If you’ve done Crossfit for any length of time, you understand that strength is a critical component to your overall performance.  Chances are that you’ve stalled out with your strength gains, or you don’t really understand how to get stronger and not lose ground with your metabolic conditioning.  This program is designed to do exactly that.  It’s primarily a strength plan, with just enough conditioning to maintain what you’ve already built.  Keep reading to see the full plan.

This program was primarily designed to be a continuation of the 12 week muscular endurance cycle, so I highly recommend you check that out prior to starting this plan, as it will prepare you very well for the high volume you will be doing in this plan.

This brings me to my next point about this plan.  This is for experienced crossfitters.  You need to have a significant strength base, and solid technique to try this plan.  If that’s not you it’s ok, you just don’t need this much volume and intensity to progress, which is a good thing.

You should probably be able to meet or exceed most of these standards, if you are going to find success with this program.  If you want to see the full ranking system for crossfitters click here.

Crossfit Standards Intermediate Data
Crossfit Standards Intermediate Data

On a side note, you’ll probably find that some of the deadlift and squat weights become very challenging as you progress.  I’ve had great luck with lever belts, like this one made by Inzer (Amazon Affiliate Link).  These types of belts are way better than your standard foam an nylon types for heavy lifting.

The Strength Plan

As a professional internet weirdo, who happens to program crossfit training, I know that there are loads of other people that are more knowledgeable about strength training than I am.  One such company is Stronglifts.

I’ve used some of their programs in the past and have found them to very well thought out, as well as effective.  That is why we will be using their excellent Stronglifts 5×5 advanced plan for our strength work.

The Stronglifts plan is an advanced version of the 5×5 plan we all know and love.  It is; however, a plan for those wishing to only gain strength.  So I’ve taken it upon myself to program crossfit WOD’s, and other conditioning work, around this plan to tailor it specifically for crossfitters.

Before you get started, you need to read their article and download their free spreadsheet, which gives you the exact sets and reps you will need to do for the strength work.  All you have to do is put in your current maxes, which you will have if you finished the muscular endurance cycle, thats linked above.

Let’s get into the program!

Week 1 

This week is going to be the easiest week in terms of strength training, which has allowed me to keep the WOD difficulty fairly high.  You’ll notice that there is one dedicated snatch day each week to allow you to work on your technique and neuromuscular efficiency, with the lift most crossfitters have trouble with.

You will also notice that Thursdays are conditioning only days, with no extra strength training.  This is for a couple of reasons.  First, you need some recovery from the heavy lifting, and conditioning can help speed that recovery.  Secondly, we will need these days to keep us from loosing our base of conditioning we’ve already built.

Note that you can pick whatever modality you want, run, bike, row, assault bike, etc.  Generally I recommend picking bike, row, or assault bike as those will have the least impact on the strength portion of the program.

If you like free crossfit programing, and want to get more articles sent right to you, then put your email in on the right.  If you don’t, I bet you wear cutoff jean jackets everywhere.

Week 2

This week increases the total strength volume, and the WOD volume is held roughly the same as the previous week.  We do see some higher skill moves in there, such as muscle ups.  If you can’t do these movements scale to the next hardest version, i.e chest to bars for muscle ups.

We’ve also added in some back off sets on Tuesday, so we can continue to work the snatch.  We have also increased the length of the cardio on Thursday.  I definitely recommend that you stick with the same modality each week.  Don’t run on week one, then bike this week etc.

Week 3

This week is going to be hard strength training wise.  You’ll probably find that you’re taking about 45 minutes or so to get through the strength portion, which is why the WOD is generally held to 10 minutes or less.  This will allow you the best chance of recovering from the difficult strength training.

It’s worth noting that just because this program has you doing the strength and the WOD in one session, there is no reason why you can’t do an AM and PM session if your schedule allows.  This will of course take more overall time, but it is probably superior in terms of allowing maximum recovery between sessions.

Week 4

This is going to be the highest volume week for strength training in the whole cycle.  These weights are very challenging, so you will need to take a minimum of 3 min or so between those heavy sets.  That’s roughly 40 minutes of rest between sets!  Remember, the point here is to move the weight with perfect form, not jack your heart rate up.

This is the last week before the deload on week 5.   Here, I’ve done my best to pick WODs and movements that won’t impact your strength work, but there’s no way around this killer week.

Week 5

Ah, at last we have a reprieve from the heavy, heavy weights.  This is a deload week, so the volume has been cut down, and so has some of the intensity.  You will notice that the WODs aren’t super hard, but they’re pretty difficult.

This week is for recovery, so even though some of the WODs are still pretty heavy, and challenging, that doesn’t mean you have to go balls to the wall.  Feel free to execute these WODs a little slower than your max.  Remember this whole cycle is for strength, not metabolic conditioning!

Final Thoughts 

This is the first 5 weeks of a total of 9 weeks in the cycle.  This will be difficult, but there is no way to accumulate strength without struggle and strain.  If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

Photo credit: TerryGeorge. via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

3 COMMENTS

  1. Jake,

    Thanks for the great programming. I have a question about the difference between your workout and the one from the strong lift site. On the strong lift site, it has 5×5 for squat on Monday and 1×5 for BP and BBR. On Friday it has the reverse. Yours has 5×5 for everything both days. Was this done on purpose and why do you recommend it over the way they prescribe it?
    -Kyle

    • Can you be my editor, because that was a great catch. I think the problem is in the overview of the plan on the stronglifts page it says 1×5, but when you download the spreadsheet it has you doing 5×5 with ascending weights. I’ve been doing what the sheet says, and it’s been fine. So far I’m about 3 weeks into it and having great success, especially with the bench press.

      • Wow, that spreadsheet is awesome and anyone doing this needs to use it. I started way too high in week 1. I’ll just get on track week 2, all weights are still lower than week 1 for me and very manageable. But, yes they do have 5×5 for everything, but some are build sets and some are straight 5×5 with the same weights. I’m keeping this spreadsheet.

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