To repeat or not to repeat?
The blessing and curse of CrossFit are that it’s competitive. A lot of former athletes gravitate towards CrossFit as a method of staying competitive after their athletic careers are over.
This is one of the major reasons I fell in love with CrossFit. There are so many ways to measure our fitness, and it’s always clear where you need the most work.
On the other hand, the competitive nature often makes people forget about the importance of form or doing what is right for their bodies. I’d venture to say that most injuries occur not from bad programming or coaching, but from letting your ego get the better of you. As coaches, understanding the psychology of these situations and putting your athletes in the best possible position in terms of movements and scaling that match up with their abilities/goals is paramount.
As the 2018 CrossFit Open starts, it’s not unlikely to think that athletes all over the world will be taking second, third, and maybe even 4th attempts (you laugh, but I’ve heard of athletes repeating 4x!) at these workouts in an effort to better their score.
What is the cost of attempting a high-intensity piece, with the added level of pressure athletes put on themselves to succeed, and better their score within a 48-hour window? For some, it could be the straw that breaks the camels back (literally and figuratively).
A few considerations
CrossFit Open workouts really don’t present a new challenge (usually) as we are familiar with the type of stimulus (intensity zone) and most movement patterns, but the real kicker is the added elements that take the physiological response to the next level. The reasoning is simple: the added level of stress and pressure due to the fact the workout is judged by and completed in front of, one’s peers and/or against them, ups the stress response even further.
These simple factors up the ante quite a bit in terms of accumulated fatigue during a 5-week stretch. Now add in attempts 2, 3, and 4 in a small window of time where there isn’t an opportunity for legitimate recovery.
Have a strict rule for your general population clients of “one and done.” After explaining to your clients the cost of performing these workouts from a neural fatigue standpoint it comes down to simply caring about the long-term health of your clients and NOT trying to impede their success.
I always used the comparison of, ”would you expect me to program the same workout for you to perform in the same week?”
As coaches, we understand that you want to perform your best, but if performing your best can take away from your overall goals, it’s simply not worth it. Additionally, performing the same workout in a 48-hour window not only has inherent risks but can also detract from your current programming.
Remember, 9 out of 10 people that walk through your doors simply want to look better and live longer. Is performing an Open workout multiple times going to lend itself to that?
Most times you’ll see high-level CrossFitters not needing to repeat workouts because their first attempt is good enough to get them to the next stage. Their overall goal may be to perform the best they can at regionals, so not interfering with their current programming is paramount.
If this is the case for you, then great, but if you’re trying to make regionals you may have no choice but to repeat open workouts. If this is the case, performing the workout on Friday and then again Monday afternoon will at least ensure some recovery time.
You may even consider your first attempt as a “dry-run” where you don’t go to that “dark place” and simply use it as a strategy session to help build your game-plan for your final effort. This, of course, puts more pressure on you for your second attempt, though.
What’s best for you?
At the end of the day, regardless of your current level of fitness or your goals, listening to your body ALWAYS supersedes what’s written on a whiteboard. Many times athletes can be served better by simply changing their mindset about the open workouts and viewing it as a chance to have fun putting the work they’ve already done to the test.
If you stress out about your performance then you’ll likely exacerbate your current state and not perform optimally. More importantly, your long-term motivation will be more consistent if you’re able to remove the stress from ALWAYS performing your best.
Have fun, don’t stress about your performance, and learn to value the priorities of your body over your ego.