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

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Old 07-29-2004, 05:37 AM   #1
Barry Cooper
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As people that come here a lot know, I have wheels in my brain that never stop turning, and this morning when I was making breakfast for my kids I got to thinking about the time-keeping function of the brain, which led me to recall the interesting fact that people under hypnosis, when told to wake in 15 minutes, will typically do so within 10 seconds of that. It's like waking up 1 minute before your alarm clock goes off, which I'm sure has happened to all of us. When I'm getting proper rest, that thing never goes off.

In any event, I got to thinking about a drill I've read a lot of throwers use, where they throw the weight only roughly 80% of their max, but they try and throw accurately, and with as much ease as possible. I'm pretty sure I read about that on Dan John's site. There or Coach Mac. The goal is to relax through the throw. If you've seen the picture of me throwing the hammer, there is no lack of effort, but there is lack of result (I'm not awful, just not really good), because there is always an interplay between skill--which typically requires a relatively neutral state of excitation, and certainly not a full-blown fight or flight response--and effort. You can think of skill as a predefined pathway down which you pour effort. If I try harder to play basketball, I still suck, but that's not the case for Michael Jordan.

Anyway, making a short story long, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to do the WOD while trying to hit a time as close as possible to 80% of your best, and to do so with as little perceived effort as possible. Relax through it, untangle the knots, remove will as much as possible, and let it flow. This should give you a slighly better pattern, so that when you use your will, the result will be slightly better.

Idea 2: this may sound nuts--hell, I may be nuts, how would I know?--but you could tie exercise routines to music. Match exercises, or WOD, or metabolic pathways, or whatever you like, to pieces of music, which include rhtythms. Classical music--BAroque especially--is supposed to be harmonic. In theory, that harmony could transfer to training, and in any event would lead to an interesting randomizing of exercises.
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Old 07-29-2004, 09:16 AM   #2
Robert Wolf
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Barry-

It is a fantastic idea...the only downside I see is increased efficiency means decreased metabolic demands...but then maybe not!
I'll have to try this.
Robb
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:01 AM   #3
Barry Cooper
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Thanks, Robb! As far as the metabolic demands, they should be the same the next time you "light it up", but as I think you've said elsewhere, it's really hard to go balls to the wall on every WOD, so doing a mental switchup, and seeing how little energy you can expend and still accomplish your objective in a reasonable time might be good.
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Old 07-29-2004, 10:51 AM   #4
Ryan Atkins
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Hi Barry,

Your post reminded me of a book I read over a decade ago. It's called Body, Mind and Sport: The Mind-Body Guide to Lifelong Fitness and Your Personal Best by John Douillard. I'd have to read it again, but I believe the main gist was starting at low intensity levels and gradually increasing performance while breathing and heart rates remained low, or something like that. A lot of its based in Ayurvedic medicine and the book refers to spritiual/psychological issues, so I bet you'd probably like some, if not most of it. Some of it (phenotype-based dieting and sport selection) is a little off-base, IMO. I started paging through it. Here's a quote:

"Using Invincible Athletics, the athletes achieved a psychomotor state that differed sharply from that reached through conventional techniques. This state had both the subjective and objective qualities of ease and comfort that the athletes commonly say characterize their experience of the Zone. Thier EEGs indicated that their minds were in a state of relaxation, and their breath rates, heart rates, and perceived exertion were lower throughout a workout when compared to conventional exercise. Yet their actual level of perfromance was the same or higher."

Might be something worth checking out. After I'm finished reading the Old School archives, I might have to reread this book (or portions of it anyway).

Ryan
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Old 07-29-2004, 04:17 PM   #5
Barry Cooper
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Ryan,

Thanks for the feedback. I know my current reading list, and it's going to be a while before I get to that book, but it does sound interesting.

One thing I don't think I've mentioned on this board is my enormous admiration for Moshe Feldenkreis, who studied and wrote extensively about efficient movement. Absent emotional upset, and corresponding biomechanical imbalance, all people would walk essentially the same, and they would move with optimal efficiency. There is an optimal way to interact with gravity, based on our musculoskeletal structure. He developed techniques for recovering efficient movement. He is also interesting in having been the first Westerner to earn a black belt in Kodokan Judo, studying under Jiguro Kano himself. It is my personal belief that he had a large role in the development of Krav Maga, as he talks in his books about developing a "practical" martial art. As an Israeli, he was involved personally in hand-to-hand combat on, I gather, a number of occasions.

In any event, he has a notion called reversability, which is essentially the concept that in an efficient biomechanical system, you have the ability to increase or decrease muscular tonus on an at-will basis. It also implies physical reversability, in the sense that you start to punch someone, see a counter coming, and have sufficent biomechanical organization to reverse yourself, or move in a flowing way into another technique.

Reversability would seem to apply here. To take a concrete example, I have long been interested in the sport of Biathlon. You ski hard, then you have to shoot accurately. From what I understand, they use biofeedback to teach themselves to slow their heartbeats down sufficiently that they can shoot between beats.

There is an obvious corollary to a cop chasing someone, rounding a corner, and then realizing that their gun is needed. If your heart rate is 190 beats a minute, can you still shoot accurately?

My basic thought here is: can you do 80% as good with 50% of the effort? It may be a dumb question. But I do think that if you can learn to relax through a workout, you should be able to improve your time, over time, by conserving energy. Take it easy once, then light it up once.

Hopefully the foregoing makes sense; if not, I appreciate people putting up with my rambles.
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Old 07-29-2004, 07:08 PM   #6
David Wood
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Barry:

Great stuff, please feel free to keep it coming! I'm also an admirer of Moshe; done a lot of work at various times with Feldenkrais teachers. Quite an art to put it into practice during an all-out effort, though . . . I think you'd definitely have to practice at that target of "80% effort, absolutely smooth, mimimal perceived exertion" for some time . . . and try to sneak that "smooth, mimimal exertion" feeling in as you crept up toward 90%, 95% effort.

For what it's worth, I try to practice that idea on almost all "aerobic" workouts (e.g., 5,000 meter row or run, etc.) It's definitely easier there (probably because it's not a 100% effort), but having that "smooth, minimal exertion" feeling and holding as long as possible is what make the final sprint work best.

I haven't thougth of trying it in a workout that's aimed at getting you to anaerobic hell in the first few minutes, though.

Finally, there was someone here (I apologize, but I forget who it was) who used to have absolutely the coolest "saying" that posted with his sig . . . roughly something like this:

"Well, yeah, that's a nice lift, but can he do it with a heartbeat of 190?"

That, to me, is darn close to the essence of CrossFit.

Dave
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Old 07-29-2004, 07:27 PM   #7
Mike Minium
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Dave,

The guy with the catchy slogan is Cameron Lee Earle:

http://www.crossfit.com/cgi-bin/disc...=3080#POST3080

And I agree, I think that sums up CF pretty nicely (instead of fitness in under 100 words, it's fitness in about 10 words).

Mike
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Old 07-30-2004, 07:22 AM   #8
Barry Cooper
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Here's an interesting article:

http://www.lehigh.edu/dmd1/public/www-data/holly.html

What I found interesting is that the Lung-Gom-Pa runners first have to master seated meditation.

The Mt. Hiei monks feats are well documented. I don't know about the Tibetans.
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Old 07-30-2004, 08:28 AM   #9
Barry Cooper
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I just read that a bit more carefully. Please ignore the part about the chains. As with anything else, it's a matter of separating the good from the rest.

There are pictures of the Doiri in the Marathon Monks book.
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