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Combining CrossFit Training With Mass Training

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
Combining CrossFit Training With Mass Training
CrossFit workouts and mass training can fit into the same workout plan. Photo Credit MeikePetri/iStock/Getty Images

CrossFit may be the most all-encompassing workout available, proclaiming its top competitors as the fittest men and women on earth. However, it's not meant to make you the best at any one thing. If you want to build up your muscles, you should add in specific mass-building training to your workout. Mass building is the same thing as bodybuilding training, and is more about lifting weights than being as fit as possible.

CrossFit Workouts

When you do CrossFit, you're not signing up for a very predictable workout routine. They call their workouts "WODs," or workouts of the day. Every day a new workout is published on the official CrossFit website. The workouts are a mix of barbell exercises, gymnastics exercises, and endurance exercises. The unpredictable nature of CrossFit makes it difficult to add another style of training on top of it.

Read More: The Best CrossFit Routines

Scheduling Mass Training

In traditional mass training, which could also be thought of as bodybuilding, you work the same muscles on consecutive days. In order to gain muscle mass, you want to give your muscles time to recover. CrossFit isn't geared toward mass training, so they're not afraid to work the same muscle group two days in a row.

It can be confusing to schedule your mass training and CrossFit workouts in the same week because they have differing philosophies. Scheduling gets even more complicated if you have a busy schedule. To organize your schedule you'll have to prioritize your goals and dedicate more time to either CrossFit or mass training. For example, if you only have three days to workout in a week, you can do one day of CrossFit and one day of mass training.

Prioritizing Mass Training

If you want to do CrossFit and mass training at the same time, you might have to cut out part of your CrossFit workout if it works the same muscle group that you trained on the previous day. For example, say you trained your legs on Monday as part of your mass training program. Then the next day you had to do leg exercises, like barbell squats, as part of your CrossFit program. You would want to skip the squats in your CrossFit program to let your legs recover.

This will lead you to a crossroads in your training where you'll have to prioritize between CrossFit and mass training. Eventually, you'll have to sacrifice either part of your CrossFit workout or part of your mass training to allow your body to recover.

If you truly want to gain mass, you'll need to put it above CrossFit on your list of priorities. Just like a traditional bodybuilder, you'll need to plan out your mass training workouts before the week begins to avoid working the same muscle groups on back to back days.

If you want to gain mass you'll have to prioritize that over CrossFit.
If you want to gain mass you'll have to prioritize that over CrossFit. Photo Credit antondotsenko/iStock/Getty Images

Planning Your Workouts

Don't worry about your CrossFit workouts when you plan your mass workouts. You can split your muscle groups into upper and lower body, and do each half of your body twice per week, with one rest day in between. You can also break your body down by muscle group, such as legs, chest, back, arms and core.

Read More: How to Become a Body Builder

As you go through your week, make sure that you do your mass workout before your CrossFit workout. That way, you'll be able to put more of your energy into mass training, and hen you can go through your CrossFit workout, cutting out any part that includes a muscle that you worked the previous day. While your CrossFit workouts will suffer temporarily, you'll be able to gain mass faster.

Doing two workouts per day is taxing on the body, and you need to be sure that you recover well. If you're constantly feeling tired or are getting sick and injured more often than usual, that's a sign of overtraining. If you start to notice these signs, back your workouts down to one per day and add as many rest days into your weekly schedule as possible. You may even need to stop exercising altogether to let your body recover.

Energy Balance

Working out is only half of the equation if you want to gain mass. The other part of the equation is eating enough to give your body the energy to grow. When you want to gain muscle mass, you'll want to be in a caloric surplus — meaning you eat more calories than you expend.

CrossFit is a taxing activity that burns an impressive number of calories. While that's music to your ears when you're trying to lose weight, it's trickier for someone trying to gain mass. A CrossFit workout burns on average 20 calories per minute for men and 12 calories per minute for women, according to a 2013 study from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

When you combine CrossFit workouts with your mass training workout you'll have to increase the amount of food you eat per day by hundreds of calories to stay in a caloric surplus. This is key to gaining mass because your muscles need energy to grow, according to a 2012 study published in Advances in Nutrition.

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