Nanook watches James do sit-ups.
We are in our first week of our September Beyond the Whiteboard Fitness Level UP Challenge. Are you enjoying the workouts we have programmed for you? We are doing workouts from all 8 Fitness Level categories. As we progress through the month you may find your Fitness Level moving up or down. It's important to remember that you are not one workout. Beyond the Whiteboard has a blog post that addresses this very issue.
Fitness Level: You Are Not One Workout
a Beyond the Whiteboard blog
"A lot of words describe Julie Foucher. Among them are smart (she’s going to be a doctor), fit (she’s one of the fittest in the world), determined, consistent, and hard working (be sure to read How Julie Foucher Became Julie Foucher to understand why). After what transpired at the Central Regional in 2017, we can also include inspirational. Julie tore her right achilles tendon, and, rather than end her weekend feeling sorry for herself, she finished the remaining three events in impressive fashion…in a boot.
In addition to being incredibly motivating and empowering, Julie also deals with an important issue every CrossFitter, at one point or another, has to deal with. That is, feeling unfit as a result of a singular workout performance.
“My 15.2 score was 8 reps less than last year’s score in 14.2. Does this mean I’m not fitter than I was last year? Absolutely not. 15.2 is one workout of many, and overall my metrics tell me I’ve the fittest I’ve ever been”
The Fitness Level Connection
It’s easy to understand that Julie is more fit than she was in previous years because of her constant competing. But what if you don’t compete on a regular basis? What if you never participate in a comprehensive, weekend long competition that tests all aspects of your fitness? How could anyone ever know? Fitness isn’t about your performance on one workout at your box on a random Tuesday. Fitness is about your performances on several different workouts across a broad range of time domains and movement combinations (ie. the Open).
Fitness Level is a number derived from 8 different, specific categories. The levels from each are averaged together to determine an athlete’s overall Fitness Level. The most well rounded individuals (users with high ratings for each of the categories) will have the highest overall Fitness Levels. It isn’t at all how well you perform on, for example, Fran (a workout that belongs to our Short category), but rather how you perform on a host of workouts from the Short category that determines your level for that category. While a low score on Fran, say 50, will pull your category score down, 80s and 90s on other workouts from the same category will help to pull it back up. The same is true for the other 7 categories that make up Fitness Level.
The same idea applies to an athlete’s overall Fitness Level. A poor rating in one category will pull a category rating down, but it only counts as 1/8 of an overall Fitness Level score. Most of us have either personally experienced, or know someone who’s experienced, the phenomenon of becoming more fit by giving up certain strengths in order to improve upon weaknesses. Perhaps the best example of this is the incredibly strong athlete losing size, and, as a result, strength numbers, but simultaneously improving MetCon capacity. The ratings for this hypothetical athlete’s Power Lifting and Olympic Lifting categories may drop, but the increases in the other 6 categories may be enough to ultimately improve his/her overall Fitness Level. The chart below shows an athlete lacking in the Power Lifts and Speed categories, but because the ratings for the other 6 categories are fairly high, this athlete still has a very respectable Fitness Level of 72. This athlete is not a 28, though he/she might feel like it sometimes when suffering through some of the short distance running and rowing Speed workouts.
In the end, your Fitness Level history, and how it’s trending, is all you need to know about your fitness.
Additional Factors To Consider
Let’s not forget about the other factors that go into each and every individual performance. For example, did Julie get enough sleep the night before 15.2? Was the environment as motivating as it was the prior year? While repeating workouts does wonders for tracking progress, it is often difficult to duplicate the exact environment, mindset, and motivation each time. That’s especially the case if your last performance was one for the ages. In Julie’s case, from what we can tell, her hands ripped early on during 15.2. At that point, 15.2 went from a predictable repeat workout, to an entirely different experience altogether.
Below are a list of additional factors that come into play when repeating a workout. Each can play a part in causing an athlete, who is more fit, to not PR. However, the design of our Fitness Level feature will help to negate these when/if they happen.
The stuff going on between the ears is the most powerful tool of all. Are you confident in your abilities? Do you trust that you’re more fit than last time? Or was your performance so awesome last time that you don’t know if you can duplicate that form? Personal records are often determined before the clock even starts.
Where are you performing the workout? Is it as motivating as the last time? Are you competing against others that push you? Are you by yourself? Athletes often perform up, or down, with their environment. Never underestimate the power of a buzzing atmosphere.
Have you been focusing on a certain aspect of your fitness to the detriment of others? Sometimes that’s by design. If a repeat workout happens to present itself during a stretch of biased training, a poor performance won’t tell you much about your fitness. Remember, you’re sacrificing now so that somewhere down the line you are more fit than ever.
We often take these items for granted. Maybe you didn’t drink enough water the day before the workout. Or, perhaps, your eating wasn’t as on-point as it could have been in the couple of days leading up to your workout. Even something as simple as getting one less hour of sleep than last time can be enough to keep you from achieving the same perfect storm of internal factors as last time.
Sometimes setting a PR has to do with everything going just right. As mentioned previously, Julie’s hands ripped early on in 15.2. There was no way for her to know that would happen, especially if it didn’t during 14.2. Another example could be getting “no repped” unexpectedly on an Open workout. How do you handle the workout now that your focus and plan have been tampered with? Do you crack under the pressure, or do you overcome the unforeseen obstacles? Sometimes the unknowable is a bit too much to overcome. For Julie, performing that many C2B pull-ups on ripped hands was always going to be a challenge. To her credit, she still only missed her PR by 8 reps!
Fighting Human Nature
It’s easy to get frustrated with a singular workout. It’s human nature. We want it all now. If every repeat performance isn’t a personal record, sometimes it feels like it’s the end of the world. You’ll likely encounter many of these “bumps” in the road on your fitness journey. The key is maintaining a long-term perspective. Fitness Level can be that perspective for you."
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