How J.R. Howell Programs for CrossFit Crash // Shut Up & Scribble Ep 26

Taylor Self (00:02):

Yeah, I went too far with that. He got upset. Boy, we’re live in the group chat. I mean, that’s fine dude.

Will Branstetter (00:08):

That’s okay. Do you ever think about this intro and just how this is the worst part of every show? I was thinking about it today as I was walking out to my car. I was like, what are we going to do for an intro? And this is like episode 26 and it’s just like, it’s always just,

JR Howell (00:23):

Or you could just play the

Speaker 4 (00:25):

Ladies and gentlemen.

Speaker 5 (00:32):

So keep the political commentary to yourself. Or if someone once said,

Will Branstetter (00:36):

Shut up and scribble

Taylor Self (00:51):

Connor, shut up. And Dittle baby. Gentle. Who’s diddling today?

JR Howell (00:54):

How’s the week been? Taylor?

Taylor Self (00:57):

What do you mean? How’s the week been?

JR Howell (00:58):

How’s it been training?

Taylor Self (01:00):

It’s been Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday is what it’s been.

JR Howell (01:03):


Will Branstetter (01:06):

Dang. Are you down? Bad bro.

Taylor Self (01:08):

Am I

Will Branstetter (01:08):

What? Are you down bad?

Taylor Self (01:10):

What does that mean? Is that a hip thing? Is that trendy king?

Will Branstetter (01:14):

That’s trendy king A couple years ago, but down bad you down on yourself.

Taylor Self (01:21):

It’s been a good week. Training’s been good. Workout’s been good.

JR Howell (01:25):

Will you been in the gym?

Will Branstetter (01:26):

I have actually every day. Wow. For the past two weeks,

JR Howell (01:31):

It’s been kind of a stressful week for me.

Taylor Self (01:33):

Four. Why?

JR Howell (01:36):

I dunno. See, usually I have it set up where my affiliate dues and then my insurance that I pay for the gym kind of hits at the same time. And my insurance this year was more than my affiliate dues.

Will Branstetter (01:49):


JR Howell (01:50):

Yeah. It’s like, I don’t know. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do next year though. I’m going to call Patrick Mitrovich State Farm Insurance.


If you’re located in South Carolina, North Carolina, or Georgia, you’re looking to save money on your personal or business insurance, call or send Patrick an email. He’s an awesome dude. He’s the first sponsor of Shut up and Again, that’s 8 3 8 1 8 6 9 8 0. One more time? That’s 8 0 3 8 1 8 6 9 8 0. Give Patrick a call. Great dude. Been in the CrossFit space since 2011, most of which has been in a coaching role, which is really cool. And yeah, he’s our show’s first sponsor. We need more of you guys. If you’re interested in looking to grow your business, climb with Sue us. Hit us up. Shut up and scribble Instagram account or one of our personal accounts. You’ll see ’em up on the screen.

Taylor Self (02:57):

And Rambler, if you star 69, I’m coming for you in the comments, baby. Okay. Got to watch

Will Branstetter (03:01):

It. Hey, actually, I bought a new house and I had to bundle my home in auto assurance with State Farm. I did. It was easy. Called him up and said, Hey, Jake. Yeah, I called Jake directly, reserved a spot on his Google calendar. He said it was full. He has a family and life, but made time for me, called him up, bundled that home in auto. Got a discount, it was easy. Now I just log in my State Farm app, just set on autopay. I just check in every once in a while and make sure that

JR Howell (03:37):

Set it on autopay because yeah,

Taylor Self (03:40):

He’s rolling in.

Will Branstetter (03:42):

I don’t even check the in and out.

JR Howell (03:45):

Still going.

Taylor Self (03:45):

Can you actually mute people in the chat? Yeah. I didn’t realize that was a thing.

Will Branstetter (03:51):

Oh man,

JR Howell (03:53):

I guess. So today I’m set up and SC we’re going to get a little bit into how I program for crash. Just kind of my weekly process. And then since we’ve been privy to some insider info on some of these Dubai events, we’ll go on over to their Instagram page, roll through ’em, talk about some details that maybe haven’t been released that are now publicized at least to some people, and break down that programming a little bit.

