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 …