may 22

First of all let me start with saying that human beings are designed to be enduring.  The more enduring we are, the more resilient we can be in life period.  The aerobic system is one of our genetic predispositions as humans and must not be forgotten in exercise prescription in fear of “losing strength”.   The single greatest contribution a competitive fitness athlete can add to their program is CORRECTLY prescribed Aerobic Endurance Training.

Most people believe that aerobic training is just simply running, rowing or cycling for 30-45 minutes.  In reality there are several levels of aerobic training and each “feel” different to the athlete and must be prescribed correctly for proper development.  In CCP we discuss many levels of aerobic training for development in performance.  Most recently we added MAP 10 to our list as our definition of Zone 1 training.  The reason we use the language MAP over Zones is to separate the connection of Heart Rate training to aerobic training.  Training programs for CrossFit have too many variables that can skew an athlete’s HR zone from session to session; CNS demand the day before, sleep, nutrition, etc.  Therefore, understanding needs to be directed towards “individual effort” and rate of perceived exertion.  The HR isn’t always a predictor of intensity or effort.  The coach is responsible in educating the athlete on the characteristics of aerobic training so the athlete themselves can identify the correct effort.

Characteristics of Aerobic Endurance Training.

At OPEX we characterize aerobic training as a sustainable, repeatable and paced efforts.  This development can only be achieved at an intensity, which the complete oxygen-transporting system (aerobic system) is activated to the maximum, while lactate accumulation in the muscles is not yet reached. Training the aerobic system and its many levels, depends on the athlete’s current fitness level and function of the athlete.

Just like we wouldn’t take a novice lifter and make them squat #400 pounds on their first day of training, the same should apply with energy system training.  Aerobic metabolism plays a vital role in human performance and is the foundation of energy system development.

What Are the Benefits of Properly Prescribed Aerobic Training

#1- Enhances transportation of oxygen to working muscles
#2- Increased enzyme availability for muscle endurance
#3- Provides ATP required to resynthesize PCR during times of low activity between high efforts.
#4- Liberate Free Fatty Acids for fuel (regulates body fat distribution)
#5- Speeds recovery between high intensity training sessions
#6- Improves cardiovascular health and function

How to determine if an athlete is ready to increase intensity?

Aerobic adaptations can be achieved within a 6-12 month period depending on the starting point and function of the athlete.  Once adaptations have been developed aerobic performance can be further enhanced through exercise economy (technique) and higher efforts (increase lactate threshold).  Its important to understand that athletes need to earn the right to perform at higher efforts by proving their efficiency in longer pieces both mixed and cyclical.   In our OPEX assessment we use various endurance tests to identify competency in a broad stroke. For example; the 90min AMRAP; which is a mixed module endurance test, and the 60min Row test; which is singular and specific, gives us insight to an athlete’s current potential.  We review data to compare the “developmental groups” with our “top athletes” to determine if an athlete has sufficient aerobic development and possess the adaptations needed to move into more complex aerobic efforts.

Progressing an athlete in energy system prescription is done once the athletes have proven they can sustain a pace and repeat efforts over and over. Starting with long slow efforts and building shorter and faster efforts is a progression that is largely individualized based on the athlete’s function and economy.

Prescribing Aerobic Training

First knowing your athletes baseline in aerobic activity.   Functional work capacities in simple exercises like; Running, Rowing, Swimming, Airdyne, Push ups, Sit ups, Squats, Pulls etc.   What might be “easy” work for some athletes could be threshold training or CP battery training for others. KNOW YOUR ATHLETE.

Simple visual markers a coach or athlete can identify that tells them they are NO LONGER AEROBICALLY TRAINING …

  • Inability to pace,
  • Irregular breathing
  • Using chalk or hands on knees to “get air”—stopping.
  • Focus is narrow; you can tell in their eyes if they are really working


One Week Training  Prescription for a Competitive Female Athlete who Needs Aerobic Development

Considerations for this design:

    • Athlete’s lifestyle supports 10 sessions per week (6-7 of those are aerobic)
    • Most aerobic sessions are long slow pieces and cyclical; Map 7-10
  • Each day begins with priority of aerobic training
  • No limit to MAP 10 prescriptions, as long as the athlete’s lifestyle can support it.  Give as many hours possible of low intensity work for athletes who don’t possess developed aerobic mechanisms.



30min  Bike—easy effort- conversational pace MAP 10


  1. SA KB OHS – barefoot, turn and look at the kb like TGU, come on toes as needed    @32X1; 2-3/arm x 4 sets; rest as needed
  2. Segmented Snatch grip DL 3-3-3-3-3;rest 2min–release at top
  3. Muscle Snatch 4-4-4-4;rest 2min


EMOM 10min

odd– strict HSPU max in 30sec
even– DU 30sec amrap


10min ABike Zone 1



30min Row; every 500m get off and complete 60m of FW #heavy MAP 10


30min walk with weight vest MAP 10



30min @ sustainable pace MAP 8

1min Row

1min Skip rope

1min FLR

1min Run

1min Abike


  1. Push Press  +Push Jerk + Split Jerk; 5sets; rest 2min
  2. OHS @30×1; 5-5-5-5;rest 2min
  3. Snatch Push Press BTN 6-6-5-5;rest 2min
  4. SA Upright DB Row 8 reps x 3; rest 1min


EMOM 12min

Odd—wall ball shots x 10 #20-9ft
Even— FW amrap distance in 30sec  #heavy


10min easy spin Abike




Swim 30min- 25m every 90sec @ easy effort MAP 8




30min Airdyne; every 2min get off and complete 2 Wall walks MAP 10


  1.  3 Position Hang  power Clean( knee-thigh-hip); 5 sets 65%;res 90sec
  2. Hang Clean Pulls 4-4-3-3;rest 2min
  3. Front SQ@20×1;  4-3-2-2;rest 3min
  4. EMOM 1 rope climbs 18ft x 10min



60min Hike natural intervals (hill, slopes)


  1. EMOM CJ @ 60% 3 reps–12min
  2. EMOM HPS @60% 3 reps –12min


8min amrap
5 pull ups strict
5 Push ups
5 T2B

rest 3min

8min amrap
10 sit ups
10 back ext
20 DU 




– OPEX Remote Coach Robin Lyons