THE MAGIC IS THE STIMULUS, NOT THE RX BUTTON! 

Part 2 of 3 by Coach Mike

Don’t let scaling be an excuse for you not to grow beyond your comfort zone.

In Part 1, I addressed the stimulus from the standpoint of going too heavy. The inverse is true too. Sometimes people go “too light” and need to be encouraged to add weight. If the workout is supposed to feel like an 800m sprint, and you’re turning it in a 100m dash, you’re getting a great workout in, but you’re not getting the SAME workout in.

Workout #1: 30 Clean and Jerks at 95/65
Workout #2: 30 Clean and Jerks at 135/95
Workout #3: 30 Clean and Jerks at 225/155 

Same movement and reps in each one, but those are three separate workouts. The first one should feel like a cakewalk. You should be able to move that weight unbroken for all thirty reps and might even get done and be like “okay, what’s next?”. The second one should be roughly a 2 minute effort and unless you’re elite, more than likely will take multiple touch and go sets or maybe even some singles. Workout #3 should feel like you’re getting run over by a train. You most likely won’t be able to do any touch and go reps, you probably dug out your weight belt, and you will need to take more time gather yourself and set-up in between reps. It will probably take more like 6 or 7 minutes.

If you just read that and know that you couldn’t do workout #1 in one unbroken set or that workout #2 would play out more like workout #3 for you, this is where scaling comes into play. The mistake athletes make more often than not is they look at the weights and go “well I can do that weight, so I should.” Pay attention to the stimulus, and if your coach isn’t clear enough, you should ask them to explain it more.

From the standpoint of going too light, often times I see athletes find what I call comfort zone weights. We could post all three of the above workouts as class workouts randomly and not tell you about this experiment. I’m willing to bet you a Fit Aid that there will be many who do the same weight for each of the three workouts. “Okay, 30 clean and jerks, 55-lbs on my bar, good to go.”

You need to get a gauge on what the stimulus of the workout is supposed to be. We don’t want you going heavier than you should, but there is a time and place for heavier barbells, too (just like there is a time and a place to go run a 5K). Resist the tendency to stick to your comfort zone weights. If you routinely find yourself coming in way faster than the target time on a consistent basis, or you look around after the workout and everyone looks like a tsunami just hit them and you don’t, you probably just did the 100m when the purpose of todays class was the 800. It doesn’t mean you wasted your time, but you experienced something different than we wanted you to.

The magic is in the stimulus. A twelve minute workout Monday, a four minute firebreather on Tuesday, a thirty minute endurance piece on Wednesday. This is just an example, time domains vary week over week too, but that variety is what matters. That variety is what makes you fitter. Hitting those time domains and experiencing the intended stimulus of the workout is what makes our programming work and has little to do with the actual weights you used. That doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time if you don’t hit the stimulus, you still moved and got a workout in, you just got a “different” workout in. 

Helpful Tip: When you’re logging your times in SugarWod, use the notes to describe how you felt doing the movements and reference back to them when those movements come back up. Keep in mind, the desired stimulus might be different when the movement comes up again, but those notes will give you a good gauge on what weights you should be using. Talk this through with your coach and they can help guide you on how best to proceed.

That is how you move better, longer.

-Coach Mike