I’ve recently been peppered with the question, “why didn’t we do [insert hero/”epic” WOD here] on Thanksgiving? Or on other “occasions” for that matter. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll answer that question with another question. Why are you here? I don’t mean this as a philosophical debate. Literally, why are you a member of Viking Athletics?
Regardless of your specific answers, the overarching theme for the vast majority of people is “to get results.” Your results, and the metrics you use to measure them, may be unique to you. But at the end of the day, you’re paying us to provide you a service to get you where you want to go. And it is our job as coaches to get you there. We didn’t perform a hero WOD on Thanksgiving for 3 reasons.
First, I’d like to acknowledge that yes, in CrossFit, we tend to perform hero or epic WODs on holidays. And many of these holidays involve overindulging on food and/or alcohol. Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, etc. The point of a hero WOD is to challenge yourself mentally and physically, and in doing so, to remember and honor those who have died in service to our country. So, it makes sense to perform these WODs on patriotic holidays. Unfortunately, many of us lose sight of the reason behind these WODs, and instead treat them as a down payment on the abundance of food/booze we’re going to crush later that day.
“I need to get this workout in so I can eat later.”
“I have to earn my food today.”
Sound familiar? How about the day after indulging? It’s the same mindset as “I need to burn off what I ate yesterday.” In all instances it shows an unhealthy relationship between food, exercise, and health. Essentially, exercise serves as punishment for what is perceived as bad diet behavior. And yet that attitude is more unhealthy than the food consumed. In an effort to combat this attitude, we opted to avoid an “epic” workout on feasting day. .
Piggy backing on this, in order to build muscle and strength, we need to be in a caloric surplus. While doing this consistently is the best way to build muscle, even for a day, it can be helpful. Thanksgiving Day saw us perform a strength only workout – a main lift, and some accessories. Given the after feast that most people had, rich in protein and carbs, this is a perfect anabolic day. .
Finally, in order to achieve the best results, we need to build your fitness over time. It takes planned progression, with consistent adherence to do this. To show that you’ve made progress, we measure performance using lifts, other skills, and reasonable benchmark workouts. On rare occasions, it’s nice to deviate from the plan for the sake of challenge. The downside of doing this is that the resulting soreness can put you out of commission for a few days, so you miss workouts. Keep throwing together a bunch of epic workouts on a regular basis, and you’re going to stagnate and fail to progress. There’s a balance to be struck here, and for most people, it means a very occasional big workout.
So, when do we see these tough, epic workouts? We already mentioned patriotic holidays. We take great pains to pick hero WODs that will cause you the least amount of pain. Sure, we have “Murph” every Memorial Day. But, we build up to it. And, we have the Open every March, which has weekly gut checks. Once again, we build to this. In fact, these events, since they’re the same date each year, allow us to structure our program annually, so that we can test year after year. But, once again, there’s always a plan.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: any idiot can make you tired. A good workout will make you better. So, if we opt not to perform a crazy workout on a holiday, it’s all in the name of progress. To do otherwise would be a disservice to you, our paying members. It’s all part of the bigger picture. See you in the gym.
by Erik Castiglione