Every single person in the fitness world is looking to gain something different from the next person, perhaps their reasoning is different, or they are going for a very specific look. Regardless of why you are looking to take up a fitness regime, it is an important and healthy choice.
In the case that you are looking for a way to gain strength and put on lean muscle, CrossFit is a fantastic place to start. But, how do you add strength to your regime while balancing the demands of a GPP program? (General Physical Preparedness) Do you take on more strenuous heavy weightlifting on top of your regular workout in order to add strength?
In this article, we will be looking at CrossFit strength training programs and workouts you can enjoy.
What is CrossFit?
The first question that would come to mind if you are new to the fitness world might be, what is CrossFit Strength Training, or CrossFit in general? This is a perfectly valid question and one that is easily explainable.
CrossFit is essentially a form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that focuses on strength and conditioning. It is made up of functional movements like squatting, lifting, pushing, or pulling which are performed at a high-intensity level.
But, what is CrossFit actually good for in terms of fitness? As a high-intensity workout, CrossFit is really effective as a workout tool in order to lose weight, build up your strength, agility, and flexibility.
It is a lifestyle that highlights the importance of safe yet effective exercise coupled with sound nutrition. So, you get the best of both worlds. Best of all, it is a workout program that will suit any level of fitness. If you are just starting out or are athletic, to begin with, this workout will be great for you and be tailored to your skill level.
Is CrossFit a Safe Form of Exercise?
As with any high-intensity workout, there is always the risk of injury. This will always be the case, especially when you increase the intensity of your workouts or increase the amount of weight you are lifting. Injuries such as lower back pain, knee injuries, or Achilles tendon strains are common injuries in CrossFit. Whether you are not familiar with CrossFit or are new to this form of exercise, it is highly recommended that you work with a professional fitness trainer, the reason that this is an important first step is that they can make sure that you are doing the following:
- Make sure you have the proper form
- Stop you from moving through exercises at a pace that could cause injury
- Stop you from lifting more weight than you can handle
As a newcomer to CrossFit, you will need to take a slower pace and slowly increase your weights, even then, only when your level of fitness permits it.
With all this in mind, it is important to understand that not everyone should use CrossFit as their main form of exercise. In fact, pregnant people, people with serious injuries, or even older people are not recommended to be doing CrossFit. But, there are always exceptions, so check with your doctor before you start.
What are the Benefits of CrossFit Strength Training?
The benefits of improving your strength through training can be impactful on your body, and in the best way. You can improve the amount you can lift, the size of your muscles, increase tendon and ligament strength, keep your joints healthy, and so much more. The benefits of taking on CrossFit strength training is certainly something to consider for your overall health, but it may not be for everyone, for example, some people may not want to increase the size of their muscles and so strength training may need to be tailored to suit each individual’s needs.
CrossFit strength training specifically will have much the same effect as any other strength training:
- Weight Management & Burning Calories - This kind of workout will likely cause you to burn more calories than other workouts, this is because of the high-intensity training and the fact that you can also burn calories during a recovery period.
- Physical Strength - As stated before, you will likely improve your strength and muscle size if you add additional weight to your workouts. So, if that is something you are aiming for in your fitness journey, you can easily bulk up or simply grow stronger depending on your preference.
- Agility, Balance, and Flexibility - Because CrossFit tried to include functional exercises that copy everyday life movement, you can really improve your overall agility, balance, and flexibility. Exercises like squats, or kettlebell swings are two examples of such exercises.
- Aerobic Fitness - CrossFit uses a high-intensity power training known as HIPT which increases the maximum amount of oxygen you use when you exercise. This allows you to do more high-intensity exercise.
There are a lot of benefits to CrossFit strength training, we have looked at several of the ways it can benefit your health. But, what kind of workouts can you do within this strength training program in order to achieve any of these benefits?
If you are still keen on taking up CrossFit, you must be wondering what kind of workouts you can expect to be doing. Well, that is what we will be looking at next.
