A Theoretical Template For CrossFit Endurance Programming

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THEJOURNALA Theoretical Template for CrossFitEndurance ProgrammingJohn McBrien offers basic programming for single-sport and multi-sport athletes who arelooking to improve their endurance while training with CrossFit.September 2010Courtesy of John McBrienBy John McBrienIn February 2003, Coach Greg Glassman wrote an article titled Theoretical Template for CrossFit’s Programming,which provided some of the rationale behind the workout of the day (WOD) and a foundation for understandingthe specifics of CrossFit programming. Today, there has in many ways been an evolution in CrossFit programmingdue to the creation of programs such as the CrossFit strength bias and more sport-specific programs such asCrossFit Football and CrossFit Endurance.1 of 6Copyright 2010 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc.Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.comFeedback to feedback@crossfit.comVisit CrossFit.com

Theoretical .(continued)Using Coach Glassman’s 2003 article as an example,our goal is to provide a theoretical template or modelfor CrossFit Endurance programming as a means forimproving not only the sport-specific capacity of anendurance athlete, but also the broad work capacity ofthe CrossFit athlete.Constant VariationThis principle of variancecarries over intoCrossFit Enduranceprogramming as welland is just as importantfor the endurance athlete.This principle of variance carries over into CrossFitEndurance programming as well and is just as importantfor the endurance athlete. However, the typicalendurance athlete is not familiar with variance andspends the majority of time “going long” through trainingthe oxidative pathway. At the same time, the typicalCrossFit athlete, while likely more balanced, tendsto favor shorter time domains and is predominatelytraining the phosphagen and glycolytic pathways. Fora real-world example, one need only casually observethe comments, and subsequent substitutions, on theCrossFit main site after a 5K or 10K is posted.Courtesy of John McBrienBefore delving into the programming specifics ofCrossFit Endurance, it is important to revisit one ofthe major principles of CrossFit: constant variance. Inany thoughtful programming, variance should alwaysbe present through the utilization of different energypathways, time domains, loads, rep schemes, exercises,couplets, triplets, etc. After all, a constantly variedprogram is fundamental to increasing work capacityacross broad time and modal domains.James Hobart showing off his Pose at theCrossFit Endurance Cert at CrossFit Milford.CrossFit Endurance programming addresses theweaknesses of both groups. Our programming providesthe endurance athlete with a progression of technique,intensity and then volume. It is our goal to reduce anendurance athlete’s dependence on only oxidativetraining by increasing broad work capacity and enhancingall 10 general physical skills through constantly variedCrossFit programming. After a foundation of CrossFithas been established, we proceed to supplement theendurance athlete’s CrossFit programming with sportspecific endurance workouts.The same is true of the CrossFit athlete. An excellentexample can be found in analyzing Rob Orlando’simprovements in work capacity with specific regardsto running. Utilizing CrossFit Endurance programmingprovided by CrossFit Endurance head coaches JasonLeydon and Brian MacKenzie, Orlando has seen his miletime drop from over 7:00 to 5:59 in his training leadingup to the 2010 CrossFit Games. John Steger, a 2010CrossFit Central East Regional competitor, has seenbroad increases in his overall work capacity as well andutilized CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance to run the 2009Marine Corps Marathon in 2 hours 59 minutes.2 of 6Copyright 2010 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc.Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.comFeedback to feedback@crossfit.comVisit CrossFit.com

Theoretical .(continued)Programming for the Single-Sport AthleteNow that we have established a basic foundation fortraining both the CrossFit athlete and endurance athlete,let us delve into the first template or model: programmingfor the single-sport athlete. When programming fora single-sport athlete, we are typically referring tosomeone looking to improve his or her running. For thisparticular template, we will utilize this general trend inthe example outlined in Table 1.The general prescription forthe single-sport athlete withan emphasis on running is fourto six CrossFit workouts perweek, supplemented with two tothree sport-specific enduranceworkouts per week.Courtesy of John McBrienThe general prescription for the single-sport athlete withan emphasis on running is four to six CrossFit workoutsper week, supplemented with two to three sport-specificendurance workouts per week. These enduranceworkouts are interval-based and stamina-based. Inthe example above, the athlete is supplementingfive CrossFit workouts with two CrossFit Enduranceworkouts: one interval-based and one stamina-based.The interval-based workout may be something as simpleas performing 8 reps of 200-meter sprints, holding eacheffort within 2-3 seconds and resting 2 minutes betweenefforts.The stamina-based workout will be either a time trial ortempo workout and is performed on a CrossFit rest day.With a time trial, the goal is maximal effort for a givendistance or time. For a tempo, the athlete is required towork anywhere from 85-95 percent of a best time oreffort level for a given distance or time. In the templateabove, Week 1 may consist of a stamina workout in theform of a 5K time trial as a benchmark measurement.Week 2 may be a tempo at 95 percent of an athlete’sbest 1-mile pace. Knowledge and an understanding ofthe athlete’s capacities, limitations and goals shoulddrive the template’s programming, not the other wayaround. Distances for the stamina-based workouts willrange from 5K to 13.1 miles, depending on the athlete’sgoals.Simple aerobic conditioning is being replaced by interval- andstamina-based workouts designed to increase work capacity.Table 1: Single-Sport Athlete (Running)DayMTUWETHFRSASUCFCFCFOFFCFCFOFFINTINT: Interval-based workoutSTASTA: Stamina-based workout3 of 6Copyright 2010 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc.Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.comFeedback to feedback@crossfit.comVisit CrossFit.com

