Engine Programming Update!

Coach Vicky has been devising some amazing workouts that will boost your Engine, endorphins and energy in 45-60mins! Remember, Engine is still CrossFit®. We just press the simplification button when it comes to some of the skills (i.e. no barbells, or high skill gymnastics).

Heads up, the next 6 weeks we will be focusing on:

  • developing sustainable and repeatable efforts throughout the Engine program practice days.
  • in real terms this means learning by feel what pace you can move at sustainably for a number of movements and machines.
  • Single arm focus, with DBs & KBs to get ready for the open. If you haven’t seen, KBs are on the equipment list this year! The single arm focus is also great for those of you that want to increase shoulder stability!
  • Machine focus is on shorter sets of calories.
  • EMOMs with some skills like Wall Walks, Box Step Up footwork & Double Unders. The EMOM format allows us to keep quality movement as our priority so that we can express that quality eventually through Benchmark workouts.
  • A few repeat Benchmark workouts like Duloc which is a machine and single arm workout that will test our practice day work!
  • Time domains will tend to stay on the higher side, so 30mins of Engine CrossFit®.

Also, a heads up that over the next few weeks some evening Engines will start to transition to 545PM/630PM/715PM.

Happy Fitness-ing!

Programming: What’s coming up in Strongman & Gymnastics!?

Coach Sean has been programming some brilliant workouts for you all. Remember Strongman/Strength Class is on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 630pm & 730pm, CrossFit® Gymnastics is 530pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 515pm & 615pm on Fridays with another on Saturday at 1230pm! Lots on offer!

Here’s whats coming up!

Strongman/Strength Class

The next 6 weeks we will be focusing on:

  • A Jefferson Squats/anti-rotation theme, which will prepare for a really fun and unusual lift called the Steinborn squat!
  • Along the same theme we will have Farmers Carry Deadlifts, which will include some single arm variation and a big challenge to your trunk muscles.
  • KEG lifting – we will start to slowly increase loading. The practice sessions that we have with the Kegs are there to prep us for a Key Strongman benchmark called KEG STAND.
  • Exercises with the brand new SLEDS that we have purchased to change things up!
  • Atlas stone in more typical CrossFit® style workouts.
  • Some GREAT Benchmark workouts to watch out for: ‘The Sled Walk’ looks simple, but is a strength endurance burner, ‘Partner Double DT’ with Axle Bar, ‘Great Balls Of Fire’ which funnily enough includes the Atlas Balls!

CrossFit® Gymnastics Class

The next 6 weeks we will be focusing on:

  • Specific CrossFit® Open preparation is our main focus! We know what tends to come up over the three weeks of the CrossFit® Open see here: https://morningchalkup.com/2022/02/15/2022-crossfit-open-movement-tracker/ and so we will be sticking to the basics to help you develop any weaknesses you may have in the gymnastics realm.
  • In the main workouts of this program we will see gymnastics paired with some simple movements to create some interference. What is unique in this block is we will be introducing choose your own adventure style workouts, where you have the option (coach led) to prioritise either gymnastics or the interference aim. This is carried through from our CrossFit® program. 
  • Reminder: Wednesday & Friday gymnastics sessions are the same workout, Thursday & Saturday are also similar. This is so we can get a larger amount of you exposed to the themes!

Thanks for reading, folks! See you in class!

Your CrossFit® Kitbag Essentials.

Wondering what kit you need for CrossFit®? Shapesmiths have got you covered!


In short, if you wear the right shoes, you will lift more weight and move well. How? well, the running shoes, tennis pumps and sports fashion trainers you have on your feet often have huge padding and shock absorbing ‘tech’ built in.

For CrossFit®, rather than absorb force, you want to use the force that your body produces to help you move the weight/object you are lifting. The more force you can produce; the more weight you can move, due to the amount of ground reaction force you can produce. Newton’s third law of motion if you think back to science class.

So, what shoes do we recommend? Well, there are many all-round shoes for CrossFit®. NoBull, Nike Metcons & Reebok Nano’s are some of the best shoes on the market. They have a stiff, flat sole and durable outer. 

Which one is the best? In all honesty everyone has an opinion on this, but… it is a lot to do with personal preference. Almost everyone’s feet have 52 bones and 66 joints between the pair, that are organised in a multitude of ways. Everyone has different preferences in colourway and look. SO, our advice is to get yourself to Whatever it Takes [Discount Code: ‘ShapesmithMember’] which has all of them in one place, Nike Town or a Reebok store. When there try them on and see what you like. 