Basic Strength CrossFit Workouts
While you would normally work out specific parts of your body that you want to improve using exercises like bicep curls, leg extensions, or calf raise. This is not generally the case in CrossFit, as these workouts are not the sort of movements you will see. As a rule in a CrossFit strength program you will be doing variations of the general workouts, some of these include:
- Clean and Jerks
- Bench Presses
- Overhead Presses
In addition to exercises like these, you may want to do specific prehab exercises, these will be simple exercises you can do that will help you avoid injury or pain. They are usually designed around you and what you will be doing, as well as focusing on what you are vulnerable to. Some prehab exercises might include band pull aparts, or face pulls.
A few beginner CrossFit exercises are as follows:
This kind of exercise is a full-body workout you can use to improve your strength across your whole body. Each repetition will work your arms, chest, quads, glutes, core, and hamstrings. This is a good exercise, to begin with, if you want overall strength and improved fitness, and can be a great place for a beginner to begin their CrossFit journey.
- To do this exercise, you will need to start at a standing position and lower yourself to a squat. Put your hands on the ground and kick your legs back into a push-up position. Next, you will do one push-up, go back to your squat position, jump up, and land in a squat position before standing up and beginning the whole process again.
If you want to get stronger upper back muscles, shoulders, and arms, the shoulder press will greatly help you achieve strengthening these groups. If you want to increase the size of these areas as well as strengthen them, this is an exercise that will help you achieve that.
Slowly adding weight to your bar will only improve your strength. Be aware that you will need to consult a professional trainer if you are new to weight lifting.
- You will need an empty barbell, place it on your shoulders and grip it with your hands just a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. Push the bar over your head and return to your start position before beginning the process again.
Air squats are a solid way to build up your strength foundations as well as balance your lower body. They will specifically target your thighs, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. It is an exercise that is likely to add mass to these areas.
How to do Air Squats?
- Stand with your legs about a shoulder-width apart, tighten your core and lower your body by bending your knees, and making sure to keep your knees in line with your torso. Drop your hips below your news and stand back up, and begin the process again.
A box jump will do wonders in strengthening your lower body, muscles such as quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves will all be impacted by this simple workout. If you are looking to improve your cardio and burn calories, this is also a great exercise to help with that.
- You will need a stable platform or box to use for this exercise, then you must stand with your heels a shoulder-width apart and have your toes pointing outward a bit. Move down into a squat position, as you reach the bottom, jump up onto the box. Make sure to use your arms to keep momentum and balance. You should land with both feet on the box in either a standing or squat position. Finally, you will step off the box and begin the process again.
This is a well-known exercise that is often used in CrossFit, it works the triceps, pecs, and shoulders but if done properly a push-up can strengthen your lower back and core. But, this will only be the case if you engage the abdominal muscles. This is a fast and effective way to gain strength through CrossFit workouts.
- If you want to do regular push-ups, once you get into the push-up position, you will need to place your hands on the floor, making sure they are directly under your shoulders. Then you can slowly start to lower yourself all the way down to the floor, once you reach the bottom push back up and repeat.
- If you want to do a push-up with a hand release, you will first need to get into a push-up position with your hands directly under your shoulders. As you lower yourself, your chest will touch the floor. At this point, release your hands for a moment before putting your hands back onto the floor and pushing yourself back up to a starting position, so you can repeat the steps.
This workout move primarily focuses on shoulder strength, but it is also a great help in strengthening your glutes, calves, and hamstrings as well as improving the muscles on the upper and lower back.
- Stand with your feet at least a hip-width apart as you complete this exercise, make sure that your weight stays on your heels, and keep your chest open. Holding the bar in front of you, squat down and make sure to keep it in front of your shins and above your feet. Make sure that your arms are locked, and your elbows are facing outward, all while keeping your chest upright.
- Next, raise the bar, making sure you keep it vertical and pulling it slightly towards your body. As the bar goes past your knees, you will need to jump and shrug in order to bring the bar high so that you can catch it. As the bar reaches shoulder height, squat under it before resting it on the front of your shoulders, repeat the steps to get more reps.
This exercise will help burn fat and build muscle, it specifically targets abs, shoulders, glutes, pecs, his, quads, hamstrings, and lats. In addition to all that, the kettlebell swing can help improve grip strength.
