CrossFit Leads to Specialization

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On Wednesday’s release of the Doc and Jock podcast Danny and I discuss Improving Weightlifting technique while still continuing to do and enjoy CrossFit.  The fact is it is a natural fit.  CrossFit deserves a lot of credit for bringing folks like me back to the barbell and introducing a great sport like Weightlifting to folks who did not know it existed.  However, there comes a point in everyone’s training life where they have tapped out the gains possible on a particular program and then must tweak that program or reassess their goals to keep making gains.

In regards to Weightlifting and CrossFit it’s my experience that the two programs can run parallel and help one another for quite a long time.  For instance, the two years I helped CrossFit 808 win the NorCal Region I also qualified to lift in the USAW American Open.  Facts are that no other movements can surpass the transference capacity of the Olympic lifts.

That said, as I stated above, the longer you train, you have to begin assessing your goals and making decisions.  For example, when I left Hawaii and moved to Columbia, SC, I wanted to make a run at qualifying for the A sessions at Nationals.  I figured out very early that with my life factors, training CrossFit and accomplishing that goal were not going to mix.  I eventually dumped the CrossFit and pursued Weightlifting exclusively.  Today this day I cycle a part of my year and train Weightlifting exclusively with very limited metabolic conditioning.  A lot of that has to do with sleep debt and over parenting but that is a different conversation.

This doesn’t mean that I do not value the use of CrossFit.  It is my opinion that CrossFit, and general conditioning programs like it, are a lot like money in the sense that they are going to make you more of what you already are and are place holder and jump starters.  However, it is only a matter of time before a person wants more out of a general fitness program.  With new strength and tools to play with the rules of engagement and goals tend to change.  Whether you are just starting CrossFit, coming out of P90X, or are a few months into the amateur cycle of the CrossFit Football, you are eventually going to want to train for something specific and utilize the skills and talents you are developing.  Some folks take that need for specificity in the direction of training weakness to make them a better CrossFit athlete.  Other folks, like me, decide to capitalize on their strengthens and pursue a more specific goal or competitive venue.  To be honest, there is also a third group that is content where they are and happy to simply look good naked and be part of the community.

Elaborating on my own experience CrossFit helped me rediscover a passion for barbell training that eventually turned me into a Weightlifter.  When I was in the 7th grade I was fortunate to walk into a High School football weight room run on solid strength and conditioning practices.  Coaches taught us how to squat correctly, how to clean, and even introduced snatch and push press variations to develop overhead strength and stability.  As a 155 senior I also had a knack for moving large loads and was pound for pound one of the 11 strongest kids on the team.

Later after my college playing days were over, and after a 3 year period with very limited barbell training, I was reintroduced to the barbell in a CrossFit gym.  I also happened to notice that when taught properly and monitored effectively the majority of folks enjoyed barbell training just as much as I did.  It seemed as though strength was addicting.  If I had not walked into that weight room as a 7th grader, I most likely never would have played a down of college football, or be writing this blog post today.  On that same note without CrossFit reigniting a passion for barbell training I could make the same statement and know for sure I would not have competed at the USAW nationals the last two years.

The longer I hung around and coached within CrossFit circles I also began to noticed that the longer folks trained within the gyms general program they would begin to want to train and develop specific skills.  I would constantly have folks hang around after class wanting to learn more about muscle ups, snatching, or how to develop different capacities or skills.  In many cases folks were developing skills for CrossFit competition but were also rediscovering talents or strengths unlocked by simply training consistently.

I also noticed a similar story as mine unfolding with different sports and other athletes.  For example, an old triathletes breaks into CrossFit, loves it for a few months to a year, gets a few CrossFit competitions under their belt, then drift back into competitive triathlon.  There was also a story of a young lady who found out, through CrossFit, that she had a knack for being strong and turned that strength into a powerlifting title – click here.  The general consistency is that folks seem to find that being stronger is a good thing and when you can achieve that and smartly introduce metcons you can be a better version of who you once were.

The question of whether you can improve your Weightlifting and continue to CrossFit is a relatively simple one for me.  Yes, yes you can.  However, eventually there will come a time when, no, you cannot have your cake and eat it to.  That said there are always outliers and freaks.  I think for the first time this year we saw a CrossFit Games competitor compete at the World Weightlifting Championships – click here.   

For more details on the my thoughts and the successful implementation for CrossFit and Weightlifting tune into the Doc and Jock Podcast this Wednesday.  If you have specific questions for me about CrossFit, Weightlifting or raising maniacs shoot me an email at joe@joesbarbell.com.