It's Time to Fail

By Colin Farrell

There are certain movements in CrossFit that, whether we want to or not, we as athletes can keep plugging away at and moving forward for a rather long time, even if it’s slow. Rowing, burpees, walking lunges, etc.. There are many others, but these come to mind. Your quads or triceps may hurt, they may burn and ache, you may hate yourself a little bit inside, but you can keep going for a long, long time. You can always throw yourself on the floor and get back up just one more time.

However, there are other movements in CrossFit that, for better or for worse, we as athletes will relatively quickly hit a failure point, and our bodies will simply say, “Nope, I’m done.” Muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, toes-to-bar, and ring dips, to name a few.

Where is your failure point? How many toes-to-bar do you need to do before your body tells you, “Knock that shit that off”? It’s important to know how fast and far we can go before we hit failure for two reasons:

  1. We need to know what our failure point is so that we can properly pace ourselves during workouts

  2. We need to know what our failure point is so that we, after practice and training, can re-test to see if we have moved the needle in the right direction

Here at District CrossFit, it’s time to fail.

Unfortunately for you, no big government/nanny state is going to come in and bail you out. No one is too big to fail.

Starting with the muscle-up, we are going to conduct a failure test on a different gymnastics movement every six weeks. We are going to start with the muscle-up, so we shall use that as an example here of what we plan to do [to you].

In Week 1 we will conduct our failure test…
AMRAP in 3 Minutes: Ring Muscle-up

Let us say DCF Athlete Dick Frowning notches himself 19 muscle-ups in those 3 minutes. This is an impressive score and one he should be proud of. But let’s break it down a little bit. Early on he put up two sets of 5, then a set of 2, then he is down to singles with more than a couple of failed reps mixed in during the final minute or so. We know that Dick can handle roughly 6.3 muscle-ups per minute before he hits failure.

In the coming weeks we will spend time on skill days specifically geared at getting better at muscle-ups… drills and progressions and skill work every week for a month. In Week 6, we will retest.

For anyone that’s been doing CrossFit for a little while will likely tell you, doing well in workouts can be as much about pacing as it is about fitness. Sets of 5 early on were too aggressive for Dick, especially if he did both of those sets of 5 inside a minute of each other.

Dick’s goal during the re-test is 21 reps.

This brings us to 7 reps each minute. To further break this down, Dick will do a set of 4 at the top of each minute, and a set of 3 at the 30-second mark. If Dick keeps to this pace, there is a strong chance he will reach his goal of 21 total reps, and a slight chance he is able to push even further beyond that.

So, as stated earlier, it’s time to fail. We will do what we can to figure out how many reps you can complete per minute for a short period of time (3-4 minutes at the most), figure out if it was too fast, too slow, how efficient or inefficient you were, and then look into ways we can improve upon that. The information gleaned from these types of tests will become invaluable during The Open.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
-Henry Ford

Andrew Killion