In my first ever high school track meet, I was in the 400 meter final. The stands were packed with all eyes on the eight of us lined up to race. The gun went off and I exploded out of the blocks and had a solid 20 meter lead over the field half way around the track; the crowd was going crazy. I quickly experienced what ‘hitting the wall’ means and barely survived the remainder of the race in 7th place.
Even though it is a race that lasts less than a minute, you can’t simply sprint 400 meters. Just as you can’t simply sprint through a Crossfit WOD.
For those of us that can’t blaze through every rep of every Crossfit WOD unbroken (and even some of you who can), the strategy of how you approach the workouts in the upcoming 2012 Crossfit Open can have a huge impact on your placing. So, here are a few tips to help you approach each open WOD with a critical eye and hopefully gain you some free seconds and a few placings.
Remember to distinguish between training and competing. The goal for every open WOD is simple: get the most work done in the allotted time or as fast as possible. Those that do best are the ones that are able to dare I say it…pace themselves.
Pacing in Crossfit? Are you kidding me?
I’m not taking about pacing as in a leisurely stroll. I am talking about finding that magical pace where you are right up against your ‘redline’ right before the engine is gonna blow, but never crossing it. There is nothing leisurely or comfortable about this ‘pace’.
So what does this mean for the Crossfit Open?
- Know where your redline is?
Let’s take the pullup portion of the 100′s WOD from the 2011 Regionals. I watched Camille Leblanc-Bazinet hop on the bar and click out 50 reps, then 25, then another 25…she made it look easy. I have no doubt that she could have done more than 50 before coming off the bar. I also have no doubt that she know before the 3-2-1 go that 50, 25, 25 was the quickest way to get through the hundred pullups while minimizing the negative impact on the remainder of the workout.
2. Play Your Game
It is easy when you have your judge encouraging / screaming at you to want to push a little harder. Don’t make the mistake of redlining early in the workout by letting that extra rep or two push you over the edge. Have a game plan ready for the WOD in terms of how many reps for each movement you can do unbroken before hitting the wall. Then, try to stick pretty close to your game plan regardless of what is going on around you. Adrenaline will enhance your performance, but it will not turn you into Rich Froning overnight.
3. Minimize rest vs. maximizing reps
For the most part, a large rep for a specific movement will take the same amount of time for the large majority of crossfitters. Rest is what becomes the biggest variable that separates competitors. Putting the kettlebell down one rep earlier may save you 5 seconds with your hands on your knees and add 3 reps before you have to rest again.
As an example, I recently did a workout for the second time that started with 50 kettlebell swings. The first go, I completed all the swings unbroken but was dead before moving on to the next movement. Second time around, I broke the 50 into 20-20-10. I came off the kettlebell swings 4 seconds faster much less fatigued for the next movement, and saved 2 minutes overall on the WOD. This is a case where the 1st time around was great for training while the second time would have been better for a competition.
4. Know Thyself
It is great to experiment with ‘gaming’ occasionally while working out to find the your ‘redline’ rep ranges for each exercise. It is also fun to experiment after a workout with a single movement with different rep combinations.
As an example schedule a few times a week where you will do 50 pullups (or more…should be at least double your max number) after a WOD. Experiment with different rep combinations (20-20-10, 5 x 10, 25-15-10) and see which one is the fastest. It will help you:
- find the best rep combination for you
- get in the habit off listening to your body and knowing where your redline is
- add a little extra volume to your pullups as an added bonus
A little bit of strategy combined with some homework has the potential to gain you some free time in the upcoming Crossfit Open.
Until Next Time. MetCon5 Crossfit Training Journals.
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