Last week in the comments I mentioned the analogy of the toolbox. Generally described, the tools are skills or knowledge designed to help and allow for success in a given situation. Having the many tools to choose from in your toolbox equips you to best deal with any situation presented to you.
In the strength and conditioning world we have tools in our toolbox to choose from. But like the surveyor’s transit pictured, if you haven’t been taught it’s proper application, a tool is just a piece metal for the uneducated and ignorant to fumble with.
Chains, fat bars, and bands all have their place. They’re some of many of the tools we use to build strength. But in any trade, the knowledge and often the little “tricks” are what makes the difference between the successful artisan and the failure. Hence the term “the tricks of the trade”.
At CFW, the instructors possess the knowledge of how to use the tools of the strength trade to elicit very measurable gains.
Kelly Lieghman came to CrossFit in January 2010 only weeks after having her baby, Ellen. Kelly had done no dedicated weight training before that. She now deadlifts 275lbs at a BW of 130lbs. She throws around weights in our workouts that many CrossFitters have as their maxes. All while rocking a set of chiseled abs!
In his first year at CFW, Chip Bullock increased his front squat from a relatively weak 155lbs to a respectable 275lbs. I’m not being hard on Chip. His front squat was relatively weak because he had been training at a CrossFit affiliate for TWO years prior to coming to CFW. Not only did Chip get stronger, but through better training from the more knowledgeable instructors at CFW, he was shown the “tricks of the trade”. Those “tricks” so vastly improved his technique, he got significantly stronger. Did I mention his Fran and Fight Gone Bad has also improved greatly? Strength develops and supports metabolic conditioning, not the the other way around.
CFW has always been known for its stength bias. But at CrossFit competitions we crush the metcon stuff too. Last weekend at the CF Games Regionals, Team CFW set the world’s fastest time on WOD 4, a lightweight metcon. John Z., rocked a second place in the running / rowing WOD 1. Ben S., the heaviest and strongest member of the team, is a rippled 205lbs, has a 520lbs deadlift and just hit a 427 on Fight Gone Bad.
Our bigger, stronger athletes are just as fast as the lightweights at other CrossFits. Our lightweights are faster and stronger than theirs. Muscle ups and double unders will never make people stronger, much less gain muscle. That’s apparent in the skinny fat types that only program and do metcon stuff.
Throwing in some lightweight chains purchased at the hardware store to a sporadic, unplanned and ineffective strength workout isn’t going to to help either.
CFW uses periodization and purpose in it’s programming. We have separate programs from our CrossFit dedicated to Oly lifting and also strength conditioning. The other CrossFit blindly copies our efforts… it may appear to have the tools, but a closer look shows it’s all just an attempt to keep up. Like a Garter Snake mimicking a Canebrake, it doesn’t really have any venom in its bite. And so it is with the sledgehammers and sleds before, the chains are no good if your “coach” doesn’t know the techniques to maximize their use. The next thing you know we’ll see time under tension, tempo, and single joint exercises misused too. Imitation may be flattery, but a young, inexperienced “coach” with no strength background is endangering his clients in futile attempt to do what CrossFit Wilmington does so well. Just watch… they’re try to post tempo work too.
CrossFit programs are for General fitness. Chains are for specific strength training goals and can be easily misused in a CrossFit gym. But unlike crappy metcon technique, misuse of chains and bands can cause serious injury. I point this out because I care about the reputation of Crossfit. I care about CrossFitters, their improvements, achievements and most importantly, their health… especially in Wilmington.
This week CFW begins another strength phase. This one is going to be a bit different. We’ll incorporate more single joint movements to help correct and strengthen imbalances we’ve developed. But as usual, the foundation will be squats, deadlifts, pulls, and presses.
I like to warn, with lifting and strength work comes appetite. You need to tune up your diet and not allow yourself to eat on cravings and whims. If you take advantage of a strength conditioning program’s potential to boost your testosterone and growth hormone, you can easily drop fat. Increase your protein intake throughout the day. Multiply your lean body mass by .8 and that is a good number a grams of protein to consume daily. As always, watch the carbs. No carbs if you’re over 12% b0dyfat fellas. Ladies over 14%, you get no carbs either. If you’re under those two numbers, you can add a few carbs (20 grams or so) to your post workout meal.
There’s lots more you can do with nutrition and supplements to get stronger, gain muscle, and lean out. But it can get elaborate. Set up a nutrition counseling session with me and I’ll line out a detailed feeding and supplement program. I’ll get you lean and muscular before the last beach wods!