One of the most common questions I get is, "What weight do you think I should use"? The answer to this is going to be so individualized, it would be impossible to try and come up with a one size fits all solution. However, the way to figure this out on your own can be simple.
You can never go wrong with picking up a PVC or an empty barbell and warming up the movements used in the workout. I would stress that if you are not doing this, you are already behind the power curve. The coaches have already gone over the movement so you should be familiar with what the standards expected are going to be, if not, make sure to grab a coach and have them explain the movements again.
No matter what your fitness level is, it will benefit you to get reps with the PVC or empty barbell prior to any type of loading. Ensure that your form is perfect with the PVC/Barbell prior to loading the bar. If your form isn't perfect without any weight, how can we expect it to be perfect when we add a load to it?
Mobility. We have gone over a ton of mobility and this is individual for everyone as well. I won't make the entire group go through mobility when everyone has different mobility issues. This needs to be completed during your warm-up or wod prep time. Below is a few of the mobility exercises I will do daily before I do ANYTHING.
These are just a few of the many different stretches and prep work you can do to be more efficient with your movement. Remember, it's when we neglect the small things that lead to the bigger issues. Once you have done your mobility and you have warmed up with the barbell/pvc, you can now begin to load some weight on the bar. This is where it will become very individualized. Let's take two different people and talk about the differences of how this may look as they get ready to do the following strength work:
3 Sets of 5 Reps (Back Squat)
Athlete A: This is an elite CrossFitter who has been squatting for years. His 1RM is 400#
-He has a ton of data and knows that his current 5RM is 340#. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to keep track of your data. It is much easier for this lifter as he knows the range, within a few pounds, of what he will be squatting for his first set.
-Because he will be climbing to well over 300#, his warm-up sets can be a little more aggressive. His warm-up sets could look similar to:
335-340# 1st Set
2nd and 3rd Set based on 1st Set.
Athlete B: This is a female CrossFitter who has just recently started CrossFit less than 2 months ago. She has only Back Squatted a few times since starting CrossFit.
-Because she is new and doesn't have any data to work off, it will be important for her to warm-up well and do a little more skill work with the empty barbell. Things she should focus on should be:
1. Ensuring she is able to get proper depth in her squat
2. Driving through her heels and keeping her chest up
3. Forcing her knees out as she stands
If she is unable to properly execute the squat, there is absolutely no benefit to adding load to the bar. This time should be spent as skillwork and fixing some of the issues she currently has with her squat. Once she shows that she has the proper form, she can then begin to add load to the bar and work her way up to her first set of 5. Because she doesn't have any idea what her first set will be, it will be important to take small jumps with her weight. Her warm-up sets may look like:
*At 75#, she feels that she is beginning to struggle with keeping her chest up. She should stay here and complete her 3 sets of 5 at this weight or even dropping the weight if she continues to struggle to keep her form.
The most important part of this process if keeping your form during the movement. It will have little benefit if you break your form for the purpose of increasing the weight moved. Focus on technique first and then we can worry about the load later on. Last I checked, we aren't going anywhere for a while and there is absolutely no hurry, it isn't worth the risk of getting hurt.
Bottom Line: If you are unsure of where to start, start light and climb slowly until you find yourself at a weight that is challenging yet safe to use for the prescribed movement and rep scheme. RECORD your weights used for different movements so you can reference them at later times. If all this is done correctly, maybe one day you will have the opportunity to snatch 470#.....odds are we would have a better chance at learning to fly but never say never....
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