Phosphagen: The most commonly ignored metabolic pathway by “Regular” fitness programs

Intensity or Bust

Intensity or Bust

To full understand the importance of strength and the CrossFit To+al, it’s also important to know what is meant by “metabolic conditioning” (metcon) and the metabolic pathways. Knowing a little about this helps to realize why intensity is so important and why CrossFit is so effective.

Why is CrossFit more effective than other fitness/strength & conditioning programs? Metcon. When most people train, they focus on either aerobic (low intensity running/biking/swimming for hours upon boring hours) or anerobic (high intensity lifting, sprinting). If both types of exercise are done, they are usually split in a training session. The benefit of CrossFit workouts is that by doing varied types of exercise, every physical gain you make helps to build upon another and vice versa (as many of you have experienced).

What’s this about metabolic pathways?

When you train aerobically with lower intensity, longer duration workouts, your body uses what is called the oxidative pathway for energy. Training anerobically forces your body to use either the glycolytic (moderate-to-high intensity) or phosphagen system (highest intensity). Metcon workouts like the WOD’s in CrossFit challenge your body to use all three pathways with constant variation, while almost every other fitness program you will find will almost completely ignore the phosphagen system. This level of intensity is quite literally the key to unlocking superior fitness and greater results. Recent studies have shown that higher intensity workouts are better for fat burning, muscle/strength retention, and can even build aerobic capacity more effectively than distance training! (

Workouts like Fran and the CrossFit To+al spotlight on the phosphagen system, but the only real benefit from them comes from focused intensity. Focusing on keeping your intensity high will set you apart!

Today’s WOD:

Sept 4

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