It's Total Time

Kathryn braves the 5:30 AM rain this morning. She's the model of consistency and her workout is her priority. She is ready for the Total.

Kathryn braves the 5:30 AM rain this morning. She's the model of consistency and her workout is her priority. She is ready for the Total.

Depending on who you are, the CrossFit Total can elicit diametrically opposed feelings from dread and avoidance to thrill and anticipation...and everything in between. Regardless of how you feel, performing the Total is an essential component of your strength and conditioning journey. Performed periodically, the Total provides an ongoing benchmark of your progress and a means to help you to more precisely and effectively scale your WODs.  Plus, it is just plane old fun to test your limits in a safe, encouraging, energized environment and to watch and encourage fellow athletes. Leading up to tomorrow’s Total, I cut out highlights from this CrossFit Journal Article on the Total by Mark Rippetoe to give you a better understanding of what to anticipate. I encourage you to read the whole article if you have time, but definitely read what follows.

Before we get started tomorrow, we will walk everyone through a warm up, provide detailed instruction, help you develop a strategy, and answer any questions you may have. As always, safety and proper form take precedence. We have spent lots of time going though form and standards for the three lifts, the squat, the press and the deadlift, so I have confidence that everyone understands each lifts’ requirements.  The article does a great job breaking down the standards for each and I encourage you to read it.

Look forward to seeing everyone here tomorrow at some point! Bring your best and a great attitude.

The idea is that when you post a CrossFit Total, yours will be done to the same standards as everyone else’s. The lifts must be easy to judge, easy to understand, and as difficult to corrupt as possible. By starting out with a clear picture of what we want and don’t want from a CrossFit Total, many millions of hours of bitching, hard feelings, and confusion can be averted. It must be understood that good form in the lifts is inherent in the rules for testing them.

The order for performing the three lifts will be squat, press, and then deadlift. The best single attempt for each of the three lifts are added together for the CrossFit Total. There is no time limit for each lift or for the length of the session in which they are all performed, but they must all be performed during one session—i.e., you cannot leave the area to rest or perform other activities between the three lifts. Multiple progressions to the best attempt are not allowed; do not work up to your best squat, then change an item of equipment or clothing and work up to it again to try to better your first effort.

Here are some basic precautions that need to be followed for safety:

1) Don’t be stupid.

Don’t total if you’re injured to the extent that a total will aggravate the problem. This will cost you in at least training time, and possibly time off of work if you’re ultra-stupid.

2) Don’t be greedy.

Learn to recognize the difference between greed and ambition, and be merely ambitious.

3) Don’t be pig-headed.

If your first attempt tells you that you need to lower your second, do so, without a misplaced sense of diminished self-worth. It’s a test, and it’s designed to measure what’s there, not create something that’s not. That’s what training is for.

The first attempt would be a weight you know you can do for a heavy set of three. The second attempt would be a weight you know without any doubt that you could do for a single, having just done the first attempt. And the third attempt is the weight you want to do, based on your performance on the previous two attempts. If you have made a mistake setting your first attempt, the next two will need to be adjusted, but you should know what you can triple, and this will always be a safe first attempt. And since you know this weight, you know what weights to use to warm up for it: you’ll use the lightest weight that you normally start with for your first warm-up when you train, and 90% of the first attempt for the last warm-up, with either three or four relatively even increments in between these two. For instance, warm-ups for a 405-pound first attempt on the squat would be:

  • 135 x 5
  • 185 x 3
  • 225 x 2
  • 275 x 1
  • 325 x 1
  • 365 x 1