If that’s not possible right now, order a couple pairs online and try them on at home. Send back the pairs you don’t quite like.

What about Weightlifting Shoes? Great question.  Weightlifting shoes are very handy for two main reasons.

1) If you have poor ankle mobility the wedge of the heel will allow you to get into a more UPRIGHT squat position, be that for the Overhead Squat, Back or Front Squat.

2) They can add some additional stability because they are very sturdy, have a midfoot strap to limit motion (if that is relevant to you) and increase the surface area of your feet. 

Which ones should I choose?

Romaleos from Nike, Adidas do a whole range, NoBull old school lifters are beautiful. Inov8 make good WL shoes. Suitable for wider feet too. 

For more in depth insight this is a pretty comprehensive article: https://barbend.com/ultimate-guide-weightlifting-shoes/

Again, to a large degree it is personal preference. But if you consider points 1 & 2 that should inform your decision. The heel heights all vary, from shoe to shoe as do the strap location.  They also come in many pretty colourways. But try and keep it to a what you need.


If you’re still trying to master single and double unders it’s highly advisable to purchase a jump rope. Because everyone has different limb lengths, you are going to want a rope that you can customise to yourself. Our favourite customisable ropes come from SGF. What we like is that the handles last a very long time and they have a ‘RE-WIRING SERVICE’ that costs £5.50 which means you don’t need to buy a new expensive rope every time the wire gets wrecked.  

Top Tip: DON’T WRECK YOUR ROPE. Skip on a non-abrasive surface. Avoid concrete as it will wreck your rope. 

Again, totally shop around and find one that works for you, but an appropriately sized rope will definitely help you. 


Last but not least, if you are getting a handle on your pull ups it’s worthwhile investing in some gymnastics grips. These will help prevent tearing and help to keep your hands from getting too sore. 

The ones from Victory Grips work really well on our slicker bars: 


For our raw steel bars (Speal Bars) Bear Komplex grips work well!

Those three bits of kit will be an excellent investment in your CrossFit® journey and will last for a fair whack of time! So, get out there and see what works for you!

Why should you sign up for the CrossFit® Open?

It’s an often asked question. Read on for why we think you should jump on board the biggest community fitness competition in the world!

  • Accountability is the biggest reason to sign up.  Signing up commits you to making time for the 3 weeks of competition workouts. This is amazing for building positive habits in attending class regularly. The results that you want will be with you via consistency!
  • You also get to do the same workout as the best in the sport. The CrossFit® professionals. You get to see how you compare to them on the same leaderboard. This allows you to experience the same thing as the elite. We can’t all play at Wembley or go to the Olympics but we can all hit a benchmark day workout against the best of the best in the CrossFit® world.
  • The workouts will push you outside of your comfort zone. “Challenge creates change.”
  • Getting fully involved with the community and sharing a common thread of a great workout! Every Saturday we will celebrate the small wins together, talk about the exciting workouts and how you tackled them.
  • The best way to make fitness friends forever is to get stuck into a workout with one another. We are all about community at Shapesmiths. Every Saturday, our aim is to create a little fitness festival atmosphere with cool things going on. We hope you will join us and help make each Saturday super special!!


CrossFit® Programming Update Nov’ 2022

Read on for your programming update on what to expect over the coming 6-weeks in the Shapesmiths CrossFit® program! 

Following on from the previous 6-week block, as promised we progress the paused squat work that develops positional awareness into squatting at higher percentages.  If percentages aren’t working for you on any particular day, we simply turn them into an RPE rating. So 80% becomes an 8/10 effort/rate of perceived exertion level.

The next six weeks include plenty of barbell. Expect, Deadlifts, Push Press, Split Jerk and more.  You’ll also see bodyweight pressing, including more wall facing handstand push ups (HSPUs), Burpees (as we get closer to the CrossFit® Open, in February 2023) and even the Wall Ball Shot will feature and have great carryover to your pressing!

An old saying in CrossFit® is ‘everything is everything’ and it certainly is when it comes to movement patterns in CrossFit® benefiting each other via the universal motor recruitment pattern.

