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Thread: Maintaining Stregnth doing Crossfit

  1. #1
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    Maintaining Stregnth doing Crossfit

    Hey all,

    Long story short: I have been working out in a conventional gym. Took me a few years to hit a decent level of strength. First did Starting Strength, then did 5/3/1.

    So I signed up for a trial month with a local CrossFit box. The workouts are hard and challending and I am enjoying gaining cardio fitness.

    The only problem is, true "strength" training is far and few. 1-2 days per week they do isolated sets but there is no real rhyme or rhythm to it (dips one day, dead lifts on another than they won't do deads for a few weeks etc..).

    I noticed my deadlift and squat numbers are like right up there with the elite of the gym, which is actually rather pathetic considering I weigh 150 lbs soaking wet and squat 225. I can't see how I will maintain my Bench, press, squat, and dead numbers with such sporatic strength training.

    How does one combine strength training with CrossFit?

  2. #2
    El Jefe DoUgL@S's Avatar
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    Is crossfit your #1 goal?

    There are already programs out there that incorporate strength. There is crossfit strength bias, crossfit football, the outlaw way, etc. A lot of crossfitters are adopting Westside Barbell's conjugate method, 5X5, 5-3-1.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoUgL@S View Post
    Is crossfit your #1 goal?

    There are already programs out there that incorporate strength. There is crossfit strength bias, crossfit football, the outlaw way, etc. A lot of crossfitters are adopting Westside Barbell's conjugate method, 5X5, 5-3-1.
    My #1 goal is overall fitness. It's just that I worked so hard just to get my lifts up to decent numbers and I would at least like to maintain that strength.

    I seen the numbers of the guys who workout there and they aren't strong by any means. Most of them have to scale the WOD's as well (probbly because they aren't strong).

    THats kind of what grinds my gears about the place I have to do whatever is on the WOD for that day. They have an "open gym" day on SUnday and I figured I can just do a few stregnth lifts on that day but than I never know what Monday's schedule will be. What if I do deads on SUnday than Monday they program deads on the WOD or whatever. I don't understand how the programming allows for strength gains. IT's just all conditioning workouts...

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    phil 4:13 Bako Lifter's Avatar
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    Sounds like the average crossfit gym that spits out random workouts for average people who want to exercise. If you have real goals and want to actually achieve a level of fitness that is above average, this gym is not the place to work out. Find some place else or follow a real program on your own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bako Lifter View Post
    Sounds like the average crossfit gym that spits out random workouts for average people who want to exercise. If you have real goals and want to actually achieve a level of fitness that is above average, this gym is not the place to work out. Find some place else or follow a real program on your own.
    Yeah that is kind of what I am thinking. I don't have room or money to invest in my own set up so it's either that or just stick with a conventional gym.

    I am leaning toward just sticking with my regular gym, doing 5/3/1 than just doing whatever type of conditioning with the equipment they have there. They have a plyo box, KB's and a jump rope so I probably be creative enough with that. I really wanted to get into CF though.. I guess it's just not meant to be.

  6. #6
    phil 4:13 Bako Lifter's Avatar
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    Do you want to be competitive in crossfit? Like participate in the open and stuff? If so you'd be better off just building your strength at a regular gym anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bako Lifter View Post
    Do you want to be competitive in crossfit? Like participate in the open and stuff? If so you'd be better off just building your strength at a regular gym anyways.
    So to compete in CF I don't need to do CF?

  8. #8
    Cardio bunny Alex.V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yamar View Post
    So to compete in CF I don't need to do CF?
    Exactly right. Think of CrossFit as a stick n' ball sport, like football or hockey- there's a skill element that needs to be practiced, but the fundamental aspects of "fitness" that go into it- strength, aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance- are best practiced independently. In CrossFit competitions, there are so many different types of activities or challenges that you may encounter that it is impossible to train every different possible rep range or sequence- the "fittest" athlete truly wins.

