||12-25-2009 09:22 AM
Rowing and Running
Water running has a lot of research behind it. The transfer to running has been shown in a number of studies. But...it should be expected because you are training many of the same muscles.
I guess I was pointing out what I see as a weakness or a flaw in the crossfit concept as it is pushed by many of crossfit followers (I don't know if Glassman feels this way), that training a particular skill or activity will make you better at other skills or activities. THere may be some small crossover (not for skill though), but if you want to get better at running, run, for rowing, row. It seems that the whole crossfit concept centers around the idea that a varied and random workout program can transfer to almost any sport, which is not exactly true. Most adaptations that affect performance are inside of the muscles. The central adaptations are less important when it comes to performance. For example, only a small percentage of the most fit athletes actually desaturate (less than 98-100% oxygen saturation on hemaglobin) at max exercise levels. Even these athletes are rarely doing any event at this intensity level, even in a shorter event like a 5K. As a result, we are almost never limited by central adaptations, which argues for a focus on training specificity if you want to perform.
The same is true when you think about training intensity. There is a reason that endurance athletes do a fair amount of volume. They are recruiting the lower threshold motor units and training them for A LONG TIME, which drives deep metabolic adaptations in these muscles. TABATA intervals do little for these low threshold motor units. It is not enough of a stimulus (in terms of time) to produce much of a change in these motor units. TABATA drives changes (sometimes big changes) in the higher threshold motor units that are not used very often, which is good. However, the high threshold motor units may contribute little to actual performance when it comes to something like a 5K or 10K, especially a marathon. Just because you improve VO2 max, does not mean you are faster at your given race distance. BOTH time and modal domain specificity are important and many seem to ignore that, primarily due to lack of knowledge about where and why the adaptations are occuring.
If you understand all of this, you realize, for example, that crossfit endurance is not the IDEAL way to train for your ideal marathon performance. If you don't, it looks really attractive, but would lead to suboptimal performance.