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View Full Version : High-Rep O-lifts for Metcon: Yay or Nay?


-Ross Hunt
08-31-2007, 06:54 PM
What do you say? Are high-rep barbell clean and jerks and snatches a solid, hardcore way to develop metcon, or do they just deliver all the pain of a metcon workout and all the pain of an oly workout with none of the benefit of either?


I saw good metcon results from doing Grace on a regular basis a couple years back. I recently did Isabel on a dare and was underwhelemed by the metabolic impact. Of course, I could always just do it faster... I guess. I knocked it out in 4:50, and I was breathing hard, but I definitely wasn't flatlining the way I would during a workout where I wasn't constantly dumping the bar and refixing my grip. Indeed, it seems to me that constant loading of the body greatly intensifies metabolic impact. Any exercise where the body is still loaded while you're resting, or where the athlete is otherwise 'punished' for resting (e.g. repetition full squats-to-broad-jumps for distance with added load) seems to be more productive for metcon.

Mike ODonnell
08-31-2007, 07:13 PM
good question...I would say to benefits of doing high rep Oly lifts may or may not be underminded by the potential of the form for each...does the barbell come to a stop on the floor everytime or are you bouncing it? Does the high rep reduce form that is more important come heavier lifts? Are you reducing the explosiveness of the exercise by pacing yourself? Is the high rep condusive to tendonitis issues?

From a person who doesnt follow crossfit workouts, in the end I would personally keep the main Oly lifts heavy and/or very explosive with stress on form for maximum benefit....and then get my metcon through sprints, 1 arm DB/KB lifts, etc.

Jonathan Owen
09-01-2007, 08:18 AM
I stopped doing them because I was training for a meet, and since I def. want to compete again, I will not be doing any high rep oly stuff. When I was doing consistent cf wod's, my form sucked on the oly's, but by the end of a high rep set my form sucked even more than when I started. For my needs I would rather do three good c&j than doing a 30 rep set where the last 10 or 15 become "two hands anyhow." If I want metcon I can get all I want from swings, tire slams with a sledge etc...

Just my 2 cents

Jon

Greg Everett
09-01-2007, 04:02 PM
I have a ton to say on this (article length), but the basics:

There's nothing inherently problematic with high rep oly lifting in metCons - the injury potential arises from shitty technique and attempting lifts beyond the athlete's ability. Those things can be true at any number of reps.

I do encourage learning the lifts in isolation before using them in metCons to ensure a solid technique base both because of the above reason and because it will help prevent the reinforcement of shitty technique through so much fatigued repetition.

Garrett Smith
09-01-2007, 05:24 PM
I've personally noticed that, while paying close attention to weights used and my own form, that it seems like my form almost gets better as I do my 30 rep OL workouts. I base that completely on completing more reps as a group towards the end of my workout, and my observation that I often feel more "pop" in my lifts towards the end.

Maybe I'm crazy. Or, as has happened before, maybe I just pay a ton more attention to my form than nearly anyone else I know. That and checking the ego at the door in terms of weight used.

Chris Forbis
09-01-2007, 06:38 PM
I haven't done them in a long time, but my lift efficiency seemed to improve with high rep cleans. My theory is that as my strength endurance diminished, the form had to improve in order to be able to complete the lift.

I have since abandoned high rep stuff on anything requiring a degree of technical proficiency. I even take my higher rep free squat sets pretty seriously. My back seems to appreciate this focus on form.

Jordan Glasser
09-01-2007, 07:26 PM
IMO there is a new generation of people learning and using the olympic lifts to help further their GPP. Most of us starting off relatively old (well into adulthood), and most of us underperforming the lifts due to the inexperience. However, we all have a some degree in strength training, and as a result, have a ways to go to match our strength to our #'s in the lifts.
My point....when I am exhausted from high reps with submaximal loads, I sometime begin to see major breakthroughs in my technique. I can no longer rely on brute strength, I force myself to be hyper aware of my faults to overcome just one more rep. For this generation of people who are looking to improve on their GPP, and their skills with the olympic lifts may stand to benefit from the occasional high rep olympic lift workout.

