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Improving conditioning?

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So, I'm a pretty strong guy. My body has no problem mustering power for a big pull or push for a max effort, but get me in a workout and I crumble. I actually think my conditioning is getting worse, too. Today for example, I did a strength workout of 7x7 deadlifts at 375#, which is 75% of my 1RM. That smoked me. So, I had no gas left for the WOD: 25 rounds of 1 power clean, 3 front squats, 1 push jerk at 135#. The workout was capped at 20 minutes. I eeked out 15 rounds. Most of my gym's workouts are capped and I hit the cap most of the time. I'm a big guy so I modify most of the body weight movements, but should I do the same for the weight? I can do most workouts with the recommended weight. Would it be better to go lighter and build speed, or should I keep the heavier weight and keep plugging at the slower pace?

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Hmm. If you've got good coaches (I hope you do), I'd talk to them. I'm probably the girl version of you in that I outlift the majority of the women around me and I tend to go heavier on the workouts and then finish last. But I've improved quite a bit recently.


The answer probably goes back to why there are time caps. The reason for having them isn't just to get you out in time for the next class to come in (or shouldn't be), it's to help ensure that you're getting what you're supposed to be out of the workout. You need to choose a weight accordingly. 


Take Fran for instance. 21-15-9 of thrusters at 95# and pullups, intended to be done at a sprint pace in under 5 minutes and definitely in no more than 8. So some big strong guy loads up 115# on the bar, then takes 14 minutes to complete the workout. Did he just do Fran? Nope. He did a totally different workout than the guy who did his thrusters at a lighter weight and finished in 4 minutes. It may be the same movements, but he's hitting different energy systems.


So my answer is, if you trust in your coaches and the programming, talk to them about what weight you should be using so that you get what you're supposed to out of the workout. If you need to lower your weight, even mid-workout, do it. You've identified a weakness, so you need to focus on addressing it. That may mean backing off a bit on going heavy. This goes against most people's inclination to focus on what we're good at and max it out in an attempt to compensate for weakness, rather than training the weak area. But it's worth it.

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For the most part, I concur with Vintage.  However, IMO, when you're able to perform the WoD at the Rx'd weight, albeit at a slower time, do so.  I find it is a much more fulfilling and tangeible way to record how I've progressed with some WoDs when the only thing I have to translate is the completed time, as opposed to determining if my Diane time at 185lbs DL in 15min was better than Rx'd (225 lbs DL) at 20min.

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After years at Rx, I had to bite the bullet and start scaling again after coming back from some time off. The way I looked it was, yeah, I can handle all the weights, but after a certain point I was reduced to doing them a couple reps at a time due to my limited wind, so I wasn't bringing the core tenant of intensity to the WOD.

So I mix it up now. It it's like a five minute WOD, I go Rx or heavier and all out. If it's a longer one, I'll scale as needed. I also take some time myself after the class and work stuff like skipping rope (no DUs or anything, just plain old fashioned skipping), KB swings, or row sprints. If I'm on my own, I'll get my lifting in, and then make up a WOD based on what I've got on hand, playing to my strength so it's heavy and short. This may be a good option for you. Look for the doc floating around the interwebs, "short and heavy metcons". It's pure gold as a resource.

Good luck!

"The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder." --GK Chesterton

Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea...


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I would always go in and ask myself - is this a conditioning workout, or a strength workout?


The Rx weight is supposed to tell you what the BEST athlete in the gym would use for a weight to achieve the desired result.


There are always a few times:

The best times, the middle of the line times, and the end of the pack.


While getting the "best" time is great, unless it's a benchmark wod, I always aim for middle of the pack - lets me go a little heavier but still finish the workout properly.


Usually if you have a workout that's prescribed at 95lbs for men, and 65lbs for women, like fran, it's supposed to be a conditioning workout.  If it's 135/95, it's more of a strength workout.  


If it's a workout that the majority of people completed in 5 minutes and it took you 10 to go Rx, I would say you should lower the weight and try to hit that 5 minute mark.  (In a workout like that, the "best" people will do it in 2 or 3.  Ignore them :P)


All of that being said, whenever I programmed in time caps, it was because some of our members would always put on more weight than they should, regardless of what we told them.  If a workout has a time cap and you're hitting it, you should go lighter.


There is one condition where this isn't true - if by going lighter, you won't go faster.  If it's truly 100% conditioning and not a strength issue at all - but this is very rare.

Please keep in touch:
“There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind.”
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