Monday, April 22, 2013

Muscle Fatigue and the SVG FIT Couplet

CrossFit Games Sledgehammer
Good morning, Savages!

Before diving into the meat of this article, it's worth caveating ALL of this with the following: you are not going to see ANY results worth the effort you are putting into this program if you are not also modifying your diet to compensate both for your weight (if you are trying to shed pounds) and for the amount of work you're doing. The NUMBER ONE biggest mistake I see people make is assuming, because they've made it through a brutal workout, that gives them carte blanche to eat whatever the hell they want. NO!

Your body is a machine - when you fuel it correctly and adequately, it performs like a monster. When you pour sugar in the tank and eat like crap, your performance suffers and you will not lose the weight you want to lose. It's just that simple.

Whew! With that being said - two things:

1) This is not necessarily a weight-loss post!

2) I LOVE questions - keep them coming.

A question was posed to me today:

Why do the Couplets for the Heavy portion of the workout?.

I realized this probably hadn't been addressed; at least not adequately. So I thought I would do a little write-up on it for everyone. It important to note that CrossFit, while a terrific program and ultimate ass-kicker, is not the only program competitive athletes train to. The MetCon is only a part of their daily routine, and it is with a similar mindset to which I approach the programming at SVG FIT. Strict CrossFit programming will undoubtedly produce an increased capacity over time, but it will not inherently create a stronger athlete with random 7x1 strength training.

Regular participation in weightlifting will result in increased strength, an increase in definition and size of muscles and, overall, a generally trim figure over time. We all know this! Running miles at a time or going to that Supreme Cardio Extreme 200 Ninja X (patent pending) workout will not have the same effect!

Lifting weights, even body weight HIIT stresses the body and is far more beneficial for weight loss over time than running or ANY strictly cardio workout. Aside from the simple fact that you are creating muscle which is much more beneficial than fat when it comes to efficiency at consuming calories, you are also engaging in a greater EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect than cardio. The EPOC is the phenomenon where the body continues to run along in an advanced state for many hours after the conclusion of an anaerobic workout involving external stiumuli (in our case - weights). In order for the body to fully appreciate the benefits of a weightlifting session, however, we have to stress it. We have to put the body in a state uncertainty that elicits a response - that response, over time, is muscle growth, heart conditioning and an increase in overall capacity.

CrossFit Handstand Walk

From a capacity-building standpoint, take the following excerpt from Alwyn Cosgrove:
Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).
The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively). Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.
Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss. However, the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.
CrossFit Front Squat

So, to come back around to original question - why the couplet? - we look at the single lift we do daily and quickly come to the conclusion that the solitary movement, despite being multi-functional in its mechanics, may not be enough of a stressor for the body to which it feels the need to respond. By creating the couplet, the intent is to add a layer of uncertainty for the body to deal with. This additional level of fatigue-inducing exercise forces the body to compensate and ensures a greater response (i.e. musculoskeletal growth) in a shorter amount of time.

In-short, it is critical that each session (with the exception of the Deload weeks) be an overload of the muscle groups being targeted. Creating the couplet ensures the desired response.

Stay Savage, My Friends!
Matt Everhart

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