James R. Climer
09-01-2007, 09:17 PM
I second Jordan here, being older, I always feel like I
finally get into a nice, loose groove at the end of
one of these type metcons, sort of like blood is forced
to flow into places it hasn't flowed willingly into for decades.

Something finally unsticks late in the oly-lift metcon WOD,
and I feel like an athlete again - in command of my body
and it's doing what I want it to do.

Allen Yeh
09-02-2007, 08:22 AM
I've done high rep olympic lift metcons before I learned proper form and after so I'd say I'd agree with what James and Jordan said as long as the person in question has proper coaching in the lifts to begin with. For people that haven't had proper coaching there are better ways to skin the metcon cat.

-Ross Hunt
09-02-2007, 04:17 PM
Thanks, everyone. That's a lot of really useful responses.

It's interesting in particular to hear from people who aren't interested first and foremost in a bigger snatch and clean and jerk. Before I started focusing on developing my strength and olympic lifts, I definitely got a lot out of the high-rep lifts, and I felt the same way about them.

Now, after a little bit more dedicated oly training, I don't think they're really worth it. I went in to do a heavy snatch and clean and jerk today and found that those 30 reps had really messed with my pulling technique--to the tune of about 5 kilos a lift in both lifts. Plus, because I'm more efficient at performing the lifts now, those 30 reps weren't really challenging, either with respect to strength-endurance or with respect to anaerobic/aerobic capacity.

So it seems to me that the better you get at the olympic lifts, the less worthwhile it is to perform them for metcon, not only because obviously

A) They mess with your technique, but also because

B) Since you're already stronger in those exercises, they do not offer you a lot of potential for developing strength or metcon qualities; even if you let form go out the window, you still don't get a great workout.

Greg Everett
09-02-2007, 04:23 PM
A) They mess with your technique, but also because

B) Since you're already stronger in those exercises, they do not offer you a lot of potential for developing strength or metcon qualities; even if you let form go out the window, you still don't get a great workout.

Good points. I do think that the more well-developed your lifting technique is, the more high-rep, fatigued-state training you can get away with without damage. The real problem is those with no technique to speak of continually training more shitty technique.

As far as not having much to offer at the lower weights, this may be true to an extent. The one thing they certainly offer is variety. Beyond this, how much they offer beyond other movements in the CF pool is questionable. But I don't see anything bad about training repeated explosive hip and leg extension in metCon sessions.

Sam Cannons
09-02-2007, 04:59 PM
I'm a huge fan, i have noticed big increases in my max effort form and strength from lighter weight high rep workouts.

-Ross Hunt
09-03-2007, 08:02 AM
...the more well-developed your lifting technique is, the more high-rep, fatigued-state training you can get away with without damage.

...The one thing they certainly offer is variety. Beyond this, how much they offer beyond other movements in the CF pool is questionable. But I don't see anything bad about training repeated explosive hip and leg extension in metCon sessions.



Agreed; although the workout messed with my technique, I don't think I came close to injury at all, which I sometimes did when I worse at oly lifting.

The second point is definitely valid, too; if one of the main things you're training for is metcon ability and you don't do the full lifts very seriously, power oly variations for reps are another perfectly good way to train metcon.

Robb Wolf
09-03-2007, 02:48 PM
I like them a lot. Although they may not be as big a scorcher as other WOD's, they are a nice one-stop-shop. Add pull-ups, dips or HSPU and you have a great all around WO.

Sam Cannons
09-03-2007, 06:25 PM
I did one the other week were i just did 30 Deep Hang Power Cleans for time, absolutely love it, short explosive and it destroys my grip and forearms. Because efficiency is the key i do believe your tech gets better.

Robb nice site

Regards
Sam

Robb Wolf
09-05-2007, 07:18 AM
Thanks Sam!

Ken Urakawa
09-05-2007, 08:12 AM
Not quite in the same boat, but I was playing around last night with some boxes I built, and did multiple rounds of a HPSN and muscleup couplet. Reps were kept fairly low on each (<5), but it was kind of a fun combo and got my heart rate up.

