How to Prescribe Incremental Mixed Modal Work

How to Prescribe Incremental Mixed Modal Work

Aerobic training is a popular subject in the fitness and athletic development industry. If you are a coach you are most likely familiar with the basics of aerobic training, but may have trouble with the application of this knowledge in fitness program design. 

When you are progressing a client through stages of aerobic training they need to learn to find a rhythm that will allow them to perform movements for extended periods of time. One tool you can use to help teach pacing of aerobic training is incremental sets.

Mixed Modal Aerobic Training

This blog will focus specifically on Mixed Modal aerobic training. This is a form of aerobic conditioning used for preparing individuals in the sport of functional fitness, as well as with some general population clients who are interested in exploring different styles of aerobic training.

Mixed Modal training blends the three modalities–cyclical, weight lifting, and gymnastics–into aerobic work.

1) Cyclical 

Movement Examples: Rower, Air Bike, Ski-Erg, Runner 

2) Weight Lifting

Movement Examples: Power Clean, Push Press, Wall Ball, Dumbbell Power Snatch

3) Gymnastics

Movement Examples: Pull-Up, Box Jump, Handstand Walk, Burpee, Air Squat 

What is Incremental Mixed Modal Work 

Incremental work is when effort and intent are progressed with each round of a training piece. To implement incremental training, explain to your client that they must complete each round of their workout at a faster pace.

With incremental training, it is important to focus on proper execution. If the training is not progressed properly, the effect and learnings of the training will be missed and will result in your client developing improper pacing abilities.

How A Client Benefits from Incremental Mixed Modal Work

This form of training adds multiple limitations that must be adapted to. Moving from slower aerobic work to faster aerobic work across rounds within an aerobic piece challenges respiration and movement coordination, and causes an overall rise in muscular and systemic fatigue. 

The development of the aerobic system will always be a foundational aspect of any program design. As a coach you want your client to connect and understand how to stay aerobic in their training. The client can accomplish this through incremental work. The changes in intent and speed create feedback that the client can feel and observe. Practicing incremental work provides a focal point as they perform movement, which in return will create more awareness. 

Execution of Incremental Mixed Modal Work

Below is an example of an Incremental session, as well as good and bad executions.


5 Rounds 

10 Push Press @65% of rep maximum 

5 Cal Air Bike 

10 Kettlebell Swing


Perform each round at a faster pace

Track time to complete each round

To measure if a client is completing the work at a faster pace use intraset repeatability, that is, measure how long it takes to complete a set and ensure that the time frames are decreasing for the entire duration of the workout.

Good Execution:

Round 1: 1 minute and 20 seconds

Round 2: 1 minute and 15 seconds

Round 3: 1 minute and 10 seconds 

Round 4: 1 minute and 2 seconds 

In this example, a client shows great ability within each round. The pace was executed at increasing effort each round. 

Poor Execution: 

Round 1: 59 seconds

Round 2: 1 minute and 12 seconds 

Round 3: 1 minute and 20 seconds 

Round 4: 1 minute and 30 seconds 

In this example, a client started at too fast a pace to increase their effort across the 5 rounds. By performing the piece at an unsustainable pace that is not repeatable, a client will experience negative adaptations of fuel utilization, as the mechanisms needed to sustain power output are not being properly trained.

There is a lot of chaos in mixed modal fitness. The end goal is to give your clients the tools to figure out how to properly express this style of training. One way you can do this is through incremental work. Utilizing this method is a great way to create positive adaptations and set your clients up for success.

Would your clients benefit from Mixed Modal metabolic conditioning? Learn how to determine what kind of workouts your clients actually need and become the coach that designs safe and effective workouts with our free Professional Coaching Blueprint.


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