BarBelles I – Final Data Results

If my post Weightlifting Lessons from Natalie Burgener was any indication, I am behind on my postings. I usually have three to five blog ideas on any given day, but unfortunately I’m not a stay-at-home husband who can write all the time. But I digress.

Ok data geeks, here are the final results of most of the BarBelles girls. The intent of my program is to take women who have been doing CrossFit for at least a year and give them that extra boost to break through plateaus. How? By getting them stronger, quicker, and more explosive. After eight weeks of regular strength training sprinkled with short, heavy metcons, I think the results speak for themselves. 

Every lift went up for each of the girls, and not only by a few pounds, but by ten, twenty, even thirty pounds! There were 23 instances where lifts went up by more than 20%. (highlighted below) Most folks would be happy with 5-10% increases, but 20%?? How about 14 instances of 30%+ improvement? Deadlifts went from 170# to 215# (Sarah), box jumps went from 30″ to 36″ (Joy), pull ups went from 4 to 12 kipping and from 0 to 3 strict (Kate), and 400m sprints went from 2:00 to 1:30 (JNa). These ladies were showing up and doing work, no question about that.


Many are now using their previous 1RM for 5+ reps. By having them swing the 45 and 55 pound kettlebell, now the 35 pounder seems like a joke. Some of these women have been doing CrossFit for 3+ years (like JNa’s story), but by focusing on strength and explosive power, they can now handle metcons and strength workouts better. Wait, metcons? Oh yes, like cutting your “Annie” time in half. 

In addition to lifts like back squat, front squat, deadlift, press, bench press, power clean, and power snatch, the ladies also focused on bodyweight strength and power. Jumping on boxes higher than ever before, finally getting full push ups on toes, and yes, pull ups (both kipping and strict) were all focused on. As you know from CrossFit and the Need for Strict Pull ups, too many people rely on bands for too long. If you are one of those people, check out my post on How to Get a Strict Pull Up. 

Right now I am in the middle of the second cohort of ladies for BarBelles. Already we are seeing incredible progress. After only three weeks, one girl got a non-banded kipping pull up (after doing CrossFit for 1.5 years). Others are continuing on their linear progression and already hitting their previous 1RM for 5 reps. We are in the fifth week, so I’m excited to see the results at week 8. 

I should note that none of these ladies got “bulky” or “huge” for the skeptical women out there who are afraid of strength training. Many of these women are the same size as when they started, or have even lost inches around their waist and hips. 

A side effect of BarBelles is getting women comfortable with being at our strength classes. Since it’s more of an open format, it can be intimidating to walk in and be amongst many guys. As a group of women, they had a purpose and a template to follow, thereby feeling more comfortable to go to strength class in the future.

So yes, ladies (and guys too). If you have been stalling in CrossFit workouts because for the first year or so you made amazing gains, but have since petered out, consider this: strength training, sprinting, and explosive power WILL get you better not only at those things, but also at CrossFit. We see it in Regionals and at the Games: strength makes a difference.


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