Will Branstetter (04:22):

You want to take a look at your whiteboard?

JR Howell (04:24):

Yeah, we can do that. Can we actually start off with some bullet points?

Taylor Self (04:30):

Yeah. From the Google Doc?

JR Howell (04:32):


Taylor Self (04:33):

Well you have those. Am I supposed to, did I share that with you? Will

Will Branstetter (04:38):


JR Howell (04:41):

So essentially, for those people who are just listening, we’re going to get this up on the screen. First and foremost, and Taylor talked about this last week, is I program for my population. I program for my members. I don’t program for someone that I don’t know that lives in Italy or lives in California or lives in South Africa. I program for the people who I know are coming to do the workouts five to six to seven days a week. To me, that’s the most important thing that a gym programmer


Can do. So you look at what you have, you look at their needs, you listen to their goals, you pay attention to some of their wants, and I’ll get into that a little bit too. But you program for those people. So I’ve got people at Jason’s level who do the class workouts weekly. And then I’ve got people who haven’t worked out in 20 or 25 years and they’re coming in, they’re overweight, they’re trying to get off medications, they’re trying to get healthy for life. So the range is huge at crash. But over time, I’ve listened to lots of feedback, been willing to change, and I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned as far as programming for the gym goes is that like five years ago, no one had kids and now we’ve probably got like 25 or 30 kids, five years or younger. So a lot of the goals of those parents, a lot of the time that they can allocate to training, a lot of that has changed significantly.


So being able to adjust as I go has been a really big thing. We’ll start with goals, prioritize needs over wants. I usually tell people if there’s something you don’t want to do, it’s probably the thing that you need to do. I take that upon myself listening to the oso positive feedback I get from my members week to week about things that they didn’t like or things that they did. Usually the things that they did not like are things that I’ll just continue to program varying goals. And then most importantly, safe, hard and long and long being quotation marks. I always want to keep the members safe. I never want to jeopardize them into an injury scenario. I want it to be hard. I would say if there’s a general consensus that crashes that they like to grind, they want to do hard workouts, which makes it easier on me from a programming standpoint because they want the challenge. They want to be pushed and they want to get done with every session feeling like they did something and then long Taylor can attest to this too. I think my general programming bias for my affiliate is longer time domain workouts. It really that long also means for longevity. So I want to program things that I know is not going to beat their body down over the years to where they can keep doing CrossFit as old as they get and as long as they want to.

Taylor Self (07:42):

Just an FYI, this formatting, this is my handy work. So if it looks super professional and not like a third grade school project, you’re welcome.

JR Howell (07:55):

White background, black letters couldn’t be easier dude. And


Since Taylor went last week, it gives me the opportunity to compare our styles and how he works with another person. I don’t work with anyone, so that’s a huge difference in the two of us. They have a huge list of all the movements they can think of and they kind of look week to week and be like, okay, which of these movements did we do this week? Alright, cool. Let’s make sure variance stays a really high priority. Let’s hit these movements the next week. And it’s, it’s a very systematic approach, which I think is really cool. And something I may steal because I know in programming there’s movements that I don’t hit as often and I’ll just kind of forget about ’em and then I’ll come back to ’em and a lot of the members will say, dude, it’s been forever since we just did good old fashioned kettlebell swings.


I’m glad that we did those. It really lit up my grip. And I’m like, yeah, I could probably get too caught up in kettlebell stuff, or I’m sorry in dumbbell stuff or barbell work or sandbag work and I just, hey, some of those really old school grassroots CrossFit movements can be the best. So weekly checklist, I kind of just have about 10 things that are non-negotiables for me from a programming standpoint. The schedule of the week, I always program partner workouts Wednesday and Saturday. I know there are gyms that don’t do partner workouts at all. Their programmers just don’t like ’em or their members don’t like ’em. Something that I found years and years ago actually encourage people to put out more effort. Having someone looking at you, waiting on you to go, if me and Taylor are doing a workout back and forth and we’re going to go every five power snatches and we’re going to do a hundred power snatches for time, I will rest a lot longer doing 50 for time than I will doing a hundred with Taylor because when he’s done and he’s staring at me, I have no excuse to rest when I’m doing it by myself.


