As CrossFit athletes we are used to giving it our all. We all know that satisfying feeling after a gruelling WOD panting on the floor. Going hard is something that is praised in the sport and sometimes spurs you to higher achievements getting out those last couple of reps.
Still there is a big difference between going hard and working smart. I can still recall my first couple of workouts as a CrossFit athlete going as hard as I can the first five minutes. Just to be slammed down by ‘the man with the hammer’, gasping for air the grinding through the rest of the wod.
The master himself
Chris Hinshaw, the famous aerobic capacity coach in the CrossFit world puts its like this:
“We want to maximize the value of the workout, and with that have a chance to maximize the adaptation of that workout. What I see is that a lot of athletes underperform and are not getting the best out of their workout. Part of what we want people to learn is the value of pacing. There is a turnover point where you cant keep sprinting and you have to pace. When the workout takes you longer than 3 minutes you should have a pacing strategy. Pacing means maintaining the same speed from start to end”
It took me some time and listening to other athletes what the right way of pacing is in a Wod and to generate output throughout the whole workout. Soon I realized that a 20 minute wod should be attacked at a moderate 80% effort leading to a much more controlled output of energy. Also knowing which movements are weak and cost a lot of energy to perform was essential to this process.
Another eye opener for me was the development of deliberate breathing patterns throughout the wod. ‘you should choose a breathing point in a thruster’, a fellow crossfitter told me. I was a bit confused, but slowly came to the realization that I was holding my breath during the push-out of a thruster. I started to pay attention to my breathing patterns and soon realized that I was holding my breath in a lot of the movements where I had to generate power and momentum. The result of this was being out of breath really fast. I then broke down each CrossFit movement and chose a deliberate breathing point. This greatly improved my conditioning and provided much smoother transitions between movements. Where before I was gasping for air, now I could take fewer and shorter breaks in between movements.
Put it to the test
A quick test to put this theory in practice can be as simple as doing air squats. Take a minute and complete as much air squats as you can and write down the number. Now take a five minute break and redo the test, this time focusing in breathing out loud and clearly as you move up. This might feel a bit weird at first, But the second time should result in a higher amount of reps because of the deliberate breath control.
It can take a while to find the correct intensity to find the best pace and to analyse your breathing throughout all CrossFit movements and workouts. Just test it out at your local box or ask your coach for advice and have fun out there!