I have tried nearly every training philosophy known to man in my quest to become the biggest and leanest form of myself possible for the bodybuilding stage. After taking a hiatus from bodybuilding, to compete in strongman, I decided to give CrossFit a shot because performance was my new goal and CrossFit is an excellent form of cross training for strongman competitions, many top strongmen will agree. I was a little apprehensive at first because I watched many of fail videos and listened to plenty of bodybuilders talk trash on it. Plus I heard it will make you “lose size.” When I was bodybuilding, the thought of losing size was a nightmare but now performance is king so I was willing to take the chance.
The First WOD
After completing my first “WOD” I decided that you have to be nuts to enjoy this type of workout. I barely got any pump and my lungs burned, plus who in their right mind does a workout with box jumps and lunges after leg day?? For some reason I tried another. The workouts became fun and doing full body every day allowed me to acquire a much higher work capacity for my strongman competitions. I began working with an Olympic lifting coach so I can perform the Olympic lifts safely and I began working on my mobility so I would be less likely to injure myself. I became hooked and began competing in both CrossFit and strongman at the same time. What does this have to do with bodybuilding??
As I continued to do CrossFit, I noticed that I was getting leaner and I was not watching my food intake. I dropped from 230 to 205lbs in a matter of 4 months while changing nothing in my diet. This does not mean that I was eating ice cream and potato chips, I take a whole foods approach where I consume unlimited amounts of meat, fruit, veggies and nuts. I am saying that a dietary intake which kept me at 230lb was now only keeping me at 205lb. The best part was, my new 205lb body was nearly as lean as my 191lb stage body but I looked way bigger! I had gym members ask me if I was prepping for a show. I was super lean and felt awesome. My energy remains high and I am continuing to get stronger. I actually plan on getting a little leaner so I can drop a strongman weight class. Clearly CrossFit does not make you small and I plan on continuing to use it when I return to the bodybuilding stage.
My program contains zero isolation movements. I squat Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I press on Tuesday and Saturday and I pull Thursday. Squat day is self-explanatory, I will either front squat or back squat then do a WOD that includes mostly lowed body movements. On press day, I will work on my overhead press and sometimes bench press followed by a WOD that includes mostly pressing movements. Pull day is strict pull ups, deadlifts and a WOD that includes some form of both. I also spend 3 days a week working on my Olympic lifts which are programmed for me by an Olympic lifting coach. WODs are there to help me train my muscles under fatigue and to increase cardiovascular endurance while increasing my body’s work capacity.
You heard that CrossFit is dangerous. I admit that there are a lot of facilities out there which are run by people who put their members at risk by having them perform movements and lift weights that should not be attempted. Grandma and soccer mom do not really need to be doing snatches and box jumps. A good coach would give them something else to do instead. However, how many personal trainers have you watched train people as you sat and cringed?? The problem is not exclusive to CrossFit but fitness in general. Training for a CrossFit competition does propose a much higher risk for injury than simply doing CrossFit so that you can look better naked. Training for any physical competition will have a higher risk of injury. Distance runners, strongmen and powerlifters all participate in sports where the risk of injury is high. As a bodybuilder or general fitness enthusiast, there is no reason to attempt a WOD with more weight than you are able to safely handle, nor should you attempt to perform a movement that you are not proficient at. The point of CrossFit is to increase your body’s work capacity in turn making you more muscular and athletic. Doing a circuit in as little time as possible does not mean you have to speed through reps, it means don’t waste so much time resting. You should work continuously and adapt to it.
Increasing work capacity will cause muscles to grow and the body to burn fat. A muscle that can move a heavy load multiple times is generally going to be bigger than a muscle that can move that same load half as many times. Squatting 275lb for five sets of 10 with two minutes of rest in between each set is going to burn way less calories than squatting 275lb for five sets of 10 while running 400m, doing three cleans with 225lb and not resting at all in between sets. Which workout do you think requires a stronger athlete? Could you picture a skinny athlete performing the second workout? The second workout could take the same amount of time as first workout but the athlete performing the second workout would have done way more work, got more cardiovascular benefit and burned a lot more calories.
Bodybuilders are a tough crowd. Most don’t train as hard as they think they train. A dramatic drop set on the pec deck where you have to rest your elbows on your lap at the end, is not “killing it.” You isolated a muscle to death and that can be done to your forearm with a stress ball. This is my friendly challenge to you. I challenge you to try the three workouts that I have added. You can do the workouts in place of your scheduled workout or you can use them as a supplement to your daily workout. Do not rush your reps and do perform all reps with full range of motion and control! Decrease the weight if you can’t perform all reps properly. I am not trying to get you to join a CrossFit, I am trying to get you to evolve your training so you can see better results. Besides, I cannot guarantee that there are any worthwhile facilities near you. You don’t even have to call it CrossFit.
- 4 Rounds with no rest
- 22 Barbell lunges
- 22 Bodyweight squats
- 22 Burpees
- 3 Rounds with no rest
- 5 Dumbbell military press (standing)
- 10 Dumbbell squats (with the same weight as press)
- 15 Push ups
- 20 One hand dumbbell clean and jerk (same dumbbells)
- 5 Rounds with no rest
- 5 Strict pull ups
- 8 V-up
- 6 Deadlift
- 15 Bodyweight squat