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The gym is a lab, and you are all the lab rats. Our training methods and how it affects human performance, both mental and physical, is constantly under the microscope. So throwing “Fran”, the most common CrossFit benchmark, in after testing fitness levels was no thumb suck. It was programmed for training, not testing.

Training is the process of learning and conditioning. In the gym you learn skills that condition your fitness, and better fitness is greater work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Testing assesses those changes in your fitness and therefore evaluates the effectiveness and efficacy of the training program. Training makes you fitter, whereas testing evaluates your fitness.

In fitness it’s easy to fall into the trap of testing everyday. Especially because the people we have in the gyms are driven and love a good test. That’s going for max load, your best reps and your fastest time. Every. Day. That is focusing on an end result–testing–instead of learning and conditioning–training.

Let’s consider “Fran.” The workout brief from your coaches yesterday was to modify the workout to ensure that you completed the workout WELL under the six minute time cap, and they provided you with suggestions on how best to modify the workout to achieve that. So many people, in fact it was probably most people, didn’t do Fran. They completed a variation of the workout, but everyone completed the workout at similar times and they were all just as smoked.

When that workout comes up as a test the approach is to attempt the prescribed workout, IF you have the necessary skills to do so safely. I asked one of the members yesterday how he felt after the workout, and he said “different.” He went lighter to be able to move faster and achieve the goal of the workout. When doing the workout previously he attempted the prescribed version because he is can do both movements, but in those instances he was always slower. The results from his tests told us that while he can do both movements as prescribed, his capacity in those movements in a short time domain is lacking. Sure, he still got a good workout from the test. But what he meant by the training approach feeling “different” was that it “f*&^#d” me up more!”

If you keep testing every day you are sacrificing power output. You will not get fitter. You do still need to work hard AND smart to get results, but it’s ultimately training that ensures we pass our tests 😉

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