We have analyzed this year’s top six CrossFit Athletes and identified the secret to success in CrossFit, and what it takes to get good or great at CrossFit!
Every one of these athletes does a super-secret training program that can be described as follows: Constantly Varied (CV) Functional Movements (FM) performed at High Intensity (HI). These athletes strive to Increase Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains. They move large loads long distances quickly. They use compound multi-joint movements that involve the whole body. In short THEY DO CROSSFIT! Read that again. Write it down if you need to. Every one of these champions and podium athletes do CrossFit. They DO NOT DO STRENGTH CYCLES.
Rich Froning has gone from a 155 pound snatch in 2009 to a 300 pound snatch in 2013. He has won the games three times in a row, and developed amazing athletic ability, without any periodization of any kind. Rich has a degree in exercise science and, as he says: “None of it really makes sense if I looked at this a few years ago and you told me this would work, I would have said, ‘You’re an idiot.’” Perhaps. Or perhaps, perhaps, it is simply that CrossFit is cutting edge, works, is not yet entirely understood, and traditional exercise science is lacking. We would say that we believe it is lacking.
Jason Kalipha does fairly un-extrodinary CrossFit training and Deadlifts 550 pounds. He has better overall placings than anyone besides Rich Froning, including a win in 2008.
As he says:
“Ultimately here is the secret.
Train Hard (preferably with others)
Enjoy the experience.
I promise you that the results will be amazing, it just simply takes time. Enjoy!!!”
Sam Briggs publishes her training. It is very metcon heavy. She deadlifts 370 pounds at a bodyweight of 132 pounds! What! This is not to say she does not strength train, simply that like all of these athletes, she folds in her strength training. In December 2012, she did a “Hero” almost every day. If anything, she has a “CrossFit-Bias”.
Lindsay Valenzuela is currently dominating in two sports: CrossFit AND Olympic Lifting. At the same time! If that does not tell you all you need to know about “periodization” or “strength cycles” we cannot help you.
So why is it that folks seem to desire strength cycles? Wish to do Secret Squirrel programming or “experiment on themselves”? We would posit that it is for several reasons. We know that in our current space our programming is incomplete because of space and time constraints. Strength Cycles are easy and fun, compared to CrossFit. Strength cycles are numerically rewarding: Yesterday I did X, today I did X+5, tomorrow I hope to get X+10. The problem is, for CrossFit, while you may gain strength (or power) a bit more quickly, removing the focus on all of your other abilities (speed, cardio, stamina, accuracy, agility, flexibility, coordination and balance), is going to leave you an unfinished work. It has been our observation, over and over and over, that strength cycles don’t make you better at CrossFit. In fact, in our estimation, the most likely effect of a strength cycle is to make people stop CrossFitting and take up Power Lifting or Olympic Lifting. Make of that what you will, but if the goal is to be a better CrossFitter, that is a bad outcome.
One caveat: for the SEVERELY imbalanced and SMALL athlete a brief, focused strength (or more accurately muscle gain) cycle can be called for. Chris Spealler put on 12 pounds to remain competitive, but this meant going from 139 to 151 pounds. And by the way he can do 106 pull-ups (Chris invented the butterfly pull-up). Not many people are in that boat. We can think of one person out of over 300 at CFEB who should do this.
- Do CrossFit
- Come to every class (5X a week)
- Follow the program exactly
- Keep coming back.
Going forward at our new facility at 66 Franklin St. in Jack London Square, we will be fully enacting this philosophy. There will be no strength program or strength cycles. Our focus will be on cutting-edge CrossFit classes. Classes will be 75 minutes long, which will give us time, in five classes per week (6 1/4 hours) to deliver a truly comprehensive program which will challenge and completely satisfy all but true Regional-Level or Games-Level competitors, and possibly them as well. Weekend Warrior Athletes will have 7 hours of training a week, and the East BayBarians (Our 2014 Regional Team) will be doing from 8-10 hours a week of training, all within the context of our program. Here is an example using our Basic/Weekend Warrior/Competitor Template:
Run 800 meters
CFEB Dynamic Mobility
A: Hang Power Snatch 3-3-3-3-3
B: Box Squat 5-5-5+ @ 80% of 1RM
C: AMRAP in 15:00
25 Box Jumps
25 Pull-Ups (sub JPU)
A: Squat Snatch 3-3-3-3-3
B: Squat 3X 85% of 1RM EMOTM for 12 minutes
C: AMRAP in 15:00
100 Wall-Ball 20/14
50 Box Jumps
Specific training for competition:
If you are doing this we own you. You will not be doing anything else without permission.
This is not for the hobbyist, and has specific performance and attitude requirements.
The SECRET To CrossFit Training!