Put the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders to Improve in Crossfit

Put the Weight of the World on Your Shoulders to Improve in Crossfit

While many of us have experienced significant gains in our athletic abilities and physical appearance thanks to Crossfit, we all reach a fitness plateau where our progress and gains appear to have stalled, at some point.

When it comes to continuously progressing and growing from a fitness perspective, you need to go heavy on a regular basis.  

Many beginner and inexperienced Crossfitters bang out light-weight, high-rep met-con WODs five to six times a week and burn themselves out on this schedule. Met-con workouts are designed to stress several energy systems. However, multiple, back-to-back met-cons in a week can severely tax the body and limit fitness and strength progress and growth.  

By programming heavy lifting days with a few basic lifts into your weekly workout schedule, you can overcome some of these plateaus and catapult your training to a new level. Basic multi-joint lifts include the deadlift, back squat, military press, and bench press.  

There are many different types of strength programs and methods that can be adapted to your fitness needs and schedules, without committing a lot of extra time in the your local box. For example, in the January issue of The Box Magazine, they feature an article on using the 5/3/1 program created by former competitive powerlifter Jim Wendler based on the basic lifts mentioned above.  

Wendler’s 5/3/1 methodology is based on a percentage of your one rep max for each of the individual lifts. His program is a four-week cycle in which you work a different basic lift on different days. For example, Mondays are for deadlifts, Tuesday would be for bench presses, Thursdays for squats and Fridays for military presses.  

For the first three weeks of the cycle you are building on those percentages of your one rep max, and for the fourth week, you are doing what they call “deloading” by using significantly reduced percentages of your max to give your body a rest, while still keeping you active with a particular lift.  

Here is an example of what a squat program for an individual whose one rep max for the squat is 315 pounds may look like:


Reps Percentage Weight*
5 40% 125 lbs
5 50% 160 lbs
5 60% 190 lbs


Week 1:

Reps Percentage Weight*
5 65% 205 lbs
5 75% 235 lbs
5 85% 270 lbs


Week 2:

Reps Percentage Weight*
3 70% 220 lbs
3 80% 250 lbs
3 90% 285 lbs


Week 3:

Reps Percentage Weight*
5 75% 235 lbs
3 85% 270 lbs
1 95% 300 lbs



Week 4:

Reps Percentage Weight*
5 40% 125 lbs
5 50% 160 lbs
5 60% 190 lbs


* All calculated weights on these charts have been rounded off.  

The Wendler 5/3/1 program has proven to one of the simplest, most schedule-friendly programs, and efficient for improving your overall strength for many power- and weightlifters, as well as Crossfitters.  

So strap on your TuffWraps and start enhancing your strength by committing to a regular program of heavy lifting, like the 5/3/1 program, on a regular basis.

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