Have you ever wondered, “Why CrossFit? What is the reason behind the emphatic endorsement for this training method over others? What is the guiding principle behind this training method? What makes it so effective?” Over the next few weeks, we’re going to dive into the answers to these questions and more. The goal of this discussion is to frame further conversation around how you might structure your training, keeping in mind the basic tenants inherent to the method you’ve chosen. Without further ado…
There are a few broad-stroke phrases that you’ll hear often when discussing CrossFit with hardcore advocates. The one we are going to look at most closely pertains to the aim of the CrossFit methodology:
Increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains.
We will separate this out into three parts: 1) increased work capacity; 2) broad time; and 3) modal domains. By discussing each of these, I hope to lend some understanding and context to what our intent is as coaches and perhaps, what you’re intent can be as an athlete.
Increased Work Capacity
First, we must define work capacity. This is, quite simply put, our ability to perform real physical work as measured by force x distance / time (which is average power).
For a visual reference, this could be your ability to move a barbell from the floor to over your head. Force is equal to or greater than the load on the bar, the distance is measured from the floor to your overhead position and time is how quickly you can do this. You can imagine that in a lift such as the snatch, the power output would be higher for the same weight than it would be for a clean and jerk, simply because the time to get the bar from floor to overhead would be faster. However, it’s for this same reason that we typically see athletes able to clean and jerk more than they can snatch - the added time allows for them to produce more force, and thus move more weight.
This could also be your ability to move your body over a distance. If you’re running a 400m time trial, the force produced is whatever is required to move your body over that distance and how fast you do it. For two people who weigh approximately the same, the one who runs the faster 400m time is producing more average power and therefore, it can be concluded has a great work capacity for that specific discipline. Fitness is our ability to do work like this through many disciplines.
Work capacity is an unbiased variable, meaning we can measure it for all populations across all times, regardless of age, experience, type of exercise, location, etc. It gives us the best, most empirical measure of fitness without being confined to a specific context. We can measure it for an Olympic swimmer and for a novice gymnast; a 100m dash runner and a marathoner; a powerlifter and a bodybuilder.
To wrap up, let’s return to a few paragraphs above where fitness was mentioned. Our goal in CrossFit is not to become the very best at any one discipline - obviously the Olympic swimmer is going to have a greater work capacity than the novice for swimming. But could they outperform them on a different task - perhaps an agility course? Maybe, maybe not. The idea is that specializing in sport doesn’t make you fit. It makes you really, really, really good at one thing - which is an certainly a huge accomplishment. However, our goal in the CrossFit space is to make a lot of people fitter. If we go back to the definition of fitness above, we know that fitness is defined as our ability to do work through many disciplines. As CrossFit co-founder and CEO, Greg Glassman famously says:
“Develop the capacity of a novice 800m track athlete, gymnast and weightlifter
and you will be fitter than any world-class runner, gymnast or weightlifter.”
Essentially, being good at a lot of different things is going to benefit us non-Olympians a lot more than being great at one thing. And now you’re thinking I’ve just endorsed having your hand in many different training pies. Yes and no. In order to develop our work capacity in a variety of domains, we have to spend dedicated (if not strictly focused time) in those domains. However, our end goal looks out towards continually varying our focus and, occasionally, taking a break from the focus to apply what we’ve learned to our general fitness prescription.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll discuss more how this benefits us from a broader perspective next week when we discuss part two: broad time.
Strength - Back squat sets of 8 @ RPE 6
The focus of today is technique and position. Athletes will work for 20 minutes building + completing multiple sets of 8 at RPE 6. Athletes should aim to complete 3 to 4 working sets.
Metcon - 2 Rounds For Time:
0:90 second max calorie assault bike @ RPE 8*
11 Deadlifts @ moderate**
6 minute cap
*ASSAULT BIKE: RPE 8 = challenging, but not maximal. Power output will diminish towards the end of the 0:90. Breathing should be nasal inhale + mouth exhale for those athletes who want to focus on improving their capacity.
**DEADLIFT: Our recommendation is 225/155#, however athletes should choose a weight that will allow them to complete the sets of 11 reps in 1 to 2 sets. This weight should be challenging.