Today's Workout: 042414

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Clean 85% x 1 every 45 seconds for as long as possible.
Then: Clean 65% x max reps in 3:00.
Then:
6 Rounds for Time:
50 lb DB Hang Cleans – 5 reps
100 yard Shuttle Run
For shuttle run, sprint out 50 yards, touch and sprint back.
An 85% clean is no joke. Elite weightlifters wouldn’t usually do it more than 2-3 times in a single workout. But their strength curve is steep: they probably don’t have a ten-rep max, and though their absolute max is very high, they couldn’t hit 85% for a double. It’s how they’re wired: everything, all at once. Even now, some argue this steep strength curve is necessary for high-level weightlifters and powerlifters. Specialization is necessary for elite sport, and we’ve known that for decades, but CrossFit has changed the picture.
In the late 1990s, a powerlifter named Eddie White was winning Masters PL events all over the USA. He was at the top of a heap that seemed large back then. But he was also a runner, logging 10k several times per week. White was an outlier: most powerlifters believed ANY conditioning work would cancel some of their strength gains. Many still do, and will even risk a sickly lifestyle in pursuit of strength.
But this absolutism (don’t do any aerobic activity, or you’ll get weak!) has changed. CrossFit athletes are now pulling deadlifts close to the 600lb mark, and though a 500lb squat still seems to elude the community, it should be noted that CrossFitters are doing 400+ squats unbelted in tennis shoes. And then they’re running 5k immediately afterward.
There definitely exists an intersection where general physical preparation meets specialization. We thought that intersection was at ground level: any time spent on one would negate the other. It turns out we were wrong: you can be very fit and still do exceptionally well at specialty sports. You can run and lift, and be good at both.
Back to the strength curve: a CrossFit athlete CAN hit 85% for multiple reps (we’ll find out exactly how many today.) Our strength curve is shallower by necessity: we simply can’t focus on weightlifting for two hours every single day. But if we can do more work at critical levels in less time…will we catch up?
The argument that “CrossFit makes you pretty good at everything, but not excellent at anything” is invalid if lifts that are “excellent” today become “pretty good” tomorrow. CrossFit is pushing the whole curve up while maintaining a wide base. If you like graphs, go ahead and draw it out. Then stretch your forearms and pack a pillow in your lunch bag; you’re going to need a nap later.

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