This is one of my favorite words. It can be used when speaking of so many different things, studying for a test, doing chores, your duties at work, your favorite hobby, etc. But let's look at this word in relation to CrossFit.
Let's analyze two very different WODs we did this past week. On one day we did 100 burpees for time. And on another day, we did the HERO WOD JACK (20-minute AMRAP of 10 push press, 10 kettlebell swings, and 10 box jumps).
I coached classes through both WODs. For the burpees, I recommended picking a pace that you could maintain throughout the entire 100, without stopping. To actually slow the burpee down so it took between 3 and 5 seconds per burpee. The members that could maintain 3 second burpees resulted in scores in the 5 minute range. Members that maintained 5 second burpees were around 8 and a half minutes.
As a coach, what I LOVE to see is someone sticking to the conservative game plan and saying after that they should've gone faster. This allows them to be able to attack the WOD again with confidence and knowing exactly what they can do as far as output. Then possibly cranking it up at the end and even surprising themselves. However, most people do the exact opposite, and come out hard and then fall off around the 50-burpee mark. The result is a longer and more painful WOD.
I was asked a very legitimate question before the WOD started, "Shouldn't we just go hard even if we end up crashing halfway through, resulting in a much harder, tougher WOD?" I LOVE this question. And it is a great one! In my opinion, the answer comes down to efficiency. How can we be most efficient? CrossFit has proven that the more efficient we are, the better outcome we will have. That outcome is measured by performance and metabolic burn at rest (which is really what we want, and the secret sauce to why CrossFit is so effective).
To achieve your best outcome AND to hit an intensity that will yield metabolic burn for hours, the answer is efficiency. And this usually comes down to a plan that allows you to maintain a high level of intensity throughout the entire WOD. Notice I said, throughout the ENTIRE WOD, this is the important part. If we come out too fast, we lose intensity. We have all done this and it's rough. Halfway through a WOD and BAM, we feel we are completely done. So, we slow down A LOT. Once this happens, we are still burning calories, using and activating muscle. Still getting work done and making gains, however, we are sabotaging the extended metabolic benefits we would get if we could've maintained intensity for longer. Those metabolic benefits are the extended burn (up to 36 hours), muscle repair (getting stronger), and muscle growth while decreasing fat.
So, if we look at 100 burpees for time, to be MOST efficient, picking a pace (aka intensity) that we can maintain throughout the entire WOD will yield the best results. There is a special workout that proves this theory. It's the 2k for time, on a rower. I will break that down in another episode of Box Talk.
Let's look at the WOD ‘Jack’ and apply efficiency. This is a HARD WOD. I saw many people attack it in many ways. I stand by my theory and would approach this the same way as I did the burpees. However, in this WOD, we have to be careful picking what weight we use. Now because it is a HERO WOD, I totally understand going RX and hitting walls, and basically doing anything and everything under the sun to do it RX. I get it, I'm guilty. But aside from that, let's analyze it for efficiency purposes.
Picking a weight that allows you to go unbroken on both weighted movements and then do all the box jumps steady, will yield about a 1:05 round. I then recommended some built in rest at that point and picking up the bar again at the 1:25 mark. So basically 1:30 rounds. At the 18-minute mark, no rest, and the final score will be 14. I did this, and I saw another athlete do the exact same thing. It was executed flawlessly by that athlete. However, instead of the 20-25 seconds of rest all at once, she spread it out between the elements. The result was 14+1 RX. Intensity in round 3 looked exactly like round 12. All rounds looked the same. It was incredible to watch. I scaled the weight on both weighted movements to yield a similar score. I felt my intensity was the same throughout the WOD. It was HARD AS %$#@, but maintainable. LOL.
To break up the push press is another option. And build in some rest between the two sets. And this will yield around a 1:30 round. Add some more built in rest, and we are looking about 2 total minutes per round. This is a very popular way to attack the WOD and yields a 10-round score. However, most people just can't hold back. And get 3 rounds done by the 5-minute mark. Remember, this feels heavier to them which is why they are breaking it up. But the adrenaline is making them "get ahead in the beginning". This is often a mistake and the result will be a sub 10 round score.
In both WODs, efficiency played a crucial role. The burpees called for an exact pace, and JACK called for pace and load management. Being efficient in both WODs creates a maintainable intensity, which will yield better scores, but more importantly, hours of metabolic results.
I know, it's a lot of analyzing, and overthinking WODs. But hey, I LOVE breaking down WODs and seeing how we can attack them, not redline, and still smash them. But listen, I ALSO agree there is a time to go all out, check the ego, and let it ride. Those are some of my fondest memories of WODDING. Not knowing how it will feel and finding out the hard way. LOL.
Till next time, eat well, drink water, sleep for 9 hours, and come get some. :)