Today I’ll finish writing about my interview with Max Lewin of
Byers: Here’s another one – I’d like to improve strength, but I don’t want to lose too much of my met-con capacity. I’ve been programming based on Gant’s Hybrid theories, but I’ve stalled. Now, I’m seeing only tiny strength gains,
Lewin: The limiting factor for many people in doing workouts as Rx’d is a lack of ability to move the heavier weights…
Byers: Absolutely. I can rock a body weight or low weight workout, but throw 75# on the bar and I fall apart. I’ve been working a strength program to try to combat that… but I’m not positive that’s going to give me the most bang for the buck. What good is getting a whole lot stronger if by the time you get there, your lungs are totally deconditioned?
Lewin: The ten physical skills of CrossFit fall along a continuum of persistence versus ease of development. Cardiovascular endurance is, by far, the easiest thing to develop, but the least persistent. You can improve endurance daily, but cessation of “cardio” will result in an almost immediate decrease in capacity. The de-training effect is most dramatic in beginners, who will lose
At the other end of the continuum is strength, specifically limit strength – the amount of musculoskeletal force you can generate for one all-out effort. This takes many, many years to develop. Once developed, however, such strength is very persistent, and even if lost comes back very quickly when training is recommenced. (Balance is also subject to this effect – riding a bike for instance.)
I believe that because of the above effects, for many athletes a Rippetoe-style weight training in place of (or in addition to) CrossFit will lead to faster gains in the long-term.
- Cardio = Easy come, easy go… and easy come on back
- Strength = Harder to build, slower gains, but sticks around in a persistent fashion
- Add a strength focus to your CF workouts for faster (and more permanent) overall gains
Note: I have, of course, known this all along. This is not brand new information. I’ve been told by countless Smart people (my trainer, Gant, Struck, the CF Brooklyn boys) to screw the 45 minute chippers and just get STRONGER. I’ve even sporadically listened to that advice, from time to time, which is how I got started on Gant’s Hybrid program in the first place. But for reasons I’ll go into more tomorrow, I always end up slowly veering from my strength path back to my 45 minute chippers. So hearing this from Max, yet again, right now, for the 424th time, was what I needed to kick-start this new program.
I’ll post my actual program tomorrow, along with some starting stats so I can compare now vs. eight weeks from now. I’m excited to have a little more structure to my workouts, and I do plan on hitting more of the “Main Site” WODs for my met-con days. As much as I’ve been violently opposed to the idea of doing Fran (asking me, “What’s your Fran time?” will always provoke a response of, “Who gives a shit? Ask me how much I deadlift.”), I should probably do the stupid thing at least once.
- Jump rope, 5:00 + 50 DUs
Back squat, 3×5 at 80% 1RM
- Warm-up 5@45#, 3@75#, 3@95#, 1@105#
Back squat, 3×5 at 82% 1RM
- Warm-up 5@45#, 3@75#, 3@95#, 1@105#
Press, 3×5 at 85% 1RM
- Warm-up 5@25#, 3@45#
Squats felt easier than they have in a long time. I think my form is pretty much dialed in. The presses, though, felt E.A.S.Y. Like, I could have put up another two reps in each set easy. Big improvement from the last time I did this exact rep scheme, when I failed on one or two of the reps.
- 25 KTEs
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Jason Struck , RKC says
I don’t really know who Max is, so forgive me if I sound like a jack-ass when I affirm that Max is indeed dead on in his physiological assessment of bio-motor abilities.
I went without a rack for about 8 months. No back squats, and hell, nothing heavier than I could clean or snatch frankly.
I lost about 40lbs (305 to 265) in my back squat during that period. A little over 10% in a 30 week period. And I have regained 10lbs for sure in the last 10 days, working a single over 90% on three days.
Absolute strength is like a good dog.
Cardio is like a that chick you picked up at that car show.
Brandon P. Petersen says
I <3 Wendy's
Evelyn Rodas says
Connie, fellow CrossFitter, has recently had some excellent strength gains as a result of foregoing the metcon and working on Rip-style programming. See her results here: http://moreconnie.blogspot.com/
This is notable b/c she’s a 5’2″ and 112# little powerhouse…and SHE IS FAST!!!
*ahem, I believe the idiots at Crossfit Brooklyn told you the same thing… Does any one listen to us? :(
Melissa Byers says
I KNOW you guys did!!!!! You boys are Smart too. If I had to list the names of all the people who have said the very same thing to me at some point in the past, the post would be 17 pages long. This is just how I roll… I have to hear something 423 times before it actually clicks. More on this tomorrow, because I KNOW I’m not the only one out there with selective hearing…
Alexander Kornishev says
Melissa, I really enjoyed reading your blog. I laughed as much as I learned from it. The time and passion you put into your work makes you an inspiration for many people. Keep it coming!
just my 0.02$ about strength vs. metcon… it is very feasible to work on both at the same time. Such a system will not be the most efficient but you will see improvements in both. As you mentioned Gant’s Hybrid is just one of many ways to implement such a program. I am not sure if it can be really successfully used by anyone (I know I would burn out very quickly). And not sure if it has to be that strict in structure. But the main idea that so many metcons are not really necessary is probably right for most people. I know it was right for me because I did not see any improvements in slow lifts for a year following almost exclusively Main Page. Doing less metcons will not result in any less conditioning. It has been a year since I started doing less main page WOD and implemented more strength and gymnastics days. Exactly 1 year later I am still getting PR in metcons, slow and olympic lifts and at the same time doing a lot of gymnastics work. I think it is just a question of how comfortable you feel with what you are doing and that will define the trade off between different skills in your program. But it will mostly effect the pace at which you progress only and until you hit advanced level in skills you work on the trade off between end results will not be that significant. As long as you are intermediate there should be no problem at all.
The Fran hype is just that, hype. I believe the hype stems from Coach’s mention of it at certification seminars as “the benchmark.” People train for it, which completely defeats the premise behind CF and GPP.
I do get “the dread” the night before I do Fran, and I know I play into everyone’s comments on the main site. I skipped the last Fran for that reason.
Jason Struck , RKC says
Yet Fran is 95lbs, a substantial load for almost anyone to ‘thrust’.
As is a pull up. Few of my clients come to me owning more than 3. Most none.
I wouldn’t knock Fran as hard as FGB or Angie/Barbara. Those aren’t far enough removed from jogging for me to feel comfortable doing them.
hey, i did a similar workout, i am following performance menu now. heavy work, but fun, in a sick sort of way. Nice work. heavy weight gives you a different high than the wods, but it’s all good. I am sure your hair looked great throughout your workout!
Hey Melissa, I was just thinking along the same lines. I’d like to build my strength, but hate to give up running and metcons. I was thinking about grabbing a copy of Starting Strength. I still consider myself a newb, so I don’t know if I’m ready for Gant’s hybrid programming yet.
Gant Grimes says
Well said, Struck. There’s a car show in every town. And the more cardio-y the workout, the more shame I feel.
Alexander, good advice and good progress.
Good advice, Max. I’d like to emphasize this:
“Once developed, however, such strength is very persistent, and even if lost comes back very quickly when training is recommenced.”
Too many CFers do “a cycle (6-12 weeks) of SS and go back to doing WODs.” Never mind that this is not enough time on SS; it’s not enough time to develop this persistent strength Max is talking about. If someone elects to do a little SS, he should transition to a strength-biased program before returning to WODs full time. If nothing else, throw some ME work somewhere (preferably in those places you are apt to hop around like a jackass).