What's the limiting factor?

In training there is always a designed stimulus, that’s the difference between exercising and training.

With training, you have a clear goal, a program or training plan and in our case for clients at MVMT42, a coach.

When the body is being pushed, there will be a limiting factor on performance. Take the Assault Bike, a fixed gear piece of equipment. If I program a 5min test, one of two things are going to limit you (assuming you have the correct fuel for the test).

  • Muscle endurance in the legs

  • The Aerobic system

During this test, your body will be giving you feedback. The legs will start burning before the lungs, or vice versa. Some athletes find the cadence on the bike the issue, some athlete’s find driving the pedals the hardest part with lack of strength.

All athletes are different, all have different perceptions and experiences over the same workout. It’s important to speak with the coach in class about what the designed stimulus is meant to be so we can adjust the workout to match the abilities of the athlete. If the focus is ‘aerobic development’ then the limiting factor needs to be your aerobic system and nothing else. This is why aerobic tests are simple in design and low skill.

Triathlons are very low skill compared to snatching. Why? because the limiting factor needs to be the aerobic system!

Remember the body will always have a limiting factor in any test or training session. From one extreme to the other, a max back-squat should clearly be strength test and a marathon run should be an aerobic test. Ironically the concept of limiting factors isn’t understood and I’ve had many discussions with runners that tell me their muscles give out before their lungs.

The answer to this is to stop running and start strength training, as the limiting factor is muscle endurance.

So, I’ve posted a video below of Kat and I running a 5min AMRAP, double unders and a ladder of muscle ups (or strict pulls). Notice the limiting factors, for Kat its muscle endurance on the pull. For me it was my aerobic system as 100kg + is hard work to move for high volume skips.

Next time you are hitting a workout, think about what your limiting factor is and how you are going to manage that - if you are unsure, ask your coach.

Coach Nathan


Smart Performance