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November 22, 2021 3 min read

Unconventional training vs CrossFit training for strength

Who says you have to train like a bodybuilder to get strong? Truth is, there are plenty of training styles that will build muscle, power, and strength. There’s no need to do isolation exercises in front of a mirror – you can have a lot more fun with your strength training.


How to build strength without body part splits

We’re big fans of unconventional training, but is it the best non-traditional form of training for strength? In this article, we’re going to pit unconventional training against CrossFit training to see which is best for strength gains.


The fundamentals of strength training

What exactly is required to build strength? It’s not just about muscles. Strength gains also means training your grip and your mindset.

You need to lift regularly enough (and heavy enough) to stimulate muscle growth, with a programme of progressive overload. You also need to eat, rest, and recover with strength training in mind. And you’ll also need to adopt a strength athlete mindset that powers you through strength movements with focus and intensity.


How does unconventional training build strength

First up, let’s clarify what we mean by unconventional training. Unconventional training is defined by the equipment you use rather than the sessions you do. It uses non-traditional weighted equipment like sandbags, kettlebells, Indian clubs, mace bells, battle ropes and sledgehammers. In fact, this kind of fitness kit is actually more traditional than barbells and weights machines, since classic strongman training pre-dates more modern bodybuilding training.

Unconventional training builds strength throughout the whole body. By moving, twisting, lifting, pulling, carrying and loading weights through different planes of movement your body will develop functional strength. There’s no set tempo, rep range or range to work through. Instead, your body has to learn how to get strong to perform unconventional movements with odd objects.


Does CrossFit training get you strong?

So how does CrossFit training compare? CrossFit training is hugely varied and includes Olympic lifts, bodyweight movements, plyometric work, gymnastic moves, and training with kettlebells, wallballs, and some other odd objects. Many of the movements are unilateral (pistol squats, single arm dumbbell snatch).

CrossFit training definitely gets you strong, with its focus on full body barbell movements (snatch and clean & jerk) and high-volume weighted movements during WODs.

Some CrossFit training might lack low-rep, heavy work that targets specific muscle groups.  But decent CrossFit programming will see you regularly doing front squats, back squats, deadlifts, and plenty of overhead barbell work along with the Olympic lifts and conditioning work.


The differences between CrossFit and unconventional training

CrossFit training actually incorporates a lot of unconventional training styles, exercises, and bits of kit. So if you want to use unconventional training to get strong, you could follow CrossFit programming and tick off your love for unconventional training.

Both unconventional training and CrossFit will get you seriously strong because both challenge your body with plenty of different movements, volume, and variety.

Which should you choose? CrossFit will have you doing unconventional training but you’ll also need to do the Olympic lifts, gymnastics and rig work, and particular challenges like getting inverted! Getting strong is one big benefit, but you’ll also learn new skills and get the chance to set barbell PBs. 

If you simply love unconventional training and want to dedicate your time to getting brutally strong using old-school kit, forget CrossFit. You won’t want to spend time learning to squat clean and do handstands when you’re eyeing up the Indian clubs.


Get strong your way

Ultimately the choice is yours. Both CrossFit and unconventional strength training are fun, challenging, and varied enough to keep you interested for years.

Don’t forget to check out our range of unconventional training equipment including Warrior Grip Trainers, Indian Clubs, Battle Ropes, Steel Maces and much more.