I want to dive into some of the science behind CrossFit. You know it works because you do it. Here’s a chance to understand why.
CrossFit has three fitness standards. The first is developing competence in the 10 General Physical Skills. Those are posted on the whiteboard at the gym. Basically, we want to improve all of them.
The second standard is the Hopper Model. That was briefly discussed in this previous post.
The third, and the one I want to spend time on today, is the metabolic pathways. These are the engines in our body that provide energy so we are able to do things. They are:
1) Phosphagen pathway
2) Glycolytic pathway
3) Oxidative pathway
The first lasts 10-20 seconds and includes our strength routine that we do every day and the CrossFit Total. The second lasts several minutes and includes workouts like the 500m row, Fran, or any other short cycle WOD. And the third is anything lasting longer than several minutes, such as a 5k run, Murph or Filthy 50’s.
If you only focus your efforts in one pathway, you are hampering your fitness. Marathon runners only train in the Oxidative pathway, and it shows. Bodybuildings only train in the Phosphagen pathway, and it also shows. With CrossFit, we train all of the pathways, mainly focussing on the first two, and it shows! **
One more thing…
The first two pathways are called ‘anaerobic’ and the Oxidative pathway is ‘aerobic’. The benefit of aerobic training is that it increases cardio, decreases body fat, and allows us to perform activity for extended periods. However, there’s a downside. Prolonged time spent in aerobic training also decreases muscle mass, strength, power and speed.
Training anaerobically will increase cardio, decrease body fat, while at the same time increasing power, speed, strength and muscle mass. Welcome to CrossFit!
It seems obvious to me. Ditch the high volume aerobic training and let CrossFit work its magic.
**Author’s note – Training for looks is not the goal of CrossFit. The intent of the pictures is to show you their function, rather than their looks. The marathoner couldn’t deadlift their bodyweight, while the bodybuilder couldn’t run a mile.