Written by Nash Woods
Though thrusters, burpees and kipping pull-ups mark our typical idea of CrossFit, the training methodology of CrossFit continues to adapt and grow with increasing information and greater breadth of coaches and experts that make up this community. In recent years, a greater variety of movement has reintegrated itself into the fitness program that is CrossFit and many of these movements have been those that are incorporated in the training of Strongman. How does this fit into “CrossFit” and why should we be performing these movements?
CrossFit defines itself as “constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity across broad times and modal domains”. There are two fundamental aspects of this definition that Strongman addresses especially well – functionality and intensity.
Training traditional Strongman techniques just might be the most functional type of training a person can do. The real world application of being able to safely load yourself when addressing oddly-shaped, heavy objects is invaluable. This is something that every human being has done or will do in their lifetime. Have you ever had to help move a couch? Carried a fidgety toddler? Hauled your groceries from the car to the kitchen? It is not so dissimilar to compare a 50lbs sandbag carry to that of moving a large bag of dog food and moving furniture can be comparative to the patterns experienced when flipping a tire. Training Strongman movements teaches you the proper methods to do all of these things more efficiently and more importantly, safely.
What is the most physically intense experience you have ever had in your training? There’s a good chance your memory takes you back to a 20-minute recovery after a workout that lasted less than a few minutes. CrossFit benchmark workouts like “Grace” and “Fran” are the type of workouts that are meant to be completed in 2 or 3 minutes and perhaps some of the most effective of traditional CrossFit. The problem, however, is in the fact that most of our community is unable to perform these type of exercises at a pace that allows them to access higher levels of true intensity. Many Strongman movements are simple in nature which allows athletes of even the most beginner levels to create greater outputs of power to produce elite levels of intensity and personal result. In competition, even, Strongman events typically last no more than 90 seconds and athletes are measured by their ability to give all of their effort in a short burst of time and has truly created some of the strongest athletes in the world. Conventional CrossFit has seemed to lead away from this concept by trading out intensity for greater volume and thus lost much of it’s original potency. Reincorporating intensity through principles of Strongman and simple movement can lead to massive increases in strength and physical performance as well as aesthetics and overall health.
Don’t slink away from the basics of fitness and give Strongman-style training your best effort. You’ll find movements like heavy sled pushes, sandbag carries and yoke walks programmed into the ‘Optional Work’ on our whiteboards and integrated into our warm-ups as well. Not only will your dedication to Strongman exercises make you a better CrossFit-er, but perhaps even more relevant, it will make you a better and more functional human being.