Two-Brain Radio: Mastering Endurance Training With Chris Hinshaw

20191023-TBR-Hinshaw-Web

Sean: 00:05 – Hi everyone. Welcome to another edition of Two-Brain Radio with Sean Woodland. On this episode I speak with a man known in the CrossFit world as the endurance authority, Chris Hinshaw. First: Chris Cooper almost went bankrupt in 2008 but now he’s running a multimillion-dollar company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes he made. He has spent thousands of hours mentoring gym owners one on one and his new book is packed with advice to help you grow your business and create your Perfect Day. “Founder, Farmer, Tinker, Thief” is an Amazon bestseller. Book reviewers are calling it a must-read and a lighthouse for your business, so if you want to level up, this is the business book you need. Chris Hinshaw is a 10-time Ironman competitor and he finished second at the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships. He is the founder of aerobiccapacity.com and is widely considered to be one of the top endurance coaches in the world. Hinshaw has coached 30 CrossFit Games champions and 43 CrossFit Games podium finishers. He has been doing CrossFit himself for more than 10 years. We talk about what motivated him to get into the world of endurance sports, why he got into coaching and what it’s like to work with the top CrossFit athletes on the planet. Thanks for listening everyone. Chris, thanks so much for doing this today. I really appreciate it. How are ya?

Chris: 01:31 – Well actually, I’m back settled in Cookeville, Tennessee, after a few weeks of travel. But no, I’m fired up to be able to talk to you. Are you kidding? I’m actually nervous.

Sean: 01:41 – Oh no. Come on now. Let’s, start with an easy one. You are known as sort of, you know, you’re the endurance guru of CrossFit. So first off, how would you define endurance?

Chris: 01:53 – So that’s interesting. So I get that question a lot and part of it is that people interpret a lacking for doing long time domains fast, where they need to work on their speed, and they’re confusing endurance with speed. And what we really need to be doing is, like you just said, defining what endurance is first. And endurance is looking at a movement, and every movement is unique. So you have to grab a movement, and we can grab like let’s say a Concept 2 rower, and then the intensity within that movement is also unique. So to define endurance, it’s looking at a movement, rowing, and then defining the intensity. Let’s say we pick a speed of eight minutes per 2k pace, about two minutes per 500. If we got a huge group of people, and what we did is we said we’re going to row and we’re going to row at two minutes per 500 pace.

Chris: 02:49 – The person with the best endurance in the movement of rowing at two minutes per 500 meter pace is the one that rows the longest amount of time. So that’s the true definition of it is that you have to look at the movement and that particular intensity. So you could take Usain Bolt as an example. He arguably has the best endurance in the movement of running at a ten second per hundred meter speed. That doesn’t mean that he’s going to be the best marathon runner. But for that he’s got the best endurance, that ability to sustain 10 seconds per a hundred meters pace the longest.

Sean: 03:28 – OK. Let’s go back a little bit with you and how you got involved in this world. What was it that drew you to events and sports like triathlon?

Chris: 03:39 – So, you know, it’s interesting that we’re always shaped by what we, you know, what we go through as kids and it sticks with us. I was very late in developing very. I was skinny kid. Wasn’t good in sport, wasn’t very coordinated. And I saw the Ironman on TV and, you know, so the thing is that day I was watching the Ironman on TV with my dad, and my dad wasn’t at times the nicest. He was very direct in his expectations. And I was 17 at the time and just, you know, like most 17-year-old boys, just drifting along and trying to figure things out. And I was really inspired and watching these athletes do the Ironman in Hawaii. I was really just blown away by it. And what triggered me was, is that what if I was able to do that event and finish? Then no one could ever take that away. No one could ever say to me that I wasn’t athletic and that’s what was welling up inside of me and it just came out of my mouth.

Chris: 04:49 – I’m just like, so I’d like to do that. And this was in, in 1981, before I had graduated from high school. And my dad, just to confirm, we’re watching the same program, knowing me, well, you know, he’s like, “So Chris, that’s a 2.4-mile ocean swim. It’s 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.” And the thing about it is that we’re doing it in Hawaii and that run will start in the heat of the day. Well, I had never run before ever. Ever. And so I’m like, I’m looking at him and imagine the power that he had, my dad had in that moment over me. If he was condescending, if he was negative, if he was sarcastic, I would’ve just cowered away and never brought it up again. And he didn’t. He didn’t do that. He looked at me and he’s like, all right, let’s make it happen.

