Let’s get straight to the point: Can you complete the workout as it is prescribed (as RXd), and should you? It’s a simple yes or no answer to both questions, but it seems to be such a conundrum for many.
Can refers to your ability to perform the movements and/or loads that have been prescribed. Remember, the workout you see on the blog and on the whiteboards is a guideline to ensure that everyone achieves the desired outcome of that workout. Given that everyone is different, everyone performs a modified version of the workout that’s relative to their goals and abilities to ensure that the desired outcome of the workout is achieved.
The question of can you perform the movements/loads as you see it on the whiteboard simply refers to whether you can or can’t complete at least a few repetitions of that task, not taking into account the entire workout. Can you do the RXd workout? If no, modify to ensure that you move with good technique AND intensity while meeting the objectives of the workout. If yes, the next question is should you?
You should complete the workout as RXd only IF you will be able to do so with the desired intensity.
The guidelines loads and reps, the time domains set, and the expectations the coaches give you in class are all there to help you decide on whether you should attempt the workout as RXd or not. There is no point attempting a workout as RXd because you can do everything if you aren’t going to get the right amount of work done within the right amount of time.
If you halve the time of a workout, you double your power output even if you had a lighter load. Double, no ifs ands or buts, double!
Given that power output (which is exactly defined as intensity) is the one variable most closely associated with favourable adaptations to exercise, you should be aiming to optimise your power output at every workout. And that means smartly modifying and scaling the workout, 99% of the time.
Note: “scaling” the amount of reps down to enable you to do the RXd loads is not smart scaling, it’s stupid.
The RXd workout is a guideline and certainly something to work towards. But it’s not a destination.
One of my favourite suggestions from clients, that doesn’t seem to stop coming in over 15 years of experience in the industry, is “We need harder workouts.” What typically goes through my head when I hear that is “Get bent, you know nothing about the art of programming and you certainly don’t know what it means to train hard. Fool!”
I don’t actually say that, of course. Well, at least not most of the time 😉
It’s the truth, though. Regardless of how long you’ve been training at a fitness facility for, how many different programs you’ve been exposed to, and of how much reading you’ve done, unless you’ve got the relevant background or experience, you won’t understand programming. It’s precisely why you seek the guidance of coaches – they do understand it and apply themselves to get you to YOUR goals. I don’t think you’d be telling a surgeon what to do when you’re on the table.
I do get it. You just want to get smashed by the workout. The problem with that, however, is that “smashed” is subjective. Sure, you can do three MetCons in an hour session and that’s going to smash you, but your intensity in each piece is going to diminish. Partly because you have to hold back to finish, and because of fatigue. Can you condition yourself to perform better at that sort of session? Absolutely, but let’s not kid ourselves here – you’re in this for health and fitness and you won’t be going to the Games, let alone Regionals.
Therefore, the purpose is not to be exposed to that sort of volume or to get absolutely smashed everyday all year round. The purpose is to set you up for lifelong health and fitness, and to give you the sort of fitness needed to be able to get out of the gym to lead an active lifestyle.
That means some ‘easy’ weeks and days, lots of skill work, and one to two quality high intensity pieces in a session. And if that session doesn’t leave you smashed, YOU didn’t train hard enough. You don’t need harder workouts, you need to train harder.
But don’t take it from me, because I’ve got no clue. Let’s look at a couple of our fittest athletes between the two facilities – Tamarr and Marcus. For years all they’ve been doing is training once a day in the group classes and on four to five days a week. They do a little bit of weakness-based work in what free time they can muster, and that’s all. Before you play the genetics card, hard work beats talent any day, especially when talent doesn’t work hard. That’s all they’ve been doing – the same stuff you’ve been doing – and they continue to improve their health and fitness in leaps, all these years later. And Marcus is old too!
Not enough? Then let’s look back to our 4-weekly “back-off” weeks. Everyone moans that they’re so stiff and sore during a back-off week. That’s no surprise because the volume of training drops during these weeks. Volume and intensity are inversely related, therefore intensity (how hard you’re working) goes up and you get properly smashed.
There’s just one more thing to consider when talking about how hard you train, and that’s scaling. Scaling is simply how we modify a workout to meet the needs and abilities of the individual, and to ensure that we preserve the intended stimulus of the workout. What many do is under-scale because the workout looks cooler, there’s more load and volume, and because their ego precedes them. As a result they have to move slower and rest more, so although they perceive themselves to be working harder, physiology tells us otherwise.
