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

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Old 07-25-2007, 11:27 AM   #11
Craig Loizides
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I'm pretty new to CF, but here are my thoughts. If a workout is supposed to take 20 minutes like Cindy, then pace yourself to do as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes. If a workout is supposed to take about 5 minutes, then pace yourself to do as much as you can in 5 minutes. Crossfit is varied enough that if you always go for the best score you'll hit all time and modal domains. (wow, I'm starting to sound like a crossfitter)

Some other thoughts:
This is a bit of a simplification, but improvement will largely be dependent on the amount of time spent at a high intensity. Pacing yourself can allow more time to be done at high intensity and decrease fatigue which allows faster recovery.

In most activities lasting more than 3-4 minutes you'll perform best with even splits or a slight negative split.

There's nothing wrong with doing a more intense version of Cindy, but you can probably do much better than going all out for a few minutes and then crashing. You can try 2-3 hard 5 minute rounds with 5 minute recoveries in between rounds. Or you could do 1 fast round with an equal recovery time and repeat until you can't maintain the pace.
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Old 07-26-2007, 02:32 AM   #12
Peter Dell'Orto
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I'm curious if going all out is superior to pacing in the long run, or vice versa. But I pace. A better way to put it is I go hard, very hard, right from the start - but I recognize quickly where my limit is and try to stay just under that. I may do Cindy, for example, and bang out 5, 6, 7 rounds of 10 pushups. On the next round, I know around rep 6 that I'm barely going to get rep 10, and then I'm going to collapse. So I do 7 reps, take a breath, do 3 more. Next time, 6-2-2. Then 4-3-2-1, and so on. I could just push that first broken set to 9 or 10 reps, but then I'm not going to be as effective in the following rounds, which in the end means less work done overall or spread out over more time. What's better, one extra unbroken round or getting in a few more rounds overall because I paced? I think the extra rounds.

I figure it's like a fight - you have to push as hard as you can, but at a level you can keep up every round until it's over...nobody gets extra points in a fight for gassing themselves by going too hard and puking in the corner between rounds. So I stay below my puke/asthma attack/muscular failure level and keep working. I think in the long run that'll be more productive, but it would be nice to know for sure if I'd be better off the other way.
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Old 07-26-2007, 02:48 AM   #13
Jason Lopez-Ota
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I don't think there's such a thing as going too hard, unless you're not ready for it.
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Old 07-26-2007, 04:44 AM   #14
Tom Ellison
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I kind of did an experiment with this with those two recent Cindy's (I just did Cindy again as opposed to the "20 rounds for time" version). The first time I went all out the whole time with no dedicated rest or "backing off" and got 21 rounds + 5 pullups + 5 pushups. The next time I was trying to break 22, so I thought I should do 11 rounds in each 10 minute half. I got the first 11 rounds by 8:30 and decided to rest until 9:30 before starting the second half. Ended up getting 23 rounds + 5 pullups! And interestingly, I felt WAY more smoked after that than the one where I went "all out"
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Old 07-26-2007, 05:54 AM   #15
Tom Fetter
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CrossFitters are interested in maximising intensity - in the sense of doing more "work" in a given period of time, yes? So are competitive rowers. Whoever did the "work" of moving the boat through 2000m first arguably gave the most intense effort. Exhibited more power (work done over time).

Rowers have argued about whether to use a "fly-and-die" race strategy - going out furiously fast to get an "edge," knowing you'll fade at the end ... or picking a consistent race pace.

It's controversial. But Mike Caniston has analysed thousands of results at national and international regattas. He found that almost without exception, those on the podium either kept a consistent race pace, or were actually slightly slower in their first 500m than in the rest of the 2000m race. Their first 5 strokes or so were very intense, to get the boat moving, but they settled into their pace quickly too.

Most 2000m races are about 7 minutes. By the end, your muscles are full of waste metabolites, and hurt like hell. But accumulating the waste gradually means that your muscles have a longer period to work at higher efficiency - so they do the 2000m of work faster. Accumulating more of the waste in the first 500m of the race puts your muscles under enough additional stress that they won't perform as well in the remaining 1500m.

So the question in training, is what are you trying to train? Intentionally loading your muscles with waste metabolites early on will induce adaptations that help flush it through. But if you're trying to model a competition - use a competition strategy.

