What Dan Did: Preparation for 2016

Tonight is the Live Announcement of event 16.2 of The CrossFit Games Open. BTWB athlete Dan Bailey (@dan_bailey9) and Björgvin K. Guðmundsson (@bk_gudmundsson) will be throwing down in a local Garage Gym with whatever madness Dave Castro has concocted.

To anyone new to the Games scene, you should know that Dan is not. Dan’s debut came in 2010 as a rookie to CrossFit where he caught everyone by surprise, doing much better than the crowd believed he would, even though he missed the cut to make it out of Regionals that year. However, after a year of hard work, Dan wow’d the community placing 1st Worldwide in the first ever CrossFit Games Open in 2011. He would go on to place 1st at his Central East Regional and then 6th at his first Games appearance. Dan has managed to qualify for the Games every year since. What’s even more impressive is that he has never placed outside of the top 10 at the Games, with last year being his strongest effort finishing in 4th overall, just 36 points behind Björgvin who landed on the podium in 3rd.

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Not only is Bailey known for his outstanding performance as an Elite CrossFit Games athlete (he can do “Grace” in 1:01), but he’s quite popular for his ridiculously jacked physique, Danny Broflex videos, and being just an all-around awesome and humble guy.

What’s New

We dove into the numbers to see what Dan has been up to to prepare for the 2016 season. Even though his performance may be outrageous, his programming on the other hand, is not. With experience as a top collegiate athlete in Track & Field, BS degree in Physical Education and a Masters in Fitness & Wellness, his programming is simple yet masterful.

With 2015 being his best placement at the Games, we asked what he did differently compared to previous years:

“I put a larger focus on my endurance training last year. What I mean by that is all types of endurance training. Running, swimming, rowing, and trying to cover longer duration CrossFit workouts weekly in my training. I’ve tried to up the ante even more with endurance training this year, and have suffered some small but chronic injuries as a result. That’s part of the game, and things like that have helped me learn more about myself and how I need to train to optimize my results.”

For reference, here’s a look into the past 6 months of his endurance training. He’s Rowed over 173 km, Ran over 77 km, and performed 2330 Calories on an Assault Bike. These three movements were his top 3 for Monostructural work.

Row

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Run

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Assault Bike (calories)

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Here’s a breakdown of his top movements.
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Dan has done the Olympic Lifts way more than any other lift. For comparison, he has Clean & Jerked 423 reps for a total of 80,800 lbs (equivalent of 20 average-sized cars) while Back Squatting 240 reps totaling 77,300 lbs. This averages out to 191 lbs and 322 lbs per rep respectively. On the Gymnastics side, he’s done a ton of GHD Sit-ups, Muscle-ups, and Push-ups, doing 486 reps, 1160 reps, and 1218 reps respectively. Not only is he really strong, his gymnastics are on point too.

Here’s a look at some of the characteristics in his workouts.

characteristics

Pictured here is a glimpse at how often Dan has done certain types of workouts and the percent of his total workouts they take up. As you can tell, Dan hits all the notes. The key to a successful programming is attacking your weaknesses, enhancing your strengths, and making sure you keep all the rest in balance. Teetering too heavy into any category could cost you a qualifying spot later.

Volume & Consistency

Last year’s Games events have been recited as some of the harder workouts athlete’s say they’ve done in a single weekend. Despite the intensity and volume, it didn’t seem to phase Dan. While some people like to take a week or some amount of days off after the Games are over, Dan spent the next day surfing for over 2 hours. It was just like a regular day for him, there’s nothing he can’t handle.

There’s been 222 days since the Games ended, and Dan has worked out on 176 (80%) of them. Across those 176 workout-days, he’s recorded 535 sessions. That’s an average of at least 3 sessions per workout-day. Granted, these include any accessory work, lifting, as well as met-cons. From August-December, he averaged 68 sessions/month. Then, as the Open approached, he ramped up the volume and averaged 96 sessions/month in January and February. The way an athlete structures his training depends on the time of the year, and phase of the season.

“My workout regime changes a little throughout the year. During the fall, I train with a little less volume, focus more on strength training, and always spend more time traveling. However, all throughout the year I spend time doing workouts that have a similar rep scheme, duration, and loading as the Open, Regionals, and Games.”

Over the past 6 months, Dan has hit over 46 PRs during his training. His typical weeks look something like this:

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With the Open happening, we could expect to see his training having lots of light-moderate weight, medium-high reps, and short to long time intervals, and that’s just what we see.

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Getting It In

Of the Games athletes, Dan is one who travels more often than not. Despite his traveling, he doesn’t let this bring down his workout habits. Just because your traveling, doesn’t mean you have to be lazy, but how does he manage to get it all in?

