The gym is a lab, and you are all the lab rats. Our training methods and how it affects human performance, both mental and physical, is constantly under the microscope. So throwing “Fran”, the most common CrossFit benchmark, in after testing fitness levels was no thumb suck. It was programmed for training, not testing.
Training is the process of learning and conditioning. In the gym you learn skills that condition your fitness, and better fitness is greater work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Testing assesses those changes in your fitness and therefore evaluates the effectiveness and efficacy of the training program. Training makes you fitter, whereas testing evaluates your fitness.
In fitness it’s easy to fall into the trap of testing everyday. Especially because the people we have in the gyms are driven and love a good test. That’s going for max load, your best reps and your fastest time. Every. Day. That is focusing on an end result–testing–instead of learning and conditioning–training.
Let’s consider “Fran.” The workout brief from your coaches yesterday was to modify the workout to ensure that you completed the workout WELL under the six minute time cap, and they provided you with suggestions on how best to modify the workout to achieve that. So many people, in fact it was probably most people, didn’t do Fran. They completed a variation of the workout, but everyone completed the workout at similar times and they were all just as smoked.
When that workout comes up as a test the approach is to attempt the prescribed workout, IF you have the necessary skills to do so safely. I asked one of the members yesterday how he felt after the workout, and he said “different.” He went lighter to be able to move faster and achieve the goal of the workout. When doing the workout previously he attempted the prescribed version because he is can do both movements, but in those instances he was always slower. The results from his tests told us that while he can do both movements as prescribed, his capacity in those movements in a short time domain is lacking. Sure, he still got a good workout from the test. But what he meant by the training approach feeling “different” was that it “f*&^#d” me up more!”
If you keep testing every day you are sacrificing power output. You will not get fitter. You do still need to work hard AND smart to get results, but it’s ultimately training that ensures we pass our tests 😉
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
Posts tagged with ‘scaling’