And by using a competition strategy, you'll give a more intense effort ... measured in the amount of work accomplished over time.}
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Old 07-26-2007, 07:39 AM   #16
Craig Loizides
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Tom E, that's an interesting test. If you feel up to it, I would be interested in knowing the results of pacing at 1 round every 50 seconds (24 round pace).

Is there ever a reason to go hard from the start in training? Like Tom F said, it will help train your body to deal with lactic acid and waste metabolites. But, in training "fly-recover-fly" works better than "fly and die". There's not much to be gained in training from the die portion. There's no need to approach every workout this way. You can save this type of training for a workout like Fran.
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Old 07-26-2007, 09:33 PM   #17
Jason Lopez-Ota
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So there's a time for both just like I said.
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Old 07-27-2007, 01:32 PM   #18
Tom Rawls
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If you're going to go hard, then rest, go hard, rest, repeat . . . that's an interval session. There is at least one workout that is laid out as intervals--Fight Gone Bad. Interval training is designed to have you work intensely, then recover. Crossfit rarely prescribes intervals (insofar as I can tell), but Crossfitters seem to improvise intervals by necessity.

Some Crossfit workouts tell you to get your best score in 20 mins. I'm certain the optimal approach to accomplish that is by pacing. (Have you ever seen an elite middle-distance runner race by sprinting/walking/sprinting/walking?) As Tom Fetter noted, you don't want to spend the better part of your workout having your performance compromised by excessive metabolic wastes.

Perhaps Mr. Glassman has somewhere explained his view of "random" intervals versus prescribed intervals versus paced workouts. I'm a newcomer, old, weak, slow, and curious.
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Old 08-03-2007, 09:48 AM   #19
Dale F. Saran
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Gents, this horse has been flogged many a time before... but let me jump in and offer a few thoughts.
1 - Whatever Chris Spealler says, that might be a good idea to follow. I saw him at the CF Games (he was 4th overall, I believe, by a hair). Whatever he is doing works.
2 - Coach has often said at Certs that the true metric of a workout's "intensity" - in fact the only metric - is work performed over time - or power. Period. End of discussion.
3 - My own personal experience from 20 months now is that there are (at least) two different factors at play, some of which have been touched on, in the two different approaches. "Selling out", in the sense of going to muscular or metabolic failure, comes with a much higher recovery time cost. Some people think it "feels" harder because of the attempt to push beyond muscular/systemic failure limits. It's just that, however - a "feeling". It's perception - the reality, in measurable terms, is how much work was done for that given period of time. "Managing" your workouts is nothing more than listening to your body closely and heeding its warnings that its about to crash.
4 - Some specific "selling out" techniques, however, can help, but I find that they work only when my max rep limit cuts significantly into the total I'm shooting for. e.g. If the workout calls for 40 pullups and I know I'm good for about 25 before failure, I'll do 23 on the first shot because it only leaves 17 for me to "limp" in. I can get that in 5s or 6s relatively quickly without a ton of recovery. But if, like the other day, the workout calls for 50 hspu and I know my max is about 12-14, then I'm starting with sets of 7, maybe 8, and trying to really manage that one, otherwise I'll fail and stil have a LOOONNG way to go.

Ultimately, to answer the question, I think between your hypothetical A and B CFers, you get to where you want to be fastest by maximizing your work output every single WoD. That applies whether it's a 1RM on the deadlift or a MetCon chipper, because those are distinctions that matter only to us and not to the random tasks nature frequently drops on us.
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Old 08-13-2007, 08:28 AM   #20
Justin Andrew Joiner
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good question...

ive had this discussion quite a few times with my buddies, i think the answer is what most the replies have been thus far: sometimes you should, sometimes you shouldn't. i used to push until i was barely concious of my surroundings on every work out, then i decided to mix it up and try to improve time and scores, got some good results. however i noticed when i did put in maximal effort i would get naseau and dizziness much sooner.

the maximal efforts seemed to have the effect of increasing my work capacity for a 3-5 minute period, which in terms of real life application are extremely important. Think of a situation in which a 1-5 minutes sequence of intense varied activity might keep you alive to see the 20 minutes you will need to recover.

i say use crossfit mentality and mix it up.

sorry about the grammar and confusing wording, i had to rush through this one.
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