You may have heard this parable before:
A science teacher held up a glass tumbler for his class. In the tumbler were several large rocks; they were stacked, randomly, to the top of the glass.
“Is this full?” he asked. As a unit, the class responded, “Yes!”
From under the counter, he hoisted a paper sack and set it on the counter beside the tumbler. He ripped a small hole in the top, and then poured a fine sand into the tumbler, filling the holes between the large rocks. Soon the glass was filled; the class couldn’t see daylight through the tumbler.
“NOW is it full?” he asked. The students exchanged knowing looks. Point made, Teach.
He lowered the glass, and slid it forward on the counter….until it was over the sink. He opened the tap, and added water until the tumbler was filled to the brim. The class watched the sand dampen as the water disappeared into the glass; obviously, more than a cup had been absorbed.
“NOW is it full?”
One of the greatest lessons I picked up from my CrossFit Level 1 Cert wasn’t during class time. I’d been through years of University, and a handful of other Certifications, and a dozen other seminars…but never had I seen the Coaches train. On their lunch break, while we chatted and looked on, they actually worked out. Better, they hit up workouts with which we were all familiar. It was a great show, and more than I were drawn in, cheering and ‘coaching’ from the sidelines.
The WOD, for most, was a clean ladder. 1 clean the first minute, and then chatting. 2 cleans the second minute, resume chatter. 3 on the third, 5 on the fifth, 7 on the 7th, 9 on the ninth minute (chatter over…) continuing for as long as possible. It’s not an easy workout, but they each lasted at least 12 rounds. We clapped. But wait…..
In the 13th minute, they started doing pushups….continuing as long as possible. 13 in the thirteenth minute, 14 in the fourteenth, until they were over 20. Wow. But wait….
They started squatting. Fast. 21 in the twenty-first minute, 22 in the twenty-second…until they were all over 30. Lunch break over, class in session. Lesson learned.
If you’ve been reading Blair Morrison’s blog, you’ll have noticed something similar in the last few weeks. Morrison’s doing some lactate testing with OPT, and he’s changed the way he approaches his Metabolic work: he doesn’t stop. He scales down, but he keeps moving.
For instance, if Morrison was having trouble with ‘Fran,’ he’d simply grab a lighter bar and keep going, rather than stooping over the 95lbs bar, trying to breathe. Unlike the rest of us, his motor KEEPS running, keeps doing work. He won’t let it idle.
Morrison trains differently than most; he’s not scared to try new things. Maybe, though, he’s onto something. Mathematically, it makes sense to train through constant wattage output, even if it lessens over time, rather than stopping and starting. This mirrors our own experience in The Enduro Project.
For the next six weeks, if you’re doing the posted WOD, try something: downgrade the weights mid-WOD, but keep going. No, you won’t be finishing as Rx’d…but you’ll be developing a bigger engine.
Our programming will change a bit, from now until mid-February. We’ll start most workouts with high-repetition skills work: overhead squats, pullups, pushups, box jumps, double-unders, toes-to-bar…. and we’ll build up our capacity by doing 50 before the real work starts. I’ll post a suggested weight each day, but the goal is to KEEP GOING. If you can’t do it with the Rx weight, then drop the weight at any point and continue as quickly as possible.
This is great output threshold training for the Open, for the more advanced. For the intermediate, it’s reinforcing your skillset (which is the next step toward becoming advanced,) and for the beginner, it’s a development tool for the new exercises you’ll be learning. It will also help with the mental continuity problem that many of us need to stare down before February 22.
For the next six weeks, there’s no killswitch.