You’re hitting the weights hard every day in the gym following a typical bodybuilding-style training split. As such, you don’t have time for other fitness modalities such as yoga, aerobics, and CrossFit. But, you could be missing out on some physical benefits by choosing to skip over these other forms of fitness.
As far as CrossFit is concerned, you very well may be. CrossFit offers a number of unique benefits to its trainees including improved power, strength, endurance, and agility. Including a few key exercises typically done in a CrossFit box make for perfect additions to your bodybuilding-style workout routine.
Let’s take a closer look at five CrossFit moves you should consider adding into your training plan to build your best body yet.
Deadlifts are a staple in many bodybuilding programs, but sometimes, a change of pace is just what you need to prevent plateaus. This is where overhead kettlebell swings can help.
This exercise will hit your hamstrings and lower back, like deadlifts, but go beyond that by also activating your shoulders and traps.
Get into a standing position with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hold a kettlebell down between your legs with both hands.
Bend the knees slightly as you bend forward from the hips, keeping your back flat and allow the kettlebell to move back through your legs. Generate momentum from your hips to swing the kettlebell upward over your head until your arms are extended and your body is in a straight position.
Tip: Remember to keep your back flat at all times to avoid injury.
This exercise is a great addition to any back or lower body day. Due to the need for strong core activation and the high energy expenditure, this would be best placed early in your work before you get too fatigued. Just be sure you’re sufficiently warmed up.
Another great alternative to the deadlift exercise is the sumo dead high pull. This move combines two classic bodybuilding exercises, the sumo deadlift and the upright row to give you a total body conditioning movement that will torch calories quickly.
Stand in front of a barbell with feet wider than hip-width apart, with toes turned out. Bend your knees and keep your back flat as you reach for the bar. Your hands should be under your shoulders, centered on the bar, using an overhand grip.
From this position, contract your hamstrings and glutes to pull the bar up as you move into an upright position. Continue to pull the bar up the front of your body until it’s at chin level. Elbows should flare out and remain above the bar as you perform the upright row portion of the movement. In a controlled movement, lower the bar and bend down so you resume the starting position to complete the rep.
This movement should be done in place of a standard deadlift on your lower body or back day depending on where it’s scheduled in your training plan. It’s important to note that because the upper body is involved, your weight load will be decreased quite dramatically from your standard deadlift load.
Combining squats and shoulder press into one cohesive movement might sound crazy, but in CrossFit, it’s a staple exercise. The barbell thruster serves many benefits for your body from head to toe. It works your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core, but will also place great stress on your shoulders. Best of all, do one set of these and you’ll see how much of a cardiovascular workout they provide.
If you want to gain strength, build muscle, and burn fat, this should be a go-to move in your routine.
Stand in front of a barbell and reach down to grasp it using a comfortable stance. Lift the weight up so it’s resting on your collarbones with your palms facing upward and the elbows bent and pointing directly in front of you—similar to a front squat position.
Once comfortable in this position, lower down into a full squat. With power, rise back up to your standing position and as you do, drive the weight over your head. Once the elbows are extended, pause briefly and then lower the bar down to your collarbone as you begin to move into your next squat (and the next rep).
This move is going to demand a lot of energy, so include it at the start of your workout before you get fatigued. It can be added to either your lower body or your shoulder day.
As an avid trainer, you’re no stranger to the squat. Front squats, back squats, and low bar squats are all exercises you’ve included in your program before. After all, you know that any serious bodybuilder never skips leg day.
But, have you ever tried an overhead squat? If not, take a page from CrossFit’s training plan and give it a go next day leg. The great thing about an overhead squat is that you won’t just be working your legs, you’ll be working your entire core and your shoulders as you balance the weight overhead.
Take note: you’ll need to lighten your weight for this exercise. Don’t be surprised if you can only do half (or less!) of what you do when you perform your normal back squat. It can be quite the humbling experience for any bodybuilder.
To perform the overhead squat, place the bar in the highest rack of the squat machine. Load the plates (as needed) and then press the weight overhead. Step back slightly from the rack to allow yourself space to perform a squat. Set your feet up in your normal squat position.
With your core tight, take a breath in and lower yourself into a full squat position. Exhale as you start your ascent to the full standing position again. The bar remains overhead through the entire set. Complete for reps and then re-rack the weight.
Since this is an exceptionally demanding compound movement, you’ll want to add it to the beginning of your heavy leg day, usually in place of traditional squats.
Shoulder press, lateral raise, front raise, upright rows—these are your standard shoulder training staples. Break up the monotony of your routine and boost your cardio output by adding a few wall balls into the mix. This dynamic movement will have your shoulders screaming in no time. The corresponding gains in strength and power you achieve will make the pain worthwhile.
While the primary focus of this exercise is your front and lateral delts, you’ll hit your triceps as well as your lower body and core as you incorporate a squat into the movement.
Stand a few feet from a wall, and hold a medicine ball at chest height. The medicine ball should be approximately 10-20 pounds depending on your strength.
Bend down into a squat and then as you rise back up, toss the ball against the wall, as high up as you can. Try and catch it on the way down. Repeat this process for 8-10 reps per set or until your shoulders, legs, and lungs are burning and begging for recovery time.
As this is a shoulder-focused movement, you can use it in place of your traditional shoulder press. As another option, if you want to finish your shoulder session with a big energy spike, you can use a lighter medicine ball and do it after all your other shoulder work is complete.
As a bodybuilder, don’t be so quick to shun CrossFit-based exercises. In some cases, they can do a bodybuilder good by challenging your body in a new way. This challenge may just be the answer you need to increase your strength, which can yield added size. Additionally, the cardiovascular component can help spike your metabolism and burn some extra fat—helping you maintain a good body composition without having to cut calories or do basic cardio. That’s always a bonus, especially in the offseason.