Our Training Philosophy
Why our program keeps our clients seeing results for years pain free.
Training vs. Testing
Below is a graph of the three energy systems that humans use during exercise. It’s important to understand that we are always using all of these systems when we exercise, but one will be dominant while the others take a back seat.
The dark blue line is the phosphagen system, also know as the CP or PC system. This is an extremely intense, short duration effort.
The green line is the glycolitic system, also know as the lactic acid system. Still an intense effort, but can last anywhere from 0-12 minutes or longer depending on how trained the individual is.
The red line is the aerobic system, which can last for days, and is always active. You’re using it right now while you read this.
Lot’s of trainers only care about a hard workout. While that will work for a small percentage of people in the long run, for the majority of us it leads to an eventual plateau at best and injury and dysfunction at worst.
Any CrossFit coach with a level 1 certificate knows this chart, but let’s dig a little deeper.
We’ll use examples at opposite ends of the spectrum to make this easy to understand. For the phosphagen system, our example is a max effort squat. For the Aerobic system, our example is a marathon. For each of these tests, Intensity is relative, it should be obvious that you can run a marathon at max effort, and do a squat at max effort, the max effort is just different for both tests.
Do you think that an effective way to train the squat would be to attempt a max effort lift every time you trained? Unless you were a Bulgarian weightlifter when steroid use was rampant, then that’s probably not a good way to train.
Have you ever heard of marathon runners who train for marathons by running marathons? Or triathletes who train for tris by doing tris?
In both of those examples, you can clearly see the difference between training and testing. The max effort is the test. Everything leading up to it is the training.
So now, let’s talk about the glycolitic system. If you’ve done CrossFit before, that 12 minute time frame should be pretty familiar. Most CrossFit workouts (Metcons) use the glycolitic system, assuming the person doing the workout is giving max effort intensity (for that energy system).
Do you see the problem here? Every time you do a workout in that time frame, with your coach yelling at you to go faster, trying to beat the person next to you for bragging rights, you are testing, not training. You can’t (and shouldn’t) always be going at 100% effort.
But testing is good right?
Testing and pushing yourself to the limit (especially in those 12 minute workouts because of the energy system being used) dumps cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. If we do that too frequently, we can create hormone imbalances that can have consequences.
Chronic high cortisol creates inflammation, makes you more susceptible to disease, disrupts sleep patterns, lowers testosterone and can actually make you retain abdominal fat, just to name a few symptoms.
Some of us can deal with chronically elevated cortisol better than others, but we all have to pay the price of admission at some point. That doesn’t mean that we never test your fitness with max efforts in CrossFit workouts, it just has to be done with intelligence.
This is difficult for some to understand, for a few reasons:
1. Many of us (even a lot of coaches) have a view of training that sets the bar pretty low, IE the harder the workout is, as long as it didn’t kill you, the better it was right? Your coach at REP understands this difference, now you just need to trust that they have your best interests at heart and are guiding you accordingly.
2. There is an emotional attachment that comes with those super tough workouts that almost kill you. It creates a bonding experience with the people next to you, and flood of cortisol in your body that feels really good. It’s one of the reasons that people fall in love with high intensity. Unfortunately, it’s also the reason why many people stop seeing results after a certain point (at best), or affect their sleep, appetite, ability to recover, libido or injure themselves (at worst).