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Old 09-05-2007, 04:53 AM   #1
Robin Ince
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thoughts on beginner program

Hello,

I am 26/male/6'1"/180lbs... I've never done that much sport or exercise, but a few months ago I started cycle commuting and it got me back into using my body...

So my goals are mainly to get stronger - I'd like to be able to carry my bike up two floors to my flat without it being such a struggle, and I'd also like to be able to do some of the gymnastics things, like elbow leaver, hspu etc. because I think they look really fun!

I'm really interested in Crossfit, I do have an affiliate not too far from me, but at the moment I have very cheap access to a gym a few minutes walk from my house, so I think theres plenty I can do to get started on my own.

I've been doing the routine from simplefit.org for a few weeks (only on level 2 though) - I really like it and I think the continuous progress and level system will really help to keep me motivated while starting out and getting into the routine of more regular exercise. However most of my goals are strength based, so I think I need to add in some weights. I've tried to mix in some of the ideas from the beginner program at stronglifts.com and come up with the following... Just wanted to gauge peoples views on whether they think this is sensible, or any changes to the weight workouts. Also I will be cycling 12 miles round trip 4/5 times a week, but while doing this I would probably not push too hard with the cycling (slow pace).

All the weights are starting with an empty bar and adding 2.5kg a workout.

Workout A

* Back Squat 5x5
* Overhead Press 5x5
* Deadlift 3x5
* Dips 3x5 assisted or 3xfailure normal

Workout B

* Front Squat 5x5
* Bench Press 5x5
* Deadlift 3x5
* Pullups 3x5 assisted or 3xfailure normal

In terms of the week the program would be:

Simplefit Day3 (timed set of pulls, pressup, squat),
Workout A,
Rest Day,
Simplefit Day1 (scaled 'Cindy'),
Rest Day,
Workout B,
Rest Day

What do you think?
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Old 09-05-2007, 05:21 AM   #2
Peter Dell'Orto
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Simplefit is pretty nice, isn't it? Wish I'd been on that when I started exercising, I'd have gotten fitter faster.

A few thoughts on your program:

- that's a lot of work on each day. 5x5 squats, 5x5 press, 5x5 deadlifts plus dips, then 5x5 front squat, 5x5 bench, 5x5 deadlifts, plus pullups. When your weights are low, you'll be okay, but as they climb you'll be fried - and the workout will take a long time.

- deadlifting 5x5 twice a week is a lot. I deadlift 3x5 once a week, and I often wonder how I manage to recover fast enough to do it. Once you deadlift heavy (I'm pulling at my 5 rep maximum) you need downtime to let your back recover

- you will probably find that adding 2.5kg to the bar each week is really easy for long time with the squats and deadlift, and for a shorter time on the bench and press. But if your body is ready for a 50kg bench press and you start with just the 20kg bar, you'll take 12 weeks before you really start to hit the weight you need to be lifting. Your deadlifts and squats will suffer even more because you can lift a lot more with those exercises than you'll be able to bench or press overhead. You might want to get the form down, then start doing sets of 5, adding a bit more weight to bar each set, until your form breaks down. Back down 2.5kg or 5kg from there and start at that weight.

One common suggestion here is the Starting Strength routine. Here is an excellent summary of the program over on Bodybuilding.com:
http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=998224
(w/f safe)

It's back squat heavy routine - you'll do 3x5 back squats every workout, 3 workouts a week. In your routine, you can just sub workout A for your workout A, B for B, and not worry about getting in 3 a week. It's not like doing the scaled Cindy between them is going to be bad for you!
I suppose you could do Front Squats instead of Back Squats on one of the days if you really want to. It's not like you get to avoid Front Squats when you do crossfit, they come up often enough.

There are other routines you can use - I have a friend doing one that's an AB split of Monday: 3x5 of Deadlifts/Weighted Dips/Weighted Pullups and Friday: 3x5 of Back Squats/Shoulder Press/Pendlay Rows, with a metcon day on Wednesday (and yes, Cindy is one of the metcons he does). He does cardio on Tuesdays and Wednesdays - runs, fartleks, ellipitical, biking, etc. It's working well for him. I've seen lots of similar routines. The Starting Strength one has a lot to recommend it, that massive FAQ being one of the stronger arguments in adopting it.

I'd take a look at that FAQ I linked to, read it through, and then re-evaluate your program. I think the mixed workout of two strength days and a metcon day is a good way to progress. I wouldn't have put my friend on that routine I described if I didn't. I just think your routine can use some tweaking.

I hope that's useful to you.
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Old 09-05-2007, 05:47 AM   #3
Robin Ince
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Thanks very much, that's exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping for!

I was planning 3x5 deadlifts twice a week, not 5x5, and I was keeping in mind that as they got heavier I might drop to 1x5 (that's what's in the stronglifts.com program, which is very similar to the starting strength program except 5x5 vs 3x5 for most exercises I think).
I guess I thought at the start I would get more volume in with the lower weights to get more practice with the technique...
Then I thought to add the pullups and dips as additionals since I'm doing twice instead of three times a week, but as you say when the weights get heavier maybe it will be too much and I can just drop them. I'll be doing pullups at home on the metcon days anyway, but I would like to keep dips somewhere (planning to get rings at Christmas).

Based on your advice I think I would swap the workout B deadlift for pendlay rows, and after a few weeks of practice increase the weights a bit faster (5kg a workout, at least on squats, deadlift and bench) for a couple of weeks. Perhaps also move to 3x5 when the weights get closer to my limit.

