In the fitness industry, strength is defined as the ability to carry out work against a resistance. Power, on the other hand, is the ability to exert a maximal force in as short a time as possible. Looking more closely, strength really is the basis of power – in basic physics, strength can be defined as Force, whereas Power is often defined as Force x Velocity. Therefore, we can draw the conclusion that to develop power, we first need strength.
Being strong and powerful are both hugely important elements of the 3 major sports we coach at CFT – CrossFit, Weightlifting & Powerlifting. It is important for every new athlete who walk through our doors to understand that their progress lies firmly in how we develop their foundational strength. By first attacking this training adaptation, the effects will be very far reaching.
So, what are some of the best ways to develop overall strength? Here are 3 simple training methods:
1. Squat & Squat Some More!
The Squat hasn’t been referred top as the king of exercises for no reason! It’s the first movement we teach all new athletes on our fundamentals course and it’s the exercise that gives you the most bang for your buck when looking for strength gains! Step away from the belief that the squat is simply a lower body exercise. While the force is generated from our lower limbs, a huge amount of core strength and shoulder mobility is required for all 3 major variations of the Squat.
Tip: During the off season if your looking to add some serious numbers to your Squat, try a Smolov cycle or a traditional Russian Squat cycle. Don’t attempt this in-season as the volume is too high and can detract from other important elements of your training.
2. Midline Mass!
This isn’t a suggestion to stack on mass to your gut through regular trips to Macca’s! But, creating a strong, stable and reliable core is the foundation of any good strength program. In CrossFit we refer to the movements we use being “core to extremity” exercises. In other words, we generate force first from our midline and then utilise our extremities to support this.
Tip: Add both movement based and static core exercises to your program at the end of a workout. Some favourites for our athletes include Hollow & Arch, Dead Bugs, Forward Leaning Rest on Rings and Turkish Get Ups.
3. Don’t forget the little guys!
As a group, CrossFitters have become snobs about accessory movements or isolation movements that train “beach muscles.” Firstly, there’s no such thing as a truly isolated movement. Secondly, those “beach muscles” help us get stronger and can often be the critical factor in improving by 1%. For example, you need strong triceps to break your sticking point in the Bench Press; you need strong biceps to help pull your arms beyond 90 degrees and crank out pull ups; and you need strong gastrocnemius (calves) to illicit the initial push from the bottom of a squat!
Tip: Don’t make these accessory movements a principal part of your program, but find a place for them. Keep the intensity high by creating a circuit-style tri-set like the example below:
A1) Barbell Biceps Curls x 12-15
A2) Banded Triceps Pushdowns x 15-20
A3) Band Pull Aparts x 15-20
3 Rounds, rest 60 secs between rounds