Over the several years that I have been doing CrossFit, I have often heard people say they are “going on a strength cycle.” The first several times I heard someone say this or something like it, I wondered what exactly they meant. The gym I attended had a strength and skill session nearly every day in addition to the daily metcon or wod. I was consistently getting stronger and setting PRs on a regular basis on squats, deadlifts, presses and the Olympic lifts. Why would I need to do a strength cycle when I was clearly getting stronger all the time?
Over time I began to feel like my strength numbers were peaking. Even though my benchmark workout times were getting faster all the time, my 1 rep max squat stayed the same for a year and this eventually became frustrating. I was working hard in the gym, so why was I not getting stronger? I was clearly fitter, I knew I was getting into better shape, but I wanted to see those PRs again.
A while back, I seriously considered trying out one of these so called strength cycles and for a few months my wife and I even did some Wendler 5/3/1 lifting sessions in our garage gym. But I missed the comaraderie at CrossFit Asheville and was soon back there doing the group workouts. After the CrossFit Open 2016, I made a 2/3/4/5 goal – I wanted to snatch 200 pounds, clean 300, squat 400 and deadlift 500. I stopped doing as many metcons and added some extra strength work and I hit two of those goals within a few months!
Our programming for group classes at CrossFit Carolina Beach is focused on general physical preparedness. And getting continually stronger is definitely a large part of that. But we decided that after the Open season ended we would offer an additional program more specifically targeting the squat, deadlift and presses. It is based around Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 method and adds some hypertrophy work in the accessory lifts, a short conditioning piece most days, as well as one day per week dedicated to Olympic lifting. There will also be a large focus on unilateral work to foster strength balance and maintain functional fitness. The 5/3/1 strength program has 3 weeks that build in weight based on specific reps and percentages of your lifetime max in each of the four lifts followed by a deload week.
If you are interested in getting stronger by joining us for the CFCB strength cycle workouts or hearing more about what we do in our regular CrossFit group class programming, feel free to drop us a message through the website or stop by the gym any time.