree

        Thanks. This article and responses has been very helpful in preparing for this next cycle.

  • Quinn Longman

    First time wanting to do the programs, 43 years old and have competed in local comps. Which would be better masters program or comp training. I have good gymnastics background but struggle with oly lifting.thanks

    • Anu K

      I think masters is free for one week, try it out and see how you feel. Comp is generally longer and more volume. Alternatively feel free to try the comp one for one cycle and see how body holds up

    • Cj Martin

      Really depends on how you recover Quinn. If you’re highly tolerant of volume and intensity, play with the young kids. If you’re like most athletes over 40, I would suggest the Masters program.

  • Jenni Scott

    Thank you for this programming. I started at the start of the last cycle and will start posting my progress this next cycle. I have been following a day behind with rest days on Friday and Monday only because I’m on the other side of the world and a day ahead so I see the programming come out around 2pm for the next day. I would like to continue on this programming but would love to be able to start this next cycle on Monday and go back to the usual Thursday and Sunday as off days. Would it be possible to post the programming about half a day earlier? I know there are a few other active duty military crossfitters over here in Oki that would really appreciate it as well.

    • Cj Martin

      Sorry Jenni, our program posts at 9:00 p.m. Pacific – most of the time anyway. If you follow a day or week behind, please be sure to post your results still. We end up looping back to collect data.

      Thank you for your service!

  • Anu K

    Hi CJ, another question: I have noticed myself and some others on the board that we seem to get really close to 100% or PR weights a week before the ‘test’ week and then hang on dear life during the test week. Have you noticed something on those lines in house/ on this board and what might be your thoughts on that it seems to be a broader occurrence than just one individual.

    • Cj Martin

      Yes, we definitely notice it more out of some of the online guys than our in-house guys. Everyone adapts and recovers on a different timeline, so we’re not going to time the mini-peaks perfectly with people following all over the world. Some of it is lack of patience too. We see a lot of guys pushing the percentages the week before (or even earlier) because they feel good, and they may not be fully recovered by the test week. Honestly, I am totally fine with that. I want people to listen to their bodies, and if that means you feel great and poised for a nice PR a week early, go for it. As long as you’re seeing constant progress, we’ll both be happy.

      • Anu K

        Got It. Thank you

  • Hi CJ, me and few friends have problem getting out of the hole in squat and clean, I was thinking that we could incorporate some pause squats on the squat day, what do you think? And how should we approach it?

    • Thomas GrΓΈnbek

      When you do any kind of squat, do a pause for some seconds instead of extending at once. Will help you a lot

    • Cj Martin

      You can most certainly do that. Maybe set aside a bit of time at the beginning of the session on Fridays.

  • Diego Sommariva

    Hi CJ, great work with the programming. I’m 45 years old and would like to hit the normal competition programming but don’t know how I’ll stand up to it after a few weeks, especially since I work all day (as a coach but I can’t always find the time to train due to the levels of my trainees) and am limited on equipment (no rower, GHD, pool…). I was wondering about the masters programming and if you recommend I do that one instead or try and stay with the normal comp programme to see if I can keep up with it. I’ve tried a few weeks in the past and some WODs were pretty tough for me. Thx in advance !

    • Cj Martin

      Diego, give the masters program a shot. I think you will really enjoy it, and if you’ve struggled to keep up with the volume of the Competition program in the past, it might be smart to proactively address volume and intensity – which is done for you in the masters program. Nichole and I will be following everyone’s results on the masters program, hope to see your name there!

      • Diego Sommariva

        Will do then! Thanks again!

  • Eli Joy

    Hey CJ, I’m a fourteen year old guys looking to improve and prepare for the next open. What plan do you think would be the best for me? Thanks!

    • Cj Martin

      Eli, I hate to burst your bubble man, but the most important thing for a 14-year-old is MASTERY of the movements and perfect mechanics. The program will not matter nearly as much as having a fantastic coach by your side watching to make sure you are moving well in these early years of your athletic development.

