The Top 5 CrossFit Exercises for Building Strength

Nov 3, 2023 | Fitness Tips, Fitness

Strength is the cornerstone of CrossFit, and at Adamas CrossFit in Jasper, Texas, it’s our driving force. We’re here to support your fitness goals with functional movements, accountability, and customized CrossFit programming. Whether you’re a seasoned CrossFit enthusiast or just starting your fitness journey, the quest for strength remains constant. Building a solid foundation of strength not only enhances your CrossFit experience but also boosts overall physical prowess.

In this guide, we’ll unveil the top 5 CrossFit exercises for building strength. These powerhouse movements are designed to target multiple muscle groups, improve functional strength, and elevate your athletic capabilities. You’ll discover how each exercise contributes to your fitness journey and why they’re essential in CrossFit training.

At Adamas CrossFit, we understand that every athlete is unique. That’s why our certified coaches are ready to guide you not only in mastering these exercises but also in adapting them to your individual fitness and nutrition goals. Embrace these exercises, and you’ll unlock a new level of strength, resilience, and determination, right here at Adamas CrossFit. Whether your goal is to conquer your records or simply enhance your overall fitness, these exercises, personalized to your needs, are the key. Let’s delve into each of them and witness the transformation they can bring to your CrossFit journey.

CrossFit Exercises for Building Strength

Squats for a Solid Foundation

Squats, often referred to as the “king of exercises” in the fitness world, are undeniably essential in CrossFit for building a robust foundation of strength. At Adamas CrossFit, we believe that squats are a fundamental movement that should be in every athlete’s repertoire. They target a multitude of muscle groups, providing not only strength but also improved stability and balance. Here, we explore the different types of squats that can take your CrossFit performance to the next level.

Back Squats

Back squats are a classic strength-building exercise, and they are highly effective in developing the muscles of your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. The barbell rests on your upper back, and as you descend into a squat, your core and back muscles engage to support the weight. Back squats are excellent for increasing overall lower body strength and are often used for establishing one’s “one-rep max” strength level.

Front Squats

Front squats shift the barbell to the front of your shoulders, demanding a more upright torso and engaging your core and upper back to a greater extent. This variation targets the quadriceps and the core, helping you maintain an erect posture and develop functional strength for various CrossFit movements like wall balls and thrusters.

Overhead Squats

Overhead squats are not only a strength builder but also a fantastic mobility enhancer. Holding the barbell overhead, you’ll challenge your shoulder and upper back mobility while simultaneously strengthening your legs, core, and lower back. Overhead squats are an excellent exercise for improving your snatch and overhead stability, crucial in many CrossFit movements.

Goblet Squats

Goblet squats are a versatile option, allowing you to use a kettlebell or a dumbbell held close to your chest. These squats are great for beginners, as they help teach proper squat form while targeting the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Goblet squats also engage your core, promoting better balance and stability.

At Adamas CrossFit, we recommend incorporating these squat variations into your CrossFit routine to build a solid foundation of strength. Squats are not just about lifting weights; they are about improving your overall athletic performance, enhancing your mobility, and ensuring you have a rock-solid foundation for all the challenges that CrossFit throws your way.

Deadlifts: Lift Heavy, Get Strong

In the world of CrossFit, few exercises rival the deadlift in terms of pure strength-building prowess. The deadlift is a testament to your ability to summon raw power, making it a cornerstone of any serious CrossFit regimen. At Adamas CrossFit, we understand the immense impact that deadlifts can have on an athlete’s overall strength, and we’re here to guide you through the process.

Conventional Deadlifts

Conventional deadlifts are the traditional form of this exercise, and they are exceptional for developing strength in your posterior chain, which includes your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. The movement involves lifting a loaded barbell from the ground to a standing position. The beauty of the conventional deadlift lies in its simplicity and effectiveness in increasing your maximal strength.

