A regular staple in our CrossFit program are designated Heavy Days. Yes, you may see optional accessory work programmed but the session won't include a second conditioning focused workout.
Unfortunately when we program both Strength & Metcon in the same session there is a tendency to either have one eye on the 'Wod', subconsciously saving ourselves, or are watching the timer and rushing our rest periods in order to get our sets & reps in.
It's completely natural behaviour but sadly limits the benefit of your Heavy Day, which is a combination of developing top-end strength & power and the honing of our technique.
As one of the most misunderstood aspects of CrossFit, below are 3 common misunderstandings about Heavy Days and why you don't want to skip or rush them.
Number 1: "I don't want to get stronger, I just want to lose weight"
Increasing your strength can increase your capacity for greater power output in other elements of your training eg You will be able to perform more reps & more work in longer workouts thus a higher calorie consumption which can support calorie deficit targets.
Number 2: "I'm happy with my current strength and would rather improve my endurance"
Directly training stamina and endurance is certainly beneficial to improving these specific physical skills but strength and power are also foundational to both. For example, if a 30kg barbell is approximately 35% of your 1 Rep Max, it will be much easier to move the bar for higher reps and perform more work in less time than when that same 30kg barbell is 50% of your 1 Rep Max.
Number 3: "I don’t think I get a good enough workout when we only lift heavy"
This depends on your definition of a “good enough workout”. High intensity comes in multiple forms. In a MetCon it could be 15 minutes of continuous movement, lots of reps, lots of sweat and lots of heavy breathing.
On Heavy Days however, we instead pack the same high-intensity into very low volume efforts where you should be challenging yourself with each lift and working at the very edge of your capacity.
If you find yourself feeling short changed on Heavy days, chances are that you’re not applying the intensity necessary to get the best results from the session.
If approached properly, a Heavy day will leave your system just as taxed from both a physical and mental perspective as a high-rep, high-intensity conditioning workout, although you may not realise it at the time.
And remember, the harder you train, the more recovery you need.
PS: Speaking of heavy, how do you know how heavy a chili pepper is?
Give it a weigh, give it a weigh, give it a weigh now....