A few years ago, I wrote this article. Within a few days, the article got reposted to Yahoo!, and that’s when the hate started rolling in.
For the first time in my life people were actually commenting mean stuff on my articles. They told me that I was ignorant, that I didn’t know what I was doing, and denied the science in the article.
They called me ignorant, and 2 years later, the truth is that I don’t disagree with them.
The reality is that my certainty, the “I’m right and you’re stupid,” chest-out bravado and the over-simplification of how someone should train was my own lack of understanding.
Two years and a whole lot of humbling experiences later, this is what I would change.
Getting A CrossFit Body Without CrossFit, 2.0
They’re toned, muscular, strong, athletic, and specimens of perfect health.
Sprinting, climbing, lifting awkward objects, and lifting heavy stuff is no problem for them.
I just described a CrossFit athlete, right?
I’ve just described someone who has been dedicated to following a smart program for a few years. CrossFit is, for some, the means to that end.
But for many, especially those who may be inexperienced or have previous injuries, it can be the means to a completely different end. You’ve heard of people experiencing severe injuries while exercising at CrossFit.
The problem isn’t necessarily the exercises in CrossFit. Sure, there are a few things that I would never let my worst enemy do -- high-rep olympic lifting, kipping, and the GHR situps are just a few that come to mind -- but besides that, they’ve actually got some things right.
Sure, their programming isn’t the best if you want to be a great powerlifter.
- That’s okay, most people don’t. They just want to be strong.
Their gymnastics practices won’t get you into the Olympics any time soon.
- This is fine, most people just want to be able to do a pull-up.
Of course, their strongman training isn’t exactly the best thing if you’re looking to win the Worlds Strongest Man competition this year.
But you likely aren’t The Mountain, so that probably wouldn’t happen anyway.
*Note: if you are The Mountain, thank you for reading my blogs!*
Despite what CrossFit is doing right, I think there is still much room for improvement.
Here are 3 things you can add to your training TODAY to get a CrossFit body
High Intensity Functional Training
As I mentioned before, CrossFit athletes are usually shredded to the bone, strong, and muscular -- like this guy:
Meet Dr. Emil Hodzovic, the man who literally wrote the book on High Intensity Functional Training. He is an A+E doctor and author of the aptly-named book, High Intensity Functional Training. His book has provided some scientific insight as to why training at a high-intensity is so effective for increasing cardiovascular conditioning and burning fat.
One of the biggest problems with CrossFit is that they cherry-pick or even create their own science. Luckily, Dr. Hodzovic hasn’t done that. He incorporates information from scientific studies to explain effects from the broad range of exercise and provide you with the tools necessary in order to lose fat, increase aerobic capacity, and build some strength and size along the way.
“Using a full range of HIFT exercises, Smith et al. (2013) assessed the effects of a 10-week training program, performed 3 times per week. They found that muscle mass increased by 1kg in both (1.4 – 2.2%), while aerobic fitness improved by an even more remarkable amount, both when measured relative to bodyweight (12.0 – 13.6%) and also in absolute terms (9.0 – 9.6%). So the improvement in fitness was not just because of the weight loss."
Here is a chart showing the changes:
( Dr. Hodzovic, Strengthandconditioningresearch.com)
Give this strongman-style HIFT workout a try:
- Farmers Walk (using 50% of bodyweight) x 10m aka 30 Feet
- Med Ball Slam or Rope Slam x 10
- Rest 30 seconds, repeat 10 times
You can buy his book here.
Here’s an excerpt from an article that I wrote for STACK:
It's time to forget about sets and reps and start thinking about the total amount of weight you lift during a training session. This simple shift in mindset is the key to understanding Density Training, and it's also where the name comes from.
In training, density is the total amount of weight lifted (volume) per minute of exercise. To discover your training density, use this simple formula:
- Volume = Number of Reps X Weight Lifted
- Density = Volume / Time
For example, if one of our members smashed 30 repetitions of deadlifts with 225 pounds in 15 minutes:
- Volume = 30 X 225 = 6,750 pounds
- Density = 6,750 / 15 = 450 pounds/minute
To hit a PR for the next session, the athlete could do a few things:
- shorten the time, but do the same number of reps with the same amount of weight,
- lift more weight, and do the same (or slightly fewer) number of reps,
- do more reps with the same weight.
What makes this different from CrossFit?
On paper, a density workout can be very similar to a Crossfit AMRAP workout. It’s two exercises, performed back-to-back, without stopping for 15 minutes.
BUT, there is an extremely important difference:
- A proper density workout will actually be painfully simple. Rather than combining a series of complex exercises -- making it easier to hurt yourself as fatigue increases -- a smart density workout combines exercises like dumbbell bench press and chest supported rows, squats, and physioball hamstring curls, making it less likely you will incur injury.
Long story short, it’s a low-risk/high-reward game.
Pick 2 exercises that do not compete with each other, and that are also easy for you to do perfectly even in a fatigued state.
Here’s an example of my favorite density circuit:
- Dumbbell Bench Press x 8
- TRX Row x 10
- Repeat as many times as possible in 15 minutes.
Finishers - aka: Ca$hing Out - aka: the icing on the cake
Think of that epic voice that comes on when you’re about to win a game of mortal combat:
That’s what finishers are made to do. They’re the icing on the cake after a workout, the perfect way to make sure that you leave it all out there and finish stronger than you started.
When it comes to choosing a finisher, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- What are you working on that day? An upper body workout should finish off with upper body. Doing squats at the end of your upper body workout is like putting icing on a cake that hasn’t been baked yet. Wait... that might be really yummy. Anyway….
- How fatigued are you? Like our HIFT and density training model, it’s extremely important to remember that quality of movement should always come before quantity of movement. This is one of the biggest problems in CrossFit. The program seems more concerned with getting a high score, but not concerned about doing things right.
Here are a few of my favorite finishers:
For Lower Body -- one round of:
- Backward lunge (Right) x 30 seconds
- Backward Lunge (Left) x 30 seconds
- Jumping Split Squat x 30 seconds
- Squat x 30 seconds
- Squat Jump x 30 seconds
- Squat Hold x 30 seconds
For Abs -- one round of:
- Plank hold x 30 seconds
- Sprinter sit-up x 30 seconds
- Crawl position shoulder tap x 30 seconds
- V-sits x 30 seconds
- Push-up plank knee to elbow (slow, w/exhale) x 30 seconds
- L-sit + reach x 30 seconds
For Upper Body:
- Push-Up x 10
- TRX Row x 1
- Push-Up x 9
- TRX Row x 2
- Push-Up x 8
- TRX Row x 3
See where that’s going? Keep going down with push-ups and up with rows until you reach 1 push-up and 10 TRX rows.
The Final Verdict
Lifting weights can make you sexy, as we know. CrossFit athletes are the perfect example of this, but the risk often outweighs the reward. Sure, we could have added in a ton of things that would make your workouts 100x more intense, but there is certainly a point of diminishing returns. Instead, let’s go with uncomplicated and productive.
Always aim for the minimal effective dose.
It’s really that simple.
So, you want to get a CrossFit body without CrossFit?
Then make sure to check out our 8 Week Transformation Program.
Unlimited metabolic team training and unlimited strength & performance small-group classes
are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this program.
Are you ready for results that last?