Local movements such as: push-ups, ring dips, ring rows, strict pull-ups, and T2B depend more on strength endurance than they do cardio respiratory factors. Often times, these movements are used in CrossFit Benchmark workouts like “Cindy”, “Murph,” or “Angie”. Fatigue in these situations is localized, which makes it hard to use such pieces in an effort to improve one’s conditioning. Of course, these pieces do have their place, but it’s paramount to understand that if your conditioning work is one-sided in terms of how movements are paired, then your clients will not sustain the increases in conditioning that we’d like to see. Overall, placement and volume may be determining factors for the effectiveness of such pieces like “Cindy” or “Mary”, but not limiting our clients to conditioning work that is limited by their local muscle endurance can be a determining factor in long-term health and progress.
Testing pieces confirm improvements in fitness and should be used in a logical timeline to build value in your programming. However, placement is important, as results can often be skewed based of fatigue incurred from other aspects of our programming. Most times, there may not be a “perfect scenario” in a group setting, but having scope of your overall plan will allow for the most advantageous placement of your testing pieces.
So, how and when do use such pieces to test our athletes? I think it’s more important and much safer to practice local movements in a controlled setting (where the risk of form breaking down is minimal), but this type of approach prepares athletes for performing smaller movements while under fatigue. Improvements in strength qualities serve as a means of protecting our athletes when such workouts pop up. The old adage, “you can’t build a house without a foundation” definitely applies here. Does that mean that we never program local movements in conditioning pieces? No, of course not; but I don’t believe local movements should be present in the majority of our conditioning pieces if the goal is improving metabolic conditioning. Over the years, I’ve seen most injuries result from local movements when an athlete has passed the point of failure; where athletes let the clock or their score dictate pushing themselves past the point of muscular failure (or they simply compensate in order to keep working). Overall, building your athletes’ strength endurance through controlled means will be beneficial for their longevity, and they will be much better prepared to handle conditioning pieces that involve a high volume of local fatigue.
CrossFit boxes have new athletes starting all the time, making the need for controlled improvements in local muscular endurance something that needs to be done regularly. This type of training can be done with single-joint in which neural demand and skill level to perform such movements is low. The carry-over with these smaller movements will be instrumental in performance and health.
Below I’m going to outline a weekly plan that focuses on bringing up athletes strength endurance and using conditioning pieces to improve conditioning.
1a) Push Press: 4 x 5. Rest 90s.
1b) Strict Chin-up: 4 x 5. Rest 90s.
4 Rounds of:
21 Calorie Row
15 S20H (135, 95)
9 Lateral Burpees
1a) DB Tricep Extensions: 3 x 12-15. Rest 30s.
1b) Russian Twists: 3 x 20. Rest 30s.
Sumo Deadlift for Speed: 5 x 4 @70%, every 60s.
7 Power Cleans (115, 75)
10 Calorie Assault Bike
Rest 4:00 + Repeat
Reverse Hypers: 4 x 15. Rest 90s.
Every 3:00 x 5 Sets:
40 yard sledpush @heavy
40 yard front rack carry @53/35
x UB T2B (submax) (or submax hollow rocks) (submax = 1-3 reps less maximal)
*Each round complete 1 set UB T2B. Goal is to stay away from failure and practice good movement patterns.
1a) Close Grip Bench Press: 3 x 5. Rest 90s.
1b) Supinated Barbell Rows: 3 x 8-12. Rest 90s.
Minute 1: HR Push-ups x submax
Minute 2: Double Unders x 40s max reps
Minute 3: DB Hang Power Snatch x 20s max reps each arm
Minute 4: Wallballs x 40s Max Reps
Minute 5: Rest
1a) 75-100 Banded Pull-aparts
1b) 1 set each side Banded Alphabets
1) Front Squat Clusters: Work up to a heavy 1.1.1 (15s). Rest 2:00
2) Seated Box Jumps: Accumulate 20 Jumps. Rest 60s.
100 Banded Leg Curls
A) Partner Conditioning
AMRAP 30 w. a partner:
Run 400 meters
10 Burpees each athlete
Run 400 meters
10 Hang Power Cleans each athlete (135, 95)
Run 400 meters
10 Box Jump w. a step down each athlete (24, 20)
*Split the run into 200 meter intervals and one athlete complete all 10 reps of burpees, HPC, and Box Jumps before switching.
There is more emphasis on performing local movements in controlled settings and almost every conditioning piece has a rest component. I think it’s easy to lose sight of programming planned rest, because on paper it may not look as good; however, rest components are a vital part of any conditioning piece and ensure that athletes are sustaining their work-output and can stay clear of excessive fatigue. Again, I’m not saying that you don’t ever want to practice local movements under fatigue. I just don’t believe this should be a mainstay in your programming. Overall, we can be strategic about placing workouts with higher-level of local fatigue, assuming we consistently lay the foundation with strength endurance work.