Clever Training

Outrun a Power Lifter, Outlift a Runner With CrossFit Aerobic Capacity

Outrun a Power Lifter, Outlift a Runner With CrossFit Aerobic Capacity
KJ Hiramoto

CrossFit is vastly different from most commercial gyms. When you walk into a CrossFit gym, you won’t see any ellipticals or weight machines. Instead, you’ll walk into a building, usually resembling a garage or a warehouse, with plenty of space to move around in. Inside that building, you’ll see athletes pumping iron and another group performing a series of high-intensity workout of the day (WOD).


View this post on Instagram


🔥 IT’S THE RETURN OF BARBELL CLUB 🔥 • • 6 weeks of intensive barbell training designed to help you lift big in the New Year. Our coaching staff has two coaches who are nationally ranked Olympic Weightlifters with USAW certifications that will shadow you very step of the way so you jack steel like a pro. • • The Program starts Jaunary 19th and classes meet every Saturday at 11am. The program includes one on one coaching, individualized programming, weekly feedback, video review of technique and usage of open gym. • • We have limited spots available, so call, email, DM or talk to your coach to reserve a spot. Not a member, no biggie, ask about our pricing for non-members…we promise not to tell your gym.

A post shared by Cigar City CrossFit (@cigarcitycrossfit) on

When you see some of the workout videos or when you see the before-after photos of some of the athletes on social media, CrossFit may seem intimidating for some. However, with various workout programs for athletes with different types of goals, CrossFit is as inclusive as any fitness programs out there.

“A great thing about CrossFit is that anyone can do it,” said CrossFit coach Mitch Harbaugh. “Doesn't matter if you're a teenager, over 50 years old, or an adaptive athlete.”

One of the workout programs Clever Training athletes (runners, cyclists, swimmers and triathletes) could absolutely benefit from is the CrossFit Aerobic Capacity. Formerly known as “CrossFit Endurance,” CrossFit Aerobic Capacity is geared toward making sure each athlete raise their aerobic capacity and be able to safely and efficiently do endurance work. CrossFit said the program’s participants will “leave with a better understanding of how to develop their own cardiovascular ‘engine’ and apply this knowledge to a training scenario for individuals or gym populations.”

Aerobic Capacity Course carries nine learning objectives for its athletes:

  • How fatigue develops and limits athletic performance.
  • How to maximize cardiovascular fitness by creating an optimal balance between the energy systems.
  • How to apply training based on aerobic capacity, lactate threshold and aerobic threshold to target personal goals.
  • Speed-endurance and strength-endurance training protocols to increase overall work capacity.
  • How to assess and identify any athlete's aerobic fitness.
  • How to create individualized "paced" workouts and heart-rate-based programming.
  • How to understand and perform the dynamic warm-up.
  • Assessment, recruitment, sequencing and endurance development of the muscle-fiber spectrum.
  • How to incorporate modern endurance-training methodologies into the full spectrum of CrossFit functional movements (e.g., weightlifting, gymnastics).

*Source: CrossFit

We spoke with Cigar City CrossFit co-founder Benjamin Bunn and coach Mitch Harbaugh to help us better understand CrossFit Aerobic Capacity.


What are some of the unique benefits of turning to CrossFit Aerobic Capacity, as opposed to just running on the treadmill or jogging?

BB: The Aerobic Capacity course gives athletes a framework by which to structure their training to meet sport-specific goals while also maintaining general physical preparedness, i.e. looking good and moving well. I would submit the vast majority of runners do so recreationally, and more than likely have no training guidance from experienced professionals. That is probably why there's a high percentage of injury in the sport.

MH: I assume the purpose of someone seeking more in-depth information or coaching in the endurance field has the goal of improving their performance. So, I would begin by saying any program that is correctly set up will benefit performance vs. just running on a treadmill/jogging with no plan in place.

However, CrossFit Aerobic Capacity seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to programming endurance. For example, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 20 to 60 minutes of continuous low to moderate aerobic activity to develop aerobic fitness.

This, however, is misguided. Lon Kilgore, Ph.D, a Kinesiology professor at Midwestern State University, has pointed out that in order to increase any energy pathway, and in this case the oxidative and/or glycolytic pathway (depending on intensity during the run), one must put enough stress on the system to disrupt homeostasis within it. So 20 to 60 minutes for a beginner will likely be enough to stress the system and lead to an improvement. But in a trained individual, this will probably not be enough stimulus to disrupt the system and the result is no increase in aerobic work capacity.

To bring it all together, CrossFit Aerobic Capacity understands this basic premise of stress the system enough to cause adaptation and improvement. CrossFit Aerobic Capacity would also involve workouts that are not single modal meaning only run, only bike or just swim. The result is a broad, inclusive fitness and the stronger the base level of fitness is (general physical preparedness) the higher one's peak can be which would be sport specific.

Does CrossFit Aerobic Capacity prep you for marathons or races like a 5K?

BB: The Aerobic Capacity Course is an excellent way to increase your aerobic capacity while also maintaining general physical preparedness. The understanding being that a balance exists between the two. You might not win the Boston marathon, but you could easily outrun a power lifter and easy out lift a runner. You dig?

Does CrossFit Aerobic Capacity reduce the risk of injury?

MH: It's not that CrossFit Aerobic Capacity reduces risk, but rather a good program with functional movements seen in CrossFit that minimizes the chance for injury. CrossFit Aerobic Capacity is specific to educate athletes on proper programming and technique related to endurance, such as running technique and programming to improve overall endurance related work capacity.

So CrossFit as a whole prevents injury by avoiding repetition in movements and incorporating functional movements into training while CrossFit Aerobic Capacity is a focused specialty within CrossFit.

BB: Risk mitigation, scaling and progression are key tenants for all CrossFit courses.

What kind of future do you see in CrossFit?

BB: CrossFit is the dominant training methodology in the world. It's influenced barbell sports, other high-intensity athletic franchises and brought functional fitness to the forefront of athletics. CrossFit is currently focusing its collective efforts on the medical industry, specifically the prevention of chronic and metabolic disease.

What kind of future do you see in CrossFit Aerobic Capacity?

BB: I believe the aerobic capacity course will continue to be a keystone specialty course that coaches and athletes pursue in order to expand their knowledge base and excel in endurance sports.

What is the most rewarding part of coaching CrossFit athletes?

MH: A great thing about CrossFit is that anyone can do it, doesn't matter if you're a teenager, over 50 years old or an adaptive athlete. For me being involved in so many different groups of people and having the opportunity to help them set and achieve goals is extremely rewarding.

I'm fortunate to help people improve their life for the long term, and when someone steps into a Crossfit gym, they are deciding to have a higher quality of life when it comes to health and wellness. The fact that I can be a part of that journey and guide them to my best of my ability is something that makes my job worthwhile.

About Cigar City CrossFit

Cigar City CrossFit is located on North 24th Street in Tampa. They offer group classes, personal training and nutrition counseling. Those interested in joining or learning more about their programs can click here for more information.



    You May Also Like