    But if you look at the top level guys, they did NOT rise to the top by doing JUST CrossFit. Many of them are already accomplished athletes with a great base of pure strength, speed, and endurance.

    I would suggest sticking with a 5/3/1 routine, but spend some time practicing the basic Olympic lifts (form work only- extra points if you can get a coach or EXPERIENCED eye watching you), and build your conditioning through a variety of methods, not just "GPP" type workouts, but also conventional cardio. (i.e. running, swimming, hiking, climbing.... all things that will build your aerobic base FAR faster than conditioning circuits without affecting your strength routine significantly, provided you eat enough).

    There are a number of strength athletes who decide to go into CrossFit and ONLY do CrossFit style conditioning. This makes me very sad, because they are invariably going to lose a tremendous amount of strength and make much slower progress in improving their conditioning than if they used other methods.

    Cheers.
    Last edited by Alex.V; 08-10-2012 at 10:29 AM. Reason: Clarified a point
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    El Jefe DoUgL@S's Avatar
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    If you love doing xfit,then do crossfit. If you want to maintain a level of strength that is greater than the average crossfitter, then you should not workout like the average crossfitter. I really liked Alex's advise, with the exception that in your particular case you "want" to do xfit, so it's a given that you should do xfit. Just don't do it exclusively. For example, if you look at the trainnig of the high-level xfitters, it wil not resemble what you are seeing at your box. They squat, press, deadlift, snatch, clean and jerk, cardio, all in addition to xfit workouts.
    Move heavy weight, eat, sleep, repeat.
    Geniuses make complicated scenarios simple, morons take simple concepts and complicate them.

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    wow.....

    so that seems really phony to me. Top level Xfittters who compete and make money off the sport that they call Crossfit, get there by NOT doing what the sport advocates. Because, as I understand it, by definition the box I go to is doing CrossFit.

    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    In my area I have to decide between planet fitness type of nonsense or the Crossfit box that just does random stuff....hmm, I am leaning toward the Xfit box and maybe see if I can sneak in btw classes and crank out 1-2 strength sets.

  11. #11
    El Jefe DoUgL@S's Avatar
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    It has become so competitive that to be elite you cannot just follow main site programing. There was a time when that is all they did, but now elite athletes will do multiple workouts a day in different phases of their training.

    To clarify a bit. Crossfit IS what those guys are doing, just not following main site's programming. If your box is following main site, it may look different from the programming in many other boxes. You can do crossfit with a bias i.e. strongman, oly lifting, endurance, etc. It is a general physical preparedness program. How it is implemented is entirely up to your coach. If you do what Alex mentioned and through in some metabolic conditioning (i.e. "the girls", "the heroes") here and there crossfit HQ would probably consider it crossfit. crossfit states that, "Our program delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specializing." It is just exercising.
    Last edited by DoUgL@S; 08-10-2012 at 01:35 PM. Reason: Clarification
    Move heavy weight, eat, sleep, repeat.
    Geniuses make complicated scenarios simple, morons take simple concepts and complicate them.

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    Tap, Rack, Bacon ncsuLuke's Avatar
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    Strangely enough, I gained a lot of strength doing purely crossfit workouts that my box programmed. Increased my max deadlift from 365 to 475 and my back squat from ~350 (never maxed before but I could rep 315 so I am assuming something like 350) to 405.

    Still not real sure how that worked, we weren't doing a westside variation or anything. If anything we probably could have used more strength work.

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    Just when I was beginning to doubt this thing I show up last night and on the agenda:

    3x3 back squat!

    The dude went into great detail about the importance of programming strength days and that he programs them at least 2x and how everyone hates them but explained to the group why they are important (I was thinking hells ya). He must have read this thread, ha ha.

    I guess I am just used to having specific days of the week allocated to specific lifts (a la 5/3/1). So it looks like the guy (coach) has a good head on his shoulders, I'm just not used to not being in control of the programming I guess.

