8 Rounds of:
:20 work, :10 rest alternating movements
Chin over the bar hold
Ring support hold
Post work completed in comments and BTWB
Is more volume more better? May be. But may be not. Let the mind blowing commence in 3, 2, 1. . .
Last week I addressed the method behind Verve’s madness in their programming. Our goal for Verve members is to get them intensity. Intensity is what gives athletes the results they seek when they come to Verve. When we program a heavy lifting day, we want you to lift heavy. And when we program a 5 minute or less couplet, we want you rolling on the ground moaning about all that intensity. To attempt to combine these two very different types of intensity into a single workout for the sake of giving you volume, we feel, does not give you the needed intensity in either area.
“But don’t mistake volume for intensity and end up training for 90 minutes at 60 percent when 60 minutes at 90 percent might have been more valuable.” A statement made by James Hobart in an article he wrote for the CrossFit Journal titled “A Deft Dose of Volume”. James Hobart is a Level 3 CCFT, a member of the Level 1 Seminar Staff, has competed at every CrossFit Games since 2009 (either as an individual or on a team), and is currently a member of the reigning finest team in the world, CrossFit Mayhem Freedom. James spends his weekends training athletes at various levels, his knowledge as both a coach and competitive athlete is quite vast. I would like to use the article he has written to explain why more is not always better.
Coach Greg Glassman has been quoted for saying “Be impressed by intensity, not volume,” and, “Past one hour, more is not better.”
Volume is alluring for many reasons. Some athletes who are trying to break into the upper echelons of Open and regional performance look to tack on extra volume in order to try and close the gap, and affiliates sometimes attempt to squeeze more and more into the relatively brief CrossFit class in order to follow suit. But don’t mistake volume for intensity and end up training for 90 minutes at 60 percent when 60 minutes at 90 percent might have been more valuable. Similarly, paying little attention to recovery is costly. It’s a fool’s errand to cram multiple workouts on top of each other in hopes of finding a shortcut to fitness. Some strong-willed people just don’t know when enough is enough.
Athletes at the top of our sport who find benefit from extra training volume stand upon a nearly unshakable foundation of mechanics and consistency. They are thoroughly competent at linking these cornerstones with intensity. If you or your athletes require frequent scaling, extra workouts are not the solution.
Similarly, if you or your athletes struggle with mechanics, then once again volume isn’t the answer for you. Increased rehearsal of poor movement patterns and shoddy mechanics—more for more’s sake—is a loser’s gambit. You will just ingrain bad habits more frequently.
As a coach, you need to know what everyone trains for. The majority of athletes in an affiliate are training for life, and for them the occasional two-a-day might be fun, but training once a day four to five times a week will be enough. They won’t ever need more to obtain a lifetime of fitness. This is one of the most elegant mechanisms of CrossFit. Even those athletes chasing better scores in the Open or a competitive edge in a weekend competition will find effective preparation in a single session a day and focused skill work.
Athletes looking to take on more volume need to show up prepared, and this group is likely limited to competitors who rarely need to scale, can post competitive times on all workouts, and have no issues making mechanics and consistency corrections. The timeline to develop this type of foundation before adding volume is specific to every athlete. Some might reach this point in six months, others in a year. And for some athletes, it might take multiple years or never occur at all. Coaches, understand that every athlete will continue to improve with a single CrossFit workout per day. Volume is not the cure-all; effective coaching is.
Hobart lists 3 reasons volume is not necessarily a solution:
- First, volume isn’t necessary if the goal is simply getting fitter. In fact, it can be counterproductive or, worse, harmful when misapplied.
- Second, intensity and effective variance must be maintained in order to maximize results as volume increases. Any aspect of fitness that we neglect to train with intensity will suffer, and extra volume simply cannot replace variance when training for general physical preparedness (GPP).
- Third, effectively implementing multiple workouts within the standard one-hour time frame common to CrossFit classes is difficult if not downright impractical. Not only is it difficult to manage a group during multiple workouts in a single hour, but doing so also significantly impedes the trainer’s ability to cue, correct, improve, maximize safety and attend to athletes.
So what kind of athlete are you? I’m not asking about the kind of athlete you want to be, I’m asking what kind of athlete are you right now? Do you have good mechanics? Are you able to do most workouts RX (as prescribed)? Do you still require assistance and/ or modifications for several movements? Depending on how we answer these questions may tell us if we are putting the cart before the horse. More volume does not suddenly make us better, it does not fix all the kinks in our armor.
In closing, I want to return to intensity. Intensity is essential and it hurts, but it is required to greatly increase fitness. Volume is no substitute.
If you add volume and start producing results that are poorer than they would have been without volume, you need to retool your approach. Perhaps back off and start again. Volume can benefit you, but not at the cost of intensity and variance.
“You don’t need harder workouts, you need to go harder in your workouts,” Games veteran Tommy Hackenbruck quipped last year on Instagram.