Can You Build Mass with CrossFit?

by Allen Gil July 12, 2015

Can You Build Mass with CrossFit?

CrossFit is undoubtedly one of the largest growing contemporary fitness trends around the world. As a style of functional training, CrossFit combines strength workouts, cardiovascular exercise, Olympic lifting and general physical preparedness to form what could be considered a metabolic punch to the face (or more accurately, to the muscles).

CrossFit has been praised for transforming the bodies of overweight couch potatoes everywhere into combat-ready athletes. But what if you aren’t a typical channel-surfing endomorph? Does CrossFit have the power to put some meat on your hardgainer frame?

Short answer: yes, although it may take some creativity and deviation from the typical CrossFit programming to do so.

Gains: Sizing Up with CrossFit

The biggest factor in determining how much mass you put on while CrossFitting is your diet. Obviously, the standard bulking principles apply here as they do with other powerlifting or bodybuilding programs:

Make sure you’re eat enough protein and maintain a caloric surplus.

In order to stay in that surplus, you may have to reduce the cardio-heavy metcons (metabolic conditioning workouts) to two or three times a week until you’ve achieved the desired weight and muscle growth that you’ve set out to achieve.

Most CrossFit gyms, or boxes, will integrate some sort of strength programming into the daily workouts. If yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to incorporate some sort of linear progression lifting program like Starting Strength or 5/3/1 in addition to the typical CrossFit WODs a couple of days a week. This will make sure that you’re stimulating your muscles enough to act as a catalyst for growth.

Personally, I run a modified version of Starting Strength two days a week at my box. I also find that since starting CrossFit, my progression on a program like this has been far better than when I did 5 x 5s or bodybuilding split programs with no other exercise.

Adding Mass with CrossFit is all About Strategy

Although your bodybuilding friends might tell you that cardiovascular exercise is synonymous with “losing gains,” I’m here to tell you from firsthand experience that you can get stronger and bigger without sacrificing the ability to run a sub-6-minute mile. It just takes some effort, conscientious eating, and determination.

Allen Gil
Allen Gil


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