Like, here’s a picture of him doing Fran with a stone he found while building schools in Kenya.

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“During the fall, since training is reduced, the travel isn’t as bad. When I continue to travel through December and after the new year it can be difficult at times. You have to be disciplined with your sleep and find ways to maximize your time in the gym. For the most part, CrossFit gyms are always welcoming to drop-ins and are excited about anyone just trying to get fitter. It’s a great network to be a part of no matter where you go. Hotels often always have a set of dumbbells ranging from 10-50lbs. If you think you can’t get fitter doing workouts with a set of 50lb dumbbells you would be wrong!”

Dumbbell workouts are brutal, and even Coach Glassman says everyone should do more workouts with them. Have you ever done Fran with two 45’s? Just when you thought Fran couldn’t get any worse.

Wheelhouse Workouts

The CrossFit Games season is about testing every aspect of an individuals fitness. How heavy can they lift, how skilled are they at a complex movement, how dialed in are their gymnastics and their metabolic capacity? Across the Open, Regionals, and Games, we see just about everything. Every athlete has those workouts where they know they’ll do especially better then others. Dan knows exactly what kind of workout is in his wheelhouse and what’s not.

“Anything with a short time domain or a smaller rep scheme, especially sprinting events. I was gifted to be good at those things and have developed them to be even better over 15 years of training. Longer duration events and high rep schemes appear to be my kryptonite.”

And the proof is in the pudding. Historically, Dan’s worst placements in the Open have been longer length events. In 2015, Dan’s worst placement (excluding 15.1A), was on 15.3 where he got 170th worldwide (even though this is better than 99% of us mortals). This was a 14 minute workout of muscle-ups, wall balls, and double-unders. This workout seems short now that we all just got a taste of a 20 minute suck-fest with 16.1 where Dan placed 190th worldwide.

On the contrary, his best event in the 2015 Open was 15.1 getting 5th worldwide which was a shorter 9 minute workout of toes-to-bar, deadlifts, and snatches.

For some highlights for Dan in last years Games Events, do you remember the Sprint events? Not only were these awesome to watch, but Dan destroyed these, and did it like a boss. Here’s a refresher:

And then when you don’t think it can get better, his swag level goes over 9000.

Dan took 1st in both Sprint Course events, obviously. It’s almost like he spent a huge chunk of his life being competitive at sprinting or something… Dan also went on to place 3rd overall in the Final 2 events of the games (his next two best placings) which were heavy, short, and to the point.

Mobility

Mobility is nothing new to us, but Dan does it a lot. In fact, the programming he runs for his clients, Do What Dan Does, is filled with demo videos of mobility that will help his athletes for that week’s training. He’s got to do something to keep all those muscles supple.

Nutrition

Nutrition is always something people want to know about top athletes. Many of us want to be like them, so why not eat like them? Unfortunately, nutrition is crazy complicated, and one thing might not work for another person. Your best bet is to educate yourself about many aspects of nutrition, test things out, and listen to your body. In the end, only you will be able to truly feel how eating one way compares to another. We were curious about how Dan’s nutrition as evolved over the years and here’s what he had to say.

“My diet has changed in that I consume more fat and protein and less carbohydrate and sugar than I have in the passed. I don’t weigh and measure anything and have not tracked my diet but I know the type and quantities of food that I eat on a regular basis have changed over the past 10 years.”

Overall, Dan Bailey is one heck of a guy. He’s ripped, he’s cool, he’s fun to hang out with, and he has the strength to pretty much crush you like a sad little ant. Don’t make him angry 🙂 If you ever have the chance to meet with him, you’ll find he’s just a normal person like the rest of us, just really, really, really fit. Dan’s such a stand-up guy and amazing example of what the CrossFit community represents, it’s a no-brainer that he was awarded with the Spirit of the Games award last year.

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Good luck to Dan and Björgvin tonight! It’s going to be awesome to see such great athletes be the first to handle this workout. In the end, no matter how much the other athlete beats them by, they’re both still going to do better than the rest of the 300,000 of us. Make sure to tune into the live announcement tonight (here’s the link to watch).

If you want to rep some Dan Bailey swag, check out his shirt:

This Games season Dan invited people to train with him. You will Do What Dan Does. Now you can be his virtual training partner as you partake in workouts from his actual training schedule. There are three simple rules. 1) Do the work but have fun. 2) No egos. Only positivity allowed. 3) Must understand terminology like “Clang N’ Bang”, “Bro Reps”. Learn More

Filed under: CrossFit, CrossFit Games, Research

About the Author

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I've been CrossFitting since 2007, originating from a small garage gym in Southern California called CrossFit Kinnick. Relocated to Brooklyn and now a member of Brick CrossFit. Obsessed with fitness, health, science, and all things related.