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April 4, 2023

Why Strength Training?

I get asked this question often… “Jake, why do we do specific strength training cycles in our CrossFit classes?” Or “Why do we put so much emphasis on the barbell?” The short answer is that physical strength is one of the most important things in life. You can’t hide from it, it's the truth whether we want it to be or not. As humanity has developed throughout the course of history, physical strength has become less important to our daily existence, but no less important to our very lives. For example, we no longer have to go out forage or kill our own food, rely on our bodies to literally keep us alive, or rely on our physical abilities to provide life for our family and loved ones. However, our strength still determines the quality and quantity of our time in these bodies that we were blessed with.

Whether you agree with me or not, we are all possessors of potentially strong muscle fibers, bone, and nerves and these hard earned commodities demand our physical attention. They have been too long in the making to just be ignored because desks were invented. They are the very components of our existence and the quality of which depends on our conscious directed effort…. A.K.A exercise… strength training that is. 

Exercise is not a thing we do to fix a problem but something we MUST do to avoid problems. Actually, without exercise there will always be problems. Our bodies were created to endure the physical demands of everyday life thousands of years ago… MUCH different than mowing the yard, trimming the bushes, or pushing a stroller with two kiddos inside. So strength training, or exercise in general, is our substitute to bridge the gap between what our bodies and minds were created to do and what the 21st century demands.

So, why the barbell?

The human body functions as a complete system, it works this way and it likes to be trained this way. It does not like to be trained in separate components in manners such as cable machines. Strength derived from training needs to be done in the same manner that your body will use it… A.K.A functional training. Properly performed, full-range-of-motion barbell exercises are essentially the functional expression of human skeletal and muscular anatomy under load. Barbells allow weight to be moved in exactly the way the body is designed to move it, since every aspect of the movement is determined by the body. 

Even our bone structure is trained and adapted with the use of barbell training. During a barbell loaded exercise, the skeletal structure is ultimately supporting the load. Bone is living, stress-responsive tissue just like muscle, ligaments, tendon, skin, nerve, and brain. It adapts to stress just like any other tissues and becomes denser and harder in response to heavier loading. This is very important to all athletes regardless of age but exponentially more important to older athletes whose bone density is a major factor in continued health.  

Barbell exercises such as the squat, deadlift, and press are considered to be the foundation of “functional exercises.” I bet you can’t tell me one day that has passed in your life where you haven’t knelt down down to pick something up,  squatted down onto a surface, hinged at the hips and leaned over to tie your shoes or pick up a kiddo, or pressed something away from your body or over your head. These movements are all movements that are natural to our bodies and are further refined and developed by the use of a barbell in the same way. 

So, why Juggernaut?

So now the question of why do we choose to use the Juggernaut Method in our programming rotation? This weight training program is ideal for multiple ranges of athletes from intermediate to advanced due to the appropriate loading and volume required. The skill level of individual athletes is somewhat negligible here due to the perceived 1 rep max (1 RM) that the lifting percentages are based upon. In other words, the more intermediate the athlete, the lower the perceived 1RM may be due to inexperience with the squat, deadlift, or strict press. As the athlete becomes more comfortable with these movements, they are more likely to “push” themselves for heavier 1RM attempts later on.

As for the overall programming of the Juggernaut Method. Originally, this program was designed to last 16 weeks, for class purposes we have condensed this timeframe to 8 weeks. Juggernaut is broken down into 4 “blocks” of training lasting roughly 4 weeks each. In our modification of the program, we utilize the last two blocks. Within these blocks of training we encounter “waves” of different stimuli and loading. The two that we focus on are block 3 (5 reps) and block 4 (3 reps). In these waves the athlete is provided the perfect balance of loading (weight), volume (reps), and recovery to maximize results while maintaining an increased level of conditioning (metcons). 

In the two blocks that we focus on, the 5 rep and 3 rep (blocks 3 and 4), the focus is completely on strength building. While the five rep wave is the middle ground between size and strength, the three rep wave is entirely strength orientated. In each “wave” you will have three periodization focuses; accumulation (2-3 reps left in the tank), intensification (1-2 reps left in the tank), and realization (maximum effort). The purpose of the accumulation phase is to use high volumes to build substantial fatigue, develop work capacity, and enhance exercise technique. In the intensification phase, volume decreases but the intensity of each workout increases significantly in order to cause large adaptations in strength and power. With the realization phase, volume continues to decrease and intensity peaks to maximize strength/power and optimize athletic performance.


The use of a barbell via strength training directly jives with the very mechanics of which our bodies are composed. Movements that require multiple joints, muscular systems, balance, and coordination are key to tapping into our ancestral design and to continue to train the body in which it was designed to be operated. The marriage of these principles with the proper volume and intensity of programming will maximize results in any athlete while allowing us to maintain our cardiovascular health (or metabolic conditioning) in a class setting.

Written By:

Coach Jake

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