Is CrossFit Good for Triathletes?

Performance Plateaus

My biggest issue with CrossFit is their methodology. CrossFit has the athlete do varied exercises, mixing up the intensities and loads, with often the goal to see how many rounds you can complete in a set time. The problem with this method is at some point you will stop improving. You need to continue to apply stress to your body to get stronger. Random workouts will only take you so far before you start hitting the plateaus.

To improve your performance you need to get stronger and you need to set up a program that is followed and executed to build strength.

Think of it like this: If you want to run a faster 70.3 than you did the year before, your training needs to change in terms of volume and speed. You will set up a program that looks similar to the year before, but with some small changes. Your long runs and rides are going to be longer and your intervals are going to either be longer, faster, or both.

But what you are not going to do is randomly run fast one day and swim longer the next. Random training is not going to get you to run a faster 70.3. You want to follow a training plan that continually has you apply stress each week with your workouts and then allows your body time to recover and adapt.

More: 8 Unique Core Exercises for Triathletes

Lack of a Plan

These are some smaller issues I have and these should go without saying. Are you new to the sport, or a 10-year veteran? What is your triathlon goal? What are some of your weakness that can be addressed in the weight room? What injuries have you dealt with and how can you prevent them from happening again? How much time and energy do you have to put toward these goals when you are strength training?

Your approach to the gym needs to be the same as your approach to triathlon training. There needs to be a calculated plan and is personalized to address any and all of these issues.

I have a CrossFit level 1 certification which I got back in 2010. At the time I liked the idea of these workouts and thought it would be fun for clients to try. I even wrote about how CrossFit workouts can help runners.

But lately, the pendulum has swung in the other direction for me. As I have worked with my endurance clients, I have seen better and more consistent results with the progressive strength training model, rather than doing a lot of high intensity, high volume workouts in a circuit style.

There is a time and a place for everything. Trying to integrate CrossFit workouts into triathlon training is like fitting a square peg into a round hole.

Remember to ask yourself, is this workout moving you closer to your long-term race goal?

More: Mark Allen's 12 Best Strength Exercises

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