March 17, 2014

On becoming a better Crossfitter

The major limiting factor for Crossfit athletes is not muscular endurance, but instead limited access to oxygen during a WOD. I find myself hunched over hoping to be able to breathe so I can get back to the bar sooner. Imagine doing cleans or snatches at a light weight, maybe 60%. Form doesn't break down, but after a bunch of reps, all you need is air. I don't think I would pass out if I kept working, rather coordination disappears and without it, no Olympic lift is going to happen with anything but an empty bar.

This is the my main challenge with light barbell WODs. I know that my muscles are fine, but the lungs can't keep up. Mikko Salo the Finn and Crossfit Games champion in 2009 claims that his legendary engine was build with 40 minute trail runs. Mikko is an incredible runner, but he is also a fireman, rescue diver and helps his dad lift antique furniture that weigh 500-1000 lbs each. There may be more to his engine than trail runs.

Mikko Salo
Rich Froning would tell you to do interval work, and to try 'every minute on the minute' training. Jason Khalipa's engine building is done by pushing a sled for a mile at a time. Holy cow, A MILE! Dave Lipson who's claim to fame is being married to Crossfit's favorite pinup (Camille Croissant-Baguette), would tell you to row until you either puke or get rhabdo. These are all valid and fascinating training methods for improving the lungs. Though I'd love to focus on fixing weaknesses, I know there are more important factors to my success in Crossfit.

As a normal human whose body can't handle '3 a days' allowing for specialized work in tons of different directions, I just Crossfit. I see members of my box doing 1-2 month training cycles to get their legs stronger and forgetting about met-cons. This is fine, but I think I'd prefer to just do Crossfit.

The programming at my box gives me the opportunity to lift heavy, practice skills, and do balanced met-cons every week. I honestly think that the programming at my box is world class. Why would I choose to specialize when what happens in Crossfit classes is so good? I can do extra work but I wouldn't want to skip the box's programming.

That said, goat training is important. Some goats are not so cut and dry. I know that lungs, grip and self-talk are three areas that, if fixed, would improve my Crossfitting 1000%. If lack of oxygen didn't prevent me from going unbroken, my hands never slipped from the bar, and I could get my mind to shut up, I would be over the moon. However, I try to be patient, and not beat myself up.

Take one WOD at a time. Frustration should quickly be discarded. Enjoy the endorphin rush and come back the next day for another epic beat down.

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  1. Just finished my first month in Crossfit, and I know I'm already improving in some movements. I miss running; I want to do it regularly again. I'll see then what effect it will have on my Crossfit workouts.

  2. Awesome! Long distance running will help build your engine, which will serve you well later in a met con when you're already tired. Keep going!