Coaches Chat - Will Trujillo Explains How To Stay Healthy While Pushing Your Fitness Intensity

Coaches Chat - Will Trujillo Explains How To Stay Healthy While Pushing Your Fitness Intensity

05 Nov

Coaches Chat - Will Trujillo Explains How To Stay Healthy While Pushing Your Fitness Intensity

Imagine dropping your car onto a highway of cars going 70 miles an hour when you’re going 0. That’s like doing dynamic volume prior to being ready for it. - Will Trujillo

I spoke to Big Dawgs Coach, Will Trujillo, and we spoke about something near and dear to many CrossFitter’s heart. We spoke about pushing the acceleration button on training while still protecting your body from injury. 

Something we must agree on up front, though, is that injury is a risk that you must take when you’re searching for your peak athletic potential. Big Dawgs’ founder, James Fitzgerald, often talks about is how trying to maximize athletic potential is actually closer to sickness and death than it is to health. The sooner you realize that, the less stress you’ll have around it, the better your training will be, and ironically the less likely you will be to be injured - less stress.

Will and I discussed a number of critical areas where athletes can take steps to improve their probability of both improving their fitness and protecting their bodies. Some of those key areas are:

  1. Before they even begin as an athlete
  2. As they are building workout volume, prior to intensity
  3. When they put intensity into their program
  4. When they are off of the training floor

We hope you enjoy!

What Do Most Athletes Come To You Wanting To Do That You Would Expect To Lead Them To Injury?

Firstly, Will was En fuego (on fire) in this interview. We highly encourage you to listen to Will’s words as opposed to just reading my text.

Will said that most people come in wanting to do Dynamic Volume too early in their training. 

Will define dynamic volume as movements that are based more on momentum. Some of those movements may be:

  1. Kipping or butterfly pull ups
  2. Kipping handstand push ups
  3. High rep touch and go snatches
  4. Etc…

The reason why dynamic volume is dangerous to athletes who haven’t built enough strength and volume in those movements is because their bodies are literally not capable of expressing those movements over and over. Their tendons and muscles haven’t built the durability to handle that violence of the eccentric portion (ex. The violence on your shoulder at the bottom of every butterfly pull up). 

It’s only through absolute strength building + volume of absolute strength that your body will become prepared to do those movements.

Will then mentioned something so critical for athletes to think about...he said that if you want to be an athlete in the Sport of CrossFit that you must be able to do high rep dynamic volume in workouts. However, until you build the prerequisite strength and volume more slowly, you will not RECOVER from those dynamic reps - if you can even do them at all. Amongst other things, of course, it’s when you don’t recover that you become more susceptible to injuries.

Where or When Is Somebody Ready To Do 100 Kipping or Butterfly Chest To Bar Pull Ups In A Session?

I purposely asked Will for a number that often sounds high for newer athletes beginning their training. I wanted to make a point that it should take time for athletes to work into that. This is not an overnight progression for your body to effectively express these dynamic contractions.

Will began by saying that he’d want to see at least a 25% of bodyweight strict weighted pull up. That means that if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d need to be able to do a 37.5 pound (extra) weighted pull up for a very controlled rep. Will wants this to prove that you have basic strength as well as strength of connective tissue.

That strength says to Will that they are then prepared to begin doing LOW volume dynamic movements. Will would have you do skill work to make sure that you understand how to properly execute the movement, and then he may have you do a few reps, rest, then a few reps, then rest, etc…. As you build proficiency and efficiency, and as you continued to build strength with strict movements, you would add reps to your sets, you would add sets to your training, and then as you were capable you would begin to remove rest little by little (ie intensity would go up). 

This progression is very individualized based on your strengths, weaknesses, training age, days per week that you train, other goals, we won’t give a specific template because it’s 99% likely to not work well for you unless you have met the dozen of points that the templated avatar person checked the boxes for.

What Are Some Of The Things That Can Take People From Feeling Great To Being Broken?

You always go from doing movements un-fatigued to doing them fatigued. So, until you’ve built volume in an un-fatigued state, you should NOT do volume fatigued.

Will was pretty fast to answer this one. He said that too many athletes try to add instensity to their training days prior to being prepared for it. Think of the difference between doing 100 chest to bar pull ups in these two different ways:

  1. 50 min EMOM of 2 reps every minute in a calm training session = 100 total reps
  2. 100 chest to bar pull ups for time in a competition

If you read those and got a little juice flowing in your veins when you read FOR TIME and COMPETITION, you’re like me and tons of other people out there. Doing things as fast as you can adds a lot of intensity to your central nervous system, and it introduces higher levels of fatigue to the movement. 

As you burn out your CNS and as you fatigue your muscles and tendons, you add probability of injury. That means that you must build volume in a non-fatigued state prior to adding intensity. 

