Workout modifications and better scaling options are coming to a workout near you. We’re giving you more options to create a better workout for each person and helping to make everyone a better athlete. If you’re wondering why, how, and what’s coming, here are the nuts and bolts of it all.
From the beginning, what we’ve wanted is to create better movers and help people become more capable and athletic than they were yesterday. It’s less about how much you can lift and more about how well you lift. Becoming more athletic is one of the most important aspects of the training we do here. As fun as it may be to do banded pullups or kipping pullups without having a strict pullup, you are doing yourself a disservice in the long run. In fact, WE are doing YOU a disservice by letting you get away with those movements. How many of you are using a band for pullups. How long have you been using the bands? Do you see an end in sight?
The pullup is one example, but most movements, including pushups, box jumps, barbell movements, handstand pushups, and even runs need alterations. To elicit the proper physiological response for a particular workout, modification may be required.
We believe that everyone should be able to properly execute 7 primal movements through space in time in a safe manner while keeping the proper posture and position throughout. Those movements come from Power Athlete and are: vertical pressing, vertical pulling, horizontal pressing, horizontal pulling, hip hinge, lunge, and step-up. These 7 movements make up the basic requirements for everyday function.
With every movement you are doing, the first priority is on posture and position. If you can’t execute the full range of motion without compromising your posture, then you need to back off the intensity until your position is better. This is the reason we ask you to do pushups on an elevated box and ring rows at an elevated angle. It’s the reason we say to not touch the back knee on a lunge unless you can do it with perfect posture. If you are rounding your back in a deadlift or your pelvis is tucking underneath you on a back squat, you should be doing less weight, less intensity or more limited range of motion until you can demonstrate the ability to keep that position healthy.
Metcons and Workout Intentions
When looking at TrainHeroic to see the workout how many of you consider how long the workout is going to take? When we program the workout, we have an idea of how long it SHOULD take as well as what response we think you should get from the workout.
You may notice that many workouts have a time cap on them. When we put a time cap on a workout, this isn’t done because we don’t want you to do the Rx weights or that we don’t want you to finish a workout. It’s because we’re trying to guide you in a direction to finish the workout in the prescribed time frame that we programmed for.
When you do a 6-minute workout that takes you 26 minutes, you are not getting the benefit we were aiming for. In fact, you’re not even doing the same workout. Conversely, if we tell you the workout should take about 25 minutes, but you scale to the point of making it 8 minutes, you didn’t get the intended result either. With this information in mind, it’s not enough to do the prescribed weights to get the “Rx” next to your name; you also need to do the workout within the prescribed time frame.
When we ask you to modify the workout—whether that means more or less weight, modified variations of the movement, or less distance traveled—it’s because we want you to succeed in receiving the proper workout benefits.
Workout Examples and modifications
I’m going to give you a few workouts that we may do and some proper modifications you may do to get the same workout intention.
30 Power Clean & Push Jerks for time @135/95.
The time cap for this workout is 5 minutes. This workout is meant to be at easy to moderate weight with a high level of intensity. Several of you may have done this workout and if you have, you know that it gets spicy. Many of you can finish in the prescribed time frame, many of you cannot. The acceptable modifications for this workout would be to pick a weight that you could do 6-10 reps in a minute. The workout should take you 3-5 minutes. Next time you do it, increase the weight and try to keep the same or faster time. Once you can do the prescribed weight within the time frame, then you can start getting faster at that.
21 American KB Swings @ 24/16kg
I would say the time cap on this workout is around 12 minutes. So the first thing we can do is to scale the run to 200m if the 400m takes you longer than 2 minutes. If you can’t do the kettlebell swings unbroken on at least the first round, I’d suggest that you go down in weight on the swings or do fewer reps. And finally, you should be able to do the first set of pullups in no more than 2 sets, the 2nd and 3rd round in 3 sets or less. If you need to break it more than that, then maybe 10 or 8 pullups is more appropriate.
If you cannot do pullups, then you should scale by doing a scaling option that challenges you and is possible. You’ll start to notice that we aren’t going to let you do banded pullups. Whatever variation we settle on, you shouldn’t be going to the time cap.
5 rounds for time
6 Power Cleans @ 155/105
20 min cap on this workout. First, if you cannot do the power cleans in a minute you need to decrease the weight. I would almost say if you can’t do the first round in 30 seconds you should probably go down in weight. If you cannot do 12 pushups, you should do these on a box or bench, elevated. If you know me, shitty pushups are my biggest pet peeve in exercising. I don’t like seeing pushups on the knees because I like you to control your entire body if possible. Seeing good posture throughout your whole body is important. And you can scale that better by moving it down onto plates or whatever when you get better. Scale the run to something you can finish within two minutes (200s or whatever).
A new take on the same workout
Here, what we’re looking at is the same exact reps as above in two different ways. In the first (as written above), let’s say your rounds are something like this:
Round 1: 2:15
Round 2: 2:45
Round 3: 3:20
Round 4: 4:00
Round 5: 3:45
Total time: 16:05
The second scenario is a different setup, but the same reps. Here, we have you do the same workout, but with a 2-minute rest after each round. In this fashion, your rounds would be vastly different than the first scenario. If you were to take a 2:00 rest and were instructed to keep the rounds as similar as possible, and unbroken if possible your workout could be something closer to this:
Round 1: 2:30
Round 2: 2:35
Round 3: 2:45
Round 4: 2:45
Round 5: 2:45
Total time: 13:15
You could probably imagine the first scenario going similar to written, with the rounds getting progressively worse as you go. The second workout would take longer on the clock, but your power output wouldn’t drop so drastically and you would be getting more out of the workout. Your fitness would actually increase because your power production would increase.
Getting injured in the gym is unacceptable. Every sport has injuries and training hard will have the potential for injury. However, if you get hurt while training, you can’t perform outside the gym. If that is a sport or activity in which you compete, that’s not good. If you are training for your regular life’s activities and you have to miss work or life because you got hurt doing improper movements, that’s not good either. Remember, the goals of going to the gym in the first place revolve around health improvement, not competition and injuries. No matter what your goals are, take your training seriously and remember that every day isn’t a competition. NFL players don’t compete every day. They compete 16 times/year. They spend the rest of the year training for those 16 days.
Seeing the bigger picture
Most of you at the gym have been here for a while. If you aren’t currently considering what the bigger picture of each workout is, you should start. We give you a time frame and ask you to complete things in a certain way. As time goes on, we’re going to ask more and more from your critical thinking. This is only in the interest of your fitness and progression as an athlete. If you have no idea about where you should modify your workouts, ask your coaches, we’re here to help you.
We are always trying to tweak and figure out how to help make you better athletes and get the most from your workouts. These changes are some of many coming your way. Let us know if you have any questions about these modifications and if you need any clarifications. We’d be glad to help you out.