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Workout of the Day Questions & performance regarding CrossFit's WOD

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Old 07-19-2007, 01:32 PM   #1
Douglas Schmale
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I tried my first WOD about six weeks ago. It was Cindy. I did pullups on the side of my deck and puked after getting only 8 rounds in. I hadn't exercised for a long time before that day but I got the first five rounds in just over four minutes. The next week I did 10 rounds by pacing myself. This is just one example.

Since the vomiting experience I've paced myself and gotten better scores than if I had pushed it 110% But which method is better? If I hold a little back my times for fran and diane and my rounds of cindy or "20 rounds for time" improve but I don't feel as fatigued.

I'm no stranger to physical exertion, indeed I look forward to it, but the desire to puke is admittedly less strong than the desire to get a good score! Any thoughts? Do we push ourselves 110%? Do we hold back enough to progress in overall time and rounds or do we give it everything and try to get one more in before we puke? If holding back gets us a better score today, does puking make us better in a month? I imagine at some point you have to speed up for a better score but I'm not nearly in that condition.

Any thoughts? I'm particularly interested in hearing from the veteran crossfitters that have probably experimented and discussed this at length. Thanks and forgive my long post.

(Message edited by dschmale on July 19, 2007)
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Old 07-19-2007, 02:40 PM   #2
Gant Grimes
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As a general physical preparedness program, each WOD has a specific goal. Some are for time, some are for rounds, some are for weight, some (Tabatas) take the worst of several rounds. I think it's important to understand the call of the workout.

I won't tell you how to work out, but I'll illustrate a couple ways different workouts can be approached and let you draw your own conclusions.

*Cindy- first, it's a 20-minute workout. You want to complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as possible.

*CFT- as much weight as possible over 3 lifts.

*Fran- as fast as possible.

*Tabatas- the lowest number of x rounds.

Cindy
A approaches Cindy in four 5-minute segments. He has a goal of doing four rounds every five minutes. Even though he completes his first five rounds in 4 minutes, he decides to rest a minute and keep pace. He follows his plan and has enough energy to do an extra round in the last five minutes. He gets 17 rounds, a new PR.

B starts Cindy like he's running a 40 yard dash. He gets 7 rounds in five minutes. It takes him another five minutes to get his next four rounds. He starts cramping after 11 minutes and vomits at minute 13. He does one pullup every 30 seconds for his next round. He finishes with 13 rounds of Cindy. His last two rounds take ten minutes to complete. B informs A that B got a better workout because he went 100%

Fran
A knows Fran is a speed workout, but he knows he can't straight-set it yet. He decides to break it up into mini-sets of 3. He does 7 thrusters, takes 3 breaths, does another 7 thrusters, etc. His second set of thrusters is hard, so he takes 5 breaths in between mini-sets. He is able to straight-set the last round of thrusters and finishes with a PR by 20 seconds.

B plows into Fran with his usual abandon. He straight-sets the thrusters but has to take a 40 second break before pullups. He can normally do 15 kipping pullups, but he is so tired from thrusters that he breaks it up into sets of 2 and 3. He finishes a couple minutes behind A. He also taunts A for taking breaks during his first set of Fran.

CFT
A makes his first and second attempt in every lift. He passes on his third squat attempt because his second lift, a new PR, taxed him so much and he wants to save something for deadlift. He matches his PR in press and sets a deadlift PR by 5kg.

B misses his first squat attempt. He makes his second attempt at the same weight. He adds 15kg for his third attempt. He gets stuck at the bottom, but not before tweaking his glute. He makes his first press attempt...barely. He adds 10kg but can't get it out of the rack position. He adds another 2kg for his final attempt with the same result. He fails on his first deadlift attempt, not even getting the weight off the ground. He removes 20kg from the bar and lifts it on his second attempt. He adds the 20kg back to the bar and fails on his third attempt. B criticizes A for playing it safe.

Tabatas
A estimates how many reps he can for each exercise in a Tabata interval. A knows he can do the first four sets with higher numbers, but he knows a 2-mile races doesn't run an 11 sec. 110m dash. So he stays on pace for all the exercises, except pushups and pullups, where he fell 2 off the pace in the last 3 sets. His squat and pushup numbers are as follows:
15-15-15-15-15-15-15-15
12-12-12-12-12-10-10-10

B taunts A for resting too much. B starts his workout and shoots for the title. His worst set is 2 reps lower than his next-to-worst set and 12 reps lower than his best set. His squat and pushup numbers:
21-16-13-14-13-12-11-9
19-13-11-10-9-10-9-7
B calls A a cheater.

