Monday, March 4, 2013

"Not Since 8th Grade"

A friend, Crusader, comment on the Hero WOD Hamilton:

"50 pullups?  Judas, not since 8th grade."

I suspect that would be a comment many would resonate with except most, myself included, didn't do 50 pullups the entire year of 8th grade, much less in one day or one workout.

And yet, anyone could do Hamilton, using CrossFit's approach of universal scaling.  The idea of a WOD like Hamilton is to throw out something epic, something that anyone would look at, no matter how fit, and think "Whoa."  It's not intended that everyone do this WOD as prescribed.

CrossFit is "constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity."  How much intensity? High intensity relative to the athlete's ability.  Definitely more than you would be expending doing "cardio" at which you could still engage in speech - you should be too breathless and fatigued to discuss anything more complex than what you name is.  But high intensity for a 70 year old athlete isn't the same thing as high intensity for a Games competitor, and most everyone would be somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum, each pushing back on the limits of their work capacity.

What's the goal of this prescription?  Fitness, which could be described as "increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains."  CrossFit's goal is broad, inclusive fitness, which prepares the athlete to be competent in any measure of fitness.  The CrossFit athlete should not be able to compete against a powerlifter in powerlifting, but should easily beat the powerlifter in a long row, run or ride; and would also crush the powerlifter in a short to medium duration event of mixed strength, power, stamina, and intensity (aka a CrossFit WOD).  Hike a mountain covered in snow?  CrossFitter beats the powerlifter.  Climb a tree?  CrossFitter wins.  Run a half mile and deadlift body weight for reps - CrossFitter wins.

My 12 year old son did a version of Hamilton - he did three rounds of row 200m, 15 pushups, run 200m, 15 pullups with bands.  My parents could have done Hamilton - row for 4 minutes to set a benchmark for how many meters they would row each round, do scaled pushups matched to their ability in load and reps (against the wall if necessary), walk ~4 mins, and then do some version of pull-ups.  That might be sitting on the floor with a rope over a pull-up bar raising themselves with their arms as high as possible, or band pulldowns, or ring rows from near standing.

Everyone else would be somewhere in between those extremes.  Perhaps you do 15 pullups instead of 50 so you can finish in under an hour, or do jumping pullups, or do pullups with band assistance. Perhaps one round would be enough - or more than enough.

The point is - start where you are, doing scaled CrossFit, which is the fastest way to become fit enough to do CrossFit bigger/faster/stronger/better.

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