Congratulations! You’ve all just completed our PR (Personal Record)/ max lift week. For many of you, this may be the first time you’ve attempted (or tracked) your one rep maxes. Here’s some information on what to do with those new numbers and how you should train with them moving forward.
We just maxed out our lifts, what does that mean for my training moving forward and how should I approach workouts?
For many, the training you did leading up to max out week has paid off! You’ve achieved a few PRs or gotten really close to a previous PR. That’s a great sign! But what does it mean? It means that your body has become stronger and you are ready to train heavier and at a higher intensity level.
Why do certain workouts call for different percentages of weight?
New maxes mean new percentages to work off of during the Strength sections of class. In classes, you’ll see our strength work appear in three main formats: dynamic efforts, volume/endurance efforts, and max efforts.
Dynamic Efforts: (ex. OTM 12, 3 push press @ 70%)
The focus is on speed. We’ll work at percentages between 60-75% of your 1RM. Stick to these percentages and do not increase the weight unless the coach instructs you to do so. Go much heavier, and you’ll be moving too slowly and working an entirely different group of muscle fibers.
Volume/Strength Endurance Efforts: (ex. 4×10 reps deadlift)
The focus is on accumulating reps and density. While there usually aren’t percentages attached to this format, we want you to be successful (complete all the prescribed reps unbroken) on all sets. Start at a weight you know you can hit the rep scheme, then progressively load each set accordingly. All sets should be tough.
Max Efforts: (ex. Every 2 minutes, 5-3-3-2-2-1 Front Squat. The coach will leave time before the clock starts to warm up to the opening set of 5).
The focus is on lifting your heaviest for that day, not necessarily a personal record. Using your PR as a baseline is a good starting point, but you should also listen to how your body is feeling on the specific day.
What about Metcons?
Just like we do in strength training (above), it’s important to scale your metcons appropriately in order to achieve the specific goal and intention of the workout. The coaches spend time thinking about and programming workouts that will make you better, faster, and stronger. We also take the time to learn about you as an athlete; what your strengths are, what you need to work on, your range of motion and mobility, your conditioning level, your injuries, your attitude towards workouts, etc. Taking all of those things into consideration and recognizing that every class has a range of ability levels, we design every workout to be entirely scale-able for any level of athlete (scaled, RX, RX+).
It’s our goal as coaches to make you better movers. We care about form and safety first! Always. It’s our job to guide you in the right directions when it comes to scaling. We will push you to be better, whether that means challenging you to a tougher modification or telling you to scale down the weight. There is always a reason behind it. Listen to your coaches! We have your best interest in mind. If you’re unsure what weight or scaling option to choose, don’t hesitate to ask your coach. That’s exactly what we’re here for!
It’s about safety, preserving the quality of movement, and achieving the appropriate stimulus for the workout. Safety becomes less of an issue if form is correct. Contrary to what many believe, “technique is NOT the enemy of intensity. By focusing on proper mechanics and full range of motion for any movement, you actually increase work capacity by maximizing power output.” (Tabata Times, July 2012). In turn, it’s easier to achieve the desired effect of the workout. Choose the weight, assistance, scale, or modification that you can hold yourself accountable while still moving well. Poor form does not make you better.
When to Scale…
First, ask yourself or the coach what the purpose of the workout is. What should the intensity level be? Should reps be unbroken or is the WoD designed so that you need to break up the rep scheme? What is the time cap? What is the end goal of the workout? Don’t get hung up on the RX (prescribed weight). Think of the prescribed weights and movements as guidelines for the “average” athlete who has been CrossFitting for 12+ months. Going RX is NOT the goal in most cases. Remember, the first priority is to move well and to move consistently. The coach can guide you in the right direction. As a rule of thumb, though, if you aren’t doing a WoD RX’d (scaling up or down) then you shouldn’t be able to do all the reps in a given set unbroken. Push yourself to be challenged but successful.
We’ve provided some scaling options for a few example workouts at the end of this note. Please take some time to read through these options to understand why an individual may want to scale up or scale down on some of the movements.
What can you take away from this?
Ultimately, “you want to challenge yourself, but at the end of the day it’s important that you can leave the gym under your own power, feeling good and ready to come back the next day for more. Moving heavy weight or moving your body inefficiently and inconsistently for repeated reps just to say you did RX is asking for trouble.” (BoxLife Magazine, June 2014). With the help of your coaches, tailor each and every workout to you, so that you can maintain quality of movement and intensity while also keeping safety in mind.
Congratulations on your new Personal Records! Keep working hard, training smart, and having fun! See you in class!
5 hang power cleans 135/95 (RX+ 155/115)
10 toes to bar
The goal of this workout is to get as many reps as possible in 10 minutes. The low rep scheme of the hang power cleans indicates that they should be unbroken, so choose a weight that you can consistently move for 5 reps at a time and for 10 minutes total (it should still be tough). Whether that means scaling down to 85 pounds because 95 is just out of reach, or scaling up to 155 pounds because 135 is a little too easy and wouldn’t challenge you at all. Toes to bar should be the full range of motion for all reps. While these do not necessarily need to be unbroken, choose a modification/scale that you can move consistently and hold yourself accountable to the movement standard for the entire time frame. If you’ve only ever gotten 3 toes to bar RX, then you should not do toes to bar in this workout since you are required to do 10 reps at a time. Think about scaling down to knees to elbows or hanging knee raises.
For Time CAP 15
30 air squats
40 toes to bar
50 wallballs 20/14 (RX+ 30/20)
60 American kettle bell swings 53/35 (RX+ 70/53)
70 double unders
The goal of this workout is to complete all (or most of) the work in 15 minutes or less. You should be moving consistently, although the rep schemes are not designed for you to go unbroken (pullups, toes to bar, wallballs, kb swings). Band the pullups as necessary, but keep in mind that 20 reps is a lot more than 2 reps. If you usually use a blue band for pullup skill work, you may need to add a red band for the larger number of reps so you can maintain getting your chin over the bar. If you normally use a green or black band, ring rows might be a better alternative. Again, hold yourself to the range of motion (chin over the bar, arms lock out at the bottom of the rep). If you can’t hit that standard consistently, scale down. For wallballs and kettlebell swings, choose a weight that you can get at least 8-10 reps at a time, always achieving the standards (hitting the target and reaching full squat depth for wallballs, full lockout overhead for kettlebell swings). For double unders, always give them a shot! If you have them, do them. If you sometimes have them, maybe mixed in with some singles along the way, do them (but don’t count the singles). If you sometimes have them, but it’s just not working after 5-ish attempts, modify to singles. If you don’t have them at all, the WoD is not the time to practice them, do singles. Remember, we want to preserve the stimulus (purpose) of the workout.