I am so sorry for my late reply! Somehow I had missed your questions!
1- I do not label my metcons. I program metcons depending on how the person is feeling that day/week and also depending on their strength work and what they will be doing next week. I have found often times if I label it as a “max effort” it will actually mess them up because they will focus less on their form and cycle times because they are trying so hard to go fast in order to beat a time. I instead will tell them, I want you to do this metcon at 85% intensity. Or 100% intensity, or even 50% intensity. I have found that this does not mess with the athlete mentally, and they often get a better time than previously, and they do so with good movement. I understand that athletes competing for the Games need to be prepared for the “unknown and unknowable”, however they only need to do that for 2-3 days per year. So I strongly believe that focusing on movement and cycle times and consistency in intensity per round throughout the year is just making the individual a better athlete. If he or she can sustain good movement longer in a metcon, it will prevent them from getting fatigued so early on in the workout. This will (hopefully) eventually lead to them being able to get better times because they are not hitting a wall so soon. For example, if there is a workout that is 5 rounds of 5 muscle-ups, 10 cleans, 15 KB swings- if they can have good movement with 10 cleans per round, and their clean doesn’t fatigue on round 2 due to crappy movement, then they will go in to their KB swings feeling fresh, which will keep them moving fast in to the next round. The longer they can sustain this, the less fatigued they will be going in to the next workout. This is what I try to prepare my athletes for. So no, I do not try to get in a certain amount of those sessions in a week. I focus on preparing the athlete depending on what they need each week.
2- Sometimes I want the athlete to be tired when doing a workout, so they are forced to focus on their movement (you may see a trend here…. I am BIG on movement first). But I do it in a smart way. I would never program a heavy squat workout or heavy cleans (or even high volume squats or cleans at a lower percentage) and then heavy thrusters (or high volume at lower percentage) in the metcon on the same day. I may instead day heavy power cleans, and then include thrusters in the workout. So the athlete may be tired because of the heavy power cleans, but their legs won’t be so tired that doing heavy thrusters on the same day won’t destroy them for the rest of the week (because they didn’t have to do a squat in that power clean- power cleans are a power/explosive movement and not as demanding on the legs).
Also, I never ever, even if there is a fire, program more than 5 box jumps in a workout. I do this because 1 (and most importantly), they are dangerous at high volume and can cause all kinds of injury, and 2, because I believe the jumps should be quality versus quantity and 3, I believe they fatigue the legs for other strength work we need to accomplish during the week. And even this is rare- and when I do program them in I make the athlete slow down and focus on a good quality jump, not some rapid springy jump. I prefer to program box jumps separately, like at the end of a workout do 3 sets of 5 box jumps- this way we can work on explosiveness and power without sacrificing such an amazing exercise by trying to make an athlete do it for speed.
3- I think that higher volume metcons are unnecessarily done too often. I MAYBE program one in every 10-12 days. I think the way I program and plan, and sneak extra reps in to the workouts (for example, I may change the muscle up rep scheme from 3 to 4 to 5) prepare my athletes for those longer metcons, without having to do them all the time. I think doing lots of longer metcons just breaks the athlete down in so many ways. It takes away from their power and just are so hard to recover from. Jocelyn talks about this in her article: “…and I had extensively practiced my skills separately from metabolic conditioning, I could string together multiple muscle ups for the first time and complete 20 hand stand pushups without batting an eye. And though I was rarely doing long metcons when I tested my 5k it went from 30 minutes, to 25, to 21. I looked better, I felt better, and I my performance was top notch. I was becoming the fittest I had ever been.”. She didn’t have to run 5k’s each week to get those PR’s. In fact, the only time she ran a 5k is when she got the PRs. I had prepared her in other ways that didn’t effect her overall training.
Hope this helps!