Back to Basics: Starting Strength

08 Mar
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When I first started CrossFit every workout emphasized metabolic conditioning rarely exceeding 95lbs and Strength emphasized three basic lifts: Back Squat, Press, and Deadlift. Now I see a shift from total cardiovascular pain storms with relatively lightweight to an emphasis on Heavy “Strength” Workouts. I’ve asked a few of my friends that own facilities how they do their programming and they respond Blah blah “…with a strength bias.” Now there are endless resources on how to get strong, the Westside Method, Outlaw, CrossFit Football but also it is a relatively simple process to gain strength (especially for anyone just starting CrossFit). In the new age of workouts full of Bands, Chains, dangling kettlebells etc. I feel like the basics of strength are overlooked.

When it comes to Strength there are three lifts: Back Squat, Press and Deadlift. Increasing any one of these means you are getting stronger. The heavier your Back Squat/Press/Deadlift are the easier other lifts are going to feel. So before you go dangling KBs/ adding chains to your bar I suggest you develop a solid Strength foundation. Wondering if you have one? Check your strength on Rippetoe’s Strength Chart. If you are not intermediate to advanced there is no need to get fancy.

basic strength standards

Programming Strength gets a little more complex. The simplest of programs and most effective are ones that use
the concept of Progressive Overload.

Progressive Overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.
A common goal for strength-training programs is to increase or to maintain one’s physical strength or muscle mass. In order to achieve more strength as opposed to maintaining the current strength capacity, the muscles need to be overloaded which stimulates the natural, adaptive processes of the body which develops to cope with the new demands placed on it.

Whenever using the PO method just start a comfortable weight and increase (5×5 would be the easiest rep scheme). If you really want to get into programming for yourself check out the books Starting Strength and Practical Programming by Mark Rippetoe. Starting Strength gives you a template to follow and Practical Programming talks more about programming in general.

Practical Programming

It’s easy to get caught up in all the “fancy” training out there. I believe the easiest and most effective Strength Programs are the Basic ones. Develop a solid strength foundation emphasizing the three basic strength lifts and you will find yourself crushing WODs and taking names.

stay strong
Erik “Dirty” Alvarez

  • About Erik Alvarez

    Erik Alvarez is the head coach at CrossFit Kailua and has been a crossfitter for 5 years. When not working at CrossFit Kailua he can be found frolicking in the forest with mythical creatures. He also enjoys keeping it real and has been known to keep it the realest.
  • C-line

    Excellent post, Erik. Get some in the Open.

  • acuna

    Solid article Dirty.

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