To go as Rx or not to go Rx? That is the question. Almost daily we as coaches receive this question from members at least 10 times when we bring the class in front of the whiteboard. Here is a quick and dirty guide when it comes to the Workout of the Day (WOD).
1. Fast Is Better
Metabolic conditioning is meant to be fast. (Once proper mechanics have been learned of course!) Speed is one of the 10 General Physical Skills outlined in CrossFit’s definition of fitness. CrossFit works so well because we train at HIGH INTENSITY. INTENSITY = POWER. Power is also one of the 10 general physical skills necessary in a well rounded fitness program. We can measure POWER as work (force x distance)/time. The faster a WOD is completed the greater the POWER and therefore the greater INTENSITY.
Greg Everett even has a webpage that allows you to compute your POWER output for some of the movements in CrossFit. You can check it out here. One Friday evening, the attendees and I played with this calculator. We inputted different weights, times, etc for the same individual to calculate the POWER output of the WOD “FRAN”. It was quite revealing to learn that performing FRAN with 65# and finishing 30-60 seconds faster than performing it as Rx and grinding through it created a much higher POWER output.
2. Strength During Strength WOD’s
We program strength separately than the WOD because it needs to be trained as such. Yes, CrossFit does improve your strength within the WOD. But it does so primarily through repetitions and increased movement efficiency. The more efficient you are at moving the greater loads you will be able to handle. I am not saying this is exclusive, I am saying that it is primarily what is occurring.
The days strength is programmed in the gym or if you are on an additional strength cycle outside of class time, that is when you should be loading the heavy weights. Our current programming has less strength programmed due to the Open season. That begin said, you should be on a supplemental strength cycle outside of class if strength is one of YOUR main issues in being able to perform better.
Back to the main point of this tip, adding too much weight in the WOD is going to slow you down considerably. Thus, decreasing your POWER, AND increase your potential of injury. Add weight to the WOD very slowly as your fitness and strength improves.
The WOD written on the board is programmed for the most advanced athletes in the gym, think Carla B and Dave Y. They have a ton of training time and ridiculously huge base of fitness. The majority of our members are not at this level. They are working to get there. So, it is important to look at the volume of training each and every day.
I will use yesterdays WOD, 21-15-9 Pull-ups and deadlifts, as the example. Lets assume I just got my pull-ups and can now perform between 2-4 pull-ups unbroken regularly. 45 pull-ups would be a disaster for my training if I attempted to complete the volume as Rx. What would be more appropriate is for me to scale the WOD down to 10-6-4. This would provide an appropriate dosage so that I could improve my pull-ups without risk of causing damage or injury.
Over time while practicing my pull-ups outside of class time, I would increase the amount of pull-ups that I would perform in a WOD inching closer to Carla and Dave all while drastically improving my fitness.
I hope this guide helps. It is by no means exhaustive and it is not meant to be taken as law. There are many exceptions to the rule. We all are each individuals and respond to training much differently. That is what makes our job as Coaches both exciting and challenging. If you have any questions on this topic any of our staff can help you. Just come up and ask!