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by Taylor Gerlach

Let’s talk about stimulus.

At the whiteboard, you probably hear coaches talk about stimulus. “Stimulus” is simply the intended goal of the workout.


Why is it important to meet the stimulus?

We focus on stimulus so that we can scale or adjust movements effectively. If we know what the end goal is, we can plan before the workout and adjust during the wod so we achieve that goal for the day.

For example, the benchmark workout Fran is supposed to take less than 9 minutes. The intended stimulus of the workout is to work with a high heart rate and do thrusters and pullups in large sets, as close to unbroken as possible. If you don’t have kipping pull ups yet and you end up doing strict pull ups in singles and the workout takes you 20 minutes, you didn’t meet the intended stimulus for the day. Instead of a quick sprint, the workout became a long, slower effort.

Stimulus can be time-based, like a workout designed to take 20 minutes or less.
Stimulus can be weight-based, like thrusters that are designed to be completed unbroken.
Stimulus can be movement-based, like completing a prescribed number of double unders in 30 seconds.

For all of these things, we can scale and adjust weight, movements, or time domains to meet the intended stimulus of the workout.

To practice meeting the intended stimulus this week, try these three steps:

If you’re not sure what the intended stimulus of a workout is, ask your coach! Our programming includes this information every day, so it’s always available to you.

Adjust the weight, calories/distance, or reps to meet the stimulus. The practice round is a great time to test this out. Remember, adjusting doesn’t just mean scaling to a lower weight. You can also talk to your coach about increasing the weight or rep count if you want a challenge.

After the workout, evaluate if you met the stimulus or not. Did you finish within the intended time frame or get within the AMRAP’s goal range of rounds? If not, don’t beat yourself up – you still got a great workout. Just take note of what to change for next time and jot it down in the workout notes on SugarWOD or on your phone. You can always ask your coach if you need ideas on how you could plan and adjust better next time.