It's been a long week with work and finishing up at Tough Mudder. Monday is the start of Benchmark Week so I am re-posting from Benchmark week last September:
For those of you new to The Compound, or those of you who forgot, every 3 months we set aside a week for testing our Benchmarks. Benchmark week is this week and we will be testing the CrossFit Total, a 5K Run, and the workout "Fran". We will be doing these workouts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. If you cannot make one of those days, you can feel free to make them up on the other days of the week.
What is the CrossFit Total?
Weight lifting totals have been around as long as weight lifting has. In the sports of Olympic Lifting and Powerlifting, you have three attempts at each lift in the contest to lift the largest amount of weight you can. CrossFit, like these weightlifting sports, has a Total too. For those who have never done it, you get three attempts at a max Back Squat, Standing Overhead Press, and Deadlift. This was added a few years ago to CrossFit programming, because many CrossFitters were simply not strong enough to complete the workouts as prescribed. Strength days began to be programmed more often and the CF Total was born.
Preparing for the Total, you can take as many warm up sets as you need, but once you are warmed up in a particular lift you will have three attempts to hit a 1RM. The lifts must be completed in the order written, and are completed during the same session (you can't do the first two in the morning and the second two later that afternoon). You will need to employ some strategy. For the first attempt, go for something heavy but that you know you can lift. If you get that weight, go for a new PR weight on the second rep. If you get that rep, go for broke on the third attempt. If you didn't get the second attempt, drop the weight lower, but higher than your first attempt. The max weight of your three attempts will be your score in that lift. Take the max of all three of your lifts and add them up.
For a couple examples of how to "game" the Total, take a look at Brad's Training Log and Craig's Training Log from Friday 9.23.11. These examples are a different set of exercises, but the same idea.
What is the 5K?
The 5K Run is 3.11 miles of straight running to test our improvement in cardio vascular endurance and stamina. We have a course set out around the neighborhood of the gym, but you can certainly perform it anywhere using Google maps or 12.5 times around a track.
The goal is to sprint, run, jog, walk or crawl the 5 K as fast as possible, write down your time and beat it the next time. I find it helps to take a stop watch with me and mark landmarks during the run near the halfway point so I know when my pace is faster or slower than the time before.
What is "Fran"?
"Fran" is a CrossFit benchmark workout consisting of reps of 21, 15, and 9 of 95 lbs Thrusters and Pull ups. "Fran" not only combines weightlifting and a calisthenic element but is a powerful whole body workout containing functional hip, pushing, and pulling movements. The energy required for a proper "Fran" will draw from the glycolytic pathway, which is equal parts anaerobic and aerobic. Any physical efforts lasting in the 2-5 minutes range.
"Fran" will also exploit weakness. For many athletes the high rep Thrusters at 95 pounds are easy. For these same athletes Pull Ups may be deficiencies. Typically, these athletes are larger. Similarly, those athletes for whom Pull Ups are easy are nearly certain to bristle at these loads and high reps in the weightlifting. Typically, these athletes are smaller. Do these workouts favor middleweights? Yes and no. It can allow for faster turnover of the repetitions, however the pace they keep up will certainly leave them lying on the floor looking for air.
In preparation for each of these workouts; the CrossFit Total, 5 k Run, and Fran; the goal is intensity. However, they all draw the majority of their energy from different energy systems and therefore require completely different types of intensity. Doing these workouts and applying yourself 100% when they come around is the goal for the week.
If you do them you will get better, if you get better at all of these you are becoming fitter. If you get better at two of the three, you are getting fitter. If you get better at one of the three, you are certainly better in that aspect of your fitness, but perhaps you have let other areas fall to the wayside. I know that even though my strength numbers are way up, my 5K and "Fran" will most likely be worse than before. This is a chance for me to take a snapshot of my current fitness and I can guide my training in the right direction for the next three months to improve in all areas.