Chris: 05:43 – Let’s do it. And you know, I was saying earlier with you, we’re shaped by these experiences. And what my dad taught me in that moment, right there was like, you go take the risk and if you fail, I got you. But he’s going to make sure that I don’t fail. And that’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for some reassurance to take some risk. And I was already terrified enough and my dad put on top of it an expectation it would have been too much for me. All I wanted to do was finish. And what was interesting was, is that I had been born with some genetic gifts, anomalies that really allowed me to move at very high rates of speed for long amounts of time. I’ve got an abnormally large lung capacity. My slow-twitch to fast-twitch muscle fibers, I have 88% slow-twitch muscle fiber.

Chris: 06:41 – My capacity in my lungs is 50% larger than average. So I have a VO2 max, which is volume maximum oxygen of 89 to 90 milliliters per kilogram per minute in the movement of running. Very big numbers. And what’s interesting was is if I never had that conversation with my dad, we never would have seen that because I never had that development out of high school. And so a lot of that I’m just incredibly grateful for. I’m also aware now and in programming for, you know, kids that maybe they’re not coordinated because they haven’t reached maturity. And so patience is important, right? And working on things other than highlighting the biggest and the baddest and the strongest. Work on skills.

Sean: 07:35 – What does it take then to be not only someone who can complete that challenge but also be successful at it like you were?

Chris: 07:48 – So the thing about it is, is that it’s like anything, you have to, if you’re going to be successful at something, it has to convert from a hobby to a lifestyle. You can’t just dabble in doing an Ironman. It has to be part of your life. As a matter of fact, I look and reflect back on those days and I don’t know how I even tackled it. I really don’t. To me it seems insane. But the thing about it is is if you gradually put your toe in the water, eventually you get accustomed to that temperature and it doesn’t seem that bad. And so when you slightly vary from that starting point, your body adapts. And my body happened to adapt until the last few years I was involved where I thought I could do an Ironman seven days in a row and not have any difficulty in it, which, that seems to be, like reflecting on that, I must have been brain damaged because that is that is like an abnormal thought.

Sean: 08:52 – So physically you’re ready for it. But mentally, how do you get prepared for something like that?

Chris: 08:57 – So that’s the thing is that you have to spend time. So if we look at like the CrossFit space, one of the arguments that I have with athletes is that they don’t do enough volume to allow negative thought to propagate. It’s the negative thought that creates the biggest damage in long-distance events. Because what happens is, is that if you don’t have the experience, you’re not even aware that a negative thought is developing. And what happens is as soon as you go down that path where you accept that very minor negative thought, now there’s no backing up. You’re only now going to operate within that negative space. And what will happen is eventually something catastrophic will happen that your behavior of quitting is justified. And so what you have to do is put yourself in situations where negative thought is managed.

Chris: 09:54 – And that’s the thing that I really developed a solid skill on is that when I look down—so I never liked wearing socks when I ran. I liked the way my foot would glue to the shoe. I loved it. Well, that’s not always the best thing to do in Hawaii with temperatures and a marathon run and I would lose all my toenails. All my toenails would fall off and so I would feel toenails in my shoe as I’m running on the back end of that run and now you could sit there and go, boy, that’s a bad situation and you’d see blood in the shoe. Right? To me it was like, how rad am I that I ran so hard that I popped my toenails off and I thought it was like it was a positive. That’s where people really need to focus is that it’s that mental aspect, but it’s the ability of controlling negative thought, and you need time. You need time on your feet. You need time in the saddle, you need time in the water to allow that to happen. You need to put yourself into situations where you’ve got to battle the demons in your head because that’s where most people fail. It’s not their fitness.

Sean: 11:06 – What motivated you to then make the move from athlete to coach?

