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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 11-03-2015, 09:27 AM   #1
Phillip Micah Gilmore
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Strength gains

Ok so I was wondering how long it took some of y'all to reach these high numbers on your squats, presses, oly lifting etc. ? And did most of you get there by focusing on strength solely for a while or did the metcons and everything just gradually get you there?

I have never been a "strong guy" but definitely am the strongest I have ever been now. This earlier this year I hit 300# for my squat and have seen prs in other lifts too. Been doing crossfit for 3ish years (I have had a few breaks due to moving, kids, etc) but not many. Was wondering because I feel like my squat especially isn't progressing much currently although partly could be we just adopted a child so I've been grabbing wods just when I can the past month. Currently I follow comp train (past 3 months) and enjoy it but wish I could get closer to RXing more wods. I am 25, male, 167lbs crossfit from home too if that helps with info. I looked at this table http://www.crossfit.com/cf-journal/WLSTANDARDS.pdf and am in between intermediate and advanced in every category. I realize I'm not a regional level competitor but feel I should be able to get to RXing most wods at some point.
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Old 11-03-2015, 01:00 PM   #2
Sean J Hunter
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Re: Strength gains

Hi Phillip,

It is possible for someone your age, to reach somewhere between intermediate and advance level strength (as you have now) pretty quickly, as you are in a period of strength gains called the "novice gains phase" or "linear gains phase". Basically you tend to gain strength (set a new PR) every time you execute a separate strength focused WOD (i.e. 3 sets of 5 reps Back Squat, max effort).

However, normally around the intermediate to advanced level these "types" of gains will stop or "stall", and to continue seeing strength increase you'll need to move to a more sophisticated programming, referred to as a "periodized program" and the gains achieved for the effort put in, decrease dramatically.

How quickly you gain strength during this "Novice" phase, and how much strength you can gain before it stalls, depends on how good your programming is, and how much conditioning (i.e. FGB or Cindy) you are doing on top of the strength stuff. A massive factor is also how good your recovery is (Diet / Sleep etc), as well as genetics.

With good programming and coaching most athletes on a strength focused program can go from untrained to end of linear gains (normally around Intermediate+) in about 8-10 months, (assuming no serious technique issues), executing 3-4 strength focused WODs per week. However, this does require a little less MetCon, as MetCons can "get in the way" of strength gains. For Affilates that do a more MetCon focused program, 2-3 years to max out Novice gains is common, although I would argue this is longer than necessary, due to less than ideal programming and coaching, and especially a lack of focus on educating athletes on recovery. Achieveing this in less than 4 months is also very achieveable with a high volume program, but most TTBs wont have the time, energy, or focus for such a program. (TTB = Tick the Box = People who just wanna get fit, but don't want it to rule their lives = probrally 95% of CrossFitters)


Quote:
Was wondering because I feel like my squat especially isn't progressing much currently although partly could be we just adopted a child so I've been grabbing wods just when I can the past month.
Without knowing more about your situatiuon, it hard to say why you've stalled, but it’s certainly VERY common to stall at the level you’re currently at. From my experience garage CrossFitters don’t tend to achieve significant strength gains past this point, as it does require a little more than just throwing WODs together, or even following an online program. There’s a trick to it from here on in.

However, it is also common to still have some linear gains left in the tank, if you use a "strength cycle resetting process", to bleed the last 20-40 lbs of novice gains out of the core 4+1 lifts

Does any of this help?

Sean

Last edited by Sean J Hunter : 11-03-2015 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 11-03-2015, 01:36 PM   #3
Shawn M Wilson
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Re: Strength gains

Well I have ran since I was 8. Was squatting 400lbs in HS (full squat) at 160lbs.

Hit 500+ in college (track still) at 175

Now at 40 I'm 200 (sadly high bf%) and did 455

So for me it is something I have done since childhood.

My deadlift sucked till I started practicing Crossfit. Was 365/375 when I was squatting 485 (age 31)

Now I DL 445/455 at age 40. Lots more practice and work.


Key is time in and what kind of work you are doing to grow.

Sprinting + squats = good strength gains.
DL + accessory work = good DL gains.
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Old 11-03-2015, 04:23 PM   #4
Phillip Micah Gilmore
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Re: Strength gains

Sean,

So from the sounds of it if I want significant gains I need to look into a coach n personalized program or begin to do a lot of reading so I understand how to program and can do that myself? I've read some in past and understand there is a method and logic to good programming but haven't tried to educate myself to a level needed for that yet. My main purpose for crossfiting is to be fit but I really want more than just average fitness. I do think I have a good bit of gains left in oly lifting but some of that is technique and some just gaining strength in the movement. I'm open to any advice or suggestions
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Old 11-03-2015, 04:58 PM   #5
Sean J Hunter
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Re: Strength gains

Well its hard to say. Again, I'd need to know alot more to disagnose your stalling. But at some point you will need to either

A) Strictly follow an online program
B) Strictly follow a coached online program
B) Join a CF box with good strength coaches and programming, many don't have this. or
C) Read quite a few books and make alot of mistakes.

Unless you're super keen to get educated, and then use yourself as a lab rat I dont recommend the later and following an online program has its pitfalls as well re: post novice gains.

The two options I recommend is either, find a strength coach who will let you ask him questions as you train following an online program, (there are some paid online / cyber coached programs out there, that can be cheaper than belonging to a box, but not alot cheaper) or better yet, begin to attend a box with excellent post novice programming.

Basically, most lifters tend to start to hit all kinds of problems once they get into the post novice phase, many are easy to fix, for an experianced coach, but for a newbie you can spend months in the long grass.

Helping?

You could always by Starting Strength, read it and try for a full strength reset, including getting rid of most ofyour MetCon for maybe 2-3 months, to squeeze out as much novice gains as possible. Not a bad idea, but again, depends on what's causing your stall. Sounds like recovery may be an issue, due to the new sprogling.