      I would also encourage you to play as many sports as possible right now. Doing so will set you up to succeed for many years to come in CrossFit or whatever you choose to pursue.

  • Jack LaZebnik

    CJ, first and foremost- thank you so much as always for the programming. It is truly wonderful programming and an extremely supportive community that is really great to be a part of. My question relates to the intent behind many of the workouts: in the military, units are assigned task and purposes to accomplish the mission. The task is what you’re expected to do, but the purpose is WHY you’re doing it or the intent behind it. I always love getting insight as to the intent behind certain WODs or templates, like this blog post. I certainly know everyone is extremely busy at Invictus, but posts like this are gold for us! Would it be possible to get occasional explanations as to the intent behind certain elements of a WOD? That way people might be able to tailor/scale/adjust appropriately. Thank you!!

    • Cj Martin

      I would love to say yes buddy, but we’d have to start asking people to pay for stuff like that. The intent behind this program is that we can give everyone our best ideas on programming concepts in a free online format that works for most – not all – of our following athletes. We have other programs where we work one on one with athletes and provide more of that detail, but with two little kids and lots of great athletes who need my attention, I have to safeguard some time somewhere.

      • Jack LaZebnik

        Absolutely- I completely understand. Like I said, thank you so much for the awesome programming- it is an amazing resource you are very generous to dedicate so much time to. Thanks!

  • Camille Douglas

    Hey CJ! I was at the Houston Invictus Athlete camp. I have just moved to a super small town in New Mexico. I don’t have access to any sort of public or private pool. My parents and I are still considering the possibility of getting a pool in our backyard. Until then, what do you suggest doing for active recovery on Thursday? It was great seeing you and Maddy at Regionals. Thanks!

    • Cj Martin

      I remember you Camille!!! Remember, taking a day off is always an option! πŸ™‚ If you can’t convince yourself to rest, do some very light rowing or hiking – get outside and enjoy some scenery.

      • Camille Douglas

        Thank you so much CJ! Looking forward to it πŸ™‚

  • David Silva

    Hi CJ, I am a member of Pt. Loma (6 AM class). Have never competed (except Sea of Green a couple weeks ago πŸ™‚ ). I am 52 (53 in Sept). The list of skills I don’t have is significantly longer than the “can do” side. Should/Could I try the Masters program vs continuing with the Performance programming? How would I incorporate that into my schedule? I do the 6 AM class as it’s really the only class that I can squeeze in (family, work, business travel, etc). I also attend running club when I’m in town. Thank you.

    • Cj Martin

      David, chat with Lindsey or Bryan in the morning. They will know you as an individual athlete and will be able to provide the best advice. If you let them know you’re interested in pursuing competitive fitness, they will work with you within the 6:00 a.m. training sessions.

  • Corey Christensen

    This will be my full first year at Invictus and I cant wait. I just wanted to thank you for the programming and all the amazing coaches for all the help and motivation. I have made more gains and improvment in the last 8 months than I have in the last 2 years. Invictus has changed my outlook on what I am capable of!

  • Kristen Dwan

    Hey thanks for the awesome programming! Would you ever consider using beyond the whiteboard for logging? It’s a super cheap and convenient way to track and I would love to have the ability to use it with the invictus community!

    • Cj Martin

      Kristen, we love having our members log results here, and all you have to do is click on your name to see all of your previous posts – which allows you to review your results and progress over time.

  • Justin Pfaff

    Just had some questions as a new member to the invictus cycle. First of all I’m a former college athlete, and athlete at crossfit affiliate in indiana. I had some friends refer me to your programming after doing some catalyst and my local affiliate programming. First, due to my hectic schedule, I will be doing most of my training from my garage gym, in which I lack some equipment like rowers, ropes, etc. Could things like that be improvised in WODs? Thanks guys.

    • Cj Martin

      Do your best, but understand that to prepare for competitions, we need to simulate the environment and movements to the greatest extent possible.

