A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON TRAINING: THE SPORT OF CROSSFIT

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 || AARON DAVIS

Everyone wants to know, “What is the BEST way to train for “Sport of Fitness” CrossFit?”

The answers you most often hear are, “No one knows,” or “No one has the answer.” Or you’ll hear the pros and cons of programs such as The Outlaw Way, OPT, MisFits, or Juggernaut Training hotly debated.

It’s always interesting to sit back and listen when the topic of  training for the “Sport of Fitness” comes up. I will be honest,I have failed often with the programs I have designed in the past.  Failed because I wanted to mirror programs that I thought were successful, instead of following my own studies and intuition. Most of the time I made compromises (70/30, 50/50) because it’s hard to train CrossFit athletes with a very limited volume of CrossFit. Most of them despise programming that doesn’t include a lot of it. Why?  Because CrossFit is fun and they like competing.  All. The. Time.

This is both a Curse and a Blessing.

So I hung on…until recently.   

Now we have made a complete departure from the old style of training.  I would look at all the online programs and ask, “What is the difference?”  I know the coaches all have their templates, and they have reasons behind the madness (at least the good ones do), but to me it all looked the same.

So now, as we build the CFA Team training, it looks very different.  In addition to Athletic Success, our main objectives are as follows:  

1. Limit Injuries
2. Biological Adaptation

 

Limit Injuries

Injuries are very common in CrossFit, hence the reason why Mobility WOD and the word “Mobilize” (I despise that word) have gained popularity. Many don’t realize they are stuck living by the formula:

Over Volume + Inefficient Movement + Fatigue + Maladaptations = Mobilize (?)

Instead, if you manage volume, and improve your quality of movement, you would maintain a higher quality of muscle tissue. Unfortunately, the majority of the athletes go in the opposite direction and so begins the vicious circle.

Henk Kraaijenhof says it best,“Train as much as necessary, not as much as possible.” This is now the standard for Train Adapt Evolve.

With that said, our offseason focus has been getting the athletes as close to neutral as possible, essentially an attempt to reset the computer while still developing qualities necessary for the sport.  I want them to “feel” Healthy.  How are they suppose to self-diagnose or give me feedback if they can’t feel what normal is?

So we have now integrated protocols for evaluation: Looking at micro changes in joints, breathing, etc, and how they affect macro movements as well as managing adaptation to the best of our ability.  It’s not perfect, but we are always developing, and our network is growing with great minds dealing with multiple fields of study.  

 

Biological Adaptation

Here is our formula for success:

1-Know what you want to improve.  
2-Construct workouts that allow for the correct adaptation to take place.
3-Dose volume appropriately.
4-Track adaptation.  
5-Evaluate how the body regulates the adaptation. (How the other systems adjusted to create or support the adaptation.)  

 

I love the “training problem” that the Sport of CrossFit poses. Especially now, everyone is taking a crack at it as more athletes and money come to the sport.  This has created biases in training/coaching. For example, if you’re an Olympic Weightlifting coach, your focus will be on Olympic Weightlifting. Powerlifting = Powerlifting, Endurance = Endurance, and so on. (Steve Magnus has a great blog on this subject here.)

What about the athletes’ biases?  Speed, Strength, Strength Endurance, Aerobic/Anaerobic profiles, energy metabolism, muscle quality, structure, etc.? More importantly, how does the athlete learn? How do they adapt?

Using the Omegawave system has helped me understand what ideal physiology we need to drive the athletes towards.  It also has given me a frame of reference to know how fast athletes can recover from a given stimulus (metabolism).

It’s interesting to consult with athletes that are training like high-level Games competitors yet still hold body fat, are irritable, addicted to their pre-workout caffeine, and are injury prone.  They will swear up and down that they are training the correct way and you don’t need some fancy system to see it.  Not surprisingly, once we test them on the Omegawave, we see low metabolic grades and hormonal dysregulation.

How are you supposed to build eccentric hypertrophy of the heart without proper hormonal function? (Hint: cortisol, you need it.)  If you suppress the hormonal system (HPA Axis) all you will get is concentric hypertrophy with all that aerobic work, essentially wasting your time, let alone all of the other maladaptations you will get from a hypofunctioning HPA axis.

It comes down to knowing what you want.

Strength Training – Intermediate, Slow, Fast twitch fibers?  

-What training elicits specific fiber type?

-What is the dominating fiber type of the athlete? (Neuromuscular Efficiency Test, Bosco Jump Test)
-Velocity matters, even for Local Muscular Endurance

– Power then Mitochondria (Planning/Periodization)

Aerobic – Eccentric, Concentric hypertrophy of the heart?

– What heart rates elicit what?
– How can we change breathing during strength training (Intrathoracic Pressure)
– Planning/Periodization
– Increase in Mitochondria ST, FT and intermediate Fibers (4-5 days / 15-20 day adaptation)

Anaerobic- How much do we really need? Are we robbing Peter to pay Paul?

– Blood Lactate
– Mitochondria growth and destruction?
– Planning/Periodization

 

Next, zoom out of this reductionist approach and see how the whole body is regulating the process;  this is the key step that enhances or reduces performance.

So when I hear, “No one knows,” and “No one has the answers,” I think, other than the individual differences between athletes, we DO have a solid understanding of the physiology behind performance. We know exactly how to construct a path to athletic success – via limiting injury and biological adaptation – that evolves with the athletes.  We are always digging further into Systems Biology, Psychoneuroimmunology, Motor Learning (DST), and Performance Therapy to find answers.

So, yes we have answers.  You just might not like them.