Monday, July 11, 2011

Embracing the (MetCon) Addiction

Well then...DON'T!

True story:  The thought of doing this blog post came to me while I was in the middle of doing the (pain of the) named Crossfit workout called "Nancy". Apparently, I don't run fast enough to stop thinking.  I gotta work on that.

Back Story:  Recently, Jocelyn Forest, Crossfit games competitor and a well established Oly lifter, wrote an awesome article entitled Kicking the (metcon) Habit.  If you haven't read it, I highly suggest you do.  THIS article will be the antithesis to it, but not because one is needed (it's clearly not), but because I 100% agree with what Jocelyn says.  Kinda.

Embracing the MetCon Habit

It seems like there's been a bit of a backlash against "metabolic conditioning"; these things always seem to be in a pendulum, be it kettle bells (old school Russia!), 70's style powerlifting, or suspension training (my grandmother had one in her basement in 1975.  And it wasn't called a TRX).  Metcon, or what's better known as metabolic conditioning, is the catch-all, oft abused, always misunderstood label that Crossfit has adopted.  Oh, it was around before CF, but 'ol Greggy took it and ran (as fast as he could) with it.  It now, unofficially, is used to explain the format of training which effectively hits all energy pathways.  Don't send me email on that, either.  I'd just like to point out that is NOT my tag, baby.  The concern I have with the perceived backlash is that there's a boatload of folks who should not be leaving the boat.

Jocelyn does a kick-ass job of explaining, from her experiences why one should "kick" the metcon habit.  Hell, I've even seen the effects myself (not me, but in others).  I'd also like to point out a quote I've quoted before: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results".  This will flick on a light bulb later.

I'm a big fan of metabolic conditioning.  Not only metcon, but the metcon format Crossfit uses.  BIG fan.  (I know, there's gasps in the crowd.  Stick with me, faithful readers.)  Why?  Shit works, bro.  And it works WELL.  You can take any type of athlete from any background and design a metabolic conditioning program or various movements at various intensities and time domains, and I'll guarantee they'll respond.  Now, there's a helluva lot of variables in there to as HOW an athlete will respond, proper programming being probably close to the top.  But you can NOT deny the fact that a new stimulus performed in short (20min/less) duration at high intensity is not going to positively affect work capacity.  In a GPP format.<---That's kinda key.

By GPP, I'm talking General Physical Preparedness, aka cardio, aka gas tank, aka endurance.  The vast majority of the people I see (let's call them "Generalists") never even come close to reaching the limit on their GPP.  Why?  I'll tell you why:
You take the Ten Domains of Fitness:

1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
2. Stamina
3. Strength
4. Flexibility
5. Power
6. Speed
7. Agility
8. Balance
9. Coordination
10. Accuracy

And you couple that with the plethora of movements that Crossfit uses (KBS, OHS, C&J, Running, Jumping, Ring work, bar work, bodyweight movements in 8 different horizontal planes, plyometrics including skipping/double unders, uneven load movement {sandbags, unilateral lifts, odd object lifts}, Pulling....etc etc), and you have a nearly INFINITE combination of movements to master in all ten domains of fitness.  Despite what we want to believe, we are ALL stuck on the second level, folks.  In fact, there is no top end to that.  I agree with the hierarchy of the pyramid, but mastery does not come into play in S & C.

Now I want to clarify I'm still talking about Generalists.  When a MMA athlete or triathlete walks through the door, he/she is looking for something different.  They are top-of-the-pyramid people, and have different needs; aka "Specialists".  I've spoken about that before.  Periodization and Sport Specificity.

But back to Generalists.  When someone starts to hit the wall, shit the bed, throwing themselves out with the trash, or whatever, they do not "need to break the metcon addiction".  They do need to analyze what they are doing, what they are not doing, and why they are fucked up.  And, if they are over-reaching, having a coach identify it before it becomes a nasty pit of over-training and/or injury.I totally, 100% agree with Jocelyn here:  Doing More Isn't Always Better, If Ever.

The thing is, though, it's pretty damn rare an athlete gets there.  If you stop and actually think of the thousands of Crossfit affiliates, and the hundreds of thousands of members training each and every week, burnout, injury, and over-training are not epidemic.  In fact, it's pretty low.  I'm going to go back and re-visit my reasoning as to why:

There's so many domains and so many skillsets to work on that a vast majority of folks are ALWAYS working inefficient technique, and do not reach high enough intensity to overtrain.

Can you get to the point where Wall Ball Shots become a recovery movement and you're thinking of doing three-a-days instead of two-a-days?  Yes, congratulations on becoming a high-level strength and conditioning athlete to a stopwatch.  Now get a coach and work on sport specificity before you either get burnt out and switch to Oly lifting or run yourself into the ground. :)

Various Training

 June 22nd, CFLA, 1PM
5 Rds
400m run
15 OHS 95#
13:51.  Happy with the time, and the creative thought process that 400m sprints bring around.

June 28th, CFLA, 1PM
"300 "
25 pullups
50 deadlifts 135
50 pushups
50 box jumps 24"
50 floor wipers 135
50 1-arm KB clean and  press 35lbs         
25 pullups 
15:53.  Haven't done this one in literally years.  Nice grind.

June 28th, CFLA, 12PM
Snatch High Pulls to 175#
8 Rds, 200m run, 20 air squats, 1min rest
15:19.  True intervals.  Love 'em.

July 2nd, Firehall#1, 11AM
AMRAP 1 min, then 1/2 amount x5 rds
This was a circuit consisting of pullups, Goblet Squats, Situps, Deadlifts, and rowing.  We started with 5, but then 3 guys left on a EMS call.  I did 30/15/15/10/10 on the pullups, said "fuck that!" and then did the rest in a 1min circuit.  Following it up with some sets of 135# hang power clean/front squat complex.  FUBAR'd my right arm for the next week, couldn't straighten it out.  Weird.

July 7th, Lethbridge Coulees
16+km mountain bike
This was one of those "holy fuck I have to ride!" moments; I literally got up from the computer (working on nutrition stuff) and bolted.  Felt totally awesome.  Unfortunately, I *won't* be competing in the 24 Hours of Adrenaline again this year; I had to give up the spot on the team due to the fact I take possession of my new house that week.  Totally sucks, because the team is the bomb, and it's a crazy fun race.

July 8th, CFLA, 1PM
AMRAP 225# High Bar Back Squat w/ 7 Burpee Box Jump (20")
5 Rounds, max rest per round, untimed. 
Needed something to blast the legs, as my left arm was still fubar'd from a week ago from my pullup fiasco. Lack of sleep (3hrs total) left me NOT wanting to chase a clock.