Finding Preferred Modality

Some of us tend to have a bias towards task priority (“for time”) and time priority (EMOM, AMRAP) workouts. Over the last 5 years I noticed my tendency to prefer certain programming styles. During my crazy travel schedule I experimented following programming from various boxes and settled for Invictus most of the time. The extensive use of EMOMs during weightlifting sessions and Metcons keep cadence and focus outside the gym.

I noticed that I prefer time priority workouts outside of Benchmark WODs. AMRAPS and EMOMs allow for various athletic abilities to complete the task at the same time while allowing for more and less intensity during the workout. EMOMs in particular I found much higher intensity than the second half of a long WOD.

Being in Europe in the summer I found several gyms that program mostly for time priority and still have immense workload and intensity. It reminds me of visiting a gym 5 years ago that had a week of Tabatas and argued that nothing beats 4-6 tabatas in a row under 20 minutes.

Closeup of athlete holding kettlebell weight

Closeup of athlete holding kettlebell weight

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Putting the Long Run Back in CrossFit

Back in the good old days of the first CrossFit Games, circa 2007, there was a lot of  WOD programming of long runs (and the requisite debate about them). Almost a decade later even bumper stickers proudly announce the 0.25 distance so common in our sport.

As we are getting ready for the next CF Open (I’m looking at you overhead lunges), I decided to plan out my long runs for the summer. Spartan Trifectas, 10 milers, city obstacle runs and even great mountain hikes could add a great variety to life in the box. Most importantly I get to finally dust off my 2012 CF Endurance training manual…

With that, I’m heading next week to my favorite run on Montara mountain in Half Moon Bay. Already registered for the Broad Street Run, a Spartan and just maybe a hike in Tibet.

But for now, time to tackle 16.1

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So What Can an Average CrossFitter Do?

I was watching the highlights from the Regionals with a friend when he popped a question that I didn’t have a good answer for: “Every sport has elite players, but what can the average CrossFitter do?”. With millions entering the sport and hundreds of thousands participating in the Open – it is hard to have an exact answer. Each box tracks their own members’ performance but what is the average across regions, ages and experience levels?

Until we find the perfect answer I found an imperfect one that could serve as a good proxy. I looked at key movements in Beyond the Whiteboard where at least 10,000 athletes posted to get a better statistical distribution. Again, no science here as we cannot control the demographics of submissions but the results are still quite insightful. Recognizing that no single person is equally strong or weak in both gymnastics, weightlifting and monostructural movements (meaning the average Joe/Jane may not exist), still here is the

Profile of the Average CrossFitter:

Weightlifting maxes of 50th percentile Crossfitter (male/female)

  • Power Clean:  205 / 121 lbs
  • Bench Press 230 / 110 lbs
  • Back Squat  293 / 174 lbs
  • Deadlift    365 / 220 lbs

Gymnastic maxes of 50th percentile Crossfitter (male/female)

  • Max unbroken pullups   25  / 13

Monostructural maxes of 50th percentile Crossfitter (male/female)

  • Row 500m     1:36 / 1:57
  • Row 2000m    7:44 / 8:57
  • Run 1 mile    6:56 / 8:14

Benchmarks of 50th percentile Crossfitter (male/female)

  • Fran   5:51 / 7:00
  • Grace   3:48 / 4:27

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Top 4 Lessons from 4 Years of CrossFit

I reflected on what made CrossFit such a great experience for me for the last 4 years considering I’m not a competitive athlete and certainly not #gamesbound. There are these 4 lessons I found made this sport better than anything I have experienced before:

1. Try different coaches and many boxes

For most of us our local box becomes like second family. What I learned though that for my athletic development different coaches and gyms could provide new and refreshing perspective and coaching. CFKOP and CFDV gave me a great foundation. CF Central London fixed my muscle up, CF Thames worked on my overhead squats and introduced me to competitor training, CF Munich made sprinting central to my training, Paul Bunyan reconstructed my olympic lifts, CF Beijing gave me the best ever mobility routine. The point is, the more varied expert perspective you get on your training, the better you will become.

2. Keep a training log and celebrate progress

I’m always amazed when athletes do not keep logs. Keeping score not only makes us improve our skills, it also reminds us how much CrossFit actually improves fitness. When I was running long distance my 10K splits barely got better in 10 years. In CrossFit all my metrics are moving up constantly. It is such a confidence boost to look at my Oly lifts or Hero WOD scores from 4 years ago vs today. Who was that person back then? If anyone asks why Crossfit, I show them my PR chart going back for years.

3. Surround yourself with high performers

A lesson that is true as much in CrossFit as it is in life. If your friends become people who do not give up, do not complain, set goals and reach them – you will be challenged to never give up either. As you step out from your normal group of friends and colleagues and know people from all walks of life who are as dedicated and passionate about self improvement as you are – you actually change the way you look at the world.

4. There is more to life than CrossFit

It is easy to be caught up in talking, drinking and dreaming CF all the time (and a sure way to turn off non-Crossfitters). The best way to be a CrossFitter is to transcend the WOD and bring the attitude, determination and passion to new sports, activities and other aspects of our lives. Tackling our todo list, personal challenges and our job as a WOD will benefit us way beyond the Box walls.

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The Disappearing Open Gym Drop-in

As boxes get larger and busier efficiency dictates that the coaches focus more on standardizing the WODs and have less time for individual programming. While this is relatively easy to address in your local box – working post-WOD on a few skills – but when traveling extensively it becomes quite hard.

Years ago I could just drop in a box for a WOD in a city like New York and hang around for a few sets of whatever goat I was working on (HSPU, pistols or some lifts at the time). This week I tried this with several NYC boxes and they simply could not accommodate this Open Gym-time any more due to their immense traffic. And I do not blame them. With class sizes reaching 20+ and sessions in peak times running in parallel, it is hard enough to pay attention to the proper form of your athletes.

The irony of it all became that after an outstanding WOD at CFNYC I walked over to a nearby globo gym to finish my prescribed Catalyst skill training for the day. In the process I found a great service called FitDayPass that allows -wait for it – drop-ins at dozens of traditional gyms in Manhattan.

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