A friend of mine in Austin (possibly the most fit human being I know) gave me a piece of advice a couple of years ago that I have taken to heart. Before meeting him my philosophy of training was quite different. Typically my old training week consisted of racking up as many miles as possible to train for endurance, do Crossfit 2-3 times a week (and honestly I would cherry-pick the WODs favoring body-weight workouts), and do a grinding multiple hill repeat workout. My runs were always at around 9-10min/mile pace, something I know I can hold indefinitely, and sprints???… HA!… nonexistent. I was fit, but never saw much in the way of progress… until I re-wired my way of thinking.
My buddy’s advice was simple. “Make your long/slow workouts longer and slower… Make your short/fast/heavy workouts shorter, faster, and heavier.” I took this simple logic to heart and have seen the most drastic improvements in my athletic performance since. The changes I’ve made are 1) I’ve shortened my daily runs from the old 10-12mi to 3-6mi. 2) I’ve slowed my long run pace from 10min/mile to 12min/mi+. 3) I’ve began a REAL strength program consisting of heavy Olympic lifting and periodized squat cycles. 4) Once a week I do a hard fast run workout either all-out sprints or extended efforts in the <7min/mile range. Granted, I’m about 10 lbs heavier than I was a mere 2 years ago but my performance increases don’t lie. The following are my real and measurable performances witnessed and recorded in my training log from 2011 to 2013 both strength, conditioning, and endurance efforts. I know real lifters and real runners will laugh (only at half each I hope)… but, nonetheless, facts.
1. Fran – (2011) 4:43. (2013) 2:40. (2015) 2:55
2. C&J – (2011) 195#. (2013) 235#. (2015) 255#
3. Snatch – (2011) 125# & ugly. (2013) 185# solid. (2015) 205#
4. Leadville Trail marathon – (2011) 7:59. (2013) 6:15
5. Back Squat – (2011) 265#. (2013) 355#. (2015) 375#
6. Deadlift – (2011) 400#. (2013) 445#. (2015) 465#
7. 10k run – (2011) 42:38. (2013) 40:20
Along with not only improving overall strength AND maintaining my endurance, I’ve increased my overall speed and have learned new skills like the muscle up, handstand pushup, double unders, and almost perfected my snatch. I’ve put more weight overhead than ever in my life and I’m not far from my PRs I set powerlifting back in my 20’s. There is no doubting the data. Will lifting heavy things make you stronger? Absolutely. Will it make you bulky? Probably not. Even though my shirts do fit a little tighter in the arms and shoulder nowadays, I still fit in my 32″ waist jeans… I can live with that. Something profound Angie said to me one time… “Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.” is so true and also goes the other way. Bulk is made with your poor choices of eating habits not, I repeat NOT by lifting heavy things. While it’s true if one follows a body-building protocol of multiple sets of med-heavy weights in isolated movements followed by an caloric surplus over-feeding and extended rest, the sarcoplasmic volume of a muscle will increase resulting in the bulky swell some either seek or despise. But this has NEVER been the goal or outcome of any worthwhile strength program. Relative strength or power to weight ratio is what’s important to any athlete concerned with performance not necessarily aesthetics. Form should follow function, and remember, you have to be able to carry the engine that you build.
1) The biggest snatches at my gym (both man & woman) also have the fastest Fran times.
2) The leanest guy at my gym has a 5:56mile and highest number of UB Muscleups.
3) The baddest chick at my gym has a 300# deadlift, 37X UB pull-ups, and her muscle up.
4) The fastest runner at my gym has a 1.5x BW C&J.
If your real concern is becoming a better athlete, REAL strength gains will only help. A big back squat can compensate for a lot of other athletic aspects that might be lagging. It’s funny how as I’ve become stronger, lighter movements such as wall balls (UB 1/2 Karen 2:09), pull-ups, and such have become faster. Strength has carryover. If my strength (and subsequent slight weight gain) were a detriment to my performance, bodyweight movements like muscleups would be more difficult… but my max UB MUp has gone from zero to 9x. If heavy weights made you bulky I’d be buying bigger pants. The only worth I see in high repetition, light-weight movements is their ability to burn off excess calories (the typical marathoner stereotype). If you want to stay small and never achieve any strength gains then have at it, keep dancing around doing sets of 50x jumping lunges and crunches. But if you want to see a real change in your actual work capacity, crush old PR’s, and make light work out of 95# thrusters with a lean, taught, unbreakable physique that shows a little muscle, LIFT HEAVY AND OFTEN. In short, Crossfitters (ladies especially) shouldn’t be scared of the heavy iron… it’s irrational and illogical.
“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.” Rip
Yes, this is posted early. You’re either prepared or scared.
E30S for 3+min 1x snatch @60%
21x, 15x, 9x of
CFV Monday WOD
21x, 15x, 9x of
*Spend remainder of class time socializing with gym-family.