Foundations need to be dug deep. It's the first stage of your training and is not something to be rushed. 

Think of strength training as the foundation you are laying for your body; the more solid the foundation is, the more powerful and resilient your body will become. 

A building built on poor foundations will crack, crumble and ultimately collapse no matter how many times you try to patch up the cracks with quick fixes.

There is no secret sauce to this recipe, and you don't need to overcomplicate things. But there are some basic training principles you should follow when you begin.

Building strength takes time, it can be incredibly slow and frustrating at times, but anything worth doing takes time. Although there will be lots of different opinions and a variety of methods on how to build strength, keep it simple and reap the benefits

Start with

  1. Squatting, deadlifting, and pressing movements
  2.  Low rep schemes to hone in on technique
  3. Slowly adding weight

So, can you squat, deadlift, and press correctly? If you can move well in these three exercises, then you are in a great starting position. 

Including these 3 compound movements or variations based on your starting point is your first port of call. These can be done with weights or simply using a PVC pipe so that you learn how to move well before each of these three movements becomes a regular strength exercise in your routine.

Once you’ve laid your deadlift, squat, and pressing foundations, you can begin adding lower repetitions of the movement, with slightly heavier weights over a smaller number of sets. This way, you can constantly assess and reassess if the movement is still being executed with good technique while slowly increasing the weights.

The link between the compound movements squats, deadlifts, and pressing is easier to understand than you might think. 

For example, a strong and well-executed deadlift will impact how you perform a variety of other movements.

Learning to deadlift well will: 

  1. Create a strong base for more advanced lifting movements such as cleans and front squats
  2. Improve your grip strength
  3. Strengthen your core. And guess what? This will have a knock effect on even your gymnastics, such as toes-to-bar and pull-ups!

I mentioned earlier that you need to move well before considering adding weight. Our body cannot move without strength, but it cannot reach its full potential unless we are moving well. So strength and movement go hand in hand. Form, full range of motion, should be prioritised over the amount of weight that is lifted. 

Take the squat, for example. If you can't move smoothly and pain-free through the full range of a squat, should you really be creating additional stress to the muscles by loading up the barbell with more weight? You should be thinking, “no!”

Poor movement means poor strength gains, and poor strength gains mean early plateau, injury, and various other issues that you certainly don’t want to be dealing with in the long term.

Yep, even in CrossFit. I know that this gets said a lot, but it is equally vital to your strength training. It takes time and consistency. 

You will probably make some pretty quick gains if you are just adding strength training to your programme or new to exercise, even if your form is sub-par. However, over time, your progress will slow, and you need to remind yourself that strength takes time to develop. Gains are slow, and you need to be in this for the long term. 

Trust the process, follow the programme and ensure you get adequate rest to come back stronger every week. 


1. Never ever skip a squat day! This is my favourite training day and as you should know after reading the above, for good reason

2. Consistency is key. Small gains added up over a long period make for some impressive changes. 

3. Recovery time is just as important as training time

4. Focus on moving well first, then add weight

5. Train hard but train smart

Connect with Andy McTaggart:
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Email: am@innerfight.com