Rest was fairly minimal, but not controlled. I'll probably try it for time at some point, and will report back on MetCon effect.

Eric Jones
09-05-2007, 10:30 AM
We have found here that making our more motivated clients do very high rep KB movements tends to fix certain form issues and "burn in" proper technique, especially focusing on firing the glutes. I have seen this to be similar in the O lifts at lighter weights. Like in the video just posted to the CF main site about technique vs. intensity, I see the two as complimentary. Proper or correct movement is exactly that because it is the most biomechanically efficient movement pattern to complete the task. As you fatigue, you must rely on proper form just to move the weight.

I totally agree that a foundation in:

1) basic strength a la Starting Strength, first
2) then the Olympic lifts in proper form
3) then heavy Oly lifts in traditional strength training
4) then finally you can starting adding in higher rep O lifts to your WODs once the rest of the foundation is there

If the groundwork is laid correctly, then you will not really revert to terrible form. We recently had a 190lb client do a 5:20 Grace with 30 pretty much textbook power cleans and push jerks.

Bottom line though, high rep O lifts are great at building silly levels of functional work capacity.

Steve Shafley
09-05-2007, 12:27 PM
Conclusion is quite spiffy.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Aug;39(8):1291-301.
Effect of Explosive versus Slow Contractions and Exercise Intensity on Energy Expenditure.
Mazzetti S, Douglass M, Yocum A, Harber M.

1Human Performance Center, Anderson University, Anderson, IN; and 2Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN.

OBJECTIVE:: The primary purpose of this study was to compare the effects of explosive versus slow contractions on the rate of energy expenditure during and after resistance exercise. METHODS:: Nine men (20 +/- 2.5 yr) performed three exercise protocols using a plate-loaded squat machine, and a no-exercise (CONTROL) session in a randomly assigned, counterbalanced order. Subjects performed squats using either two second (SLOW) or explosive concentric contractions (EXPL), but identical repetitions (), sets (), and loads (60% 1RM). A secondary objective was to compare high- versus moderate-intensity exercise. Thus, a third protocol was performed that also used explosive contractions, with heavier loads (80% 1RM) and six sets of four reps (HEAVYEXPL). Eccentric reps (2 s), work (reps x sets x load), range of motion, and rest intervals between sets (90 s) were identical among all three protocols. Expired air was collected continuously for 20 min before, during, and 1 h after exercise and for about 1.5 h during CONTROL. Blood samples (25 muL) were collected before, immediately after, and 15, 30, 45, and 60 min after each protocol, and these samples were analyzed for blood lactate (mM). RESULTS:: Average rates of energy expenditure (kcal.min) were significantly greater (P </= 0.05) during (7.27 +/- 2.00 > 6.43 +/- 1.64 and 6.25 +/- 1.55, respectively) and after (2.54 +/- 1.44 > 2.38 +/- 1.31 and 2.21 +/- 1.08, respectively) EXPL compared with SLOW and HEAVYEXPL, despite significantly (P </= 0.05) greater blood lactate after SLOW. CONCLUSION:: Squat exercise using explosive contractions and moderate intensity induced a greater increase in the rate of energy expenditure than squats using slow contractions or high intensity in all subjects tested. Thus, by using explosive contractions and moderate exercise intensity, experienced recreational exercisers can increase their energy expenditure during and after resistance exercise, and this could enhance weight-loss adaptations.

Steve Shafley
09-05-2007, 12:29 PM
What this means is that complexes of ballistic movements = R0XX0RZ for fat loss.

Greg Everett
09-05-2007, 12:34 PM
nice study. thanks. Robb and I just had a conversation about this kind of thing yesterday.

-Ross Hunt
09-05-2007, 05:56 PM
Like in the video just posted to the CF main site about technique vs. intensity, I see the two as complimentary. Proper or correct movement is exactly that because it is the most biomechanically efficient movement pattern to complete the task. As you fatigue, you must rely on proper form just to move the weight.




