How to decide to go up levels.
We have five levels in every class ranging from white for beginners to orange and blue for intermediates and purple and black for advanced. Where to start is easy. White. Where to go is obvious. Up. It’s the when that gives everyone trouble.
When to go up isn’t an easy decision. All of our coaches have years of experience coaching and exercising. You can feel how heavy or hard or how comfortable you are with certain movements. The fact that each of those is held by separate people is probably the biggest hurdle to deciding when to go up a level. It’s the reason why instead of a answer you are met with a question when you ask if you should do orange when you normally do white. We are trying understand your subjective experience to help make the right decision for you.
In an effort to start to clarify this process here are a couple of guidelines.
Have you mastered the skill with a heart rate below 100
If you are not great at kipping handstand push ups before the work out then dropping them in with a heartrate of 200 won’t help. You need to learn skills before you use them in the real thing. The great mixed martial artist Georges St-Pierre was rumored to say he practiced something at least 500 times in training before attempting it in a fight. He mastered it before he did it when the stress was on.
Are you faster than everyone else?
Are you done in 5 minutes with a work out that takes most people 10? That’s a good sign it may be time to start moving on up. If you can’t finish under the cap on a regular basis you probably went up too soon.
Is something feeling easy
Sometimes part of a work out seems easier than the rest. Were the squats easy but the push ups hard. Maybe it’s time to go up in squats. Truth is that you most likely won’t improve in everything at the same rate. Your squat may be through the roof but your pull ups are still on the ground. Totally fine. Go up in squats and do ring rows (don’t forget to work on pull ups)
Some scaling theories say you should use 70% of your 1rm. There are a several of problems with this. First everyone’s ability to lift percentages of their 1rm is different. 70% may be easy for one person and hard for another. Second reps schemes vary all over the place. There is no hard and fast rule.
70% is pretty useful at an upper limit though. I would even edge toward 60% on most work outs unless the reps are in single digits.
I was trudging up and down front hill at the celery fields with a 25lbs pack. I timed a few of my later laps. I went back and did the same work out with a 35lbs pack. The time and lap time was basically the same. I couldn’t physically go faster without running, which you can’t do in mountain boots, so it was time to up my weight.
The same is true with CrossFit movements. Squats take a certain amount of time to go up and down. If I can go from 65lbs to 75lbs with out drastically changing this over the work out then I absolutely should. Be careful because maintaining speed may be easy to do for a round or two but fail you in mid to late work out.