Beat the Fives

July 28, 2017

(Circa 2013)

Ryan Cage’s definition of “Beat the Five (or Ten)” – perform a higher number of reps than five or ten. For example, if you have to perform 50 pull ups, make sure you hit AT LEAST six or eleven pull ups every time you have to break. 

We ALL crave easy, clean and simple in ALL aspects of our lives.  We want a clean, orderly house where the dishes are not only washed, but put away because lets face it, emptying the dishwasher sucks!  We want a fast, seamless check-in and departure at the airport.  We want to watch our favorite TV shows uninterrupted and commercial free. 

However, life is not easy and often gives you the middle finger.  It doesn’t care what you want.  The dishwasher is never emptied…EVER.  By the time you empty it, it’s time to fill it back up and run another load.  The airport is the worst, and if your traveling with kids…you’re f*cked.  I have single-handedly wheeled three large suitcases and two car seats by myself from the car only to reach the check-in counter in a full post-WOD sweat to realize I left my wallet in the car.   And kids always poop in the security line or right after you board the plane…ALWAYS.   As for TV shows, I have about 20 favorites so it’s extremely difficult to keep up with three children to feed, entertain, and bathe.  I find that watching them in the home office during work hours is most effective (just kidding Allen).

Yes, completing reps by “fives” is easy, clean and simple.  And when you are 20 minutes into Fight Gone Bad, it’s common to find yourself working toward a target # that is divisible by five.  Well in the CrossFit world I like to think of things a little differently.  I don’t want easy, clean and simple.  I want to get things dirty and messy (and NO that is not in a sexual way).  With CrossFit always being constantly varied you never know what you’re going to get when it comes to movements, time domain, task, and/or rep count.  So when I walk into the Box and I see what is on the WOD board, I start to mentally prepare myself to “Beat the Five (or Ten)” and begin my game plan.  Now yes, this could seem to be a very “clean” way to approach a CrossFit WOD, but I assure you it’s about to get VERY messy.


For example, the other day we did the crazy main site chipper:

20 Wall Balls @ 20/14#

20 Sit Ups

20 Box Jumps @ 24/20”

20 Cleans @ 135/95#

20 Double Unders

20 DB Thrusters @ 35/20#

20 Pull ups

20 OH Squats @ 95/65#

20 KB Swings @ 1.5pd/1pd

20 Push Press @ 95/65#

20 Ring Dips

20 SDHP @ 95/65#

20 Burpees

20 Back Squats @ 135/95#

20 GHD Sit-ups or Supermans

20 Walking Lunges

20 Deadlifts @ 135/95#

20 Knees to Elbow

20 Front Squats @ 135/95#


So when I looked at this I thought to myself, “OK, Wall Balls, Sit ups, & Box Jumps will be all unbroken, but after that it will be time to start breaking things up.”  In order to “Beat the Five (or Ten)” you have to be mentally & physically prepared to “break things up”.  When cleans came up I made sure I beat the ten and got eleven before I dropped the bar…for me this was a mental victory.  It allowed me to get past the half-way point (even if it was only by one rep), but I knew that when I picked up that bar again it was a simple nine more reps. I did that for the entire WOD, maybe not eleven reps, but I made sure I got past the #s divisible by five every time.  I made sure during this WOD I pushed myself to the brink of failure, got that five second breather and I was right back into an exercise. 


This strategy that I’ve been using has helped me succeed my goals of getting through the challenging WODs we all encounter when we walk into a box.  It has helped me improve my Fran time, helped me meet one of my CrossFit goals of having a Sub-two minute Grace, but most importantly it helps me pace myself better.  When I first started CrossFit I was all “3,2,1, Go Go Go Go Go Go” and then a minute in I was “dying”. Then I tried to slow things down too much and I knew after a WOD I wasn’t performing at my highest level, I was leaving energy on the mat.  This dirty and messy strategy (by the way you better be good at math cause I cant tell you how many times I’ve had to start back at ONE) works for me.  It may not work for all athletes, but what I see as the beauty of CrossFit is its constantly varied, try it out, see how you like it and if it doesn’t work we can always collaborate to figure out a new strategy.

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