WOD 181009

I’ve had numerous conversations with many of you over the years where you have wondered aloud to me why we use percentages for our strength movements. This conversation almost always turns into a discussion of when will we or why don’t we ever test 1RM lifts. Given that today we’re asking you to hit some pretty heavy back squats (see today’s class programming below) and quite soon we’ll be cutting you loose to test your 2RM Back and Front squat, I’ve decide to rehash that conversation.

I’m going to take a different approach this time, however. I’m going to peer at this through the lens framed by the question, “How might we be wrong about this?” This is an exercise we’ve been implementing often in recent months. Our goal: to either reinforce our truth or find a better one. Either way, we come to conclusions that allow us to better serve our members.

Truth #1 - 1RM lifts are inherently dangerous for the general population (those not training for a specific sport). Gen pop does not have enough experience or practice failing lifts.

How might we be wrong about this?

I’m firmly in the camp that 1RM lifting can be dangerous but that’s a big step off from definitively being dangerous. Plus, it can be dangerous for anyone, regardless of experience. It’s like driving a car: on any given day, it can be a disaster, regardless of how long you have been driving for.

Second, how are those in the general population supposed to gain experience and comfortability with maxes if they aren’t allowed to practice? They can’t. And quite frankly, better for them to gain that experience under the watchful eye of a professional coach (or two or three) than doing it on their own.

Truth #2 - The general population does not need to know their 1RMs on given lifts to improve their health and fitness.

How might we be wrong about this?

I’m going to take a bit of a bullheaded stance here and say that I do believe that to be true. There are plenty of folks out there who have zero interest in their heaviest back squat who still back squat as a regular part of their training and continue to progress in their fitness.

BUT from the perspective of the athlete, it’s cool to know! And it’s frustrating to come into class and see “Back squat - 3 x 6 @ 65%” and have zero clue as to what that might be. Plus, it’s a measure of progress and as a staff that encourages intentional training and writes you periodized progressions that are supposed to make you better, faster, stronger, it seems logical that we would all benefit from some measurements.

Truth #3 - Rarely does the average CrossFit gym member allow themselves to get to true a 1RM.

How might we be wrong about this?

1RM lifts are HARD. They require A LOT from the athlete and tax the central nervous system (CNS) in ways that we rarely do on a daily basis. The thought is that gen pop members (again, those not training for a specific sport) resist taking it that far from a basic survival instinct in their body: you are not in a life-threatening situation. You do not have to pick up this 500# barbell, therefore your body is going to try to preserve itself by having the brain override the neuromuscular signals required to hit the heavy lift. So you stop short of a “true” 1RM therefore what’s the point of us testing them?

So what if instincts kick in? That’s actually great! We want you around and are stoked that your brain seems to want you alive too. And quite frankly, to say you were holding back is a disservice to you and your effort.

We talk often about relativity, about holding you to a standard that is relative to how you are showing up on any given day. So today your 1RM deadlift is lighter than what it was last time or lighter than you expected. That’s okay! There are tons of factors that play a role in maximal performance like this, many of them existing outside of the gym. All we ask is for your best effort on that given day. Plus, then you have a number from which you can build. And with focused effort and deliberate practice, next time you get to test, you will have the opportunity to surpass today’s results.

So we’ve found some new truths within our assumptions. We’ve heard the call for more testing and we are planning to facilitate this, in appropriate time and with appropriate measures taken to ensure safety, provide for mental preparation and get you excited for the opportunity to go heavy.

The only thing we’ll add: when we do test, RECORD. RECORD. RECORD. Write your results down somewhere you can reference them. This is a fundamental part of intentional training. Knowledge is power.

-Caitlin


WOD 181009

Strength - Back Squat

Athletes will have 20 minutes to work up to and complete multiple sets of 2 @ RPE 8. The focus on this week is maintaining technique at heavier loads. NO FAILED ATTEMPTS!

Metcon - For time:

15 - 12 - 9
Burpee box jump overs (24/20”)

Between sets of BBJOs, complete 12 alternating DB snatches @ moderate

7 minute cap