Adapting GPP to Strength Work by Crystal McCullough

Last Weekend to get our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” for only $19! Check it out now at:


Adapting GPP to Strength Work
by Crystal McCullough (Check her on Instagram @crystalmac_72)

Strength training is extremely important and has so many health benefits and very few, if any, risks (knuckleheads aside) for anyone of any age. Women, unfortunately, tend to shy away from strength training because they have believed the old wive’s tale that says women will get bulky if they lift weights. This is a misconception and flat out wrong. “Bulky” is a subjective term that can mean different things to different people. I would love to review a study that compares women in one camp (let’s call them Team Weak) vs. the women in another camp (let’s call them Team Strong) and their incidence of osteoporosis. For those of you that don’t know, osteoporosis is a debilitating disease where bones become so weak and brittle, you can break a bone by simply standing on it. Women, because of hormonal changes as we age, are more susceptible to this disease. Strength training has proven to reduce the risk of osteoporosis by strengthening bones and increasing bone density. Other health benefits of strength training is decreased body fat percentage and increased muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the better your metabolism is. So, why would we not want to get strong? I target women here because what man doesn’t want to get strong? Women are harder to convince.

August of 2015, I took over as affiliate owner, general manager, and head coach (yes, I wear many hats). One of my responsibilities is the programming, which I absolutely love to do. I came into a situation where the athletes were accustomed to one way of programming which was very traditional CrossFit. It was random and constantly varied. My way of thinking and many of my peers is that strength training should be planned out and you should know why you are programming what you are programming at any given time. The worst thing you can say to a member of your gym when they ask you a question about your programming is “I don’t know”. KNOW!! I have our strength planned out for several weeks in advance and work conditioning around that strength. I had a brief transition period because I was not ready for the programming to be placed in my lap at that time. So, I fell into the mold of random until I could get it together. After a few weeks, I was able to create a template that I felt would better our athletes and keep them coming back. Conditioning is still very much constantly varied from movements to time domains. The program still consists of traditional CrossFit style couplets and triplets in various time domains. I also like to put some non-traditional movements in to shake things up a bit and work on muscular imbalances. Strength is not random nor is it constantly varied. In the last few months, I have adopted the Squat Everyday approach and my members are seeing the benefit in it. I have also begun to add in underused movements such as barbell rows and dumbbell work.

Adapting my athletes to more strength work has not been much of an issue. It has actually been very smooth. I would like to credit my passion and belief in what I program and the backing I have from my other coaches. I will not say that the programming is flawless because there is always room for improvement. I am constantly learning and will adapt the programming accordingly. The worst thing we can do is come to a point when we feel there is nothing else for us to learn because we know everything. We are then no longer useful to our athletes.

Some key points:
1. Have a plan and a purpose for everything you do. Don’t make things up as you go. Take the time to sit down and create a template for programming. Map out your strength cycles and then build in your conditioning around it.
2. Don’t keep that plan from your athletes! Athletes want to know why they are doing what they are doing. It isn’t them questioning your programming, but instead, they are empowering themselves with an understanding of how and why they are training.
3. Have scheduled de-load days, and quite possibly weeks when you think it is necessary.
4. Be able to answer questions posed to you by members. Give your other coaches the same insight so they can answer those same questions.
5. Be passionate about it and believe in the programming you are creating. If you are passionate and believe in it, your athletes will be excited and buy in!
6. Educate your athletes, especially your female athletes, on those myths that make them shy away from strength training. Also, make sure they are fully aware of all the benefits strength training provides.

You don’t want to create a program that will eventually break your athletes due to the volume. The goal should be to better them and, at the same time, give them longevity and an injury free experience if at all possible. The foundation for this is smart programming and also teaching athletes to listen to their body as well as having a coach’s eye when we see an athlete struggling. And I will end with reiterating if you believe in it and are passionate about it, they will be too.

Last Weekend to get our latest E-Book “Performance Zone” for only $19! Check it out now at:

This book will help you discover all the steps necessary for “getting in the zone”, or what we call “entering the flow state”. This book will help you:

-Give you the history of flow or the zone
-Explain what is needed to get into flow or the zone
-Give you The Guide to Initiate Flow
1 Clear goals
2 Feedback
3 Skill ratio

This is definitely my favorite book to have written. I hope that all of you enjoy reading it!


About the Author:

Crystal McCullough

40-year old Army wife and Mom to a genetic 13-year-old freak. Basketball player turned runner turned CrossFitter turned powerlifter. Crystal has podiumed over the years at 5k and 10k road races, local CrossFit competitions, and most recently competed at the Arnold 2016 XPC Powerlifting Finals as well as USAPL Raw Nationals 2016 in the Open division. Her best lifts are 145k squat, 81k bench, and 162k deadlift. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nursing Education, a CrossFit affiliate owner, and a Mash Elite Performance nutrition coach (among other stuff). She is a member of the Mash Mafia Powerlifting team and is currently studying for her CSCS as she prepares to move to Winston Salem with her family in May to join the Mash Mafia crew on a full-time basis.

Leave a Reply 1 comment


Champion powerlifter and world-class weightlifting coach Travis Mash shares his powerful neural activation technique - proven to instantly increase your strength as well as lead to more long-term gains.

Grab the FREE ebook today to ramp up your strength, athleticism, and muscle gains.