Elite CrossFit Coach Discusses Balancing Endurance With Strength

Elite CrossFit Coach Discusses Balancing Endurance With Strength

Athletes are commonly anxious that their strength or power outlet will decline as they improve aerobic endurance.

However, CrossFit coach Chris Hinshaw has seen no such negative correlation in the elite athletes he’s trained.

A former professional Ironman triathlete, Hinshaw has worked with some of the biggest names in CrossFit, including Rich Froning, Mat Fraser and Tia-Clair Toomey.

And the American insists that developing endurance does not adversely affect power. “In many cases the reverse is true as long as the endurance work is done in moderation,” he told BOXROX.

“Rich Froning went from a six-minute mile to a 5:41 mile over the first 12 weeks that we worked together. During that time his back squat went up. In his own words ‘all of my numbers continued to climb’.”

Games champion Mat Fraser had a similar experience after cooperating with Hinshaw, despite having already built phenomenal strength from his background as an Olympic weightlifter.

“He [Fraser] was the one that concerned me the most because here is a very experienced weightlifter, and what if my endurance training had a negative impact on his strength and it went down?

“I had this great moment. Mat Fraser was doing a workout of mine, it was 3 rounds of 3 x 600m for a total of 5400m. He was running a 6-minute mile pace. Three hours later he hit a 170kg (375 lb) PR in his Clean and Jerk. That to me was super exciting.”

The dilemma for CrossFit training is building fitness across several running distances. To do that, Hinshaw trains multiple energy systems with different intensities, from all-out sprints to easy jogging.

“I come from an endurance background,” he says. “I understand endurance science. I train my athletes very traditionally from what I’ve learned from my career of competing in long-distance triathlons.

“Crossfit is substantially different from that. We are not targeting one specific distance to be good at. We want to be good at a broad range of distances and so we must train and be prepared for exactly that.

“It’s always important to develop an arsenal of gears for your running.”