The Best Supplemental Training for CrossFitters

yusuf-ortac-220052When I was first asked the question by a CrossFitter, “Where can I find the best supplemental training to add to my current routine that is short but effective,” the first thought that came to my mind was, “Is this even possible without hiring a trainer?”

While I think most people are likely to get the BEST help through hiring a coach who will work one-on-one to help their clients reach their goals, I know we can’t all afford such an expense…especially on top of monthly gym memberships. So what can we do?

Answer this question: What are your goals?

If you don’t know this answer, you can’t move forward. What is the one thing you want to improve?

  • Do you want to get stronger?
  • Do you want to get leaner? Improve aesthetically?
  • Do you want to get a 300 lb back squat?
  • Do you want your first pull-up?
  • Do you need to fix your olympic lifts?
  • Do you want your first muscle up?

You may have to think about this for a while. What is most important to you? Too many times, especially with CrossFitters, we want to be great at everything, all the time. This certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t — eventually — be good at everything. The key is to start with ONE goal at a time, because like most readers, you’re likely already spending an hour or so in your normal CrossFit class.

So what is your goal? What is ONE area you can improve? When you know this, you’re ready to move forward.

Best Places to Find Supplemental Training

Find Help From Within. When you’re looking for help to improve–specifically within the sport of CrossFit–my first advice is to seek help from a certified trainer within your box. It’s highly likely there’s a coach among you who is also trained in other areas of fitness–from exercise science majors to certified personal trainers–find someone who has more than just an L-1, and ask them for advice. Maybe they’ll give you free advice, or perhaps they’ll give you a discount, but you don’t know until you ask! 

Hire a Specialist. There are plenty of online trainers with great reviews that you can connect with. Strongfigure actually has several coaches on standby ready to help our audience with programming needs. We have a powerlifter, a gymnast, a physical therapist, elite CrossFitters, and several personal trainers all on-call to help. And we obviously aren’t the only website that offers coaching help. Fill out the contact form at the bottom of this post if you want more information, or google other online trainers.

Do you want to increase your general fitness? Invictus CrossFit programs some of my favorite workouts. I love following their “Fitness” Programming that consists of 2-3 auxiliary strength lifts and a short metcon. You can do the whole workout in roughly 45 minutes OR if you just want the added fitness, do the strength work.

taco-fleur-235225 (1)Need Strength? Jim Wendler has been making people strong for decades. If overall strength is your goal, try a Wendler program such as 5-3-1 or Beyond 5-3-1.

If someone had a great engine but wanted to get stronger, I’d suggest following a 6-12 week lifting program and maybe do the class wod or any wod 1-2 times a week. (I did that and saw AMAZING RESULTS. People can be afraid of not doing wods and losing their engine but I got mine back just fine and got stronger faster from focusing on it!) Maria Hayden, Strongfigure Ambassador and Team Member.

Need to get better with your OLY lifts? Try Catalyst Athletics programming. There are training programs, starter programs, daily workouts, articles to help you–so much information here! 

nicolas-barbier-garreau-275044Gymnastics movements got you down? Try out The Skill Wod. For $10 a month, you’ll get 3-day-a-week programming designed to take your gymnastics performance to the next level. You can follow Carl Paoli of Gymnastics Wod for tips and skills, and @gymnasticsbodies on Instagram for motivational videos, tips, skills, and stretches. (Also, our own Maria–who gave me this gymnastics info–is a collegiate award-winning gymnast. She designs programs too. Fill out the form at the bottom of this post if you’re interested in her programming.)

nicolas-barbier-garreau-290533Want to get lean, quick and/or improve your cardio? Try a program like Dan John’s 10,000 kettlebell swing challenge, or add sprints to your weekly training. Maria and fellow Strongfigure Team Member Tori Ruckman both suggested looking into the Ben Smith Blueprint. You’ll pay a minimum of $50 per month, but Ben was the 2015 Fittest Man on Earth so you get what you pay for! Maria also suggested looking into Chris Henshaw’s endurance work.

Aesthetics your main goal? Think like a bodybuilder and add a few exercises to your routine each day. Mix lighter weights with high reps and heavy weight with low reps and try to hit two extra exercises a day. Weighted lunges and lat pull-downs or barbell rows with glute/hip thrusters, or try designing your own program. According to Maria, Marcus Filly offers great accessory work. “It’s not short though, it’s not really a supplemental program as much as its own program, but it’s mostly accessory work and functional body building.”  

Not sure what you need? Take a look into Misfit Athletics’ programming. Each day, Misfit programs a good bit of volume for its athletes each day: strength work, conditioning work, “bitch work,” gymnastic work, and accessory strength work. Pick what you need from their programming to add to your current routine.

taco-fleur-235226Need flexibility? Try two weeks of ROMWOD (range of motion workout of the day) for free! Most of the “workouts” are 20 minutes long but can be scaled back to 10 minutes if you’re limited on time. These wods make for a perfect cool-down for your achy muscles.

Have Patience.

To sum up the search, I think it’s important to remember one word: PATIENCE. Find a program or a plan, and always stick to the plan. Sometimes we let impatience get the best of us — it’s happened to me many times — and we’re quick to try something new without giving what we are doing enough time to make the changes we want to see. Any good program will yield results if you work long enough and hard enough. By adding in a few elements to your current programming–whether that’s a gymnastic skill or accessory lifts–and then committing to your plan, you will absolutely get better, faster, stronger, leaner–or whatever your goal might be.

One last option: Hire Us. 

IMG_1641I mentioned earlier that Strongfigure is made up of a team of athletes with various specialty certifications who love helping others. If you’re interested in connecting with any of our team members for personalized training needs, please fill out this quick form! As soon as we receive your information, we’ll connect you via email with a possible trainer.

A special thanks to Maria Hayden and Tori Ruckman, Strongfigure ambassador and team members, for their input on this article!

Do you have a fitness/nutrition question you’d like answered? We want to write for YOU! Let us know how we can help our readers by filling out this quick form with your topic suggestions.