Why We Have Time Caps

By Coach Janine Lytyle

Hey NorthEast Community!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Janine Lytle! I just recently moved here from Ohio, and I am beyond excited to be a part of this community! I have been in the CrossFit community since 2011, when I wanted to improve my fitness for my senior year of soccer at Valparaiso University. Fast forward eight years, and I am still trying to better myself through fitness! As with anything that you pour your heart and soul into, there are lessons to be learned; some are easy and some are hard to swallow. One of the most important lessons I learned was the logic behind time caps. A lot of you look at the workout and automatically think, “what’s the time cap and why the hell didn’t they put it on the board?!” Spoiler alert: sometimes it’s fun to hear the class come up with their own ideas about the workout! But on a serious note, time caps can be a very useful thing for a habitual exerciser. Utilizing the prescribed time cap, you can learn a lot of valuable things about your body and how to pace each individual workout. Take, for example, our good gal pal, Fran (21-15-9 of thrusters and pull-ups). You may look at that workout and think, “OK. Cool. I have pulls and I can do the thruster weight no problem.” But then you read the time cap and it is *gasp* 5 minutes! Your initial thought shouldn’t be “Only 5 minutes! That means I have to do 40 minutes of cardio in after to get a good workout!” In fact it should be the other way around, thinking “Well I know after I am done with this workout I am going to be spending a good amount of time contemplating my life decisions and then slowly peel myself off the floor when Kenny says ‘we’re closing.’” When you see time caps around the 5-7 minute range it should make you feel like you’re massively hung over after (you all know what I’m talking about) and stick with you the rest of the day. If this scares you it is ok, as it takes time to develop the “pain cave” and learn how to manipulate your body to get there. That’s why you have coaches in each class to help push you!

Now, when you see time caps or workouts that have a set time limit of 20-30 minutes, that is where you need to sit down and have a quick chat with yourself. Begin by being honest with yourself as to where your weaknesses are and where your strengths are. For example, our other BESTIE, Cindy, a 20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, and 15 air squats. So you think to yourself, “OK, cool. I have pull-ups and 5 is a small number, I am going to do them all unbroken.” 3-2-1- GO, and you’re off to the races! You’re feeling yourself, kicking ass, taking names. You’re into round 5, you already feel yourself slipping and boom you run right into the pesky brick wall that you may or may not have tuned out while your coach was talking about it. You look up at the clock and it’s only been 5 minutes in a 20 minute workout. You think, “Why does this always happen to me?!” Now you are just trying to hang on doing singles on the pull-ups, bro rep city on the push-ups, and God-knows-what on the squats. 3-2-1-TIME. Thank God that workout is done as you’re trying to wrap your head around what went wrong. Well, for starters, you went unbroken and you didn’t respect the workout. Unless you have a high unbroken, linked together pull-up number (or pushup number for that matter), you need to break it up sooner rather than later. As for the pull-ups, approach it with a set of 2 and then 3. Now move to the push-ups; sets of 5 or 3-3-2-2. For the squat portion this is where you catch your breath, shake your arms out, and get ready for the next round. This type of break down can go for any aerobic workout. Look to see where you can move and catch your breath, as well as look to see where you may need to take an extra second (no NOT an extra minute) and break it up. For these longer workouts it is much better to sustain 80-85% than it is to crush the first 5 minutes and blackout the last 15.

As for the interval type workouts, this is where you can fight fire with fire. For example, the class workout a couple weeks ago was 12 cal row – 9 chest to bar pull-ups – 3 heavy squat cleans. Once you complete your 12-9-3 you rest 2 minutes and you repeat this 5 more times for a total of 6 rounds. During these types of workouts, you want to be consistent throughout all 6 rounds. You do not want to come in hot the first round in under a minute and then the 3rd round you’re getting timed out at the 2 minute marker. You want to look at the workout as keeping the same rowing pace through all 6 rounds, the pull-ups should be broken up into sets of 5 and 4 or 3s, and as for the cleans I’m a big believer in fast singles. Round 2 shouldn’t sneak up on you but round 5 and 6 should be spicy.

The bottom line is this. Time caps are there for a reason. Not only are time caps there for pacing purposes, but they are also there to help you scale the workout so you achieve the correct stimulus and get the most out of each workout. If you slime through a sprint workout, or sprint through a 40 minute grind session, you are doing yourself a disservice. If you are not sure as to where your body is or what you should feel like during a workout, ask your coach! They are there to help guide you to be better walking out than walking in!