Here is a very simple (and not gospel) example of “non-fatiguing” progression on chest to bar pull ups. Please keep in mind that this would come after you’d proven the pre-requisite strength, coordination, and volume to do them at all. It would also come after you had worked on chest to bar pull ups as a skill in an extremely low fatigue setting:

  1. Twice per week for 4 weeks  
    1. 5 chest to bar pull ups in a set - they are unbroken and take apx 15 seconds of work per set
    2. rest 2 minutes between each set
    3. do 5 sets 
    4. = 50 reps per week 
    5. = 2.5 minutes of work with 16 min of rest (I’m not counting the rest after the 5th sets both days during the week)
  2. Twice per week for 4 weeks 
    1. 5 chest to bar pull ups in a set - they are unbroken and take apx 15 seconds of work per set
    2. rest 2 minutes between each set
    3. do 7 sets 
    4. = 70 reps per week 
    5. = 3.5 minutes of work with 16 min of rest
  3. Twice per week for 4 weeks  
    1. 5 chest to bar pull ups in a set - they are unbroken and take apx 15 seconds of work per set
    2. rest 2 minutes between each set
    3. do 10 sets 
    4. = 100 reps per week 
    5. = 5 minutes of work with 16 min of rest
  4. Twice per week for 4 weeks 
    1. 6 min EMOM 
    2. 6 chest to bar pull ups per min - we’ll assume each set is unbroken and takes apx 18 sec so 40 sec of break each round 
    3. = 72 reps per week
    4. = 3.6 min of work and 6.7 min of rest
  5. Twice per week for 4 weeks
    1. 8 min EMOM
    2. 7 chest to bar pull ups per min
    3. = 21 sec of work per set with 39 sec of rest
    4. = 112 reps per week
    5. = 5.6 min of work and 9.1 min of rest
  6. Twice per week for 4 weeks
    1. 10 min EMOM
    2. 8 chest to bar pull ups per min
    3. = 24 sec of work per set with 36 sec of rest
    4. = 160 reps per week
    5. = 8 min of work and 10.8 min of rest

Think about where you’d be now. If you had to do 100 chest to bar pull ups in 1 training session, you’re awfully close here. That was a 6 month progression after you built strength, coordination, skill, and volume. Can it be faster?  Sure, but you must earn the right to be intense!

**Note too that it’s pretty rare to be that black and white with training. I only wrote it that linearly to show what progression could look like in a non-fatigued setting.

When Do You Put Intensity Into The Training Program?  How Do You Know It’s “Time?”

Another brilliant answer from Will. He said I want to see recoverability first.

That means that as he’s building volume, he needs to see you have no problem doing every set with the same precision as the one prior. It also means that you need to recover between training sessions so that you are just as precise on the 2nd (or 3rd) day that week where you’re doing that movement.

An example Will gave is that if you can very effectively do 50 reps in a training session in a non fatigue setting, that he may think you’re ready to do 25 reps under fatigue. The global principle here is that you must build BIGGER non-fatigued volume than you do fatigued. That equation is very often flipped upside down by CrossFit athletes.

What becomes very important is managing just how intense and fatiguing something is for you. Big Dawgs coaches wouldn’t just say “Do the following:

25 min of - 

  • Row 400m
  • 5 chest to bar pull up
  • 3 kipping handstand push ups”

They would tell you a pace on the row, how to break up the sets, if necessary on the gymnastics. You should not go all out every day, and the length of the workout is not the pace of it.

What Are Things That Athletes Can Do To Remain Healthy During Tough Training And Competitions?

Some things that are really important is that you can’t spend an entire year at peak intensity. You need to look at your annual program and ask “Where am I taking breaks, where am I amping the volume or intensity up, and where am I laying it all on the line in competitions?”

You have to give your body the tools, the strategies, and the time to recover from the assault that you’re putting onto your body.

Will also mentioned some out of the gym ideas that virtually always help his athletes improve their training, while decreasing probability of pain:

  1. Improve their sleep hygiene - if you can’t sleep and stay asleep, you’ll disrupt your rhythm
  2. Improve their nutrition - this is unique to athletes, but there are certainly principles that everybody can follow
  3. Lower their stress
  4. …..

What Does Will Do To People’s Training Programs To Athletes Who Are On The Brink Of Injury?

It depends…

Will was rather careful in answering this question because he has so much experience with his athletes needing different things when they are run down or close to injury. Will mentioned that he always thinks about what the most stressful, or intense, thing is for people, and he wants to remove that from training when they are close to collapse.

For Will, when he has a bunch of stress in his life, he removes running sprints and heavy medium rep (CP battery) work from his training. He removes those because he perceives them to be highly intensive (stressful), and they are mechanically and physiologically challenging. He knows that if he puts too much total stress into his life, he’ll ultimately spill over the edge to burn out or injury (which are sometimes one in the same).

Will keeps in longer rows or longer bike rides because he doesn’t perceive them to be too intensive. 

I hope you enjoyed this one. I learned a ton from Will on this topic. I highly encourage you to watch this whole video. Cheers!

Will Trujillo IG

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