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

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Old 11-20-2008, 09:58 PM   #1
Mike Panian
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Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

Hiyas,

I am 55 and I have been an active martial artist for 35 years. I started Crossfit in April, 2008 because I wanted more intensity in my workouts. Prior to that I had been doing some muscle mass weight training based on Anthony Ellis stuff to stave off loss of muscle and to augment martial arts. That type of training was fine for a while and it did succeed in building some muscle but I wanted more functional and practical training. Crossfit seems to fit the bill.

After researching the program a bit I started out. I used the typical 3 workout days one day rest that the WOD follows and I have been satisfied with cool results. Got the kipping pullups down and by October I was doing all the WODs non scaled and doing ok at them. My numbers and timing have been about average for the few people over 40 that I run into on the WOD comments. My stats have been continually improving. Great stuff!

SO here is what I want to discuss:

I find that I can sustain the WOD schedule for about 10 to 12 weeks then I just start to get tired. Of course I then take a rest until I feel recovered and continue. That has been fine as well but to be honest, it leaves me with a feeling of slowly and inexorably draining myself even though by all measurable stats i am fine.

So a month ago, I got a case of cellulitis. Crack in my heel, icky gym, rapidly progressing infection all the way up my leg and 2 courses of IV antibiotics later ( side note: KEEP yourself clean and do not neglect cuts!) I am starting up again. The month off left me at 80% of my capacity just prior to the illness.

But, after a week of being back I actually feel pretty darned good. The enforced rest seemed to have allowed me to recover the energy that was slowly ebbing.

So when you are younger, you can have the attitude that you can continually push yourself to find your upper limit. You might not know it and you want to find it. Maybe you believe you have no limit and its just up to your will power.

But at some point in your life, if you have been an active person, you find that it feels more like cruising at a set altitude rather than going up, up , up! And at some point maintaining fitness starts to feel like a slow controlled landing. In other words, the truth is that your actual true capacities do seem to start to diminish. Slowly if you are fit. And you loose the opportunity to glide unto old age if you give up exercising.

So I want to ask everyone about pace of practice and the tempo that they use especially older cross-fitters.

I am thinking about 3-1 followed by 3-2 with more frequent breaks according to how I feel. I am using a sense that I am not wearing myself out and giving myself sufficient time to recover though I have really seen results by following the 3-1 schedule.

In terms of the tempo of my training, I pay attention to my stats and proceed at a pace that feels challenging. But I do not think I want to push myself too far. That being said I do want to face myself honestly and continue to challenge myself, but with recognition of my age.

So how does everyone else do this? Do young people feel that they have to always challenge themselves to the point of pukie? Do older people feel the same?

Sorry for the length

Mike
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Old 11-20-2008, 10:26 PM   #2
Stephen Smith
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Re: Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

I believe it states somewhere in the FAQ that you're supposed to take a half-effort week every 4 weeks, and take a week off every 12 weeks... Some people with exceptional recovery capacity can blow this off, but I know that at my age after 3-4 weeks of 3/1 rotation I'll need a break. Of course, I haven't ever actually done the Rx'd half effort weeks, because my real life has a tendency to forcibly introduce breaks into my schedule. But yeah, it's explicitly stated that the constant 3/1 rotation isn't supposed to be sustainable indefinitely, and you back off/take extra days off when you feel overtrained.
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:00 PM   #3
John Biddle
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Re: Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

Hi Mike. Hope the recovery continues well. No science here, but I'll just tell you what I do and how I feel. I'm 48, around 6' and 210lb. Up until a couple of years ago I was still playing rugby, and was using CF as my training for that. I needed to train reasonably intensely to still be able to keep up with the much younger blokes who were playing. I was fortunate in that I had the time and opportunity to do that also. Anyway, moving cities and some injuries catching up to me means I don't play rugby any more, and also that I am more restricted for time than I was previously. I now try to train 2 on, 1 off. No particular scheme to which WOD's I don't do - I will avoid a few because of particular exercises in them (eg, one of the injuries is to a shoulder and for some reason HSPU's don't agree with it, so I avoid them), I try to do shorter ones during the week (generally training in the lunch hour) but otherwise it's what comes up. I also cycle to and from work most days although not very far (about 25 minutes each way) but at least it includes some hills. I may take additional days off if I feel sore, or if I've been doing other physical stuff around my house. Occasionally a longer break will effectively schedule itself through work commitments, minor illness or something similar.

