While time caps can be frustrating at times (other times they feel like life savers), they are actually very helpful and help us progress as athletes. As a CrossFit gym, we promote constantly varied, functional movements executed at a high intensity as the best way to get in shape. We teach, and we use the concept that an athlete must be well rounded across various domains – including and not limited to time domains, weight domains, etc.
When I program workouts for the gym, I lay out a template each week with all the different forms to vary the different domains. I carefully plan out when we will do couplets, triplets, chippers, when we will see heavy weights, moderate loads and light loads and ESPECIALLY how long I want our athletes working out for.
Whenever you see a time cap – you should remember that I intended for the workout to take a certain amount of time that day. That time domain will train a certain stimulus. Sometimes this means scaling down a workout to be able to meet that time limit. For example, if the workout calls for 135 pound front squats and it has an 8 minute time cap, you should consider scaling the weight if you know that there is no way you will finish with the prescribed amount.
What about benchmark workouts? When I put a time cap on Fran a few weeks ago – I received a lot of questions and a few complaints. Benchmark workouts are great tools for measurement, and being able to do a benchmark workout like Fran as prescribed is an amazing goal, no matter how long it takes you. However, sometimes it is also important to scale that workout down to the point where you can do it in under 5 minutes. You will get a completely different feeling doing it in under 5 minutes scaled as you would doing it in 12 minutes as prescribed. So long story short, there are times where it is great and fine to test out a benchmark as prescribed without a time limit, and there are also times where you should scale down to train the intended stimulus.
Anyway, never worry too much about the time caps. Just know that they are there for a reason, have been carefully thought out and are good for you 🙂