How To: Metcon Better

Let’s talk about how to get better at Metcons.

A common question a lot of people have a few weeks out from competition is “why didn’t those met-cons go as planned?”

Or, “why does it feel so different in the open versus how it feels during day-to-day training?”

The truth is, when it comes to getting better at metcons, there are several aspects that we need to consider, and it really depends on what your limitations are.

For a lot of us, they’re plural, so when we refer back to the basics, we think about breathing because a lot of us naturally assume that breathing is our limitation but here’s what’s really going on.

Know Your Limitations

Breathing is often the correlate of us being limited in other ways. 

What I mean by that is this: During a workout like Fran, where you’re doing thrusters and pull-ups let’s assume you’re decent at pull-ups. You might even be able to do 21-15-9 unbroken or close to completing those rep schemes within two sets.

Perhaps the thruster is where you are struggling. They challenge you to the point where you start breathing heavy, and you want to put your hands on your knees.

Before you get to the pull-up bar, you’ve already wasted 20 to 30 seconds.

Sure, this could be a breathing limitation, but if you really reflect on what it might be, you may realize that your strength is often correlated.

When we can make our top-end strength increase in training, for example, increase our 1RM Thruster from 200 lbs. To 250 lbs. That 95 lb. barbell is going to feel much lighter and will allow you to move much more efficiently in a workout like Fran and conserve more energy before stepping up to that pull-up bar.

This can also be assumed with gymnastics.

It might not be about raw strength. Your limitation could be more along the lines of skills or bodyweight strength. 

An example of this is when you may only be able to string together sets of 3 to 5 pullups. 

If this is the case, what we need to do is increase the ability to cycle larger sets of pull-ups instead of doing the workout Fran itself.

What this looks like is training more local endurance and skill work which doesn’t always mean training more pull-ups to get better at pull-ups.

You can do other modalities of pulling such as upright pulling or horizontal pulling like ring rows to build that local muscle endurance.

Consider Your Athletic Background

Another thing to consider is time under tension. Athletes with a gymnastics background that come into our sport, for example, have built a much greater capacity in hanging vs. an athlete with a football background by using their own bodyweight and accumulating years of training as a baseline.

I on the other hand spent much more time on the ground with barbells and training with external loads, so their grip strength and local muscle endurance in their hands and forearms is exceedingly greater than mine.

This takes time to build up so those are examples for gymnastics improvement or gymnastics progression.

When it comes specifically to breathing, what you can do for your endurance is work on your aerobic base, but most people don’t want to do this work.

A lot of CrossFit tests and open events are sub 15 or sub 12 minutes and you usually get one or two that might go to the length of 20 or 18 minutes or so, but for the most part, we train short and high-intensity what we need to do to is build a bigger engine.

Train Smarter, Not Harder

If you’re already training with us here at Brute right now, chances are you’ve gotten a taste of how we incorporate CrossFit style movements in elongated sessions that are based on a 7/10 effort that takes between 20-40 minutes.

This is how we build our local muscle endurance without overly fatiguing the body and central nervous system to the point where it’s going to deter the results that we’re looking for.

Another simple thing you can do is to just add more running, swimming and rowing. It’s not sexy and people tend to avoid these things but that’s what’s going to help you build that aerobic base.

When it comes to getting better at metcons, it’s not just as simple as doing another metcon every day and going as hard as you can because the truth is, you’re always going to find a way to go easier. 

Our body naturally doesn’t like pain and will find ways to resist it.

If you want to maximize your results, work the individual components of the metcons more. Think about sprinkling in some longer sessions, linear strength training and more skill sessions.

This is how Brute Compete is designed. 

We take an ala cart approach so that you can pick and choose which components of your training you should be focusing on to see optimal results and crush met-cons during competition.

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