The Coaches Roundtable with James Taylor of OPEX (formerly OPT)

In this installment of “The Coaches Roundtable” James Taylor from OPEX (formerly OPT) sat down with us to answer a few questions fielded from our readers. Before we get started, here is a short bio for those of you may not be familiar with Coach James….

James Taylor is a strength and conditioning coach at OPEX in Scottsdale, Arizona where he specializes in program design for individuals competing in fitness and works as an assistant to James “OPT” Fitzgerald.  He has a renewed focus on competing, learning through experience, and enjoying every day of life in sunny AZ.

High Performance Athlete:
What are your “go to “ tests when assessing a regional caliber crossfit athlete’s work capacity? Do you use these tests every time or do you have a selection of similar tests that capture the same data set? Lastly, what are your standards for these tests and where do you like your athletes to sit relative to the time of year?

James Taylor:
Regional level athletes are competing in multi-day competitions, in which they will need to have a strong aerobic system to recover well between tough events.  One pure capacity test that comes to mind for work capacity at the aerobic end of the energy system spectrum that gained even more direct relevance to the sport this year is 60 minute row for max meters.  This test is good because it has a high validity and repeatability with relatively little skill requirement.  For more data points, it can be bodyweight adjusted by C2’s formula to create both a raw and adjusted score. We’ve made some indirect comparisons as well from the row test to an athlete’s lean mass and lung volume as rough insights into how well oxygen intake is converted to energy in the muscle.  This test can also give you a great idea of an athlete’s understanding of pacing and even serve as insight into one’s will in some cases. Generally the higher the bodyweight adjusted score, the better, at any time of year, especially if the athlete has a high ratio of lean mass to lung volume.

High Performance Athlete:
How would you incorporate CP based work in the programming of a long distance runner/ endurance athlete?

James Taylor:
Strength movements in the training of a long distance runner would almost exclusively be for the purposes of metabolic function and relative strength balance.  The importance of these factors can change depending on their level of dedication to the sport in the sense that running long distance is the best activity for improving at their sport.  For instance, someone who enjoys long distance running may still be interested in gaining upper body  lean mass for better strength balance and health, whereas the Olympic 10k runner may not be.

High Performance Athlete:  
What are your thoughts on periodization for athletes competing in the sport of fitness; and how do you approach periodization with your athletes?

James Taylor:
Periodization for the sport of fitness can follow a traditional strength and conditioning timeline with strength work preceding speed work, long aerobic work preceding shorter and faster aerobic work, and strength and aerobic work preceding lactate work. The training time far from the goal competition should be spent building the base that’s necessary for the competition specific work that will occur leading up to the competition.  The timeline for strength vs speed work will be blurred in general and shifted toward a given side for a longer duration than the other depending on the individual athlete.  The sport of fitness requires a high aerobic capacity, which takes a long time to build and be learned, so that should always be prioritized immediately for individuals for whom it is a priority.  Lactate work should be included strategically due to its effects on the nervous system, dependency on the other energy systems, and relatively short time required to create high capacity.

If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy our….
Interview with Crossfit Games Competitor, and Phoenix Rise Athlete, Marcus Filly 

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