“It’s All the Same Wall”

During the summers I find myself in a backyard playground of fitness with some of the world’s most interesting people. The training consists of neck deep submersion in ice baths, lengthy exposures to 220-degree sauna heat, and underwater breathwork expedited with dumbbells.

On a particularly lesson filled day, one of the evolutions we were training was an underwater shuttle. With a dumbbell held close to your chest in one hand, you’d swim underwater to various points in the pool, touch the wall, and shuttle back for several repetitions all on one breath. The limit of your shuttle would be the limit of your ability to hold your breath and move underwater.

What you may or may not realize is that what gets you in trouble in these kinds of intervals isn’t so much not having enough oxygen in your system (our body often has much more oxygen in our blood than our underwater selves realize), it’s that because of the training stimulus there’s often a too much carbon dioxidebuilt up in the blood.

During these underwater intervals, it’s often built up carbon dioxide that makes your lungs burn and want to come up for air most. There’s a technique called carbon dioxide scrubbing, where a practitioner can increase his/her performance less so by loading his/her system by breathing in more oxygen, but rather by expellingmore C02 before going under. This trick is effective, but takes some extra time.

This is where we find Randy, an accomplished screenwriter and pool regular, taking a few extra moments to get some more air out before beginning his shuttle. Laird, our waterman host, then began heckling him with some sage advice from across the pool. “Let’s GO, Randy!” he’s teasing, “It’s the same wall. Whether you go now or go in five minutes. We’re getting to the same wall, right? Go!”

“The wall” of course is your limit. It’s that universal place where we’re tested. The universality about “the wall” is important to be clear about if we’re going to soak up all this insight has to offer. “Heavy” is heavy for everyone, for example. Whether you squat 500lbs or 90lbs for a max, those relative challenges are experienced the same respectively.

Training, then, is a deliberate exploration of our wall. This is true, not for the recklessness of it, but for the adaptation it elicits. Physical fitness is a practice of edge finding. Laird’s words were much more than a friendly tease. They are a reminder that we’re all in the pool or the gym to move the wall a little further away. Avoiding it or fearing it misses the reason for training in the first place.

If you’re clear that you’re training to redefine your definition of heavy and fast and far, then we can run right up to our limits with open arms. They are nothing to fear. They are exactly what you’re searching for.

Logan Gelbrich   


1/10/19 WOD

Find a heavy single clean…

Back Squat

Then, EMOM 9
Min 1: 300′ Sled Push
Min 2: 10 DB Hang Clean + Jerk (50/35)
Min 3: 6 Burpee Box Jump Over (20/14)