Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Case for Pacing Your Efforts

Let me start off this post by saying that I love EDT (escalating density training) and I am very impressed with all the things that CrossFit has done/is doing for the fitness industry. That said, I see the wisdom in training with a slower tempo depending on training goals. In my own training, I am trying to realign my training methods with my goals and have decided that pace work will be a necessity if I want to compete in girevoy sport and not embarrass myself.

One of the lessons that I took home from Catherine Imes' workshop was the idea of training lifts at a steady and controlled pace. For example, instead of doing as many jerks as possible in 5:00, do 30 jerks in 5:00 (1 repetition every 10 seconds). Obviously, with this kind of training, you find yourself simply holding the weight in the overhead and rack positions for longer periods of time, but the actual repetitions themselves are still fast.

                                   

    The Overhead Position                      The "Rack" Position

(rest position for the snatch)             (rest position for the jerk)



Pacing your work in this way does a few things:

1) Forces you to find a way to "relax" inbetween repetitions
- although it is definately not easy to stand in one position with a heavy weight bearing down on you, it can be considered a VERY active rest rather than an exertion

2) Develops patience and pain tolerance
- more time in a given bout = more opportunities for you mind and body to say "Hey, why don't you just set down the weight and relax a little?". In addition, it requires patience and will to not start panicking and pick up the pace when you begin sucking wind

3) Develops supportive strength
- strong bones, tendons, and ligaments are as important to strength as muscles are and time under tension in the beginning or lockout position is, arguably, a more efficient way to do it

4) Allows you more time to concentrate on technique rather than repetitions
- despite every approach's admonition to never sacrifice quality for quantity, when the goal is to get as many repetitions as possible, form will be sacrificed, especially in people who have not developed strong technical habits to begin with

The first three qualities above are all-important when you are given 10:00 to complete as many repetitions as possible without setting the bell down and (in the kettlebell snatch) when you are only allowed one hand switch. #4 (focus on technique rather than reps) is an important quality for training. In competition, you need to "be the squirrel".

In training, it is important to evaluate rep efficiency and paced training can be a important tool in the toolbox to do this. If I were to liken it to competitive swimming, I would compare it to swimmers who, year after year, churn away without regard to stroke efficiency - although their conditioning may continue to improve, without maximizing distance per stroke and only focusing on stroke rate, their gains are nowhere near their maximum potential.

4 comments:

Snizshizzle said...

I did this on my light days while doing ROP and it helped out A LOT.

I found myself rushing through my snatches and it just made my form deteriorate. I would tire myself out in seconds.

Pacing really makes your snatches a lot more efficient and effective.

Franklin said...

I just watched your 50 rep 32kg snatch youtube video .. an outstanding feat and incredibly inspirational. I'm happy that Master of Sport Catherine Imes was able help you improve on your technique.

Catherine Imes said...

Nice post Boris. Yes, I watched your video, and will rewatch it, but it looked pretty good.

I would be interested in seeing what you could do with the 24kg as a baseline. When you feel like doing a paced test, let me know how you do. I would see how long you could go at around 15rpm and note where your failure point is, ect.

Boris said...

Snizshizzle,
Thanks for dropping in. I agree completely.

Franklin,
Thanks. Someday, I'd like to get more than that/hand, but got a long way to go.

Catherine,
Thanks for checking the video! I will try the 24 kg, 15rpm sometime in the next couple of weeks.