by Jason Cleary
Let me preface this post with a few comments: First, I have no formal knowledge, education, or
understanding outside of attending the regular CrossFit classes at Five Alarm CrossFit, discussing (some might say “debating” or “arguing”) with coaches as to why we are doing what we are doing, and reading the dust cover of a few prominent fitness books that I plan to, one day, actually open. Secondly, after a terribly fun competition with my teammates & good friends Josh Wheeler and Kyle Reilly, along with many others from our Five Alarm Family this past weekend, I find myself wanting to achieve more, and seeking out the knowledge to do so. Now, with that out of the way I offer the following (completely debatable) opinion, if for no other reason than to foster a better understanding for the “why” behind the how with which we strive to achieve our own personal fitness goals, and because I’m a bit of a #crossfitnerd.
In the back of my mind whenever an EMOM is programmed for the METCON portion of class I have
always hesitated to understand why, or what point it serves. Make no mistake, I’m all for the
“constantly varied” mantra, but only to the extent that it serves the purpose of helping me achieve a
higher level of overall fitness. Until today, I really did not understand what exactly I could get out of an EMOM that I wasn’t getting from a more clearly measurable format like an AMRAP or RFT. I mean heck, you can’t even really measure or compare your EMOM scores with previous ones! After all, to my
knowledge there are not many competitions decided on who got the better EMOM score… And doing
something different for no reason is just, well, annoying if you’re like me and need reasons. So, if my
goal is to get better in a measurable way, why not practice like I’m going to play, why not do all RFTs and AMRAPs for my METCONs??
Well, with the help of one of the greatest CrossFit coaches of all, and my best friend in the whole wide
world (who I’ll leave nameless as to not make others jealous) I came up with a rationale for why I believe these workouts serve a very distinct and necessary purpose!
Say you want to someday perform a RFT workout that requires you to consistently hit 225lb Deadlifts
Rx, but currently 225lb is your maximum Deadlift weight. So, in order to complete the workout in a
reasonable time and to achieve the targeted stresses on your body (AKA not staring at a barbell, but
actually moving it), you scale back the weight to, say 135lbs. This allows you to get a great workout that will have the correct targeted impact. However, it may not in fact get you much closer to your goal of performing that exercise Rx in the future, as there is a clear lack in raw strength that was not addressed.
In other words, moving 135lbs many times doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to someday
move 225lbs many times. A more targeted approach to doing that would be to work on good ole fashion
Deadlift strength (along with supporting strength work of course). Well, think of the EMOM as the
“strength building work” for your engine, or your ability to continually do work. If all I ever do is RFTs and AMRAPs, I’m rarely maxing out my effort, which means my “maximal effort” isn’t stressed, and in
turn, my maximum effort isn’t necessarily ever increased. So, the idea here is that EMOMs allow us to
work on increasing maximum effort or the maximum speed/horsepower our bodies can run at, much
like pure low rep, heavy weight strength training allows us to increase the maximal load we are able to
move. From the other side of the coin we need AMRAPs and RFT workouts to improve our ability to
perform at a higher percentage of maximal effort for a longer period of time, much like high rep,
moderate weight strength training will do for us.
So, where I once was a skeptic, I am now a firm believer in the EMOM METCON. Hopefully at least some of this is actually true!! What do you all think? Do you prefer EMOMs or AMRAPs?