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

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Old 08-07-2006, 01:09 PM   #1
Ben Kaminski
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Has anyone else noticed increased WOD performance during periods of above average general work output?

Let me clarify: Starting at the beginning of July, I began spending every evening after work moving out of my apartment and into another one across town. My schedule was to wake up at 7:30, go to work until 5:30 or so, do the WOD, and spend the rest of the night moving my things. Both the apartment I moved out of and the one I moved in to are on the third floor, meaning that LOTS of stairs were climbed, carrying heavy boxes. It was two weeks of nearly constant work, almost every night. I would carry a box down, then run back up, and repeat. For unloading the car, I would carry a box up, run back down, and repeat again. This was by no means a workout - I was just trying to get it done. I would rest when needed but worked quickly. Also, long periods were spent packing the boxes, which was not as demanding as carrying them.

For the most part, I was able to get enough sleep and eat right, though I was generally tired. What I noticed was that my met-con performance went through the roof. I got PRs on Linda, Cindy, and that "5 rds of 25 wall ball and 7 muscle-ups" from 7/9/06 (14:00, which I'm proud of). The day after I finished moving, I went on a week of vacation to the ocean, where the most exercise I got was running out to catch the next wave on a body board. Eating on vacation started good but deteriorated to disgusting levels by the end. After I got back from vacation, I have been doing terrible on met-con workouts, but set PRs in the deadlift and C&J.

Could it be that the extra work of moving things and carrying heavy boxes for 3-4 hours each night, for 2 weeks or so with several rest days, caused the improvement in my met-con ability?

What I specifically noticed was that I felt nearly always "on," in that I always felt warmed-up and ready for high output. I was tired, yes, but still could perform at top level. Since taking a week off, I move slower and get out of breath more easily.

I don't have a good way to duplicate this for myself right now, so I was wondering if there are similar experiences in the group. I remember Robb Wolf commenting once about a client who worked in construction during the summer, and whose performance increased noticably during that time.

Basically, has anyone noticed a performance increase during times when lots of physical work is being done?

Ben
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Old 08-07-2006, 02:26 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Quite and interesting concept. I can' say I have because I haven't actually tried that before. However, I have heard that world class cyclists are somewhat like that. The first few legs of the Tour de France are pretty much torture, but after the body adjusts, they get easier. I think the article I read said it was due to their bodies switching gears and starting with aerobic B-oxidative (fat burning) metabolic pathway right away instead of going through the normal glycolytic and oxidative pathways right off of the bat.

Now, I am not quite sure about increased metcon performance during an increased volume of work, but I am sure there is some physiological principle behind it. Perhaps the increased blood flow to your muscles was beneficial and your muscles were already warm to help you get better performance without tiring yourself out as fast. I'm sure someone else might know the answer to this. It could also be something similar to what the cyclists encounter during grueling day after day rides.

I believe that I can explain the C&J and deadlift improvement though as well as your decreased performance in metcon. When you take a break from working out and basically do light work or no work at all (running out to catch a wave would count) your body is basically essentially resting your CNS from heavy work. A full week of rest for your CNS will help a lot especially if you were working out a lot before you took the break. The supercompensation you get from a week off here and there is amazing and you can almost always see concrete strength gains in both muscles and CNS performance. Of course, while you are not performing high intensity exercise during a break, your body is also going to adapt a bit out of that mode and become deconditioned some. This would explain your increased brute strength abilities and decreased performance for metcon. For example, I took a vacation two weeks ago and I saw my brute strength increase in my cross work, but exercises that I had no problem with before made me sore after the break such as straddle front lever pullups.
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Old 08-07-2006, 05:01 PM   #3
Scott Kustes
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There may also be something to the subpar nutrition for a week. I find that a few days of "off" eating destroys my met-con performance for a day or so...I just feel out of breath and exhausted halfway through the workout. There may be something to completely healing that helps the ME stuff too though.
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Old 08-10-2006, 05:57 AM   #4
Gittit Shwartz
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Sorry if this is a no-brainer, but maybe part of the picture is you simply lost some weight since you were eating right and moving around all day? Being lighter would make bodyweight excercises easier to do, hence some of the PR's.
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Old 08-10-2006, 12:11 PM   #5
Gorm Laursen
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I'm just back from vacation where I chopped down a huge elm tree with a small hand axe and a non-motorized saw. It took 4 days from mid-morning to late afternoon - intense work with lunch break as the only pause - and I was completely busted each day. When I came home and tested in the gym I had increased my PR in military press with 15 kilos (approx 30 pounds), my PR in air squats were up with 60 (sixty)! and pull ups PR was an extra 3, one armed pushups were up with 2 each arm. Deadlift was up with 15 kilos, a bit disappointing though, but only because I'd expected it to be more.

Go chop a tree everyone!
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Old 08-10-2006, 12:17 PM   #6
Lori Vescio
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"Go chop a tree everyone!"

And to scale for us newbies:

Tree

:proud:
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Old 08-10-2006, 12:24 PM   #7
Gorm Laursen
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LOL!
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Old 08-10-2006, 12:55 PM   #8
Ben Kaminski
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Gittit, I monitor my weight every morning and every night, and my weight did not fluctuate very much across the time I am talking about.

By the end of the moving, I had only lost 4 pounds or so. On vacation I gained the 4 pounds back, and no extra. 4 pounds is nothing for me, I go to sleep and wake up 4 pounds lighter just about every night.

Therefore I have difficulty believing that my performance was directly related to my weight. Thank you for offering the suggestion, though!
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Old 08-12-2006, 10:19 AM   #9
Greg Battaglia
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Ben, I think what you experienced was simply taking advantage of an adrenal cortical response. I've noticed the same thing before. When I work all day lifted boxes and heavy food packages up and down stairs I definitely have great workouts when I get home. This is just a theory, but I believe that once the body gets moving in a languid but intermittent fashion (like carrying boxes up steps and then resting for a short time just to maybe get some things situated in your apartment) it tends to cause a spike in norepinephrine levels which would explain your "on" feeling. I even noticed that when this happens the "on" feeling seems to stick around for 15-20 mins after I have even stopped moving around. I think it's just a mechanism that the body has to prepare you for battle/fleeing/hiking in a purely H/G context.
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Old 08-12-2006, 03:48 PM   #10
Alicia Michel
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LOL Lori! Wouldn't even need an axe for that one - just kick it with the foot!
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