Sunday, December 7, 2008 by Daniel

The value of chippers

Max promised us something brutal to finish up strength week, as many folks were feeling itchy having gone so long without a metcon. So he served us up this chipper, which was as advertised:

Run 800 Meters
25 Push-Ups
Run 600 Meters
50 Burpees
Run 400 Meters
75 Kettlebell swings 1.5P/1.0P
Run 200 Meters
100 Jump Squats
Run 100 Meters
125 Double-Unders

38:25 not quite RX
(DU's were a combination of 3x singles and DU's)
Splits (run+exercise): 4:21 | 8:44 | 8:50 | 6:28 | 10:02

This one actually wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be - I had anticipated it taking an hour to complete. That said, it was pretty painful. Particularly the KB swings and jumping squats. If I could DO consecutive double-unders, those also probably would have sucked. As it was, I just blundered my way through skip-skip-skip-doubleunder until I had a number in my head that bore a resemblance to 125.

After it was all over, I asked Max about the value of chippers, which strike me as somewhat counter to the philosophy of CrossFit - to quote Guru Glassman: "Focus on intensity, not volume." (I should probably clarify here that I'm defining a "chipper" as a workout that has 1) a fairly sizable variety of movements, 2) a fairly large volume of each movement, such that 3) it takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes to complete.) His response was that the definition of Crossfit includes work across broad time domains, as well as modal, and that periodic administration of high-volume workouts was important, so long as they remained under 60 (or, worst-case, 75) minutes, and so long as they did not make up the majority of programming.

As ambivalent as I am towards these sorts of workouts, I think this is wise. Generally speaking, I think I prefer the workouts that get in and get out in under twenty minutes, as I feel that those provide the greatest cost:benefit ratio. However, there is something to be said for endurance, and the ability to self-regulate so that you can maintain a level of, say, 75% suck over a long period of time - as opposed to the 90-95% suck of a Fight Gone Bad - can have real-world benefits that I can envision. For example: we don't venture into the world of LSD (long-slow-distance) much anymore, but we do really enjoy a century or a very long hike every year or so, and I think it is these sorts of workouts that allow us to maintain a decent proficiency in that sort of work. In other words: it's a nice place to visit, but we wouldn't want to live there.


Jenn said...

I can see the value in these types of workouts if you still enjoy running or other endurance events. I just ran a pretty decent 5K without having trained specifically for it, or doing more than a couple of runs that actually covered that much distance.

Maximus Lewin said...

Over the past year, the main site has had quite a few (maybe 10?) 5Ks, four 10Ks and one 15K, in addition to some of the longer WODs like Filthy Fifty, Linda etc. One thing to realize about these "chippers" is that, ultimately many of them (not murph) CAN be done in under 20 minutes! My best times on FF and Linda are just over 20 minutes.

This WOD could be done in just under 20 minutes by a very good CF athlete.

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