Seriously, Fuck Energy Systems

Seriously, fuck them.

They don’t fucking matter, so stop talking about them all the time.

A-lactic left ventricle heart rate variability interval speed strength power strength adaptations.

Jesus, just get better at CrossFit.

Glassman made a cursory tip of the hat to energy systems in his “What Is Fitness” article, published all those years ago. He also spoke about the 10 physical skills, which he took from Dynamax and was quite open about it when I heard him speak. (We later enjoyed a beer in the Manchester evening sun with him, he is a fantastic speaker and conversationalist.)

Kicking it old school. You'd have thought I'd get a photo with Glassman?

Kicking it old school. You’d have thought I’d get a photo with Glassman?

Castro has NEVER said ‘this workout is gonna test your CP battery rechargability’, which is good, because all my batteries are Lithium Ion.

CrossFit’s definition of fitness is increased work capacity (in a succinct a way as possible), you have to be able to do anything. Obsessing over which energy system is in play is reductionist at best and counter productive at worst.

For a start, you don’t switch between energy systems in a neat way, they’re all being used to some extent. I reckon I’ve totes gone a-lactic during bouts of typing here, but my foot tapping off the floor as I type is mainly being fuelled by lipolysis right now. (And I so had to check my Precision Nutrition manual for that.)

So we can’t really isolate an energy system as much as we like to think we can. And also, in CrossFit, we switch between them, quite frequently. Take Regionals 2014 Event 4. 21-15-9-6-3 of Strict HSPU/Front Squats/Burpees. What energy system are you using there? Quite a lot of them I’ll bet. Did I post a truly uninspiring time of 24:29 today because of lack of aerobic capacity on burpees, CP battery, maximum strength, or something else? A combination of all of those and I get lovely Raccoon eyes for the trouble too.


Watching these guys is better. Trust me.

If you’re weak at a particular area of CrossFit it absolutely has to be worked on. But without reintegrating that back into CrossFit those gainz will count for nothing. Shit at muscle ups. Okay go and develop them. But you have to be able to do them while out of breath from wall balls and double unders! If you blow up in metcons (go all anaerboic n shit) long runs with a HR monitor will help, but only if you learn how to bloody pace your damn workouts too!

Castro has gone out of his way to dispel common held believes in the fitness industry. PRs happen when extremely fatigued, we sprint at the start of a fricking half marathon row for God’s sake. It appears CrossFit has made a concerted effort to disprove any ‘laboratory science’ approaches to fitness. In fact I’ve argued before it seems CF doesn’t want you to game the sport either.

(As an aside Jacob Tsypkin wrote a good piece on PRs while fatigued you should check out.)

Workouts aren’t meant to be anything. Sure, as a coach you need to know what a workout is meant to do, but these workouts aren’t in and of themselves meant to do anything. We assign the meaning. “Fran” isn’t meant to be fast. It just is. Ditto “Diane”
(See here in Tabata Times where they talk about not going Rx’d because they’re meant to be done in some time. I’m calling bullshit.)

What if you really want to Rx Fran, and that’s your goal? You’ll never be a Sub-3er (that’s a term I just made up), but you want one. Have at it. Do 7 sets of 3 with 30 seconds rest in between if the thruster is heavy for you. Do your pull ups as strict singles because you haven’t spent reached a level where you can butterfly.

Samesies with Diane and handstand push ups.

Noah Olsen can do Amanda unbroken in 3 minutes flat for God’s sake. Does this mean that now it’s meant to be an unbroken workout?

Your coach should hopefully by now have an aim for the workout. But you can say it to your athletes in less technical terms. “Hey guys, we’re going to sprint for a real short time, then try and recover.” “Yo, this is going to be much more about fatigue than being gassy.”

OR, and fuck me if this isn’t a novel concept, you could apply individualisation for your group. Those who have their pull ups down can sprint through the first ten, and push hard on the runs. Those who are still learning, you guys use this to get some extra strength work in, and don’t worry if you don’t get to the later stages of a conditioning piece.

Is there a reason coaches should know that doing some steady state work carries over to greater recovery and such? Yes, but let’s not try blind our clients with that. “Hey man, you need to do some seriously light recovery rowing. Like, boringly slow.” That’s probably enough.

And I get that success in this sport could be distilled down to not going anaerobic, but that could just as easily translated into “Don’t Blow Up” or “Don’t get into panic breathing or reach failure.”

Do CrossFit. That means having short workouts, medium workouts, long workouts, heavy, light, taxing on the lungs and on the endurance, and switching between herculean efforts of strength and blinding speed of burpees and then back to serious concentration of handstand walking.

Finally, when you hear those that say they just CrossFit, like Froning and Khalipa, I’ll bet that they either deliberately or subconsciously balance out their workouts. I’m sure at some point Lars will do an analysis of the ratio of push to pull to squat to hinge to carry but I’d wager that Froning & Khalipa balance these in line with the sport. They also know how to approach metcons, and which ones are push hard and which ones are work on weaknesses. They’re doing a bunch of dedicated, focused work AND reintegrating them back in metcons.

‘Do CrossFit’ is not a licence to just throw any old shit together.

But seriously, fuck energy systems.

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