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Old 07-19-2007, 04:28 PM   #3
Douglas Schmale
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I guess you're an "A-type"? Didn't explain much. I'm good on how everything is structured and, like I said, I've experienced both and see value in both. And I'm not concerned about totals.

However, eventually you reach a point where you needn't rest during Cindy or breakdown your sets during Fran or Diane. Who will get to that point faster? A or B? It seems to me that that point is where you really make gains in the metcon area. Before that you're working on improving your movements. I don't mean to sound indignant but what I'm looking for here is not a tutorial on crossfit.
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Old 07-20-2007, 03:30 AM   #4
Douglas Schmale
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The girls are for exercise at unsustainable intensities. Pacing oneself seems more akin to a long run than a sprint. Metcon will come, though I think more slowly, if you pace yourself versus go all out.

Tabata's research definitely did not suggest that his athletes should pace themselves. There is no doubt in my mind that a tabata is not ever to be done for a good score over an intense workout. Doing so otherwise isn't acknowledging the findings of his research. So totals and Tabatas, I'm confident in their purpose and execution. Still confused about the ladies.

When I leave the gym after a WOD, am I better prepared for the challenges of life, health and sport having paced myself or given 110% and failing to beat another guys score? I am confident that both methods will increase a score but I don't Crossfit to Crossfit. I sound more and more like your B-type but if unsustainable intensity is where you make your most remarkable improvements than shouldn't I be pushing myself for it?

Any thoughts?
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Old 07-20-2007, 09:07 AM   #5
John Seiler
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Great thread (wfs):

http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/21/10572.html

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Old 07-20-2007, 09:49 AM   #6
Gant Grimes
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Douglas, I didn't intend to be evasive. As John pointed out, there has been much discussion on this. Sometimes there are not neat, tidy answers.

I've spent most my life being a B. At everything. I typically have two gears--dead stop or full blast. Within the last few years, I have found that moderation helps. Same with CF. When I started a few months ago, I executed the WOD until I was lying in a heap on the floor whether that workout was for time, rounds, or something else. When I started managing some workouts, I got better results.

Each method has merit, but I think one should consider the workout and have a goal. I'm more of an A than I used to be. Personally, if Cindy calls for 20 minutes and someone flames out in 7, I think something has been lost. Same with Tabatas. I think if you burn it up early and lose over 50% of your production, than you haven't gotten the full benefit of the exercise, even if you "feel" better. It makes me think of an old sprinting workout, where I had to run 10 sub-12 sec. 100s. You didn't get extra points for running a 11.2. You just got tired and couldn't finish your last several rounds in proper time. Just my opinion.
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Old 07-20-2007, 11:36 AM   #7
Kellee Rassau
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Gant, I agree with you %100. Well said.
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Old 07-20-2007, 02:44 PM   #8
Tom Ellison
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I don't know which method, "A" or "B", gets you there faster, but as your performance improves the difference between the two approaches shrinks a lot. For example, if athlete A and B do Cindy and they can both get 12-14 rounds ideally, you're going to notice a difference between the guy who paces himself and the guy who goes all out for 5 minutes and crashes. But if one year later both guys are shooting for 20+ rounds in Cindy, there's almost no real world difference in how the strategies play out, because to do that many rounds you have to be moving almost constantly anyways. I think that principle holds true for pretty much all the workouts.

I have taken more of a "B" (pacing) approach since I started CF about 8 months ago, but I find that the distinction gets less and less meaningful as I improve. I would just try to do as well as possible on the WODs and pretty soon the issue will be moot.
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Old 07-21-2007, 12:51 AM   #9
Jason Lopez-Ota
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I think there's a time to pace and a time to go all out.
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Old 07-25-2007, 08:39 AM   #10
Chris Spealler
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Douglas,
Just a thought here. One of the things crossfit emphasises (did I spell that right) is increased work over time. What do you get more work in... a cindy where you puke and get 13 rounds, or a cindy where you pace yourself and still kick your butt and get 16 rounds. Sounds like you get in more work with the pacing.

I personally think that you will find the most benefit in the pacing. I have yet to blow chunks in a workout (maybe I'm not working hard enough) but sure have felt pretty close to the end of a workout. But why stop to barf when I can take a couple breaths and keep trying to kill it. Hope this helps and I have found my met con to be improved with this method.
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