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March 6, 2023

Blog 2 of 3: Constantly Varied

This a continuation of last week's blog explaining CrossFit's definition of “constantly varied, functional movements executed at high or relative intensity.”

A few months back, I was referred to a book called Burn by Herman Pontzer. The book is about the misconception of metabolism and TDEE- Total Daily Energy Expenditure. TDEE is fitness vernacular for the calories a person burns in a day, which includes all their activities: walking, exercise, eating, sleeping, and all movement. 

The study was on an indigenous African Tribe called the Hadza, which is one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes left on earth. The Hadzas walked an average of 15,000 steps a day and eat a diet of game, honey, and plants, including tubers, berries, and baobab fruit. I imagine they're in a caloric deficit too.

However, in terms of body weight or body fat percentages, the data shows that these individuals were no leaner or fitter than some other populations. Certainly, they were healthier than most westerners, but that’s not saying much.

So, what happened here? Why didn’t everyone have an 8-pack or have a lower body fat percentage? If you guessed adaption to exercise, you’re right.  

You see, over time, the body gets used to your daily TDEE. If the Hadzas cared about making a change, they’d have to change something to avoid the adaptation process.    

The founder and former owner of CrossFit, Coach Greg Glassman, understood that the body needs a varying stimulus in the energy pathways to avoid adaptation to excercise. From a fitness perspective, it also makes individuals well-rounded; ditch the specialist and create a generalist.

At the time, Coach Glassman wasn’t using well-researched studies from Yale or Harvard to support his thesis. However, he was spot on in training which includes all muscle fibers--a super potent way to affect change in the human body.

Here’s some insight into programming & energy pathways:

0-10 seconds - phosphagen
10-120 seconds - glycolytic
120 seconds and longer- aerobic

These three pathways use different energy substrates (ATP, sugars and fats) and fast/slow twitch muscle fibers (Type 2A, Type 2B, and Type 1). I won’t dive into programming, but at Shoreline CrossFit and most boxes, we lift weights, and the workouts' duration varies, and so does our intensity. It’s exactly in line with CrossFit programming methodology. 

One of the most humbling aspects of CrossFit is it’s never easy, and this is intentional. Don’t worry; you don’t suck at it; we all feel that way, even the top 1%. But if you can keep an open mind weekly and push your intensity based on your RPE, you’ll be that much better for it.

In your personal lives, this comes in handy too. There are days when you have to sprint, days you can cruise, and times when you have to 1RM a presentation or relationship. But if you can approach each day or challenge with the same intensity you attack your workouts, you’ll be better off for it.

Stay tuned for blog 3 of 3….

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Shoreline CrossFit



Shoreline CrossFit



Shoreline CrossFit