A reflection on Crossfit Total from Intern Mike

A blog from intern and long time athlete, Mike Haggerty:

Last weekend many of us participated in the Crossfit Total workout. For those who did not participate – first of all you missed out on not only a chance to test yourself and see what kind of progress you have made since starting Crossfit, but you also missed a great time to hanging out with your fellow gym members. The workout consisted of attempting a one rep max (1 RM) lift for; back squat, strict shoulder press, and deadlift – in that order. For each movement you were allowed 20 minutes or so to build up to the heaviest weight you were able to lift on that day.

Now I am sure some of you are probably saying – 'Okay, aren't workouts like this the reason I left my globo gym – to get away from the meatheads and the “Lunk Alarm”?' And maybe it is – but that doesn't mean that Crossfit Total doesn't make sense for you.

Crossfit Total can serve many purposes – it would be hard to find a single person at the gym that this would not benefit in some way. The most common benefit is that you give yourself a benchmark for workouts. Whenever Aaron programs '85% of your 1 RM' there's a reason for that – and it's not just because that's his High School football number and he's still living in the glory days. That number is carefully chosen based on the other movements in the WOD: what the strength portion is, how many reps you are doing, etc. If you are moving a weight that is only 60% of your 1RM you are only cheating yourself here – and last I checked we are all here to get our asses kicked so if you are cheating yourself why even come?

Another benefit is using the results as a benchmark for progress. A big component of Crossfit is STRENGTH. Specifically strength as it relates to functional movements, meaning movements that are relatable to real life. The back squat, strict press, and deadlift all mimic movements we do every day in our lives – it's not like we are doing 1RM bicep curls or calf raises here. The more you can do of these types of lifts the easier it will make everyday activities on your joints, muscles, tendons, etc. And more importantly the less likely you are to get one of those injuries like tearing your ACL while lifting up a laundry basket (an EMPTY laundry basket). Additionally, these movements all require multiple muscle groups in order to perform them correctly at a high level. So working to a 1 RM and then trying it again in a few months is a great test for yourself to see how you have progressed overall as an athlete. Don't look at it just as “well I back squatted 250 pounds that's a ton of weight!” Focus on things such as where you struggled in the lift. For example in the deadlift if you were able to get the bar up halfway but couldn't finish the lift, you know that your legs are strong, but your lower back and glutes could use some work.

There are many other reasons to complete the Crossfit Total workout including knowing what weight your body is capable of comfortably and SAFELY moving, finding mobility weaknesses, the ability to grunt in public and have it be acceptable, you get the idea. Long story short, next time you see the Crossfit Total workout come up, and if you are still not convinced after reading this– ask a coach about it. Everyone's situation is different, but like I said in the beginning, I would find it very difficult to find a good reason that everyone in the gym shouldn't do this work out. No matter your fitness level, athletic ability, age, gender – I almost guarantee we can find a good reason, based on your goals, that this workout would benefit you.

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