  • Josh Krehbiel

    Last year I always had trouble completing those wonderful Wednesday EMOMs. Question, should the focus of those EMOMs be aerobic conditioning? Meaning if we know something in it will put us in an anaerobic state early should we scale it from the beginning?

    Also, having followed the program for 2 years I know strength work is always done as drop between movements in a complex. If we struggle with TNG snatch and clean should we try to focus on this during the WODs? I also know it’s been mentioned that each person is different in terms of quick singles vs TNG.
    Thank you and your team for all that you do!!!!

    • Tyler Burton

      Same question here- the box step overs with the dumbbells never let me finish

    • Cj Martin

      Yes, the EMOMs should be for volume accumulation and teach you how to pace and keep moving for 30 minutes. I try to select simple movements that athletes can keep moving through. If a movement is selected that will make it impossible for you to keep moving, then yes, scale it down.

      Yes, drop the barbell during strength work, but make a concerted effort to keep the barbell in your hands during conditioning workouts.

  • jennifer haley

    Thanks for the great programming that you make available to us. If my next competition is Pensacola Beach Brawl September 26 (2 weeks after cycle 1 ends), would it be better for me to follow along but a week or so behind so as to peak at the competition or follow as is and compete 2 weeks into cycle 2?

    • Cj Martin

      No, I would suggest staying on schedule. You’ll still be in great shape for your Pensacola Beach competition.

  • Lisa

    Can we sign up to get these through email? The daily workouts?

    • Michele Vieux

      Hi Lisa,

      These workouts are available for free under our Competition Program on the blog!


  • Wilson Ospina

    Thank you as well from Ave Maria Florida , it’s truly an amazing opportunity to join you guys and continue to grow and learn from a distance, thank you for the amount of effort and heart that you place in guiding us through this journey of fitness. Many Blessings CJ to you and your team.


  • Penny Weinberger

    Want to primarily thank you for such fantastic and free online programming.. you have changed the life of my training, and I am ever indebted to u all and i have been following you like the bible, and been putting in alot of hard dedicated work since i started following your programming from the end of the open this year, and have seen such tremendous improvements so far.
    As I’m on vacation now..( my body needs it though i will do some workouts whilst I’m here of course with the stuff i brought with me..and my mind needs it -i lost my dad a few months back) and hope to come back with fresh energy. My
    Question is though, should I just pick up on the day I come back, and do only 4 weeks in this cycle, or should I start from the beginning of the cycle and be always 2 weeks behind?

    • Michele Vieux

      Hi Penny! Just hop in when you get back. This is a restoration cycle for the next few weeks so you can easily jump in with the others!

      • Penny Weinberger

        Thanks michele.. that makes me feel better!

  • Gina Cacchiotti

    I feel so blessed to have your programming to guide myself and all of our competitors from our box in our journey to set and work towards our individual goals in this great sport of Crossfit. I am also excited to be competing at the upcoming Granite Games. With that in mind and only 3 weeks out, would you recommend continuing to follow your day to day competitive workouts or start adjusting based on workouts they have released, etc?

  • Rusty

    Morning guys, hope you had a great Halloween! I wasn’t sure where to ask this on here but as a relative newbie could you tell me what the different training cycles are I keep reading about, how they’re different and the times they change. And love your programming and site, thanks!

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  • Ahmed Diaa

    Hello Coaches,

    I used to be following the Invictus Competitors program for a while last year and stopped around Sep’16 for an Oly program, however now I am off training since 1.5 months (as I was travelling a lot and relocated in a different country) Now I want to start the competitors program again and not sure where to start, should I start from the date mentioned in this article ? 3rd Aug’15 or where I can find the 2016th program.. Kindly guide me
    *Note: I know the opens is around the corner however I will just join for fun so I will keep training and do the open on the side and not the main focus, training cycle is.

    thanks a lot.

  • louwrens Fourie

    Good Day Team Invictus…

    I am new at following your Competition Program, just would like to have more info. On what week are we on, in this Cycle currently. And will this be a 6 or 8 Week Cycle

    Kind Regards