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Strengthen The Arch

“Everything is an Arch”
-Julian Pineau

“You need to do bis and tris.”  “If you train your chest, you have to train your lats in the same day.”  “I’m doing my abs and lower back routine, then both obliques.”

Heard this before? It’s not wrong. But where else does it apply? WHY do you need it? And How do you apply it? Well we’re going to answer those three questions right here. For further reading I’d advise you read this ARTICLE. I’m just a messenger, merely trying to elaborate on what smarter people have already said. And credit needs to be given where it is due. 

1. Where?
Some of the oldest structures in the world are made of an arch. Bridges, door ways, stone arches, etc… Any they’ll probably out stand the rest of the structure around them. The concept is simple. Take two towers and bend them till the tops of both touch, which are then held together by a key stone. The counter forces will create a cycle of reinforcement that only gets stronger the more it pushes on itself.


But.. what if one side of the sides is bigger than the other? You create unequal forces, and the whole thing comes tumbling down. Balance is necessary. Thankfully the body is less temperamental, and doesn’t self com-bust once one thing goes out of balance. To be more precise, thanks to the ever vigilant process of  homeostasis, the body will adapt and compensate for lack of balance. And that’s how we’re able to keep on keeping on doing the wrong things for so long. But like everything, there’s an end of the road that you inevitably meet. And like driving in a fog, the stop can come very abruptly, and what would seem without warning.

So where do we see opposites of the arch expressed in the human body and what are some of the consequences?

Anterior and posterior, chest and back, anterior shoulder and posteriors, quads and hamstring, the foot, etc. These are the simplest expressions. Essentially, each is playing a protagonist and antagonist simultaneously. Neither is better or worse.

Let’s go deeper. How about something you can’t see?
Anaerobic and aerobic systems, Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous system, gut bacterial ratios, life and death, drag, the atom, surface tension, photosynthesis and glycolysis, yin and yang…

You get the point. And while these are all fascinating pursuits, I know you’re here to read about the former, so let’s move on.    

We need balance in order to be sustainable, perform optimally and achieve long term goals and health. But what do you need to focus on first in order to lay a strong foundation? If we look at the CrossFit Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid (Top), you’ll notice that Metabolic Conditioning (Where the term METCON comes from) is the base of the exercise portion of the pyramid. While it might be tempting to skip to the weightlifting and use the pyramid on the bottom, I assure you, it’ll be the fast track to covering up weaknesses and not finding your biggest holes at the most basic level. I realize that flexibility and mobility might precede this, and there will be an article about that in the future, but for the sake of following the pyramid, we’re going to start with Metabolic Conditioning, or what we all think of when we hear “Metcon” or “W.O.D.”.   


  Theoretical CrossFit Hierarchy 

      Theoretical Hierarchy of a Competitive CF Athlete

Why do you need Metabolic conditioning before the higher levels? Well the better conditioning you have, the more work you can do and quickly recover from it. It’s the groundwork for everything above it. Want to be able to do more gymnastics or weight training? Take care of your conditioning first. It comes in (for the most part), two flavors: 

Anaerobic – A.K.A. Glycolytic 

(800m Sprint, 200m Sled push, 1-2 Min max Cal AAB, “Fran”, etc…)


Aerobic – A.K.A. Oxidative
(Marathons, long workouts like “Gaza”, lower intensity, etc…) 


The Phosphogenic system (A.K.A. Max Effort Pathway) on the chart is used for things like 1-2 RMs, 100m Sprints, stuff under ~10-ish seconds, etc.. and isn’t part of this discussion.

Focusing on conditioning by approaching it and trying to train BOTH energy pathways in their PUREST form, is the most effective way possible to find out which energy system needs the most work. If your training looks like all 30 min workouts on one side and none in the 2 min department, what do you think your arch will look like? Or better yet, what do you think it’ll feel like? In an upcoming article we’ll talk in greater detail about the whys behind this, but chances are you’ll find that if you gravitate more towards long workouts, you’ll have a very hard time finding that PUSH in very short workouts, and as time goes by, you’ll find you are now having a hard time pushing even in longer pieces, and it only snowballs from there. Only do short workouts? Strongmen are a great example of this. Their longest workout is usually 2 minutes of pure all out sell out. It doesn’t get much more intense than that. But ask them to do 5 rounds a 10 Power C+J and 20 Cal on the Rower… Dead after the first round or two.

If you have huge muscles, but very little blood flow to them, it’ll do you very little good.
Metabolic conditioning will give you:

Increased red blood cell count
Increased capillary and venule count
More Surface area on your lungs
Stonger heart contractions

For further reading see HERE.

All of this equals a more efficient system for processing energy and waste, which means you’ll get way more out of anything else you do in the gym.

But you need BOTH sides of the arch, or over time you’ll find yourself having issues. Some examples being lack of ability to push in a work out, lots of anxiety before a metcon or just falling out of love with fitness and there for taking care of yourself. All of which will be covered later. But for now, if you identify with any of the above, I suggest you keep reading. 


How do you know how balanced you are?
We’ll expound on this more in a month or two, once you’ve had about two months to try this out, but for now, here’s what I want you to do. I’m going to give you two workouts, and they’ll be posted every month (Except during the Open), at the beginning of the month, with the intention of testing your metabolic arch, and helping you highlight where you need to be spending your time. It should give you immediate feedback if done right. So here’s what we’re looking at:

1. A Continuous Movement Drill

2. A Purely Anaerobic Metcon 

You should have a good idea at the end of this where you stand. On the first of the month I’ll post the new pieces. Now let’s talk about what each one will entail:

1. Continuous Movement Drill

“High As Flow”
30 Min of Continuous Movement AMRAP
15/10 Cal Skil
10 Burpees
10 DBL KB Snatch **
300m Run
10 DBL KB Snatch **
10 Burpees

** Choose a weight you can flow with. Try to use the max sustainable weight. You should not hesitate to pick it up. It will should be light. Sub with American KBS is you find this too cumbersome.

How to approach this:
The intention is in the name. Once you start you can’t stop. If you feel like you need :01 off, but don’t give it to yourself, then great. Treat it as a 30 min run. Just don’t stop at any point. It doesn’t have to be super fast, you just can’t stop moving at any point. 

Anaerobic Metcon:
For Time
200m Sled Push
(Men: Left – Empty Team Sled – Pictured/ Women: Right – Dog Sled w/45# plate)

(If you are using the turf, that’s 9 laps (Down and back) You must push to the edge of the turf with hands on the sled)

3  Min Cap
(You need to shoot for as close to 2:00 min as possible or below)

How to Approach This:

All out sell out. Zero backing off at any time. This is anti-pacing in its purest sense. Yoda sad a lot of smart things, but my favorite Yoda moment is when Luke asked him what was in the cave, and Master Yoda responds with “You’ll find only what you bring in”.

These are the kinds of workouts are where you come face to face with who you are. And most people avoid them in exchange for the 30 min metcons where they can sweat or “Just move” and shut their brains off. Because if they did these, they might find they’re the kind of person who gives up easily. Be the hunter, not the hunted. Be present, be in the fight and fight all the way through, even when you feel your energy dipping. Anything else and you didn’t do it as intended, and you won’t get the feedback you need. Be there. Don’t think about anything else you need to do in your life. Emotionally and physically invest yourself in every second of it and refuse to back off.

Good luck.  

#behere #strongfit1 #burnthequestions 

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