Chris: 11:15 – You know, it’s interesting. So I always coached back then. So one of the things that when I was going through college, so I have a degree. I’m a math guy. And so I have a undergrad, uh, from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in business administration and finance. And I loved being able to negotiate deals with sponsors, writing contracts. I made a lot of mistakes, but I learned my way. During that time I was in my relationships with these sponsors, I was required to give speeches, lectures, motivational talks, a Apple computer was a sponsor of mine way back when. And I would go onto their campus. I was, you know, in my early twenties, and I would get in front of groups of people and talk about health and fitness and if you’re doing lectures and creating content that way, it’s really easy to segue into coaching with the exception of writing workouts.

Chris: 12:19 – A lot of coaches struggle with the writing of workouts. They’re a great coach, but to write the content around the workouts. Luckily, um, as an athlete, I wrote the majority of my workouts that I did for, you know, the eight years that I did triathlons. And so I have a good understanding of the relationships between volume, intensity and recovery. And I’m able to really personalize those based upon the individual. And that’s what I really realized is that, you know, as an athlete I brought a skillset, it allowed me an opportunity to do these lectures, which gave me an opportunity to really learn the craft of speaking in front of the group. And then obviously those two pieces make it easy to be a coach. So I’ve always been involved in coaching, whether it’s swimming, biking, running programs, but I wasn’t really given the first opportunity to coach a CrossFit athlete until Jason Khalipa rolled along in 2012.

Sean: 13:20 – So let’s get into that for a second. What did you know about CrossFit before you actually got involved coaching Jason?

Chris: 13:25 – So I’ve been at Santa Cruz central, so I was given an opportunity in 2000, early 2008, from Annie Sakamoto to come down to her gym, Santa Cruz Central, and check it out. So, I was at Central from 2008 til 2011. And the thing was, is that when I went down, that gym is an hour from where I lived. And I thought that there was only one gym. I had no idea that, you know, there was all these affiliates. And I drove that hour and back three times a week for over three years. And it rehabilitated my health restored, you know, my abilities as an athlete. And I finally decided, you know, now that I realized there’s more than one, let’s find a gym closer to home.

Chris: 14:21 – And went online and I found a gym that the only thing they did was barbell work and lifting. There was no cardio and I was doing two running workouts a week on my own at that point. And so, it turned out to be Jason Khalipa’s gym. And I met Jason about a year after joining that gym. NorCal.

Sean: 14:40 – What was it about CrossFit that hooked you?

Chris: 14:43 – So for me, I love that thrill of competing. I like being on the clock, I like that anxiety, that rush. The thing I really miss about doing the Ironman and especially Hawaii, is imagine you’re sitting there and I was a good swimmer. And you have 1800 people in the water and you’re about to do something for about nine hours of time and at threshold intensity, a heart rate of 180 beats a minute for nine hours.

Chris: 15:19 – And imagine you’re sitting there in the water and they’re counting down the seconds, that adrenaline rush, that anxiety, that fear, that nervous tension. I love that. I love that. And I miss it. And when I was starting in CrossFit and I kinda got my health back, I was able to get that sensation again. And that became the rush for me is that every day I would feel this adrenaline surge that made me want to come back day in and day out.

Sean: 15:51 – What did you think of Jason Khalipa as an athlete when you first started working with him?

Chris: 15:56 – So for me, I have always respected athletes as a source of knowledge. I pick up information from reading scientific literature, listening to other coaches, and then obviously testing different things on athletes. But with Jason, I really, as a champion of the CrossFit Games in 2008, it was an opportunity for me to learn, like, what can I learn to, to not only, you know, become a better coach, but also to become a better athlete because let’s face it, as a champion, I’m going to pick up some pieces from him.

Chris: 16:38 – The thing was, is that he was interested in me helping with his endurance, longer time domains, and I was really surprised at the lack of information that he had regarding that space.

Sean: 16:53 – What were the first things that you had to address with him?

Chris: 16:59 – Well, I mean the thing was, is that just like any athlete, as a coach, what you must do is you’ve got to do some form of an assessment with them. You have to ask them, you know, how they’ve been training, and to better understand what their potential requirements are for workouts. The thing is, is that we, as humans, we have an entire structure that must be looked at. Me as an athlete, one of the mistakes I made is that I’m 88% slow twitch and I could never understand why it was that I didn’t have a finishing kit.

