Volume Lifting and CFC June Challenge Results

In June, 15 athletes at CrossFit Catonsville set out to lift as much weight as possible in one month, only using three moves: deadlift, back squat, and push-up.

The Goal? Lift one Battle Tank per person in total weight (that’s ~100,000 lbs per person)!

A Quicker Primer on Volume Lifting

Don’t worry, this will be quick. Research has suggested that it’s the total Volume of weight lifted in a given period of time, rather than your rep/set/weight schema, that really matters when it comes to getting stronger. There’s a nice reading list at the end of this article for you if you want to delve into it further.

The major take away is that heavy weight/low reps and moderate weight/higher reps are both great for building muscle power and strength. While some studies show a stronger influence of one versus the other, the populations being measured between studies tend to be pretty different. Each study sees similar results: lifting a high volume of weight, in almost any combination of reps/sets/weights will lead to positive strength gains. In average individuals, the gain is fairly linear to the work put in: lift X lbs [Total Volume] and gain Y [Strength]. In more conditioned people, like pro-athletes or individuals who regularly train for strength already, the gains are present but less linear.

For example, lets say John Smith starts at a Deadlift 1 Rep Max of 165 lbs. Working 3 days per week with rest between, he lifts 28,000 lbs in Deadlifts in 4 weeks. At the end of his 4 weeks, he retests and now has a Deadlift 1RM of 255 lbs for a 90 lbs increase! John gained 1 lb of 1RM for every 311 lbs he lifted in the month. Not too bad, right?

Assuming his growth will continue linearly, John does another 4 weeks of Deadlift volume lifting. He lifts another 28,000 lbs, and then retests his 1RM to find that this month he only increased by 60 lbs! Instead of increasing at a rate of 1 lb for every 311 lbs lifted, he only managed a rate of 1 lb for every 467 lbs lifted! The same amount of work netted smaller returns. As John gets stronger, this will become more pronounced.

So, volume lifting is good, but it needs to be adjusted over time to see linear gains.

How Did CFC Do in June?

Total Weight Lifted:

  • 1,216,498 lbs

This is equal to 12.16498 battle tanks!

Weight Lifted by Movement:

  • Deadlift: 436,886 lbs
  • Push-up: 435,071 lbs.
  • Back Squat: 344,541 lbs.

Weight Lifted by Gender:

  • Female: 526,344 lbs
  • Males: 690,154 lbs

Weight Lifted by Week:

  • Week 1: 205,025 lbs (17% of total)
  • Week 2: 268,071 lbs (22% of total)
  • Week 3: 338,817 lbs (28% of total)
  • Week 4: 404,585 lbs (33% of total)

Further Reading: