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Ultra-Endurance Training In An Anaerobic Environment

posted October 14, 2009 @ 1:05 AM  |  Technique, Tips, and Drills | Triathlon category

~By Jay Swift

Dedication, determination, and singularity of focus define what it means to be an endurance athlete, a definition that is the mirror image of a CrossFit athlete. As a coach and athlete who trains and competes in both the CrossFit and endurance realms I see the similarity as uncanny. Yet the question still remains. Why is it so difficult to convince the endurance community that training with intensity is the answer? It is fear of the unknown and the change such a shift in thinking will cause to the endurance community. Most importantly the Ironman community, whose books, videos, coach's, and training camps preach long slow distance training as the canon of endurance racing. Yet there is a schism taking place and some are proving there is another road to be traveled.

Every training cycle endurance athletes log countless hours preparing for their events. Swimmers, runners, cyclists, mountain bikers, and triathletes faithfully follow long slow distance training protocol in an attempt to build a better engine. All with the hope of reaching their personal goal be it a finishers medal or a coveted Ironman Hawaii slot. This long slow distance training increases cardiovascular function and fat utilization. Negatively long slow distance training also facilitates a drop in muscle mass leading to decreases in strength, power, and speed causing the athlete to plateau. The answer to the problem of decreased muscle mass is anaerobic training.

Anaerobic training is difficult and rewarding work where the positives far outweigh the negatives. Increased cardiovascular function, decreased body fat, increased aerobic capacity, and muscle mass create additional strength, speed and power. How do we know this? In October of 1996 the Journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise published a six-week study by Izumi Tabata that found interval training, 20 seconds on followed by 10 seconds rest repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes, increased anaerobic capacity by 28% and VO2Max by 14%. "The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise." (John Harker, www.izumi-tabata@runtowin.com) Tabata's study proved that "this interval protocol produced remarkable increases in both anaerobic and aerobic capacity."(What is Fitness, Crossfit Journal, October 2002) In the end the athlete will build aerobic capacity while also seeing increases in speed and power. All of this can be accomplished without countless hours of training and provides the athlete with the physical ability to improve.

Read on at TriMax Fitness

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