Also on Olympic lifts, get GOOD coaching, get GOOD coaching, get GOOD coaching.
I said it three times, cos there really is no way of getting good at O-lifts by yourself, you;ve likely already progammed yourself with a bunch of poor tech issues. And for post novice guys, my opinon is you can;t do it via cyber, it's got to be in person.

Basically if you want to take your DL to 450+ and your BS to 400+, those gains are serious enough to need a GOOD strength coach in person. Depends on the resources (money) you want to invest. If money is tight there are creative solutions we can discuss, but they will generally give a lesser return.

Cheers


Sean

Last edited by Sean J Hunter : 11-03-2015 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 11-04-2015, 04:20 AM   #6
Ludovic Deguy
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Re: Strength gains

The most common cause of staling once you reach the ę intermediate level Ľ is a lack of consistency over time.

Iíve been lifting weights for over 10 years, Iíve seen it for me and for others over and over : even if you train hard most of the time, if your training volume or/and training intensity backs off too often, you can be sure that youíre progress will be at best very slow.

There is no secret, you probably canít get any real results unless you train really hard 3+ times a week almost all year round.

Strength wise, you probably wonít see any real results unless you lift heavy at least twice a week.

If you follow comp train to the T, you will see progress for sure. Why ? Because Ben Bergeron knows his s***, but above all because you will train hard 5 times a week, including strength training 3+ time every week.
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Old 11-04-2015, 07:12 AM   #7
Phillip Micah Gilmore
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Re: Strength gains

A big part of it right now i believe is I haven't been able to consistently get in the gym due to a new addition to the family, this week I have just started switching to morning workouts which should allow more consistency so maybe that'll help some. I am going to look into some coaching possibilities too though. I'd go to a box but the closest is 30 min away and we don't have the money at the moment, nor time to get over there.
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:44 PM   #8
Sean J Hunter
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Re: Strength gains

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phillip Micah Gilmore View Post
A big part of it right now i believe is I haven't been able to consistently get in the gym due to a new addition to the family, this week I have just started switching to morning workouts which should allow more consistency so maybe that'll help some. I am going to look into some coaching possibilities too though. I'd go to a box but the closest is 30 min away and we don't have the money at the moment, nor time to get over there.
Yip, recovery (diet and sleep) and not throwing in too much MetCon become far greater variables once you truly go post novice.

Although, you likely have one or two more cycles of novice in you. And a clean reset with minimum MetCon for a couple of cycles is not a bad idea.

S
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Old 11-05-2015, 06:22 AM   #9
Ben Kissam
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Re: Strength gains

About 2 years into my CrossFit journey, I decided to focus on powerlifting and get stronger. I powerlifted for about a year, then switched over to 5/3/1 and trusted the process even though it didn't seem like it would work very well.

With a good diet, good sleep, and hitting 4 PRs each week on the main lifts, I added a significant amount of weight (100+ lbs on dead and squat for my 1RMs) in about 13 months. I was more "novice", for the record.

Since returning to CrossFit, I am ten times the athlete I once was because I chose to focus on strength. It takes a bit of a mental toll not doing anything other than lifting, but I found it to be worth it.
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Old 11-14-2015, 12:21 PM   #10
David Meverden
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Re: Strength gains

Good stuff here but I can't believe nobody has mentioned bodyweight. Your willingness to gain weight is a HUGE factor in how quickly you can get stronger and how long you can continue to make novice gains, especially lifting on your own without an expert eye to point out weaknesses that. After gaining proficiency in the lifts most average Joes will need to build muscle (i.e. put on weight) to get significantly stronger. You can gain weight quickly, or slowly, and this will dictate how quickly you get stronger.

In my mid twenties I'd done CrossFit for a couple years (mostly metcons, sporadic heavy lifting) and had a squat 1 RM of 265 lbs. I weighed ~170 lbs. To get stronger for CrossFit I decided to spend some time on the Starting Strength novice progression, complete with 5000 kcal a day using the Gallon of whole Milk a Day (GOMAD) plan.

Seven weeks later I completed 3 sets of 5 back squats at 290# and weighted 200 lbs. When I went back to CrossFit I could do thrusters in Fran unbroken.

After that I went back to CrossFit, slimmed down to 185, and spent several years experimenting with hybrid lifting and CrossFit programs. Strength progress was slow. Slowly gained muscle, got back to around 200 lbs, but less body fat this time. After that spent several years oscillating between more CrossFit focus, pure strength focus, and (this last year) preparing for strongman competitions. Strength progress was slow and tended to coincide with slowly putting on weight. Now I weigh 230 lbs and am the strongest I've been but it took a long time to get here.

Moral of the story:
  • You can get a lot stronger in a relatively short period of time on a serious strength program (talking Strength Strength, Stronglifts, maybe CF Football novice), but only if you are willing to eat a LOT to gain muscle and overall bodyweight.
    Translation: 400+ backsquat for you in maybe 3-6 months with 30-40 lbs weight gain with some squish.
  • If you are willing to slowly gain weight (it will go on with less bodyfat this way) then you can make good steady progress, but you'll still need a lifting focused routine (could be a CrossFit program with conditioning, but the strength work needs to be priority #1).
    Translation: 400+ backsquat for you in maybe 10-18 months with 15-25 lbs weight gain.
  • If you are determined to remain 167 lbs and be conditioned then, as an adult lifting in your garage, you will not get a lot stronger.
    Translation: 400+ back squat probably never.

So, Philip, how do you feel about going up to 190 lbs or so? How tall are you? If you gained weight and got to where you could squat 315 for sets you would be able to do the large majority of CrossFit workouts RX'd.
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