Dan Bailey Keeps Getting Better


*photo by Heber Cannon

Dan Bailey is competing in his 5th CrossFit Games this week. He’s never once finished outside of the top 10 at the CrossFit Games, but he’s also never finished inside of the top 5. Coming off of, arguably, his best ever Regional performance, the top 5 looks more attainable than ever for Dan.

Let’s dive into the last few months of Dan’s training to see how the podium-hopeful has been prepping for the 2015 CrossFit Games.


Immediately following his 1st place California Regional performance, we picked Dan’s brain about his impending Games prep. Here’s what he foresaw at the time:

Swimming will become more regular as will running. Volume will go up a bit at the start, but Ill still be putting a premium on rest and recovery. 7-8 weeks is a long time, and quite a bit can be accomplished, so ill be working hard on my weaknesses and trying to prepare for whatever is thrown at us come July.

What do the actual numbers say?


From a movement standpoint, Dan was true to his word.



Dan has swam more in the last 1.5 months than he did in the first 5 months of the year. Distance covered, as a result, is significantly higher.



In 1.5 months, Dan has already amassed 12 running sessions, which is 63% of the total sessions (19) he ran from January through May. What’s more, he’s covered over 6000 more meters, in 7 less sessions, for his CrossFit Games preparations.

Dan’s CrossFit Games History w/ Running & Rowing

It’s become tradition at the Games to begin with some kind of water event. Both the pool and the ocean have been used regularly in the past 5 years. The same goes for 2015 with Dave Castro announcing that the first Individual event includes swimming and paddling. Luckily, Dan has also been surfing a lot this year.

In addition, long runs have also been incorporated into the early events of the CrossFit Games, usually as part of the beach events. By now, Dan is quite used to swimming and running in workouts on CrossFit’s biggest stage. His performance history also shows he’s got a knack for both, though he does tend to excel more at water events (Triple 3 and Pendleton 2 had long runs).

Dan’s 2015 CrossFit Games campaign has gotten off to an incredibly solid start, yet again, with an 8th place finish in “Pier Paddle”, a swim/paddle board combo.

Year Event Placing
2015 Pier Paddle 8th
2014 The Beach & Triple 3 9th & 30th
2013 The Pool 18th
2012 Pendleton 1 & 2 15th & 24th
2011 Beach 4th

What Is Beyond The Whiteboard?

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What about the kinds of workouts Dan has been doing?



Dan’s always been a big weightlifter. For the Games, he’s increased his W (weightlifting) workouts to over 50% of workout sessions. He’s also increased his mono-structural workouts by about 3% (likely in preparation for the long endurance aspects mentioned earlier). Both GW (gymnastics + weightlifting) workouts, and MG (mono-structural + gymnastics) workouts have declined by 5% and 3% respectively.




Sprint (<5 mins) workouts and Short (5-10 mins) workouts have had the biggest increases in the last 1.5 months. Short workouts now make up nearly 50% of Dan’s workouts, up nearly 5 percentage points. Sprint workouts have doubled from 8.1% to 17.6% for Dan’s Games prep.




Regionals prep meant a lot of couplets and chippers. Dan’s Games prep saw a significant decline in both of those. Singlets and, especially, triplets (nearly doubled) both rose to fill in the gaps.

Rest & Volume

“Volume will go up a bit at the start, but I’ll still be putting a premium on rest and recovery” – Dan Bailey

Let’s take a look at changes in his rest and volume over the last several months to see if the Games requires a different approach for each.


From January through May (aka Regionals Prep), Dan’s workout days per month hovered between 17 and 25. In April, Dan worked out 25 out of the 30 possible days. It was his last full month of training before Regionals in May. The weeks leading up to a competition, especially the final week, usually consist of more rest days than usual. That is why the workout days in May drop off a bit.

You can see the same thing happen for his Games prep starting in June. Like April was for Regionals, June is the only full month of Games prep to be had. Volume was up during that month; he only took 1 full rest day. As for July, we’re only half way through and we already see a big increase in rest days. The Games officially started for individuals on July 22nd.

To come at it from a slightly different angle, from January through May, Dan worked out on 68% of the available days. That number jumps to 88% for June and July. In addition, Dan, from January through May, averaged about 3.23 workout sessions per day. From June to today (as of July 15), that number has climbed to 3.87 workout sessions per day. His individual monthly numbers can be viewed via the graph below.

Games History

Year Games Placing
2015 ?
2014 10th
2013 8th
2012 6th
2011 6th

This isn’t Dan’s first rodeo, and it probably won’t be his last. By now he understands exactly what needs to be done to appropriately prepare for the CrossFit Games. The subtleties of his plan might change from year to year, but it always comes back to classic CrossFit.

To be good at CrossFit you have to do CrossFit. Since 2010 I have trained specifically for the demands of the Sectional, Open, Regional and Games formats. Ive utilized the Level 1 Training Manual for both my programming and design on how to best be prepared for any contingency that might be thrown my way. Some years I put more emphasis on different modalities, time domains, and movements, but overall I have remained consistent in testing and retesting my fitness across broad time and modal domains. Each year I have become more fit, and I can honestly say that, according to my numbers, I am the fittest that I have ever been.

Tune in July 21-26 to see if Dan Bailey can break into the top 5 at the 2015 CrossFit Games. Things are looking solid so far!

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