Hitting the Wall…Quick Thoughts on 13.4

Hey gang, this is just a quick post I wanted to put together to illustrate something that we talk about quite often in the gym and what we hit on during our 3-Part “Cardio” post – within our much shorter CrossFit WODs, we are asking the body to operate at maximal intensity. When we do so, we are fully exhausting the phosphagen and glycolytic pathways so much that it is visible even to untrained spectators. If you recall from part 1, these two pathways only last up to maybe the three minute mark, but even the glycolytic pathway sees a tremendous drop-off much sooner than that.
To illustrate this, I’ve linked to one video and embeded another of three top CrossFit Games competitors going through the 7min AMRAP that is 13.4 In each scenario, you can see a marked drop-off in their output right around the 90s mark. In all three cases, instead of continuing to cycle through touch-and-go reps of the clean and jerk, they begin to drop the bar and reset.
In this video featuring Graham Holmberg and Chris Spealler, skip ahead to when they start the WOD at approx 18:30. You will see them both “hit the wall” with about 5:30 remaining.
In the embeded video below, Julie gets started at the 2:00 mark. Pay attention right around the 1:15 mark. That’s when she’ll drop the bar for the first time:

What all three athletes do really well after that is to settle into a pace that they can maintain, rather than completely blowing themselves up and having to sit on the sidelines while seconds tick away on the clock. Julie showcases this ability a bit better as she didn’t go out in a dead sprint from the start as Graham and Chris did. In short, this drop-off in maximal power output isn’t just reserved for “non fire-breathers,” but it happens to everyone; it’s exercise physiology, plain and simple.

people working out in a group fitness class


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