We get this a lot. Most people see our social media or check out our app and assume it is yet another workout journal app. This couldn’t be further from the truth. WODRight is a weight recommendation formula for Crossfit athletes to use in in their conditioning workouts. That’s it.
It was created as a response to athlete’s asking me how much weight to use for each WOD. I had been coaching at Crossfit Bethesda and Crossfit Metro Center for about two years before I set out to tackle the issue. Athletes always asked me how much weight they should use, and I would ask how much weight they had used the last time they did the movement in a workout, make an adjustment up or down based on the volume of the current wod and hope they wouldn’t ask how I came up with the number. Most of the time, it was based on my own perception of what the athlete was capable of, absent any real data.
I was frustrated by this and constantly asked other Crossfit coaches how they decided on RX weights for workouts, or how they recommended weights to athletes. The answers I got were always vague and subjective, with one exception: coaches that programmed not an RX weight, but a percentage. I realized they were on to something, but they always came up short when an athlete didn’t have a max for that movement.
I set out to resolve this and began researching anything and everything related to weightlifting. I found Prilepin’s chart to be the most useful analysis of appropriate load and volume recommendations. I studied relative percentages of snatch, squat, deadlift, and clean and jerk maxes of weightlifters. I started experimenting with the athletes at Crossfit Metro Center.
The end result of this is a formula for recommending weights that goes something like this:
1. Assume the athlete knows some sort of max. To make any real recommendation, we need some measure of absolute strength. (The original version of WODRight used the Back squat, Press, and Deadlift maxes for all recommendations, but the newest version allows tracking of maxes across 21 different movements for more accurate recommendations.)
-1a. If you have a rep max (ie 5RM) instead of a 1 rep max, use a calculator to convert it. WODRight uses three estimates and averages them.
2. Convert that to a 1RM for the movement you intend to perform. This was the tricky part for us, as it required a lot of research to figure out what common ratios there were between movements for Crossfit Athletes.
3. Make an adjustment to that weight based on the total volume of reps you intend to perform. This assumes there is an inverse relationship between volume and weight. This seemed pretty intuitive to us as you would not try to perform 100 reps for time with your 1RM, nor would you do 10 reps in a wod with 10% of your max as it would just be a waste of time.
Let’s work through an example, using Fran
And let’s say we have an Athlete (we will call him Matt) that has the following lifts:
Front Squat 3RM: 185
Press 3RM: 115
How much weight should Matt use on the thrusters for the workout? For starters, let’s convert those numbers to 1RM:
Front Squat 1RM (estimated) 203.3
Press 1RM (estimated) 126.4
Now, we typically observe a 1RM thruster to be about 117% of a press max, so we will assume Matt can move 147.88 (we will call it 145) in a 1RM thruster.
Finally, we need to do a volume adjustment to this weight. Fran has 45 reps, and we like using an adjusted rule of 100: so if we are doing between 1-19 reps we will use 80% of max, 20-29 reps, 70%, 30-39 reps, 60%, 40-49 reps, 50%. This is based on study of Grace times we will detail in another post.
So, based on these numbers, we would recommend a weight of 75lbs for Matt to use for Fran. This is 20lbs lighter than the usual RX of 95lbs for a man, but based on Matt’s strength we believe 75lbs to be a better recommendation. This weight should allow him to get through the workout at a rapid pace while still challenging him. If Matt wanted to, he could probably slog through it with 95lbs, but our guess is that his strength will tire before his endurance and he will lose the intended metabolic stimulus of the wod.
There you have it, a simple system for recommending weights to each athlete. Try this system in your own training and you will see how flexible it is in challenging beginner and advanced athletes alike. And if this math is too much for you, the app will be available real soon.