Crossfit for 2A

Hi Coach, soon I’ll have finished your 2A program and plan to do Crossfit for the first time for a few months. I want to amp up my cardio and work capacity for the gendarme exam as well as experimenting a different type of training. So as a 2A:

  1. How many WODs per week should I do?

  2. How many -if any- traditional bodybuilding sessions per week should I do?

Start conservatively because it’s new to your body… 2 Crossfit days, 2-3 muscle-building days

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Thank you!

Based on your last article about crossfit, don’t you think they are using drugs to be muscular like that ? im saying that because i did some crossfit few months and i was not able to get bigger, i was just getting smaller, loosing weight but gainz too. Thinking about a guys who were doing crossfit but really like it like he was always there, in a really good shape ( i think when i saw him he just start the crossfit ) but i saw him after 4 months he look so small and out of shape.

sorry for my english

That’s a can of worm right there!

Do I think there are steroids in Crossfit? Yes, of course. Just like there are steroids in pretty much any high level sports (or other types of performance-enhancing drugs).

Is it as bad as bodybuilding? Not anywhere close!

Is it as bad a powerlifting? Not anywhere close!

Is everybody at the Crossfit games on something? Nope. I have personally trained athletes who competed at the Games and were clean. And many that competed at regionals and were clean. I know because they are the kind of guys/girls who freak out about taking BCAAs because they don’t want to test positive (heck, one even asked me if chewing tobacco would lead to a positive test!).

I’m not saying that everybody is clean; I would say that at the Games likely 30% of the athletes used something during the “off-season”. Which is about the same percentage as most high level sports.

And if you look at the “box level” (those who simply do Crossfit for training, not to compete) the amount of drug use is much MUCH lower than among lifters who train in “bro gyms” just to get bigger.

Ok, so this brings us to your other point: muscle size.

Can crossfit build muscle? Yes and no. It depends on how you do it. See here is the thing. When you look at the top Crossfit athletes; those you see at the Games or regionals, they don’t only do Crossfit for their training. Heck, we are talking about guys who are snatching, clean & jerking, deadlifting and squattign pretty darm big weights. You don’t get that strong by doing only WODS.

To give you an example I trained 3 Crossfit guys who snatched 300lbs/135kg or more and who clean and jerked 380lbs/170kg or more. Heck, one of them POWER cleaned 350lbs/160kg WITHOUT A WARM UP! 2 of them have deadlifted in the mid 600lbs (280kg+).

I have also trained several girls who snatched 80-92kg and clean & jerked 100-115kg.

Those who compete do A LOT of strength work (some more than others). In fact their training is not unlike that of an American football player: plenty of olympic lifting and strength work. But instead of doing traditional conditioning they do WODs (heck many of them only do WODs once a week more of the year and their conditioning is more traditional).

More and more Crossfit gyms/boxes are starting to use a model similar to what the top Crossfitters do (scaled down of course).

A daily session might look like

A. SKILL WORK (15 minutes working technique on a complete skill)

B. STRENGTH WORK (20 min heavy work on a basic strength lift or olympic lift)

C. 8-10 minutes WOD of a heavier nature

D. 12-15 minutes WOD of a lighter nature

I’ve seen plenty of Crossfit gyms even include 10-15 minutes of bodybuilding work (or sometimes replace the 2nd WOD by bodybuilding work).

Heck, my friend *and T-nation author) Jason Brown does programming for dozens of Crossfit gyms around the world. His system is basically the Westside barbell template (with some olympic lifting) and then 15 minutes of conditioning work/WOD at the end.

Can you gain muscle by doing pure Crossfit (WODs only)? Yes, if you are starting with no muscle. If you built a body through years of heavy lifting and you start doing ONLY WODs you might lose some muscle (just like I personally lose arms and chest when I switch to olympic lifting). But if you use a mix of heavy lifting, crossfit and some accessory bodybuilding work (like more high level Crossfit athletes are doing) you can gain some muscle.

@Frank_C ^ some really interesting information here, especially given your recent exploits.

