Thursday 170525

Back Squat
4-4-4-4-4

Then:
5 rounds of: 20 Unbroken wallballs (choose your weight)
Rest 1 minute between rounds.
*If you fail to go unbroken, round doesn’t count so choose weight wisely!

Post loads to comments and BTWB

Not sure Mick had this in mind when Connie asked for a lift.

Not sure Mick had this in mind when Connie asked for a lift.

This lovely little ditty about why intensity sucks (but is very necessary) will be brought to you By Courtney Shepherd with a lot of assistance of Mike Warkentin of CrossFit 204.

So it’s almost 3, 2, 1, go time for yesterday’s workout (the one with all those power snatches) when I mention to an athlete that I really want to see them do the first set of 20 unbroken or only broken one time. This athlete kind of shoots me a head tilt and then says, “well whenever I scale a workout, I always wonder if I should have done it RX”. That’s fair, to which I would reply, if today’s workout is meant to be less than 10 minutes but the average time on the board is around 7, and the fastest time RX is under 5. . . if you scale the workout and finish it under the average, then that would be a good indicator you could have done it RX. True, you won’t know that until after the workout, but that gets us talking about the whole concept of logging workouts and keeping track of these things, a blog post saved for another day.

Now if this person kept the RX weight on the bar and took over 10 minutes to do the workout, then they would not get nearly the same benefit if they had scaled and gone faster. “Why?” The short answer is intensity. Yesterday’s workout was meant to have a high level of intensity, a high level of work with a short level of rest kind of ratio. If I’m meant to hold on to a bar for 20 reps and be done in :30 but instead I do sets of 3-5 and take :90, that is a loss of intensity. That is a loss of a stimulus that is meant to breed adaptation. Intensity and adaptation is what gets us results and progress. So if there is the chance we have found ourselves in the same place for a long time, is it because we have let ourselves get comfortable resting too much, going to the chalk bucket a few too many times, breaking the sets more often. . . are we giving ourselves reasons to be less intense? Well I picked the heavier weight, so I’m just going to have to set it down a few more times. Do you know what is worse than doing “Fran” with 95#? Doing “Fran” with 75#. Lighter weight gives you no excuse to put it down. No excuse to stop. We work faster and it hurts more. 

Mike Warkentin of CrossFit 204 describes this well:

“You have to do Fran today. Stop reading, close your eyes and really think about that for a moment. Note the freefall feeling in your chest, the sweaty palms and the subtle changes in your breathing. Now consider this statement:

You have to do Fran in less than 12 minutes today.

I bet you suddenly don’t feel nervous at all. You might even view the reps as a warm-up for another workout. Same weight, same reps, same workout—different results.

Intensity burns. It tastes like a mouthful of old pennies soaked in battery acid. It makes you dizzy. It causes you to writhe around on the ground trying to work the misery out of your muscles. It usually requires a period spent on your back or butt, and sometimes it sends your lunch back the way it came in. Intensity gets caught in your throat and keeps you hacking hours after the workout ends.

Intensity also brings results. Push someone out of the comfort zone and physiology adapts. Do that regularly and fitness improves dramatically. Discomfort creates adaptation, but it can be very tempting to avoid the continuous discomfort needed to keep driving adaptation—even as a CrossFit athlete who knows its rewards.

Reducing intensity can be as subtle as breaking up Fran’s 15 thrusters when we don’t have to. It’s a very minor reduction in effort, and almost no one notices—sometimes not even the athlete. Fran burns a bit less, and only 20 seconds are added to a PR time, giving him or her the opportunity to attribute the score to an off day, bad sleep or “that third burrito at lunch.”

Luckily, the athlete still stays far fitter than if he or she hadn’t done Fran, but slacking off a little can lead to slacking off a lot, which is equivalent to treating a CrossFit workout like a 20-minute roll through the sports section while plodding on the elliptical machine.

To reap the greatest benefits from CrossFit, you have to be willing to push yourself, to be uncomfortable, to suffer for reward. And most of us are most of the time. The whiteboard and the rivalries thereon are powerful motivational tools. Still, a 5-minute Fran can become a habit if you let your mind trick you into dropping the barbell well before you need to.

Remember: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while objects at rest tend to head to the chalk bucket.”

Mike’s point to his readers and my point to this particular Verve athlete are one in the same. It’s not enough to just slug through a workout. So you did all the reps and all the pieces, but if all of it together takes over 10 minutes when the workout was suppose to be less than that. . . there is no adaptation. There will be minimal benefit, other than a few calories burned. If you want a dose of intensity, if you want movements like burpees to feel better (suck less) and you want improved times in those faster workouts, then take away any and every excuse you have to stop. Don’t worry about RX, what Joe Shmo at 5:30am did, or the average time on the board. Instead, lighten the load, maybe cut the reps, and make your goal to never stop, never put the bar down, not come down from the pull-up structure. If you finish a 12 minute workout in 5 minutes, I guarantee you hauled ass. I guarantee you did not stop moving, and I can guarantee you got more from that workout than if you took 20 minutes to do it.

So think about it. CrossFit will never get easier. Period. The better you get the harder it gets, you can push yourself even more. So rather than resting until you feel comfortable, keep going, your heart will not physically explode from your chest. Get use to being uncomfortable. Get use to how bad intensity is and next thing you know, holding on to a bar for 10-12 unbroken reps seems like nothing. . . it could have been 30-40 reps. 

**You can read Mike Warkentin’s article “Elliptical Syndrome Cripples Fran, Helen” in it’s entirety by clicking here.

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