The Suckiest Workouts Are the Most Important

Think of the things you REALLY don’t enjoy doing. It’s different for everyone. Some of you hate running long distances. Some of you hate overhead squats. Some of you hate ring muscle ups. Some of you hate that awful front rack position and anything associated with it (present company included on that one). We all have movements or specific workouts we just loathe BUT what do you notice everything I said has in common? 

It’s all just ONE thing. The suckiest workouts are most always the workouts that have ONE modality. Remember those 1000m intervals we did on the rower a few weeks ago? Dreadful. A couple weeks ago, we programmed a 7K run. I commended our members for being here for that one, but don’t particularly remember anyone jumping for joy and being in a state of euphoria before we started. How about 5 sets of 10 overhead squats? We haven’t done that in a while but those of you that have know just how hard that is. 

Here’s what I’m getting at: CrossFit originally began, not as a new fitness methodology, but as a program that just did a workout from every strength and conditioning program ever created to that point. It was the contention of Coach Glassman that he or she who had the novice capacity of an 800m track athlete, weightlifter and gymnast would have an elite level of fitness for their age group. It wasn’t until he began mixing elements of various disciplines that CrossFit became its own unique methodology. In the early days, it was not uncommon to go through a week of: Run 10K, 1 rep max deadlift, 100 pull-ups for time. 

It was a very simple thought experiment. If you could squat double bodyweight or more, if you could run a mile under 5 minutes, if you could do 100 push-ups without stopping, you would undoubtedly be a more formidable human. Spending time doing those single element workouts is really what drives your fitness and specifically the thing you REALLY hate doing. I know for me right now it’s lifting heavy weight. It doesn’t matter what the movement is, if it’s heavy, I don’t want to do it. It is up to me then to spend more time lifting heavy weight if I want to improve my fitness. 

During the CrossFit Level 1 training course, one of the lectures is our “What is Fitness?” lecture and usually the seminar staff member giving it always quotes the same capacity. They’ll say, “We don’t want an 800lb back squat or a sub-4 minute mile. We want a 500lb back squat and a sub-5 minute mile.” A few years ago Dave Castro wrote in his book that he thought it would be very unlikely for even a CrossFit Games Athlete to do a 500lb back squat, sub-5 minute mile AND he also threw in 50 unbroken pull-ups. Well…someone did – watch it

You don’t have to watch the whole thing. You can scroll ahead to the 3:15 mark to watch the run and then scroll ahead to the 12:50 mark to watch the squat and pull-ups. 

Do you think this guy would also have an elite Fran time? Absolutely. Do you think his Nancy time would be flying? Of course. How did he do this? He gave an interview about a week after. Now, mind you, he’s been doing CrossFit for quite some time, BUT he said that he was doing his normal CrossFit stuff and would add in an extra squat and running session each week. That’s it. If you’re not a great long distance runner, improve your 10K. If you’re not a great weightlifter, get a heavier squat. If you’re not a great gymnast, do more strict pull-ups. Isolate those things and you’re now a much more formidable human. 

One movement workouts. They sure do suck but they sure are important.


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