• Rob Olson

Do I need a strength program?

If you’ve been in the box for a while, you’ve probably seen somebody doing some squats off to the side of the class. When you ask them what they are doing, they reply “I’m on a squat program!” … But what does that even mean?

Strength Programs 101

What is a strength program?

  • A strength program is a dedicated lifting prescription with the goal of getting you stronger.

  • Most programs last about 3 months

  • For example, a back squat program may look like this:

Why is a strength program needed?

  • First things first, if you have been doing CrossFit for 3 years or less, you do not need a strength program. Just keep doing CrossFit class. Focus on proper form at high intensity. This is the best bang for your buck.

  • If you’ve been doing CrossFit for multiple years, and feel your strength is your biggest limiting factor, then a strength program may be beneficial.

  • Big key point … is strength your limiting factor? Or is it mobility? Or metabolic conditioning? Or nutrition? Or proper muscle recruitment for the exercise? Just be sure you are putting your effort into what is needed most. Doing a squat program if your glutes are not working properly will yield mediocre results.

  • Sometimes a strength program is not needed, but its just fun to do, and that’s cool to!

How do you pick a strength program?

  • The internet is full of free programs. Then there are pay programs, ranging from $5/mo to customized plans over $200/mo.

  • Popular programs include Wendler, Smolov, Westside, Russian, Hybrid Performance, and more

  • Any program will work, as long as you follow it! It is my opinion that the commitment to the process yields the results, not so much the specific set+rep scheme of the program. Hard work pays off!

How do you implement a strength program around CrossFit?

  • It depends on your program, but let’s say it wants you to train 3x/week. I would put CrossFit Tue/Thur/Sat and strength Mon/Wed/Fri. Vary it as needed for your daily grind. Some athletes if they have the time could even put a strength session in before a CrossFit metcon (2+ hrs to train).

  • But what if CrossFit has squats on Thursday and I’m supposed to squat on Friday? Honestly its not that big of a deal. Get extra warmup and your legs will be good to go!

What about nutrition and strength training?

  • Muscle will not grow unless your body has enough calories. Building requires a SURPLUS of calories. This means you need to eat more if the goal is to get stronger.

  • This is not the time to go on a diet or reduce calories!

  • Adequate protein intake is a must, generally speaking 1g per 1lb of bodyweight. Some even suggest higher, around 1.5g if you are doing serious training.

  • Questions on nutrition? Email us nutrition@cfsimsbury.com

Final Key Points

  • Doing a strength program is completely optional. What are your goals with CrossFit? Do you feel limited by your strength? Are you looking for a competitive edge? Or do you come to CrossFit to just stay active and healthy?

  • Sometimes its just fun to do a strength program. If you start one, I highly recommend finishing it! Often times people get 1 month into a program and stop because they miss doing CrossFit class. Give it an honest go at it to realize the gains.

  • If you were doing CrossFit 5x/week, but now do strength 3x/week, be prepared for your metabolic conditioning to go down. You wont be as fast as you were before the program, but with your new found strength, the speed will come back quick.

  • Remember, Open Gym is not coached. You need to be confident in your lifts and technique.

Questions about strength training?

Ask a Coach! We are here to help with any general questions.

If you need specific help or want a customized program for you, we can help with that too.

Happy Training!

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