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I saw this earlier. I kind of screwed up by taking on 4-5 WODs a week from the start :smile:

But my resting heart rate and ability to do the B4B circuits tell me it was working! On Wednesday’s marathon session I set the timer for 45 sec between sets and had no trouble finishing.


Glad I asked because that was the route I instinctly wanted to take!

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Yeah, don’t do that! I finished each session with 7-10 minutes of panting on the floor while I got my shit together so I could stand up and walk to my car. Brutal, but effective. But I have to admit it’s not sustainable. I dropped it after three weeks and I’m now trying Built for Battle combined with good old fashioned running workouts.

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wow great info ! thank you

Very timely topic, as I recently picked up crossfit after a 3 year hiatus, and I am also a 2A (from what I can gather from articles/CT’s input).

After finishing a ThibArmy program last spring, I decided to return to crossfit for the summer mainly to change things up training-wise (part of my yearly plan) and to see how well I would fare compared to my first crossfit experience in 2015.

Unlike CT’s advice, I decided to dive head first and began with 5 sessions/WODs per week. However, I did scale the weights down on the WODs featuring heavy RX weights. I’ve been maintaining this cadence for almost 2 months now, and I’ve been feeling great; very rarely sore, and so far I have dropped only 2-3 pounds without appearing to have lost any muscle mass.

Regarding muscle mass and crossfit (bigmax’s post): CT once said something along these lines regarding crossfit: ‘When you go to a crossfit box, you will see a third of the people that don’t look in great shape, a third that look in OK/ordinary shape and a final third that look muscular/athletic’. CT might correct me if I am wrong, but I think I got the gist of it. Based on my limited experience, I have found his observation to be true. Even one of the strongest and fittest guys at our box doesn’t have much muscle definition! But he ran a 5km in 22 minutes and front squats 300 pounds… Moreover, the guy that is the most ripped and bulky at our box actually comes from a bodybuilding background!

My plan is to do crossfit for another 2 months or so, and assess whether where my strength levels are after that, but I do indeed fear that I will have stagnated on that aspect.

Here’s why:

  • Unlike the type of programming that CT mentioned in his post (the type that Jason Brown does), the structure of the session is tailored like this: warm-up, stretching/mobility (boring!), strength/skill work (15-20) minutes and a WOD. No accessory/bodybuilding work (I am the only person who does 5-10 min. of isolation work after WODs and some people wonder what planet I come from!).

  • There is very little progression in the main lifts from one workout to the other or from one week to the next. For example, the last time we back squatted was two weeks ago (and I haven’t missed any workouts)… How can one improve or be proficient at such a movement pattern without practicing it regularly or in a systematized way?

  • In fact, when we do strength work, the rep schemes are almost ALWAYS aimed at displaying strength (i.e. hitting a 1 or 2 RM) rather than building strength. This leads people to always want to hit PRs, bad technique, failed lifts with heavy loads, etc.

This leads to ask you, CT, a few questions on this topic:

  1. Based on your own crossfit experience, how did you manage to adequately program strength and bodybuilding work with the pre-programmed week of training set up by the box’ coaches? I mean, crossfit programming is so random that it becomes kind of hard to program one’s own stuff on the side if you don’t know whether you will be squatting on Monday, pressing on Tuesday, deadlifting on Wednesday, etc.

  2. I read your recent article on going to failure. You mentioned there that exercises of Levels 1 and 2 should not be performed to failure. You mentioned that when you were olympic weightlifting, you would never miss a rep in practice. This makes sense.

But why has this ‘practice’ mentality not made it to Crossfit gyms (like mine)? Why aren’t more crossfit boxes focused on building up strength over time rather than constantly trying to hit 1 or 2 RMs at every strength session? As I said earlier, it seems every session at my gym people are just striving to hit PRs rather that build their strength or work on their technique.

So far, I my hiatus from crossfit to focus on building my strength, muscle mass (to an extent) and gymnastics work has paid off, as we just did a benchmark week and I did much better on Fran, Helen, etc. than three years ago thanks to improved strength (mainly). I plan on taking this cyclic approach again.

if you know a program who bodybuilding, olympic lifting and kind of small WOD are all in i would like to buy it !