It’s unclear when or why it happened, but somewhere along the way an unexplainable force took hold of the human population and convinced us that a workout isn’t a workout unless you sweat continuously for more than 20 minutes.
The great majority of people who first walk through our doors aren’t satisfied with their “workout” unless their heartrate stays above 140 bpm for a prolonged period of time.
This is absolutely false: You don’t need to do metabolic conditioning every day to get in a workout or to gain fitness, for that matter.
Truth is, conditioning is sort of the easiest thing we do. Well, it’s not that it’s easy; it’s just that less thought and focus needs to go into conditioning than into strength training or skill work. Let’s put it this way: Even a dog or a horse can develop better stamina and endurance through conditioning. From 7 minutes of burpees to 100 jumping jacks for time, to chasing your dog around the block—getting more conditioned is quite simple.
Why do we condition as much as we do then, you ask?
Simple: We try to blend giving you what you want with what you need, and simply put, programming more conditioning gets more people through the doors.
In an ideal world, though, we would probably only have you do two or three days a week of conditioning. The rest of your time would be spent on strength work, skill work, mobility/stability and accessory work; they are like your macro-nutrients: To be taken seriously! While conditioning is more like the dessert at the end of the meal.
The point is, we want to stop people from being “What’s the workout” junkies! (They exist in every gym, and it’s time we stop them).
“What’s the workout” junkies are known to gloss over and rush through strength pieces because they’re too busy saving their energy for what they consider the “workout” to be at the end of the hour. They watch others around them grind through 5 x 5 back squats at 85% of their 1 RM, meanwhile “what’s the workout” junkies don’t even know what their 1RM max even is. Instead, during strength sessions, they’re usually found chit-chatting, checking their iPhones and taping their hands in preparation for what they real care about: The conditioning!
“When are we starting the workout?” they ask, bored by heavy back squats.
And on days where there is no conditioning, they complain that the workout isn’t hard enough and either skip the gym or stick around after class and hit Annie or go for a 5 km run.
Here’s the truth: If you’re not more scared to do a 5 x 5 back squat than you are of a 12-minute AMRAP of KB swings and burpees, you’re probably not tapping into your true potential!
Talk to any CrossFit Regionals or Games-level athlete and ask them generally what will help them make more gains? Heavy squatting, Olympic weightlifting, strict pulling and pushing and midline accessory work? Or random, bootcamp-style AMRAPS everyday?
Do these top-level athletes push themselves hard and hit metabolic conditioning workouts ever week? Of course! But they know the gains aren’t made during conditioning. The gains are made during their strength and skill work training, which then allows them to be more efficient during conditioning workouts.
So if you think you might be a “What’s the workout” junkie, the next time you find yourself checking out the lesson plan on the website and you catch your eyes scrolling down to the conditioning portion of the session—or contemplating whether or not you should go to the gym because there doesn’t appear to be conditioning that day—scroll back up and pay attention to the strength or skill, mobility or warm-up piece on the menu. It’s where the #gainz are made.