It might be that I'm happy with this amount of work because it's plenty to keep me feeling fit and strong, but don't have the spur of training for something specific to make me do more. I do think it's a reasonable volume for me, given the other things I have to do with my time. I definitely think that to train much more I would have to rearrange things to find a lot more rest time - realistically, very difficult to do.

As to how that program is going - I find that I'm definitely doing less well on timed workouts, and things like tabatas and Cindy, and also much less well on things like Lynne (because I seldom bench press any more) than I was a couple of years ago. On the other hand, my squats, DL and overhead presses are better (HSPU hurt, presses don't, go figure), rowing times are better (I sprang for a C2 a couple of months back, and use it as a warm-up a couple of times a week) and 400m run times are better (we seem to have had a few of these lately).
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Old 11-21-2008, 07:47 AM   #4
Brian Bedell
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Re: Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

There is a pretty long thread for us "older" guys around somewhere which I think covers a lot of this.

Also, I think it is more important for us to take that actual rest as rx'd by CF as referenced by Stephen. Presumably, we are smart enough to take the rest and not just keep pushing through. Personally, I am not smart enough yet apparently!

Everyone is different obviously, but I for one am in better shape now then anytime in my life. And although I am not quite at the place I wish I was, I think it is mostly due to diet, etc. at which I am not so hard core as I used to be. Just not giving up my going out partying once per week, sorry. That's a personal choice.

I think a 2/1 split is great, it is only one extra rest day per 12 days...if you do the math. I also find that as soon as my sleep starts to suffer, it is a clear sign that I am overtraining. And 2x the fat really helps too. There are two main ways to overtrain; overwork and undereat...the 2x fat seems to solve the latter (for me).
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Old 11-21-2008, 09:05 AM   #5
Tom Hultine
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Re: Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

I hear you about recovery - I'm 59, and have been doing CF WOD routines for about 2 months with great results. I began CF in decent shape, playing full court basketball with guys half my age, running hill sprints and sandbag lifting, after decades of traditional lifting/jogging protocols. My life schedule usually provides "forced rest" days, which, for me, actually are beneficial. Like this weekend, I won't be able to pick up CF again until Monday with the 5K run, and proceed from there. So, I will have 3 rest days (though 1 will hardly be rest, as I will be loading/unloading firewood most of the day) and when I resume, I can go after the WOD's full bore as Rx'd. Bottom line: old dogs can still run with the pack, but we need a bit more time sprawled out on the rug near the woodstove
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Old 11-21-2008, 03:06 PM   #6
Darrell E. White
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Re: Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

Hey fellas! 48, almost 49yo. The 1/2 intensity and weeks off schedule is rightly attributed to Larry Lindenman who is mid-40's (and if you are lurking Larry, time to re-connect!).

3 weeks full bore
1 week 1/2 intensity
3 weeks full bore
1 week 1/2 intensity
3 weeks full bore
I week OFF (rest, read, do Yoga, walk, get la___ed,...)

Of course, YMMV. For me life has had a tendency to force time off. Vacation, work travel, etc. I'm going to my first Level I cert this weekend so I took W-F off so that I am rested, not sore, and not injured.

Recovery is key when you are a "mature" Crossfitter.

-bingo
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:32 AM   #7
Mike Panian
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Re: Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

Thanks for the comments. This is a great community of folks!

Sounds like my conclusions are in line with what the rest of you are doing. I am going to review the FAQ in this regard to see what it says and I am going to try the 3 weeks of full intensity one week half intensity and some other patterns as well over the next 6 months.


I think that another aspect of crossfit or any other training has to do with the mental practice of maintaining personal discipline. I think that its good for people to make a practice of doing something that is challenging regularly and making up your mind to maintain that.

It builds character as well as the fitness and that is as much my reason for wishing to consciously decide to do this. It also takes discipline...maybe even more discipline to choose what is sustainable for the long haul as you get older. The middle road is often the most challenging.

Anyways, thanks for the input and I hope we can chat some more about other things.

Mike
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Old 11-22-2008, 02:03 PM   #8
Bill Pontius
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Re: Older crossfitter, timing and tempo

'Bottom line: old dogs can still run with the pack, but we need a bit more time sprawled out on the rug near the woodstove'

I love this line! Well said, Tom.

Bill Pontius, 58,
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