Tip: Why CrossFitters Should Train at Planet Fitness

Believe it or not, a couple workouts a week at a regular gym would make good CrossFit athletes even better. Here's why.

Planet Fitness vs. CrossFit

Gyms like Planet Fitness make it pretty easy to be members there. The monthly rate is lower than the cost of a couple of burrito bowls from Chipotle. It's obvious their model is quantity over quality. It's very different at a CrossFit box. Owners want all of their clients to show up so they can get great results. Planet Fitness wants exactly the opposite.

But we aren't going to debate the differences in core values here. We're going to talk about how a CrossFitter (or any other athlete for that matter) can take advantage of having a cheap Globo gym within arm's reach.

It comes down to one thing: machines. Machines offer a change of pace, a chance to address lagging muscle groups and correct imbalances, and actually have the ability to enhance recovery between more extreme workouts. This is a must for competitive CrossFitters and other athletes.

Having access to a commercial gym is also a great way of slowing ourselves down. Most personality types that are drawn to CrossFit love competition, have trouble NOT pushing the envelope, and try to break new records whenever the opportunity presents itself. This type of thinking is flawed. It's imperative that we "throttle back" during our micro-cycles of training.

Going to Planet Fitness, you won't have the ability to push it too hard. You know those "lunk alarms" they have if you're too loud? Exactly. This can actually be a blessing to CrossFitters and strength athletes. Who would've thought?

First, a few guidelines. CrossFitters typically put a lot of training on their plates. Considering how many things there are to improve upon, adding in another plan could be stressful. Here's what to do at your cheap "bonus" gym:

  1. Frequency: Go twice a week for 30-40 minutes.
  2. Exercises: Single joint, low demand
  3. Volume: Moderate, with all work being done for hypertrophy. Typically, 3 x 10 fits the bill.
  4. Splits: Upper, lower, or total-body

For many, inserting these feeder-type workouts between extreme sessions (max effort vs. dynamic effort sessions) works very well. This would ideally fall on a Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. There will be only two workouts per week, but they could be done on any of those three days.

Again, we're NOT trying to push the envelope in terms of loading or volume. All movements should be done for quality over quantity, and each rep should be slow and controlled.

The overall objective is to target lagging muscle groups and correct muscular imbalances. The benefits include injury prevention (prehab), improving a nagging injury (rehab), expediting recovery, improving body composition, and changing things up to mentally unload – a win on all accounts.

You could go about this any number of ways. Most athletes that have spent some time in the trenches know where they're weak and what muscle group is lagging behind. And it never hurts to try to improve your body composition. Remember, we're not trying to annihilate our muscles; we're trying to stimulate them (as bodybuilder Lee Haney famously said).

Feeder Workout 1, Lower Body

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Leg Extension 3 12-15 30 sec.
A2 Seated Leg Curl 3 12-15 30 sec.
B1 45-Degree Back Raise 3 10-12 30 sec.
B2 Seated Calf Raise 3 10-15 30 sec.
C1 Adduction Machine 2 20 30 sec.
C2 Abduction Machine 2 20 30 sec.
D Cable High to Low Woodchop 4 10 45 sec.

Feeder Workout 2, Upper Body

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 V-Handle Lat Pulldown 3 10-12 30 sec.
A2 Hammer Strength Press 3 10-12 30 sec.
B1 T-Bar Row 3 8-10 30 sec.
B2 Machine Lateral Raise 3 12-15 30 sec.
C1 Machine Preacher Curl 3 8-10 30 sec.
C2 Reverse-Grip Straight Handle Tricep Pressdown 3 12-15 30 sec.
D Multi-Directional Ab Wheel 4 10 45 sec.

Feeder Workout 3, Total Body

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A1 Goblet Squat with pause at bottom 3 8-10 30 sec.
A2 Seated Rhomboid Row with rope to chin 3 12-15 30 sec.
B1 Lying Leg Curl 3 8-10 30 sec.
B2 Preacher DumbbellHammer Curl 3 8-10 30 sec.
C1 45 Degree Back Extension (1 count a top) 3 10-12 30 sec.
C2 Rope Pushdown 3 12-15 30 sec.
D Cable Machine Half-Kneeling Pallof Press 4 10 45 sec.

Feeder Workout 4, Total Body

  Exercise Sets Reps Rest
A Leg Press 2 25 1 min.
B Decline DumbbellBench Press 2 25 1 min.
C Machine Seated Chest-Supported Row 3 10-12 1 min.
D1 Cable Lateral Raise behind back 3 12-15 30 sec.
D2 Cable Tricep Kickback 3 12-15 30 sec.
E Decline Weighted Sit-up 4 10-15 1 min.

Nothing too complex here, just going through movements with the intent of "feeling" the muscles working. Don't worry about going heavy; just focus on slow, controlled, perfect reps. A CrossFitter may be surprised by just how difficult this training is since he or she isn't accustomed to using machines and being challenged in this new way. Start off lighter than you think you need to go.

Overall, have fun and rest assured that this work will help you get closer to your goals, prevent injury, break up the monotony of your everyday training, and allow you to recovery between heavier sessions.