This past Friday, our workout of the day was “Grace”, 30 clean & jerks for time. Pick up a barbell, bring it to your shoulders, punch it over head. Repeat as fast as possible for a total of 30 reps. Men’s prescribed weight is 135 pounds, women 95.
Grace is one of our benchmark workouts. Benchmarks are workouts we repeat a couple of times a year in order to measure your fitness and performance progress. Did you do it with a heavier weight this time? Did you do it faster?
For me personally, the answers on Friday were yes and no, respectively.
The last time I did Grace was February 7, 2017. About eight months ago. This was my score:
On Friday, I decided to try the workout as prescribed, at 135 pounds. This would be the first time doing Grace “rx”. My score:
So, which is the better performance?
One might be tempted to just look at the weights and think, “Well, the fact that you did it at 135 pounds for the first time means you must be getting stronger, right?” Maybe, maybe not. As it turns out, there is a simple mathematical way to compare these workouts.
The variable we are looking for is power. Power is how we measure intensity. Power is defined as Force x Distance divided by Time. In simple terms, it is the ability to move a large load quickly. A heavier load, further distance, quicker time…all collectively determine your overall power output. Higher power means higher intensity. The formula then looks like this:
So let’s break down the two workouts.
I have the force for each workout, 115 in Feb. and 135 in Oct.
Next, I have to calculate the distance. So I measure the distance from the barbell when it is on the ground to the top of my reach overhead. That is 80 inches. Repeated for 30 reps, that means I move the bar a total of 2400 inches vertically. Lucky me, that works out to exactly 200 feet, a nice round number. (And assuming I didn’t grow or shrink, that number stays constant.)
And finally the time is easy and precise. 5:51 in Feb. and 6:49 in Oct. Converted to seconds, that’s 351 and 409 respectively. So now we have the data…time to plug them into the formula.
[vc_single_image image=”15032″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” full_width=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption=”February 2017″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”first”] [vc_single_image image=”15034″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” full_width=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” caption=”October 2017″ width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]
And so, the moment of truth. Which workout generated more power?
[vc_single_image image=”15033″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” full_width=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” width=”1/2″ el_position=”first”] [vc_single_image image=”15035″ image_size=”full” frame=”noframe” full_width=”no” lightbox=”no” link_target=”_self” width=”1/2″ el_position=”last”]
As you can see, Friday’s workout generated slightly more power than the one eight months earlier. Yay me! I have improved my fitness.
The actualy unit of power is 66 foot/pounds per second. I don’t really know what that means and I don’t really care. What I was looking for was a larger number than the first one.
This is why we encourage you to track your workouts and measure your progress. You can do this with virtually any workout, though admittedly some are easier than others.
Good luck and keep up the hard work.
P.S. There is another element to this that we can and ultimately should take into account and that is age. We all slow down and lose power as we age. The general formula I use is 1% per year, whatever it is you are measuring. I didn’t take that into account here, but at 50 years old, it’s definitely worth mentioning.
Very useful info here, particularly about the supposed rate of decline in performance over time.