Chris: 17:41 – Why did I have to make moves at 5,000 meters out in order to beat a person that was running side by side with me in a triathlon, it didn’t make any sense. Why can’t I wait till a hundred meters and make the move? And I never worked on my ability to explode to sprint, to recruit fast-twitch fibers. And because I never trained them, they weren’t available to me. And so part of it is, is when you do an assessment on an athlete, you have to ask questions to find out what are they leaving behind, you know, where’s that highest and best use to start their programming. And that’s a very tricky direction because if you don’t make drastic change in a short amount of time with any athlete, they’re going to move on. You know, it’s funny, Camille told me when I met, so Camille, you know, winner of the Games in 2014.

Chris: 18:35 – You know her well. I met her in June of 2013 and that’s when I started working with her. And that day we were just doing a workout and it was Jason, Camille, and Camille’s, husband, Dave Lipson, and after the workout. And it was just a workout. Never thought anything of it. And after the workout, Camille says to me, she says, so, you be my coach and we go to the Game and we win. And then you still be my coach. If I don’t get more better than I never call you again. And I’m like, wow. And I was just like, I was so stunned. Like I couldn’t even say anything. It caught me by surprise and like, wow, it was so—and then I’m driving home and I’m like, but that’s the way it should be.

Chris: 19:30 – It should be that, you know what, my job is to provide value. And if I’m not providing that value, then why are you here? And it was a really important lesson for me because what I realized is, is that athletes come and they’ll say, I’ll dedicate two workouts a week. Well, if I make mistakes, I can’t make it up with more volume. Like my coaches back in my day because I was doing so much volume, I mean, I was swimming 25,000 meters a week. I was riding 300 to 400 a week and running 50 a week, every week, plus mostly racing on the weekend. So if they made a mistake, we just covered up with volume. I can’t make mistakes like that. And so you know, with athletes such as, you know, Jason Khalipa what I really needed to do was find the highest and best use of his time that maximized adaptation.

Chris: 20:23 – And what I realized was is that this guy is training as if he is doing one-minute time domains and shorter. He was truly and exclusively focused on speed, strength, power, and force. He never ever worked on longer time domains and that was a massive percentage of his available capacity that just sat there passive. So as an example, I’m 88% slow twitch. You take a guy like Usain Bolt, he’s 80 to 90% fast twitch. The average athlete is 50/50. Well imagine if all you’re doing is running at maximum velocities. Well, you’ve only developed 50% you’ve just left 50% on the table, idle, passive. And if you don’t work something, it’s not available to you. So I figured you know what? Give him what I know.

Sean: 21:15 – We’ll be back with more from Chris Hinshaw after this.

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Sean: 22:09 – What is the first thing that you try and teach CrossFit athletes when you start working with them?

Chris: 22:17 – So I teach them—so when we’re talking about athletes, I teach them about the ownership and the responsibilities that they have with the workout. So, in my opinion, the coach’s job is to find that highest and best use of their time and to explain the purpose of the workout so that the athlete knows what the targeted adaptation or the targeted stimulus that we’re trying to achieve by doing this workout. Most of the athletes that I work with are remote. And so what I need them to do is understand the purpose of this workout so that they know when they’re out there performing it, that they’re actually performing the desired way that I wrote the workout. And if they don’t know that, then they may actually be driving the adaptation in the wrong way. So a good example of that would be, let’s just say that you go to the track and you’re working on speed and what you’re doing is 200-meter high-intensity efforts.

Chris: 23:25 – And let’s just say there’s 30—what I want you to do is I want you to do them at a very high-intensity effort. And what I tell you is I want you to target 30 seconds. I give you six of them and I want you to do a 400 walk between each of them. So let’s just say that you decide the 400 walk is too much. You only want to do a 200 walk. You got to get it over with faster. So what happens is, is your first one, you do it in 30 seconds, perfect. Walk a 200 you don’t get enough rest and because your body hasn’t recovered, the next one takes you 32 seconds. Then the third one takes you 34 seconds, then you’re at 35 seconds. By the time you’re all done, you’re at 36 seconds. Now, your pain in every one of those is the same.

