Why We Put Time Caps On Workouts

Why We Put Time Caps On Workouts

“Alright, so today’s metcon (metabolic conditioning) is a 21-15-9 workout of pull ups, kettlebell swings, and burpees. Our big focus today is going to be unbroken ketllebell swings, and not long pauses on the burpees. We’ve got a 10 minute time cap on this workout, so you’re going to need to keep the breaks short and the movements quick and crisp.”

“Hey Coach… why do we have time caps?”

THIS is an excellent question, and one that I’m happy to dive into. I’ll give you some science-y reasons as to why, as well as a practical reason. Here we go.

The science-y reasons: to ensure we hit proper energy systems when training, to invoke correct stimulus levels (getting the athlete in the right mindset), and to make sure we truly remain “constantly varied.”

Energy Systems and Stimulus Levels

The human body has three energy systems in which we can most identify our training. We have the phosphagenic, the glycolytic, and the oxidative. It is necessary for us to train in each energy systems in order for us to have a well rounded level of fitness. This could be an entire post on its own, but I’ll keep it short. I like to relate these systems to running speeds (because we can all relate to that a little easier).

  • Phosphagenic – 100% all out sprint – can only maintain this pace for a short amount of time
  • Glycolytic – 800m run – a hard, fast paced, yet sustainable run
  • Oxidative – 1 mile+ run – controlled and sustainable pace.

Our bodies need to be trained in each one of these systems. Phosphagenic could be trained in not only in sprints, but in our lifting as well. A heavy power clean or back squat gets your heart PUMPING after 100% effort, but only for a short amount of time. We train our glycolytic system in our short metcons, or our intervals that we perform. Our oxidative system is trained in every metcon that you might perceive as medium to long. If we want to get into the nitty gritty of it, every energy system is trained in SOME way each and every time your workout. Your perceived level of intensity is really the determining factor in which system you train in, and it is our job as a coach to show you! As far as invoking the stimulus levels, we let the time caps do that as well. If you see SPRINT on the board or something very short, you know it’s phosphagenic. If we tell you, “this should feel like a hard run,” it’s most likely glycolytic. If you see AMRAP 20, better hold on for some oxidative training!

Remaining Constantly Varied

Time caps are a great way to make sure our community is truly staying constantly varied in our metcons. If every single day we did a sprint metcon, we would get REALLY good at sprinting. But what happens when we do a workout over 15 minutes? You might crash and burn! Same thing if we only train in 20+ minute workouts (a.k.a. HELL). By establishing time caps, we make sure we train in all areas and levels of intensity.

Budgeting For Classes

Our number one product at Yellow Rose is world class coaching. Part of world class coaching is making sure that our classes are run professionally. Professional classes are well thought out, planned, and executed accordingly. For us coaches, knowing we have X amount of time for the workout makes executing a professionally run class all the better. Here’s an example: let’s say we’re going to back squat for 20 minutes today, followed by the workout we stated earlier in this post with a 10 minute cap. 21-15-9 of pull ups, KB swings, and burpees. Here’s what my lesson plan would look like.

Class from 4:30PM to 5:30PM

  • 4:30-4:33. Board brief and intention
  • 4:33-4:37. Dynamic warm up
  • 4:37-4:42. General warm up
  • 4:42-4:44. Individual stretch
  • 4:45-4:50. Specific Warm up (for back squats)
  • 4:50-5:10. Back squat workout.
  • 5:10-5:13. Put away bars and get out equipment for metcon
  • 5:13-5:17. Reminders of intention for metcon, as well as movement standards.
  • 5:18-5:28. Metcon.
  • 5:28-5:30. Cool down/put equipment away.

Running well timed classes is hugely important for us. The way I see it, one extra minute that we hold you over is one minute less with your family. That’s valuable time that we never want to take away from you. We respect you too much!

That’s the big secret of time caps! There’s some science-y reasons behind it… but there’s also just good old fashioned logistics as well.

Thanks for reading!

-Clark Hibbs

14 down, 17 to go.




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