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-   -   The Opposite of Benefit (http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=15834)

mark twight 09-15-2004 09:33 AM

Since beginning Crossfit I have embraced the random nature of the exercises. I have enjoyed the benefits tendered by big, multi-joint movements and their positive effect on the broad range of motions involved in climbing mountains (and smaller things too). My previous posts in this section have outlined the positive influence on CV fitness and endurance that Crossfit has had.

In my effort to develop a hybrid program that builds power endurance without compromising genuine, long-term endurance I began adding long days at lower intensity to my monthly Crossfit training blocks. In the late winter and spring I did those days on foot or on skis. This summer I spent a lot of those days on a road bike for a variety of reasons: it’s easy on the joints, I can train “from the house” without driving anywhere, I can go out for a long time without getting bored, I can shatter myself deeply and still keep going, and due to the local terrain I can ride up some very big, long hills, doing intervals at high intensity. While these sessions have allowed me to do longer days on the bike the fitness derived does not necessarily translate to other activities. Biking is super-specific, non-weight-bearing, and puts the body in an unusual position to breathe and push with the legs.

On a recent trip to Yosemite I learned exactly how antithetical biking is to moving around the mountains on foot. Yes, I could hike uphill quickly but my body was completely unprepared for the punishment delivered by hiking down more than 5000 vertical feet in a couple of hours. The bike simply doesn’t prepare leg muscles for the shock and the constant isometric contraction of going down. Earlier in the year, Crossfit had prepared me for exactly that: the box jumps, deadlifts, C&J, etc. all executed at high intensity took me into a state of heavy lactate build-up that translated well to both going up and downhill at speed on various mountain outings during the spring.

After the initial thrashing in Yosemite I spent a few days hobbling down stairs or inclines before my legs recovered. Once rejuvenated, they were fine and I repeated the same approach and climb eight days after the beat-down, ten percent faster, with no weakness during or soreness afterward. So, clearly the fitness I developed on the bike was “reeducated” toward alternate movements fairly rapidly. I am still surprised at three things:
1) how specific the movement on a bike is
2) how broad the movements required by Crossfit are
3) and how easily those movements translate to different activities.

Back to the drawing board …


Mark T.

Coach 09-16-2004 08:41 AM

Mark,

We're working with a cyclist who holds U.S. human speed records and recently broke world records in practice (documented, witnessed, videotaped, GPS data, etc.). When the winds are right and track time is available he will readily take both the "race of truth" (one hour for distance, record: 56 miles) and top speed (record 82 mph). He's working/practicing nicely past both records. The point is this guy's got legs.

His cycling has not prepared him for air squats, however. (Understatement)

His cycling has left him with an "inability to cope with even body weight eccentrics" and he sees this as the "apparent result of narrow "pure concentric" training regimen".

Greg


Larry Lindenman 09-16-2004 11:17 AM

Intresting, I just did a 35 mile bike ride at last minute notice. It was a tour of Chicago. Did it on a borrowed mountain bike, with a broken stick holding the handle together and a front break pad missing. Averaged about 15mph. The point is, I was riding with a group of guys who ride 150 miles a week and have $2500 bikes, they were within ten years of my age either way (42). All looked out of shape!!! sagging stomachs, weak arms. So I took a look at all of the other riders, very few guys "looked in shape" some were outright overweight. Just an observation. By the way Crossfit conditioning pulled through, haven't been on a bike in over 5 years and finshed strong, without sorness. . .unless you count my butt!

Michael Rutherford 09-16-2004 12:46 PM

Two world class examples of Crossfit transfer to the elite.

Larry’s experience is awesome. He grabs an old Huffy and rolls with a bunch of geeks. I know the exact kind of rider you are talking about. I have a client who is Crossfit and her husband is a bike guy. He came to me for a period of time but was embarrassed that his wife was kicking his rear after he was spending more than twice the time in training.

I’m not too scientific but I can use my eyes. Did anyone see Tyler Hamilton the day he had to drop out of the Tour? He took off his jersey and a camera got up real close. His torso looked like a P.O.W. It was certainly good for sit a top a bike saddle but it did little else. If you can’t carry in your groceries from the urban assault vehicle then there is something wrong with your fitness.

David Wood 09-16-2004 08:14 PM

Bike riders are specialists: legs and lungs, everything else is just dead weight to be carried around.

Carl Herzog 09-17-2004 05:52 AM

While it is true that elite bike riders intentionally let their upper bodies waste away, that is only part of the story. If bicycling's effects on legs and lungs carried over well to other activities there would be less to complain about.

Cycling is a temptress. As Mark hinted, it seems to offer great promise – in addition to being relatively easy on the joints and as challenging as you want to make it, it’s siren call also includes speed, no small amount of fun and even a potential social component. All told, a package matched by few other fitness endeavors. But when it comes to transferable fitness, alas, bicycling falls short. It is the kind of woman your mother warned you about – fast and seductive, but likely to disappoint when the going gets difficult.

The take home lesson: While driving up your heart rate might be necessary, it is not sufficient.


Larry Lindenman 09-17-2004 08:16 AM

Carl, darn good post!


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