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Are short sets for a better time limiting in the longer term
Posted: 09 November 2007 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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kempie - 09 November 2007 05:04 PM

Pull-ups are continuing to get better and if I stick to shorter sets (7 - 5) I can rattle them out at decent pace.

I’ve found this too. With no intention whatsoever of putting Kempie down, is this “wrong” in any way?

It’s one of those things where you can play the strategy card for a better time or grit it out and possibly hasten progress toward unbroken sets.

So I guess my questions for GD, BBoJ and the other trainers who’ve seen more people work through this are:
Do people who break the exercise into smaller chunks for a better total time move on to bigger chunks and then eventually unbroken sets, or do they tend to get “stuck” where they are?

If they do tend to get “stuck”, what have you found is a better approach to building to unbroken sets?

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“The point of CF is to get better at life.  Being unable to workout tomorrow because you were pigheaded today is not in line with our goals.”
Garddawg - 22 March 2009

“CrossFit is not dangerous.
Bad coaching is dangerous, poor movement is dangerous. Ego is dangerous.
CrossFit, properly scaled to the individual is the safest and most efficient program available for strength, conditioning and movement.”
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Posted: 09 November 2007 06:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Metric, I’ll take a pop at this from my perspective.  In the beginning my short sets from which I could recover quickly and go again were 3 - 4.  Now they are 5 - 7 for a workout including 90 pull-ups.  I would probably be even a little more agressive with a smaller volume workout. 

Going forward, I expect that soon sets of 7 - 10 will require little recovery and something like fran will have minimal breaks.  My gut feel is that so long as you are getting your rep’s per minute up you will build the endurance in the muscles but also get better at doing pull-ups with some level of fatigue.  This will lead to the capacity for bigger sets.

This process may be accelerated by selling out with near max sets in workouts but obviously the fall off after the first few sets will contribute to slower WOD times and a less intense met-con hit. 

Maybe one thing you could do without sabotaging WOD times would be to throw full effort Tabata pull-ups into your mix once a week or so and/ or a Lynne or Nichole type workout and push for absolute max each time.

Will look forward to further feedback on this one.

Metric, I do believe you’ve nailed a question that will get more than a one word answer of GD :wink:

Cheers, kempie

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Posted: 10 November 2007 04:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Thanks Kempie, that makes sense. I hadn’t gotten to the stage of seeing my endurance increase yet.

I’m counting GD out. It’s about quality, not quantity with him. LOL

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Craig Massey


“The point of CF is to get better at life.  Being unable to workout tomorrow because you were pigheaded today is not in line with our goals.”
Garddawg - 22 March 2009

“CrossFit is not dangerous.
Bad coaching is dangerous, poor movement is dangerous. Ego is dangerous.
CrossFit, properly scaled to the individual is the safest and most efficient program available for strength, conditioning and movement.”
BlueBugofJustice - 18 August 2009

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Posted: 10 November 2007 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Posted: 10 November 2007 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Wow!
Good answer Ratzon!
And again, it makes sense, which gives me increased confidence that I’m not doing anything wrong by breaking my sets and getting a better overall time.

I’ll take issue with/clarify two points though, both of which are due to a typically convoluted writing style on my part.
My original comparison of this question with the one I asked about HSPUs was in respect to my ability to observe enough people to answer this question for myself. As a home crossfitter, and one of probably less than 20 in the entire country, all I can observe are my own reactions and compensations to training stimulus. I don’t believe lack of progress to full HSPUs is directly related to progress toward unbroken sets in general, for the reasons you give, except in one particular aspect that observation of a larger population of athletes is uniquely required to answer;
The mental component.

Being upside down and lowering yourself toward an invisible and unforgiving (hard) surface is scary. Pushing yourself into complete muscular exhaustion is hard and also scary. People with the best of intentions will take the easy way out unless they have unusual mental qualities that allow them to go beyond these limitations, or have a good coach to help them do so. People will unconsciously, or not, stay with what they are comfortable with.
If the “smaller chunks” approach works, I’d expect to see athletes progressing to unbroken sets more or less by accident. One day they do Fran and find they first need to break their pull-ups at a higher rep count than they did last time; vs the “grit it out” approach, “I’m not going to break until 2 reps more than I did last time even if it kills me”.
I don’t know which is the more common case.
I’m very interested in the empirical results observed by the trainers at Brand X, or anywhere else for that matter, who deal with numbers of Crossfitting athletes facing these issues.

