How to Integrate Barbell Cycling into Mixed Aerobic Work

In order to ‘cycle’ or move loads and barbells quickly, your clients need to learn how to make complex contractions ‘aerobic’ in nature. This requires an understanding of how to design programs that mix aerobic work with strength speed work.

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Essentially, coaches need to focus on blending barbell work into mixed aerobic work. We are going to break this topic down into 3 pieces: Off season, Pre-season, In season. Each of these will be in the design of 10-minute pieces of work — also known as MAP 7 work in the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program.

As a result, each of the templated designs below will have different characteristics depending upon what time of the year it is for the athlete. The further away they are from the competition, the more different the training will look. The closer we are to the competition, the more identical the training will look. If we review past Crossfit Open workouts we see variations of a barbell being used in different scenarios. Some are light with high turnover while others increase in weight and decrease in load. Each of these components need to be built, practiced, and tested to ensure maximal expression come time to compete.

Part 1 (Off-Season Mixed Work; June-July)

A. 10 minutes @ 50%/warm-up:
1 min Assault Bike
1 min bear crawl
1 min row
1 min single unders
1 min ring FLR
+
5 min rest/prep

B. 10 minutes @ 80%/sustained aerobic power:
200m run
5 deadlift + 5 hang power clean + 5 thrusters @ 95lbs
200m run
2 rope climbs to 15’ w/ legs
-5 min walk-

10 minutes @ 80%/sustained aerobic power:
8 calorie Assault Bike
8 hang power snatch @ 65lbs
8 calorie Assault Bike
8 overhead squat @ 65lbs
-5 min walk-

10 minutes @ 80%/sustained aerobic power:
3 power clean to overhead @ 115lbs – all singles
6 burpees
9 calorie row
3 power snatches @ 115lbs – all singles
6 toes to bar
9 calorie row

NOTES: In this design, there are quite a few movements within each piece of work. Thus, the turnover won’t be as fast, so total amount of reps will not be as high. There is also roughly 1:1 cyclical to mixed work within each piece. This will help keep people on track and consistent with their splits between rounds. The loads for the barbell is lighter and not as demanding for the athlete to allow for great consistency and prevent bottlenecks — or points where unnecessary rest has to occur. Lastly, notice the amount of rest between pieces of work: 5 minutes of complete rest. This will change as we get closer to the competition.

Part 2 (Pre-Season Mixed Work; October-November)

A. 10 minutes @ 50%/Warm Up:
15 calorie Assault Bike
12 air squats
9 box jump step down
6 toes through ring
+
5 min rest/prep

B. 10 minutes @ 85%/sustained aerobic power:
15 calorie Assault Bike
5 power cleans @ 95lbs + 5 front squats @ 95lbs
5 ring muscle-ups
-4 min walk-

10 minutes @ 85%/sustained aerobic power:
15 calorie row
5 power snatches @ 95lbs + 5 overhead squats @ 95lbs
5 bar muscle-ups
-4 min walk-

10 minutes @ 85%/sustained aerobic power:
15 calorie ski erg
10 thrusters @ 95#
5 burpees onto 24” Box

NOTES: Now as we get closer to the season, we see quite a few changes. First, the warm-up has more specific movements included to help build contraction volume and to elevate the heart rate. Next, we see a change in the percentage prescription for each 10-minute piece of work: 80% during the off-season and now up to 85%. While it is nearly impossible to make a 5% change in effort, objectively, subjectively the athlete knows that a small uptick in output must be brought to the table for these pieces of work. That awareness to a small change in pace is built from years of practice, repetitions, and learning one’s own paces with different modalities. Don’t assume by changing the percentage the athlete will automatically know how to go a bit faster without reaching threshold.

The next piece we notice is the decrease in rest between pieces of work: 5 minutes in the off-season to 4 minutes in the pre-season. The last couple of changes are the pieces within each 10-minute block. We see less total movements per piece of work: 3 total compared to 5+. We also see more contraction volume with higher skill movements. These changes are slowly starting to mimic what we see during the actual competition.

Part 3 (In-Season; December-January)

A. 10 minutes @ 50%/warm-up:
12 calorie Assault Bike
8 wall balls @ 20lbs to 10’
4 hang power cleans @ 135lbs
2 ring muscle-ups
+
5 min rest/prep

B. 10 minutes @ 85-90%/ high aerobic power:
3 bar muscle-ups
3 squat clean @ 185lbs
3 bar facing burpees
—2:30 min rest

5 min Assault Bike @ 60 RPM
—2:30 min rest

C. 10 minutes @ 85-90%/ High Aerobic Power:
9 kipping handstand push-ups (no deficit)
6 power cleans @ 115lbs
3 thrusters @ 115lbs
36 double unders
—2:30 min rest

5 min rowing @ 1,000 cal/hr
—2:30 min rest

D. 10 minutes @ 85-90%/ High Aerobic Power:
15 wall balls @ 20lbs to 10ft
12 toes to bar
9 box jump step down @ 24”
—2:30 min rest

5 min Assault Bike @ 60 Revolutions Per Minute

NOTES: Now we see quite a few differences in this design compared to the previous two. First, the warm-up has higher skilled movements,fewer total movements, and less volume of reps. This allows for greater turnover. We see active rest added in between each piece of work. After finishing the 10-minute piece, the athlete has two and a half minutes to rest before she/he has to get on a cyclical machine and “actively” recover. This helps further promote recovery, keeps the athlete moving, and challenges the system a bit more due to continued activity after a tough piece of work. The next piece we notice is the total number of reps within each piece of work. There is a substantial decrease in total reps, forcing the athlete to turnover faster, increasing contraction volume, and increasing their ability to push towards their highest level of sustainable aerobic power — for that given piece of work. The last piece we notice is the change in elements within each piece of work. They are becoming more characteristic of what shows up in the Crossfit Open. The ability to cycle through these pieces of work with those movements is built months and years prior to form great progression and strength development.

If you’re curious to learn more about programming strategies for mixed modality and functional fitness athletes, be sure to check out our free download; Programming for Strength Speed.

FREE Download – Programming for Strength Speed

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