A couple of days ago, I ran across a statement by a local Crossfit instructor: “doing WODs is not gonna make you weak, until you squat 200 and deadlift 250”. While this statement has some truth to it – it’s problematic in many ways.
First of all – pretty much no training related activity will make you weak if you already are. But any training activity will make the road to getting strong longer – some more than others.
Crossfit – like the fitness concept “BodyPump” or similar concepts are marketed as strength based, but that’s just flat out a lie. The body adapts to the challenges we put it through – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands – the SAID-principle. Doing something (with or without weights) for ten minutes is not gonna have more carryover to real strength than running a 5k will have to running 100m dash.
Strength is expressed in seconds and is trained in seconds.
Crossfit (and similar fitness concepts) will make you stronger than other cardiovascular training that involves less resistance, but Crossfit is an endurance sport – NOT a strength sport. At least not in the “WOD” form.
What Crossfit will do very well though is stress your system and make you sore – not exactly a great way to get stronger.
While I do think short sessions of metabolic conditioning is a great way to maintain a baseline level of cardiovascular capacity – it will limit how fast your strength can progress.
In the book Fit the authors go in-depth with how three different training modalities (strength, endurance and “metcon”) affect each other. It’s well worth a read if you haven’t already.
Since cardio is a physical quality that’s relatively fast to develop, I always recommend people to build a strength foundation first, and then build cardio on top (if you need/want it) – strength is the slowest physical quality to develop, so it should always be the baseline of a training program. Not through 3-, 5- or 10-minute WODs, but through sets of 1-10 reps with adequate rest.
Don’t buy the marketing hype – they’re lying to you!