Ben Bergeron is the coach of both the Fittest Man on Earth, Mat Fraser, and two-time Fittest Women on Earth, Katrin Davidsdottir. And with Brooke Wells joining Built by Bergeron, the 2017 CrossFit Games season will see Bergeron’s athletes in the hunt for the podium.

With less than three months from the start of the 2017 CrossFit Open, Bergeron shares his thoughts with Patrick Cummings on their new podcast, Chasing Excellence, on how to train leading up to and during the Open on his new podcast. Bergeron applies this to both athletes who are Open-level athletes and those who are shooting for Regionals and beyond.

Here is a summary of Bergeron’s insights:

When is the right time to start focusing on the Open?

  • Now (mid-November) is the time to start thinking about it, but don’t take it serious just yet.
  • Be full speed, ready to be peaking in January.

What’s the best way to fit the Open into my normal training schedule?

  • Depends on what you want to get out of the Open
    • For the Open-level athlete, “we’re not doing normal training weeks during the Open. It’s our competition.”
      • Thursday
        • Walk-Through. Do very generic, just blood-flow type stuff. “Most of our athletes don’t like to come off a rest day.. It’s an active recovery day.
        • 12-16 min EMOM of 12 cal row & modified round of Cindy (3 pull-ups, 6 push-ups, 9 squats) alternating.
      • Friday
        • Hit the workout as hard as possible, assuming you will not repeat.
        • “If this is your competition, your Super Bowl, your year, you don’t want to do it one and done. But that’s the mindset you need to have.”
        • Nothing else after the workout
      • Saturday
        • Active Recovery Day
      • Sunday
        • Skills and drills day.
      • Monday
        • Attack it again
      • Tuesday
        • Rest Day
      • Wednesday
        • The “On” day that week.

Is it better to cycle strength and intensity training, or stay balanced?

  • “A blend between the two works the best.”
  • Bergeron’s see more success maintaing balance throughout the year. That is, not periodizing.
  • Doing a seesaw strength followed by conditioning results in losing all the strength gains when you solely focus on the conditioning.
  • Instead, Bergeron biases towards strength in the fall and conditioning as the Open nears.
    • In the fall, Bergeron programs three days of strength training including Olympic lifting and squats. Low reps and high weight.
    • For Regionals and Games athletes, heavy barbell training drops to once a week following the Open.

What is the CrossFit Open testing?

Bergeron doesn’t think that Dave Castro is looking to find the fittest in the Open. Rather, he believes the Open is testing work capacity. It’s who can do the most work in the time domains. For athletes who are looking to get to Regionals or do well in the Open, focus on the 15 movements and get really good at them. Bergeron recommends for these athletes to focus on these known Open movements rather than the possible new movements or Regional or Games-level elements such as rope climbs or D-Balls or prowler pushes.

What can athletes do to on the day of the Open workout to improve their performance?

Bergeron recommends doing just one round of the Open workout, time it, and stop. From there, take a step back and analyze the pace you should start with. Too often than not, Bergeron concludes, athletes go out too fast and it costs them in the later rounds. Start out slower and maintain the pace.

When should you pay attention to the leaderboard?

“There’s no value in leaderboarding. There is not a scenario where it pays to do it over the long haul,” says Bergeron. If you are in the cusp of advancing to Regionals, Bergeron does believe there can be value in watching the leaderboard and doing the workout one more time right before the subsmission deadline.


Bergeron and Cummings have released three podcasts so far and it’s a good listen for tips and thoughts on how to succeed in CrossFit as an athlete and a coach and in life.

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