Some further themes:

  • We are always programming for GPP at Shapesmiths with our CrossFit® program: https://www.crossfit.com/sport/general-physical-preparedness This is what we call Classic CrossFit® with our own Shapesmiths spin.
  • Box Jump/Step Up variations again for CrossFit® Open prep.
  • Machine work (Bike, Ski, Row) with big chunks of cals and various intervals to learn how to manage, pace and master.
  • Some heavy days where the focus changes slightly to lifts, but intensity remains high.

Read more why we program heavy days at Shapesmiths here; https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/heavy-days

Further themes (which have also been consistent in every program block since 2016) include covering off seven key ways the body moves, each week:

Squat – Hinge- Push & Pull – Flex & Extend – Rotate & Twist – Run – Jump

We build around these seven themes with classic CrossFit® exercises, like the ones mentioned above, to make several couplets, triplets, chippers and more!  It’s how we get you so fit!


Ever wondered what R)AM)P) sections of our warm up stand for? Read all HERE!

Happy Wodding, fitness friends!!

Can we have a quick chat…about correctly counting reps?

We have this amazing article here called 9 things we LOVE when our members… 

We are going to add a 10th thing here… 10. any time you enter your score on WODify, be sure you complete the required reps in the workout AND record your score accurately for your workout. 


  1. Because data. It helps us program as we get to know what our community is good at and not so good at. 
  2. You’ll hit the intent of the workout and make more progress in a shorter time frame. 
  3. It shows you are considering your community and those in class with you. I think we can agree that a large number of us are a tad competitive in class when a benchmark day arrives. On these days we should strive for honest competitiveness. 
  4. Because when the CrossFit® Open comes around you’ll be glad you battled the mental demons telling you to cut the set short or telling you to post a more flattering score than you actually managed. 

In the heat of a workout it’s easy to, every so often, miscount how many reps you have completed or how many rounds you have left. It’s also possible to accidentally pop an incorrect score on WODify if you brain isn’t functioning properly, post WOD. These are honest mistakes made by folks that are sometimes NOT the best mathletes. If this is you, it’s always best to do a couple extra reps or add 10s to your time. 

If you read this and conclude that it’s quite often not an honest mistake, remember that we care about you progressing your fitness level, but no one judges how fit you are currently.  You have nothing to prove at Shapesmiths. We welcome everyone and value your effort more than anything. 

So, next time it becomes tempting to shave reps off your workout, take a breath, fight that thought and finish your workout with positivity!

Caveat: rep shaving is not the same as working with your coach to scale/modify to preserve the intent of the workout. Scaling is f*cking cool and will help you progress a heap quicker!

9 things we LOVE when you do them…at Shapesmiths.

We think that our amazing community does a stellar job of helping the coaches and management maintain an amazing atmosphere. We love having you in the arches day after day enjoying the best hour of your day! Below are 9 of the things that we especially love when we see them.

1. Arrive on time. We know sometimes life gets in the way, trains/late meetings etc. but we love it when folks get in early and mobilise/perform movement prep for specific body parts that need special attention. 

2. Come in knowing what the context of the day is, either practice, benchmark or resilience day. This makes sure we are all on the same page. If you come in a little sleep-deprived to a benchmark day, that’s totally OK. Just let the coach know what’s going on in your life and we can make a game-time decision on what’s best. If you would like some help with sleep & nutrition Feed.Fuel.Perform, led by Dr Sinead, are your go-to in-house experts on that. 

3. Grab a rope. It’s great to see lots of members are educated on correct footwear and some sort of gymnastic grips to protect their hands.  We would also recommend that you have a skipping rope set up for yourself too! They are a bit like wands in Harry Potter 😉  If you have none of those things and are unsure of the correct footwear comment below this post.

4. Waiting until everyone is done before starting to pack away their kit. It’s the worst thing to be finishing a workout, working as hard as you can and the rest of the class is cleaning and chatting it up. When we see our members offer up some gentle encouragement it warms our hearts! Obviously, two caveats to this are that some may not want/need the encouragement and sometimes the coach may have given specific instructions for a cleanup.

5. Allowing the coach to do the coaching in class. We love it when you avoid the temptation to coach your fellow classmates. Remember, everyone has had wildly different days and some comments may not be welcome.  Keep it light, keep it a swell of positivity. A rising tide raises all boats. 

6. Wear clean clothes and deodorant. We sweat a LOT at Shapesmiths. Very easily clothing can pick up smells, especially some technical apparel. So we appreciate everyone that wears clean clothes and wears deodorant/antiperspirant to keep the place smelling so fresh and so clean-clean. 