Sumo Deadlifts

Sumo deadlifts vary from the conventional style by adopting a wider stance and a grip that’s inside the knees. This variation shifts the focus to the quadriceps and inner thigh muscles, offering a unique challenge to your strength and enhancing your overall deadlifting capabilities.

Romanian Deadlifts

Romanian deadlifts, often referred to as RDLs, are fantastic for isolating the hamstrings and lower back muscles. This variation entails a controlled eccentric (lowering) phase, which places a significant demand on your muscles. RDLs are a great exercise for enhancing your hamstring flexibility and strengthening your lower back, two crucial elements in CrossFit performance.

Single-Leg Deadlifts

Single-leg deadlifts are all about balance, stability, and functional strength. By focusing on one leg at a time, you challenge your core and hip stability while simultaneously targeting your hamstrings and glutes. These can be performed with a dumbbell or kettlebell in one hand, adding an extra element of stability and coordination.

At Adamas CrossFit, we encourage you to embrace deadlifts as a powerful tool for building strength. Whether you’re looking to improve your max lifts or enhance your overall CrossFit performance, deadlifts are a game-changer. Our certified coaches are here to ensure you perform these exercises safely and effectively, helping you reach new heights in strength and athleticism.

CrossFit Exercises for Building Strength

Olympic Lifts for Explosive Power

Olympic lifts are the epitome of power, precision, and athleticism in the world of CrossFit. At Adamas CrossFit, we recognize the transformative potential of these lifts in enhancing your explosive power. These dynamic movements not only build strength but also improve coordination and speed, making them essential for any CrossFit athlete looking to take their performance to the next level.


The snatch is a mesmerizing display of strength and technique. It involves lifting a barbell from the ground to an overhead position in one swift motion. Snatches engage multiple muscle groups, including the traps, shoulders, and legs. The explosive power required for this lift is unparalleled, making it a fundamental exercise for enhancing your overall athleticism.

Clean and Jerks

Clean and jerks are a two-part movement, combining the clean (lifting the bar to the shoulders) and the jerk (lifting it overhead). This exercise emphasizes explosive power and technique. It targets the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and shoulders, while also enhancing your ability to generate force quickly.

Power Cleans

Power cleans are a shorter variation of the clean and jerk, focusing on lifting the bar from the ground to the shoulders in a single explosive motion. This exercise is remarkable for developing strength in your lower body, upper back, and shoulders. It also trains your body to move explosively, which is invaluable in CrossFit workouts.

Hang Snatches

Hang snatches involve lifting the barbell from the hang position (above the knees) to an overhead position. This exercise emphasizes your ability to generate power from a static position, enhancing your speed, coordination, and strength. Hang snatches are essential for developing your hip and core power, crucial for various CrossFit movements.

At Adamas CrossFit, our certified CrossFit Coaches are passionate about teaching and perfecting these Olympic lifts. We believe they are the key to unlocking your explosive power potential and transforming your CrossFit performance. Whether you’re an experienced lifter or new to these movements, our coaches will guide you in mastering the technique, ensuring you perform these lifts safely and effectively. By incorporating Olympic lifts into your training, you’ll not only get stronger but also become a more explosive and agile athlete, ready to take on any CrossFit challenge.

The Versatility of Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are a true gem in the world of CrossFit, offering a combination of strength, endurance, and explosiveness. At Adamas CrossFit, we appreciate the versatility and effectiveness of kettlebell swings in enhancing overall fitness. These dynamic movements are not only great for building strength but also for improving cardiovascular endurance and functional power.

Two-Handed Swings

Two-handed kettlebell swings are an excellent starting point for mastering this exercise. They work on building strength in your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings while also targeting your core and shoulders. The explosive hip hinge movement that characterizes kettlebell swings improves your ability to generate power, which can significantly boost your performance in CrossFit workouts.

One-Handed Swings

One-handed kettlebell swings add an element of instability to the exercise, demanding more engagement from your core and obliques to maintain balance. The unilateral nature of this movement also helps identify and correct strength imbalances between your left and right sides. It’s a fantastic exercise for building functional strength and enhancing coordination.

