Incredible training tool. Often misunderstood by CrossFitters.
Interval training is a fantastic tool to build capacity both aerobically and anaerobically.
Aerobic Exercise is sometimes known as “cardio” — exercise that requires pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart to deliver oxygen to working muscles. Aerobic exercise stimulates the heart rate and breathing rate to increase in a way that can be sustained for the exercise session. (http://www.medicinenet.com/aerobic_exercise/article.htm)
Anaerobic Exercise is short-lasting, high-intensity activity, where your body’s demand for oxygen exceeds the oxygen supply available. Anaerobic exercise relies on energy sources that are stored in the muscles and, unlike aerobic exercise, is not dependent on oxygen from (breathing) the air. (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=1035)
Interval training involves alternating between bouts of exercise and rest, or recovery periods.
As coaches we hear things from time to time like:
“Why does the workout have rest in it?”
“Can I just do it straight through? I feel like I’ll get a better workout.”
These are legitimate questions, though they do have very clear answers.
The effects of interval training are well documented in building capacity, building and preserving muscle, and fat loss.
Those rests are built in for a reason, and when we take a more macro-view of our training across a week or even a month the specific stimulus we are trying to achieve on a given day becomes more apparent.
The answer is, and will always be “Do the workout with the prescribed rest, at the prescribed intensity”.
As coaches, we know that not everyone has this level of understanding, and we try to talk about the “why” often.
It all comes down to what energy systems we are trying to train.
The general rule of thumb is this- the more intense the exercise, the shorter the exercise interval and the longer the rest interval.
Let’s take a 25 min CrossFit workout for example. Forgot about the movements for now, but let’s just say each interval is designed to take about 4-5 minutes and there is a 2:00 rest between each round.
A work:rest ratio of roughly 2:1 to 3:1 suggests that these efforts will certainly not be all out and there will need to be some pacing involved.
Essentially what we are doing is trying to get through each piece at about 80-90% of what we could get through one round at our absolute fastest pace.
During the 2:00 recovery, breathing and heart rate should come down substantially, but this will not be a full recovery by any means.
It’s the same reason why we rest 2:00-3:00 between very heavy deadlifts and squats. Maximal strength cannot be trained without these rests.
I spent over a decade in track & field as a long sprinter and understand the in’s and out’s well.
Some days would be very fast with long recoveries, some would be what we call “tempo”- decent pace with partial recoveries, and some days would be more aerobic. Slower pace with short recoveries.
A great example of a sprint type workout related the WOD “Grace” which we did earlier in the week would be 1 min of max reps Clean & Jerk, rest 3-4 minutes, repeat for 3 rounds.
The training stimulus here would certainly be anaerobic- with the goal of three maximal 60 second efforts. Because of this, the rest would need to be substantial.
If there is anything to take away it’s this.
Our coaches are here to facilitate you getting the best workouts possible. You may not always understand why, and that’s ok.
If we thought that we could achieve better fitness by doing something else on any given day, you best believe we’d be doing that thing.