December 20, 2013

cardio for CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting

When I first started doing CrossFit the athletes and coaches told me I shouldn't do any long and slow workouts, or "base training" as endurance athletes call it. At the time I vehemently disageed. I used to be a hard core triathlete and saw first hand how beneficial base training was to me for fat burning and endurance. It wasn't until I watched the CrossFit games that I realized the things CrossFitter's are training for uses almost exclusively fast twitch muscle fibers. If they did any long and slow training at all it would build slow twitch muscle fibers, which would minimize the amount of fast twitch muscle fibers they could build. It would also recruit some of their fast twitch muscles to act more like slow twitch muscles. Ultimately they were right, the long slow workouts that build endurance will hurt the performance of CrossFit'ers and also Olympic weightlifters. The entire 6 weeks I've been training for Olympic weightlifting I've had a very hard time giving up endurance workouts. I justified doing long slow workouts by telling myself, "I have to lose more fat to get out of the super heavy weight division and get to my goal of being able to lift in the 94k weight class (187-206 pounds)."

After yesterdays workout I realized that I'm weak. My lack of strength is partly because I've only been Olympic weightlifting for a month and a half and partly because I'm still doing the long slow workouts that an ultra endurance athlete would do. I have finally come to grips with the fact that to be good at Olympic weightlifting I MUST give up slow twitch muscle fiber building workouts. Today I did my first high intensity cardio bike ride. I had to bust out my old cycleOps indoor trainer to do it.

I was a little worried about using my bike on my indoor trainer at my current weight of 262 pounds. I was afraid I'd crush my carbon bike or the trainer, but amazingly both held up! I did a tabata on the bike which consisted of a short 5 minute warm up, then rode HARD for 20 seconds, then peddled softly for 10 seconds. I kept that up until I could no longer hold a 20 MPH pace on the hard sets. My legs gave out at the 15 minute 19 second mark of the workout. When I calculated my results on Dietpower I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I burned 300 calories in a little over 15 minutes.  I'd only burn a little over 400 calories in 30 minutes when I was doing long slow cycling. I think I could get used to this high intensity cardio training! More calories burned in less time plus I'll be building the type of muscle tissue that will make me a stronger Olympic weightlifter! Boom goes the dynamite!

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