February 18, 2012
Coaching for the Open With Brian Yoak
By Josh Bunch

Living as individuals breeds surface similarities that give way to core values. CrossFitters CrossFit, but we each have an individual and different way of doing so. Coaches coach, but differently.

For years, CrossFit coaches have been refining the art of athlete preparation for the sport of fitness. It’s no surprise various formulas and opinions surface that reflect the very belief system of what CrossFit is right now, and what CrossFit will demand of an athlete the moment they attempt to begin their journey on February 22.

Coach Brian Yoak of CrossFit Legacy is one such coach learning, adjusting, and proving that failure is nothing more than lack of preparation.

Since the 2009 CrossFit Games, Yoak has dispatched three competitors to the stage in California. Charlie Dunifer, Kate Rawlings, and Dan Bailey. This is how he does it.


Yoak is a CrossFit student. With nearly five years in the game, he has began to spot a pattern within the variation. A sort of predictive measure Yoak uses to help him prepare for the upcoming seasons. “I look to last year’s Regionals, plus CrossFit.com as a loose guide for the future”, Yoak says. “Chances are, CrossFit is telling us what is to come, we just don’t listen.”

Yoak says he makes it a point to review these free resources, and to conference with his staff thorough the competitive year. “I’m not a genius when it comes to this. I rely on my team to tell me what I am missing as we prepare,” he says realizing CrossFit preparation begins long before you step on the gym floor.


“Our box starts training for the Open when we get back from the Games in California,” Yoak explains.

When most are relaxing, or at the very least tapering, Yoak is diligently programming to give athletes the ability to become next year’s fittest. “It’s my job to program for the best,” he says. “It’s also my job to scale each WOD according to each athletes wants, needs, and ability.”

Yoak adds, “To make a difference, you present your best everyday. Then you demand the best from each and every athlete you are privileged to work with.”


Constantly testing his athletes over the course of the season leaves Yoak with critical data he believes necessary to help adjust or ramp up the capacity of his athletes as competition approaches.

“Around December our box begins to move heavier loads, in and out of met-cons,” Yoak says while giving a description of a typical week at CrossFit Legacy:

Monday – Longer met-cons
Tuesday – Heavy Olympic lifting followed by a short met-con
Wednesday – Blended workouts encompassing CrossFit variety of time and movement
Thursday – Strength based followed by Body-weight met-con
Friday – Team oriented. Programmed to bring about specific athlete weaknesses

“I can tell you what to eat, and that diet is at least 70 percent of your results,” he explains. “I can inquire about your rest and recovery habits, but in the end, I can’t babysit anyone. Either you want it bad enough, or you don’t.”


Yoak continues the weekly pattern during the Open, making sure to accommodate Open workouts released every Wednesday, with complimentary movements. “If I have done my job all season, it shouldn’t matter what the WOD is,” he says. “Our box is prepared for the unknown and unknowable and I am confident that we can tolerate, and succeed at whatever will come up.”


Although Yoak himself is a competitor and enjoys preparing firebreathers for the big show, he seems even more passionate to ensure everyone gets what that want out of “their CrossFit.” “Every individual is looking for something different from CrossFit,” he explains. “Maybe its the sixth fittest man in the world competing to be the fittest like Dan Bailey, or maybe its the 96-year-old grandmother who just wants to walk. It doesn’t matter, we accept them all.”

This attitude, coupled with years of dedication has kept Yoak and his athletes in the hunt season after season. It’s safe to say he is up for a repeat performance in 2012.