I believe that the statement that I have set in bold is misleading. Yes, you must optimize 'proper' technique to move weight. But the proper technique for max total power output with 135 pounds in 5 minutes, e.g., is absolutely not the same as the proper technique to get peak power output with a maximal weight (e.g., 195-205 pounds).

This is obvious at the most simple level in the comparison of the power and the squat lifts. The most efficient way to clean 135x30 is to power them all. The discrepancy becomes glaringly obvious in the case of the snatch. You don't do Isabel fast by keeping your hips low, not breaking the back angle until the bar comes past the knee, and getting a perfect third pull. You do it by starting with your hips a bit higher, shooting them a bit during the pull, and jumping your feet out wide because you sure as heck aren't going to squat snatch the thing anyway.

To make this a bit clearer: It is 'most efficient' to throw every muscle into you've got into a max oly lift, and that means using proper olympic technique. In the context of metcon, it is most efficient to favor stronger muscle groups and shorten the total length of bar path per rep as much as possible. The most efficient bar path between floor and overhead for one 100% snatch is perfect squat snatch; the most efficient bar path between floor and overhead for 30 65% snatches is a sloppy power snatch.

For an even more dramatic example, consider Girevoy Sport technique, and its emphasis on relaxation and smoothness rather than speed and power.




...If the groundwork is laid correctly, then you will not really revert to terrible form. We recently had a 190lb client do a 5:20 Grace with 30 pretty much textbook power cleans and push jerks.

Bottom line though, high rep O lifts are great at building silly levels of functional work capacity.

That's a pretty nice time; but he would probably go 4:50 by going sloppy.

But I don't want to ignore the forest for the trees here. I agree with what Robb said above; if you're not really interested in your oly technique, oly movements are great tools to have in your bag for metcon.

Eric Jones
09-05-2007, 11:01 PM
I totally agree, very well said.

The only thing is I would say it is more akin to hard-style KB lifting.

I also would say that athletes should be versed in pure "I'm going to the Olympics" form and what is necessary to complete a task. Which is why I emphasize "pure" technique first, then move into metcon with a barbell when it becomes necessary and possible to use that much weight. Our less experienced clients use dumbbells and kettlebells first.

Allen Yeh
09-06-2007, 04:10 AM
R0XX0RZ

I got the gist but what exactly does R0XX0RX stand for?

Scott Kustes
09-06-2007, 05:42 AM
It's leet (133t for true geeks) speak for "rocksors", i.e., "rocks like a madman," "rocks my socks off," "breakin off rocks like Barney Rubble" (actually it doesn't mean that, but who knows those lyrics?) or "this shit is the shit." I think you get the point.

Mark Joseph Limbaga
09-06-2007, 09:00 AM
if you do them in good form and manage your fatigue properly, yeah its quite effective.

-Ross Hunt
09-06-2007, 10:11 AM
The only thing is I would say it is more akin to hard-style KB lifting.

... Our less experienced clients use dumbbells and kettlebells first.

I think that's right.

You can definitely get a huge metcon impact out of dumbbells and kettlebells, definitely out of proportion to their load; unilateral stuff is great for metcon because you can 'rest' one said and load the other, and eliminate most strength-endurance limitations just by switching sides like that. I lifted KBs before I oly-lifted. They're a great tool for beginners, especially when you have a lot of people to train at once.

Mark Fenner
09-10-2007, 05:02 AM
Since I've been overly quiet (just moved, started a new job, wife and child still in transition, etc., etc.) I figured I'd throw in my $0.02 that someone else has probably already mentioned:

For met-con, I'd generally prefer lower skill exercises. Power Olympic stuff might qualify (particularly if the exercisee isn't hyperextending the lower back every rep ... ugh). But, I'd really prefer to see kipping pull-ups, explosive push-ups, tabata style (front in particular) squats, stuff with a heavy medicine ball, kettlebells, just about anything bodyweight (including low-intensity plyos: bounding, leaping, skipping, etc.), bag work, wrestling, and field work (sprints, agility, etc.).

Regards,
Mark