Leave a Little in the Tank

Photo Credit: Benjamin Von Wong


This past weekend I kept my workouts on the lighter side in terms of weight, volume and (more importantly) intensity. At the end of both workouts I noticed something - I felt good. I didn't feel wiped, starving, or a drop in blood sugar. I felt like I could have done more, but I didn't.

There's something to be said for a 50-60% percent effort. Sometimes you need an easy day. You can't give a 100% or 110% (that's just silly) every day. If you go out there with the mentality that you're going to punish yourself every day, you're going to either get injured or crash and burn, Mav. You can't "compete everyday." That's ridiculous. Your body and your hormones can't keep up at that pace or intensity level over the long term. It's simply not sustainable. 

I've come and gone with CrossFit over the years and my reason for burnout in the past was because I didn't cycle my training. I didn't think far enough ahead to give myself scheduled deload days and deload weeks, to take vacations from metcons, or to scale back the intensity.

There's a difference between training, testing and competing. In CrossFit that line has gotten blurred, especially by those newer to it who are still in the honeymoon phase. I've been around this stuff for the better part of a decade so for me the honeymoon is over. I know what to expect. I know how most workouts are going to feel. I know how to game them. But most importantly, I know the difference between training, testing and competing. 

Training is your day-to-day sessions (metcons, strength, skill work, etc). You want to get a good workout, achieve the desired stimulus, work on the things you need to work on, and then go home and recover. You work hard, but you don't need to keep peeling yourself off the floor each and every training session.

Testing is doing a benchmark workout (or something in a similar vein) for the second, third, or 50th time in the hopes of improving on your previous best effort (which hopefully wasn't done yesterday). This would also apply to strength lifts where you might do max reps of a given weight on your last set. Pulling your previous one-rep max for two or three reps means you had a good day, it's not a max effort PR. There's a difference. 

Competing is a completely different mindset. Whether it is a competition like the CrossFit Open or some locally held event with multiple workouts in a day, or even a CrossFit, Powerlifting, or Olympic total, those are the times where you find that extra gear, you dig a little deeper and you truly test yourself. You can't max out every day.

You have maybe 12 of those efforts in you in a given year. There needs to be periods in your training where you go at 50-60% to deload the body and the mind. Sometimes less is more. Leave a little in the tank. 

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