I got a question from Dave yesterday about MEBB vs CFSB. I can always count on him to come up with something i haven’t thought about yet. Thank You. I thought this may interest ya’ll so here it is.

I was reading through some old articles this weekend (Coach Rutherford’s MEBB, Robb Wolf’s two on Power Bias) and it got me wondering what you thought of the MEBB vs. Jeff Martin’s Strength Bias program. Do you like one construct better than the other? Or do they both have different strengths? I guess I was just wanted to know what your thoughts about the two programs are.

I like the theory behind both programs (MEBB and CFSB). They both want you to get strong while not loosing your conditioning. Strength is not at odds with conditioning so i like how they are treated with these programs.

CFSB has a set rep scheme at either 3 or 5 reps for the first 5 weeks then you work for a 1rm on week 6 then back off and start over at week 8. It recommends limited movements which i think may blunt your progress. (squat, press, fs, deadlift)

MEBB takes a different approach. It allows for many more variations of both movements and rep schemes. It also does something that the CFSB doesnt do. It includes the olympic lifts. They are a big part of CF and of utmost importance when you are talking about developing useful power. Who cares if you can squat 700 lbs if you can’t sprint 40m. Have you ever seen an o-lifter sprint or box jump? Amazing!
I also like that Rutman includes some posterior chain work.
CFSB doesn’t really need to because of the consistent work with the deadlift and low bar back squat.

Which is better?
It totally depends on your exposure to CF and the lifts. In the CFSB article they discuss the need to be proficient in the movements prescribed. This is also true for MEBB. You can’t flourish if your squat sucks…in either program. So as CFSB suggests take your time to learn the lifts. Find someone that knows them and pay them to teach you. It is worth it. There is nothing better than hands on coaching.
Learn the snatch and Clean and Jerk and you will be a better athlete for it.

If i were to take one of the two programs…There is no doubt MEBB would be better.

I do a hybrid program with some influence from Max and Rutman. I like the o-lifts first for explosive power. I usually do some varient of them in my training before anything else. This is followed by a strength move (squat, press, dead, ohs…) for a higher rep count. I think it is important for Crossfitters to be able to move relatively heavy loads at relatively high reps (10-20 reps). I will finsish that off with 2 or 3 sets of 3 or 4 reps. All of this will usually be followed by some short metcon such as CFSB and MEBB prescribe.

I love Robb’s stuff and usually incorporate it into metcons.

Where: Crossfit Tulsa
When: May 23, 2009 (the day after my birthday!!)

26 thoughts on “MEBB vs CFSB

  1. dutch,

    thanks for helpful the response! when you say you do “2 or 3 sets of 3 or 4 reps” after the higher rep count set, is that done with the same movement? Like 1×15 squat, then 2×4 squat after that? If so, is there a reason you do the sets in that order, instead of say, the lower rep sets first then the 1×15?

    i’m also looking forward to giving some of Robb’s stuff a whirl, that interval helen he describes in one of those articles sounds pretty awesome.

  2. Dave,
    Yes, the same movement. I go up in percentage as i decrease reps. Plus you can’t take weight off the bar till you are done training… Everyone knows that right??

  3. Hi Dutch, fair opinion :)
    But hey, when not do CFSB with Oly lifting ? It’s only a template, it’s approach it’s nothing set in stone and at the end of the day, it’s quite similar to MEBB (more strength & power:)
    Also MEBB is IMHO bit less taxing, one variation being metcon-ME lift-metcon-rest is quite different than working on 4 different lifts, followed by metcon (albeit short one).
    So again, IMHO it’s about concept, just as in CF (intensity is a key), here more strenght/power and less chippers seems to be the key.


  4. Petr,
    Good point, why not do CFSB with the o-lifts. I like the idea but you may have to play with the rep scheme. A 5 rep max in the snatch is a little silly. It could work pretty well if you set it up properly.

    I am not going to argue with you but i will say that i like the MEBB better than CFSB. I think it can be just as taxing as CFSB if not more. If it isn’t taxing you aren’t working hard enough. That is the nature of Crossfit right?

    Yes the concepts are the same. It comes down to the fact that Crossfitters are weak and its holding us back!

  5. Dutch, I like MEBB more as well :)
    CrossFitters are weak – could be, HQ site is now full of ME work.
    I used to suplement HQ WOD with some strenght work, but not now :)

    BTW – what about a trip to Europe and have couple of seminars here ?

  6. Petr,
    I would love to make it out there! If you can show me there is enough interest i will seriously consider it.

