Benchmarks–What’s the point?

16
Oct

Benchmarks–What’s the point?


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Many of you have noticed and a few of you have asked. What’s the deal with the benchmark workouts? Or, haven’t we done this workout before? Or, isn’t CrossFit supposed to be a different workout everyday? Well, you are right on all counts. Today I’d like to take a few minutes to explain how we decide what workouts get repeated, when we repeat them, and why it is important to have benchmarks.

Where do you come up with this stuff?

Programming is a science but also an art. Our goal in programming is to maximize improvements to overall fitness and health while keeping workouts interesting and fun. We want you to WANT to come everyday. Research has proven over and over again that the best form of exercise is the one in which you will CONSISTENTLY engage. Consistency tops novelty every time; but that’s a topic for another post. WIth programming, we work to find the right mix of the things you need to be a well-balanced athlete with the things you enjoy and keep you excited about your workout. We run even though we prefer back squatting. We work on pull-ups even though we prefer core work. We know that strength training and building explosive power creates better endurance athletes. We also know that improving metabolic conditioning and cardiovascular stamina balance out the fitness of those who prefer lifting weights. It’s a delicate balance and we spend ENORMOUS amounts of thought and time trying to nail it.

What about the benchmarks?

Most of our programming calendar is carefully orchestrated to get the right mix of short and long, intervals versus sustained efforts, and mixes of a vast variety of movement types. By mixing and matching metabolic pathways, strength and cardio, skills and power work, we believe that we challenge the body to continue to adapt to the positive stress of exercise. In other words, avoiding the plateaus that inevitably plague most exercise programs. Still, we want you to be able to measure your fitness gains. Seeing progress keeps us on track and working when intrinsic motivation wanes. So, we designed a series of benchmarks that test different aspects of our fitness. By performing these workouts roughly every quarter, we can see our fitness improving (or reflect on why it isn’t).

What are our benchmarks?

Speed Date: 150 wall balls sandwiched on both sides with pull-ups, push ups, and body weight squats
This workout tests metabolic conditioning and body weight fitness. It is a longer time domain and does not touch the weightlifting domain or higher skill movements. Feared by all but loved by many more of you than are willing to admit it. The goal is to finish faster than before or scale the workout less and still finish within the prescribed time domain (20-30 minutes).

DT: 5 Rounds of 12 Deadlifts, 9 Hang Power Cleans, and 6 Push Jerks
It’s all barbell with a huge strength component, but most of us hit the metabolic conditioning wall before our strength fails. We improve on this benchmark by training strength and stamina. The goal is to increase the load we use while still finishing in the desired time domain (7 to 9 minutes).

Kelly: 5 Rounds of 400M Run, 30 Box Jumps, 30 Wall balls
This is an endurance workout through and through. No skill proficiency helps dampen the cardiovascular load; it is just a test of if you can keep moving when your really, really tired. The goal of this workout is to take fewer breaks and put together bigger sets of work resulting in faster times. Time domain: however long it takes.

Showtime: Find a 1 rep max complex of 1 Squat Clean + 1 Front Squat + 1 Split Jerk
This one is all about proficiency with a barbell and pure strength. Increase the load at which you are able to successfully complete this complex and you will be winning.

Whole Life Challenge Intake/Outtake: How much are you willing to suffer in 12 minutes? That is what this workout tests. As many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of 30 Ball slams, 25 box jumps (24/20), 20 Push Press (95/65), 15 Kipping Pull-ups, and 10 Burpees. It is a fantastic test of overall fitness that is not heavily weighted in any one area. All the movements are doable in big chunks, but can you make yourself continue to push and resist the urge to rest? The goal is just not to stop and get more rounds and reps in each time.

How do I keep track of all this?

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We have invested in a tracking solution to help you keep track of your progress. Our gym uses SugarWOD and it is SO EASY to enter your scores/times/loads and track progress. We encourage you to log all your workouts, but ESPECIALLY the benchmarks. It is awesome to have evidence of the gains you are making in your fitness. There is no cost to our members to use this app so just ask any staff member and we can show you how (and give you the secret code to join our gym!).