Fitness but better… Conditioning.

Fitness but better… Conditioning.

Conditioning: to bring (something) into the desired state for use.


At CrossFit Basingstoke we thoroughly agree with the above statement. It is what forms the philosophy behind our coaching and training.

This post will aim to look a little closer at that statement,and breakdown what we mean by conditioning.

If we look at the components of fitness: Cardiovascular endurance, Muscular strength, Muscular endurance, Flexibility and Body composition, Conditioning can be seen to encompass 3 of the 5 components. Cardiovascular endurance, Muscular strength and Body composition. So what are they and why are the beneficial to CrossFit, and everyday life?

Cardiovascular Endurance

The ability of the heart, lungs and blood vessels to deliver oxygen to working muscles and tissues, as well as the ability of those muscles and tissues to utilize that oxygen.

Cardiovascular endurance (CV) increases due to sustained periods of time (10 mins plus) spent at 60-80% of an individual’s maximum heart rate. Increased intensities do not necessarily target improvements of CV endurance as exercise harder to sustain at such intensities for prolonged periods of time (however other components do benefit from higher intensities). Similarly for lower intensity workouts (sub 60% max heart rate) as the CV systems is not adequately taxed to trigger adaptations. 

Adaptations that will occur from regular training of the CV system are:• Increased heart size, resulting in improvements in strength and pumping capacity. The heart is a muscle so like any other muscle of the body regular training results in increased size and strength of that muscle.• Decrease in resting heart rate• Lowered blood pressure• Better Blood Flow & Distribution: Muscles and tissue require less blood because of improved delivery, extraction and utilization of oxygen. Less blood is needed by the muscles because their ability to deliver, extract, and use oxygen increases.

How will this improve my CrossFit

Increases in CV endurance will help with efficiency of the obvious like extended running, rowing, biking or skiing workouts. But, also help improve performance on those longer workouts like Murph, Filthy Fifty or The Don.

How does this benefit my life?

Multiple studies have shown that moderate to high levels of cardiovascular endurance are related to a decrease in coronary heart disease, strokes, cancer and suicide.

Muscular Endurance

The ability for the muscle/s to repeatedly contract to exert force. Performing multiple repetitions of an exercise is an example of muscular endurance. This is therefore clearly important for CrossFit due to the repetition of exercise/s in metcon style WODs.

I’m sure if you’re reading this you have probably done some sort of high intensity exercise, where you have completed many repetitions of the same exercise. If you have, I am then sure you have experienced some muscles failure when you attempt to complete one more rep of that exercise that felt so easy at the start of the WOD but you just can’t complete anymore. This is an example of a failure of muscle endurance which I’m sure we’re all very well familiar with. 

So what exactly is happening there? 

At this point our body is failing to produce enough energy to allow for another contraction of the muscle in question. This happens as the energy system responsible for higher intensity exercise (anaerobic exercise) takes longer to produce and process the energy. This is why if you take even a short period of time to rest and come back to try to repeat the exercise again you may now find it possible to do so. However although this energy system does take longer to replenish the muscles with ‘fuel’, it does allow for the muscles to contract more forcefully. 

Another reason why muscle failure occurs is due to high levels of blood lactate in the muscle tissue inhibiting its ability to contract. That heavy, swollen feeling in our muscles immediately after high intense exercise is an example of this (if you think you’ve never experienced this, try a max effort sprint on an air bike next time you’re in the box, then you’ll know what I’m talking about). 

Regular high intensity WODs with multiple repetitions of the same exercise are a great way to improve muscular endurance. These will allow for the muscles to increase in its efficiency of clearing blood lactate and other chemicals from the muscle which contribute to making it harder to complete multiple repetitions of exercises. 

How will this improve my CrossFit

Improved muscular endurance will help to improve performance on short super high intensity WODs like Grace, Isabell and Fran.

How does this benefit my life?

Being able to continue to live an active lifestyle outside of the gym, cycling, hiking or swimming.

Body Composition

Described as the percentage of different tissues present in the body, including muscle tissue, essential fat, non-essential fat, bone and organs. 

Body composition can be very important when it comes to performing in CrossFit, or even everyday life. With bone tissue, essential fats and organs, minoradaptations can be seen as a response to training, for example an increase in bone density due to resistance training. However major changes can be seen in muscle mass and non-essential fat mass as a result of training.

By now most of us know that by regularly maintaining a calorific deficit is the key way to lose non-essential fat mass. And taking part in regular exercise, including some resistance training (lifting!!) will increase muscle mass. This is one of the simplest ways we can have a positive effect on overall body composition.  

How will this improve my CrossFit? 

Improving body composition by increasing muscle mass and decreasing non-essential fat mass can massively improve our performance in WODs. Even if overall body mass maintains the same the increased percentage of muscle mass in the body means moving from A to B becomes far more efficient. A good example of where body composition plays a big part is in strict gymnastic skills. The higher percentage of muscle mass, and lower percentage of non-essential fat mass, an individual has the more force they able to apply to pull there chin above the bar in a strict pull up.

How does this benefit my life?

Increased non-essential fat mass has been correlated with many diseases, therefore it is important to keep that low. 

Requiring less energy to carry out everyday tasks,due a decrease in overall body mass can leave you feeling far less fatigued when it comes to end of the day, allowing you to enjoy your free time more!