I’ll probably read this later and realise I’ve come off as rubbishing Ratzon’s response. I can assure that wasn’t my intention.
One day I will find myself either formally or informally trying my level best to teach someone else how to do Crossfit “properly”. When I do I want to know that what I’m telling them is actually going to work for them, and that’s hard when you’re figuring it out for yourself based on a sample population of 1.

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Craig Massey


“The point of CF is to get better at life.  Being unable to workout tomorrow because you were pigheaded today is not in line with our goals.”
Garddawg - 22 March 2009

“CrossFit is not dangerous.
Bad coaching is dangerous, poor movement is dangerous. Ego is dangerous.
CrossFit, properly scaled to the individual is the safest and most efficient program available for strength, conditioning and movement.”
BlueBugofJustice - 18 August 2009

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Posted: 10 November 2007 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Great post.

Example: 100 pull ups for time.

So many ways to play with this. That’s why this never gets boring…

Do as many as possible first set, maybe 50, burn out may occur?? 20,15,10,5 = 7:30

First set 20,20,20,20,20 = 6:00

First set 40, 10,10,10,10,10,10 = 8:20

These are just examples. Find out what works for a faster time. Then do maybe chest to bar….

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Posted: 10 November 2007 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Ratzon hits the nail squarely on the head with this one on a couple of counts.  1st the comparison is flawed.  As pointed out partial range HSPU is not comprable to full range pull ups.  Partial range HSPU would be more analogous to beginner pull ups.  Further we can distill CrossFit’s metcon workouts down to one metric, Power.  We are all chasing it.

When you approach a metabolic workout its all about getting the work required done in the shortest time possible.  Certainly unbroken sets of an exercise would seem to be the way to do this, but that is not always the case.  If the unbroken set , say of muscle ups, leads to muscular failure it can cause long bouts of required recovery before attempting the next round or extend a round.  In Nasty Girls this morning the last muscle up took almost 3:00 for one member of our little group.  If the unbroken set were of, let’s say 100 box jumps, my guess is it would lead to catastrophic metabolic distress requiring several minutes of recovery before moving on to the next exercise (think how often this happens in the filthy fifty). 

In the above examples power (as determined by total time in the workout) would go down.  As Ratzon stated a well planned out strategy of breaking sets up into managable pieces is the best way to achieve the most power.

I think the true question should be how can I inrease the number of reps of pull ups in a workout and increase power.

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Posted: 10 November 2007 09:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OK.

idea moment and I wish I could erase my previous post. doh
Even more sorry about the post Ratzon.

So unbroken sets is not a goal for metcon workouts at all. In fact it’s completely irrelevant and may well work against the true goal of the workout; maximising power output as measured by time to completion.

That’s both fantastic news (I can stop killing myself trying to complete workouts with unbroken sets) and terrible news (I’ve been killing myself trying to complete workouts with unbroken sets).
In hindsight I’ve heard all this before in isolated segments.
I have been such a plonker. :oops:

Thank-you to all. I’m off to belt my head against a hard object. I’m obviously not using it for anything.


Still wish I hadn’t mentioned the HSPU question the first time, completely unrelated to what I was asking, which is why I removed it from the repost. :oops:  Again. Still.

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Craig Massey


“The point of CF is to get better at life.  Being unable to workout tomorrow because you were pigheaded today is not in line with our goals.”
Garddawg - 22 March 2009

“CrossFit is not dangerous.
Bad coaching is dangerous, poor movement is dangerous. Ego is dangerous.
CrossFit, properly scaled to the individual is the safest and most efficient program available for strength, conditioning and movement.”
BlueBugofJustice - 18 August 2009

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Posted: 10 November 2007 10:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Now you are just messing in me.  The goal is producing the most power possible.  Take the workout Fran.  To produce the most power possible in that workout you would need to do 21 unbroken thrusters, immediately followed by 21 unbroken pull ups followed immediately by 15 unbroken thrusters etc…..

That would be the goal. 

