How do you get stronger?
There is an idea that may be helpful if you're looking to increase capacity in CrossFit, or specifically in this example, get stronger.
That is, the approach or idea that every time you come in, you are doing more than you did before.
Using strength as an example - let's say you come in and do a 3 x 5 back squat at 135lb - NOICE! What are the ways to do more, i.e. send a signal to your body to get stronger, next time you come in?
Probably the most obvious example, and arguably the most effective, is to simply increase the "intensity" or lift more weight. Sets and reps stay the same, 3 x 5, but now you just add 5 pounds. Now you have heavier weight which will trigger strength gains.
What happens when down the road you get to a point where you can't add more weight? How do we ensure you are doing more than you did before? You come in and are aiming for 3 x 5 at 145lb but it doesn't go, and you end up doing the same 3 x 5 at 140lb that you had done previously. This means increased intensity (more weight) isn’t an option, so what's the other option? Can you guess?
Volume is the answer. So instead now of 3x5 heavier, you go 4x5 at that same weight. You add an extra set of volume in there, so now you've done 20 reps at 140, which is more work because of the loading. Loading is calculated by volume (reps) x weight. Your 3 x 5 at 140 has a load of 2100lbs (15 x 140lb) and the 4 x 5 at 140 is at 2800lb (20reps x 140lb). You've done more than before and now your body is triggered to increase its strength capacity.
What if you can't repeat another set of 5. You're maxed out at the 3 x 5 at 140. Well, technically speaking, doing ANY extra work at that weight will increase the loading and produce a stimulus which is more than you did previously. Make sense?
BUT what if you don't have time because taxes are due and you need to get to work! So you end up doing the same workout of 3x5 at 140lb. Was it a massive waste of time?
Here's the kicker, doing the SAME workout as before, although it does not appear to be "more," actually is.
Any guess why that is? Well because when you repeat something in exactly the same way, you are creating a more stable pattern/form for that thing to be performed in the future. Actually similar idea to complaining only leads to more complaining from the other night ;) - Click Here To Read.
Take an analogy of building a house with bricks. Doing more weight and more volume when you back squat is stacking bricks higher - you're increasing strength. Doing the same workout, what can be called maintenance, is adding bricks to the same level, which can be looked at as the foundation. Your foundation of strength is now more stable because you've added more bricks to the bottom level, and because there are more bricks on the bottom level the resistance to change or loosing that strength becomes harder. Physics 101 calls this inertia - resistance to change. Repeat the same workout and build your bodies inertia to changing that state/capacity.
Does that make sense? Let me know if it doesn't, or especially if you don't agree ;)
Side note - the two variables worked with here: volume and intensity (the two numerators in the power output equation) are only two ways to do "more" each strength workout. Another variable that you can alter, to make sure you're always doing more, is time (denominator of power output equation), and this is where it gets real spicy!
The two folks pictured here require all kinds of variance in those three variables of the power output equation to shake the system up for gains. Annie, and a lot of other athletes in the CrossFit world are fantastic demonstrations that gains can continuously be made.
Clean and Jerk (145/115) (165/125) (185/135) (205/145) (225/155)