It’s a simple approach, really. Modify the workout to ensure the highest power output, stop resting every time you feel your heart rate and breathing rise – that’s supposed to happen, and learn how to stay uncomfortable. The workout doesn’t dictate how hard you’re working, you do.
Work smarter and train harder.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JUAN-MARI PRINSLOO AND GRAEME WHIBLEY!
5 rounds for time of:
15 wall balls, 7/5 to 3m
7 jumping C2B pull-ups
Rest 2 minutes
5 rounds for time of:
20 wall balls, 10/7 to 3.2m
Rest 2 minutes
8 rounds per movement- rotate stations every interval.
45 sec on: 15 sec off
Cal on bike/ Burpees
Plank to squat
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO KYRON BIBIS!
The goal of the conditioning piece is purely to develop cardiovascular endurance. It’s ‘only’ 7 minutes, but your energy is predominantly provided from the aerobic system from about the 2 minute mark. The thruster/pull-up combo will also develop good core-to-extremity mechanics and grip stamina. For the gymnastics piece we’re developing positions, strength and stamina in the handstand position. Sure, there’s not much functional about handstands, but it develops great proprioception and is fun!
3, 6, 9, 12, 15,……
B. Gymnastics Conditioning
10 x wall walk + eccentric HSPU + forward roll out
Accumulate as much time as you can in a supported HS. You choose chest facing/away from the wall.
3, 6, 9, 12, 15,……
B. Gymnastics Conditioning
5 sets of:
Max strict into max kipping deficit HSPU
Rest 90 sec between sets
One of the worst injuries I’ve seen in any type of gym was a fracture to the lower arm from a fall. This was one of the gyms I worked at in Auckland. A personal trainer was demonstrating how to do a squat on a Swiss ball, but he lost balance and instinctively landed with his arm out! It’s ok, you can have a bit of a chuckle – we all did at the time!
A picture I saw just recently reminded me of that incident. It was an athlete following competitive exercise programming from a popular coach. He had a heavily loaded bar for a farmer’s walk in one hand, and a heavy dumbbell overhead in the other hand as for an overhead carry. He was doing stability training…..
Instability, or stability, training, is supposed to strengthen muscles of the ‘core’ to improve midline stability. The same methods are used for other joints, especially the shoulder due to its inherent instability. Back in the 90’s a group of Aussie (bloody Aussies!) physiotherapists popularised the use of unstable objects, such as Swiss balls, for ‘core training’ in the treatment of low back pain. Just like many other fitness fads it spread like fire. Although it has subsided somewhat, we’re seeing more extreme versions like the chap above trying to improve his competitive exercise performance.
Seems like he’s forgotten about what he’s training for!
Part of the research conducted for my Masters thesis evaluated the use of labile surfaces as a training aid. Although that research was a while back it’s still very pertinent today, and not much in the way of research has changed then. The only way we’ll see differences in results is through different study designs, research participants and statistical analyses….i.e. manipulation of the research!
We found lots of great information both in the literature examined and in the results of my study, but one of the most important conclusions reached was that the use of labile (unstable) objects elicits less activation of both the core and agonistic muscles than performing the exercise traditionally with the abdominal bracing technique and/or with more load. Agonistic muscles are those creating the movement, for example, the pecs and triceps create the push in a push-up.
Let’s use our Swiss ball and carry guys from above as examples. Hip and knee extensors stand you up in a squat. If you did a squat with a bit of load and performed the correct abdominal bracing technique, the hip and knee extensors and all other stabilising muscles involved in the movement would be engaged more than doing the squat on a ball, even if you had load on the ball. Consider the half Farmer’s and overhead carry guy. Two heavier bars for the Farmer’s carry, or two heavier dumbbells for the overhead carry, would elicit greater activation of all musculature involved.
Load with proper bracing trumps instability, any day.
The most common rebuttal from the functional fitness crowd to that is objects in real life are unstable. I agree, carrying an unconscious person on your back is a whole lot less stable than a barbell. It’s easier to pop an evenly and heavily loaded barbell on to your back than loading a person onto your back. But that’s exactly why we do all the heavy carries that we do in training. And instability training is unlikely to give you the same load as a person!
Go on and have a play with instability training (aside from squatting on a Swiss ball), but it will be just that – play time. If you want to get stronger and more stable, you’ve got to do it old school. It works.
21-15-9 reps for time of:
Deadlift (100/70kg)(L1 – 70/50kg)
HSPU (L1 – Box HSPU)
*12 min cap
Posts tagged with ‘scaling’