As one of the Internet’s best known sites focused on weightlifting and bodybuilding, the community at Testosterone Nation has had no shortage of criticism for CrossFit (and vice versa), one of the fastest growing training methods and sports in the world over the past few years.
Testosterone Nation’s Dan Trink points out,
CrossFit has “stolen” from many fitness modalities including Olympic Weightlifting, sprinting, powerlifting, and strongman to name a few.
With its combination of Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics movements, and plyometric exercises, it’s no secret that CrossFit’s training program borrows from multiple different training methods.
However, Instead of criticizing CrossFit’s methodology, Trink acknowledges mentioned four different CrossFit training methods that he’s incorporated into his bodybuilding and weightlifting training, saying “there’s no harm in a more traditional strength coach such as myself re-borrowing a few of your [CrossFit’s] ideas for my own program design.
1. Minute on the minute sets
Minute-on-the-minute sets are a great way of being held accountable and focusing on getting a certain amount of work done in a specific amount of time.
Every minute on the minute sets, along with “Death by [exercise movement]” sets, where one additional repetition of a movement are added every minute until the athlete cannot complete the set within 60 seconds, are commonly found in CrossFit programming. The training method forces an athlete to maintain the same weight throughout all repetitions and challenges them to choose a weight that will challenge them throughout the workout.
Even in a workout like “Death by pullups,” the first few minutes might seem simple, but by the 15th minute, it becomes a high intensity workout that is challenging from a cardio and muscular endurance perspective due to the decreased rest time between increasing sets.
2. Training multiple strength qualities within one session
For the general fitness and body composition trainee, training several strength qualities in a given session can yield great results (although I still tend to keep the exercise order and set and rep ranges for each quality more in line with the traditional principles of exercise science).
CrossFit’s mantra of “constantly varied, functional movements” can find athletes performing back squats in the same workout as they’re performing pull-ups or even more technical movements like clean and jerks.
In CrossFit, while workouts can be more taxing on an athlete’s grip, legs, or shoulders, the multijoint movements used in workouts are often the antithesis of the “back and bi’s,” “chest and tri’s” workout days made popular in traditional gyms around the world.
3. Using more gymnastic-type movements
Exercises such as handstands, ring dips, rope climbs, and ring pull-ups are a great way to build isometric strength, train shoulder and core stability, and work the deltoids, lats, and triceps.
As part of CrossFit’s functional fitness definition, bodyweight movements like those Trink mentioned are a regular part of CrossFit programming. While weightlifters and bodybuilders might be able to lift heavier based on raw numbers, CrossFit training is more concerned with athletes being able to move well through different movements.
Want to have the heaviest bench press in the gym? Keep working on the movements that will get you there. Want to be able to have an above average clean and jerk and be able to tackle any of the movements that something like Tough Mudder will throw at you? CrossFit will prepare you for that.
4. The X Factor
Even if you train at a standard meat-and-potatoes gym, chances are you see the same people on a fairly regular basis. Don’t be afraid to pop-off your noise canceling headphones and shout some encouragement to the guy who’s about to break a PR in his deadlift.
One of the best known parts of CrossFit is the community factor, where athletes encourage one another until the last athlete in their class has completed the workout and top athletes attract a fanbase for their inspirational performances. Having competitive, yet supportive training partners has proven to be an effective way for top CrossFit athletes to perform at the sport’s highest level, and chances are the effects would be no different for bodybuilders and weightlifters.
After the years of animosity between the bodybuilding and CrossFit communities and questions about whether CrossFit is saving weightlifting, it’s great for both sports for a member of Testosterone Nation’s community to acknowledge that there are benefits to both training methods.