Aerobic Power Training For CrossFit: By Kevin O’Malley

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Maximal Aerobic Power has long been considered a major factor in the sport of endurance. However, as we delve into the Sport of CrossFit, many more theories are being approached by trainers and coaches throughout the world.

The main question: how do we approach training an athlete for the Aerobic Power System?

The above question can have two different answers involved in the Aerobic Training system, especially when we add in the word “Power.” When we think of Power we think of speed/high effort, grinding force, and explosion.

When we think of Aerobic we think of sustainable, pacing, breathing, and long durations. Now we add the two words together, and we get a simultaneously new training simulation.

The Aerobic Power System is very important to the Sport of Fitness because it combines two components of the sport for a beautifully designed workout session.

It allows the athlete to be more explosive and powerful over long durations, and be able to repeat that work over and over again in a training session.

Under our contention, and a few others, we believe with a properly trained and well-designed program, you can benefit greatly in training the Aerobic Power System for the Sport of Fitness. The question that comes up, however, is how do you train certain athletes for this Training System?

The Sport of Fitness

In the world of CrossFit, sport-specific training, and endurance we will usually see two different types of athletes as a whole. We will see a de-conditioned athlete and a conditioned athlete. Then you might ask, how do we train both athletes in the Aerobic Power System?

You must first understand the cardiac output of each athlete. Maximal Aerobic Power is usually strongly related to the cardiac output of each athlete.

A de-conditioned athlete will usually see linear or progressive gains in their heart rate and volume of blood being pumped to the heart.

The conditioned or elite level athlete will see increased or high strikes in both heart rate and the level of blood being pumped to the heart over a training session.

There are varying ways to increase your aerobic system through energy system training. Some of the top minds in the sport of CrossFit and Energy System world have different viewpoints, protocols and even tables of reference with varying aerobic charts to guide the coach or athlete with their training basis.

OPEX, Joel Jamieson, Magischo, Jack Daniels, and Heart Rate Zones are all well-educated organizations or educators that I have learned to truly understand how to properly program a client, athlete, or even group (best that we can) for the Aerobic Training System.

We can tackle the Aerobic System through two ways of training through Cyclical Training or Mix Modal Training. The first is the basis of running, rowing, or swimming for pure aerobic work in the domain of 10-90 or minutes of given work for a long duration of time.

Now, we have come to realize we can also train the Aerobic System with Mix Modal training, meaning, with multiple disciplines.

You can utilize running, weightlifting, and simple gymnastics put into well-designed pieces at the right moment and time domains, and through current research, we can see an increase in your Aerobic Capacity.

Sample Programming

Here is an example of a Cyclical Training Session with Running:

  • 60 Minute Run @ Half Marathon Pace or Depending on Max Heart Rate Values

Here is an example of Mix Modal Training:

AMRAP 8 Minutes @ aerobic pace:
20 Double Unders
10 Ball Slams
5 Power Cleans @ Moderate Weight

Rest 4 Minutes

AMRAP 8 Minutes of the following:
Row 100 Meters
10 Kettlebell Swings
5 Burpees

Rest 4 Minutes

AMRAP 8 Minutes of the following:
Run 100 Meters
10 Step Down Box Jumps
5 Power Snatches @ Moderate Weight

Rest 4 Minutes

AMRAP 8 Minutes of the following:
20 Double Unders
10 Ball Slams
5 Burpees

If you look at both of these workouts or training regiments, they may look vastly different in a sense of work, movements, and what sport we may be concentrating on.

However, if you look deep into the reasoning and just the pure simple protocol, you will see they are very similar at the bare bones of program design.

What are we trying to do in both? The simple answer is being sustainable, movement, oxygen intake. Both workouts are trying to elicit the Aerobic System through all of these terms of fitness.

However, what we are also trying to do with Mix Modal Training is built upon being powerful as each step is taken every week to become increasingly more efficient in moving and pacing and understanding how to properly pace through each training session.

Through progression, (that is where we see the magic happens) within a properly trained aerobic programmed pattern, you can keep things simple by learning your client by possibly leaving the same movements in the same time domain for a period of 2-3 sets for a duration of 7-8 minutes.

As a coach, it is our job to know our clients and see how they are feeling. If you are training the Aerobic System within Mixed Modal Training, then you should always be looking for a “pain face.”

In this case, they are either going too hard or aerobically challenged and need to scale their effort or Rate of Perceived Effort (RPE) down.

If they are breaking up working sets within a scheduled session, then you must scale down the % of their effort, to allow proper recovery during the workout, but also allow the person to get the benefits of the Aerobic Training Session with the intent to be sustainable throughout working sets.

Keep rest times between working sets usually with a protocol of 1:1 interval or half the rest time for the work time. Progression will be felt by your athlete or client week by week, and month by month, as you progress them the correct way with proper training mix modal training and adequate amount of rest time in between bouts as well.

Aerobic Power Training is important because it allows clients to do more work overtime in repeat efforts in a controlled environment under an RPE.

Do not complicate things or try to reinvent the wheel; keep things simple and easy because usually, this bodes well for quality results.

Closing

We always hear, “just go hard” or “get at it”, this is fine on some occasions during testing or in competitive competitions, but on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, there has to be structured in the off-season and leading into the season.

With percentage base efforts within mix modal training, it allows us to control our clients/athletes’ effort, and keep them healthier for a longer period of time, but also to be able to hit home some much-needed training for a sport that is very dominated in the Aerobic System.

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