Chris: 24:09 – You hurt equally as bad in one through six but what did your muscles learn to do? They hurt real bad and they went from fast to slow. Essentially, you trained your muscles to hurt and to go slow. You lost the stimulus of the workout. Maybe you took the full 400 meters of walk, maybe because of some other thing that you did during the day or the day before, maybe you have a lot of stress. Maybe you didn’t sleep well. Maybe you’re sick. Maybe you had a hard workout. You lost the stimulus of the workout. If you lose the stimulus of the workout, then I need you to know you got to stop the workout because I don’t want to put you in a situation where I train you, if it’s a speed-based workout to hurt bad and go slow. So this is where an athlete has to take responsibility.

Chris: 24:58 – I have two main jobs as a coach: Write the workout, maximize value in that most efficient, effective way and explain the purpose of the focus of the workout, the targeted adaptation, that stimulus. The athlete then must own that workout. They must own it. And if you think about this in a class environment, imagine you’re doing a class. Let’s say there’s 20 people in the class. I have no idea if someone’s working hard, someone’s working easy, someone backed off a little. I have no idea. I have to make sure the athlete takes that ownership so that they can evaluate their performance afterwards. If I get an athlete to take ownership of the workout, then I’ve got them right. If they don’t take any ownership in it, then you know what, my chances of retention on them is minimal. And that’s the problem, is that if I can’t keep you, then my ability as a coach is not there.

Sean: 25:54 – You work with, you know, the elite of the sport of CrossFit as well as really talented athletes in the sport. What separates the elite from the really, really, really good?

Chris: 26:07 – Wow. That’s a good question. So, I’ll tell you a story about that. So, cause I do look at that and if a coach says that they don’t compare athletes, if you have multiple athletes, that’s a lie. I absolutely compare, and I don’t share it with anybody, but I compare. What is their behaviors? Why is why is Fraser so successful? Why is that? You know, and part of it, what I’ve realized is, is their willingness to take risk that others just don’t. So a lot of athletes, let’s say that you’re a top-10 athlete at the CrossFit Games and you know, you’re eighth, you’re10th, you’re fifth, if you continue to train like you did the previous year, how are you expecting to get any better other than hoping that the workouts drop in your favor?

Chris: 27:11 – You have to do something that’s extraordinary and it has to be something unusual. You have to be willing to take risks. And so, you know, when I met Fraser, I’ve never—so for me as a coach, I have never backed away from an athlete that that would potentially put my coaching methodology at risk. I feel like if my coaching methodology works, it should work universally across the entire spectrum of athletic ability. And I like testing myself. Like, you know, last year I worked with for the entire year with Kristin Holte, a huge risk, and I’ve worked with the year before, Kara Webb, never worked with her before. When I started with Fraser, he was a risk because he came from a weightlifting background and we’ve always heard about, you know, if you start up an endurance program, you start doing longer time domains, your strength’s gonna plummet.

Chris: 28:14 – And I’m sitting there, it’s like, wow, to take a high-profile athlete in December of 2014 like Fraser, this could be the end, but why not take a flyer on a guy like that? Because what if it’s not? What if actually, you know, I’m able to make him stronger. The issue with strength is this theory of this interference effect where if you do too much of one thing, it will interfere with the other. Meaning if you do too much of running, ultimately it’s gonna interfere with a variety of other things. The thing is, is that nobody has been able to define how much is too much to create this interference effect. And that’s where I’ve spent my time is, is to create complementary volume versus interfering volume. And we’ve all seen that in CrossFit where I haven’t bench pressed in a month and all of a sudden I bench and it’s like a PR.

Chris: 29:11 – Well because in CrossFit we do so many similar types of movements that we get this carry-over effect into other movements. So I thought maybe there was a chance with Fraser that I can make them stronger, but there’s also very high probability that I’ll ruin him. And so I asked him when I started with him, I said, you know, are you concerned that what I’m going to do is, you know, I’ll make you better in running, but then it’s going to dramatically impact your strength and in turn dramatically impact your performance in CrossFit-style workouts? And he looked at me, and this is what makes a champion, he told me, he says, Chris, you know what? I never want to finish second again, ever. And I know if I don’t fix this, if I don’t improve my endurance, then I will never win.

