Adaptation and Silly Names For Exercises

CrossFit WOD ( Monday 01.12.2009)
For time 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, and 5 rep rounds of:
-Virtual shoveling

I enjoy being around the intensity and ferocity that most of these guys exhibit in overcoming their self-inflicted metabolic onslaughts, but today I was more interested in observing how they approached and reacted/evaluated the WOD. Part of this was because I still think there might be too many people out there overly obsessed with doing things in order to get an "RX'd" score and by doing so end up overlooking and missing some of the most potent catalysts of human adaptation. I want to keep this post concise and to the point so people can get more out of what I am talking about here and hopefully give me some insight into what they think.

In my observation of Jefe and Enrique I noticed they were both acutely aware that something was amiss when they heard the words "Virtual Shovelling" in the role call of movements for the WOD. The average Crossfitter's response to something completely "new" should always be "this is bad" or some other dire expression of fear. Most comments didn't even address how difficult it might be to simply hold onto this bar, and instead centered around rules and standards which probably provide less than :10 seconds deviation in time. I am not saying that there is no value in defining and adhering to a standard of performance, but it always seems to cause the exclusion of some discussions that could really advance understanding of how the human adapts to environmental stress. This is something CrossFit uses in its programming and I find it strange that a community of "contrarians" and trouble makers wouldn't be questioning EVERYTHING about ... well ... everything.

The virtual shoveling was something that immediately made me think of things considered part of the "monostructural" family of CrossFit exercises. Additional unique aspects of this movement involve (but are definitely not limited to): a balancing act of constantly changing difficulty, segments of movement that prevent proper alignment over hips, adjustment of hand position under heavy load, manipulation of a load through all 3 planes of movement, and the constant adjustments needed to control your ability to accelerate and decelerate the bar (made profoundly difficult by all the previous factors and the addition of "time priority" efforts in the WOD). Oh yeah, don't forget pull-ups.

The guys were kicking around the idea of scaling the WOD which showed me they were starting to really understand how we want to analyze everything to maximize gains. They were right on in suggesting we do nothing to the load or the number of sets and instead just wanted to have reps counted different (which ended up shortening of the V.S. sets but left output and workload in their control). We used the milk crates because it added to the time spent moving the load while holding a stabilized midline. Overall I was very impressed with what these guys did inside their heads and it shows how great this atmosphere is to train in. Mental control and willpower would play a balanced role in the success of this workout much more than "effort" as defined by itself. The ability to push past "limits" is a trait of champions and CrossFitters alike, but there was something else that became apparent in the workout and it should definitely be shared.

Breaking down the two athletes: Jefe went first and started faster while still able to maintain his pace through the 30 rep sets, and almost all the way to the 20's. This only hurt his performance in that he had to stop and suck air to keep from throwing up, but was could have done more good than evil because of his ability to rapidly recover and from sets of 20 on down he never slowed and finished at a milestone that means more than just his timed score (which was also excellent). Jefe did something new with himself by forcing a precise approach over the course of a non-definable period of time to the precipice of his ability. Going harder or longer by minute increments would force him beyond a capacity to maintain output, and in essence forces him into the land where "Pukie" lives with his whore that I like to call the "Involuntary Mechanisms of Instinctual Survival". I personally feel that the ability to continue moving out onto that precepice Jefe found is a skill that affords performance and adaption progression rates that are unparalelled.

Once Jefe was done he had a pretty awed look on his face and agreed with me that this was a vastly different type of stress than experienced previously. Please note that he thought it was a totally different stress, not just an elevated level of something he had experienced before. I truly feel that level of precision and maximal output can be an amazing demonstration of potenital in attaining Elite levels of human performance.

I am not taking anything away from Enrique either, because he had already been flirting with his exertion limit since the beginning. The difference is that Jefe has a background that required him to perform regular high level physical exertion. Over time he adapted to the level of output required and his body responded by making things easier to accomplish. The downside to this is that his Ferrari was given a "govorner", which sort of describes how the mind functions in homeocentric ways by giving a little performance increase in return for an ease up in the whole effort and pain thing. CrossFit loves to screw with this secret deal the subconcious mind seems to make, and is where all the potent results seem to come from. .

