Last week we started breaking down a sort of definition for what the methodology of CrossFit is: “Constantly Varied Functional Movement performed at High Intensity across Broad Time and Modal Domains.” I covered the first two key parts of that phrase. Those are also the bigger pieces to discuss because there’s quite a bit of clarifying to do for both Constant Variance and Functional Movement. There is still the second half to go over though, and even though “High Intensity and Broad Time and Modal Domains” are more self explanatory they do need some breaking down.
High Intensity is just going super hard and feeling like throwing up, right? Technically that is true, but I prefer to put a little caveat on how we look at it by saying we also have to maintain the desired stimulus. With something like an 800 meter Run time trial the stimulus we’re looking for might be as simple as raw maximum intensity, but if I change it to 800 meter repeats with only one minute of rest the stimulus greatly changes. We can look at the classic benchmark Grace as something where there’s lots of ways to play with it depending on what we want to accomplish. Leaving it how it is the general intention is a 3 to 5 minute workout of barbell cycling at a weight that is doable for some touch and go sets before going to singles. This is where scaling comes in to maintain both intensity and stimulus because if the prescribed weight of 135 pounds is 50 percent of our max then doing how I’ve described is likely easy. If our best clean and jerk is 155, however, then it turns into a 20 or more minute workout of practicing being consistent at an extremely heavy load. Both of these result in a very high intensity output, but through very different means. At Innerdrive we make sure to clarify the stimulus we are wanting to maintain so that the proper intensity can be accomplished.
Understanding high intensity and that we want to have it in a varying degree of work outs brings us to the last part: “Broad Times and Modal Domains.” This piece is a very literal description so there isn’t much to break down. “Broad Times” can be anything from a max snatch that takes a couple seconds to a marathon row that lasts several hours and anything in between. “Modal Domains” is just another way of saying “many different areas or movements”, so using a heavy lift compared to a long endurance piece is a good example since they’re on different ends of the spectrum. Bringing intensity back into these varying times and movements, it’s finding the highest consistent intensity we can hold through the specified task. It’s why if we ran a marathon we wouldn’t sprint the first half mile as fast as possible because it would bring the overall intensity that you can maintain for the remaining 25+ miles. Same with doing a workout with a large set of wall balls. It doesn’t make sense to do a max set to start if it means I’m gonna be forced to resort to small sets of five there after.
CrossFit can be described as “Constantly Varied Functional Movement performed at High Intensity across Broad Time and Modal Domains.” With these last two weeks of blogs I hope you have a better idea what that actually means, and just how much thought is actually behind it. There’s important differences between variance and randomness, and the reason we do the movements we do is to either get the most bang for our buck in terms of power output, or, more importantly, give you skills to help with everyday life. Doing this large list of movements for different reps and times at a consistently high effort means I can be ready if my dog wants to sprint around the yard for a couple minutes, or if I have to spend hours building a deck.