I am sure I have written this post before, but I will do it again because it needs repeating. DON’T SKIP HEAVY DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!
How strongly do I believe this? The ALL CAPS doesn’t make that clear? Well, I believe it enough that I haven’t written a blog post in more than 6 months and here I sit, writing a blog post after 90% of the gym decided not to show up to Thursday’s Snatch session. I am sure a few of you had excuses like it was your rest day, Thursdays are for happy hour (everyone knows that), or you were brought to tears every time you sneezed from Tuesday’s sit-ups. Some of these are sort of valid (not really).
However, I have a sneaking suspicion that many people skipped it because they are Metcon Queens or they are bad at the Snatch (which is akin to saying someone skipped a workout because they are out of shape). They think CrossFit is all about high rep bodyweight work with the occasional row and thruster thrown in.
There is a decent argument to be made that, in addition to the very broad concept of “intensity,” CrossFit’s primary contribution to fitness was turning previously disorganized weight lifting routines into heavy, functional, progressive Weight Training (and introducing a generation of meatheads to a lift other than the bench press).
I will skip some of the more philosophical reasons you should want to get strong (being strong is awesome, muscle wasting is one of the primary indicators of death, you will live a longer more functional life, it makes your ass look much better than a skinny runner’s) and stick to things you people seem to care about, namely, that it makes you better at all the things you want to be better at.
We don’t have you do 95lb thrusters in Fran or 135lb snatches in Isabel for no reason. It is because when you can move that much weight in that little time (we are shooting for under 5 minutes in those workouts) you produce a stimulus in your body that is EXTREMELY potent. It cannot be replicated with lighter weights in the same time domain. The power and intensity you can produce when you are strong enough to move that much weight that fast is one of the reasons we have heavy days. The snatch is a potent exercise that develops speed, strength, balance, flexibility, and power. How much better shape would you be in if you were proficient enough with the lift to do 30 in 3 minutes? The answer is A LOT. Now, if you are proficient at the lift but not very strong, how much better shape would you be in if you could do 30 at 135lbs in 3 minutes? A LOT MORE.
The bottom line is that you become proficient at the lifts and then stronger in the lifts by coming on days when we have dedicated time to practice them, get coached, correct flaws, and push the limits of your ability in 1 to 5 reps. Showing up for all the metcon WODs without showing up to lifting days is like continually taking practice tests while not spending any time to get a better handle on the material you are being tested on. Then you wonder why your scores don’t improve.
If I can’t get you to come to these days despite all the reasons I listed above (nice ass) and you would be bored if I tried to explain why for health and fitness reasons strength may be the single most significant measuring stick, then come in for the selfish reason that it will make you better at the things you DO care about. Your times will go down, you will do more reps, you will complete the WOD RX’d. And if you insist on thinking that the longer and nastier the METCON the better fitness you are achieving just remember that 1) you are wrong and 2) being able to do that METCON with heavier weights will make it that much more brutal.