Benchmark workouts are a staple in CrossFit training and in most other strength and conditioning programs. If you’re taking your workouts seriously, it’s best that keep your scores, times and lifts in a journal or an online tracking system. One of the best ways to stay motivated is to continue to feel and see progress. The main way you’ll know if you’re progressing is by actually improving your score, time, lifts, amount to which you scale a movement, etc. It’s helpful to actually SEE your performance gains.
So, a question I’m frequently asked is, “how often should I retest benchmarks?”
First of all, you know how I feel about the word “should.” Clarify what you mean, read this post.
Here are some guidelines
1. Which ones to retest? Retest the ones that are related to what you’re currently focused on. For example, if your focus is doing your best in The Open, then retest workouts that have burpees, toes to bars, chest to bars, rowing, thrusters, wall balls, barbell cycling, muscle ups – you get the point. If you’re focused on building strength right now, throw in some tests like “Linda”, CrossFit Total, The Other Total, King Kong, etc. If you’re focused on your engine, test your mile run or 5k row each month. Your gymnastics? Throw in Nate or Nasty Girls. You get the point.
2. How often to retest? Retest a WOD or Benchmark about 1-2x a week. Again, this varies depending on how often you train, what your goals are, and what you’re focusing on. But, if you train pretty seriously for at least an hour a day, 5x a week then it would be helpful to throw in a benchmark or retest a WOD you’ve done in the past about once a week. This will help you gauge your fitness as well as help keep things fun. You want to continue to work on combinations that are specifically designed to help you improve your weaknesses, as well as individualized drills, skill and core work and strength. You don’t want to get in the habit of just doing whatever benchmark you see because you like it, it looks fun, or because others are doing it… because then you’re not going to be hitting the stuff that would be most helpful for you to do.
3. How long between retesting? It depends. But, as a general guideline 3-6 months is likely appropriate. There are times where you may want to retest something each week for a period of time, but not likely a Benchmark, Hero WOD, Open WOD, Max Lift, Regionals WOD or something that requires greater intensity. You may want to retest a WOD that you’ve done very recently so that you can see how a different strategy plays out (like during The Open). Or, you may retest a certain skill or work capacity piece more often (like 50 calorie row for time, 3 min max burpees for time, or 30 muscle ups for time) because you’re working hard on improving that area of your fitness. But, for the major benchmarks, you’ll likely want to have at least 3-6 months of consistent, focused training before retesting them again. You may go years without retesting certain benchmarks. You’ll always want to make sure that you have a clear purpose behind why you want to do it, which brings me to my last point.
4. Why retest? Have a clear purpose for doing it before you do it. You may want to retest some WOD because it’s a really fun one, and you’ve been training seriously for a while and it’s time to do something you enjoy. You may want to retest because you’ve been working on your barbell cycling each week since last Open and you’re ready to see if it’s paid off in a WOD like 16.3. You may want to try Cindy again because you did it when you just started CrossFit over a couple of years ago, and now you want to try it with RX pullups instead of with a band. You may want to do Diane because last time you did it you did too many HSPU unbroken at the beginning and spent a lot of time resting. Have a clear WHY before you jump into a WOD, talk it out with your coaches or training partners and make sure it fits well with your current training program. Make sure it makes sense to do, then, rock that shit out.
Programming is PART of what I do to help athletes perform their best. There are a lot of great programs out there, but you gotta understand that you’ll only get the best results if your mind is working for you. If you’re putting in a lot of hours in the box each week, but still wanting to perform better on a more consistent basis…then you gotta develop a more powerful mental game.
Interested in one-on-one coaching or programming? Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the details *limited spots avail each month*
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