01 Sept 2016 – "Jerry" & the Importance of Monostructural Training

The Importance of Monostructural Training

How many of you see a running workout programmed on the blog and then promptly cancel out?

Do you see a rowing workout and then suddenly “fall ill”?

Well, if you are missing these sessions, you are missing one of the most important aspects of your training!

You know that feeling you get when you’re in the middle of a workout like you’re about to pass out? What about when it feels like you’re sucking on fumes and you cannot catch your breath? Or what about that feeling you start a workout way too fast and then crash and burn in spectacular fashion halfway through?


That's actually called breathing, it's called pacing and its called your aerobic capacity. Did you know that one of the best ways to train these elements is with monostructural work?

We have talked about the aerobic system before, but to re-cap, its pretty damn important. The aerobic system forms the foundation for the anaerobic and the ATP systems. If you want to be good at higher intensities, you first have to have a strong aerobic base.

The better developed our aerobic system, the longer we can keep fatigue at bay during exercises of higher intensities and the quicker we can recover during periods of rest.

Apart from helping you survive in CrossFit workouts, giving you the ability to perform at higher intensities and helping you recover faster, did you know that a strong aerobic system can actually make you stronger?! Yup, you can increase your lifting with aerobic training.

Do we have your attention now?….

One way we can effectively develop the aerobic system, and also teach you how to pace yourself and also to breathe effectively is via monostructural work.

Last week we programmed the following workout…

B1) 400m time trial

- Rest 7-10 minutes -

B2) Every 2 minutes, for 20 minutes:

Run 400m @ 80-85% of your pace from A1

*Your aim is to be consistent

In this session, this is what we trained (and what you missed if you were one of the many people that cancelled out when the workout was posted!):

1. We tested a max effort 400m sprint, which gives us a great insight into your anaerobic power.

2. In B2, we trained your ability to recover between intense efforts (a great sign of a strong aerobic system is good recovery).

3. We trained your ability to effectively pace your repeat efforts – could you maintain the times?

4. …and you definitely worked on how to breathe during periods of work and periods of rest!

Can’t we practice this in other workouts?

Sure you can try, but when you're performing power cleans, wall balls and toes to bar, do you think you can also concentrate on your ability to pace the workout and control your breathing? Probably not! Technique, strength and ability in performing these movements is going to be a huge limiter before your pacing comes into play. In contrast, running and rowing are relatively low skill (in comparison) which allows you to concentrate on these other importance aspects.

Can’t I do my monostructural work outside of CrossFit sessions?

Of course you can! But will you? Will you seek out a structured running/rowing/cycling/swimming programme and go out and do it on your own at six in the morning, seven at night, or first thing on a Saturday? And when you're running/rowing/cycling/swimming, will you be pacing yourself appropriately, pushing yourself to maintain the desired intensity and recovering when you need to recover? And, most importantly, will it be as much fun doing it on your own as it would be with your fellow Crazy Ones? Pretty sure the answer to all these questions is a resounding "No."

In summary, don't be a Cherry Picker. Every workout we program – whether it's a Hero WOD, a gymnastics EMOM, a chipper, a benchmark Lady, or rowing intervals – has a purpose and ultimately brings you one step closer to the Goal (with a capital "G") of being a more awesome human being. And who doesn't want that?!


A) "Jerry"

For time:
Run 1 mile
Row 2000 m
Run 1 mile

B) Bonus Gainz

5 rounds, not for time:
5 Strict pull-ups
5 Strict ring dips
- Add load as required
- Rest as needed between movements/rounds