CrossFit: What’s With All the Standing Around, Anyway?

This week we have the answer for two of the most common questions that we get concerning CrossFit. You may have watched CrossFit classes out of the corner of your eye thinking ‘Those people are so lazy’ or perhaps you tried out a CrossFit class and afterwards you thought ‘Well, that was easy.’ 

Let’s dive into these misconceptions. If we translate them into question form than we can ask these two, seemingly different, questions:
1) Why are the workouts so short?
2) Isn’t CrossFit suppose to destroy me?

I say ‘seemingly different’ because the answer is the same for both:
CrossFit programs for POWER.

What do we mean by power? Let’s take a time machine back to our school days…

Definition of Work
Work = Force x Distance
Let’s just say you grabbed a bag of dog food from the garage to move into the pantry because you emptied the old one. How much did the bag of dog food weigh? How far did you carry it? Multiply them together and you just calculated the amount of work you just accomplished.

Definition of Power
Power = Work / Time
Power takes into account the time it took to do work. Using the previous example, if it took you five minutes to move the bag of dog food from the garage to the pantry then you divide the work you did by the five minutes it took. You now have the amount of power you generated moving the bag of dog food.
Now let’s say your teenage son wants to mess with you and move the bag back to the garage. We don’t know why he does such things but just go with it. If your son moves the bag back in four minutes then he did it in less time (four versus your five). We can then say that your son produced more power then you did. All other variables being equal of course.
Now, assuming that you both tapped out your potential to move the bag as fast as you could then we can also say that your son is more fit then you are.

Because we correlate power and fitness together.
Increases in power equals increases in fitness.

If you find that you can move a heavier bag of dog food the same distance in the same amount of time
then you have gotten more fit!
If you find that you can move the same bag of dog food the same distance in less time
then you have gotten more fit!
If you find that you can move the same bag of dog food a longer distance in the same amount of time
then you have gotten more fit!

Okay. So far, so good. Got it. But how does that apply to the questions above?
Let’s take the second question first: ‘Isn’t CrossFit suppose to destroy me?’

If a CrossFit class wasn’t ‘hard enough’ then there could be multiple reasons why:

    • You aren’t yet proficient/efficient at the movements. Keeping the example of moving a bag of dog food we could ask some questions. How did you pick up the bag? Perhaps you could have figured out a way to pick it up better. How did you hold it when you carried it? Maybe there is a better way to carry it. When technique isn’t quite there it can cause you to be slower than your potential power output is capable of.
    • You are not going heavy enough. It’s possible, wether you knew it or not, that you could have lifted heavier weights. Your dog is no longer a puppy, your bag of dog food got heavier and all of a sudden you are exerting more energy than you used to. That concept in mind, let’s say a workout was programmed to be heavy and you didn’t go heavy enough. You may feel like it was an underwhelming workout because you were working at a power output that was farther under your potential. Again, maybe you chose lighter weights because you are working on technique or perhaps because its because you grab a twenty pound dumbbell for snatches because that is always what you’ve done, not knowing you could have gone heavier. Either way, you didn’t reach your potential power output.
    • You were cruising. It’s possible that you don’t know how to push yourself according to differing workout timeframes. You had the correct technique and you chose the correct weights but you cruised. Think of a marathon runner competing in a hundred meter sprint…and running at the same pace. Your pace should change depending on the duration of the workout. If your pace was under your potential power output for that duration then once again, underwhelming will it feel.

However, if you have good technique AND you chose the right weights for the stimulus of the workout AND you pace according to the workout duration. Thats when you have an awesome workout.

Question 1? Why are CrossFit WODs short? Often times anywhere between 5-15 minutes? Once again the answer is power output. We’ve already gone over time though so we’ll leave that one for next time…

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