CrossFit Strength

Whether you are just starting CrossFit or have been doing crossfit for awhile there is a lot of work involved to get that crossfit strength. Which ever category you are in I hope by now that you realize crossfit’s heavy 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 workout every 6+ weeks is not sufficient for any kind of strength program. These programs below are no secret to most crossfitters, but I still want to throw it out there for those of you who are unfamiliar.

CrossFit Strength Defined

My definition of crossfit strength: Go look at all of the GIRL and HERO workouts. If you can do all of those workouts as listed with no subs or lighter weights than you have crossfit strength. Any more is awesome, any less and you need to work on it. Keep in mind this is just for the basic crossfitter. If you are looking to compete you should be able to throw a lot of those weights around like they nothing.

CrossFit Strength for the Beginner

Starting Strength by Mark RippetoeCrossFit Strength is the best beginner strength program out there. I personally have not done this program. I amCrossFit Strength proof that pure hypertrophy by isolation is a great strength program contrary to the belief of most crossfitters, since I have never subbed a weight in crossfit.

However, I have read the book and this is the program I now recommend for people starting crossfit or weak crossfitters. It goes over the five main barbell lifts squat, bench press, deadlift, power clean, and press. These are all the crossfit strength building exercises you will ever need. So if you are looking increase your strength this is a must read.

CrossFit Strength a Little More Advanced

The Wendler 5/3/1 program by Jim WendlerCrossFit Strength is a great program. However, it is not for beginners so don’t think you can jump straight to this program is you are starting out. Start with starting strength.CrossFit Strength

Jim Wendler devloped this program in an effort to allow someone to continually lift year round and still see progression and PRs. It works on a basic 3 week uploading principle based off percentages of your max. The 4th week is an unloading phase where you do not go above 60% of your max.

This program does exactly what it says, and it will pack on the strength. It allows you to stay fresh and continually work on your weaknesses. If you get this book I highly recommend doing what he says by using your training max the first 4 weeks. It was a good starting point for me and I have seen great results.

CrossFit Strength in Summary:

Crossfit takes a great deal of strength to fully accomplish all of the workouts. If you are just starting out I recommend Starting Strength and if you are a little more advanced I recommend the wendler program. I come from a strength training background so if you have any questions about these programs or any other program just let me know.


  • craig

    so here is my question. i am somewhat new to crossfit, so programming is not my cup of tea yet. i am currently doing main site workouts. how would i add strength workouts to that?

    • Jerred

      Great Question! It depends on your training capacity. How long have you been training (crossfit or any training)? Do you need a lot of strength work? etc..

      Good Places to Start:

      CrossFit Football
      CrossFit Strength Bias
      My Version of CFSB (for those coming from BB and strength training backgrounds)

      Also you can look at my FitCHEM 101 program to see how strength and crossfit can get mashed together.

  • craig

    thanks for the help. i did crossfit with a group here on my fob for about a month, but due to horrible programming and bad form i dropped out and started doing main site workouts. for now, i’m going to stick with that, but in a few months, i would like to add some seperate strength training in just to work on increasing my strength. i ordered “starting strength” and it will be here soon, but even without looking, im pretty sure its not set up on a 3 day on, 1 off schedule like the main site workouts and i really dont know a lot about programming as to how to take a 5 day strength workout schedule and make it fit 3 days as well as work around the wod’s.

    • Jerred

      I have always done strength training and crossfit together so here is my suggestion from my experience. If you follow a 3-1 work to rest cycle. Look at it as you workout in 8 day cycles. 6 days of work and 2 days of rest. Looking at it that way take the 5 days of strength and distribute the among your six work days. The sixth day will be purely crossfit wods and active recovery. So don’t go crazy on this day. As far as working with wods and strength. Go strength first rest about 10 min and then do your wod. Your workload is about to increase but if you think you can handle it, go for it.

  • craig

    sweet deal. thanks man. i really appreciate it.

  • Sam Laureto

    Hey Jerred, your article has really peaked my interest in CFSB. I’m hoping to utilize it into our military training. A couple questions though. Can you give me an example of a Heavy METCON? And on the protocols, you increase the weight correct? Thanks

    • Jerred

      Hey Sam, glad you like the article. A heavy metcon would just be a metcon that follows the same principes of heavy lifting; primarily low rep, high weight. If you check out CrossFit Football, they seem to follow the heavy metcon principles, but making one up in your programming is fun too. 

      • Sam Laureto

        Sounds good. Lastly, should the METCONs consist of exercises utilizing muscles that were used for the strength portion?

        • Jerred

          Ahh, and therein lies the dilemma. When I first started doing heavy metcons with lifting I tried to separate muscle groups; and it makes sense as a best practice. However, I have found, personally, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. 

  • Tony McGurk

    Hi Jerred, I started weight training 9 months ago doing the regular bodybuilding type workouts at a gym. I now have my own home gym set up with DB’s a regular barbell not Olympic & a home made power rack.
    As a “Been skinny most of my life” bloke I have gained a reasonable amount of muscle mass compared to what I was. I have previously done CF on & off for a few months. Have been back on BB workouts for the past month. However I am considering CF again as I tend to get bored with the same workouts day in & day out.
    Some CF things I have to avoid. At age 52 I am getting arthritis in my ankles & toes so I have since quit running as it just gets too painful. I still have a long way to go as far as strength gains. My question is, with 9 months training under my belt & going back to CF 2 or 3 days a week, would you advise Wendler 5/3/1 for strength gains or would I still be classed as a beginner at this stage & be better off with either Starting Strength or Stronglifts? Thanks

    • Jerred

      I would give Wendler a go. Just always operate off of that 90% training max and you should be good, and maybe work up to the all out on the last sets.

      • Tony McGurk

        OK Thanks Jerred