This week on Barbell Shrugged, we catch up and talk training with Brian Mackenzie, founder of Crossfit Endurance.
We focus on strength a lot on this show, but that’s for a very good reason. Many competitive fitness athletes lack a solid foundation of strength and muscle. Without taking the time to fix that, they’ll never reach their full potential in the gym.
It shouldn’t be a surprise, but your aerobic capacity is not much different. To make the most of future training you have to build up your capacity for work now. The problem is that many new athletes haven’t taken the time to develop a solid aerobic skill base. If you hate cycling, running, whatever, we can assume this is true for you. But, how can you know if this is really holding back your performance in the gym?
Breathing and heart rate are great places to start. When you hit a threshold point in training do you quickly descend into stressed, rapid chest breathing? Many do, and it’s a HUGE problem. One way to get around that problem is with focused drills, like box breathing. You can also wear training masks during the WOD, sure, but a really great use for these things is during recovery.
Simply put, if you can remain calm and breath properly with your face covered and air restricted, you’ll be fine during most workouts.
Breath control is critical, but how do your body mechanics look under fatigue?
Are you upright, aligned and calm, or do you fold over and allow your pelvis to tilt anteriorly? What about your heart rate? Is it relatively smooth and ascending during the work, or are there signs of rapid change and deflection?
It’s obvious when there’s problem – Where your aerobic foundation is thin and weak you will always struggle to sustain and adapt to higher work output. You will dig deeply into the wrong energy system, too early. In short, it will take you much longer to get any WOD done, and you’ll probably look like shit during it. That needs to change.
Sure, you can better by just doing more metcons. You’ll adapt to the suffering eventually. But the much more effective strategy is to just take the time to develop your endurance skills.
With barbells, strength is the consequence of cumulative sub-maximal efforts with great technique. In the very same way, you can boost your aerobic engine just by taking more time for high quality sub-maximal work – In short, more reps! Start slow, especially on longer workouts. Just like with lifting, get comfortable with the movement before you make things hard on yourself. Remain aware of your posture and breathing patterns at all times. Pay attention to and measure your heart rate response. And just like with loading a barbell, ramp up your intensity week to week, month to month, as your skill level improves.
Next, try cranking up the training intensity towards the end of your sessions. See how you respond. Again, measure your reaction. After every hard effort, take the time to recover fully. Get your heart rate back down, then start again. This basic strategy will keep the quality of your movement very high. That will ensure that your adaptations are optimal, but more than that, this approach will give you a much improved understanding of your bodies capabilities and capacity.
By measuring and remeasuring your response to training you will have a much better understanding of what full recovery feels like. But better still, you’ll be the first to know when you’re ready to push your conditioning and make the most of that hard training.
I will break this bad ass machine (@trueformrunning) down tomorrow… Until then, copy this! ・・・ 3 speeds. 6.5mph | 9.5mph | 12mph. 2 changes. Angle of fall, magnitude of pull. One is a reaction to the 2nd. Don’t complicate it. @truformrunner @athletecell @strike_mvmnt
A video posted by brian mackenzie (@iamunscared) on
Enjoy the show!