7. Cancel classes with enough notice: This is especially awesome as it opens up precious spaces for other members keen to train that day. The notice required is 10PM the night before for morning classes and 2 hours for ANY class AFTER 9AM. 

8. Helping to clean up everyone else’s equipment. This is a beautiful thing when it happens. So many of you do this here! SO MUCH LOVE FOR THIS! Keep it up!

9. Use as little chalk as possible. Some of you are very savvy. You have figured out that you don’t need as much chalk as you originally thought you did. For those not in the know, too much chalk can cause rips (it increases friction between pull up bar and your hands…science.) Too much chalk also means decreased fitness through too many unnecessary ‘chalk breaks’ (this is tongue in cheek but, still).


Have fun and play. We love it when everyone is learning, challenging themselves and having fun. Simple as that. The more smiles and laughs the better.

Shapesmiths CrossFit® Program Update June 2022

Read on for your programming update on what to expect over the coming weeks in the Shapesmiths CrossFit® program! 

Following on from the previous 6-week block, as promised we progress the back squat work, add in some more front squats (which has huge carry over to Cleans), shoulder to overhead and start to include Deadlifts to accompany LOTS of ‘pulling’ from the ground

The above is all in preparation for a Benchmark workout called ‘The Shapesmiths Total’ (TST) which will be on the program in the subsequent 6 week block.  TST will test your front squat, deadlift and push press. This is a variation on the classic CrossFit® Total which has Deadlift, Squat and Strict Press.  

We like the push press as a test in our total because of the crossover to many other shoulder to overhead elements. By simply incorporating a Push Press into our total it also removes the temptation that comes with the strict press, to bend at the knees and hips to get a boost. 

Speaking of the push press…

The next six weeks see’s plenty of barbell pressing. But watch out for handstand push up work and dumbbell pressing as well as ring dips. They will all have huge carry over to your push press with a barbell as the are similar in movement pattern.  Even kettlebell windmills will help your lockout overhead! 

An old saying in CrossFit® is ‘Everything is everything’ and it certainly is when it comes to movement patterns in CrossFit® benefiting each other via the universal motor recruitment pattern.

Some further themes:

– Gymnastics Development: Toes to Bar & Knees to Elbow. We are prepping you this cycle for a benchmark workout called ‘Robin’

– Barbell Cycling and hitting some intensity. Unbroken Power cleans for example provide a huge challenge on Thursday of this week. It’s important that you modify/scale to an appropriately challenging weight!

Top Tip: for those who are looking to develop strength, you can use this WOD to do just that. Plan your jumps for the P) section of the warm up so you can test yourself a little in sets of 2-3 reps and be at WOD weight within 8:00

For example if your 1RM is 100KGs…when the 8:00 starts, begin with 60KGs for a set of 3 x 2, then hit 70KG for 2 x 1, 80KG x 2 reps, 85KG x 2 reps x 2 sets before heading back down to WOD weight, around 50-60KG for. the set of 10 if you think that is do-able for 4 rounds.

Often you will find there is time to build and get in some heavier reps in the P) section of the warm up. Another example was the workout Poison Ivy, coming up in two weeks on Tuesday. Plenty time to build your OHS and challenge yourself as long as you plan your jumps and know your numbers. Always room to use an RPE (rate of perceived exertion) if you are not quite up to date on your numbers.

– A Strength/Heavy Day is coming on Monday of next week! Strict Press and Strict Pull Up day is an ideal day to develop press and pulling for the Shapesmiths total and also for those who want to get a strong pull up foundation!

Read more why we program heavy days at Shapesmiths here; https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/heavy-days

– Further themes (which have also been consistent in every program block since 2016) include covering off the seven ways the body moves, each week:

Squat – Hinge- Push/Pull – Flex Extend – Rotate & Twist – Run – Jump

We build around these seven themes with classic CrossFit® exercises, to make several couplets, triplets, chippers and more!


Ever wondered what R)AM)P) sections of our warm up stand for? Read all below!


Happy Wodding, fitness friends!!



What does R.A.M.P mean in the Shapesmiths WOD?

Have you ever wondered what the R) AM) P) section means when you read the screens for your daily workout? Well, wonder no more!!

