T Nation

A Good Crossfit Type Workout?


I enjoyed your article about your crossfit experience. One criticism of crossfit which I have read from multiple sources is that the programming is inconsistent and poorly designed.

If you were to incorporate the beneficial principles from crossfit into a strength and conditioning program or a bodybuilding program with some emphasis on conditioning, what would it look like?

Thank you for your thoughts,


Would love to know this as well!!!!!


Me too!!

How do you maintain high levels of skill, strength and conditioning when there are so many different energy systems involved?

I'm managing to get on top of the oly lifting and gymnastics side of things, but when I try and step up the conditioning the rest suffers. Maybe you just need to accept that it takes time to build up enough conditioning to keep it all going at once?

I know it's not your area of expertise - you've said so elsewhere. But I for one would value any thoughts you might have on the matter.


While we're waiting, here's what I posted on this issue in another thread: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/hub/GraniteJack#myForums/thread/6025823/

I have used this template with success over the years...


Gant Grimes Hybrid program.


Maybe it could be done with the Layer system, as long as you can manage stress.
Something like:
Ramp to 3RM, then take 90% of that and do as few sets as possible to reach 25 total reps, then a metcon or WOD that would complement the main lift.


All of these suggestions are very helpful, but this on in particular has lots of great info that helps me to understand how to go about structuring something like this.


I think one of the main difficulties for me is that I'm really not strong enough yet to be doing high reps of a lot of the gymnastics movements - or at least, not without requiring significant recovery time. Which takes away from skill and strength training. Sure, I could scale things and use easier techniques, but I want to be practicing the full techniques so in a way this would be wasted effort. Which kind of brings my thinking round to what CT said in his article about needing to prioritize strength first.

Maybe I do need to concentrate on skill and strength for a while longer with just some sprints, sled pushes, KB swings and the odd 1 - 2 mile run to keep conditioning ticking over? Introduce the more typical crossfit metcons later when I'm stronger (and more skilled)?


I really like the below program for getting the power look and also working on some of the competitive lifts.

DAY 1: Clean & press/Front squat/Bench press
DAY 2: Power snatch/Snatch high pull from hang/Deadlift + shrugs
DAY 4: Power clean/Back squat/Push press
DAY 5: Snatch high pull from hang/Pull-ups/Shrugs
DAY 6: Arms

what about adding in some wods on off days and maybe some carries on 3 of the other days to work on conditioning?


It is my belief that unless someone is an advanced crossfitter, the complex gymnastics and olympic lifting skills should be done at the beginning of the session, not part of a metcon WOD. 20 minutes of one specific skill work followed by one WOD lasting about 15 minutes and another lasting about 10. In that case the WODs would only use lower skill movements (can still use the simpler versions of the olympic lifts).


Thank you. I'll try working something around that guideline and see how I get on.

I'm just thinking out loud here - I don't know if anyone has any thoughts on this....

IF you're still at the point where you're trying to build strength and skill (so not complete mastery of the 'big' techniques) then it makes sense to me that you're prioritizing that. The faster you're skilled and strong enough to incorporate the big, whole body movements into your WODS the more you'll get out of them. My feeling is that conditioning can be built up pretty quickly - skill and strength not so much.

Which leads me to think that if I'm using simpler techniques in my WODS then:

a) I don't want to be wearing myself out unnecessary and simply adding to my recovery time. After all, I want to spend as much time as possible building strength and skill.
b) The techniques I use in the WODS need to actually address weaknesses and help me towards my skill/strength goals.

TC wrote in his recent article (the controversial one) about 'active recovery' and how if you used non-eccentric movements they won't tax you. Examples he gave were - prowler pushes, kettlebell swings, sledgehammer work, or even riding a bicycle up some hills. These seem good candidates for 'beginner' WODS?

I think kettle bell swings will be of help to me at my stage in the oly lifting. Hard-wiring the hip action. Hollow body rocks/holds can give you a great workout and lay down some good foundations for gymnastics skills.

Do people agree/disagree with the idea of restricting WOD content to 'easy to recover from' and 'useful in helping to build the target skills/strength' in the early stages? Or is this thinking too restrictive?


