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

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Old 04-07-2005, 05:21 AM   #1
Paul Moldovean
 
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I posted this on the WOD forum but I dont know how pertinent it is to that section so im just gonna post it again over here.. :-)

Whenever there is a 400m run in the WOD I assume its a sprint, so I get on the treadmill and run it at 12mph while my buddy runs it at 8mph, as the WOD progresses my recovery time increases after each sprint while my friends stays constant, our effort is different but our times are very close, now.. should I go for an overall lower time or an overall maximal effort?
I know I could get a lower time if I run it a little slower but I feel that the exertion is more important..

Hope you guys dont mind I double posted.
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Old 04-07-2005, 07:03 AM   #2
Matt Gagliardi
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I think that (like most things in life) it's something of a judgement call.

The thing to remember is that the work being accomplished is the same (with the exception of bodyweight...assuming that you're using the same weights, running the same distance, same number of reps, etc.). Regardless of who finishes first, the work done is equal. What starts to come into play is the idea of "power". Power = work/time. Since your partner is doing the same amount of work faster, his power output is greater, even though he's running slower.

My opinion is that you should alternate between "pace" days (what your partner does) and "sprint" days (what you're doing). On so-called "sprint" days, before you start the workout decide how much rest you will give yourself...and stick to it. Over time, shorten the rest intervals to a minimum amount.

Adaptation doesn't just happen all by itself...you have to push in order to achieve it. In this case, part of that push is self-enforced shorter rest breaks. IMO, you shouldn't be spending a lot of time recovering between rounds regardless of pace or sprint...part of the CF challenge is to perform while fatigued.
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Old 04-07-2005, 07:32 AM   #3
Mike Yukish
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Folks tend to think they need recovery time between exercises when they often actually don't. For example, the other day's WOD had us doing bouts of thrusters followed by pullups. Even though you might be light-headed and red-lined from the thrusters and thinking you need a break, if you grab that pullup bar and start cranking, you'll find there's a grace period where you are still recovering from the thrusters while doing pullups. Doesn't work with every exercise pair, but it does with many.

In short, try not resting after the 400m run. Jump into the next exercise. If you need a break, do it after a few reps of whatever it is you are doing. You'll surprise yourself.
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Old 04-07-2005, 09:15 AM   #4
Eugene R. Allen
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12 mph? Wow, that's a 5:00 per mile pace. You are a friggen gazelle. My TM only goes to 10 mph and during my workout yesterday I could only hold 9.3 mph for the 2:00 set I was doing which gave me .30 miles. Wish I could go as fast as you.

Your question regards a very central theme in the CF methodology...power output. This topic has been discussed at some length in various threads and the principle to follow is that you want to generate the maximum amount of work in the minimum amount of time in order to create the greatest amount of power.

If you do 3 sets of a particular group of exercises and you go so hard in the first set that your output is significantly decreased for the subsequent sets, the work you do will be decreased, your time will increase and thus your power production will be dramatically reduced. You will then have violated the prime directive the tides will shift, the moon will go out of phase and whales the world over will beach themselves.

So, while I have recieved my fair share of finger wagging and "Oh no, we don't do that here," when I admitted to pacing myself (I'm a triathlete so pacing is part of my athletic soul) I would submit that you want to adjust your output so that you can maximize your power production over the exercise period in which you are engaged.

The proof is in the pudding...or in the stopwatch in this case. If your buddy winds up with a better time in your WOD than you did (assuming he lifted the same amount of weight, did the same number of reps and all that) his power production was better and he probably got a bit more out of the workout than you did. It's just like a triathlon...nobody cares who swam the fastest, who biked the fastest or who ran the fastest, they only remember who finished the whole race the fastest. Drop your freaky fast run time down a bit to say 10 mph so your recovery time is reduced or eliminated and you can jump right into the next event. As your conditioning improves and you adapt to the faster pace, increase it just enough so that you don't need to pause for recovery.

I like Mike's admonition to just buck up and do the next thing no matter how you feel. The change of muscle groups will allow for some rest even though you are still working.
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:06 AM   #5
Rene Renteria
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The proof is in the pudding...or in the stopwatch in this case. If your buddy winds up with a better time in your WOD than you did (assuming he lifted the same amount of weight, did the same number of reps and all that) his power production was better and he probably got a bit more out of the workout than you did.

