Big up-front disclaimer here: the workouts we’re about to discuss this week are not for rookies. If you’re just getting back into the gym after a long sedentary period, you do not want to try these because you’re very likely going to get injured. Your body needs to be gradually ramped back up to “fighting shape”, so to speak, with more gentle exercise before you start thinking about even entry-level CrossFit, let alone these routines.
Now, all that said…
Overreaching your goals here
If you’ve been exercising regularly for a few months or more and are feeling pretty good about your fitness level, but you’ve hit a plateau in weight loss or you’re dropping as much or more muscle as you are fat, these routines are definitely something to look into.
These CrossFit routines are based on the concept of “overreaching.” Now, in case you’re not familiar with this term, we need to briefly discuss what it means and how it differs from “overtraining.”
- “Overtraining” is when you’re consistently doing more work than your body can handle for a period of weeks, and it usually ends in injury at some point.
- “Overreaching” is simply adding a few extra exercises to your normal routine for a short period of time, maybe in bursts of just a few weeks at a time. The goal is to feel like you’re pushing a little beyond your normal limits, but not to feel like you’re killing yourself and to go home completely exhausted and sore after every gym session.
If you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck after every session, you’re more likely overtraining than overreaching.
For people who are reasonably fit, it’s generally safe to engage in bouts of overreaching of the type we’ll describe in these routines.
The interesting thing about these routines is that they were both published in reputable scientific journals as a part of studies — they didn’t just pop out of the behind of some “fitness guru”!
Wilson And Smith
The two studies are named for their lead researchers. The routines are too complicated to list in detail here, but we’ve included reference links to the studies and links to images of the detailed routines.
The Wilson study is also called the “HMB study” because it was actually testing the effects of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation. HMB is a form of leucine, the essential amino acid that is most critical to muscle repair and growth, and HMB is thought to possibly be more bioavailable than standard leucine supplements. HMB does not appear to be entirely necessary to see similar results from this workout routine, but you definitely will need a good whey protein supplement that emphasizes the BCAAs like Myokem’s mTOR Pro.
12 weeks of fully body workouts
The Wilson routine runs for twelve weeks overall, with every week incorporating full-body exercise for at least three days. The first eight weeks are a pretty intense three-day workout schedule, but weeks 8-10 are the really brutal stretch where the “overreaching” actually begins with training for five days a week. Weeks 10-12 ramp things down a bit with a move back to three workouts per week and a slightly lighter schedule than the other weeks.
The Smith study is a 10-week program that was able to trim an added 8% bodyfat from a participant group that was already on the lean and fit side. This one doesn’t require any particular supplementation (other than a good whey) and isn’t quite as heavy on the powerlifting (though it is still incorporated), but it does require access to gymnastic equipment and the ability to perform basic techniques like a handstand and using rings. These skills are usually incorporated as part of a CrossFit program, so if you’re in with one of their gyms already, you’re all set.
This is another routine that is too complex to break down in detail here, but it has you putting in work five days a week and alternating between the gymnastic exercises and traditional multi-joint, multiple muscle group lifts like the squat and deadlift. What makes the routine particularly demanding is that there’s no set rest time — you move between sets as quickly as possible, ideally with no time between them at all, and working to improve your overall time with each new day.
Halving Your Body Fat In 10 Weeks … Really?
While the Wilson study is very intriguing for bodybuilders, for those of you focused more on dropping unwanted pounds right now, obviously the Smith study (and its seemingly unbelievable numbers) is the one you’re going to be most interested in.
It’s important to note there are a few caveats that keep this study from being applied to just any random person you pick out. The participants in the study all were following a Paleo diet and had some experience with CrossFit prior to the outset. At the very least, they were all healthy and at what would be considered a normal weight.
So we don’t have any data on overweight and obese populations. And that 8% bodyfat the study participants lost was from what was already a well-below-average (for America) amount of stored fat.
Still, there’s no reason why these results shouldn’t apply proportionally to populations that are starting out with more weight … the key here is being fit enough to handle this very rigorous schedule. As we stated at the outset, this is not for fitness newbies and definitely not for someone just getting off the couch after a sedentary period of years. Statistics say you’ll not only not be able to keep up with the program, but you’ll injure yourself and set your overall fitness program back weeks or months.
Speaking more generally, these studies really reflect well on CrossFit as a whole, even if you haven’t yet worked up to this intensity level. Combine CrossFit with proper nutrition and a legit, high-quality fat burner and you’re going to be taking off stored pounds about as fast as humanly possible!
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