Constantly Thinking Outside The Box…

By on September 11, 2014

When it comes to CrossFit, one of the core principles for the entire belief system is to be “constantly varied.” The problem is, as CrossFit has grown as a sport, it seems that more and more trainers are reducing their exercise selection based on what they see in competition.

 

Coming from the Powerlifting world where the competition is literally just three movements – squat, bench, and deadlift – it may come as a surprise to you to learn that, during my 10 year career, my world record strength was built without ever performing the competition lifts during training. Instead, I used variations of those movements utilizing the conjugate system as developed by Louie Simmons.

 

So what’s this got to do with CrossFit?

 

One of main reasons the conjugate system works is that it’s not a selection of exercises, a perscription of sets and reps, or anything else you typically find in a manufactured workout program. Instead, it’s a series of ideas and concepts that is backed by science and mathematics. Plus, it’s hard to argue the results that it has produced over the 30+ years of Westside Barbell or the recent success of CrossFit Conjugate taking 2nd at the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games.

 

The biggest idea is to be constantly varied.

constantlyvaried

 

For the squat, bench, and deadlift, we create many variations by utilising full range of motion variations; partial range of motion movements; applying the future method as well as changing bars; accommodating resistance, surfaces, shoes; and anything else we can think of.

 

This concept rolls over to our accessory movements and pretty much anything else we do within the gym. You will rarely find us doing the same exact movement twice within the same week; we constantly switch it up.

 

The changes don’t have to be significant, but they do have to occur in order to avoid accommodation so you to continually get stronger. This concept doesn’t change when we expand to the other 9 general physical skills.

 

So, here’s how you can apply this in your own box.

 

Let’s take a simple movement that you undoubtedly see over and over again in most peoples programming – the pull-up.

 

Unfortunately, for most boxes, the pull-up has become one of the following: a strict pull-up, kipping pull-up, or butterfly pull-up. I’ll give credit as we’ve advanced from simply chin to bar to chest to bar, but still that’s only 6 variations.

 

What about the following…

 

Underhand (Chin Ups)

Neutral Grip pull-ups

Cliffhangers

Mixed Grip pull-ups

1 Arm pull-ups

Around the worlds

Ply pull-ups

Archer pull-ups

Towel pull-ups

 

And of course we could add weight or resistance, change the thickness of the bar, or use other implements to grip and continue to come up with an endless list of variations to program in.

 

But it doesn’t stop with the pull-up; you can do this with literally every single exercise you have in your arsenal. The key is to continually change things up, which in turn will continually force the body to respond, creating continued results month after month.

 

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Fitness Hall Of Fame & Best selling author and 2x World Record Holder, AJ Roberts, is a world renowned strength and conditioning coach and Crossfit Powerlifting Trainer Course Instructor.

Roberts began his career as a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Idaho from where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sports Science.

Since then he’s gone on to gain vast knowledge and experience both as a Coach and Athlete in Powerlifting, CrossFit, and Bodybuilding.

You can follow him at Facebook.com/ajroberts or learn more about the conjugate system at Facebook.com/groups/conjugatestrong. 

AJ Roberts

About AJ Roberts

Best selling author and 2x World Record Holder, AJ Roberts is a world renowned strength and conditioning coach, seminar leader and serial entrepreneur. Roberts began his career as a strength and conditioning coach at the University of Idaho from where he graduated with a Bachelor's in Sports Science. Since then he's gone on to gain vast knowledge and experience both as a Coach and Athlete in Powerlifting, CrossFit and Bodybuilding.

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