Review of our CrossFit Total – Sun 5.08.16

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Great job everyone this week on the CrossFit Total!  There were a bunch of PRs!  As a gym, together we lifted 13,176 lbs. on Wednesday!   That is what was recorded on the boards (and the only numbers that count…..write your scores up!).

In spite of PR’s-a-plenty, I still had several discussions with people this week about not feeling their strength has progressed as much, not feeling like lifting weights only is actually a workout, and not understanding what a true 1 rep max lift should feel like!  So let’st talk about it a bit.

First, CrossFit is a GPP (general physical preparedness) program.  It’s goal is to increase your strength, cardio, and gymnastics (bodyweight) skills.  You can improve an all three aspects of fitness, but the gains are going to be  much slower than if you focused on one.  But the benefit of not focusing on just one aspect of fitness, is you don’t lose gains in the other two areas.

Second, the CrossFit Total came about because it was observed that people who come to CrossFit from a strength-training background tend to perform better in the key aspects of CrossFit. When you’re stronger, metabolic conditioning (the workout of the day) is easier and endurance stuff (i.e., 5k or 10k runs) is about the same—and workouts like “Diane” (three rounds, at 21-15-9 reps, of 225-pound deadlifts and handstand push-ups) are just not possible without a considerable amount of strength. It is easier for a lifter to improve his or her time on “Diane” than it is for a runner to develop the ability even to finish the workout without scaling it back to a very light weight.

But, the CrossFit Total is a 1RM Test.  Testing your 1RM constantly is not a way to train to build your overall strength.  A 1RM only measures your current strength level.  When programming here’s what you need to know about what I have come to learn about training…

  1. You don’t have to work up to a one rep max to get the full benefit of strength training.
  2. Training within the 90 to 100% range will lead to an increase in your 1RM.
  3. Training is not testing. Displaying strength (going for 1RM) is not always the same as building it.
  4. Using a 2-3RM allows for better recovery, safer training, more frequent sessions, and better muscle gains than 1RMs.
  5. Women, your will not get bulky!

However, after talking to many people this week, it seems like many people know “How” to lift with proper form and mimic the positions very well.  But, when it comes to expressing true strength with that same form and positions, is where many people fall short.

If you didn’t feel like the CrossFit Total, or any max effort lifting that we do at the gym, is a workout, then you may be doing it wrong.

A 1-Repetition Max “PR” is, theoretically, a maximum motor unit recruitment event, an indication of your motor nervous system’s ability to recruit a maximum number of the muscle’s contractile components – and therefore the maximum amount of muscle mass – into a muscular effort.

A 1RM is essentially a combination of your neurological and muscular ability, a display of your maximum force production capacity through the “recruitment” of very high numbers of motor units into contraction. Most authorities reckon that a true 100%-of-motor-unit-recruitment event is impossible, and I’ve seen 95-98% batted around as the most likely cap on neuromuscular efficiency.

The ability to “explode” is the ability to display strength “quickly”, to recruit huge numbers of motor units into contraction in a very short time, and is another way to describe neuromuscular efficiency.

Ultimately, if you perform your 1RM correctly, you should feel like if has contracted every muscle in the body all at once and remained contracting throughout the entire movement.  You should tried to power through, or speed up the movement through the sticking points.  You may see some stars.  You should feel short of breath.  There should be no question that you may or may not be able to do another rep.

If you guys want to work on getting there, let me know and we will make a plan!

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