Tuesday, April 10, 2012

HIIT and MAF (and, not or)

High intensity interval training (HIIT) - it solves some many fitness needs.  Here is a great source of evidence.  These short bursting high intensity sets can train your body to be fitter than ever.  You'll reap all the rewards of being able to attack fitness pursuits outside of your former comfort zone, lose weight, shape your body, gain strength, sleep better, etc.  

But every once in awhile test that metabolic pathway that exists outside your routines - the aerobic threshold capacity.  Try running at your MAF threshold for a mile.  MAF = maximum aerobic function, it's a low heart rate that you don't want to exceed during this test.  The heart rate is roughly 180-(your age), add 3 beats per min if you work out frequently or subtract 3 bpm if you're more sedentary.  If your HR is at MAF or below, you are relying on your fat stores for energy production.  It's nice to occasionally train in this region because you are teaching your body to consume stored fat as your primary source of fuel.

MAF training runners can stay in this zone and slowly build speed at these low heart rates. This shows an improvement in aerobic capacity.  In my experience with ultras, i find that crossfit alone teaches me to be glycogen dominant and after 90mins, I NEED to constantly refuel my sugar stores to keep moving.  A blend of aerobic (oxidative) and glycolytic training will better prepare us for events that take 6+ hours to complete.  My goal is to develop a multi-modal anaerobic and aerobic conditioning approach.

As a bench mark, calculate your MAF HR, the nrun a mile with this as a maximum HR.  And record the time it took to complete.  Some of us will walk/run, some of us will crawl.  It's an indicator, not a race.  If it took you 10+minutes to complete, you should pay attention to lower HR training for a while.  There are athletes that can click off 6min/mile pace at their MAF HR - now these athletes are probably lacking in their ability to operate in their glycolytic metabolic pathway, it's a trade off and we're proposing a balance. 

If you feel your oxidative pathway needs more work, 'run' at this HR for 30-60mins a few times a week, or extend a long METCON and make intensity a second priority.  

some example WODs for MAF training (from here):

Mousetrap 2.0

30-60 minute max rounds:
1 Barbell complex of:
The weights on this workout are subjective due to your level of aerobic conditioning. I used 65 pounds on the barbell complex and a 60-pound sandbag – 40 minutes was more than enough for me!

Patient Zero

30-60 minute max rounds

Thai Hooker and a Bag of Dope (Not that I condone either)

30-60 minute max rounds:
 One walk = a power clean with an 80-pound sandbag, place it on a shoulder, and pick up a 55-pound dumbbell in the other hand. Now walk 45 feet and drop the sand bag and place the dumbbell on the deck. Repeat on opposite shoulder and hand.
Row 500m