“No one ever lost a competition because they were too strong,” says CrossFit Powerlifting coach Jesse Burdick, creator of PowerWOD.com. A disciple of Louie Simmons’ Conjugate Method, Burdick coaches out of Combat Sports Academy in Dublin, Calif., home to the CrossFit CSA affiliate, and has squatted 909 pounds and deadlifted 804 pounds in his career. He believes that CrossFit athletes striving to improve their game would make more headway by increasing their lifts than by dropping their “Fran” time. And, he says, it’s easier than most people think.
Can athletes get stronger and keep up their endurance?
It is absolutely possible, but it’s not always going to be a linear process. You need blocks in your training where you work on certain things. If you need to get strong, forget your endurance. It will be there. Endurance comes quick. Strength is cultivated over years and years. It’s a process that takes a long time. You can’t expect to do something for a week and automatically be strong. You need a solid three-to-six-month block of strength training.
Why is strength the key to being better at CrossFit?
I don’t know how much faster people can do “Fran.” How many more times can you practice that sort of stuff? Strength can help that come along, though. A coach at the University of California, Davis, figured out that deadlifts alone translate better to throwing athletes than any other lift. These raw pure strength movements transfer so much better out than a lot of these other moves will transfer in.
Any tips on how to program strength workouts?
I think you should be squatting, deadlifting and pressing at least once a week each. I don’t mean go in there and do 100 percent on a squat, but there needs to be some sort of variation of the three on a weekly basis. Do a box squat or try a safety bar. That will change the body’s response to the squat enough so that it is not recognized. It will allow you to continually make progress without beating you down to the ground.