Thursday, January 21, 2016

Heavy metcons: being strong AND tough

Michael choosing discomfort by sitting on the floor - that makes him stronger. (Setting is Mike's grim office where he spends time when he's not at the gym.)
Lately we've been having some tough workouts. A lot of these have been heavy metcons (metabolic conditioning). In past conditioning workouts, any barbell movements have tended to be lighter so we can move faster. But a heavy metcon is different - the barbell movements are quite heavy and you still have to perform them under a time pressure. This does not mean that you rush through the movements with poor form (that's never okay!), but working closer to your strength limits with little to no rest is a special kind of challenge. It takes some time to adapt to it mentally and physically.

Mike, Jordan, and I will be pushing you on these workouts. You'll want to pick a weight you're comfortable with, and we want you to go up from that. This may seem a little scary at first, but your body and your mind will adapt to the challenge, and there will come a day when you too love heavy metcons. You put in the work this summer and fall getting stronger - this is your chance to use that strength in a different way. We'll keep them short, typically less than 10 minutes, but they will hurt.

Speaking of hurt, it is important at this stage to be able to differentiate between hurt that is damage getting done and hurt that is just difficulty, soreness, and fatigue. Your lungs are burning, your muscles are aching - that's okay. But you feel a sharp pain in your shoulder or a squeezing ache in your back - not good. As coaches, we try to watch out for you and we will try to advise you to go harder without putting you at risk of injury. But when it comes to going hard, you'll need to know your own body and know the difference between discomfort in a workout and real pain. If it's just discomfort, you can and will learn to push through that, and that is how you progress both physically and mentally. That's how you get strong AND tough.
Workout
strength - add weight from last time (more info) 

3 attempts of max rep pull-ups 

then

"Death by 10 m row"

In the first minute, row 10 m.
In the second minute, row 20 m.
In the third minute, row 30 m.
Continue, adding 10 m each minute, until you fail to complete the required meters.