To produce the most power right now the best strategy for a beginner might be 11 thrusters (rest) 5 thrusters (rest) 5 thrusters followed by 6 pull ups (rest) 5 pull ups (rest)  5 pull ups (rest)  5 pull ups (rest) etc….

So back to the original question is it limiting.  I know several long term CrossFitters (3-4 years)  who find they are still around unable to string together 5 sets of 25 unbroken pull ups in a workout.  From my observation, it stems from doing just what you say, always breaking the sets into the same small blocks. 

So the questions are:
Is this a valid strategy for a workout? 
As Ratzon has shown, the answer is yes.  (BTW-We should all understand that this is what Kempie is doing, to allow himself to achieve the most power possible in a particular workout at this time)
Is this good in the longterm?
Clearly the answer is no.  You cannot get a sub 3:00 Fran with the above strategy.  (BTW-We all agree this isn’t what Kempie is doing)

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Posted: 10 November 2007 11:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Posted: 10 November 2007 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I believe we are agreeing with different words.

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Posted: 10 November 2007 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Garddawg - 09 November 2007 05:04 PM

Now you are just messing in me.

I don’t know what that means. If it’s not a typo it is not a term I’m familiar with. If it’s something I should apologise for, consider one offered.

I got what you and Ratzon were saying about different “chunk sizes” being appropriate for athletes at different levels of ability to maximise performance. You had me reeling from discovering that what I thought was one of the main measures in a Crossfit workout wasn’t of consequence.

And it is very interesting that people do get trapped in a comfort zone. Other than a good coach, it would seem a periodic self-review of where you’re breaking your rounds would be the only way to get away from that.
GD, in posts about work-rest management you talked about not breaking until the speed with which you were performing the reps dropped. Power output again. Is that pretty much what you’d use here?
It seems to me that managing work-rest by this or some other criteria is going to be the most useful tool to improve a workout time if metabolic conditioning is the limiting factor?

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Craig Massey


“The point of CF is to get better at life.  Being unable to workout tomorrow because you were pigheaded today is not in line with our goals.”
Garddawg - 22 March 2009

“CrossFit is not dangerous.
Bad coaching is dangerous, poor movement is dangerous. Ego is dangerous.
CrossFit, properly scaled to the individual is the safest and most efficient program available for strength, conditioning and movement.”
BlueBugofJustice - 18 August 2009

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Posted: 10 November 2007 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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[quote author=“Garddawg”]I believe we are agreeing with different words.

That’s the way it reads to me.

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Craig Massey


“The point of CF is to get better at life.  Being unable to workout tomorrow because you were pigheaded today is not in line with our goals.”
Garddawg - 22 March 2009

“CrossFit is not dangerous.
Bad coaching is dangerous, poor movement is dangerous. Ego is dangerous.
CrossFit, properly scaled to the individual is the safest and most efficient program available for strength, conditioning and movement.”
BlueBugofJustice - 18 August 2009

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Posted: 10 November 2007 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Posted: 11 November 2007 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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[quote author=“Ratzon”]
The athlete should not break sets in order to achieve comfort. 

Thank you for the discussion and explanations. I found it an interesting discourse; for me, personally, the explanation of comfort level was a trigger. It’s easy to fall into that.

I’ve added some practice on my rep range: For instance, doing 50 squats for time all by itself, while I’m figuratively rested, and working to improve that time or length of unbroken segments. I figure if I can achieve unbroken sets outside of a metcon, that gives me a goal to work towards within a metcon.

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Posted: 11 November 2007 09:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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It’s not just size and number of the broken sets - it’s also the length of the rest periods.

Short rest periods = faster time to completion.

The goal is get the rest periods so short that the entire set becomes unbroken.  Also, beware the time interval between exercises - it’s easy to consume 20-30 seconds sauntering, staggering, or crawling over to the next exercise. Gotta keep moving as much as possible.

Personally if I have to break sets, I like descending sets with short, constant rest intervals. For example 50 reps = sets of 15,10, 8,7, 6, 4 with 10-15 seconds of rest between sets. The goal from there would be to do that the next time with 20, 15, 8, and 7 reps with 5-10 seconds rest. Then 30 and 20, and so on until it’s 50 non-stop.

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