Training Protocol

She's back! The intrepid Ms McVeigh makes her long awaited return to CF West. Great to have you back Molly.

The other day, on the CrossFit Balboa website, I came upon the following quotation referring to professional international rugby (the whole article is here).

…Finally, the physiological load is actually greater in the second half of matches. Players run further in the second half, with more accelerations and short sprints, and there are twice as many impacts in the second half. More time is also spent doing high-intensity running and less time walking in the second half of matches, especially for forwards, which says that play is more continuous in the second half. It’s perhaps not surprising then that scorelines often remain tight for 50 minutes before opening up – the last 30 minutes is where the physiology begins to tell!.

To me, this paragraph is like a bolt of lightning.  It completely knocks traditional strength and conditioning training on its side.  Traditional strength and conditioning training consists of working a given attribute when that attribute is strongest. Having strength days and separate speed days, for example.

Yet, the above paragraph clearly states that the second half has the greater physiological demand (and psychological demand, one would presume).  Thus, the need for speed, endurance, stamina, agility, strength, for power, is greater when one is already fatigued.

My question then is why not train that way?

One of the first (of many) CrossFit workouts to drew the ire of the traditional strength and conditioning world was one involving sprints and very heavy deadlifts.  The argument against such a workout is that one cannot lift near max weight if one is fatigued from the sprints and one cannot sprint near max capacity if one is fatigued from the deadlifts.  Thus, goes the argument, by doing such a workout, one would never be working near maximum capacity.  And the argument is completely correct. You can’t lift your heaviest if you are at high heartrate from the sprints, and you can’t sprint your fastest if your muscles are tired from heavy deadlifts.

But, and this is a big one folks, outside of powerlifting, weightlifting, and track, there is not a sport that measures success by a weight number or a sprint time.  It is the combination of the two attributes, and the ability to apply that combination in a situation with constantly changing variables that matters.  In other words, it is the rugby player’s ability to move fast and hit hard while fatigued, and do it over and over again that is what counts.  Not their max deadlift number or sprint time.

Looking at rugby play, we see lots of direction changes, short sprints and accelerations, coupled with hard impacts and hits, driving pushes and static exertions. To me, that sounds a lot like the demands facing a firefighter in a burning building, a cop engaged in an urban foot pursuit ending in a scuffle or fight, a Marine clearing a compound, and any number of sports.  None of these situations feature a heavy lift or a sprint in a vacuum.

The genius of CrossFit as a strength and conditioning program for both sport and the ‘real world’ is its refusal to break fitness down into its individual attributes, but rather to focus on an organic holism that both replicates and is replicated by play on the field and pitch, and by action on the streets.

Please post thoughts to Comments.

Workout:

1 Deadlift

50m Sprint

2 Deadlifts

100m Sprint

3 Deadlifts

200m Sprint

2 Deadlifts

100m Sprint

1 Deadlift

50m Sprint

Rest 3 minutes and repeat.

Use 85% 1RM for the first round, and 70% 1RM for the second round.