Will Kane On The Strength Needed To Compete In CrossFit

Will Kane
(Image credit: Multipower)

CrossFit athlete Will Kane relied on his excellent endurance to win competitions. If he was going to step up to elite level, though, he realised he needed to be stronger.

“Before I got into CrossFit I’d tried lots of sports, from football and rugby to mixed martial arts and athletics,” says Will Kane. “But this is definitely the most competitive sport I’ve been involved in.”

The 27-year-old only began CrossFit when a friend said he should try out this “circuit-training session”. He was soon training regularly at CrossFit Cheltenham, and started competing in, and then winning, local events. “From there I started doing national ones and that was it,” says Kane. “I’ve competed in Italy, Poland, Germany and France. In the UK, I won Battle of the Beasts and missed out on winning the Athlete Games by just a few points.”

However, Kane’s results were masking his deficiencies. “I always finished strongly in the workouts that required my heart rate to go higher,” says Kane. “Whereas in the strength events I’d be placing, like, 27th.” He realised he needed to improve his strength if he wanted to progress.

“When I started CrossFit, I would hit random metabolic conditioning workouts whenever I could, multiple times a day,” says Kane. “It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I was hitting them at 100% every time. Now I only go all out once or twice a week and I take my recovery much more seriously. The rest of the time I’m lifting weights, focusing on my snatch and clean and jerk.”

The results are impressive. “In the past year I’ve put 15 to 20 kilos on all my main lifts,” says Kane. “A year ago I’d have said I’d needed steroids to achieve that!”

And although Kane says he’s done less conditioning work, his scores in endurance-heavy workouts have actually gone up. “As I’ve got stronger I don’t have to work as hard to move the barbell now,” he says.

“Knowing that my strength is now on par with my endurance is a huge boost to my confidence.”

Lessons learned

Keep it simple Pick a few key lifts and hit them hard. A study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition And Metabolism found that complex arrangements of exercises had far less impact on results within a programme than keeping the intensity high.

Take your recovery seriously It’s as important as the workouts. A study published in the International Journal Of Sports Physiology And Performance
in 2010 found that a recovery of 48 hours between heavy bench press sessions optimised strength development.

All improvements are important Even if you’re only making small improvements you’re still getting better. Buy some micro weight plates – they’re not often found in gyms, but they’re useful for adding small increases to your lifts.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.