A Crossfit athlete must have all special strength’s. Explosive strength for jumping, speed strength for the Olympic lifts strength speed for the deadlifts. Most important though is general endurance for simultaneous strength training.
In many ways Crossfit is a form of circuit training but some exercises are for endurance. Many are explosive strength like jumping and many are very heavy like deadlifting or pulling a very heavy sled across a football field, to doing hand stand pushups. So both strength and endurance must be improved simultaneously as well as increasing oxygen consumption as well as your anaerobic metabolism
Strength training builds not only muscular strength but also mechanical strength of the connective tissue, especially around the joints. For tendons and ligaments a strong muscle will absorb more energy than a weak muscle group. For weight training I recommend the Westside three week pendulum waves, going from 50% to 60% in a three week wave with 25% band tension at lockout.
1st week – 12 sets of 2 reps
2nd week – 12 sets of 2 reps
3rd week – 10 sets of 2 reps
Rest intervals 45 seconds. If you squat 400lbs the weight ranges from 200lbs to 240lbs on the last week. This is 4,800lbs for squats. If you squat 300lbs your weights would be 150 – 180lbs. This math formula make it impossible to over train. Your deadlift could be trained the same way or the standing press or clean and snatch.
For injury prevention only 20% of the weight training is with a barbell, 80% is with special exercises, mainly reverse hypers, leg press, shrugs and back extensions. A 400lb squatter should do roughly 16,000lbs of reverse hypers and 16,000lbs of leg pressing.
These exercises work the body in single joint fashion which is much safer than high rep squats or deadlifts. This leaves time for chin-ups, jumps or upper body work like delt raises, front, side and rear. 10 sets of squats and 12 sets of deadlifts are done in around 20 minutes nonstop or 12 sets of cleans and 12 sets of snatches can be done in the same short time periods. Why so much attention on small exercises? To maintain proper muscle balance for prevention of injuries.
Building General Fitness
What is fitness? It is the ability to do every day activities much like a farmer or a manual laborer. Our style of lifting consist of pushing or pulling a strong man wheel barrow. The distance can vary greatly from 60 yards for football or any ball sports and including hockey.
My experience with a third ranked Olympic triathlete was the same for endurance athletes she would warm up on a non-motorized treadmill or walking in a belt squat machine until her heart rate rose to 155 then a sled weighing 45lbs, 70lbs or 80lbs was pulled up to as much as 2½ miles or until her heart rate was 195 beats per minute. While the sled work increased her times on the bike, and running, swimming decreased constantly. This was her workout except for some triceps and pullovers. There are many methods to build running endurance but the sled is superior to all others. Power walk, never run, as running adds to momentum.
With power walking each step is a start and it greatly reduces deceleration in all races from a 60meter to a marathon. Try pulling 45lbs or 90lbs on a sled while carrying a 40lb – 60lb medicine ball in your arms. This builds all endurance, muscular and oxygen consumption. A strong man yoke with different loads for a set distance ¼, ½ or one mile for a workout. This should be followed by jumping on to a box of low to moderate height for a 60 second drill. If you have a belt squat machine, walk in place for 1 up to 5 minutes with different weights for counting your steps. Also, carry a medicine ball while walking. By adding ankle weights or a Bulgarian bag of 20lbs up to 60lbs is a real test. More sled work calls for pushing a wheel barrow while pulling a sled behind.
The Zercher Lift
Lift a barbell held in your elbows off the ground for up to 20 reps, this is very tough but makes you ready for anything Crossfit can throw at you. To back up the zercher lift, do Ukrainian deadlifts. This is done with a kettlebell standing on two plyo boxes. High reps are in order for this one too. Lower the kettlebell as low as possible for a full stretch of the lower back, hamstrings and it also builds the abs. Even reps up to 100 is fine if your strength and fitness level will allow.
A great workout is to attach a mini band or Bulgarian bag (20lbs up to 60lbs for the very strong) around your waist while doing your chin ups, or if you are too weak to do a chin up you can attach a band on top of the rack then place your foot in it to make a chin up or pull up possible until you are strong enough to do a real chin up or pull up. There is nothing wrong with doing barbell rows, dumbbell rows, low pulley or chest supported rows to build your pull ups, power cleans, snatch and deadlift. Up right rows are a very effective exercise to increase your pulling strength. Try pushing a prowler with an assortment of weight for different distances. Also, add ankle weights, weight vest or both for variety.
Many Crossfit athletes come from a sport where circuit training was a main core of your training. This is common for wrestling. A common circuit would be dips for six reps then hurdle jumps for six reps, weighted sit ups for six reps, jumping squats for six reps, leg raises with weight for six reps and chin ups for six reps for example. This is for muscular endurance. A circuit can be done with machines, free weights and stretching as well. No rest between exercises.
It is recommended to do 5 – 15 reps per station. Much like a Crossfit event where max strength and endurance is contested on the same day you can do a heavy set 80% – 90% for 2 – 4 reps then a light set of a different exercise for high reps 8 – 12 reps, this is certainly Crossfit to make yourself bullet proof. The small exercises like reverse hypers, back raises, high rep leg curls up to 200 a day and abs all the time will ensure your success for competing at the games.