You Don’t Know What you Got Until It’s Gone…. or When You Come Back

Social media has been buzzing this week as the anticipation grows with CrossFit Boxes and Gyms reopening after Lockdown 3.0.  This one hurt a bit more as things were considerably darker and colder as everyone retreated to their lounges and garages with whatever equipment they could muster up.  Initially, everyone had plans to build their fitness, run some miles, do that burpee challenge, hit the Zoom classes. Slowly it turned into let’s just try to maintain some fitness and hopefully the lockdown won’t be too long.  Lockdown 1.0 taught me some valuable lessons. 

👉 Even though I trained regularly with dumbbells and my bodyweight in my garden, hit the track for a few sessions, and kept up with my mobility, I lost some valuable aspects to my training. When I came back, I lost considerable tissue tolerance, I lost some aerobic/anaerobic capacity, and I lost some strength.  I was just starting to get into a groove when the next Lockdowns took hold. I’ll explore why in this blog post.

I describe tissue tolerance as the ability for the tendons, ligaments, muscles, etc. to tolerate a load as governed by our nervous system.  Our governor of our nervous system is our brain.  Our brain’s number one job is to protect.  The beautiful thing about our brain is it has a little buffer to protect us when we do some stupid stuff.  In most instances our brain will stop us long before we do real tissue damage.

Hanging from a pull up bar and doing pull ups, chest to bar pull ups, and muscle ups are exactly the opposite of sitting at our lap-tops on a Zoom meeting.  We probably did a bunch of burpees, press ups, and single arm presses or thrusters.  Coupled with our work at our dining room table and helping the kids with their homework we made our chests, anterior shoulders, biceps, and hip flexors nice and tight.  This week you will attempt to jump up and do some pull ups and toes to bar and you will find out it’s bloody harder than you remember.  This is because of tissue tolerance.  Hanging from the bar with load requires you to open up your chest, extend your thoracic spine and hips, and requires quite a bit of tissue tolerance in your shoulder capsule.  Your brain will be wondering what is this?  That is ok though, your brain will eventually remember with repetition, proper mechanics and appropriate load. Slowly that tissue tolerance will come back if it is approached properly.  

👉 Peel things back a little go through the appropriate progressions and you’ll be back hitting the chest to bars and toes to bars in no time.

One of the unique advantages to CrossFit are the complex movements and performing those movements under load and fatigue.  The intensity of CrossFit is partly due to the attention required to perform movements such as, the snatch, handstand push ups, wall balls, and muscle ups etc.  This attention heightens your central nervous system involvement a bit, bringing up your heart rate a little more.  This contributes to a more intense aerobic or anaerobic workout.  

👉 I noticed my aerobic and anaerobic capacity dropped considerably when these movements were missing.  As these movements make it back into your workouts, take it slow, gradually expose yourself to these exercises.  Take a bit longer warming up, scale back movements, and pace yourself through your workout.  The intensity will still be there, but your capacity may not be quite where it was a year ago. It’s ok not to Rx the workout. With this new capacity, set some new realistic short term and long term goals and you will be back RX’ing the WODs in no time.

This week you will probably find that barbell a little bit or a lot heavier.  You have spent 8 out of the last 13 months using considerable less load and not performing the big barbell lifts.  The S.A.I.D principle which stands for “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand” states “if you don’t use it you lose it”.  Not only are the movements with a  barbell specific, the unique neurologic stimulus of a heavy barbell is specific as well.  If you have been training for a number of years ( higher training age) you may have less of a decay of your barbell numbers.  If you are relatively new to the barbell (lower training age) the decay in your numbers will be even greater.  Consequently, the lower the training age the longer it will take to get back up to the max numbers.  The bench press, back squat, and deadlift are slightly neurologically simpler movements and may not have as much of a drop in numbers.  More explosive, coordinated movements like the snatch and clean and jerk, will take more of a hit.  

👉 The initial goal is to first move with the barbell, move well with good mechanics, then work on building your numbers again.  For athletes with higher training ages the mechanics and numbers will come back quicker.  For more novice lifters you may need to spend more time working on mechanics before adding the weight.  If you follow this guidance you are more likely to avoid injury, but more likely to hit the big numbers quicker.

Coming back to the box this week will be a mix of excitement and apprehension.  You’ve missed the barbell and your friends. 

Congratulate yourself on making it back!  We have made it through a very challenging time… Now it’s time to lift!

Carrying a niggle from pre or during lockdown? Already started too hard too soon and the body is not coping? 

We are open and Covid secure!

1 thought on “You Don’t Know What you Got Until It’s Gone…. or When You Come Back”

  1. Barbara Crowley

    Good recommendations Bob! Even though I’m not into CrossFit I understand what it means to take it slow at first!
    Love, Mom

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