It’s no secret that there are many different styles of “working out.” Training to run a marathon and training for a heavier bench-press look completely different. Training for a marathon means training endurance, long distances, and breathwork. Training for heavier lifts requires time under tension, heavy weights, and grit during a short duration.
These two examples of training couldn’t appear any more different, yet in CrossFit we find both types of training to be beneficial. The CrossFit methodology utilizes both of these metabolic pathways of training: aerobic and anaerobic.
Aerobic exercises are when your body can utilize incoming oxygen for energy. Think running, biking, cycling snatches, burpees… really anything that gets your heartrate up, requires pacing, and forces you to have to catch your breath to keep going. Aerobic activities typically last longer than 90 seconds, and your body must focus on breathing (or collecting more oxygen for energy) to continue moving.
Now, anaerobic exercises are when your body exerts energy without intaking oxygen. Rather, the body takes energy from substrates to get the task done. Think about a heavy back squat; how many breaths did you take during the lift last time you tried for a new 1 rep max? Probably none: you probably tensed, held your breath, and focused your energy into every muscle possible. This is an example of energy exertion without oxygen, or an anaerobic exercise.
Arguably, aerobic exercises develop endurance while anaerobic exercises develop strength. But, in our opinion, you cannot reach true peak fitness without training both pathways. In other words, are you truly your fittest if you have strength without endurance? Or endurance without strength?
For this very reason is why our programming utilizes both metabolic pathways even in the same workout. We combine cardiovascular exercises, gymnastics, and weightlifting on a daily basis to encourage the growth of endurance, strength, speed, and power across the board.