We will be starting the Wendler Approach in the near future to work on our strength as a gym. Coach LaDee has written up an explanation to this approach. Read up and prepare yourselves. I really believe this will go a long ways in our preparation for future events that we attend as a gym.

The following was written by Coach LaDee:


The program is split up into cycles, each cycle consists of four waves.  Each wave is made up of four workouts, one for each lift.  Each workout is based on the three sets of the major movement followed by a variety of accessory work WOD’s.  Sets and reps remain the same for the main movements in each wave.  During the fourth and final week of the cycle, you return to a 5 rep scheme using a submaximal weight.  This built-in deload week allows for recover and recuperation, setting you up to come back stronger with each passing cycle.

Before starting the program, you will need to know your one rep max for each one of the big four.  From there, calculate 90% and use that 90% figure as if it were your real 1RM to calculate the percentages for the weeks. The idea is to undershoot so as to get better quality work and avoid failure.

Here’s the basic structure:

Wave 1 (week 1): 65%x5,  75%x5,  85%x5 or more

Wave 2 (week 2): 70% x 3, 80% x 3, 90% x 3 or more

Wave 3 (week 3): 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% X1 or more

Wave 4 (week 4): 40% x 5, 50% x 5, 60% x 5 (no more)

The final set for the first 3 weeks should be done all out, attempting as many reps as possible.

There is one point that Wendler is adamant, it’s the ego.  You must check your ego at the door and focus on the program.  If your program says you are in for 3 reps at 275, don’t try to impress your friends by attempting 325.  The whole program is periodized such that you are riding bigger and bigger waves and constantly making progress.  Jumping the gun in week one will set you back in week two, creating a domino effect.  Over-exertion will leave you spinning your wheels.  You should be expected to gain over many months no more than 10 pounds a month on the squat and deadlift and 5 pounds on the press.

After each cycle (4 weeks), add 10 lbs to the previous 1RM figure that you had been working with for the squats and deadlift and 5 lbs to the press.  Recalculate your working sets and start lifting for the next 4 weeks.

No or light Olympic lifts are performed during this programming, but rather, focusing on techniques to be able to perform those lifts once you have been able to get stronger with these basic lifts.

This is usually done after some good stretching and mobility has been done.  Lifting usually only takes 10-15 minutes followed by a WOD or METCOM.   I believe you will see huge improvements in the strength of your members in their cleans, thrusters, and even a lot of the bar work due to the core strength that this also builds.  It’s important to teach members good lifting technique prior to beginning this program.



Wendler actually uses Back squat, bench press, deadlift and strict press.  I feel that it’s important to incorporate front squat in place of the bench press as that is the technique that will help build strength for cleans, thrusters, snatches, etc.  Bench press is good for building chest muscles but not in a way that allows for elongation of those muscles as is needed in CrossFit movements. I also feel that rather than using 90% 1RM for front squats, we should use the true 1RM.  The rationale behind this is that this movement has the most effect on the quadriceps and it has less spinal compression than the back squat due to less weight on the bar. You also get less spinal flexion as you have to stay upright or you will lose your balance and drop the bar which makes it a safer exercise to perform.