I can rest as long as I want. That pressure’s not there. So just that simple, Hey, I’m willing to push myself harder for someone else than I’m willing to push myself. Just for me really stuck early on and I’ve been programming two partner workouts a week for years and years. Eventually that may change, but every Wednesday and Saturday is partner, so I take that into account. Partner workouts in nature tend to be a little longer and you usually will get some kind of a work to rest ratio. Trunk. I program midline stuff a lot and there are people back, well, if you deadlift and you squat and you go overhead and you do overhead stability, you’re always hitting the trunk. That’s true. I’m just saying this from a standpoint of trunk flexion movements, whether it be static like a L sit, but more often at crash, gh, HD situps, toaster bar situps, any of that stuff.


I usually will hit that multiple times a week. So a lot of trunk work, sled work. I’m lucky enough to have a 60 foot six lane or so I can make it eight, sometimes turf and a bunch of dog sleds. So we do a lot of sled work, pushing, dragging, reverse, dragging, hand over hand, all different sled variations. I’ve found that the more sled work that we’ve done, the less often I hear about hip and knee injuries in the gym. And I think that’s huge, especially with the amount of squatting, the amount of lunging, stuff like that that people do. Loading the body sled work only concentric. It hurts so bad, you can do it light, you can do it heavy. It’s just a ton of variations and it’s something that I’ve found a lot of carryover in like myself, not squatting super heavy two or three times a week, but if I push a heavy sled a couple times a week, I can maintain a lot of leg strength.


So skills, lots of high skill work week to week. Something that I think having a lot of competitors in the gym, it’s something that they want to stay sharp on. So seeing muscle up variations, seeing rope climb variations, all that kind of stuff. Is there weekly a strict push and a pull? We’re going to do some kind of strict pressing, whether it be dips, pushups, bench press, shoulder press, there’s going to be something strict handstand push up, whether it’s loaded or unloaded, and then some kind of strict pull every single week, a strict pull-up variation, legless, rope climb, hand over hand sled. There’s always going to be some kind of strict push and pull. And then I would say odd objects or a big focal point. I try not to overdo the barbell. Again, this is just from experience. A lot of the people that had nagging backs, nagging shoulders, the general consistency was, Hey, if I lift heavy and I do barbell cycling and workouts more than two or three days a week, it’s going to beat me up and I want to be able to train five to six days a week.


So I listen to that and we do a lot more sandbag, dumbbell, stuff like that, heavy. I try to go heavy twice a week. The sample programming week that I did had two heavier lifting sessions. They both happened to be Olympic weight lifting and we’ll get into that. So a snatch day and a clean day. But in general, I’ve talked about this on another show. Usually if I’m doing some kind of progression, linear or not, we’ll go six to eight weeks. I’ll pick two days generally Monday and Tuesday or Monday and Friday so that people know what days they’re going to get that strength work. A lot of people have a goal of getting stronger and that linear progression, I would like to just do it randomized all the time. But yeah, sometimes just listening to what people like, listening to what people want is kind of the way that I’ve gone about it.


And then we’ll switch it up every six to eight weeks. So if we’re doing some power lifting and we’re squatting and we’re doing overhead press, then the next time it comes around we may do power clean and overhead squat or something like that. And then lastly, pace intervals because of the schedule. Wednesday partner, Saturday partner Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday tend to be pretty aggressive and there tends to be by Thursday. A lot of people who are moving a little slower don’t really have the juice that they do on the earlier days of the week and still want to come in and train. So typically you’ll see a Thursday look a little bit more like cyclical, maybe some skill work. Like today there was handstand walk, double under box, jump over and bench press. So there was a good bit of bounding. Most weeks is more so machine work, which we’ll see in the sample week that I wrote out, but generally you’ll get that on a Thursday. So pace intervals, lots of time on Thursdays just for people to work on their aerobic base, but also for them to kind of use as today Michelle programmed rest day or swim intervals. So kind of in that same light.


Taylor, say something.

