Take a Breath: How Slowing Down Can Make You Faster

A lot of athletes will look to give each WOD their all and that’s great, but sometimes going 100 percent is the wrong strategy. Let’s look at a workout we had awhile ago which was 30 hang squat snatches and 30 TTB. The prescribed weight was fairly heavy 135/95. Most people would see the workout and the 15-minute time cap and say to themselves, “I need to put the pedal to the metal since I’ll be doing singles and doubles on the snatches and go all out.” But that mindset is wrong. When you push yourself too hard during movements like a snatch which takes a lot of energy and concentration to complete one rep, you will start putting too much pressure on yourself and miss reps. Let’s say you fail every third rep because you’re trying to go too fast and move at too fast a pace. That will waste anywhere from 5-10 seconds. That’s a lot of time when you multiply it by 10 or even 20 for longer workouts. The better strategy is to breathe and ready your mind and body for each rep which is as simple as taking a nice deep breath and exhaling before preparing to lift. That might take 3 seconds, but that 3 seconds will help you not miss reps and drop your time down even though you might feel slower.

Another strategy that will speed you up by slowing you down is to consider the term “red line.” Red line in CrossFit is generally considered that point when an athlete hits their maximum threshold. Think of this as your 100 percent. Most elite athletes can hover very close to their red line, for example if an elite athlete is doing rowing intervals and their PR 500m is 1:20, they could hold a pace above 85 percent of that for the duration of the workout. For us mere mortals we need to think of this in perspective to our workouts and how to translate this to our own workouts. Since we will not be doing intervals of 500m row anytime soon, (hopefully) let’s look at another workout: 18.1 was AMRAP 20 minutes of 8 TTB, 10 Hang Power Cleans, and 14 Calorie Row. I am sure many people got that feeling after the second round they completed that they felt like they got smacked in the stomach and were gasping for air. This is very common: going out of the gate too fast happens to the best in the world. But luckily this allows us to learn and grow. So going back to 18.1, the smartest way to approach a workout of this length is to go slow, I mean slow! That means do not look to the person next to you and try to beat them in the first round, do not go all out! That means stay far away from your “red line”, think about finding a pace that is fast but sustainable for the entire 20 minutes. This will allow you to keep moving, take shorter breaks and not get smacked in the face by the brick wall called your red line!

The other perspective of slowing down is not only in one workout or lift but it revolves around training. Personally, it took a lot of time for me to gain skills that help me move faster during a WOD, for example kipping HSPU or butterfly pull ups. You might come into the gym, see “Fran,” and be like “I need to bust my ass to beat my PR.” But why do that if you’re doing pull-ups with bad form or no gymnastic skill. It is pointless to try so hard when you can easily attain those goals by taking some days off to work on a skill instead of the workout. Imagine for a month every time pull-ups were programmed you used that WOD to practice kipping or butterfly. You would probably feel bad because you’re not pushing yourself as hard as everyone. But taking that step back will allow you to take a lot more steps forward. After that month you’ll hit Fran with a new skill and shave a lot of time off.

Hope you enjoyed that and took some useful information away from it. Now go attack your next WOD as slow as possible!!!

-Coach Dori

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