I think the comparison with your workout partner is a red herring. The workouts are the training not the event. His power output may have been greater than yours, but if he was only doing 80% of the output of which he was capable at the time, while you were closer to 90%, you may be getting the better workout, which eventually would lead to a better performance for the event down the road. The proper comparison would seem to be with yourself over time.

One thing might be to do the same workout over the course of a couple of weeks, varying the parameters. It is difficult to separate training and learning benefits or efficiencies from performance intensity, but you should be able to get a feel for it, I would think. Matt's advice is along those lines: do both types (pacing vs. all out, all the time). It also would be valuable to explore the rest-time; maybe that can be shortened if some of it is mental instead of physical. (I'm not sure, but some of these comments may be off-base if you think that both of you were giving max efforts.)

We recently did an exercise like this with the different Fran workouts (see the CrossFit journal on that one) and recent (still active) threads have discussed altering workouts to maximize power production for the whole workout. Check them out.

It may be that your 12mph sprints will cause better training that will allow you to smoke your friend a month or two from now.

Then he'll be wondering how he can work his speed like you do! Tinker and be open to discoveries. CrossFit for me has been about discovery because it tells me to do things I would not have considered asking of myself (e.g., see any of the chippers), designing my own workouts. Sometimes I surprise myself! That leads to progress.

Nice job on the speed, by the way! Nurture that ability.
Best,
Rene'
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:26 AM   #6
Eugene R. Allen
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Damn. Rene is right on the money. I assumed a max effort pace rather than a sandbagging effort. The trouble is trying to determine where you are in that measure though. You could wear a heart rate monitor and after determining your lactate threshold HR compare your HR profiles after the workout and know with reasonable accuracy who worked harder. Not foolproof but the graphs look really cool.

Surprisingly accurate is the Borg scale of perceived effort. No, really...it's called Borg, I'm not kidding. It's a scale from 1 - 20 with 1 being a near comatose state and 20 being your absolute max output. That would be a pretty good addition to a workout log to chart your effort put into a given workout. Interestingly the best scores do not always corrolate with the highest perceived effort.

I agree completely with Rene that you should grade yourself against yourself over time in order to determine your progress. Still, there is a competitive instinct among we SWAT guys and top gun status is highly coveted in this peer group.

Change is good and varying the stimulus in a variety of ways certainly will serve to develop a variety of positive adaptations. As I wrote in a long ago thread "Vary the exercise, vary the intensity, very often." I must have lost my mind in my other post. Do what Rene said.
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:28 AM   #7
Matt Gagliardi
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I think the comparison with your workout partner is a red herring. The workouts are the training not the event. His power output may have been greater than yours, but if he was only doing 80% of the output of which he was capable at the time, while you were closer to 90%, you may be getting the better workout, which eventually would lead to a better performance for the event down the road. The proper comparison would seem to be with yourself over time.


It's important though Rene' to make sure that you're forcing adaptation where necessary. It's not enough to run the 400s at 12mph (for example)...whatever rest interval you're taking must be gradually shortened in order to cause an adaptation.

The 12mph segments will only be of benefit if rest intervals are such that the extra speed overcomes the time spent resting. That doesn't just happen on its own...it's a combination of the body becoming accustomed to running that fast AND being forced to cope with less rest. The first part of that is accomplished simply by running at that speed...the second part can only be achieved if the runner forces himself/herself to take less rest.

It's been my experience that people get complacent with their efforts, and only focus on one avenue of improvement. It's great that you can run at Xmph...that's one avenue of improvement and performance. But IMO it's important not to lose sight of other paths...in this case shortening up the rest time it one of them. Gotta approach it from multiple angles.
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Old 04-07-2005, 03:42 PM   #8
Lynne Pitts
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Paul,
I deleted your post on the WOD section. Please don't cross-post! Your penance is 25 HSPU's... :biggrin: It's only 25 because this is a great topic!
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Old 04-07-2005, 03:53 PM   #9
Rene Renteria
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Warning: Confused post ahead!