Taylor Self (14:54):

Well, I was going to say something initially. Well, do you ever take into account your odd object as one of your heavy days per week? Or is it typically barbell Olympic and do you Olympic lift in both snatch and clean and jerk every week? Is that one of your 10 things?

JR Howell (15:17):

Yeah, I’ll answer the last one first. No, the sample week that I did, I’m basing that off of one of the eight benchmark tests that the classes did this week and on Monday they did a double DT variant. So I know a lot of them are going to want to work on that barbell cycling in all capacities, whether it be a strength capacity or conditioning capacity for the next six months. So I was just like, okay, we’ll give ’em some complex work, complex work, and I just chose to do it on Monday, on Friday. But no, a lot of times if we’re doing heavy days with barbells, it is not Olympic. Typically the weightlifting you’ll see more so in the conditioning, even if it’s something like let’s let’s say every five minutes for five sets, 400 meter run, five deadlift, and every round you have to go up on your deadlift and you have to end at your five rep max for the day. So that’s a way to get a heavy day in, but put something in front of it with interference to get the heart rate up. But simple answer, no, we don’t. Heavy Olympic lift weekly. Do you do cut match

Taylor Self (16:30):

Or a clean and jerk with a barbell in some form, whether it’s light.

JR Howell (16:34):

If we do dumbbell snatch one day, then more than I’m not going to feel pressured to program barbell snatch later

Taylor Self (16:40):

In week. Got it.

JR Howell (16:41):

Okay. Yeah, I would say the movement pattern gets hit for sure, but if we do kettlebell cleaning jerks, then I’m not going to freak out if they don’t have a barbell in the front rack for sure. Yeah. So there are days that I’ve said every minute on the minute for five minutes, 60 foot sled push as heavy as possible, a HAP and that I’m treating that like, no, this is heavy day. This is not for conditioning. So I want you to challenge yourself to be able to do the 60 foot unbroken every time for five minutes. So I do that occasionally, but typical the heavy days are with barbell or dumbbell.

Taylor Self (17:22):

Do you see this? Everyone say hi to Chan Young, John Young love you, Chon. He hates me. That’s hilarious. Golly.

JR Howell (17:35):

Alright, cool. So yeah, we’ll get into the week. So Taylor actually used two weeks that he and Andy programmed out, which was probably a better idea because I just sat down and wrote out a week that I hadn’t used before. It’s kind of a weird time right now because we just started those eight benchmarks. We’re going to do those every Monday and Tuesday for the next month, and I will program around those tests for the remainder of the week. Typically what I do is I program Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday out and then by Wednesday I see how I feel. I do all the class workouts. I think it’s important that gym owners do what they dose out to other people. If I want to make changes for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, that’s what I do. So I’ll typically make the workouts a hundred percent Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


I’ll just have movements written down that I’d like to do. But let’s just say I have sled work tomorrow and today we did a lot of bounding and people are like, dude, my calves are like that DT workout that we did. My calves were sore from that just from getting to extension so much and then we did the bounding today. Well then maybe I’ll change the run for tomorrow to a different machine. So I think that is important to have that wiggle room. So I will not write out typically six days in a row and just say, this is what it’s going to be and it cannot change.


And the members get their workout the night before. I used to use wi, people used to put in their scores, people were super competitive. That kind of went away. So I really didn’t have a need to use that anymore. And I don’t really like the idea of telling them to workout when they get there. I do think for some people in their schedules, especially parents where they know they can’t train on certain days, then giving them the workouts all in advance, I would just have a ton of people being like, Hey, well I’m actually going to do Friday’s workout today even though it’s Tuesday because I’m not going to be here. And then if you get too caught up in that, no one’s doing the class and everyone’s doing a workout from later in the week.

Taylor Self (19:44):

I love how before you start, I love how Monday and Fridays lifting mirror one another just for the different Olympic variation. I do that on S-M-T-P-A lot. If I have a clean and jerk or a snatch technique day, I like to mirror it. It’s really cool. So I fuck with that.

