This CrossFit stuff..... it's all a bit of a big experiment really....
We've been studying exercise physiology, biomechanics and programming philosophy for decades, but the complexities of the human animal are still surprising us.
In 2009, at The CrossFit Games, I watched 16 men, and (I think, only 1 woman) clock the deadlift ladder, 20 odd barbells which ran all the way up to around 225/165kg. To quote one of the Games organisers, Tony Budding....
“Here was our assumption: there’s absolutely no way that you’re going to be able to pull a high percentage of your 1RM deadlift in that format to begin with—every 30 seconds—and especially after a 7km hill run, we just made the assumption that your best lift in that environment is going to be a percentage of your max lift, probably between 70 and 85 percent. What we saw instead was that people were pulling at 90 to 110 percent of their previous PRs.”
He added: “What happened from our perspective was these f#*@ers are so much more competitive and more capable than we possibly imagined.”
This is the coolest thing, we have such a massive pool of people doing CrossFit now, that the physical stats are going off the chart. There has NEVER been a group of people of this size, doing this type of training before; as such, the data is all new, and the limits of what is possible in fitness keeps getting pushed out.
It sure makes it hard to program for people to excel at this stuff. There are so many variables, and if you want to be highly competitive, then you may have to make an early start.
Of course our gym is still targeted towards producing the best possible fitness for as broad a population as possible.
But I'd like to think that if we achieve that, we can also have a large percentage do well at The Open and other competitions. As such, the results of each year, is great feedback for what we did and didn't do right.
And I'm never too proud to admit that I learned a few things.
1. We can always be stronger. But sub max strength is more important for CrossFit and probably life in general. So a big 1RM is good, but you also need a big 5RM, 10RM and 20RM. It's funny, because I have always believed this, but upon reviewing my programming from last year, it didn't reflect it. So expect to see more of this in 2014.
2. More aerobic base. I've resisted this one for a while. Perhaps some self-bias, as I've always been reasonably aerobically fit through anaerobic training, and of course it's tough to program in a group class, but I finally see the benefit in recommending some slow long distance stuff for recovery purposes, and even for a bit of mental toughness.
3. We need to deadlift more....? Maybe. It was important for 14.3. It does come up at regionals and games but what about the general population? Heavy AND high rep deads ARE great demo of strength and capacity. I've avoided them in class due to ego and technique issues that we inevitably face in a large class. But as our membership base has matured, and our Intro and Fundamentals programs have ensured a better moving newbie, this could be something to revisit - at the least for our competitive athletes.
AMRAP in 7mins