Behind the Scenes: Rest periods in programming

Behind the Scenes: Rest periods in programming

Behind the Scenes:  Rest periods in programming

By Ashley Fallin

If you have been paying attention to the recent shift in programming, you may be asking, “Why the rest?” There are actually some specific reasons for the rest periods that we’ll get into in this topline overview.  Matt Grimm will also be releasing a more in depth, scientific blog regarding this style of programming.  

Within the programming, we are borrowing some elements from OPEX.   OPEX, was designed by James Fitzgerald who was the first CrossFit Games champion. He saw a need for progressions in both strength and energy systems. He wanted a little more structure than the constant varied variables and brought those science and design principles to CrossFit workouts.

The first and immediate answer to the question “Why all the rest?” is because we want to make sure that the power output is high. We’re working on the work to rest ratio in both anaerobic and aerobic systems. Matt  said,  “If we want to train being powerful, we need to those rest intervals”. With the higher power output, we’re creating oxygen debt. Were burning more sugars than our aerobic systems can put up with. So, long after we leave, we’re still working off that oxygen debt.

Why this programming? Because it’s structured and gives progressions to the energy systems.  They are guidelines for  how to make sure we’re working in our different energy systems.

The energy systems that are used in OPEX are:

Phosphocreatine– (High power/short duration) Provides immediate energy through breakdown of those high energy phosphates. This is where you’ll get your “gains” with short, fast, and intense workouts. Example: Assault bike 12 second as hard as you can then a 2:48 min recovery.

Glycolytic-(Moderate power/Moderate duration)is the predominant energy system used for all-out exercise lasting from 30 seconds to about 2 minutes. You should be able to sustain pace  throughout that time frame.

Aerobic– (Low power/long duration) the oxidative system provides energy much more slowly than the other two systems, but has an almost unlimited supply.  Example: 6 mile run

There are specific categories of workouts that utilize these energy systems and they are defined as:

  • MAP (Maximum aerobic power)-The workouts are designed so that you should not have any excuse to stop moving. No bottlenecks, complex movements, or anything else that would decrease power output. An example of this kind would be something like this: AMRAP in 7 min of + rest 3 min +AMRAP in 7 min.  For MAP workouts, you should be exerting yourself at roughly 80-90% effort and NOT redlining.
  • ALP (alactic power)– Anaerobic training without blood lactate aka lactic acid coming into play during session. Example: work for 40-60 sec, rest 5-7 times the work, for 3-6 sets.  For ALP workouts, you should be running at about 95-97% effort and almost at full capacity.
  • ALE  (alactic endurance)–  is mainly used to increase maximal strength, speed, and/or power.  Example: work 8-20 seconds, rest 90-120 sec, 8-12 sets. For ALE workouts, you should be running at about 95-97% effort and almost at full capacity.

The mentality that Matt is approaching with the programming is to build the athlete up. He likes to “ keep conditioning as conditioning with simple movements” which means there  should be a very minimal excuses as to why you’re not moving.

“This programming will teach you to be a smarter athlete, where to push and where to rest, and you’ll see your numbers go up.” The intent is to build up athletes where they will see improvements, some soreness, but without having them feel like they are beat up.

So if you see the acronyms listed above in the programming, you now know what the goal of the workout is and how hard to push.  We hope that this improves the understanding behind the “why” of our programming and methodologies and will help you become a better athlete!