But is it better to shorten the rest time or to work on pushing the speed to 12.1, then 12.2, etc.? Both! But what is the optimal way? We all seem to be talking about the same thing in general, but I’m having trouble putting a finger on the specific issues. It seems that the CrossFit Way ideally is to run as hard as physically possible (within reason--not to the point of debilitating DOMS or even injury--already a qualifier!) and then to jump right into the next exercise and do the same. That is, giving it 100% effort every time.

Is that always "training to failure"? Ideally, as I understand it, you would finish the WOD with just enough breath or energy to click off the watch (on the "metabolic" WODs). Work/play, eat, sleep, repeat. The focus or major locus of the WODs (in terms of body parts) moves around day-to-day so as not to hit the same muscle groups again and again and again, every day.

But many of us have to rest during a WOD, as it is physically impossible to do all the reps without a break. So the issue then becomes what is the best way to train to get to that point of being able to do the WODs without a break. Maybe some people could be faster yet if they actually didn’t do all the reps in one set but put a pause in the middle to recover some phosphocreatine or clear some lactic acid or whatever. So also to do the WOD in the shortest time, which is necessarily without breaks at the limit. Finding or always searching for that sweet-spot of managing sets/rounds/workouts is part of the idea of doing so many workouts for time.

So if I’m training to get to the point where I can do the WOD ideally, what is the “best” (most efficient) way for me to get there? Is it better for me to do Tabata exercises to failure on each round or to manage my sets to maximize my score (lowest round)? Is it better for me to try to do my 21 pullups in a round as a single set, going to failure 2 times during that round because I can’t do the 21 in a row or to say at the outset, “I can’t do the 21 in a row; I’m going to do 3 sets of 7 to do them in the least possible time for me” (which would mean managing my rest intervals so that I can do the 3 sets). I take your point, Matt, to mean that it is better for me to do both of these, sometimes the one and sometimes the other, using different strategies on different days.

And it’s not that I’m trying to find which one of those is better because I will adapt or “get used to” doing it one way at the expense of the other. Rather, I get more from varying the strategy than from finding one strategy and sticking with it. Do you think that’s true?

So does it come back to variety itself giving the best stimulus? It’s interesting that there are so many parameters to optimize on various levels (within sets, within rounds, within 3 WOD sets, all the way to multi-year periodization) that it seems true that designing CrossFit WODs has as much “art” as “science”, if not more.

I have confused myself here! I guess it doesn’t matter, really, as we’re talking about optimization. Working out consistently is already success. Doing the WOD--modified, slow, fast, whatever--gets me 50 to 80% of the way there, “there” being the optimal path to that hypothetical superspecimen that is my maximal physical/genetic/whatever potential from this particular day forward. On the highest level of periodization, I have already lost out because I’m past my athletic prime at 37. The potentiality was greater when I was born than at any other time, I suppose. But avoid looking back...

Wasn’t I supposed to be working?
Yes! Much to do; back to the rock.
Rene’
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Old 04-07-2005, 04:23 PM   #10
Matt Gagliardi
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I get more from varying the strategy than from finding one strategy and sticking with it. Do you think that’s true?

Yes, absolutely.

Rene, IMO you're right on. I missed the entire middle section of your first post (off into space), so I started debating with you even though we were in agreement...

I guess what I'm getting at, and it sounds like you're on board, is that there are a lot of ways to improve performance. It's important not to get locked into just one of them...like cranking up the speed on the treadmill. Clearly, improving your ability to endure/recover also helps overall performance.

My concern is that people begin to view the WODs as a competition rather than a training tool. We must guard against falling into a habit of "managing" our way to fast times at the expense of developing energy systems and recovery abilities that are not our strong suit. IMO, CF is not an end itself (i.e. a competition), rather it is the means to an end (improved athletic performance).

By throwing such varied stimuli at you, CF does a great job of revealing your weaknesses (and strengths). While it's great to celebrate your positives, the true bad-*** recognizes his/her weaknesses and turns them into strengths...through the painful and humbling process of attacking them.

Speaking for myself...I have honestly thought about stopping my posts in "Comments" because sometimes I think I'm getting too wrapped up in getting good times rather than sacrificing to attack a weakness (a weakness I'm "managing" my way around to get a better time).
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