From time to time you will see the inclusion of a ‘Heavy Day’ in our WOD program. These days are characterised by a smaller number of repetitions 1-5 reps for 4-6 sets using traditionally barbell or in some cases gymnastic movements.
These days are a unique opportunity to ensure that you are working the whole continuum of the energy systems. Heavy days are on the short end of that continuum, utilising the ATP-PC system. Think a heavy 3 reps of back squat for the day with 4 back off sets at 80% or a 5RM weighted ring dip for example.
There is a tendency amongst those who are new to CrossFit® to avoid these types of day, in favour of the classic metabolic conditioning (getting hot and sweaty in a WOD or Engine) however there are a number of benefits to getting stuck in to a heavy day.
- Chance to work on a single modality in a class scenario and learn lots from your coach. With no time pressure you often will pick up a lot more technical cues.
- You will reduce the time taken to get stronger by focussed Heavy Days every week or every two weeks.
- Using the concept of relative intensity, a CrossFit® coach can have any athlete lift a load that is relatively heavy for him or her. As well as strength, this can build bone, technique and really important confidence!
- To quote Mark Rippetoe, ‘Stronger people are harder to kill, and generally more useful.’ there may be some truth to this…
A caveat with approaching Heavy Days is that it’s very important that your movement pattern and mechanics are highly developed before adding load (intensity in this case). This principle of quality movement, and consistency in moving well before intensity avoids putting a glass ceiling over yourself when it comes to progressing.
“It is worth noting that even within a metabolic-conditioning workout, depending on the task and capacity of the athlete, any number of exercises may build strength. Push-ups for novices build pressing strength similar to a bench press, and attempting a 95-lb. thruster for a new CrossFit® athlete builds squatting strength. As an athlete’s strength increases, however, push-ups and 95-lb. thrusters tend to favor other adaptations, such as stamina, and greater loads are necessary to further increase top-end power”
The above is a quote from this article: https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/heavy-days from within the CrossFit® Journal. It’s well worth a read for more of a geek out session.
See you at the bar(bell)