CrossFit (CF) has become incredibly popular over the past few years. It has gained attention worldwide among both the fitness-loving masses and performance-minded endurance athletes.
Many triathletes, however, are skeptical of the program given CrossFit's "hardcore" reputation, and have thus far chosen to pass on CrossFit in favor of more conservative strength training approaches. However, with more and more endurance athletes regularly using CrossFit these days, CrossFit's reputation is changing for the better.
In my previous article, I outlined five ways in which an intelligent CrossFit program can benefit triathletes. CrossFit teaches proper body mechanics; it identifies athletic weakness and imbalance and provides tools to address them; it builds greater strength, power, agility and speed; it develops and builds true functional strength; and finally it develops skills that transfer to specific endurance sports.
In other words, CrossFit can expose the causes of overuse injuries and minimize them. And it can help improve athletic performance overall.
This follow up article provides practical advice on how to effectively incorporate a CrossFit program into your regular swim, bike and run schedule. Follow these five steps to blend CrossFit into your routine for the chance to enjoy fewer injuries and greater racing success this season.
1) Do your research.
CrossFit gyms seem to be popping up on all street corners these days. Choose one that has a history, a good reputation in your community and a thorough basics or "on ramp" program.
Ideally you want a gym (or "box" in CF parlance) that has experienced coaches who work with endurance athletes or who are endurance athletes themselves. For example, San Francisco CrossFit has a well-trained and experienced endurance staff, and endurance athlete-specific CrossFit classes.
2) Be responsible for your own limiters and weakness.
Many athletes come to CrossFit with one pre-existing condition or another. Own your injury by letting your coach know before the workout. The instructor can keep an extra eye on you and offer specific suggestions to get you back to health more quickly and/or to prevent a frustrating re-injury. That's a win-win.
3) Prioritize mobility, lifting mechanics, strength, power and metabolic conditioning in that order.
The deeper you get into your own specific and demanding workouts (track, tempo, hills, long rides/runs) and the competitive season, the less you are able to handle everything that CrossFit can throw at you. That's ok. When push comes to shove, you should focus on the basics: mobility, good movement mechanics and strength.
If you are new and/or are fatigued from your endurance training, you can conservatively avoid the high intensity (and riskier) power and metabolic conditioning workouts.