In this post I will run over a few ways to really up the productivity of your cross training. The main reason you would cross train would be if you found a weakness you wanted to build on, such as aerobic power (think Vo2max), anaerobic power and/or reducing body weight. Cross training allows you to add extra stimulus to improve an aspect of your conditioning and increase energy expenditure. Generally, training at or around your Vo2max is the best way to improve it. The minimum speed that elicits Vo2max, is generally known as vVo2max. A true vVo2max is done with a metabolic cart, whilst a field test version will give you what is known as maximum aerobic speed (MAS). These are sometimes used interchangeably; the difference is how they are measured. MAS should be pretty close to vVo2max, but might not be 100%. At the end of the day MAS and vVo2max are the speeds that you can base your cross training off, although there are a few simple ways to get around this.
MAS has been applied to kettlebells, Kennth’s Jay Viking warrior test generates a MAS for the kettlebell snatch. This is a great test for using kettlebells as a form of cross training, but for GS it might only be useful for GPP. This method of training may not be the best for GS because of damage to skin, multiple hand changes and lack of fixations due to the high pace (unless you are at a very high level).
In another post I talk more about different types or modes of training, here I will briefly cover them. Each mode has its own pros and cons. Interestingly, pros and cons can depend of dosage of both the volume of your GS/resistance training and the cross training. For myself I find I can tolerate very little running when I’m doing GS six or more sessions a week, however if I’m doing three sessions a week I can run. Another, example might be rowing and grip.
Running is the closest to GS and it involves a stretch shorting cycle much like GS. This makes running great if you can tolerate it. Running regularly may reduce how much GS you can tolerate, so at the end of the day you want the two to complement each other, not compete. Thus, you may need to reduce running load if that is the case. Cycling:
Cycling is less specific than running, generally this in turn allows you to tolerate greater volumes of it. However, the transference might not be as great as GS.
Rowing can be great cross training, however you need to be conscious of the extra load on you back and grip. Unlike the other two modes mentioned, rowing involves a significant amount of upper body and is more specific than cycling. Rowing may be a better option than cycling if you can tolerate it.
There are a few ways to program, one involves a MAS score. A simple way to get a rough MAS score is to time a 2 km run. There are better ways to measure this for running/team based sports such as 30-15 and yo yo’s (these are better than a 2 km time trial because they factor in anaerobic speed reserve, however for continuous sports such as GS it is not of huge importance). Once you perform your time trial you divide 2000 (metres) by the time in seconds, this will give you your MAS score. Another, way to do it that works well for rowing and cycling is 6 minute time trials.
Common MAS intervals –
15s:15s x 14 rest 3 minutes x 2-4
Active Recovery 100%MAS:70%MAS
With active recovery you can measure out a rectangle with the short ends being the active recovery (70%MAS) and the long ends being the work intervals (100%MAS).
Passive Recovery 130%MAS:0%MAS
This requires you to measure out a straight line that is the required distance and rest at the end.
A simple way to apply 3-4 runs/distances
If you’re not near an athletics track and are not keen on the MAS approach, then the approach outlined below can require a bit of tinkering, however once you make it work for you, it can be very powerful. This is the easiest method of cross training and works well if you are not in a running based sport. Basically, you find a number of runs commonly 3 or 4 that you perform regularly and you time them. A good way to break the runs down is to choose a short run that you do multiple repeats of, a medium run that you do a couple of repeats of, and a large long run.
Repeated short runs: to make the most of things you should try all out or 90% efforts lasting 30-60s. For all out efforts a walk back recovery works well or 1:3-7 work to rest ratio can work well. For 90% efforts a 1:1 work to rest ratio works well. Start off by what you feel is an 80-90% effort, time it and work up to a 10-15 repeats with the same amount of rest before increasing the speed.
Repeated medium runs: find a run that takes you 3-5 minutes, a 1:1 work to rest ratio works well. You should time this run, following this you should perform 4-8 repeats starting at 80% of your PB and increase the percentage every time you can perform 8 repeats. This will help you auto regulate your training volumes. After some time you will need to retest this run.
Single long runs: A single long run can be a nice addition to GS training and many high level lifters use them regularly. You can try to reduce your time, increase distance on a few different runs, or stay in a heart rate range.