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A Question of Strength? Part1

Posted 13th July 2015 by Josh Schouten

GodSquatsIt’s never enough to just show up and work hard and expect the results to just happen. This is like blindly throwing money at the stock market and expecting to make a big return just because you made an investment.

To be successful takes an intelligent approach, and just like you need to invest your money wisely if you want it to grow, you need to invest your time wisely if you really want your strength and conditioning to improve.

Using a “one-size-fits-all” workout that some random person throws up online is never the most efficient way to train either (and often times, it’s dangerous).  Your program should be specific to your goals, where you are within your level of strength, your body’s limitations or injury history, etc.

We all want to be “elite” or at least “advanced” CrossFitters, so it makes sense to skip over the beginners programs and go straight to what the pros are doing, right? At first glance it may seem logical that if you copy strong people you’ll ultimately become just as strong yourself but even the slightest bit of reflection will reveal this hypothesis is flawed.

The truth is that we DO need to mimic strong people but you need to look at the whole picture rather than the end results.  Many of these strong people have spent years building strength in the gym or skills in their sports. Many of us only see the current way these athlete train, and not where they have come from. There are no shortcuts when it comes to building strength and all of us need to recognise where in the journey we currently sit.

Your development as an athlete is a journey that takes time and commitment.  Following the wrong path can lead to injury and zero progressions. Each athlete at CrossFit Hackney has the chance to follow a programme for his or her individual level:

  • Movement: Gets stronger each training session
  • Functional: Gets stronger from one week to the next
  • Sport: Takes about a month to get stronger
  • Performance: Takes months of planned periodization to increase strength

We all like to think of ourselves as Sport and Performance level athletes, but giving it some honest thought; we might come to the realisation that using a programme that is not suited to our actual level of strength can lead to little or no progress.

Let’s take a look at the typical example of a person in the Movement level thinking he or she should be higher. Since programmes for advanced lifters are tailored for such, their aim is not to bring about weekly weight increases but operate on a much longer time scale of months or more. Athletes jumping above their current level will not have the same improvements as they possible could have if they were honest with their current level of strength.

On the other hand, if a Sports or Performance athlete tries to use a programme below their level, they may struggle to see any improvements. This athlete will soon be banging his or her head against the wall wondering why the weights aren’t going up?  This level of programming is simply not suited to the strength of this athlete.

In the next phase of CrossFit Hackney programming we will be following a version of the Russian Squat Routine (RSR).  It is important that each individual athlete choose the level that matches his or her current strength.  Those that follow the correct programming will make the best progress over the coming 16-weeks.  At the end of the day isn’t this why we go to the gym?

In the next post I will talk more about how each level of athlete will attack the RSR.