This week, we explore the fuelling demands to sustain power output and maximise performance in Crossfit athletes.
Due to the nature of this sport, a large stress is placed on carbohydrate (CHO) availability to support work capacity in both isolated and successive WOD’s.
Therefore, the Fuelling = Recovery = Fuelling paradigm is highly relevant here.
At present, there’s a scarcity of research providing fuelling recommendations, and therefore, many Crossfit athletes are potentially leaving untapped performance gains on the table.
Escobar et al (2016) addressed this issue by recruiting 18 Crossfit athletes who typically maintain moderate-low CHO diets (<6g/kg/day) to complete a 9-day testing protocol.
On days 1, 5 and 9, they completed a 12-min Crossfit workout ‘Rahoi’ and measured total repetitions completed.
On day 6, workout ‘120107’ was performed, with workout ‘Sean’ being completed on day 7.
Rest days were allocated to days 2, 3, 4 and 8.
On days 1-5, all athletes maintained their CHO intake of <6g/kg (av. = 3.1g/kg).
On days 6-8, 50% of athletes followed a high CHO diet >6g/kg/day (av. = 6.3g/kg), where the remaining 50% maintained their normal intake.
Therefore, the testing protocol was aimed to identify to what extent increasing CHO intake of diet has on performance during maximal effort workouts when completed in close proximity (days 6-9).
Results showed that both groups improved performance in ‘Rahoi’ on day 9 compared to day 1. However, the high CHO group significantly increased the number of repetitions performed.
Mod CHO: Day 1 = 132, Day 9 =137 reps (+5 reps)
High CHO = Day 1 = 139, Day 9 = 154 reps (+15 reps)
It’s worth noting that a learning element to these workouts could have naturally improve performance between day 1 and 9, but the addition of CHO further improved results as they had adequate CHO to sustain power output and maintain work capacity.
The researchers chose ‘Rahoi’ due to its lower skill component, however I would speculate that higher CHO intakes would further benefit workouts that are more cognitively challenging…and therefore improved overall performance.
Ultimately, Crossfit is a very glycogen demanding sport, therefore, ensure you fuel for the work required to meeting the bodies demands.
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