There are some lessons I don’t learn the first time…or the second time…or, well, I think you get the idea… One of those lessons I learned the hard way, several times, is in CrossFit I can beat the person next to me, I can beat myself, I can beat the clock, but I cannot beat the heat! I don’t know how many times I have charged full steam into the WOD with the thermostat topping 110-degrees only to end up dizzy, flush and gasping for air on the floor; way overzealous for what I thought “looked easy” on the whiteboard. Although sometimes I lack good-sense, I rarely lack resolve and so I charge back at it the next day with the best I have only to end up in the same feverish-cold sweat-fetal position under the pull up bar. Having done that too many times to count, eventually, I learned a thing or two along the way. With temperatures climbing to 115-degrees this week, I want to share some strategies I use to keep the intensity and the #gainz coming through the sweltering summer months.
First off, accept that it is HOT and your performance during METCONS will likely diminish slightly through the high temperatures. Even though you might not perform at your peak, you can still maintain intensity by shifting your focus. One strategy I employ during the high temperature is to not focus so much on my scored outcome (time, reps, etc…), but I look to increase my “unbroken” repetitions during the WOD. For example, I will try and push myself mentally to complete a large number of repetitions “unbroken” knowing I may take a little longer rest before transitioning to another movement. This helps me to achieve the mental fortitude to crank-out a big set of repetitions and it gives me a chance to compose myself before moving on as the burning subsides. The overall pace may be a little slower, but it keeps me from redlining and helps me build the stamina to do a lot of repetitions at once.
Another thing I do that helps me manage the heat, is to slowdown and focus on efficient movement. Yes, you should always have proper form and yes, you shouldn’t go recklessly through the workout, but the reality is when you are pushing yourself hard and finding new limits, sometimes positions don’t stay perfect. Considering that, I like to use the opportunity to take those really hot days and refine my movement patterns and improve efficiency. If I move with proper form and efficiency I will use less energy to move through a workout allowing me to lift more weight and do more work. In rehearsing this good practice, I will naturally be a little slower, which helps me to keep my breathing and temperature under control, while still improving my level of fitness.
Working out in the high summer temperatures can be difficult, but also rewarding. If you use the opportunity to improve your capacity to crank-out big sets of “unbroken” repetitions and improve your quality and efficiency of movement, when the temperature drops you will see huge improvements in your physical capacity. I encourage you to try these out; use your judgement or ask your coach when to use each. And don’t forget to charge hard into the heat every now and then (when appropriate)!
– Coach Joey