I've trained as a powerlifter, Olympic lifter, strongman and CFer (2 years in CF). My belief is that you should restrict "big" explosive lifts (cleans, snatches, Deadlifts, push-press, etc) to strength work plugged into a template like CTs Layer System. But the conditioning WOD, if you will, can be comprised of lifts like swings, burpees, Mb slams, wall balls, push-ups, pull-ups, thrusters, etc.
Heavy and/or technical lifts should be used for explosiveness and for lower reps to maintain bar speed and power. But CF conditioning is great if you stick to the non technical lifts I mentioned above. Using snatches for conditioning, for example, is a bad idea.
I do a simple conditioning WOD weekly that usually looks like this:

10 kb swings
10 mb slams
100 jump rope jumps
For max rounds in 10 minutes.

My biggest concern/ complaint w/ CF is that they program snatches and cleans for conditioning purposes to trainees who don't even exhibit good form when fresh. Stick to slams, swings, burpees, wall balls etc for conditioning and you will reap tremendous anaerobic benefits without risking injury.


I can't find anything much on this Layer System - can you suggest a link?

Nice suggestions for the WODS too. I hadn't thought of including skipping.


Use the search function on this site and look for "thibs layer system" or just "layer system". There's a good write up in one of the top results...


excellent GJ , this is enough to start when you do not like me cvs effective, it is a gentle approach and subsequently increase

thank you


Someone made a comment on the T-Nation fb page yesterday in relation to a recent conditioning article. Basically he's saying - well, I'll quote him -

"It is simply conditioning the body and mind to the demands of the desired goal from a cardiova-pulmonary strengthening standpoint. It is a type of specificity training, actually.

Training for a marathon is "conditioning". You are conditioning the body for the endurance demands of 26.2 miles.

Battle Ropes or Hill Sprints for the purpose of fat loss is conditioning the body to force an adaptation over and over again to burn insane calories by getting the heart rate through the roof over and over again.

Football drills condition players, depending on the demands of their position, to physically - from a cardiovascular, muscular strength and power standpoint - tap potential for the athletic responsibilities of the sport.

This is so obvious. However, it's something I've completely overlooked when trying to figure out what to include in my WOD's.

Before we can decide what form our conditioning training should take we first need to decide what our goals are.

Mine then:

  • To develop fitness that'll let me train safer, harder, longer, better in my chosen primary skills of gymnastics and oly lifting.
  • To work ALL movements, muscles, energy systems (all fitness attributes) regularly to keep me aging well - I don't want weaknesses developing.
  • I love climbing mountains to watch sunrise/sunset, so to be able to hike say 14k with 1000m ascent carrying a 10 - 15kg pack.
  • To be sure footed on very rough mountain terrain (whilst attached to two crazed, lunging hounds).
  • To be able to run fast paced intervals along the beach for around 40 mins with my two dogs - that's how THEY like to condition themselves!
  • To maintain fat levels of around 18% (to help with the gymnastics).
  • To correct a number of muscle imbalances that have developed over the years.

This makes my task easier. Now I've just got to figure out what types of training give me the most bang for my buck, what percentage of each type I need, and then how to work it into WODs that, over time, will cover all the bases and get me to where I want to be. Easy ..... right???


I really like the approach of not using Oly lifts and Gymnastic skills as part of conditioning workouts, at least for the majority of us who have not mastered the fundamentals. I agree with Granite Jack that you can get fantastic conditioning with little injury potential if you use basic ballistics like KB Swings, Jump Rope, etc. You could also include short sprints in there for variety as well.

I'd also suggest using movements like Bear Crawls/Spider Man Crawls in conditioning (as long as your wrist are up to it) as they create a significant metabolic demand without overstressing any one muscle group. Dan John's recent article has some challenges which includes these.


Although if one of your goals was to get good at gymnastics and oly lifts then ultimately your goal would be to train yourself to the point where you were skilled and conditioned enough to cope with volume?

In which case your conditioning in the meantime would have as one of its goals - developing the building blocks for high volume gymnastics and oly lifting?

I appreciate that you'll get a good endurance workout from KB swings, jumping rope etc. But you'll get a much better work out from doing say - high numbers of handstand muscleup burpees, or 100 deadlifts or squats loaded up with your bodyweight, or 50 C&J with whatever is a heavy weight for that. (Although what's best will depend on an individual's ultimate goals).

I don't buy this notion that some exercises are inherently unsafe for conditioning. Your body can safely cope with whatever you condition it to cope with.

So the conditioning component of a progressive program where your goal is to develop extreme all around strength and fitness is going to be very different from the program of a bodybuilder, powerlifter or olympic lifter or general fitness person that's just looking to maintain healthy cardiovascular fitness and keep fat levels down.

The crawling you mention (from what I've read) is I think a good way to keep things moving as they should. That's one that wasn't on my list so thank you :slightly_smiling: