Quick note: You can download this article to read later: The Result of Results
So it’s the New Year. Resolutions are everywhere but before we make unbreakable oaths to getting 20 consecutive muscle ups, how well did we track our results last year? Did you track your results at all? If you did, how did you track them and what did the results tell you? The end of the year is the best time to consolidate this information and derive some meaningful truths about our training. So what were your overall training results from last year? And I don’t mean what your 1RMs and Fran times are. I mean a holistic overview of how you went in 2014. Can anyone say with certainty that their capacity (for strength and conditioning) increased? Probably a few heads nodding at this; getting “better” is something that is easily noticeable. But can anyone tell me by how much your capacity increased? And the answers “a lot”, “a bit” or “I’m pretty much Rich Froning right now” will not suffice. If we are able to break down our results into delicious candy sized nuggets of (actual) science, we are able to really track how much better we are becoming. This past year I have been tinkering with this very idea.
We are lucky to partake in a sport that allows for infinite detail in how we track our results and how far we drill into them. Some people are happy to know that they just “got better”, but I’m betting most of you want to know more. That’s why we keep journals and logs, and why we love writing our scores on the whiteboard so much. There is enough tech out there to allow us to control exactly what information we have at our fingertips and how best to utilise that information. Heart rate monitors go for about $50. Sports GPS watches can be picked up cheaply for about $150 now. And there are websites and apps that will calculate (with aforementioned science) exactly how much work is done every time you perform a workout.
As I said, I have been doing a little side project this year. I have been tracking my results with a website called Beyond the Whiteboard. An interactive feedback oriented training result site that will record your results, give you feedback about your weaknesses and strengths, tell you how your PB’s, rank you against other CrossFit athletes worldwide (including games/regionals competitors like Ronnie Teasdale and Julie Foucher) and show you all this information in a very visual way. Charts of the pie, bar, scatter and line variety.
I want to show you a short summary of the results I logged in Beyond the Whiteboard this year.
Beyond the Whiteboard
Beyond The Whiteboard, as the name suggests, goes beyond the numbers that you write on the whiteboard or in your training journal and gives you detailed feedback and an analytic synopsis of your training. There are different interfaces that allow you to drill into your workout data and I’ll go through some to show you how much information each provides separately and what it all amounts to.
At the surface level, one of the most inclusive things that this website does is give you a “level” which is a direct correlation between you and the rest of the CrossFit community who use BTWB. Is it the simplest way to express improvement over time. As you get better, the number goes up. Whether or not you decide to go deeper into understanding why you got better is up to you.
My Level: 75 (as comparison; Julie Foucher’s Level: 98) The level is calculated every time you submit one of the workouts that are deemed as benchmarks (Fran, Grace etc.), max efforts (500m Row for time) or 1RMs. The number is out of 100 and will increase or decrease every time you log one of these workouts. It is an average of certain training aspects (strength, speed, duration, bodyweight, heavy etc). As times goes on you can get a plotted chart of how your level has increased. It’s calculated as an average of your percentiles, so on average my score will be above 75% of the total number of other scores submitted. The more benchmarks workouts you do, the more accurate your score will be.
These three modalities are integral to the CrossFit methodology of training, and knowing which of them you are lacking in is key to defining your weaknesses.
- Weightlifting: 64%
- Gymnastics: 27%
- Mono-structural: 9%
The last 3 months before the end of the year I increased the number of bodyweight (Gymnastic) exercises I did.
A summary of total number of reps performed over the year is another way to drill into your results and analyse your weaker or (ill preferred) movements.
Some of my rep counts:
- 7196 Double Unders
- 1287 Pullups
- 1080 Burpees
- 1154 T2B
- 1278 Box Jumps
- 938 Wall Balls
- 176 Muscle ups
- 2 Strict Muscle Ups (yay?!)
Work and Power are words often confused because of their use colloquially, and their foundations in science and physics are often ignored. Work is the amount of force required to move an object by a certain amount (distance). Power is the ability to sustain that work over a duration of time. In order to increase power, you either have to increase the load or the distance that load travels (the work), or you have to decrease the time it takes you to do that work. Power output is often referred to in CrossFit as Work Capacity or more commonly, intensity. Low power outputs are generally low intensity workouts and vice-versa. Power output is the key to success in CrossFit, once you have its measure, you can apply that perceived exertion and increase your intensity.
Above is a BTWB dot chart of all my workouts with Power charted against the duration of the workout. As you can see, the most common time domain is between the 8-12 min mark (a pretty standard METCON duration). As you get further along, the power output generally tends to decrease. Short, sharp workouts (such as sprint distances) are where you are able to generate the greatest power output, because you don’t sustain the output for very long.
Statistics for my Work and Power:
- A total of 13,645,681 ft*lbs (foot-pounds) of work
- To provide some context, foot-pounds (ft*lbs) of work basically describes the amount of load moved and how far. For a person my size and with levers (limbs) my length, a single clean and jerk at 60kg is roughly equivalent to 1150 ft*lbs of work. So if I were to do the same amount of work, but only by doing clean and jerks, I would need to do 11865 reps. To put it another way, I would need to do Grace 395 times. That’s more than 1 Grace per day. A quick note, for the Imperial system haters, 1 ft*lb is roughly equal to 1.355 joules; a 15 Watt light-bulb can be powered by 15 Joules per second.
- I had a maximum power output of 459.7 ft*lbs/sec – 400m run for time. This was followed by a 500m row for time – 331.5 ft*lbs/sec.
- An average of 66.02 Ft*lbs/sec over 50.12 hours of timed workouts.
- An average of 113.27 Ft*lbs/sec for METCON style workouts (not inclusive of workouts with designated rest or EMOMs).
- An average power output increase of approximately 20 Ft*lbs/sec.
I graphed the output data (which can be downloaded from the site in a .csv file) into an excel sheet and came up with the above graph. In terms of where I started in 2014, it shows that my METCON’s have seen about a 20% increase, so I have improved by about a fifth in work capacity. Remember from the start of this article about knowing how much you have improved? That’s my answer.
I logged 551 individual workout sessions on 210 days over the year and missed probably 5-6 weeks of workouts (from being slack- it happens!!). I knew what lifts I was excelling in (Olympic) and which I had weaknesses in (power-lifting). I knew that my power output was improving slightly, and that I was able to sustain that output for longer. Every time I got a PR, it made sure to remind me – even if I had forgotten.
The website is not without its difficulties, but overall it is a great tool for tracking. There was a bit of a learning curve when I first started using the site, as it is pretty comprehensive. There are workarounds for certain workout styles, but the BTWB team were very quick to answer my queries on their discussion board. Some of the movements do not generate a Power value for several reasons (usually they are complex movements). Lifting complexes are also difficult to track – but once again you just need to be a bit savvy and know the work-arounds. The resource database and forum are also very well moderated and managed. The website is also supported by a mobile app, so you are able to refer to your results quickly when you are at the box.
For me, this has been a very interesting experiment, and one that has been humbling as well as uplifting. Workout results that I thought I did well in sometimes didn’t stack up against the CrossFit community. And sometimes I surprised myself with what I achieved and how I ranked in the community. I know the problem areas I need to work on, and the movements I need to do more of. It has given me a very good idea of what I can expect for 2015.
So how have you been tracking your results this year? Is your notebook not cutting it? (I actually write all my workouts in a training journal too) I would love to see a few more people sign up for Beyond the Whiteboard and commit to putting in your workouts starting in the New Year. Post your thoughts to the comments – I want to know the ways everyone is tracking results. Do you have an awesome app you use? Have you created your own Excel/Google spreadsheet, or use someone else’s?
Hit me up in the gym with any questions – and if you do jump on BTWB, make sure to add Adapt as your Gym and I will add you into the group and help you learn the ropes.