John,

I am looking for some guidance for my wife. She just completed Sorinex’s "Squatober" and "Deadcember" via Pen and Paper Strength App. She loved the programming and has been trying to find a program that was similar. Her biggest problem is the only place she can do these kinds of workouts is a local CrossFit box. But they require her to complete their class WOD before she bangs weights.

Do you have any suggestions or could point her in the right direction?

Edward

Life is all about priorities. Make the best decision based on your given circumstances. Here are some options.

Ideally, she finds a new gym where she can explore barbell training like Jacked Street. We have a lot of strong ladies crushing it daily and I know she would enjoy the adaptations that come with consistent strength work.

If finding a new gym is out of the question, then consider parking the cars in the driveway and building a garage gym. Countless athletes took this path after getting tired of jumping through hoops to follow the program they want. Start stalking Craigslist’s posts and wait for holiday deals from Sorinex, Rogue, EliteFTS, and Kabuki Strength.

Every year, I jump on Kabuki Strength’s Black Friday deals. Not only do they make quality bars, Chris Duffin, their CEO, is a legit crazy person with a 1000 pound deadlift who just so happens to fabricate and weld on his own off-road trucks. Much like Sorinex, I stand behind any company where the CEO bends his own tubes and burns his own metal.

Finally, she can stay at the local CrossFit gym.

Not so long ago, on this very blog, I was asked how conditioning effects strength.

I wrote, “To be an athlete and be successful at sport someone has to not only be strong but to be able to display that strength quickly and then be able to replicate it over and over again over the course of the game or competition. The only way this is possible is if there is a certain level of conditioning.”

Years ago, Louie Simmons wrote an article on General Physical Preparedness (GPP), but it was after a young med school dropout named Robb Wolf assessed the training at a small gym in Santa Cruz, noting its big premium on glycolytic capacity, which brought GPP focused training to the masses.

“General physical preparedness (GPP) is a term that refers to a degree of fitness, which is an extension of absolute strength…But before you can pursue an increase in volume by way of special exercises, you must be in excellent shape. General physical preparedness raises your ability to do more work by special means…While his GPP work consists of weightless drills, such as jumping jacks, line hops, mountain climbers, and shuffle splits, it perfects running and jumping skills in addition to lateral speed. As John simply puts it, ‘I have never met a North American Athlete, from the major team sports, that the inclusion of this work will not cause a remarkable change in their optimum performance. Simply, without this solid base, substantial gains are limited and success is restricted to those more genetically gifted’…”

Simply put, I have never seen an athlete not get better from increasing their overall conditioning when appropriately layered into a balanced strength program.

Conversely, a program based solely on conditioning, while can get someone "in shape", will rarely make them stronger and eventually lose efficacy because lack of strength becomes the limiting factor.

So assuming your local CrossFit gym has decent programming and is not throwing random workouts at clients with the sole intent of crushing souls Monday through Friday, only to cap it off on Saturday with a complete “burn you to the fucking ground” WOD, as was tradition at my old CrossFit gym, CrossFit Balboa.

Back in the early days of CrossFit Football, we had a larger training group following a program similar to the Power Athlete’s Bedrock: basic linear progression over 5 basic movements with a smart mix of accessory work and short conditioning focused on heavy, hard, and fast in the 7-12 minute range.

Five weeks in, I wanted to see the effects of prolonged metabolic conditioning workouts on strength gains. I pushed a few conditioning workouts to 15 minutes. Everyone continued to make gains on the linear progression.

Testing the “more is better” line of thinking, I programmed a series of 30 minute workouts with moderately heavy dumbbell thrusters, GHD sit ups, walls balls, burpees, and weighted push ups.

The results were less than positive. Everyone failed the majority of their core lifts and worse yet, it took 3 weeks before they could continue their linear progressions.

That is where I found the 7-12 minute sweet spot for post-weightlifting CrossFit Football workouts. I added a moderate dose of 15 minute workouts (and an occasional 15+) for Saturdays. Sundays, we rest.

Assuming she stays at the Crossfit gym, she can use her strength gains as feedback for their programming. By limiting the total time of each metcon to sub-12 minutes, she should be able to increase her strength and continue her journey. If she pushes the conditioning out into “no man’s land” (what called 20-40 minute workouts), her barbell work will suffer. Yes, this may require some politicking on her part when the whiteboard calls for a 45 minute soul-crusher, but again, it comes down to priorities.

While probably not the answer you were looking for, I had people show up googly-eyed over some new program they wanted to follow. It can cause logistic problems and social issues with other members who feel your wife is getting special treatment because she doesn’t have to do the same training as the community.

Petty? Maybe. People can get bitchy in the CrossFit setting when someone wants to break from the herd and get brutally strong.

Stay strong.

John