Chris: 30:09 – And so I am willing to get dropped out of the top 10 in order to win. I have to do this because it’s my weakness that’s preventing me from being a champion. That’s really incredible that that’s what he was willing to do. That’s a partner. Right? All right. I could work with that. I could work with it. That he’s aware of the risks that are associated with it. And you know what, he was a very interesting test subject because Mat Fraser is stronger now and he’s capable of running a 5:05 mile.

Sean: 30:45 – That’s incredible.

Chris: 30:47 – Yeah. And that’s the thing is that you have to have athletes that are willing to do it. You know, like Froning, same thing. Froning I was very concerned. It wasn’t that I couldn’t, I mean when I started with Froning was after he walked in that triple three in 2014, and he was very easy to make a faster runner.

Chris: 31:09 – But what if I ruined him as a CrossFitter? Right? You take a four-times champion and you ruin him. That wouldn’t be the game plan. Right. That would be the end. And I asked him, I said, are you concerned about this, are you concerned? And he says, I’m never going to walk like that ever again, ever. And so I am willing to lose some fitness in a variety of areas in order to never do that in public again. And I like that. That’s where athletes at that highest level are recognizing the risks associated with it, but they’re also recognizing the potential reward. Now there’s a huge category of athletes that are just behind them that you know what, they’re happy with just finishing third, fourth, fifth, sixth. And that’s the difference. That’s the difference.

Sean: 32:02 – How does coaching a CrossFit athlete in endurance, and you talked about this a little bit, but how does that differ from, say you get a triathlete and you’re trying to make that person better?

Chris: 32:12 – So say that again.

Sean: 32:13 – How does coaching a CrossFit athlete in endurance, how is that different from coaching a triathlete or a cross-country runner?

Chris: 32:20 – So what I really love about CrossFit athletes is no matter what you give them, they just look at you and they’re like, OK, OK. And you never ever—so if I got back like into the business world and you know, was managing people, if I ever came across an application and someone said they did CrossFit, that person would move to the top of the list because there is a soldier that will go and just do what it takes, and pain, suffering. It doesn’t matter. You know, you give a CrossFit athlete, oh we’re going to do a mile for time. They just do it. It’s not even an argument. You give that to a triathlete. You give like, oh, we’re going to swim like a swimmer. We’re going to do a 1500 for time. We’re going to do this for time. It’s like wait, what? There’s all this hmming and hewwing.

Chris: 33:12 – CrossFit athletes are conditioned to throttle, and their ability to accept pain is unlike any other athlete that I’ve ever come across. You know, I always tell people, it’s like they ask like how painful is like Ironman? Like how bad is it? And I’m all, you know what, it’s just a long, dull ache for a long amount of time. It’s really not searing and scorching pain. You’re never feeling like you’re on fire. Well, in CrossFit we feel like we’re on fire and breathing through our ears every workout. And that’s the thing as coaches, you know, if you have a population of people that is timid around doing high-intensity training, then your effectiveness is diminished. And it’s nice to have a CrossFit athlete that accepts the most painful end of the spectrum because now I can apply the full arsenal of training methodologies to create that greatness.

Chris: 34:13 – And we are—CrossFit athletes are unlike anything that has ever been created, right? It’s a space that that includes people that love health and fitness but they were removed from sport years prior because they weren’t on the extremes in terms of genetics, right? They weren’t a speed/strength/power athlete, you know, on the weightlifting or the speed spectrum. And then they weren’t an endurance athlete. You know, like on Olympic marathon or triathlon spectrum, they were in the middle. And what we’re finding is is that this population loves sport, but their also their ability to tolerate long time domains on the endurance spectrum but also the high intensity requirements on the speed/strength/power side of the spectrum, they’re able to be much more effective and prolific as athletes, and as a coach, I got to say, like I find this population of people to be the most healthy that I’ve come across ever.

Sean: 35:16 – When athletes try to improve their endurance on their own without a coach, what are the biggest mistakes that they tend to make?