JR Howell (20:00):

Cool. Oh yeah, and I’m going to try to forget, some people aren’t going to be able to watch this. So Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday are up on the whiteboard right now. I’m going to start with Monday, try not to jump around too much and I’ll go through each day kind of what I thought about when I wrote it and then I’ll let Taylor kind of give some feedback, ask some questions, stuff like that. We did last week. So for the strength work every 90 seconds for eight sets, snatch, pull, hang power snatch, and I would tell them that that needed to be below the knee overhead squat. And then I have written underneath across meaning they need to pick one weight and use it across all eight sets. So a lot of times I will not use percentages. I’ll either give them instruction like a moderately heavy heavyweight for the day.


But generally whenever we Olympic lift, I really, really try to stress quality over quantity that goes for reps and load. So I will tell people, hey, the goal is 24 for 24, so all 24 reps that you see on the screen, there are no misses, right? Because I think getting people used to failing reps is what helped me back a lot in my weightlifting early on. And there’s just, gosh, I can’t stress enough how important it’s to get the movement pattern grooved because when you do that and you move well, the weight just adds up a lot easier. And then after that, this workout is basically Randy. So for time, 75 power snatches at 75 and 55 and it’s two minute on, one minute off. So you’ll buy in with 15 or 12 calories on the ski erg, then you’ll do 15 GH HD situps and with the remainder of the two minutes max reps on the snatches, and let’s say you get 25 on interval one, you’ll rest a minute and then restart on the ski with 50 reps left on the snatch. And then I have a cap of 14 minutes, which is five intervals on this. On average you’re going to have to be getting 15 in interval

Will Branstetter (22:02):

If let’s say some guy similar to me. Even with a cap, you’d scale this. Do you offer scaling options or do you just kind of do it by person?

JR Howell (22:13):

Sure. No, we would give several scaling options before during the brief. And what I would tell people on this workout specifically is, Hey, you need time for the snatch. The snatch is not a load dependent thing today. It’s very light, everyone can do it, but if you don’t have time, you can’t get reps. So what I would tell people is, hey, the skier needs to be done under a minute. The GDSs need to be done in 30 seconds. That gives you 30 seconds. The transitions we would set up would be really close together. So that gives you 30 seconds to do snatches. The snatches need to be done unbroken. You need to try to hold on for chunks and not do singles. So someone starting out, I mean 75 GHD is the maximum amount they’re going to get. And I’m going to be honest with you, this is probably the lowest number of GH HD setups I’ll ever program in a workout. Unless it was like a chunk of 50 in a row, it was in a chipper or something, it’s going to be upwards of 75 to a hundred. So I would definitely tell people where you should probably scale time-wise is going to be on the skier unless it was a brand new person and then I would not have them doing full range of motion ghcs on the first day. What do you say to some,

Will Branstetter (23:29):

Why do you do that with ghcs?

JR Howell (23:33):

I have found that until they really know how to do them correctly, it does set some people up, especially for some weird low back funkiness or maybe for abdo. So I usually will have them still get on the apparatus and do gh HD sit to parallel. So they’ll go to parallel with a soft knee, they’ll still fire the hip flexors and come up and touch the pad, but I’ll let them add range of motion as they prove that they can do that correctly.

Will Branstetter (24:02):

But also why is, like you said, this is probably the lowest volume of ghcs you’d program. Why?

JR Howell (24:10):

Because of the intensity here. So this two minutes on, one minute off this sending me a maximum time, worked of 10 minutes with rest, but for a lot, I mean there are people in the gym that are going to get this done and I would say probably four. I doubt anyone’s going to do it in three, but there’re going to be people doing it in four and going to be on the floor afterwards. So this is a really high intensity day. It’s more of a sprint interval type day versus a pacing interval that I talked about earlier. So because the intensity is high, the volume does not need to be super high.

Taylor Self (24:43):

What do you say to people that are like, oh my god, GHS are like, oh, if I weren’t competing I’d never do them or they’re bad for you?

JR Howell (24:52):

No, I mean that’s interesting. I don’t know if athletes have a bad experience with them kind of causing them some discomfort and being able to recover from that. Or if people just think that the extreme flexion and that

Taylor Self (25:09):

You shouldn’t be an extreme flexion and hyperextension.

