Metabolic Conditioning

By Greg Glassman

In ExPhysiology

June 01, 2003

PDF Article

Metabolic training refers to conditioning exercises intended to increase the storage and delivery of energy for any activity. Generally, all out efforts of two minutes or less are anaerobic while efforts lasting more than several minutes are aerobic. In this article, Coach Greg Glassman writes why the Crossfit approach is superior for getting results.

Anaerobic efforts are relatively high powered, while aerobic efforts are relatively low powered. Aerobic exercise is nearly universally regarded as being heart protective, but there is compelling evidence that shows that anaerobic exercise is evenly matched in this regard. Recent studies have shown that anaerobic exercise is a vastly superior protocol for fat burning than it’s less intense aerobic counterpart.

Counter to popular belief kettlebells, obstacle courses, and CrossFit WODs performed at similar exertion levels can surpass bike riding and running at conferring increased aerobic capacity!

Ultimately the CrossFit position on metabolic conditioning, or “cardio”, is summed up in two points. One is that anaerobic training can match endurance training for aerobic benefit. Additionally, metabolic training with varying and mixed exercise modalities avoids specificity of adaptation allowing for additional first wave - cardiovascular/respiratory adaptations, and increased functional strength.

CrossFit athletes have demonstrated improved endurance performance without classic endurance training. Even in clinical trials CrossFit’s high intensity regimen has produced improvements in endurance measures that rivaled those achieved through programs comprised largely of endurance efforts.

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1 Comment on “Metabolic Conditioning”


wrote …

Reading this stuff never gets old. Thanks to the CFJ for making these older articles so easy to access.

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