You are being lied to part two

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 bookΒ FitΒ 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!

9 thoughts on “You are being lied to part two

  1. The truuuth – as always. However, my experience tells me that many strong-biased people tend to overlook the fact that top-op-the-line elite-levels cardio levels actually takes quite long to build. Not as long as top-of-the-line elite-levels of strength – but still more than just 6 weeks. It’s a modality that has to be trained just as much as the strength, for the average crossfitter. But again, that’s for the average crossfitter (wanting to compete, of course)

  2. If you want to be an elite level endurance athlete, you have to do a lot of endurance work.
    Honestly for the average competitive (sub-regionlas level) crossfitter – strength is almost always a weakness. While there are obviously always exceptions, I’d have a competitive CF’er crossfitter do minimal CF and focus on strength until they’re able to squat around 150kg, deadlift 180+ and clean 120ish. No point in specializing for competitions before that (though competing to gain experince is always good).

    • Agreed. It just triggers me when people say “cardio is relatively fast to build”. It’s a big relative right there ;).
      But true – general strength will get you further as an athlete (and in life) than just getting in shape

  3. People are lying bitches. πŸ˜€

    I enjoyed this one too Chris. However, regarding Crossfit. You dont need to be REALLY strong, to do good at the open, what you need is engine and balls.

    If you qualify the regionals, you are gonna need the strength, as they are testing more heavy stuff, eg. the hang power snatch og PU/OHS.

    If u are an athlete, who’s primary goal is to perfom well at the open, you shouldn’t spent too much time doing strength cycles. Imo.

    Good post tho.

    • Hey.

      Nope, obviously The Opens are more inclusive, but strength is never a weakness. For some reason it always seems to be the stronger athletes that perform well, even for the cardio-based workouts. Have a look at this post I wrote . Strength improves cardio by making everything easier – that’s why a 100kg guy like myself who doesn’t really do any cardio can still outperform many intermediate crossfitters. πŸ™‚
      Somebody I used to work with once joked about my lack of cardio. Luckily for me, I’d just done 70+ reps with his 1RM in the deadlift in a you-go-I-go format in 12 minutes. πŸ™‚

      To me doing something unimpressive for an extended period of time is still unimpressive. HOWEVER, when you can do crazy shit for an extended period of time, it starts to get funny. Case in point my buddy Markus squatted 20 reps at 160kg – that’s waaaaay more interesting to me than any combination of burpees, box jumps and double-unders. πŸ™‚

    • That’s not what I was saying at all. πŸ™‚
      Besides, most people wouldn’t be able to run that fast for two minutes, so I’d say it’s pretty decent.
      Comparing a world record in an ancient track event to The Opens seems silly. πŸ™‚

      • Wasn’t comparing at all. I’m in ave over this guy. Cannot believe that it’s possible at all. We’ve all tried running on the mill at max speed, often 20 km/h. Try holding that for 2 hours. How about nope.
        I totally agree that strengh is never a weekness, however regarding The Open, the ME strength has yet to be tested. In that matter its more importend to move well and fast at lower loads over time.
        If you are an athlete eyeing the Regionals, ofcourse one should spent alot of time developing a heaving backsquat, clean etc.

        We totally agree on everything, I just like to tease! πŸ˜€

        • The Opens is a display of mediocricy. The main purpose is to raise as much money as possible. That’s why all of the weights are low. As 13.1 and other workouts have shown though strength is still hugely important, even in cardio-based workouts.
          The reason we don’t see any max lifts (besides maybe (big maybe) a circus lift) is because the crossfitters simply wouldn’t do very well. Only exception would be the overhead squat. The max lifts are introduced after the truly strong people are eliminated. πŸ™‚

          I know we more or less agree. πŸ™‚

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