My BarBelles women-only strength program ended this past week; right now the ladies are finding new 1RM’s. Most of them having been lifting their previous 1RM for 3 sets of 5 reps, so I will expect huge jumps when they go for their 1RM. (one BarBelle has already added 40 pounds onto her backsquat…she has been CrossFitting for 3 years)
Although this was labeled a strength focused class, it was actually a POWER focused class – moving heavy weight quickly and sprinting. My theory is that if you can get stronger, not only will your lifts go up, but your metcons will also be “easier.” For instance, if you do Helen (400m run, 21 kb swings, 12 pull ups) in 10 minutes, but then focus on getting stronger and faster, holding that kettlebell will be easier and you won’t break as much and your Helen time will go down. That’s a simplified analogy, but hopefully you can get the concept. Stronger and faster = better everything.
I have yet to get formal feedback from the eleven women who participated, but here is an email I got about a recent metcon. Our classes did “Annie” which is 50-40-30-20-10 of double unders and sit ups. I don’t think anyone could argue that there is a strictly strength component to this workout, but listen to what one BarBelle had to say:
“I know you are going to be providing us with an opportunity to provide feedback on Barbelles but I was pretty excited so I thought I would share prematurely. Last night I did Annie in 8:27. I can’t remember the last time that I did Annie but I was looking at my time for the Running Annie Neon WOD last year and I basically cut my time in half (16:17 – I know there was running involved so that obviously made my time longer).
Editor’s note: The workout last year was Annie with 200m run after each set for a total of 1000m of running. Even if you account for that, it would NOT take 8 minutes to run 1000m, so yes, her time improved if you remove the run. Keep reading on.
Anyway, that is not the main point I was getting to. I felt that was taking minimal rest between sets of doubles unders (and by sets I mean when I tripped up – I only strung the set of 20). Normally, I can’t catch my breath quick enough when double unders are involved. There was no hesitation yesterday to start swinging that rope again. I felt great afterwards too and not like I normally do where you would find me laying on the ground for a good 5 minutes after the WOD is over.
So, the underlying message of my email is that Barbelles has helped me TREMENDOUSLY. I was nervous jumping back into the normal WODs because I had the fear of losing my lungs while focusing on strength (and also the other setbacks I had when Barbelles began). That definitely was not the case. As much as I may have cursed your name when doing the mini cashouts you created, I loved them and think they have contributed to my overall success with the program. As far as the strength goes, I am really excited about the next week to see what other PRs I can hit.
I loved, loved, loved this program and cannot thank you enough for being the saint that you are for putting up with all of us the past 8 weeks! I will also provide more feedback whether you ask for it or not :)”
Pretty cool stuff eh??
Yes, if you take 2 months to do “slow” lifts like bench, dead, squat, then your lungs will suffer and your top end strength will grow. BUT if you focus on the slow lifts + fast lifts (clean and snatch) + explosive exercises like sprinting and box jumping, you will improve in almost every area of CrossFit. Short, heavy, fast workouts will transfer over to metcons; the reverse is not true.
There’s a reason that marathoners work sprints into their routine, but sprinters do not work marathons into theirs.
I’m excited to get the updated numbers and report back. I’m already hearing of 30+% increases in lifts from women who have been CrossFitting 1-4 years. Until then, keep fighting the good fight.