  14. #14
    mrelwooddowd Patz's Avatar
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    Each CF gym has its own flavor. Mine is much more strength based now than 6 months ago. Everyone there gets stronger in everything. We have lots of 400lb deadlifted and squatters. We rarely bench (due to equipment mostly) but mine never goes down because of all the pushups and dips we do. It's also about the extra work. A lot if people stay after and work in weaknesses and skills.

    The top level athletes you see are doing Crossfit because as Alex said, it's a sport. It has elements and skills that are standards and must be developed, but because they're competing they setup their training for competition vs the rest of us who just want to get in shape. It's all what you make it.
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    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yamar View Post
    wow.....

    so that seems really phony to me. Top level Xfittters who compete and make money off the sport that they call Crossfit, get there by NOT doing what the sport advocates. Because, as I understand it, by definition the box I go to is doing CrossFit.

    Thanks for the advice everyone.

    In my area I have to decide between planet fitness type of nonsense or the Crossfit box that just does random stuff....hmm, I am leaning toward the Xfit box and maybe see if I can sneak in btw classes and crank out 1-2 strength sets.
    Hmm, well, I can tell you the best CrossFitters... Wait for it... CrossFit. I know them personally. You are reading opinions of people who don't know the facts.

    Now, the best CrossFitters do more than just main site WODs and many CrossFit boxes do the same. CrossFit has certifications owners and trainers can go to for powerlifting, Olympic lifting, gymastics and so on.

    I have worked as part of a team for the CrossFit powerlifting certs. I have seen many CFers come to them and the vast majority of them can pull over 400 lbs with many of them over 500 lbs.

    Speak to your box owner about some additional specific strength training. I am sure they can accommodate you. If not, find another local box and they likely will.


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    You may want to look at this programming:

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    I wish I had more options in my area. I have 3 boxes in my area, 1 being a place that is a disaster as they do NO strength lifts (at least outside of metcons).

    I think the one I go to is the best one in my area. The guy does teach really good form and they offer an on ramp program which I thought was pretty cool.

    I decided I am going to stick with it for 4 weeks, track the frequency of the strength lifts and at the end of the month hit my other (conventional) gym. If my core lifts took a hit I will dump the Xfit and do my own thing. If the frequency was enough to maintain my strength than I will stick with it.

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    150 lbs.. here's your problem... I would suggest you to eat more and get pass 180 lbs..

    That's where you should see your squat numbers skyrocket.

    Also cardiofitness can be made with simple running..

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    Quote Originally Posted by loganchristophe View Post
    150 lbs.. here's your problem... I would suggest you to eat more and get pass 180 lbs..

    That's where you should see your squat numbers skyrocket.

    Also cardiofitness can be made with simple running..
    This is a great point. If I were you, I'd really focus on strength and gaining some weight. Once you fill out then I would focus more on CF work.

    Many CF programs are adding more base strength work because for most guys to follow just metcon after metcon, they'll waste away.

    Now if your goal is to stay at this weight for a sport with a weight class, or you want to be a bodyweight exercise monster, then you might want to spend lots of time doing gymnastic work and building up strength without weight gain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by loganchristophe View Post
    150 lbs.. here's your problem... I would suggest you to eat more and get pass 180 lbs..

    That's where you should see your squat numbers skyrocket.

    Also cardiofitness can be made with simple running..
    Well yeah understand your point. WHen I first started lifting I weighed 125 lbs. Did the starting strength thing and "bulked" up to 170 lbs. My lifts did increase but I become fairly unconfortable at that body fat so did a "cut" down to 150 lbs down to my old level of leanness but with 25 lbs of muscle mass.

    When I went at it the second time it didn't work so well. I went from 150-175 with 80% (maybe more) of it being fat. My strength didn't go far either. So I dieted back down to 150 and decided I just want to maintain my strength and focus on performance.

    Anyways, just an update. have been doing CF for 9 weeks. PR'd in DL, OHP (modest PR's) and front squat (pretty good PR actually and my form got way better on this lift). Back squat stayed the same and my pull ups got better. The box has yet to program bench press so I am sure that took a hit.

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