By Coach Tom
Round(s) for time.
RX’d or scaled.
Most of you, if not, all would be familiar with them, but to outsiders these might come across as meaningless jargons. But mind you, even if you have become familiar with those jargons, you might wonder how do they relate to your training and how they could improve your fitness.
Training vs. Exercising
So first thing first. The difference between training and exercising. When we train, we have a goal in mind. Some of you train to run a faster 10k or to be able to clean and jerk 100kg. You don’t just casually walk into the box, pick up a 100kg loaded barbell to clean and jerk as much as you don’t just decide to sign up 21k Bali Marathon weekend hoping to achieve a time as a trained runner. Whether it’s once a week or more, we train with a program that will get us to our goal.
When we exercise, I call this breaking a sweat. Can we get better with exercising. Yes, but to a certain point, after which your gains will hit a plateau. It’s totally fine to just to want to exercise, but training involves commitment, frequency, intensity and most importantly it’s about knowing yourself, where you are today and where you wanna be.
What is intensity, max strength and power?
Lifting a 1RM deadlift has a higher intensity than lifting a 10RM.
Sprinting 100m is more intense than running 5k. Running 5k with shorter time duration all the time increases the intensity of a similar 5k run.
You will recruit more motor units of the muscle contraction with a 1RM than a 10RM deadlift. The person who is able to recruit the necessary motor units to produce the force will hence be the stronger person. This is what we call your maximal strength or absolute strength. Performing a max out 1RM is hence more taxing and more intense overall than 10RM. But max strength is not power.
Power is the ability of the person in recruiting the necessary motor units in the shortest time period. So the faster the lift the higher is the power generation. Have you ever wondered why you can’t clean as much as you deadlift or front squat?
To be able to sprint 100m in under 10 secs require a burst of power and so is a clean.
To bring the bar up to the front rack position requires the production of power. Ever wonder why you can’t even come close to your max deadlift. A clean when performed correctly has to be explosive. The fast hip drive, the pull on the bar and driving the elbow through while receiving the load in a squat or semi squat position require the ability of the body to recruit and activate more motor units in a short period of time than a 1RM deadlift which tends to be much slower comparably. A slow deadlift is still a deadlift. A slow clean will almost always be a failed one.
Think about 100m sprint vs. a 5k run. In a 100m sprint, the person with bigger power output will always win the race.
What’s work capacity and why it’s important?
Work capacity is a direct function of intensity. Work capacity is defined as the amount of weight or load one can move in a specified time. The faster one can move a load or the heavier the load the higher is the intensity.
So taking the example of FRAN which is 21-15-9 of pull ups and thrusters. The person who can complete the workout in the shortest time has a higher work capacity. This is a measurable data point.
Think of a 7 min burpees.
Don’t puke yet.
The person with higher work capacity will get more reps than one who has lower work capacity given the same body weight. So training work capacity means one needs to move the load faster. Hence, speed.
The point on work capacity is how fast can a person recruit or activate the motor units in the muscle to produce the force required and how many motor units or how intensely he can move before fatigue sets in.
And that’s what CrossFit is all about. To build a bigger work capacity.
In the next article, I will talk more about CrossFit as a training method and how to get a bigger engine.