  7. I am currently exposing my clients to a CFSB Program. What I have to currently do is define the WOD portion of the program so it falls in the specified time domains of CFSB. You are forced to game the program a bit. I’m scaling back many clients in the WOD portion to refocus them on pushing intensity. They can focus on strength in the lifting portion if they are understrong and going RX breaks down the intensity of the WOD. My thought is that we will modify the CFSB to include Oly lifts and other movements . I’d agree that these movements produce the real explosive power we are looking for in CrossFit.
    Ive already experimented with exposing the clients to 5 x 15′s of movements to set them up for a benchmark with huge success (ie 5 x 15 OHS 2 weeks befor Nancy) The client has the abilty to gain confidence with a weight in a higher rep scheme without the added stress of transition to another exercise.
    I’ve tried to introduce CFSB to our clients before with limited success, but this time it’s really taking off, and is fostering more cohesive group dynamics- a better community feel. We are currently in a ramping period and will be inside the program for the next 6 weeks. I plan to finish off the CFSB by putting our clients through a series of benchmarks to see the efficacy of the program on a broad client base.(huge variance in age, and ability).
    Thanks Dutch, this blog is a great forum for idea generation. What do you think about exposing clients to different types of programs to add variance to different stressors, a cycle of CFSB, then a cycle of MEBB, and then a cycle where we focus on Oly lifting. Do you you think this approach would produce positive results in adaptation? ( of course monitoring and paying special attention to work and rest)… How can we make our Crossfit clients better? I guess that is a question that we always need to ask.
    Did you take your CF Science of Exercise test already?

  8. Ben,
    I like your thought process here. Use caution when changing up the program. Make sure you don’t change too often. I am sure you are on top of that but just in case. For example if you are still getting good gains on CFSB by the end of the program maybe go for another cycle.

    I think the beauty is that there are many programs that work. The one you use is going to depend on the weaknesses you are dealing with. Go make your own program then test it. maybe you can come up with a better program.

    Good thoughts Ben!

  9. dutch,

    i was wondering what your thoughts were on the work day/rest day splits for templates like these two. i have really taken to the 3-1-2-1 split that Max uses. if i remember right, Coach Rutherford has 3,4, and 5 day templates that he has outlined for the MEBB. i was curious how you might adapt those two a 3-1-2-1 split. i was thinking you could just stack the effort lifting with the metcons on work days so you would be looking at: total body movement – lower – upper – rest – total – lower – rest – upper -and so on… and just keep cycling through. then progress though the movements and rep schemes as the weeks go on as Rutman lays out.

    would an approach like this be too aggressive, you think? it looks like 5 days of effort lifting plus short metcons on each of those days. maybe drop a metcon on one of the days? or keep that same scheme of stacking the effort lifting and metcons but try a 2-1-2-1 split like CFFB? although i guess that’s essentially what they’re already doing, ha!

  10. Great feedback on CFSB, Dutch! Like Jeff’s article indicates, when we first started developing what evolved into CFSB we did so originally with the power lifts simply because that’s what we preferred at the time. We would maintain olympic lifts in the heavy MetCons and we generally did lots of stuff like high box jumps (remember the thruster-box jump workout, Dutch?). It kind of took off from there. However, the lifts before the met-cons have generally been anything from power to olympic lifting movements. The issue with writing any sort of framework is that it is organic and evolves so you can write the basic framework but some of the message(s) will get lost in translation when you allow a liberal interpretation. On the other hand, if you write the framework to be very specific, then you run the risk of making people pigeon-hole themselves into one very narrow track of thinking.

    CFSB has already evolved into several other phases that other people are using to attack deficiencies. Probably the things that have not really changed are basic rep schemes. Like Dutch said with the high rep stuff, we basically took the notion of Strossen’s Super Squats and applied it to everything else.. with devastatingly good results.

    I’m going to default to my standard mode of thinking and just say I don’t care which school of thought you subscribe to. Honestly, we are all doing the same thing at the end of the day. Just lift heavy, go heavy, and go hard.

  11. Amen mike!
    If you can’t think for yourself and figure out what works best for you then you really miss the point of crossfit. My hope with this blog is to get people to think for themselves and figure out what works for them..

  12. Dutch,

    I might be a little late to jump in here, but I have been doing the CFSB program with olympic lifting thrown in. I’ll occasionally substitute cleans for front squats and push jerk for shoulder press. It is kind of silly to do a 5RM squat clean, but it definitely was hard, and it made me stronger for the metcons with lots of heavy cleans.

    I’ve also been doing that Texas Cardio – 2 cleans on the minute every minute for 10 minutes. Once you do that with 85% of your 1RM clean, a 105# barbell doesn’t seem so intimidating in a WOD anymore.

    I did that Texas Cardio today with 95# Snatch, just in case we have 95# Snatches in a WOD at my qualifier. It was pretty easy. I wouldn’t recommend the Snatch for that metcon style….


  13. Oh, I forgot to say. I think the CFSB with olympic lifting really works. I’ve been doing it, and it works. That’s my point.

    I have never tried MEBB though.

  14. Dan,
    Robb wrote a couple articles about increasing power movemements on current benchmark workouts. For example adding Box jumps to cindy instead of squats. You can find it on the in the archives.

  15. Hope I’m not too late to the party – I just discovered your blog today, Dutch, thanks to Nicki Violetti’s site. Anywho, it seems to me that doing higher rep sets of strength work (as opposed to doing those reps in a metcon) while doing a few sets of lower rep work to push along strength could be pulled straight out of a bodybuilding template. An example from Practical Programming would be one day a week squat 5×10 or do a 20 set widowmaker, another day squat 3×5 or something (I’m pulling this from memory). So, if you were a bodybuilder who did it the “right way,” i.e. with mostly compound free weight lifts, you’d actually be pretty well prepared to jump into Crossfit, especially compared to a pure strength athlete, right?

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