Kettlebell Snatches

Kettlebell snatches require explosive power and precision. This movement involves lifting the kettlebell from the ground to an overhead position in one swift motion. It engages your shoulders, traps, and core muscles. The dynamic nature of snatches improves your ability to generate force quickly, an essential skill in CrossFit workouts.

American Swings

American swings take the standard kettlebell swing to another level by requiring the kettlebell to be swung all the way overhead. This increases the range of motion and further engages your shoulders, making it an excellent exercise for developing shoulder stability and strength.

At Adamas CrossFit, we advocate the inclusion of kettlebell swings in your training routine for their versatility and impact. Our certified CrossFit Coaches are ready to guide you through the proper technique and help you incorporate these exercises into your fitness plan. Kettlebell swings are not only a great strength builder but also an effective way to boost your endurance and power, making them a valuable addition to your CrossFit journey.

Pull-Ups: Master Your Body Weight

Pull-ups are a fundamental exercise in CrossFit, focusing on mastering your body weight. At Adamas CrossFit, we consider pull-ups an essential movement that not only builds upper body strength but also highlights an athlete’s overall functional fitness. These exercises target multiple muscle groups, offering a robust foundation for mastering your body weight.

Strict Pull-Ups

Strict pull-ups are the gold standard of pull-up variations, emphasizing controlled movement and upper body strength. This exercise engages the latissimus dorsi, biceps, and upper back muscles. Strict pull-ups help you develop the foundational strength required for more advanced pull-up variations and other CrossFit movements.

Kipping Pull-Ups

Kipping pull-ups add a dynamic element to the exercise, using momentum generated from hip and leg movement to assist in pulling your body up to the bar. While they require less strict upper body strength, kipping pull-ups challenge your coordination and core stability. They are commonly used in CrossFit workouts that demand a high number of repetitions.

Butterfly Pull-Ups

Butterfly pull-ups are an advanced variation of the kipping pull-up. This movement is characterized by a circular motion that allows for rapid, efficient, and rhythmic pull-ups. Butterfly pull-ups are often used in competitions and high-intensity CrossFit workouts, as they are faster and more energy-efficient.


Muscle-ups are the ultimate expression of pull-up mastery, combining a pull-up with a dip. This advanced exercise demands exceptional upper-body strength and coordination. Muscle-ups are a hallmark of high-level CrossFit athletes and demonstrate a mastery of body weight movements.

At Adamas CrossFit, we encourage you to incorporate pull-ups into your training regimen. Whether you’re working on strict pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, butterfly pull-ups, or aspire to conquer muscle-ups, our certified CrossFit Coaches are here to assist you in mastering these movements. Pull-ups are not only about building upper body strength; they are a testament to your ability to control and manipulate your body weight, a critical skill in CrossFit. By mastering pull-ups, you’ll elevate your overall athleticism and become a more well-rounded CrossFit athlete.

CrossFit Exercises for Building Strength

Pushing Your Limits with Push-Ups

Push-ups, often considered a basic bodyweight exercise, are anything but basic when it comes to CrossFit. At Adamas CrossFit, we understand that push-ups are an essential part of an athlete’s repertoire. These versatile exercises not only build upper body strength but also enhance core stability, making them a critical component of your CrossFit journey.

Standard Push-Ups

Standard push-ups are a foundational bodyweight exercise, targeting the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. They’re fantastic for building upper body strength and are often used in CrossFit workouts to develop endurance and functional power. The proper form and controlled movement of standard push-ups set the foundation for more advanced variations.

Handstand Push-Ups

Handstand push-ups take push-ups to a whole new level, combining upper body strength with balance and coordination. This exercise requires you to support your entire body weight while inverted, targeting the shoulders, triceps, and upper back muscles. Handstand push-ups are a remarkable way to develop not only strength but also body control and spatial awareness, which can be invaluable in various CrossFit movements.

