Competing Vs Testing - A word from Coach Kevin

“We at CrossFit Collingwood promote and strive for health, fitness and wellbeing of our clients and for general physical preparedness (GPP)” (Hromis 2012)

One common misconceptions in our health and fitness industry is that people think more volume and competing/testing will lead to faster results. This leads to athletes wanting to move as fast as they can, neglecting technique to try and get as much volume in as possible.

“A normal member is competing 90% of the time, training 5% of the time and practicing 5%” (Bergeron 2016)

This way of training may be effective for the short term, but for long-term health benefits; it is detrimental. The question you have to ask yourself is:

  1. “Do I want to be able to train for the future to shape a healthier and fitter version of myself?”


  1. “Go hard, do as much as I can and try and get results as fast as I can and risk being injured in the process?”

DO NOT mistake volume for intensity and end up working out for 90 minutes at 60% when 60 minutes at 90% might be more valuable. We live in a “more is better society” and it is our responsibility to try and change this message. Due to this concept, it seems to have been lost on the general population.

OPEX Director, James Fitzgerald and one of my favourite coaches in the world, Ben Bergeron explains the importance and difference between practicing, training and testing/competing explains the above very nicely below:

“Think testing as going all out. We are talking 100% that may feel like 125%. Think of training as building volume. That volume is not a situation where the goal is to go as fast as possible. The goal is to complete work consistently so that you can come back tomorrow and do more work at the same pace and NOT all out). This pattern must continue for a long period of time so that a person’s system can handle a lot of work at progressively faster pacing over time.” (Fitzgerald 2017)

“(Practicing, Training and Competing) Each one has incredibly different approaches and incredibly different adaptations happening from each one. It is really important to put parameters around what they are so you know what you are doing and what you are trying to get out of the training session.” (Bergeron 2017)

The above quotes relate perfectly to practicing and training. As mentioned above, James mentions; “continue for a long period of time so that a person’s system can handle a lot of work at progressively faster pacing over time”. If we never practice and train the movement, we will never be able to handle the additional work as we progress as athletes as we have not developed the neurological pathways in our brain to handle it. In addition, if we do not practice efficiently moving with good technique, i.e. cycling power cleans, power snatches etc, we will never be able to work at a progressively faster pace over time as again, our neurological pathways have not been trained to constantly perform these movements. I always mention this in my classes, which I think hits the nail in the coffin:

“If we practice and train the movements everyday, we will be training our neurological pathways to move better, with better technique, allowing us to move more efficiently with good mechanics without compromising technique. This will lead to better testing results due to better neurological adaptations to the movements, allowing you to move heavier loads more efficiently at a faster rate with good technique.” (Yun 2017)

As you know, we as CrossFit Collingwood coaches, take the additional time in the brief to explain to you before the intention behind every class we take. It allows you; the athlete, to understand the reason behind why we are performing a particular movement, skill and WOD a certain way.

This puts parameters around which aspect of practicing, training and testing we are looking at during the session.

“Hiding from your weaknesses is a recipe for incapacity and error.” (Glassman 2006)

One of my favourite snippets from Ben Bergeron’s’ podcast, which fits perfectly into our community:

Here’s what a normal day looks like for a regular gym goer; they see a workout on the board, they look at the previous times of other people and or they think about their previous times that they had in the workout…. They go into the workout looking for every available short cut to better their time” (Bergeron 2017)

I think most people can relate to what Ben is saying above, in relation to checking the leaderboard and seeing what time or weight you have get to beat to be No.1 for the day. Remember one of CrossFit Collingwood’s Rules; LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR!!

“Look in the mirror. That’s your competition.” (Anonymous)

Listen to his podcast using the link below if you are interested in listening to what he has to say in further detail.

The majority of our athletes are training for life. As coaches, we strive to achieve this by promoting a healthy lifestyle, whether that is in the gym, in our nutrition or other activities outside of our gym. We are at the gym to effectively coach and help the athletes to be a better version of themselves.

“we want our athletes to be able to have sex when they are 80” (Hromis 2012)

You can see in CrossFit Collingwood’s new training paradigm, that we are practicing and training movements while testing every 14 days. So to put a bit of maths around it, we are testing 22 times throughout the year, which is ~7% as we only train 6 times a week. This allows for athletes to neurologically adapt to the movements as we are practicing and training 93% of the year!

However, more volume has some bearing of truth behind it. Look at social media of some of the top athletes in our industry; Kara Webb, Matt Fraser and Rich Froning. These are people who the general population look towards to when they are wanting inspiration to get fitter and stronger. They post insane workouts with lots of volume because that’s what they need to do to be at the top of the game. They exemplify the “more is better” culture because they aren’t training to simply be fit and healthy, but they are training to be the fittest in the world! These athletes are a different breed per say when compared to the general population like us. They are a different breed because these athletes are at the top of our sport who benefit from extra training volume as they stand upon a nearly unshakable foundations of mechanics and consistency. These were developed early in their training lives from practicing and training the movements every day. The general population who start CrossFit or have been doing CrossFit for a few years still lack either one of these or both. For example, if an athlete struggles with mechanics i.e. mobility, then more volume is more detrimental than being helpful for the athlete. If their nutrition is terrible or they don’t get enough sleep, that again is detrimental to the general health and wellbeing of the athlete.

Another piece of information which people tend to miss out on is that these athletes spend long hours stretching, mobilising, attending physios and chiropractitioners etc which takes up a lot of their time. Top CrossFit athletes do not post these kind of sessions on their social media page as it is boring and unpopular compared to them uploading a video of hitting a 100kg snatch.

CrossFit’s philosophy is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity over broad time domain. This means every day is different and the more intensity you put into the workout, the more you will get out of it. One of Glassman’s quotes resonates perfectly to CrossFit, it reads:

“Be impressed by intensity, not volume” (Glassman 2006)

This goes back to the question at hand, does more volume and testing lead to faster results. If your goal is to be a CrossFit Games athlete, yes of course you need the volume but also lots of time, intensity, gymnastic skills and specific muscle group training and a great nutrition. You can do as much volume and testing as you want, but if it is not practiced, trained and performed at some kind on intensity with the different skills and proper nutrition, the development will be very slow to even detrimental.”

“More is not better.” (Glassman 2006)

CrossFit Collingwood has identified that the general population will benefit with a better understanding of living a healthier lifestyle while moving consistently and allowing athletes to train every day. We do this, as mentioned before, with our programming, by how we go about our daily lives in the community. We give our all at every class we take, wanting to impart knowledge which will help the athlete learn something which will help them develop as an athlete. To be a better version of yourself, you don’t need to train 2 to 3 hours, working on isolation movements, extra lifts etc. Practicing and training the movements and performing workouts at high intensity will be more beneficial, especially with everyone having busy lives, i.e. work, social life etc.

These kind of changes are what CrossFit Collingwood strive to achieve with all our athletes, even if it is a small change like not drinking every weekend, getting 8 hours of sleep or reducing the amount of sweets eaten per week. Small changes have a dramatic impact on an individual, which will help them live a healthier life.

In Summary, we at CrossFit Collingwood are getting you ready for general physical preparedness (GPP) for what life throws at you by guiding and inspiring you to be the best you can be. This means the right programming with effective coaching and nutritional advice so you can come in every day, practice and train with intensity and leave the gym as a better you.

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