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Fitness Theory and Practice. CrossFit's rationale & foundations. Who is fit? What is fitness?

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Old 06-11-2008, 05:11 PM   #1
Peter Tourigny
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Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

Hello,

I am new to crossfit and I am confused by a few things. I read the Oct 2002 crossfit journal "What is Fitness"? and it seemed to promote spending most of your workout time training the phosphagen system as this will build not only anaerobic but also aerobic capacity. This works out great for me as I play beach volleyball which is a phosphagen dominant sport. It recommends interval training as a way to increase the cardio system "without an unacceptable loss of speed, power and strength". It then outlines that to control being in the phosphagenic pathway the guideline is to spend 10-30 seconds of work to 30-90 seconds rest, a 1:3 ratio. It shows a nice chart on top of pg 5. But then it lists an example of the a regularly used interval training called the Tabata Interval which works for 20 seconds and then rests for 10 seconds??? This is a 2:1 ratio. I also see other examples of blowing through many sets of different exercises with no rest. The article mentions to "strive for variance" ...don't subscribe to high reps, low reps, high rest, low rest, etc. Is this consistent with primarily building the phosphagen system?

Variations are endless by substituting different exercises, order of exercises, supersetting exercises together, alternating the amount of each set (work) between 10-30 seconds by changing the weight (adjusting the rest by the 3:1 ratio), etc. BUT all variations would still leave the same work to rest ratio of 1:3 wouldn't it?

This morning I did this crossfit workout with a crossfit trainer instructing me:

crossfit warmup and technique instruction

400 meter run
15 sumo deadlift hipulls with kettlebell
10 burpees

repeat 3 times for time

I was out of breath after the 1st set and kept pushing through til the end. Was I training the glycolytic system?

Are the "no rest" workouts, as in the one I did today, building the phosphagen system? Will this type of workout improve my vertical jump, speed, power, strength as efficiently as a workout designed with 1:3 ratio of work to rest?

Thanks for any help, Peter
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Old 06-11-2008, 05:46 PM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

Might wanna read "What is fitness" again and look at the nice chart on page 2.

P.S. The answer is all of them.
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Old 06-11-2008, 06:55 PM   #3
Peter Tourigny
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

I see that.

However, bottom of pg 4 titled "Interval Training" says "The key to developing the cardio vascular system without an unacceptable loss of strength, speed and power is interval training." then on pg 5 "The bulk of metabolic training should be interval training." this seems like a pretty specific recommendation.

The chart on pg 11 shows the typical percentage of training time in each pathway for Volleyball is about 90% phosphagen and 10% glycolytic and 0% oxidative.

I am trying to figure out if the bulk of my training is [not] interval training, am I working against my goal of fitness for my sport. Should I be looking to customize my crossfit workouts to keep the bulk of the workouts in interval training in the phosphagen system while still trying to vary the workouts within those parameters?
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:41 PM   #4
Andrew Wilson
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

Peter,
How the the bioenergetics work within the body are determined by the three metabolic pathways you've mentioned:
1) ATP-PC system ("the phosphogen system")
2) Glycolysis ("the glycolytic system")
3) the Aerobic system (Aerobic glucose & fat)

These three major systems are what metabolically within the cell produce energy or "ATP" (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the energy that creates muscle contractions & these systems become dominant in different time periods during exercise.

the ATP-PC system works dominantly in short term (2-20seconds) of high intensity exercise
Glycolysis works dominantly in intense exercise post 20 seconds to about 3:30 minutes
and the Aerobic system is dominant around 4:00 minutes beyond
(aerobic fat works past 20-30 minutes with the main utilization of fat)

So as you nailed it, the tabata does focus on the phosphogen system, but all the other wods do as well, because the phosphogen system is always used in the onset of exercise. After 20 secs or so the phosphogen system depletes in phophoscreatine reserves, so Glycolysis kicks in, when more oxygen is needed to provide a more consistent load of ATP the aerobic system kicks in around 4:00 minutes. You can seriously see this in a Fran or 100 burpee challenge, as the pace & work output becomes less explosive & more steady.

So in that wod you were actually using glycolysis & building the phosphogen system as well. Beach volleyball however is an aerobically dominant, intensity will burst in, in which phoshogen system will jump in, but periodically. So pretty much all the wods are set to train you for your sport.

When it comes to vertical jump, speed, power, that'll come down to how the wods mimic your sport
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Old 06-11-2008, 09:23 PM   #5
Steven Low
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Tourigny View Post
I see that.

However, bottom of pg 4 titled "Interval Training" says "The key to developing the cardio vascular system without an unacceptable loss of strength, speed and power is interval training." then on pg 5 "The bulk of metabolic training should be interval training." this seems like a pretty specific recommendation.

Okay...?

The chart on pg 11 shows the typical percentage of training time in each pathway for Volleyball is about 90% phosphagen and 10% glycolytic and 0% oxidative.

True..

I am trying to figure out if the bulk of my training is [not] interval training, am I working against my goal of fitness for my sport. Should I be looking to customize my crossfit workouts to keep the bulk of the workouts in interval training in the phosphagen system while still trying to vary the workouts within those parameters?

Do just power biased workouts so you can jump higher. Do some agility work so you can react faster.

If you find yourself winded or tired as a game goes on, do some power biased intervals (longer rest times between each interval, higher intensity during interval).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Wilson View Post
Peter,
How the the bioenergetics work within the body are determined by the three metabolic pathways you've mentioned:
1) ATP-PC system ("the phosphogen system")
2) Glycolysis ("the glycolytic system")
3) the Aerobic system (Aerobic glucose & fat)

These three major systems are what metabolically within the cell produce energy or "ATP" (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the energy that creates muscle contractions & these systems become dominant in different time periods during exercise.

the ATP-PC system works dominantly in short term (2-20seconds) of high intensity exercise
Glycolysis works dominantly in intense exercise post 20 seconds to about 3:30 minutes
and the Aerobic system is dominant around 4:00 minutes beyond
(aerobic fat works past 20-30 minutes with the main utilization of fat)

These depend on intensity.

