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Nicolas Castonguay 07-07-2007 02:03 PM

Assuming I'd drop bodybuilding and stop working out to switch for Crossfit (I don't plan on doing it for now, I'm just curious) what would be the impact on my strength and lean mass gains? Would I lose strength/lean mass? win some? maintain?

Also, how good is crossfit compared to (natural) split routines? and compared to fullbody or upper/lower body routines mainly made of compounds? (once again for strength and lean mass gains)

Alex Nisetich 07-07-2007 02:55 PM

First off Nicolas, it's good to hear that you're curious about CrossFit. It's a safe bet that nobody here on the forums is going to tell you CrossFit is worse than a bodybuilding routine; we do CrossFit because we think it is the best way for us to be fit. If we thought bodybuilding was better, we'd all be reading "Flex" and choking down protein shakes.
Bias aside, I will tell you that if you want to be really bulky and have huge muscles, CrossFit is no better or worse than bodybuilding. If you want to be fit, healthy, and capable for a long time, in my opinion CrossFit is the way to go. You will almost certainly gain strength by switching to CrossFit; with regards to mass, your gains should come at the same rate assuming proper diet and recovery. There is no doubt that I look more "ripped" almost three months into CrossFit than before I started. I am also stronger, leaner, and fitter than before.
I actually laughed when I read the first sentence of your post -I mean no offense, but it was funny to me when you said you would "stop working out" so that you could "switch for CrossFit." You probably didn't mean it that way, but it's funny because CrossFit is far more physically challenging, and much more of a workout than bodybuilding could ever be. The workouts may sometimes sound easy, but they are strong medicine. Try the WOD posted on the main page of this site every day and you'll see what I mean. I hope you give CrossFit a try. The only risk is being humbled by a 110 pound girl who can do more pullups than you.

Alex Nisetich 07-07-2007 03:10 PM

I should also add that CrossFit is not meant to be the only activity in anyone's life. It is a "General Physical Preparedness" program designed to be beneficial for everyone that follows it. It is non-specific by definition, while bodybuilding is a very specific activity. If you want to bodybuild, you can add some bodybuilding protocol to CrossFit once you are able to do the WOD as prescribed. However, if you are not really a bodybuilder and are just concerned about being strong and having big muscles, CrossFit is probably enough. Try CrossFit for eight weeks, just so you can understand what it is and how it effects you, and then you can decide how to incorporate it into your larger exercise and fitness scheme.

Connie Morreale 07-07-2007 06:43 PM

alex said it all.

Simon Bowley 07-07-2007 11:59 PM

Very insightful posts there. Go for Crossfit. You'll feel it all over. I can't belive I actually did "isolation" exercises in the past....!

Peter Dell'Orto 07-08-2007 01:28 AM

It's a good question.

I think that you can probably do crossfit as the basis of a bodybuilding program. I'd suggest that you give it an honest try - do the WODs, perhaps using a "ME" version (doing a WOD, then a maximum effort lifting day for one compound lift, then a WOD, then rest) and see what happens. It should be pretty clear after a month or two of effort if you're gaining, losing, or staying the same. Then you can evaluate if it's the right method for you. If it is, just keep going. If not, drop it. If some parts are useful, take what's working for you. You can always add bodybuilding-style workouts to your routine as you approach a contest or otherwise as needed. If you're already doing lots of compound exercises, you should be able to slide right into crossfit.

I'm currently trying crossfit on a slightly-modified schedule along with a dedicated full-body workout day once a week for my MMA training. I figure it should be clear within 2 months if this combination is superior to what I've been doing. If not, I can always go back to what I was doing before. If it is, well, it was worth trying.

For a summary of the Black Box ME approach I mentioned above check this thread:

Whether you do crossfit or not, good luck with your bodybuilding and reaching your goals. With so many couch potatoes around we exercising folks need to stick together. :D

Steven Low 07-08-2007 08:32 AM

To answer your questions:

1. Strength and lean mass gains depend on the type of program, your diet and your body. If you're already 300 lbs of muscle at 5% bodyfat, CF *WILL* make you lose muscle mass. Basically, it's going to put you to near your optimal weight for your bodytype. If you're an average person like 180 lbs at 15-25% BF, it will probably add muscle and lean you down into the single digits for BF assuming you have a great diet, which, by the way, is the MOST important factor in gaining muscle mass.

2. Again, losing or gaining mass depends on how advanced you are beforehand. If you're squatting over 1000 lbs, chances are you're gonna lose some strength. Most people here with some direct strength work squat and DL above 400 with CF combined with max effort. If you're not there yet, this might be a good place to start (or at least Starting Strength program by Mark Rippetoe).

3. As I stated in another thread, if you're asking a question about full body vs. split routines, you probably (99% of the time) should be on a full body. I believe either Chad Waterbury or Charles Poliquin said it best about 80-90% of the people need to be on full body. If you're within 10% of your goal, split routines might be the answer, but if you're looking to add significant lean mass and drop BF, full body gives you MUCH more bang for your buck. (Also the reason why why compounds are better than isolation exercises in these cases)

The reason being that full body routines hit the muscles at least 3 if not more times a week on a m,w,f or greater schedule. On a split you're really only hitting your muscles once a week which is not optimal for muscle growth or strength.

4. Push/pull is better than upper/lower as you can hit a push/pull muscles more times a week than an upper/lower. Plus, it relatively evens out muscle groups since legs can be hit relatively easily with big compounds like oly lifts, squats, SLDLs, etc. while you need tons of exercises for an upper.

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