Chris: 35:22 – So the biggest mistake people make is they don’t realize endurance isn’t just, oh, I’m going to put in more time. We’re not going to, you know, just put in that time, like people say, oh, active recovery day. I’m going to do an hour-long row. I’m just going to get on a rower and row for an hour. Oh, active recovery. I’m just going to go to the pool and swim 3000 meters. The thing about it is, is that they can call it active recovery. That’s not really the definition of active recovery. Those are workouts. They’re doing long, slow, distance workouts and they’re working aerobically. The mistake that they’re making is that they’re not realizing that every intensity within that movement is unique, and CrossFit, because we don’t control the time domains of our workouts,

Chris: 36:13 – then what we must do is we must prepare the body for a wide range of time domains. So the reason why the time domain is important is because we look at time domains as intensity. Meaning if you had a workout with a one minute total time domain versus a five-minute time domain, and you do both of those at max effort, the intensity at one minute would be much higher than five minutes. Likewise, if you had a 20-minute workout, that intensity would be way less than a one-minute workout. Every intensity is unique, and it’s because the way your body recruits muscle fibers, the way it sequences muscle fibers, and the way it fatigues those muscle fibers is unique to that intensity. So what you have to do is you have to practice a variety of intensities in order to cover the broad spectrum of time domains that we see in workouts.

Chris: 37:12 – So from an elite level, the athletes that I coach, they work on 13 different intensities, everything from ten-second sprints all the way up to walking. And what we want to do is prepare their structure, their muscles, for these movements and they would be able to perform those movements at any time domain, anything from a maximal-effort sprint to a walk. And when we look at this, let’s just say you get a workout that there is a run, but people treat the run as a recovery. All right. How fast can you jog and recover? That’s what I would want to know. How fast? So an elite CrossFitter, they can jog at a sub eight-minute mile and recover. You can give them anything and they can recover in an eight-minute mile pace. How’s your speed compared to them? Is that your limiting factor?

Chris: 38:11 – Maybe you should work on your jog recovery speed. And what time domain does that correspond to? That’s what I’m talking about, and that’s what they leave behind. You have to practice a variety of intensities. If you don’t, you’re not prepared. Same thing. Khalipa, what did he do? He just worked on short time domains. What was he good at? Short time domains. Remember, you put a stimulus on the body, you give it good nutrition, good recovery. There’s an adaptation. If you train for speed, strength and power, you know what you get, you get a speed, strength, power athlete.

Sean: 38:42 – It wasn’t that long ago when having a coach in CrossFit really meant you just had someone who wrote your programming. Where do you see the world coaching these elite athletes going now in the next few years?

Chris: 38:56 – You know, with all these Sanctionals and stuff, it really gets difficult. I see two categories of athletes that are surfacing, one that will go to a bunch of Sanctionals and capture a bunch of prize money and they will do it like I did back in my triathlon days, where I was able to race every weekend and make money that way and win. But eventually as the sport became more mature, what you had to do is target specific events and you had to create your season around those specific events in order to perform well. Now, there are today athletes that are targeting specific events and peaking for those events. Those are either champion-type athletes, ones that are targeting the CrossFit Games, or they’re athletes that are on the bubble of not making it to the CrossFit Games, and so what they’re going to do is target a Sanctional event and peak for that. I think down the road, what’s gonna happen is everybody’s ultimately going to end up having to peak for certain events. They’re gonna pick three events in the year and they’re going to have to target those. The amount of damage that is being done by them doing multiple events in the year in this space, it’s too detrimental to their overall health. And what they’re going to realize is that, you know what? You can do three competitions a year, and that’s what the body can manage. It’s the same thing if you look at the elite community doing marathons, they’re not doing five to six marathons in a year. You know what they’re doing is they’re gonna do two to three at most, because you know what, CrossFit’s not that much different. CrossFit, if you look at it and you add up the total amount of time that they’re having to work, it’s comparable.

