Thursday 171102

In 12 Minutes build to a heavy 1 rep shoulder press

Rest 5:00 then,

As many rounds as possible in 5 minutes of:
10 Dumbbell shoulder press 40#(25#)
30 Double unders

Post loads to comments and BTWB

A little #tbt to Mike entertaining all the ladies.

Today’s blog is going to be a #tbt all around. Not because I’m lazy but because something happened, again. And I already wrote a response to that same something the last time it happened. So you can think of it as a fun loving reminder, for those of you who remember the last time. Or it will be a lovely new introduction of information about the ever dreaded “progressive scaling” and how it is the gateway drug to rhabdo. 

There’s scaling and there’s progessive scaling. . . and there in lies the danger 

By Courtney “if it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying twice” Shepherd

CrossFit’s mantra: Mechanics, consistency, and then intensity. That is the simplest way of saying, we want to see it done right, we want to see it done right a lot, and then we will add complexity/ difficulty to it. What is “it”? “It” is anything we do in CrossFit. Rowing, running, lifting weights, pull-ups, push-ups. . . everything we do has a technique to it, has a way it can be performed with the most efficiency, mechanical advantage, and functionality. It can take a few minutes to find those consistent mechanics in some movements, ie the box jump, and it can take a lifetime of work just to get close to thinking you might be average at others, ie the snatch. In class we warm-up movements, we drill the set up and execution, we cue and correct faults in the movement, the goal is through the course of your CrossFit journey to improve your mechanics, more consistently, so we can add intensity.

What is intensity? It is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing the rate of return of favorable adaptation. Excuse-a-what? Intensity is what gets you the results you seek. If the WOD was 100 pull-ups, in as much time as you need, it is very fair to say someone would take an entire hour, if not more, to do those 100 pull-ups. Doing 100 mechanically sound pull-ups in an hour is more like skill work, allowing someone to take any needed rest to assure every pull-up is a good one. But the lack of intensity does not favor adaption to improving the ability to do a lot of pull-ups in a short period of time. On the flip side, if the WOD is 100 pull-ups, in 3 minutes, no matter the cost. People will move, things will get intense but I think this time we can agree, there are many that would be hucking their body around the pull-up bar doing things that look nothing like a pull-up. This excessive intensity at the expense of sound mechanics also does not favor adaptation,  because constantly doing a movement really bad over and over and over again will not one day make you good at that movement. So what are we suppose to do? How do we blend these concepts? We scale the intensity to meet the individual person’s needs. Intensity comes in all forms: more weight, more reps, more time. So to scale someone we can lighten the load, take away a few reps, shorten the time. We can even change the movement or assist the movement. No muscle-ups? We can work on the parts that make up a muscle-up, pull-ups and dips. No pull-ups? We can assist the movement with jumping, bands, or using ring rows. We want you to move well, we want you to keep moving well throughout the workout, and we want you to keep moving well throughout the workout with as much intensity as possible. 

CrossFit is infinitely scaleable. Scaling does not mean we are weak, less of an athlete, or somehow inferior. Scaling is a tool used to help us grow as athletes, increase our strength and capacity, and keep us safe. If you are new to CrossFit, fresh from the foundations program, you may be given fewer rounds, reps, or weight. If you were once a collegiate athlete and find yourself de-conditioned and getting back into working out, you may be given fewer rounds, reps, or weight. If you are recovering from an injury, along with the above, you will also get modified movements to support your rehabilitation. Scaling should never be looked at as a negative thing or something to be avoided at all costs. 

Clearly I’m a fan of the concept of scaling, but something came up in class today that really prompted this post, and that is the concept of progressive scaling. I am not a fan of progressive scaling. In today’s class we had strict ring dips. Someone said they planned to do as many unassisted ring dips as possible until they no longer could, and then they would simply add a band to assist them. Well if I agreed to let this happen (which I did not) then what do we think this athlete would do when they start failing with the first band? My guess, add a second band, to assist the movement further. This folks is progressive scaling. This is a recipe for rhabdo. Going to failure in a movement is your body telling you “that’s it, I don’t have any more”. You adding more assistance to the movement is you telling your body “nope, we are still in this”. When you continue to fail and continue to add more assistance you are literally defying your body’s abilities. You are pushing it beyond it’s actual physical capacity. There is no good outcome that will result from this situation. Muscles fatigue during workouts, it’s okay to adjust a scale or add one during a workout to account for this, but as athletes we cannot go to total muscle failure and progressively scale through it. What would the options have been then for this athlete? Start with one band and use it for the whole workout. If at the end of the workout the athlete crushed all the reps in all the rounds, then perhaps next time we don’t use the band, or we use less of a band. Or don’t use the band in the beginning. But when failure sets in, we need to make a change. We can cut reps, we can move to push-ups (so pushing in a different plane). This also happens a lot with pull-ups. We start with no band, we get mid way through the workout, fail, and grab a band. What band do we grab? The least helpful one possible because we are still clinging to the idea of being as close to the actual pull-up as possible. A few reps in we fail at that, so we go grab another band. . . another tiny little band that will give us just enough help to get through the next few reps before we contemplate the next band we grab. WORST. IDEA. EVER. Over scaling ourselves at the beginning of a workout pays off a lot better than progressively scaling throughout a workout. 

Feel like you are always over scaling? Feel like you are never really sure what you should do? Can’t remember what you did last time so you aren’t sure what you should do this time? There is a very elegant solution to this conundrum. WRITE YOUR STUFF DOWN (anyone that actually knows me, knows I didn’t really mean to say the word “stuff”). People, log your workouts. Put it in a logbook that is always on hand. Sign up for Beyond The Whiteboard and log it online (Verve members get a free subscription through Verve, email to get more info). When you log your workout write down what you used for equipment, weights, movements. How many reps did you do unbroken? How did you feel? Was there an “aha” moment that helped you get through the workout?

Dear logbook, today I did 8 rounds of 5 strict ring dips with 1 light purple band. I did all 5 strict ring dips unbroken for all 8 rounds. They felt really fast and I did not stuck mid dip once. I think I’m becoming what Courtney would describe as a strict ring dip ninja. I love CrossFit. I love strict ring dips. I hope they love me back. 

With this knowledge at my finger tips, the next time a workout comes up with approx 40 strict ring dips throughout the workout, guess what I’m going to do? Try doing them without something less than a light purple band. Because I know, if I possibly do them in sets of 5, I have the potential to be successful. Boom.

[drops mic, steps off soap box]

Scale. Move well, a lot of the time, and quickly. Write the results of that down AND refer back to it often. Use that info to help guide your future decisions. Rinse and repeat. 

After mentioning the word “rhabdo” in class on this ring dip day, someone in class said “What’s rhabdo?” To which I replied, “it’s a medical issue we refer to often that can result from progressive scaling.” The next response was “I’ve never heard you mention it before.” This made me take pause, as I know, for myself, I mention rhabdo every time we program a workout with dips, HSPUs, lots of pull-ups, and GHD sit-ups. So if you’ve never heard it mentioned, then apparently I have some work to do. . . stay tuned for next Thursday when I answer the question that was posed to me, “What is rhabdo?” and more importantly, “why should I care about it?”. 


Speak Your Mind