By contrast Enrique was coming from a weightlifting background which afforded him experience in high level exertion as well, but in the context of intermittent bursts. This is why he has been constantly running up to that precipice and slapping it before turning around and heading back to the unconditionally loving arms of the oxidative pathway. This effect reaps huge training benefits and when athletes come to CrossFit and find success it might be attributed to this kind of experience at first. Eventually we all want to find what Jefe discovered, and it never seems to get easier to replicate. Enrique hasn't even been training for too long with us but I get a lot of comments from his peers about how "insane it seems that his fitness could improve like that so fast."

These guys are both on quite a journey and it's great to see others starting to make little pilgrimages to join the ranks.
On an end note I want to reinforce that scaling workouts is never to make them easier. It exists as a way for ANY individual to elicit the same amazing response from training (think metabolic pathways and the 10 aspects of fitness) based on the variance that exists between one person and the next. For some reason scaling has become a bad word that means you are out of shape or something... weird, it always made me think of fish.

Training Summaries That I Refuse Let Escape
MMA Fight Team: Began with a dowel warm-up of mixed Olympic Lift Sequences and Fundamental Movement Types/ Primary WOD was a 15:00 Time Trial explained as a run to cover as much distance as possible andholding a pace you can maintain for duration but at a level where increasing speed or output causes failure. This scoring data is critical in it's ability to exponentially increase the effect of tailoring pace, output, and rest in sequential formats of "monostructural" training days.

CrossFitters @ Dartmouth: Check out this online logbook for a group of CrossFitters at Dartmouth. The guy on there named Mike just came down after finding out about us through CrossFit.com.
He ripped apart an old PR and set 4:02 as his top performance in the WOD described below.
Complete 5 rounds for time of
5 x Deadlift (275 lbs)
10 x Burpees (CF Games regulation style of quads and chest touch ground during bottom of push-up & 10'' jump at top with clap = 1 rep)

I think it is safe to say he had a good time and we were honored to be a part of his first WOD to prepare for the CrossFit Games regional qualifier. He also now knows that there is a great support network here of guys that have similar aspirations.
The Dartmouth blog/logbook is Mike's sort of a team journal, and I thought it was a good idea and that some of you might get some possible inspiration from it.

Be like him and go write your goddamn scores down, will you?!

Enrique Rides Alone: He got a pretty nice surprise in feeling how easy running a 5k has become. He ran the 5k Mainsite Time Trial (with the same principle that Nuri used) and came out with a great score of: 23:40
Pretty badass to then follow that up with a performance like the one he exhibited on Monday. This guy has come FAR since I first met him, and he hasn't let up once yet. Unlike Frank and his pretzels.

I already mentioned John W. and Melissa coming down in near freezing weather just to listen to my "raised in the wild" form of instruction (only formally CrossFit educated recently haha) It was great to see them both as some of the first pilgrims to CrossFit NH. I already knew Melissa from awhile ago, and John was chill and ready to roll as soon as he got here. Melissa should hopefully be shuddering from so many snatch and OH squat reps and have at least some pop-eye forearms from finally learning a more efficient way of doing them. John jumped right into the Oly Lifts as well picked things up very quickly, he is kind of like me and usually CrossFit's alone. I am way taller though, so it's not the same.

John, did you do any of the crazy ass Pull-up wods? I've got something about those for you specifically by the way, hope to see you soon.

P.S. I like the shirt, Jefe ... it is my dream job.


Kevin Daigle said...

I havent yet done this WOD, but I have done VS before. It is extremely difficult, much more so than you could ever imagine prior to having tried it. It's a killer workout and teaches you well how to fight the pain.

BamBam said...

That guy Patrick you sent down was great. We did some front squats... we were basically trying to find out a max for 5 reps before form was sh*t. I ended at 200lbs. The other guys will have to give you there weight. I thing little John ended at 185.

We then did a circuit style thing for 12 min as many rounds as possible.

it was dumbel cleans, lunges with one dumbel over head, burpee to broad jump for about 45 yards, then lung walk with dumbel in other hand. is one round.

My self and Patrick got about 3.25 rounds. Doug and his cousin got 2 rounds. John gave his inhaler 100 reps.

The guest trainers have brought a good mix of skills. keep up the good work.

Stay Creepy.


BamBam said...

My phone just died while we we're talking... I'm down for some crossfit games... as long as it involves laughing in the face of the losers.