Programming Series: Strength Cycles Are Overrated

By Coach Manny A.

The efficacy of strength cycles has been a subject of considerable debate within the fitness community. While they offer a structured approach to strength training, their applicability, particularly in the context of CrossFit, is not universally beneficial.

Who is the Target Audience?

If you find yourself reading this article, it’s likely that you don’t fit the profile of a specialized athlete with extensive training experience. More likely, you are an individual who enjoys physical challenges and aims for comprehensive physical fitness that extends beyond the gym—be it outrunning your children, efficiently carrying groceries (1 trip!), or participating in local sports events, like a 5K.

The Pros and Cons of Strength Cycles

Strength cycles offer a straightforward, organized method for tracking progress in strength training. However, there are two primary reasons that call into question their practicality:

  1. Lack of Empirical Superiority: In the realm of CrossFit, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that strength cycles are significantly more effective than a constantly varied approach in the long run.
  2. Incompatibility with Group Classes: Strength cycles are not conducive to the structure of group CrossFit sessions, which aim to cater to a broad range of fitness levels and schedules (more on that shortly).

The Approach of Elite CrossFitters

It’s worth noting that elite CrossFitters generally do not adhere to strict strength cycles. Instead, they employ a more varied approach that encompasses an array of elements. This approach is often integrated into a larger macro cycle that includes different training phases. These phases can have an emphasis on strength, but are rarely strict strength cycles. Instead, it’s a variety of strength that follows a rhythm. The result? Continued strength gains without the limitations of a rigid strength cycle.

Practical Challenges in Group Settings

Implementing strength cycles in a group setting presents several challenges:

  • Inconsistent Attendance: Group classes are designed to accommodate diverse schedules, making it difficult to maintain the consistency required for a strength cycle.
  • Variable Experience Levels: Participants in a group class often have varying degrees of lifting experience, which complicates the implementation of a one-size-fits-all strength cycle.


At NorthEast Health Performance, we advocate for a balanced, constantly varied approach to fitness training. This methodology not only aligns with the diverse needs of our members but also supports long-term fitness and wellness goals. Therefore, while strength cycles have their merits, they are not the most effective or practical strategy for the majority of CrossFit enthusiasts. Overall, I believe that strength cycles are best suited in a more individualized format where the variables can be controlled and the goals can perfectly align!


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