Shepherd Training 101

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

-John 10:11

This is your training guide to becoming an elite, “competitive exerciser” AKA CrossFitter. lol My name is David J. Barnett. I have my BS in Exercise and Sport Sciences from Texas Tech University as well as my ACSM CPT, CrossFit LVL 1, CrossFit Coach’s Prep Course, CrossFit Endurance, CrossFit Football, and a handful of other certifications that make me sound important and trustworthy. (Rolls eyes*) This will give you a brief understanding of how to follow our programming as well as why i program the way that I do.


  • CrossFit FMS WOD:

This is the bread and butter of our programming. Do all of the work programmed in the “CrossFit FMS WOD” on the home page of our website and make it your priority. The majority of our work is moderate loads/distances and typical couplet/triplet met-cons. Everything listed below is a SUPPLEMENT to our day-to-day workouts. Not the other way around.


Our “extra credit” programming is built on six components.

  1. Strength
  2. Olympic Lifting
  3. Running
  4. Weakness
  5. Gymnastics

The extra credit for the current week can be found under, “This Weeks Extra Credit” from the main menu above.


  • Strength

This is the foundation of our extra credit. Our program has a self-admitted strength bias but i think it is safe to say that at the moment, CrossFit in general has strength bias. When the best CrossFitters are putting up numbers that can win the American Open in Olympic lifting but they couldn’t qualify for a high school district track meet at any distance, you have a bias. Any-who,  i digress. Besides, our box needs to get stronger to perform well in the CrossFit competition setting.

The Basics: This peridoization-style strength work is taken from the CrossFit Football amateur program and adapted by me, for the typical CrossFitter as opposed to power athletes such as football players.

Essentially you will work through the list below at a “light” weight and when you finish it, you will start over with heavier weight. This programming is ongoing all the time unless we are doing a testing week or during the lead up to the CF Games Open when we focus on conditioning and weaknesses.

When to do it/How often: The short answer is four per week but really, that is really up to you. You can do two of these a day, one of them, or even one every other day. As an athlete you will need to learn when you need a rest day and when you can do two or even three of these in the same day. You will also need to learn how much time/attention you need to commit to getting “stronger” based on where your strengths and weaknesses are.

How to start: It is intended that you start at a light enough load on all of the barbell lifts that the weight doesn’t dictate the speed of the lift. All of your sets for every movement should be done at the same load. If you’re hitting “the wall” and having to really grind through the last rep or two during your first few weeks, then the weight is too heavy. Start light in your first few weeks. Think of this as gaining momentum. Regardless of where you are in the program, the eccentric portion (lowering) of the lift should be controlled and the concentric (lifting) should be as explosive as possible.

Body-weight Strength Movements:

For the dead hang ring muscle-up, bar pull-up, & bar dip, it is intended that you initially determine if you can do 1 unassisted rep of the given movement. Until then, you can use assistance via manual assistance, negatives, bands, movement substitutions, etc. I recommend 3 sets of 5 repetitions or less of whatever you are doing to target development of strength until you can do one unassisted rep. When you can do one quality rep, the goal is to work up to 10 reps. When you can do 3 sets of 10 reps of any given body-weight movement with true dead-hang control and full ROM then it is time to add add weight via a weight vest or belt. From then on the body-weight movement will be treated like all the other lifts/movements and you will do 3×5 with added weight.

Order of movements: Sets x Reps

  • Back Squat: 3×5 (3 sets of 5)
  • Strict Press: 3×5
  • Deadlift: 3×5
  • Weighted Dead Hang Ring Muscle-Ups: 3×5
  • Front Squat: 3×5
  • Bench Press: 3×5
  • Barbell Bent-Over Row: 3×5
  • Weighted Dead Hang Bar Dip: 3×5
  • Overhead Squat: 3×5
  • Strict Press: 3×5
  • Deadlift: 3×5
  • Weighted Dead Hang Bar Pull-Ups: 3×5

Increasing Load:

Every time you return to a lift done successfully for 3 sets of 5 at the planned load & rep range the last time you did it, you will increase the load by 5 lbs.


This is also often referred to in other programs as “deloading”. You need to reset when you are unable to complete 3 sets of 5 of a given movement. Often this may be chalked up to a bad day but i still encourage you to deload every time you fail to get 3 sets of 5 for a given lift/movement.

When we “reset” we do it by decreasing the load by about 20%.

Example: Lets say we failed to get 3 sets of 5 at 100lbs. Take your failure weight of 100lbs, multiply it by 0.8 (or 80%) to find your new weight: 100 x 0.8 = 80lbs. We go back down to 80lbs and work our way back up, 5lbs at a time, in hopes of breaking through our previous mark of 100 lbs.


Once every 8 weeks the CrossFit FMS WOD for Friday will include maxing out for at least one of the movements in our strength progression.

  • Olympic Lifting:

Our olympic lifting will be adapted and simplified from:

We will have two extra credit Oly-sessions a week. One based on the Clean & Jerk or a variation of it and the other on the Snatch.


  • Gymnastics:

Our gymnastics will be adapted and simplified from:


  • Short Intervals/Long Intervals/Time Trials/Sprints/Agility

If we did “cardio” this would be it. With intervals we can get 90% of the benefits of the long & slow mono-structural cardio work with none of the losses in strength/power in other areas that we often see in the endurance communities.

This is RUNNING/SPRINTING unless you need to sub rowing/biking/swimming etc due to an injury. We will do only one of these a week and alternate them in the order shown above.

This programming and the philosophy in general will be taken and adapted from two programs:

Our runs will be adapted and simplified from:

Our sprints/agility will be adapted and simplified from: 


  • Weakness:

What you work on is up to you. I will provide with some sort of structured format that you can follow if you’d like. If this doesn’t align well with your weakness you can adjust it as needed but i strongly recommend that you maintain some kind of structure in your weakness. 

For example, if you want to get your first muscle-up. Don’t just swing around on the rings for a few minutes and try to get one here and there. Instead, do an attempt EMOTM for 10 minutes.


Post any questions to the comments below.

6 Responses to Shepherd Training 101

  1. Amy Bemis says:

    Thank you for this post. As a follower from a distance, and only about 3 months into crossfit training, it is very helpful. I’ve said it before but it is worth saying again… the completeness of your workout is why (in my search to find something I could follow) I stuck with you. That and the fact that we share the same faith. I love your approach and am feeling and seeing the benefits! For the first time in my life, I am checking FMS before I go to bed to see what I get to do the next morning to workout. I am not sure if it is like that for other people introduced to Crossfit but it hit me like a ton of bricks and that was it for me. I love it! Thanks for the mentoring… Keep up the inspiration.

  2. shashyk says:

    im a follower from distance too, i was looking for christian crossfiters n found u guys . This is awesome , love your programing , i’m from Miami . God bless!

  3. Allie says:

    I love the structure of your program I am also following from a distance and this last year have basically been doing crossfit wods on and off. I like the concep of your extra credit I just have one question. I get to do strength 4 times a week but as far as running Olympic lifting and gymnastic extra credit how many times a week do I perform those?

    • coachfms says:

      The way we have it structured you should do everything i have written out during this week based on what you can handle. So for this week, an advanced athlete would do all of our CrossFit FMS WODs, 2-10 strength workouts, all 3 oly workouts, the running intervals, and the weakness workout. While a more intermediate athlete would only do some of that work prioritizing based on their weaknesses.

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