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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 02-20-2005, 11:30 AM   #1
Graham Hayes
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One thing I've noticed is that if I try to use a strategy to achieve a certain level of performance, then I usually fall short. For instance my next target with regards to pull ups is to total 100 pullups in Tabata pull ups. My best is 85 and today I got 75, when I got the 85 I went in with "never say die" as my strategy, getting some big numbers in at the beginning. Today I thought "do 4 rounds with 13 reps and 4 rounds with 12 reps and that'll be 100" I was able to keep it up for the first 3 rounds and then I started to lose ground.

That's one example but it's happened enough times with other workouts for me to notice it. So I've come to the conclusion that, artificial pacing strategies are not optimal in very high intensity work. This statement rings true for me in my strategy for "Fran", if I can get the first 21 thrusters and pull ups in one go, I know everything will be ok. And again with "Mary", first time I said 1 round every 2 minutes and ended up with 9 instead of 10. The second time I went all out and got 11.

So what is the optimal strategy? Now I've decided to work with the "never say die" strategy, or a fighter strategy. The combatant doesn't know when the fight will be over, but he has no choice but to go all out from the start to ensure survival.

Also I find that at some point in a WOD it doesn't matter if I rest 10 seconds or 1 minute my recovery stays about the same, David Wood has pointed out that it only takes a few seconds to get the strength back for 1 more rep. However it doesn't seem to matter how much work I've done before I reach this pause/rep/pause stage, it's more a factor of time working at high intensity. So if I get as much work done in the initial stages of a WOD then I can slug it out when "the time" is up.

This is my plan, I haven't started it yet..I will tomorrow if applicable. I expect that the advantage of training like this is that it will extend the time I can keep tearing it up, I think this approach would be very useful to all combatants. Any thoughts? Thoughts on this with respect to work/rest management as a skill would be much appreciated.
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Old 02-20-2005, 11:50 AM   #2
Paul Theodorescu
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"total 100 pullups in Tabata pull ups."

*gulp*. I'm humbled.

I haven't had the same experience with regards to pacing. Maybe it's different because your profiency is far greater than mine. If I go in with a "fighter strategy" on tabata pull-ups I'll probably do: 13, 5, 2, 0,1,1,2,1.

"Also I find that at some point in a WOD it doesn't matter if I rest 10 seconds or 1 minute my recovery stays about the same"

If the work is limiting cardiovascularly, I can see some truth in this. In fact, if you sit down too long, it's hard to get back up. Often it's better just to push through.
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Old 02-20-2005, 12:03 PM   #3
Eugene R. Allen
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Graham - I am a pacer (both as an athlete and as a automotive representation of my performance). Since my background is in longer distance efforts - triathon, adventure races and other multi-sport events - I tend to always leave a little in the tank. I have never met Pukie. In fact, I have never even waved at Pukie at a distance. I even whined in a old post about why we use the lowest score as our Tabata score rather than the average. The harder I hammer in the beginning, the more dramatically my reps evade me toward the end.

So, if the point is to get the highest score I will do so with a paced effort. If the point is your "fighter strategy" a hammer from the gun mindset my score suffers. Which of these methods is a) better for my development and b) the official CF method of performance?
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Old 02-20-2005, 12:05 PM   #4
Barry Cooper
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Graham,

As someone who carried "The Art of War" in his shirt pocket for three years, I feel the need to say that strategies do work. It is simply important to have the CORRECT strategy for the situation at hand. You have to adapt constantly. What works one day doesn't the next.

Paraphrasing from memory: "There are only two types of charge: the orthodox direct charge, and the unorthodox surprise attack, but possible combinations of these two can never be exhausted."

I think of books like that as water trying to percolate through the thick limestone of my brain.
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Old 02-20-2005, 12:42 PM   #5
Ross Greenberg
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To a certain extent, I agree with Graham. Sometimes you just have to put out with everything you got, and any extra thinking you put into it doesn't really make much of a difference.
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Old 02-20-2005, 12:44 PM   #6
Graham Hayes
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I think that's correct Barry, the "fighter strategy" is technically a strategy but it's more abstract than do a round of Mary every two minutes on the two minutes or do 4 sets of 13 pull ups followed by 4 sets of 12 pull ups. I guess my "Fran" strategy could be called "divide and conquer". I think it's more correct to say strategies that attempt to control a situation are more likely to fail rather than a general plan of attack. Time to wet the limestone:happy:
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Old 02-20-2005, 01:26 PM   #7
Barry Cooper
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You know, wet stone will help you sharpen your blade. Ouch, couldn't help it. I make up jokes with my kids along those lines a lot.

