Building an engine in CrossFit

What does it mean?

Having a good engine is the ability to be able to suffer for short and long periods of time, perform lifts under fatigue, and the ability to recovery quickly. And in if you are looking to be competitive in the sport of CrossFit, having a good one is a must.

Building a good engine can be done in one of two ways: (1) Do a ton of volume and work on a million different things at once and hopefully something sticks; (2) Or work smarter, not harder. I for one prefer the latter and this article we will break it down.

What are energy systems and what do they do?

The first thing to understand is that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy can only be transferred (as the first law of thermodynamics states). Therefore, energy is transferred from one state to another inside and outside our body. Our body has three energy systems (phosphagen, glycolitic, and aerobic) responsible for two things.

  1. Transform free energy into usable energy. This happens at a cellular level. An example is we get electrons from the food we eat and oxygen from the air we breathe and presto! we have ATP.
  2. Eliminate waste after using ATP for energy. For example after we use ATP our body produces hydrogen as a by-product.

Think of our energy systems like an engine in a car. The engine soaks up the fuel, then combust the fuel to create energy and propel us forward, and then release the by-product out the exhaust.

How does training energy systems get me better at CrossFit?

Training our energy systems allows us to become more efficient during CrossFit workouts and improves tolerance to training volume, ability to recover from training, as well as power output, rate of power production, and ability to endure.

How do I improve my energy systems?

Improving energy systems can be tricky. However, when looking at endurance as a whole there are 5 different elements. they are:

  1. Aerobic Threshold 
    • Steady workouts at a moderate intensity to develop fuel efficiency (burn fat), muscular endurance, and aerobic endurance.
  2. Lactate Threshold
    • Higher volume workouts with longer distance intervals at higher “threshold” intensities with less rest between reps and/or sets.
  3. Aerobic Power
    • Lower volume workouts, shorter distance intervals at higher intensities, and more rest between reps and/or sets.
  4. Speed Endurance
    • Very low volume workouts with interval distances less than 60sec. Extremely high intensities. Used to recruit fast twitch fibers and force them to develop endurance. Full recovery between reps and/or sets.
  5. Strength Endurance
    • Low volume workouts with high intensity intervals that include various explosive movements to recruit and develop your fast twitch muscle fibers.

We can structure our CrossFit workouts to build one, or all, of these areas. If you are looking to step up your game and build an engine check out Packerland Strength!

BE ON THE LOOKOUT TO PART-2 WHERE WE WILL TALK ABOUT IDENTIFYING LIMITERS IN YOUR ENGINE GAME.

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IN THIS QUICK CONVERSATION, WE WANT TO LEARN ALL ABOUT YOU, YOUR FITNESS GOALS AND HOW WE CAN HELP YOU REACH THEM.