Conventional wisdom holds that extended bouts of monostructural training (run, bike, swim, row, etc.), commonly referred to as "cardio", confer distinct and powerful advantage to athletic conditioning. This month we explore the proposition that traditional "cardio" may be neither as distinct nor as powerfula contribution to general conditioning as widely believed. In fact, we assert that CrossFit-like programming provides a more effective stimulus for improving cardiorespiratory endurance than running, rowing, cycling, or other traditional monostructural protocols.
"What about cardio?" is an elaboration on the CrossFit approach to developing elite cardiorespiratory endurance.
As a point of reference and history, we stated in the August 2003 CrossFit Journal "elite runners, cyclists, swimmers, or triathletes crumble when exposed to simple CrossFit like stressors and their failure is obviously cardiorespiratory." And, "our athletes are increasingly doing very well in competitions based on skills and activities for which they've little or no training." Let's revisit these claims.
The idea that an endurance athlete might or could experience athletic failure due to cardiorespiratory insufficiency has been for many a tough pill to swallow, and admittedly, it is a curious thing to witness firsthand. We must, however, begin with an explanation as to our standard for assessing "cardiorespiratory insufficiency" as the cause for performance failure. Our standard is simple, if not crude, and admittedly somewhat subjective. The behaviors and symptoms we associate with cardiorespiratory insufficiency are often referred to as "gassing" in the training world.