Flashback to 2013 I just started CrossFit and like most people I youtubed the best athletes around the world. After a couple minutes you will find footage of the CrossFit games and the dominant force of that time Rich Froning. Watching his videos you quickly realize he does multiple metcons everyday. His training partner stated that he didn’t know how much exactly but it was a lot.
Listening to that I thought if you wanna be good at CrossFit, all you gotta do is volume...a lot of volume. So I did metcons...a lot of them, i couldn't get enough metcons in on 1 day sometimes even hitting 4-5 metcons in a single session. The following days my body was thrashed and had to recover for multiple days with little to no work done in between. I really thought this was the way to get fit and better. After a couple of months training like this you get some nagging injuries, nothing crazy but you don't feel good.
Looking back I realize now how stupid it was trying to do too much. Flash forward to 2020 if you look at Rich Froning now he won the games 4 times individually and 4 times in a team. He actually stated he feels better now than he did in 2013-2014 which were his prime years. Why might you ask he started training smarter, CrossFit isn't just Metcons. It is how most people start with it but Metcons are just a part of CrossFit like Gymnastics and weightlifting is a part balance throughout is key to getting better at it.
Interval work, lifting external objects, moving your own bodyweight, metcons, running, swimming, biking are all part of CrossFit not just Metcons.
The problem with just doing metcons is we get addicted to the endorphin rush after, nobody looks at a workout with lets say 100 thrusters and really looks forward to it. We like it because of the endorphin rush after. If you lay on your back gasping for air, feeling like you achieved something. That's why most of us are addicted to metcons.
We all have different goals while doing CrossFit, some wanna compete others just wanna feel (and look) better or live healthier. The best possible way for all those goals is to get more muscle mass. More mass equals a stronger body, the stronger you are the better you get at everything else.
Scrolling through Instagram I tend to see a lot of people doing very long grueling metcons sometimes even up to 60 minutes of work. What happens is our body responds and gets into a catabolic state in which it actually decreases muscle mass. (Cumming DC, Quigley ME, Yen SS 1983)
For example let's have a look at 2 different types of runners, sprinters and long distance. Both have clearly different bodily functions, 1 works for short periods of time with more intense short bursts of power while the other has a more steady slower power output. one utilizes the type 1 muscle fibers or slow twitch muscle fibers which last a lot longer while type 2 is short and powerful.
These distinctions influence how the muscles respond to training as both muscle fibers contract in a unique way. Human muscles contain a genetically determined mixture of both slow and fast twitch fibers. generally we have a 50/50 dna make up.
Back to the subject of metcons doing very long metcons, it feels great and should have a place in CrossFit occasionally. “Dying” in workouts should not be the standard, occasionally test your limits but do not make it the standard of a great workout. Lift external objects, lift your own bodyweight, constantly learn new skills, train all the energy systems and sometimes push your body with a fun Metcon.
CrossFit athlete & coach