Chris: 40:56 – Yeah. So that’s where I see it going. As a coach, I would prefer having athletes that have targeted events. It makes it much, much easier. The randomization of doing events, it makes it impossible. What you have then is a generic athlete that’s always gonna do mediocre. The sport right now is evolving at an incredible rate. Incredible. The elite and the amount of knowledge, the thirst that these elite competitors have is the highest I’ve ever seen. They want to understand how to become better. They want the particular details. One of the hot topics this year, which was hotter than it’s ever been, is tapering. You know, how do you effectively taper for the CrossFit Games? How do you do it? And in years past athletes just, you know, what they did is they just took a few days off and there was no structure to it.

Chris: 41:57 – You know, people are asking about, you know, carb loading, they’re asking about how often I should take carbs. You know, what’s the timing of the carbs, what’s the ratio of the carbs? How much should I take beforehand? How much after. They’re getting much more dialed in in terms of these competitions because the skillset is also more dialed in with the competitors.

Sean: 42:24 – Final question and then I’ll let you go. But what has been the best part about this whole CrossFit journey for you?

Chris: 42:32 – So for me, it’s my overall health. I am incredibly grateful that CrossFit, you know, created this methodology that allowed me to restore my health, and I did a lot of volume back in my day and it really messed me up, and I was able to restore and, you know, revive my neglected muscle groups and being 56 years old to have my health is an incredible gift.

Chris: 43:05 – And that’s one of the reasons why I give so much back into the community. And I never charge, I’ve never charged a CrossFit Games athlete anything. Every travel that I do I pay for. There’s not one penny that I’ve ever received from any Games-level athlete and there’s been a lot of them. And the reason why I do that, one is that I experiment on them and then I share that information with the community. But also two, it’s like, cause I’m grateful. The fact is that CrossFit gave me my health and as you age, there’s three really important things, you know, it’s your health, it’s your family and your friends. And the fact is is that CrossFit gave me that health back. I love that I get to coach these athletes, you know, broad spectrum of them and work with a lot of kids and I love having my health so I can do these workouts with them.

Chris: 43:58 – You know, I was on the track, this was last summer, and I was doing a track workout with Fraser. And in the middle of the workout, he’s like, he looks over at me and he’s like, can I ask you a question and just be really direct? And of course that’s not gonna stop him anyway. And he’s like, what on earth are you running this workout for? He says, if I was your age, I’d be on a boat. He says, I’d have a full beard. And you know what? I probably haven’t showered in a few days. I mean, and then my night would consist of sitting on the porch and just checking things out. And I would never do a track workout. Why are you doing this? And it’s like, you know what? Because I can, and I love that. And that’s a treat. It’s a treat to be able to do it. And I’m grateful for that. I really, really am. And I would never pass up on it. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a Fraser or the kids in Hawaii, you know what? I want to do the workout with you. And I’m grateful for that. Incredibly.

Sean: 45:00 – Chris, I’m grateful for you taking the time to do this. Thank you so much. Fantastic conversation. I really learned a lot. Best of luck to you and hope to see you soon, man.

Chris: 45:08 – Thanks Sean. No, I really appreciate it and again, best of luck to you, I’m a huge fan of yours, as you know. Thanks again.

Sean: 45:11 – Thank you.

Sean: 45:15 – I want to thank Chris Hinshaw once again for taking the time out of his schedule to talk with me. Just a great conversation. If you want to find out more about his program, you can head to aerobic capacity.com and you can also follow him on Instagram at @Hinshaw363. If you’re enjoying this show, I’d really encourage you to subscribe to Two-Brain Radio, because every week we bring you the best from the fitness and the business worlds. On Mondays, Mateo Lopez fires up the marketing machine and explains how real entrepreneurs are generating huge ROI on ads. Then on Wednesdays, I bring you the stories from the most interesting people in the fitness world. And on Thursdays, Greg Strauch and Chris Cooper bring you the best of business, a host of experts who could help you level up as an entrepreneur. So if you haven’t, please subscribe to Two-Brain Radio so you don’t miss a show. And of course, we would love to hear what you think in a review. Thanks for listening everybody. We will see you next time.

Thanks for listening!

On Monday, Two-Brain Radio presents marketing tips and success stories. Chris Cooper delivers the best of the business world on Two-Brain Radio every Thursday. 

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