The strength component of our classes – why do we do it and how important is it?
I am sure that some of you would argue that the met-con component of our workout is the most important component and you should save your energy for it.
I personally would disagree.
Let me ask you a few questions;
What is it that stops you from doing benchmark WOD’s as Rx?
Is it the fact that you cannot go fast enough to do it?
Or is it the fact that you cannot lift the weight to do it?
Are you starting to catch on?
What is it that stops you from doing a pull up workout as Rx?
It is the fact that you get too puffed?
Or is it the fact that you don’t have the strength to do a pull up?
Or is it the fact that you haven’t mastered the skill of the kipping?
Or is it both?
I think you might be catching on now!
Which of the following statements makes more sense? “Going faster makes you stronger” or “Getting stronger makes you go faster”
I allocate 15 minutes almost every session to developing strength and skill. Do you utilise that time or waste it?
If you are serious about being a better crossfitter then you need to be skilful and strong, not just fast.
When you test your 1Rm, you are effectively seeing the maximum amount of weight you can correctly lift in that particular modality. Be it snatch, clean and jerk, front squat, back squat, deadlift etc
When you test, you want to test accurately. You want to know that max weight, not say “that’s enough for today”
Now that you have your 1RM, we use it to take percentages of and smash out those lifts day in and day out for the next 6 weeks or so that it takes to plough through the program.
Then, you test that 1RM again and will increase that weight from what your old 1RM was. Low and behold, you are now stronger than you were 6 weeks ago. It’s not rocket science, it is just science
But, as we have seen, this is not always the case. Far too many people cruise through the strength section.
Here are the main problems
Not lifting with any intensity as they are trying to save themselves for the “main workout and get that killer score on the blackboard”
Never remembering the technique of the lifts and as such never getting to test the max weight they can lift because they are always “just trying to get the correct technique”
Not recording their weights and then not knowing where they are on the program, which lifts they have tested and how much weight they can lift.
Not reaching a true 1RM as they are scared to lift a heavy weight.
Not focussing on the program at all.
Spending that time to catch up for a good old chat.
Here’s what needs to happen
Get your technique perfect and never let any lifts deviate from perfect form.
Test your 1RM and make it a true maximal lift
Write it on the sheet.
When that sheet is full, move onto the next one at the required weight, reps and sets.
Focus on getting all of your sets completed at the correct weight with perfect technique.
Retest as soon as possible by completing the program as soon as possible by focussing on lifting as per the program everyday you can make it.
Retest with focus and intensity.
Don’t accept less on the retest. You are stronger, you know you are, so prove it.
Retest at the end of every program stronger than at the start.
Cycle after cycle add weight to your lifts. It may be 2.5kg it may be 5kg, it may be 10kg. It just needs to be more. It will only happen if you focus on it. It will only happen if you lift with focus and intensity day in and day out.
Warm up properly
There seems to be a little confusion about the need to warm up properly. Our warmup is general. It increases heart rate, body temperature and gets your joints mobile and loose. It does not prepare you to lift heavy weights. You must warm into those weights. I notice that the favourite lift you like to do an accelerated warm up on is the deadlift. You think that because you lift such big weights that the warm up should be heavy straight away. Not true!
If there is any lift you need to warm up properly, it is the deadlift. It is the lift that puts your back in the most compromised position and you lift very heavy weights. Now when you read that, doesn’t it sink in that you need to warm it up properly?
Don’t bludge through the warm up.
Get some reps with the bar, some light weight, some more weight, some more weight and you might be ready to lift or you might need another set with some more weight. Start with moderate reps and get less everytime you add some weight. It should only take a few minutes and will vary on the amount of weight and the lift you are performing on that day.
Here’s 2 tips;
When you carry your bar to where you are going to lift, do you bar reps before you put it down.
Every warm up set should be with perfect technique. Not some vague form while you think about something else.
Now to the Burgener warmup, I’m going to let this video do the talking – The Burgener warmup video
Pull ups and chin ups
Our pull ups and chin ups days are good for 3 reasons;
1) A day off the lifts every couple of days is good for your body
2) Everybody should be able to lift their own bodyweight. Everybody should be able to do strict pull/chin ups in case it is ever in a WOD.
3) The more strict pulls you can do, the better and more fluent your kips will be.
Remember that every time you hit that pull/chin up workout, you should increase your total reps by atleast 1. That means atleast 1 set has to have more reps than last time.
CrossFit is a good mix of strength and cardio, not a good mix of light weights and cardio. The weight should be a real challenge as well!
So if you’re serious about being a good CrossFitter and especially if you are serious about being a competitive CrossFitter then get stronger and more skilful as well as faster.
And remember, if you want to lose weight, lean muscle burns more calories while you are resting.