Building an engine

Building an engine

Developing an engine

So many people talk about ‘engine work’ and how they need to increase their engine for workouts, due to some percieved failure in a workout at some point. This is a hugely simplified viewpoint and so much can go into someone struggling on a conditioning piece!

Lets keep it simple though and talk about how we may develop capactiy to attack say, a CrossFit Open workout. The problem being that in the sport of fitness we have to be ‘ready for anything’!

However if we look at most CrossFit Open workouts, athletes are required to have very good aerobic threshold capacity, along with high levels of muscular endurance and proficiency within some basic skills (cycling barbells, kipping gymnastics etc).

So the approach of just hitting tons of ‘met-cons’ as much as possible really isn’t going to cut the mustard anymore. We need to break this down a little further and appraoch each aspect of a workout from a stand alone viewpoint and slowly build them together.

This blending process happens over a long period of time…

Aerobic Capacity

Start with longer, cyclical pieces. Teach the athlete how to pace and breathe, using oxygen and some glycogen to fuel the body. These can slowly build in intensity and as the year progresses, be blended into more and more mixed work. Almost always (depending on the athlete), working from slower, longer pieces down to shorter, quicker pieces. Enduring to powerful essentially.

Muscular Endurance

This needs to be built with the use of cleverly designed resistance training initially, using tempo, reps and sets appropriate to the athletes make up. Over time, this is slowly blended into work that looks less and less like tradition resistance training, and more like the sport of fitness.


These can be worked on through the off season in small volumes. As competition comes closer, we build volume of these and again, slowly blend them into our workouts under fatigue.

It goes without saying, this is a VERY simplified version of the approach we may take, but it shows that it is much more complex than just simply doing more WOD’s…we slowly build everything together until we are doing training that is much more intense and looks a LOT more like the actual sport itself.

Make sure you are setting yourself up for success by training smart and not hitting the sport all the time…!


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