The CrossFit Coach GOAT Ben Bergeron Reveals His Ultimate WOD For Games-Level Muscle

Ben Bergeron competing in the CrossFit North America West Semifinal
(Image credit: Ben Bergeron)

If you’re just starting to explore the world of CrossFit, or spotted the elite of the elite at the CrossFit Games on your social feed recently, you’d be forgiven for feeling somewhat intimidated. Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics skills and grueling metcon workouts are tough enough on their own, never mind combined in one back-to-back workout.  

But getting better at CrossFit means getting fitter, stronger and faster—and often leaner—when well coached. It doesn’t have to mean spending hours in the gym every day, either. In fact, simple workouts form the foundations of the sport, according to Ben Bergeron, the man widely considered the best CrossFit coach of all time.

Bergeron has spent 15 years coaching elite athletes for the CrossFit Games, with 253 total athlete visits to the Games, including 10 champions. He’s also the founder of CompTrain, a training and workout programming app designed to help everyday athletes access the training methods of the elite. 

In his view, CrossFit is the pinnacle of “concurrent training”, which involves working across the fitness spectrum in unison. That means combining strength training with weights, building capacity through bodyweight movements, and challenging your cardiovascular fitness simultaneously.

These principles can be distilled into one of Bergeron’s favorite workouts, which he curiously calls “Mind Eraser” and has kindly shared with Coach. This CrossFit workout challenges all three of the above components. “The barbell cleans build strength, the bodyweight burpees build capacity, and the 200m sprints build endurance,” he says.

Whether you’re new to CrossFit or a seasoned pro, this session will drill a fundamental set of skills and will be one that you can try to repeat and beat time after time knowing it’s earned Bergeron’s exalted seal of approval. 

How To Do Ben Bergeron’s Mind Eraser Workout

Ben Bergeron’s Mind Eraser workout requires a barbell, some weight plates and ample space to complete the burpees and 200m sprints. You can use a treadmill but, given the stop-start nature of each round, you’ll probably lose time getting the machine up to full speed each set—although that won’t be an issue if your gym has a curved, self-powered treadmill. 

The beauty of this WOD, Bergeron says, is that because each movement doesn’t directly interfere with the other and requires only a handful of reps each round, you can really push hard. It will also allow you to train at your threshold pace, the minimum intensity required to improve physical fitness while avoiding overtraining.

“Twenty minutes is long for a continuous effort, but not so long that you would need to drop into a lower intensity level, such as your heart rate zone two or three [between 60-80% of your max heart rate],” Bergeron explains. “This should feel like a hard effort throughout, working in zones four and five [80-100%].” 

Ben Bergeron holding barbell overhead

(Image credit: Ben Bergeron)

What’s a good score? Bergeron says he expects most athletes to complete around seven to eight rounds within the 20-minute time cap, racking up between 49 and 56 cleans and burpees all in. “Between 40-60 reps is the sweet spot I like to aim for in most workouts,” he says.

For experienced athletes, the prescribed weight for the cleans is 135lb (61kg) for men and 95lb (43kg) for women. However, those weights can be scaled down to suit your experience level as required.

“Choose a weight that allows you to do most of the rounds unbroken,” says Bergeron. Lastly, remember this is an AMRAP workout, meaning the aim is to complete as many rounds as possible. Bergeron says anywhere between six and 12 rounds is good, but don’t compare yourself with others. Focus on your own workout and set a score you can try to beat next time. 

Complete as many rounds as possible of the following in 20 minutes.

1 Power clean

Reps 7 RX weight 135 lb/95 lb

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then push your hips back and bend your knees to grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, palms facing you, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Sit back into your heels and lift your chest to face forwards, keeping your back flat. Engage your core, take a deep breath in, then press through your feet to lift the barbell off the floor, keeping it close to your shins and your shoulders over the bar. 

Continue lifting until the bar passes your knees, then drive your hips forward to generate power to help pull the bar toward your chest. As you straighten, lift your heels or slightly jump off the floor to generate extra power. With the weight at its highest point, quickly drop under the bar to “catch” it at chest height, moving your arms into the front rack position with elbows facing forward. 

Once stable, straighten your legs to full extension, then carefully reverse the movement to bring the bar safely back to the floor. Complete that full rep in a fluid action, always with snap on the way up and control on the way down. 

2 Burpee

Reps 7

From a standing position, drop into a squat and place your hands on the floor just in front of your feet. Jump or step your feet back while keeping your arms extended to assume a straight-arm plank position (the top of a push-up). Bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor, then push up to straighten your arms. Step or jump your feet forward so they’re by your hands again. Drive up through the heels of your feet to jump while clapping your hands overhead. Land with soft knees and continue into the next rep. 

3 Run

Ben Bergeron starting his watch as he begins to run

(Image credit: Ben Bergeron)

Distance 200m

As soon as the final burpee is completed, head off on your run. Focus on controlling your breathing after the intensity of the cleans and burpees. “Ideally the run should be a 100m sprint out and back from your barbell, but a shorter course, loop or treadmill could be used too,” says Bergeron.

Alice Porter

Alice Porter is a journalist who covers health, fitness and wellbeing, among other topics, for titles including Stylist, Fit & Well, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, VICE and Refinery29. When she’s not writing about these topics, you can probably find her at her local CrossFit box.