Aerobic Capacity: A Foundation for CrossFit

Squatting, pressing, and pulling are the foundation for a majority of our movements that we perform in CrossFit. In order to improve in CrossFit, it’s important to continue to perform those varied functional movements on a continuous basis. Makes sense. But sometimes people don’t realize how big of a role their aerobic capacity plays in being able to perform those functional movements and continue to see progress in CrossFit.

First of all, what is aerobic capacity? Simple put, aerobic capacity is a person’s ability to take in oxygen. When we exercise, our body creates lactate. If oxygen is available, our body can use lactate as an energy source in order to keep you moving during your workouts. When we reach our threshold of oxygen intake and oxygen becomes less available, then lactate turns in lactic acid and that’s when we begin to feel that muscle burn sensation and start to slow down.

So how do we improve our aerobic capacity? Spending a little more time hitting the track, rowing, hopping on the assault bike, or even testing out our new ski erg are great ways to improve aerobic capacity. Here is what’s important to remember though, in order to improve aerobic capacity we have to practice running, rowing, or biking at a PACED interval in order to prolong our workouts. If we redline, well then we are training for a whole other stimulus. Specifically, we want to IMPROVE our body’s ability to use oxygen as long as possible in order to buffer the lactic acid build up. When we can do that, then performing all of our air squats, push ups, and pull ups becomes a little bit easier!

How does working on aerobic capacity improve other aspects of CrossFit? Bringing it back to what I mentioned before, aerobic capacity is simply our body’s ability to take in oxygen. Having a large aerobic capacity means that we can do a set of box jumps, pull ups, or kettlebell swings for longer durations without being too fatigued! Now what if you’re just working on strength?

It’s important to maintain a foundation of aerobic capacity even when you’re just trying to improve that back squat! The larger the muscle group is, the more oxygen they eat up! And with strength, we need a specific amount of sets and reps each session to reach the goals we are trying to attain. In order to perform those 5×5’s, 4×10’s, or even 6×3’s those legs need oxygen in order to perform! With a foundation of aerobic capacity your legs will continue to work for you for as long as you need them to.

I understand hopping on a rower, running, or churning those legs on the assault bike aren’t always enjoyable. So to make it more fun, grab a buddy to do it with you! Brandon Banks has been constantly asking people to join him on the assault bike after every class! Some 6:00am folks have been hitting that 403m run after their workouts. You can even find Taneya and Dana getting some extra conditioning pieces in during the afternoon classes. Feel free to join them!

If you need some suggestions on aerobic workouts, feel free to ask one of your coaches! We can help you find a sufficient pace for you aerobic capacity needs! Enjoy!

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