Since day 1, in 2016, Shapesmiths have used the RAMP warm up system to give unique structure our workouts. We use it to ensure that everything has method and thought behind it so we can maximise your time spent in the gym!

In short here’s the lowdown on what RAMP stands for!

  • Raise – Increase muscle temperature, core temperature, blood flow, muscle elasticity and neural activation.
  • Activate – Engage the muscles in preparation for the upcoming session
  • Mobilise – Focus on movement patterns which will be used during the game.
  • Potentiate/Perform – Gradually increasing the stress on the body in preparation for the upcoming competition/session.

If you would like to read more and geek out further, check the below blog!

What is the RAMP warm-up?

So you’re doing the CrossFit Open, Rx?!

Box Jumps in the CrossFit Open

Earlier this week I shared the article: Should you do the Scaled Division in the CrossFit Open & Why?

Today we delve very briefly into the other side of the open. Taking part, as prescribed (Rx) by CrossFit® HQ.  

As a side note: check out this article I wrote on bridging the gap between scaled and RX. It will give a bit of background on why Rx is a great thing to be working towards in your CrossFit® life.

Simplifying the Open*.

The below is a powerful piece of information we have been updating yearly since 2017. It shows movements that have appeared in the CrossFit Open & the number of times it’s been seen, in descending order.

  1. Muscle Ups (Bar or Ring) – 11
  2. Double Unders – 10
  3. Toes To Bar – 10
  4. Thrusters – 10
  5. Wall Balls – 9
  6. Chest To Bar Pull Ups – 9
  7. Snatch (Full / Power) – 8
  8. Burpees (Bar Facing /Regular/Box) – 8
  9. Deadlifts – 8
  10. Clean (Power/Full/DB) – 7
  11. Box Jumps – 6
  12. Handstand Push Ups – 6
  13. Calorie Row – 6
  14. Overhead Squats – 4
  15. Shoulder To Overhead – 3
  16. Walking Lunges – 3
  17. Handstand Walks – 3
  18. DB Snatches – 3
  19. Clean & Jerk – 2
  20. Push Ups – 1
  21. Push Press – 1
  22. DB HC&J – 1
  23. Single Leg Squat – 1
  24. Front Squat – 1

Out of 20 total movements, only 4 have been included every year in the CrossFit® Open. They are double-unders, toes-to-bars, a muscle-up variation and thrusters.

*2021 data.

You’ve signed up for the open. Should you do the Rx Division?

If you are regularly (for around two months) performing the Shapesmiths programming as Rx (as it is on WODify with recommended loading) you should be entering into the Rx division.

If you are consistently hitting Rx on some WODs, but you’re missing a few things like consistent double-unders or Muscle Ups, know that the open can spur you on to great things. Back yourself. We will have plenty of  additional open prep in Shapesmiths Gymnastics class this Jan & February for the toughest movements in the open.

In instances where a certain listed skill is really lacking, you should chat to your coach and plan together. Because we love to help. Remember, we can help with specific advice when we know the workouts, which are kept secret until the Thursday evening, prior to Shapesmiths Super Saturday!

Participants in the CrossFit® Open have also been given the ability to choose to do either the Rx, Scaled or Foundations for any of the workouts out of the three weeks.  Scores will still contribute to the leaderboard no matter which variation you choose.  In terms of your leaderboard rank here’s how it works: if you performed one Rx workout, and two scaled workouts, you would just rank lower than someone who completed two Rx and one scaled etc. 

Also worth noting that CrossFit® Open workouts are there to literally Benchmark and give a snapshot of your fitness for 2023. Lets take the example of the following workout:

12:00 clock to perform 3 rounds of 10 x 120KG DLs, 15 Burpees over bar, AMRAP Muscle Ups in remaining time.

If you are able to perform the three rounds and have 5mins left for MUs thats your time to either try and get your first Muscle Up if you are close, or if we know its not happening that day we record where you got to and time it took you (tiebreak), then we switch to something you can do, like Chest to Bar, Pull Ups, Jumping Variations so we can maintain the intent of the workout.  That way you get some data, have taken part in the open and you have had a top workout!

Ultimately, if you are still really not sure, you should drop us a WhatsApp message (02032021004) or chat in person. We will be able to tell you straight away.

Love you all. Hope this information helps!


If you want to join us at Shapesmiths for the 2023 CrossFit Open, or want to start your training for the 2024 CrossFit Open, contact us below!

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