Category Archives: speed

CrossFit Training: High Intensity Interval Training.

CrossFit Training is much like High Intensity Interval Training (HIT).  High Intensity Interval Training is also called Sprint Interval Training (SIT). These training methods involve short bursts of activity. These are hot research topics, and hopefully the information gained will give us better insight into training for health and CrossFit WOD performance. A recent paper on triathletes found large improvements in endurance after only two weeks. Training consisted of ten six-second sprints. Two times a week. Athletes also continued their normal patterns of activity. A control group did not do sprints. Both groups did a timed 10K run.  And a “time to exhaustion” test on a stationary bicycle.

Young CrossFit Kid does CrossFit with cycling
CrossFit sometimes including cycling. Father and Son CrossFit WOD

High Intensity Interval Training for CrossFit? Two weeks of very short burst sprints show big improvements in time

The group that trained with very brief sprints improved their 10K time by 10%. Time to exhaustion did not change. Most interestingly blood lactate did not accumulate as fast in HIT-trained athletes.   Accumulation of blood lactate is one of the things that make you feel crappy when you workout.  Feeling crappy later than sooner is better.  Usually.  Maybe you will get through a WOD without feeling like your body is screaming at all.

Extremely short high intensity interval training also improves function in other ways.  For example, it also seems to improve insulin sensitivity.

What does High Intensity Interval Training mean for CrossFit.

What does this mean for CrossFit?   CrossFit naturally includes a lot of high intensity interval training.  Including sprints in your WODs may be a very good idea. Especially if you are not a great runner.   If you are doing a 400m or longer run try doing some very short bursts. It might end up improving your WOD time if you do a WOD with running.  Every repetition counts.  And every second saved lets you do another rep.

Jakeman J, Adamson S, & Babraj J (2012). Extremely short duration high-intensity training substantially improves endurance performance in triathletes. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 37 (5), 976-81 PMID: 22857018

Jakeman J, Adamson S, & Babraj J (2012). Extremely short duration high-intensity training substantially improves endurance performance in triathletes. Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquee, nutrition et metabolisme, 37 (5), 976-81 PMID: 22857018

Babraj JA, Vollaard NB, Keast C, Guppy FM, Cottrell G, & Timmons JA (2009). Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males. BMC endocrine disorders, 9 PMID: 19175906

Strength vs. Endurance and the Master Athlete.

Strength or Endurance or Both?

Masters Crossfitters, face a problem of having to work harder to build speed and strength, and maintain it, than do more junior athletes.  There is unfortunately not a lot of research on Masters’ performance and most of what there is focused on endurance athletes like swimmers, runners and cyclists.  And little to go by when training as a Crossfit Master.  As Crossfitters we need everything: speed, endurance and strength.  

Post CrossFit WOD at CrossFit Seven.

As a general rule, all masters athletes can keep a competitive edge over peers by combining high-intensity aerobic and resistance training.  This is exactly what we are getting in varied strength and endurance programming. Endurance athletes score high on cardiovascular markers with greater arterial flexibility, less thickening of arterial walls and better vascular endothelial performance (performance of the inner layers of blood vessels) than others.   Unfortunately they show little preservation of muscle mass over time. Those who are primarily into resistance training maintain muscle mass and function better than others, but do not do as well on cardiovascular tests as those who focus on endurance. The best strategy appears to be to keep up with both and both will be important for Crossfit performance.  That goes for juniors too. 

Shibata, S., & Levine, B. (2012). Effect of exercise training on biologic vascular age in healthy seniors AJP: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 302 (6) DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00511.2011

Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008). Anaerobic performance in masters athletes European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 6 (1), 39-53 DOI: 10.1007/s11556-008-0041-6

CrossFit Masters Training: Strength vs. Endurance and the Master Athlete.

CrossFit Masters Training

Coconut oil and CrossFit Masters
CrossFit Masters Athletes sometimes eat coconut oil

Masters Crossfit athletes face a problem of having to work harder to build speed and strength, and maintain it, than do more junior athletes.  There is unfortunately not a lot of research on Masters’ performance and most of what there is focused on endurance athletes like swimmers, runners and cyclists.  And little to go by when training as a Crossfit Master.  As Crossfit athletes we need everything: speed, endurance and strength.  As a general rule, all masters athletes can keep a competitive edge over peers by combining high-intensity aerobic and resistance training.  This is exactly what we are getting in varied strength and endurance programming.

Endurance athletes score high on cardiovascular markers with greater arterial flexibility, less thickening of arterial walls and better vascular endothelial performance (performance of the inner layers of blood vessels) than others.   Unfortunately they show little preservation of muscle mass over time. Those who are primarily into resistance training maintain muscle mass and function better than others, but do not do as well on cardiovascular tests as those who focus on endurance. The best strategy appears to be to keep up with both and both will be important for Crossfit performance.  That goes for juniors too.

Shibata, S., & Levine, B. (2012). Effect of exercise training on biologic vascular age in healthy seniors AJP: Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 302 (6) DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00511.2011

Reaburn, P., & Dascombe, B. (2008). Anaerobic performance in masters athletes European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 6 (1), 39-53 DOI: 10.1007/s11556-008-0041-6