Theoretical .(continued)Notice plenty of flexibility is built into Table 1 to ensurethe athlete is getting ample recovery. As a fundamentalrule, always remember that recovery is why an athleteimproves, not more training. With that said, room existsin the above template for the addition of a secondinterval-based endurance workout. This second intervalworkout may be performed, for example, on Saturdayafternoon following a morning CrossFit workout.Again, as a general rule of thumb, attempt to ensurethat CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance workouts areperformed at least three hours apart to ensure properrecovery. For example, very few athletes will have thecapacity to perform Fran with maximal effort followedimmediately by intervals; progression is key.In comparison to the template for a single-sport athlete,programming for the multi-sport athlete is far morecomplex and requires a greater understanding of anThe general prescription for themulti-sport athlete is to againperform four to six CrossFitworkouts per week. In this case,however, supplementation willinclude two workouts per sportper week maximum.athlete’s ability to perform on a daily basis. Again, forthe purposes of this article we will use a general trendfor outlining our multi-sport template. In this case, themulti-sport athlete is a triathlete. It is important to noteCourtesy of John McBrienAs seen above, programming for the single-sport athleteis not unlike biasing CrossFit programming towardan athlete’s weaknesses through supplemental work.As a result, programming for a single-sport athlete isrelatively easy provided the principles of recovery andprogression are respected. The template outlined inTable 1 is also not limited simply to an athlete focusingon running but can be utilized as a means for improvingmetabolic conditioning in general and for other singlesport athletes as well.Programming for the Multi-Sport AthleteWith careful programming, single- and multi-sport athletes, as well as CrossFitters,can see impressive gains in endurance and stamina through relatively brief workouts.4 of 6Copyright 2010 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc.Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.comFeedback to feedback@crossfit.comVisit CrossFit.com

Theoretical .(continued)that when programming for a triathlete, the athlete isessentially competing in four sports: CrossFit, running,biking and swimming.Courtesy of John McBrienThe general prescription for the multi-sport athlete is toagain perform four to six CrossFit workouts per week.In this case, however, supplementation will include twoworkouts per sport per week maximum. Furthermore,due to the number of sports that are being trained simultaneously, we prescribe performing no more than one totwo stamina-based workouts per week—maximum—aswell. Table 2 outlines the template for the multi-sportathlete.Similar to the single-sport template, the multi-sporttemplate places a week’s stamina-based workout on aCrossFit rest day. This is useful not only as a means forensuring adequate recovery, but also for mirroring anathlete’s race schedule given that most races are usuallyheld on Saturday or Sunday. It is unlikely an athlete willbe capable of handling two stamina-based workoutsper week, and certainly no more than one staminabased workout for a particular sport, unless the numberor total volume of CrossFit workouts is reduced. As ageneral guideline, distances for swimming- and bikingbased stamina workouts will range from 500 meters to1,500 meters and 10 miles to 30 miles, respectively. Theathlete’s goals and/or race distance(s) should drive thelength of stamina-based programming.Courtesy of John McBrienWe can readily see that programming for multi-sportathletes demands a greater understanding of an athlete’srecovery abilities and, in addition, an athlete’s strengthsor weaknesses in particular sports. For example, anathlete with a strong background in swimming may notrequire two swimming workouts per week. This keenunderstanding of an athlete’s abilities is required toensure that the athlete can satisfactorily perform at therequisite intensity during both CrossFit workouts andsport-specific CrossFit Endurance workouts.Hobart, center, is now a lifter and a runner.A wide variety of CrossFitters are finding CrossFit Enduranceworkouts are a great supplement to their baseCrossFit regimen.Table 2: Multi-sport Athlete ikeRunSwimBikeRunINTINTINTINTINTSTAINT: Interval-based workoutSTA: Stamina-based workout5 of 6Copyright 2010 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc.Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.comFeedback to feedback@crossfit.comVisit CrossFit.com

Theoretical .(continued)Courtesy of John McBrienAbout the Author:A convert from traditional endurance training, John McBrienis a CrossFit Endurance head coach and utilizes CrossFit andCrossFit Endurance exclusively in his own training and thetraining of his athletes. He works with athletes of all abilitylevels and takes pride in helping the average Joe and Janereach their performance potential in endurance events. Heis also the head coach of the Capital CrossFit Elite AnaerobicEndurance Team out of CrossFit Capital Jiu-Jitsu.The Forcai Endurance Team prepares to begina 4x500 meter track workout.Strong and FastThis article is neither exhaustive nor entirely comprehensive in its scope but is instead designed to providea theoretical foundation for how to program CrossFitEndurance for endurance athletes and CrossFit athletesalike. Some indicators for recognizing improvementinclude broad increases in work capacity for CrossFitbenchmark workouts, faster interval splits and quickerrecovery.Courtesy of John McBrienWhen individualized, a combination of CrossFit andCrossFit Endurance can be used to further maximize anathlete’s performance potential. Rob Orlando is at anall-time low body weight yet has improved his runningspecific capacity and cardiorespiratory endurancedramatically while still seeing progressive improvementin his strength. This is not an uncommon occurrence, andwith attention to progression and recovery, all athletescan see the efficacy of the program in their own training.F6 of 6Copyright 2010 CrossFit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.CrossFit is a registered trademark ‰ of CrossFit, Inc.Subscription info at http://journal.crossfit.comFeedback to feedback@crossfit.comVisit CrossFit.com

CrossFit Central East Regional competitor, has seen broad increases in his overall work capacity as well and utilized CrossFit and CrossFit Endurance to run the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon in 2 hours 59 minutes. This principle of variance carries over into CrossFit Endurance programming as well and is just as important

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