May 21st, 2011
Many have noted that increasing strength pays big dividends when it comes to conditioning workouts involving weighted implements. Let’s take a look Workout 3 that was recently posted for the CrossFit Regional Competitions:
21-15-9 reps for time of:
Deadlift (315lb / 205lb)
Box jump (30"/24")
Note the weight on the deadlift. The unfortunates tasked with completing this workout need to pull 315 pounds (or 205 pounds for women) off the ground 45 times. How will that task be accomplished if 315 pounds represents something close to a trainee’s one repetition maximum (1RM)? I’ll provide a hint: it won’t happen. No matter how fast a trainee can run, unless their 1RM is well above 315 pounds, this workout will grind to a halt. The strength that enables a heavy pull is a prerequisite before conditioning of any kind can even be considered.
I recently had a conversation with an unnamed engineer on the Bay Bridge, who also happens to be a member of CFO, about strength and its application to CrossFit. Said engineer was by no means weak, but recently embarked upon a strength program before making a return to CrossFit workouts. His 1RM squat improved from approximately 360 pounds to around 430 pounds. If I am off on those numbers, I am sure a correction will be forthcoming in the comments. Despite the fact that his conditioning regressed, he reported that the extra strength he gained positively impacted his CrossFit workout performance.
That’s worth thinking about for a moment. An increase in strength makes many CrossFit workouts easier by virtue of making each repetition a smaller percentage of a trainee’s 1RM. The weight feels lighter and is therefore moved with less exertion. How heavy will a 95 pound thruster feel when you can squat 400 pounds? Not very heavy. Strength breeds capability and is the foundation of work capacity. Conditioning is still very important in CrossFit workouts, but if strength increases are not being aggressively pursued, enormous gains across a broad suite of activities are being left on the table.