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Hammer CrossFit


September 25, 2020

Metabolic Conditioning 101

Written by: Coach James“We compete in the sport of fitness. The primary test of what we do is called ‘Metcons’, which is short for metabolic conditioning. I don’t think people are drawing the link here: Metabolic is metabolism. It’s your body’s ability to take food and turn it into energy…We’re competing in the sport of eating into energy.” – Ben Bergeron, 2017Last month, we looked at nutrition as the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and the base of CrossFit’s Theoretical Model of Development. It is the single most important driver of all the metrics to which we pay attention. Want to improve your max pull-ups? Your blood pressure? Your 5k Row time? Your waistline? Your score in Fight Gone Bad? Look no further than your diet. But once you’ve begun to tighten up on your input, it’s time to start managing your output – your performance in the WOD’s.Knowing a little about energy metabolism can give you some strategies for how to approach workouts in order to get the best score, maximize power output and thereby maximize fitness in CrossFit’s eyes. There are 3 main pathways the body uses to produce energy: ATP-PCr, Glycolysis, & Oxidative Phosphorylation. CrossFit programs are designed to challenge all three of these through short, moderate, and long duration efforts. For our purposes though, let’s use the terms sustainable and unsustainable. Regardless of your fitness level, EVERYONE has a threshold where they go from one to the other. It usually happens at around 85% effort, which for some may be a 6min mile, while others may mean walking up a flight of stairs. When approaching the WOD, ask yourself whether the goal is to keep a steady effort, like most ‘For Time’ or ‘AMRAP’ workouts, or if it’s to work as hard as possible for a short duration with some kind of programmed rest, like ‘Max reps/distance/cals’ in a given timeframe. If the objective is to sustain, the approach should be to keep a relatively constant pace throughout. That means that it takes roughly as long to complete round 1 as it does rounds 3, 4, and 5. Of course, there will be some variation, but by keeping your split times pretty consistent to each other, you’re minimizing rest and working near that threshold, without going over. In any race, whether it be Track & Field, Swimming, or NASCAR, consider that no athlete has ever stood on a podium after sprinting the first lap and dragging their ass across the finish line.If the purpose is to truly push to the limit and empty your tank, do it. This High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) style of training has tremendous benefits for increasing strength, shedding body fat, and improving the health of your heart and lungs. It has great psychological benefits as well, such as improving mood and the ability to manage stress both in and out of the gym.Though the approach to these two styles of workouts is different, the outcome is the same: to get the most amount of work done in the allotted time. Know when to put the pedal to the metal, and when to set the cruise just below redline. Remember, your power output is always zero when your hands are on your knees.

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