Review: The 603 PTP Program

On January 25th I started a frequency-based strength program from the now-extinct CrossFit 603. You can find the entire program here, and a thread for discussions about the program here on the new Whole9 site.

My goals for this program were three-fold:
- Get my deadlift over 200# (aka “I want a 200-pound ass”)
- Increase my overhead press by and undefined amount
- Lose some fat

The first two goals are what the program is designed for; get bigger 1RM numbers for deadlifts and presses. My third goal was a ‘nice to have’, but wasn’t the focus. It’s hard to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. I was just hopeful that a few months of clean eating along with my program would help me drop some of the jiggly.

Starting Stats

Female, 30, 5’10″
180lbs, 35%BF
Deadlift 1RM: 185# (pulled on Jan.22, previous PR was 195#)
Press 1RM: 85# (which was a PR in itself!)


Still female, 30, 5’10″ (haha)
174.5lbs, 30%BF
Deadlift 1RM: 215# (+30# BOOYAH!)
Press 1RM: 95# (+5#, I’ll take it!)

I added 30 pounds to my deadlift, 5 pounds to my overhead press, put on four pounds of muscle and lost 11 pounds of fat. That is a whole lot of win.


This program was a dream for me. I love strength work. There were also metcon-type-workouts almost every day, but most of them were under fifteen minutes. No more suffering through 20-minute metcons feeling like a lardass! I found the workouts fun, interesting, challenging, motivating. They were just fan-freaking-tastic. And holy taco, they worked!


My adherence to the program was what I would call “OK”. I blasted through the programming with laser focus, until day 13. I skipped day thirteen because I was feeling tired. Day fourteen was a rest day anyway, so that was cool. On Monday I was back at the gym for workout fifteen and had no problems and felt good, but on Tuesday everything went off the rails. All motivation to do anything was gone, I didn’t even drag my ass to work that day. I also went completely off my diet, chomping down on every bit of bread, pasta, and chocolate I could find within my reach. This funk lasted pretty much the whole week. The next Monday I was ready to restart and picked up from day sixteen. Between day sixteen and thirty seven I missed three more workouts for typical random reasons: time, tired, or just lazy.

On my last week leading up to my 1RM attempts I really focused on adherence and did six days in a row of WODS, followed by three rest days before my 1RM attempts.


I’ve been following the paleo diet for the entire program, but with a few modifications. For the first few weeks I was eating mostly strict paleo but allowed a bit of dairy and one non-paleo meal every five days. I don’t know if that contributed to my ‘spinning out’, but I decided to dial things in a bit after that bad week. I had probably two non-paleo meals in the last half of the program, being extra strict with food choices in the last ten days.

At the beginning of the program I tracked my calories and macro-nutrients. I would average about 1900-2100 calories with 50%fat, 30%protein, 20%carb ratios. After my spin-out I stopped measuring/tracking, ate pretty much the same amounts and servings, and just focused on eating the right foods and not getting hungry.

During the whole program I supplemented with 2Tbsp of liquid fish oil and 2000IU of Vitamin D every day.

Final Thoughts

I just think this is a phenomenal program for building a solid strength foundation. I know “periodization” is a no-no concept for CrossFit, but if you aren’t already a firebreather or if you have significant weaknesses I think focused training makes sense. Would I recommend this program to an absolute beginner to the gym? Probably not. It is more likely I would recommend a month or two of “The New Rules of Lifting for Women” or “The Female Body Breakthrough“. I think it’s important to learn all of the major lifts and work on form before tackling a program that focuses on only two lifts and works them four times a week.

I think the 603 PTP program best suits someone who has spent at least a few months at the gym already and has done some lifting, either a traditional split approach or through CrossFit. As someone who’s been on and off the CrossFit wagon a few times but still has a hard time slogging through longer metcons this really made me feel more functional and less like a wind-sucking out-of-shape goober.

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

I wasn’t even sure if I’d post pics but I know there’s a saying about pictures and words…whatever.

You can see some slight change in body composition here. The belly, aka my “food baby” is disappearing. I also have some nice shape to my ass now, if I do say so myself.

Note that I took these for myself, not for you. Ignore my unhappy expression, shiny tired-looking face, and that weird stain on the front of my pants (I’m sure it’s something paleo).

This is good stuff, share it!

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