Ring Push-Ups

Ring push-ups introduce instability into the exercise, forcing you to engage your stabilizer muscles more intensely. The instability of the rings challenges your core and shoulder stability, making this variation an excellent choice for CrossFit athletes looking to enhance their functional strength and balance.

Plyometric Push-Ups

Plyometric push-ups, also known as clap push-ups, add an explosive element to the exercise. By pushing your body off the ground and clapping your hands before landing, you enhance your power and speed. This variation is fantastic for building explosive upper body strength, a critical element in many CrossFit workouts that involve movements like wall balls and kettlebell swings.

At Adamas CrossFit, we encourage you to incorporate push-ups into your training regimen, no matter your fitness level. Our certified CrossFit Coaches will help you perfect your form and progress through the different push-up variations. Push-ups are not only about building upper body strength; they are a testament to your ability to control and manipulate your body weight, an essential skill in CrossFit. By mastering push-ups, you’ll not only increase your overall fitness but also become a more versatile and resilient CrossFit athlete, ready to push your limits in every workout.


In the dynamic world of CrossFit, building strength is paramount, and the exercises we’ve explored in this guide are the building blocks of your success. At Adamas CrossFit, we understand the transformative potential of these movements in enhancing your athletic prowess. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just beginning your fitness journey, these exercises offer a pathway to unlocking your true potential.

From squats, deadlifts, and Olympic lifts to kettlebell swings, pull-ups, and push-ups, each of these exercises plays a crucial role in elevating your strength and overall CrossFit performance. They not only target specific muscle groups but also improve your mobility, coordination, and endurance.

Adamas CrossFit, located in Jasper, Texas, is more than just a gym; it’s a supportive community of like-minded individuals committed to pushing their limits and achieving their fitness goals. Our CF-L1-certified CrossFit Coaches are here to guide you through every step of your journey, from mastering these foundational exercises to personalizing your training for optimal results.

Now, it’s your turn to take action and experience the incredible transformation that CrossFit and strength training can bring to your life. Contact Adamas CrossFit today to schedule a free No Sweat Consultation. Let us help you define your goals, create a customized fitness plan, and provide the support and accountability you need to reach new heights in your fitness journey.

Don’t wait; your path to strength and excellence starts now. Contact Adamas CrossFit, and together, we’ll achieve greatness.


What is the importance of strength in CrossFit?

Strength is the foundation of CrossFit, underpinning every aspect of the sport. It enables you to perform movements with better control and effectiveness. A solid base of strength enhances your ability to excel in various CrossFit exercises, from lifting to gymnastics, ultimately contributing to improved performance and fitness.

How often should I include these strength-building exercises in my routine?

The frequency of strength-building exercises depends on your goals and experience. For beginners, two to three times a week is a good start. As you progress, you can increase the frequency. It’s essential to allow for rest and recovery between sessions to avoid overtraining.

Can beginners safely perform these exercises at Adamas CrossFit?

Yes, absolutely. Adamas CrossFit is dedicated to catering to all fitness levels. Our certified CrossFit Coaches will ensure that you perform these exercises with proper form and at an appropriate intensity, regardless of your experience. Safety and effective progression are our top priorities.

Do I need special equipment for CrossFit strength training?

While specialized CrossFit equipment like barbells, kettlebells, and pull-up bars are often used, you can begin with basic equipment or even bodyweight exercises. Adamas CrossFit provides a supportive environment with all the necessary equipment, making it accessible to everyone.

What is the best way to track my progress in strength training?

Tracking your progress is essential for continuous improvement. At Adamas CrossFit, we encourage keeping a workout journal or using fitness apps to record your lifts, reps, and sets. Regularly testing your one-rep max (1RM) for specific exercises can also help gauge your strength gains over time. Our coaches will guide you in tracking and measuring your progress effectively.

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