JR Howell (25:12):

Sorry, hyperextension. Thank you. It’s just bad for you. It’s not a position that your body was made to be in. You should be prone on the apparatus using it for hamstringing and glute development and not supine doing situps. I think a lot of people maybe just think of it that way, that you’re kind of bastardizing the apparatus based on the way we use it. Why

Taylor Self (25:38):

Do you think they think that?

JR Howell (25:40):

I don’t know.

Taylor Self (25:41):

I think they don’t know how to do ’em correctly. ghcs are safe if you do them right.

Will Branstetter (25:46):

You want to take a look at this comment from messaging CrossFit before we continue on. Can you talk about how you run your warmups? I feel like that part of class can get repetitive and are more veteran elite athletes roll their eyes going over the snatch progressions every week.

JR Howell (25:59):

Yeah, this is a really good question. So for a day like this and for Friday,


There’ll be a general warmup on the board that’s briefed and then we’ll probably tell people, Hey, in about 10 minutes we’re all going to get an empty barbell and we’re going to do an empty barbell warmup. And that may be anything from behind the next strict presses to good mornings to kazak squats to whatever. But I do want to make sure, especially when it gets colder outside that people do get some reps in before they start adding weight to the bar. Because you know how people are, the colder it gets, the less they want to warm up sometimes and they’ll just start putting weight on the bar and then they’ll get hurt

Will Branstetter (26:40):

And then you’ll have to take out a higher insurance policy.

JR Howell (26:42):

Sure, absolutely. Patrick will be working overtime. So yeah, if it’s something like, this is a really good question. There’s definitely an empty barbell warmup program that the coach will lead You ready to go to Tuesday.

Taylor Self (26:56):

Can I address one thing?

JR Howell (26:58):


Taylor Self (27:00):

If you are set up correctly on the GH ht, you’re not going into extreme hyper ring section extension of your spine. You’re going into maybe some degree of extension and at the top some degree of flexion. But if you do them properly, really your abs are used to stabilize your spine and your hip flexors are where it’s all the range of motions coming from. That’s why they tell you to set your butt up on the back edge of the pad so that you don’t reach a severe degree of hyperextension. And that’s why people who sit there fucking stupid butts all the way at the front of the pad bastardize the movement and blow their backs out. All right.

JR Howell (27:35):

Yeah, GHD definitely a polarizing movement I would say just as much as a kipping pull up.

Taylor Self (27:40):

I love them.

JR Howell (27:41):

Alright, so on Tuesday, this is just a conditioning day. AM wraps something I didn’t say when I had principals up on the board. I will generally program for time over amrap always. I found that amwraps just tend to be a way out and people just get saved by the clock and so they’ll just keep watching the clock, keep watching the clock, okay, I’m going to be done. I would rather program an aggressive time cap any day of the week than an amrap because even though people know they may not have the fitness to finish it, there’s something about having work to do that you didn’t get done that bothers you as an athlete. It kind of frustrates you to the point where you’ll actually push to get more of that work done. And that’s just something like psychosocial that I’ve noticed over the years. So on this day though, two seven minute amwraps, back to back one-to-one rest.


This is really important, not taking to account the partner workouts. There will be one day a week of one-to-one. So the same number of time work as the same rest interval. I think that’s really important for people to be able to go hard rest the amount of time they worked go hard again. Alright, so that repeatability within the same workout. So this one is a seven minute am wrap, 28 drag rope double unders, 14 feedback step ups, and that is 70 and 50 to a 24 and a 27 minute rest. And then another seven minute am wrap 21 box jump overs with a step down requirement at 24 inches and 20 and then 21 wall balls. So a lot of times I’ll have the females and the males use the same height box. It just depends on the stimulus of the workout. I’m not just doing it because I feel like being mean that day today in this workout, the females are going to have a harder time doing the 10 foot target with the 14 pound ball. So I thought that just to kind of balance it out, the time-wise a little bit, keeping their box 20 inches was the right call. So yeah, what you have here is like a bounding day and then you’ve got a leg day with it. So you’ve got a single leg movement with the step up and then 21 wall balls. And when I wrote this workout, I’m thinking that there are going to be people who can get five rounds on both.



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