-by Sean Sexton
What are they and why are we doing them the next 2 weeks?
Speed sets were popularized by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell in his West side methodology. They specifically target neuromuscular efficiency and can be useful at the end or during a high intensity strength cycle-depending on how a specific athlete may be progressing, responding, and recovering. Our greatest challenge in group class atmosphere is figure out how to keep a general physical preparedness program (GPP) individualized. How do we implement linear progression (if that is the method we are utilizing for strength gains), effectively? How do we de-load? How do we adequately represent the large mix of Crossfit movements in each strength cycle? Where do babies come from? Is global warming just a weather cycle? No seriously…..
One of the most common ways to generate maximal force is through the use of maximal weights (for a seasoned intermediate to advanced athlete). As we know and have felt from time to time; this can be difficult to recover from (especially when we add auxiliary/supplementary movements of 40-50 reps in the METCON). The greatest concern is the stress it can put on your ligaments and our neuromuscular system, and for this reason must be implemented carefully and sparingly. I personally feel that we underestimate the tax that strength training makes our bodies pay.
A motor unit is simply a motor neuron that is linked to muscle fibers which is the basic unit of contraction-it innervates the contraction. More motor units recruited=more force and power. The ability to recruit motor units and efficiency of the neuromuscular system’s ability (integrated whole of the body’s nerves and muscles) greatly varies from a novice (70%) …to an Intermediate …to a advanced/elite athlete (95%). Keep this in mind, if all the motor units in large muscle groups are recruited at the same time (rare) maximal force is generated. Many of us have experienced this at an individual level- when you PR in a Deadlift, Press, Squat, or Kegel contraction-(though I have not experienced this in about decade). More on this in the next newsletter ladies….
One way to increase these motor unit recruited is to generate force quick and explosively, in a manner that requires a high number to fire simultaneously. Biggest takeaway-The ability to generate power will directly affect our performance. Basically, we are teaching the the body to do this on demand in an effort to to increase neuromuscular efficiency. In order to do this we will have to drop our percentage loads to somewhere around 50-75% 1RM (anything below 70% 1 RM is considered lighter). The goal is to move the bar as quickly as possible and even faster than last time. A proven way to integrate this method is small reps (2-3) for about 10-12 sets depending on the movement. An additional important variable is the time of rest between sets; usually :30-:45 seconds. Force production is determined by acceleration of the load we are moving. Well equipped facilities have the ability to geek out on this stuff by using a device called a Tendo Unit that accurately measures your bar speed. http://www.westside-barbell.com/westside-articles/PDF.Files/02PDF/Measuring%20Speed%20The%20Tendo%20Unit.pdf , as well as bands for variation in resistance at certain points in the movement-something me and Emilio would like to do in the future. For all intense purpose the coaches at CFS will just ask you to stay extremely focused on your intensity of speed for each set. Most powerlifting programs integrate this method in a split week routine, when progression stalls, or an athlete appears to need a rest. We are not powerlifters but Crossfitters and we do not have the luxury of doing the same movement 3 times a week. Disruption of homeostasis without overtraining is the end goal, or adaptation will cease/stall. At CFS, we will utilize it as a mandatory de-load phase that if nothing else, changes it up for a bit-the reason we all do this Crossfit thingy right? It can not be stressed enough that we will do our speed sets with lighter loads and increased intensity. Let’s train hard and have some fun with our speed sets!
Moving forward we will continue with 4-6 week strength cycles highlighting 3-4 movements a week in a modified Wendler cycle. We are cutting out Deadlift for the next cycle but will still give you some touches here and there-feel free to incorporate on your own. Our emphasis will be to Cash in our slow lift posterior chain strength into Olympic lift speed and power. I took the liberty to change the existing Wendler cycle by working off our true 1 RM verse the old 90% because I simply felt it was not heavy enough, after some discussions with a knowledgable Coach named Leo Jenkins. As our intensity increases through our weekly cycles the volume will decrease EXCEPT for that last set of the day. Remember that it is an AMRAP set without failing! (the one that puts hair on your chest even for girls). In addition to this I will plug in auxiliary/supplementary movements at a lighter load in the METCON 40%-60%, or as a separate Part B of the Strength portion. Get your strength work in or expect to stall out. The responsibility is yours as we encourage you to come in anytime a coach is there or during a class (which is most of the time). Lastly you will begin to see some longer METCON’s in the next 2 weeks.
I make it clear that I am no fan of longer METCON’s due to the stress it put on your body and the ability to recover. I see some of these HERO WOD’s and I wonder if people are trying to outdo each other at trying to kill someone? They are for the most part nonsensical, except for the fact they honor our bravest. Many are just a bunch of high skill movements thrown together with no logic, in sick volume, and I have no interest in executing alone or in a large group setting. However I do feel chipper’s and some longer METCON’s have benefit and we should do from time to time.
Lastly, please do not forget your scapular balance work x 3 times a week, it is very important as the smaller muscles in our shoulder can fall out of balance with the intense amount of vertical and horizontal pushing and pulling CrossFit demands. It was e-mailed out to everyone after Elements and ask a coach if you want to see the executed properly.