Thursday, January 23, 2014

What Type of Workout Motivates You Best?

Who doesn't get a little excited thinking about what's on the whiteboard today?  Is excited the right word?  Maybe it's apprehension?  Ha. The workout should make you a little nervous.  One thing I've always found though is that no matter what is written down, everyone always finds a way to get through it.

When I walk in the gym in the morning I normally make a bee line to the board to see what's in store for the day.  I know I'm not the only one that does that.  Sometimes I'll text a buddy to see what it is before I go. Is that wrong?  I guess as long as it doesn't prevent me from going.  Choosing whether or not to go to the gym based on what the workout is is called Cherry Picking and if you get caught doing it you just might get a talking to. :)

I've got my favorite movements and my not so favorites.  That's normal.  I'm a big fan of the double under and anything with gymnastics rings.  Me and the thruster don't get along too well.

The gym owner wields some awesome power though, don't they?  They get to decide on the workout for the day.  From what I have seen and heard they all take that responsibility very seriously and put a lot of thought into it.  But I often wonder not only how they come up with certain movement combinations but how do they decide on the timing too?  The way a workout is timed makes a big difference in what my first response is to the whiteboard.

Let's run through a bunch of the popular timing sequences I see:

AMRAP - As Many Rounds as Possible: In this sequence, we have a list of exercises that we have to run through in a repeating cycle until the timer expires.  This one I can deal with even if the movements are tough because I know it has a definable end.

RFT - Rounds for time:  This is similar to the AMRAP but it only ends when the workout is finished. I kinda hate workouts like this, especially the brutal ones.  The motivation here has to be to finish.  And although this is the hardest style for me, I understand it's importance.  Workouts like this you've got to grit your teeth and just work through it one rep at a time.  Sometimes they'll be quick and sometimes not.  I think it's important to chime in too that there is no shame in scaling back if necessary.

EMOM - Every Minute on the Minute:  One of my favorites for strength workouts.  This keeps me focused and moving.  I normally see 1-5 reps of moderate to heavy weight movements like a Front Squat, Shoulder Press or Deadlift.  It's kinda fun too when it's dotted with double unders or burpees.  Every time the minute cycles, run through the reps.  The goal is to finish quickly and efficiently and use the rest of the minute to rest and re-focus.
LADDER - 1-2-3-4-5... Reps every Minute until time expires:  Some folks call the the "Death By_____" style workout.  Work increases while rest decreases.  This is a cool workout that gets the competitiveness in me going.  I don't see it programmed very often but it's fun.

The "Chipper":  This style workout is usually one round of a ton of reps of several movements.  If you've heard of the "Filthy Fifty" then you're familiar.  50 of a bunch of different movements that have to be completed before you earn the right to go on to the next movement.  It gets it's name because you tend to "chip" away at each movement until done.  This is a RFT in disguise. I've had the most success with workouts like this when I don't shoot through the gate like a racehorse.  Consistent, methodical effort tends to work best for me.

12 Days of Christmas:  All. Time. Favorite.  It takes a ton of floor space [and equipment] to run a WOD like this but it is serious fun.  12 exercises are listed, each representing one of the 12 days of Christmas.  The Days normally also count as reps for the movements.  The way to complete the workout,however, is not to peel through the 12 Days one after the other, but rather like this 1, 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4-5,...  I can see why most gym owners only do this style once a year.  It's tough to program and tough to run through with a bunch of folks.  I've seen the most success with staggered starts.

Deck of Cards:  Pick a movement for each suit.  Sometimes Aces can represent 11 of that movement, 10 of each or can be something completely different like a 500M Row or Plank Hold.  I've usually seen this style workout run as a Partner WOD with the workout finished once all the cards are cycled through. [Each team gets their own deck]

All of these style workouts motivate me in one way or another.  The most important part for me is that it's something different each time I walk in the gym.  I like to be challenged but not have it be boring.  A huge part of success in the gym is having the right mindset.

What's your favorite?