High intensity, faster energy reserves are used up.

Generally, PC is <10s, glyco is <60s and aerobic is >60s.

Fat reserve energy also depends on intensity.


So as you nailed it, the tabata does focus on the phosphogen system, but all the other wods do as well, because the phosphogen system is always used in the onset of exercise. After 20 secs or so the phosphogen system depletes in phophoscreatine reserves, so Glycolysis kicks in, when more oxygen is needed to provide a more consistent load of ATP the aerobic system kicks in around 4:00 minutes. You can seriously see this in a Fran or 100 burpee challenge, as the pace & work output becomes less explosive & more steady.

So in that wod you were actually using glycolysis & building the phosphogen system as well. Beach volleyball however is an aerobically dominant, intensity will burst in, in which phoshogen system will jump in, but periodically. So pretty much all the wods are set to train you for your sport.

Not aerobically dominant.

You're generally not moving around at high intensity (positioning, diving... not sprinting) and you rest between volleys. PC is refilled during such times. Thus, volleyball is primarily PC with some glyco as the CF journal indicates

(unless you're playing at some absurd intensity where you're the one sprinting around making all the plays by yourself)


When it comes to vertical jump, speed, power, that'll come down to how the wods mimic your sport
......
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Last edited by Steven Low; 06-11-2008 at 09:30 PM..
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:42 AM   #6
Peter Tourigny
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Wilson View Post
Peter,
How the the bioenergetics work within the body are determined by the three metabolic pathways you've mentioned:
1) ATP-PC system ("the phosphogen system")
2) Glycolysis ("the glycolytic system")
3) the Aerobic system (Aerobic glucose & fat)

These three major systems are what metabolically within the cell produce energy or "ATP" (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the energy that creates muscle contractions & these systems become dominant in different time periods during exercise.

the ATP-PC system works dominantly in short term (2-20seconds) of high intensity exercise
Glycolysis works dominantly in intense exercise post 20 seconds to about 3:30 minutes
and the Aerobic system is dominant around 4:00 minutes beyond
(aerobic fat works past 20-30 minutes with the main utilization of fat)

So as you nailed it, the tabata does focus on the phosphogen system, but all the other wods do as well, because the phosphogen system is always used in the onset of exercise. After 20 secs or so the phosphogen system depletes in phophoscreatine reserves, so Glycolysis kicks in, when more oxygen is needed to provide a more consistent load of ATP the aerobic system kicks in around 4:00 minutes. You can seriously see this in a Fran or 100 burpee challenge, as the pace & work output becomes less explosive & more steady.

So in that wod you were actually using glycolysis & building the phosphogen system as well. Beach volleyball however is an aerobically dominant, intensity will burst in, in which phoshogen system will jump in, but periodically. So pretty much all the wods are set to train you for your sport.

When it comes to vertical jump, speed, power, that'll come down to how the wods mimic your sport
So to keep the bulk of my metabolic training in the phosphagen/glycolytic and away from aerobic I should be structuring my workouts so that I do no more than 20 seconds to 4 minutes worth of work before I rest because a set that lasts beyond 4 minutes will start to utilize the aerobic system. At the beginning of each new set I will engage the phosphagen system then the glycolytic which I can do over and over as long as I don't go too long (over 4 minutes). I could occasionally go longer just to not completely avoid training aerobically. Is this accurate? Thanks for your input
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Old 06-12-2008, 09:47 AM   #7
Brett Dartt
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

i think if i thought this much i would never workout

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Old 06-12-2008, 10:10 AM   #8
Patrick Haskell
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

You are definitely overthinking this. Even tabata sets at 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest is training all three pathways. The phosphagen system can't reload fast enough. Sure the work is biased toward glycogen pathway over aerobic, but all pathways get trained. If you're talknig beach volleyball, you're probably further into the glycogen pathway than what shows on that chart, due to the amount of work you have to do as one of only two people on the court, rather than traditional 6-person sport.

Train olympic lifts for jumping; intervals are great for cardio conditioning, too, but even 10-miinute metcons that might have you in the aerobic pathway for much of the time can still be useful for building the kind of muscular endurance you need to get through a day-long tournament. Training the aerobic pathway is not bad in and of itself. Doing aerobic training to the extent that other pathways don't get adequately trained is what can constrain fitness.
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Old 06-12-2008, 05:18 PM   #9
Steven Low
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Tourigny View Post
So to keep the bulk of my metabolic training in the phosphagen/glycolytic and away from aerobic I should be structuring my workouts so that I do no more than 20 seconds to 4 minutes worth of work before I rest because a set that lasts beyond 4 minutes will start to utilize the aerobic system. At the beginning of each new set I will engage the phosphagen system then the glycolytic which I can do over and over as long as I don't go too long (over 4 minutes). I could occasionally go longer just to not completely avoid training aerobically. Is this accurate? Thanks for your input
Wrong. Read what I posted:

Quote:
Do just power biased workouts so you can jump higher. Do some agility work so you can react faster.

If you find yourself winded or tired as a game goes on, do some power biased intervals (longer rest times between each interval, higher intensity during interval).
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Old 06-12-2008, 07:50 PM   #10
Phillip Garrison
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Re: Is phosphagen system the primary system of crossfit training?

Most of the WOD's will stress the PC-ATP, and the Anaerobic glycogen system, aka the lactic acid system. However some will also work the aerobic too. Thats the point of CF. Above average at many aspects of fitness, but not excelling at any one, at the extent of sacrificing another.
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