08 Sep Building Strength (CrossFit Focused)
In the CrossFit world and workouts I would say that one of the key factors to not being able to RX or complete something could be narrowed down to one main thing, not being strong enough.
Besides the actual skill of doing something you will also need to be strong enough to complete the movement at the prescribed weight, i.e. RX. In order to be able to do certain body weight movements like muscle ups and hand stand push ups you must be strong enough.
More Muscle Mass = More Strength
What this means is that you really can’t get one without the other. If you are going to become stronger you are going to need more muscle. If you are looking to gain more muscle, then you are going to want to get stronger.
I’m not trying to confuse you but just to show you that when you read all those magazines stating the “latest and greatest” it really can be boiled down to this simple principle. More Muscle Mass = More Strength
I understand that there are neural adaptations to a new skill and to the novice athlete starting a strength program or any program for that matter. On average it will take about 4 to 6 weeks for them to adapt to the task at hand and that is providing they didn’t change to a new program to “shock the muscles.”
When you have become accustom to the skill, lift, movement at hand then and only then will you be able to start increasing your actual muscle. So in essence you could say that your actual program will start 4 to 6 weeks from day 1.
This is when most people think they have hit a plateau and change up their routine, but in actuality it’s really when they need to just stick with the program. Muscle Mass and More Strength will happen after this acclamation.
Why People Plateau
For those of you that just do MetCons, Intervals and other BodyWeight workouts you will eventually hit a wall. Some may “feel” as though they are always improving based off the fact that they are changing their program to often.
Now that you understand the neural adaptation you can start piecing things together. You can see that just by becoming better skilled at something you will have the impression that you are putting on more Muscle Mass and More Strength.
It is with this mindset that you will become frustrated and your overall fitness will not only stop improving, but you could also overtrain and increase your risk for injury.
Training With Strength Bias
In CrossFit they us a lot of olympic style lifting so you will want to become stronger in these 4 main movements.
By training specifically for strength in these movements you will also want to keep some shorter MetCons in order to keep up your conditioning and gymnastic skills. Keeping them shorter will allow you to keep what you have gained in this area all the while still getting stronger.
How Often Do I Lift?
You should be lifting about 4 to 5 days a weeks with strength bias in order to gain More Muscle Mass and More Strength. This will allow you for 2 to 3 full days to rest and recover from your training.
Lifts – Reps – Sets
Snatch, Clean, Squat should be done at least 2 times a week. This will allow for you to hone in your skill of these movements. Also these lifts will engage your whole mind whole body and will have the greatest effect on your metabolism in order to gain More Muscle Mass and More Strength.
In the Snatch, Clean, Jerk you should be doing 3 to 5 sets of 1 to 3 reps.
In the Squat you should be doing 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 5 reps.
Keeping the rep ranges no more than 5 will allow for you to lift heavier therefore adding More Muscle Mass and More Strength.
The multiple sets will give your body enough total volume to be able to break your muscles down and cause muscular growth.
Lighten Up Every 4 Weeks
In order to prevent overtraining and to give your joints time to recover you will want to deload about every 4 weeks. What this means is that you will do either one of the two choices.
- Cut the number of sets in half
- Drop the weight by about 10 to 15%
Most people training will skip this because they “feel good” and want to get stronger faster. They are making a big mistake and are risking injury and overtraining. In the long run these are the guys that will burn out or are sitting on the sidelines and not able to train at all. Don’t be that guy.
Gain 1 Pound A Week
This is a good average to maintain and will mean that most of your weight gain will be muscle and not fat. Provided you are training for strength and not going through fast food everyday this should be pretty attainable.
Feed the body you want, and hydrate the body you have.
Strength Builds Confidence
Stick with the program and don’t bounce all over trying this and that, or looking through the Muscle and Fiction magazine for your routines.
The goal here is to gain More Muscle Mass and More Strength which in turn will not only allow you to RX more workouts but it will give you confidence to take things on you never thought possible.
“When in doubt, just get stronger.”
Making A Difference
This article was in reference to a video from Doug Larson of Barbell Shrugged.