“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky


Old school — Walter Payton, “Sweetness”, chargin’ the hills

Here’s a workout that I and my good friend, Bryan Barksdale, knocked-out this week.  What I’d like to cover are some of the various ways we can Autoregulate this very basic MetCon workout.  And to do so, we need a quick discussion on proficiency vs efficiency.

Bryan is medical student, and the founder of the uber-successful Austin Primal Living Meetup group, and his wife, Tracy, co-owns Austin’s True Nature gym, a one-of-it’s-kind Parkour/MovNat inspired training facility.  Together, they’re a big reason why Austin is THE epicenter of physical culture.  At any rate, Bryan is a 6’0”, 155 lb friggin’ jackalope, and this type of workout is right in his wheelhouse.  And even though he hasn’t thrown-down like this in quite a while, he still put a real hurtin’ on me.  Thanks, bro 😉

 So here’s the set-up — a nice little MetCon, with an emphasis on hill sprints:

3 x (approximately) 50 meter, steep incline, hill sprints (all <7.00 seconds) + 5 straight bar muscle-ups + 5 Box jump-overs + 20 dips; wash, rinse, repeat — 4 rounds worth, in 35:19

 So we took enough rest between sprints to ensure we were able to complete each sprint in less than 7 seconds.  In fact, I believe we hit less than 6.80 on each effort — which of course I made note of for future workouts.

 Now, there’s a couple of ways we can regulate this workout next time out.  One, we can follow the same protocol, but push for a sub 6.8 on every sprint.  Now the down side to this is that the cumulative time for the entire workout may in fact increase (owing to greater between-sprint recovery so as to ensure hitting the target time for each effort).  And that’s OK, if it fits what we’re attempting to work.  The next step, though, would be to shoot for a sub 6.80 on each sprint AND bettering the cumulative time.

 Or, I could time each individual round, and pull the plug as soon as I miss my best effort mark of the day.  This would be an example of regulating via drop-off. I could also regulate each round in the same fashion as the individual sprints.  Once a good, individual round time is established (say, 7 minutes), I can go round after round (long rest between rounds) until I miss the 7-minute mark for a rounds.

 But I could also not worry at all about each individual sprints’ time (other than to ensure that it’s “fast as possible”), and instead shoot for dropping the cumulative time for the entire workout.  In other words, the individual sprint effort may be less, but those efforts would come more rapid fire, i.e., less recovery between efforts.  If we are to consider only the sprint portion of the workout, Tuesday’s effort would hedge more toward working proficiency (or skill), with the latter set up working efficiency (or work capacity).  So there’s a lot of moving parts to consider here, especially when attempting to determine what qualities (and within what context) we’re attempting to better.  And there are lots of ways to skin the cat, here!

 A word on proficiency vs efficiency is in order.  First, let’s define the terms in the context of autoregulation and percent drop-off.  Think of proficiency (or peak effort) as your day’s possible personal best.  Now, that may or may not be an all-time personal best, and that would depend, of course, on the nature of the competition.  In other words, are we talking about an individual workout, or the World Finals?  Hang with me, I’ll give a couple of examples in a bit.

 The other side of the coin is efficiency (or work capacity).  Think GPP-like work capacity here, or the ability to repeat a high effort over the course of a workout, game, competition, etc.

 Now, consider the difference in qualities required of a starting pitcher (efficiency/capacity) vs a closer (proficiency/peak).  A track and field 100 meter sprinter (proficiency/peak) vs an American football corner back (efficiency/capacity).

 As in anything, of course, there are few pure examples; even the closer has to have enough gas in the tank (capacity) to endure those handful of pitches.  The sprinter has to place high enough in the early heats to advance to the later rounds and the american footballer has to produce an all-out effort at punctuated times during the game.  But now you at least have a feel for the continuum that I’m talking about.

 All of these methods impart a completely different feel to the same workout.  In this way, I can utilize the same circuit over and again, making it both physically and mentally different/challenging each time out.

 You can also get a feel for how a workout — even comprised of the exact same exercise selection and order — can be subtly manipulated to produce different results.  This is very important when we’re talking about training different athletes, and even different athletes within the same sport, as each position within a sport requires specialized qualities.

 And for the general practitioner (like me)?  Well, it’s important for me to keep a healthy, middle-of-the-road ballance between my proficiency and efficiency in an endeavor, within the context of time.  In the hill sprint example, it’s important for me to be able to pull-off a fast, single effort (proficiency/peak) — but not at the expense of loosing my efficiency in the same endeavor.  It’s also important for me to be able to pull-off a respectable clean-and-jerk, but also to be able to hang tough in my version of CrossFit’s “Grace” — 30 hang clean to push-presses at 185lbs with a slow negative return from overhead to the rack position. Because, hey!  Why leave the opportunity for some shoulder-specific hypertrophy-inducing work on the table?

The “push a car/slop bucket” workout?

Had a great time yuckin’ it up with Dan French and the Healthy Comedian podcast peeps last week.  How do you get a guy who’s 300 lbs, out of shape and fairly new to Paleo back into fighting shape?  We’ll, here’s the start of that lengthy process.  Good times and a healthy sense of humor will go a long way toward helping you reach your goal.  

 In health, fitness and ancestral wellness –



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