- Stand with your feet a hip-width apart, keep your back straight as well as keeping your chest up over the kettlebell. Next, you will need to squat down, grab the kettlebell and make sure your palms are facing toward your body. Get back into a standing position and shift your weight onto your heels, making sure to bend your knees a bit and push your butt out behind you.
- As you do this movement, swing the kettlebell through the space between your legs. Keep your movement continuous and swing the kettlebell forward, making sure to raise it just below the shoulder in front of you, and repeat the motion again.
Workouts For The Day You Can Consider
Now that we know a few of the basic CrossFit exercises you can expect to see, the next question is what kind of workout regime should I use? The answer to this question is complicated and can differ from person to person, or even change based on each day. If you do not want to be doing the same workout every day, you might switch it up for a different series of exercises.
This should give your body the chance to rest in areas you have worked, as well as give you a different experience should you want it. What you want to do is select between 3 and 5 exercises to do per session and complete a certain number of reps within a specific time frame.
So, what workouts for the day or WODs are there to choose from? Below, we can see a few different WODs that have worked for some people.
This workout comes from the 2015 CrossFit games, involves 12 205-pound deadlifts, 9 hang power cleans, and 6 push jerks. A hand power clean is essentially the same as ‘the clean’ except there would be weights on it, and you continue the reps with the bar hanging at the waist.
Ring Dips, Deadlifts, Box Jumps
This example is exactly what it sounds like, you will be doing between 225-pound deadlifts, ring dips, and box jumps. The number of each that you will do depends on how many sets and reps you have planned. You could for example do this set 3 times and so 10 reps each.
This workout is fast-paced and not for the faint-hearted. This exercise should go on for 30 minutes, at the start of each minute you must complete 5 burpees before you continue to do thrusters. A thruster is essentially lifting a weighted bar above your head and squatting before placing the bar on a rack.
Run, Heavy Front Squats, Kettlebell Swings
In this workout, you will be doing 8 front squats, 400m run, and 12 70-pound kettlebell swings. If you want to do all these exercises in 30 minutes, you should be able to complete 3 rounds of each exercise.
Strength Program Recovery
If you are working out hard and are taking on extra strength-building exercises, it is a good idea to carefully look after your body and give it a chance to rest and recover.
If you want to make improvements in your body you must make sure to take care of it, strength training takes a toll on your body, both the muscles and nervous system are affected. Because of this, it is heavily recommended you take into consideration the following as a part of your CrossFit strength training, including what to eat and what to take for muscle recovery:
- Drink Plenty of Water: Dehydration on a normal hot day can be detrimental to your health, as an athlete you will need to take even more care to make sure you drink enough water as lack of hydration can negatively impact your performance.
- Eat Carbohydrates: This food group is essentially the fuel for your body, it allows you to both recover and drive your workouts.
- Eat Protein: You will need to consume plenty of protein, as this food group is great at increasing muscle strength as well as improving your hypertrophy gains. As a CrossFit athlete, you should try to consume 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean body weight per day. That should keep you strong and healthy, as well as adding strength to your muscles.
- Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is important for muscle recovery, as well as having less energy if you do not get 8+ hours of sleep, you may find that your performance is not quite as good as it should be. So make sure you get enough sleep and are well rested before your workout.
- Keep Moving: This is especially essential if you have been training twice per day, but keeping mobile can really help you recover. This can be done by taking walks or doing stretches, either after working out or on days you are not doing your CrossFit regime.
- Other Recovery Methods: it is no secret that athletes utilize recovery methods like ice baths, sauna trips, or massages. Any of these methods are great at allowing your body to recover and relax the muscles.
It is important that you take your recovery into account when you are on your CrossFit adventures. It is equally essential to care for your body after a strenuous workout. So you can support this new lifestyle as well as making sure your muscles have the time to rest so that you can avoid injury or get rid of the pesky stiffness after a hard workout.
That is all for this article, there is a lot that goes into the world of CrossFit, and adding strength training on top of that makes it all the more complex. Considering your fitness level is definitely something you will need to do, especially if you want to improve your strength via CrossFit.
Make sure to take care of your body after workouts, and do not forget to have fun while you are out there.
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