In any event, being me, I thought about this a bit more. I am currently engaged in trying to run a line of thought through that book. Sun Tzu lists 5 strategic factors: The Way (Tao), Terrain, Season (Weather), Leadership, and Logistics. All of these are to be considered at headquarters, and battle only joined when strategically appropriate or unavoidable.

Because it amuses me, and I might learn something, let's compare Tabata This! with Tabata something else.

In my view, the first thing to assess is always the terrain. What is the structure of these two?

They are obviously quite similar, with the difference that Tabata Something Else (hereafter 2) lacks rest intervals. This likely means that cardiovascular "failure" is more likely at high intensities, due to the inability to recover. Therefore, for probably everyone, the intensity needs to be dialled down a bit. However, because each round counts, you could potentially build yourself an extra rest interval by going hard on 7 rounds, and then skipping one round to recover. As I read this, the score is simply the total. I don't see any problem tweaking it that way, as Coach makes these workouts pretty much cheat-proof.

Thus in 1 you have steep slopes, with rest areas, and in 2 you have a relatively less steep slope, with definable rest areas, but certainly more continuous distance to climb. Keep this in mind.

Weather could literally be the weather if you workout outside. This affects things. More broadly, it could be the time of day you're doing it, what else you've done that day, and where in a relative training cycle you are. How you've been eating, how full you are, how stressed you are. Consider these things. They should affect how you choose to attack.

Leadership: this is essentially the personal qualities, in war, of the leaders. Building a broad analogy, this could be your character, and ability to tolerate pain, not just in a single workout, but over time, as measured in weeks, months and years. You need to consider this, with a view to the long term.

Logistics: probably not an issue, but in some of these workouts, you obviously need to consider how everything is set up, and you get from place A to place B. In my case, I need to take care that no one steals one of my stations in the Chippers. I also need to remember my watch. Also, in the Tabatas, there may be a slight advantage to doing what many people do, and have a Go and Stop on whatever music you're listening to. In my case, it's possible I took an extra rest here or there, as I just set my watch to ten seconds, and it keeps counting down endlessly. It beeped 96 times today.

Finally, you have the Way. In war, this is essentially esprit de corps. High morale, shared, clear objective. In analogy, this would be your gut level read on what to do, based on all of the foregoing considerations. Is your mojo working or not? Do you feel drawn into this workout, attached to it? Can you own it?

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Old 02-20-2005, 05:33 PM   #8
Pat Janes
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I did the last "Tabata This" workout after reading a long discussion about the merits of pacing.

I had previously gone hard at it and got a score of 43, both times. Last time, I decided to pace myself, just to see what difference it made and got a 62.

Now, in between those Tabata WODs, I'm sure my fitness had improved, but the major difference was almost certainly the pacing, particularly with respect to the pullups and pushups.

As for Eugene's questions (they are pretty much the same as the questions posed last time we talked Tabata), I really don't know the answers. But it seems to me that both methods work our bodies in different ways, so perhaps we should be trying both? Pace one day, hard at it the next...

"Tabata Scoring":
http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/3016.html

"More on pacing during Tabatas"
http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/24/6053.html
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Old 02-20-2005, 05:33 PM   #9
Graham Hayes
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That's pretty cool, I think that considering the terrain is going to be the most problematic. Coach has a knack for making workouts look easy on paper, but feel devastating in the gym. Take "Jackie" for instance, everything is great 'till you start doing the thrusters.

So I was thinking, if considering terrain is problematic then do not consider it. Of course this is difficult and in order to do it successfully you would have to do the workout without know what it is...what? Get a friend/workout partner to look up the workout, tell you how to set up equipment and whatever else. Then tell you what exercise you are doing. So for "Jackie" your partner would say "row!", after you have completed 1000m he'd say "thrusters!" after he's counted that you'd done 50 he'd say "pull ups!" after 30 "stop!".

I think the benefit of this type of training is it takes out your "central governer", so you don't know how to approach the workout and neither does your mind. This style also gives the you an opportunity to gain information during the workout, if the workout is "21-15-9 reps of:" or is "5 rounds of:" by the second round you have an idea of what is coming up. However a chipper has no such pattern, and probably makes it the most ideal type for this type of training. I can remember when doing group fitness training, you do something similar to this and you keep going with the instructor even though you're getting tired and if this was a solo workout (where you knew what you were doing) you may have rested where you plowed on in the group workout. Apart from being a sneaky way to coax more work out of your body, this would hopefully lead to a better understanding of terrain, in this context.
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Old 02-20-2005, 05:49 PM   #10
Paul Theodorescu
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Graham, fantastic ideas. I can definitely see that working.
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