Your friend's routine also looks interesting, but I think I would want to squat every workout, so maybe move the deadlift to the second day to replace pendlay rows. Also I would need to be doing assisted pulls and dips which I think might be not so good (don't use core so much in the machine) so perhaps I will stick to my one until I have the strength to do sets of pullups and dips without assistance.

Thanks again for your helpful advice!
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Old 09-05-2007, 05:52 AM   #4
Jerry Berg
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

why don't you just do a scaled version of the WOD from the homepage? you said your goals are strength based...perfect. so are the WODs.
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:14 AM   #5
Robin Ince
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Berg View Post
why don't you just do a scaled version of the WOD from the homepage? you said your goals are strength based...perfect. so are the WODs.
Having read some of the other threads on here I thought someone would suggest that...

There a couple of reasons why I don't think that would work so well for me...

First, the gym I go to is small (hotel gym) and there isn't really the space or equipment for a lot of the stuff that comes up in WOD (no rings or proper pullup bar, GHD machine etc.) Also a lot of the exercise, like the Oly lifts I think would be difficult to learn over the internet - I'd rather do them when I have someone to show me.

I think theres much more chance of me sticking to this initially, doing the metcon stuff at home and weights at the gym a few minutes from my house (I can just walk there then come home for a shower etc.)
It sounds silly but if it involves packing a bag and driving somewhere in the car it just seems more psychological effort to get going. Also I'm a student, I'm not sure how much the local Crossfit affiliate is but I'm sure it's more than the close gym.

I also think the simplefit level scheme and the way I can continually monitor progress will be a powerful motivator, plus the increased volume I'll be doing in the core lifts will help me develop good form and get up to reasonable weights more quickly.

I think this will be simpler for me initially, when I build up a good base I've every intention of visiting the Crossfit affiliate where I can learn the more technical lifts and get proper advice on substituting effectively for the WOD.
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:15 AM   #6
Tim Donahey
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Ince View Post
Thanks very much, that's exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping for!

I was planning 3x5 deadlifts twice a week, not 5x5, and I was keeping in mind that as they got heavier I might drop to 1x5 (that's what's in the stronglifts.com program, which is very similar to the starting strength program except 5x5 vs 3x5 for most exercises I think).
I guess I thought at the start I would get more volume in with the lower weights to get more practice with the technique...
Then I thought to add the pullups and dips as additionals since I'm doing twice instead of three times a week, but as you say when the weights get heavier maybe it will be too much and I can just drop them. I'll be doing pullups at home on the metcon days anyway, but I would like to keep dips somewhere (planning to get rings at Christmas).

Based on your advice I think I would swap the workout B deadlift for pendlay rows, and after a few weeks of practice increase the weights a bit faster (5kg a workout, at least on squats, deadlift and bench) for a couple of weeks. Perhaps also move to 3x5 when the weights get closer to my limit.

Your friend's routine also looks interesting, but I think I would want to squat every workout, so maybe move the deadlift to the second day to replace pendlay rows. Also I would need to be doing assisted pulls and dips which I think might be not so good (don't use core so much in the machine) so perhaps I will stick to my one until I have the strength to do sets of pullups and dips without assistance.

Thanks again for your helpful advice!

You'd be best off just starting with the bare bones SS routine:

Workout A:
3x5 Squat
3x5 Bench Press
1x5 Deadlift

Workout B:
3x5 Squat
3x5 Press
5x3 Power Cleans (or 3x5 Pendlay Rows)

It's perfectly balanced with heavy/light press and pull days and the volume is adjusted for a beginner. With the warm-ups included that's 105 total squats per week and that's certainly enough technique practice without going to 5x5.
5x5 programs are geared more toward the intermediate who need more volume to elicit a training adaptation. Only one set of deadlifts are needed b/c you're heavy squatting 3x per week. It won't be neccesary to make any adjustments for at least a month, after that you can add in 2 sets of dips and pull/chin-ups.
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:30 AM   #7
Robin Ince
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Thanks...

I really want to keep the simplefit metcon, so I think I'll only be lifting twice a week - that's partly why I thought the extra volume coupled with starting light would be a good idea - otherwise I would definitely do the straight SS program.

Bearing in mind what you say though I think I'll definitely move to 3x5 once I get up to weights that are more challenging. Also I'll give it some time before adding the dips and pullups.

Last edited by Robin Ince; 09-05-2007 at 07:51 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:46 AM   #8
Brad Thompson
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Hey Robin,

I'm on simplefit too. My nick there is volleyball_man. Are you posting on the boards there as well as here?

I am getting prepared to do starting strength as I ramp up for the crossfit workouts (my goal is to begin them by next May). Having never done real strength training (aside from the BS in those ridiculous advertisement pamphlets called "magazines"), I want to get my form perfected before I get into the CF WOD's.

I like the approach you are taking.
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:25 AM   #9
Steven Low
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Do starting strength instead... as others have said.
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:37 AM   #10
Tom Fetter
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Re: thoughts on beginner program

Starting Strength was, by itself, very effective at giving me and my kids quick gains. If strength is your goal, I'd go there.

After a short stint of SS (3 months), I shifted to WODs - scaling as necessary. Strength has continued to increase, and metcon has also been picking up.

IMO, both SS and WODs represent in themselves superb programs bringing quick adaptation towards their respective goals. I expect that you'd have better success with either, by itself, than with an amalgam of both. Particularly if you're at a stage where simplefit is challenging both strength and conditioning.

I think it's really a question of setting priorities - which realm do you want swifter improvements in first?
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