Why we do “Strength First, Then Cardio”
Let’s face it: CrossFitters claim to be the fittest people on earth — not the strongest people on earth — yet the top CrossFit Athletes are strong as well as fit. That is because they are working on absolute strength more than worrying about met-con ability.
Think about this: If you get off the couch and start working out, you will be able to run a 10k race long before you will be able to deadlift or squat 500 lbs . Why? Because our bodies will adapt to the stresses of aerobic training a lot faster than they adapt to anaerobic stress. In other words, you will get “in shape,” so to speak, faster than you will get strong.
It happens all the time people losing their mind over their endurance concerns and met-con work, but they do not show nearly enough concern for absolute strength. In our opinion absolute strength is the king of all sport requirements. Many of you are worried that if you slow down or stop your met-cons or cardio work, you will quickly lose ground in that area, and those concerns are valid, to a point.
Cardio shape is quickly gained and begins to diminish just as quickly. On the other hand strength gains take much longer to build, but they also hang around much longer after you slow down or stop focusing on them as a priority. If you don’t train strength for two or three weeks, you will still be okay strength-wise, whereas you will feel it much more missing the same duration of met-cons…and that is where the trap lies. Athletes panic, put all their eggs in the met-con basket, and the result is a fit athletes who is not as strong as they need to be in order to be competitive.
Lets say you weigh 170 lbs and can whiz thru the met-con phase of training, but your strength movements aren’t good. You like bodyweight movements only and light Oly lifting WODs, but hate when a heavy workout comes out.
Now, on the other hand you also can have an athlete who is 195 lbs and bull strong and fast, but he lacks the cardio endurance to smoke the met-cons. This athlete can crush some big numbers, he cleans a lot of weight, and he does thrusters with 275 lbs but needs technique work.
Now let’s say you have 10 weeks to get them ready to compete, which athlete will you choose to represent you? Most of us will say Athlete B because you can get him in pretty good shape and deep down you know Athlete A is not going to get strong enough in 10 weeks.
― Mark Rippetoe,