Oh, so you do CrossFit? That’s some intense stuff bro!
If you’ve ever told someone that you CrossFit, you probably received this response. Our sport is known publicly as a loud, energy filled environment where barbells crash and workouts push the line of almost throwing up. As athletes we pride ourselves in being able to accomplish the tasks that are presented to us at the box, but we can sometimes get caught up in the hype of training. That’s right, the very training we do can often become hype if we treat it improperly. This of course happens when we begin to train too much and thereby fail to continually reap the benefits that training provides.
Upon our introduction to CrossFit, we began to learn the skills that we would need to flourish and begin participating in the daily classes. As time went on, we found that we were able to complete more training sessions in a week than previously. This was all thanks to the progress our fitness had made as a result of our practice. Slowly, we began to add more and more volume into our training. Whether it included more skill practice after each class, or adding more to your training week. Either way, we made the necessary changes to assure we did more. After a while we realized that our progress began to dwindle and slow down in comparison to how fast we were improving as beginners. Most would say that this was due to the fact that seasoned athletes progress more slowly then beginners. With the reason resting in that there is a vast capacity for improvement that each of us has when first starting out. This may be true, but one area of our training that is often neglected as we seek to progress isn’t even related to training. We need to practice the SKILL OF RECOVERY.
All aspects of exercise and training comes back to recovery. PERIOD! We become better at anything we do when we make a conscious effort to recover.
Within the pages of CrossFit’s Level 1 Course handbook, they discuss their theoretical programming and highlight that a 7 day week of optimal training consists of 3 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off. Ben Bengeron, owner of CrossFit New England programmer of comptrain.com and coach for the fittest man and women in the world, also advises athletes to train 3 days on, 1 day off, 2 days on, 1 day off. But he closes off the training week with only 2 days of training, and another rest day takes place on Sundays. These outlines point to a similar agenda that the best coaches in the methodology and sport strive for. And that is to recover well.
The simplest way to make sure you are getting enough rest each week is to plan the days that you are going to workout. This may seem like a no brainer, but its easier said then done. Many of us know all too well that without having some sort of idea for when you want to train, allows life to get in the way. This can throw a wrench into the system pretty quick. When this happens, workouts and recovery can take a hit. Always try your best at the beginning of each month or week to plot out no more then 5 days in a weekly period to train. If your schedule is too unpredictable to plan ahead then always make sure that you are spending two days to focus solely on recovery. You can use that time to recover in or outside the gym in the form of active recovery.
Active recovery is not defined by one main activity. You can make it anything you want. Whether it’s taking a brisk walk, going for a hike, playing your favorite sport, catching a yoga class, spa day or hitting the Concept2 for a long row. Just make sure that whatever activity you’re engaging in, you keep your intensity level low.
Another great way to maximize your recovery day would be to work on stretching and mobility. This is usually the best option for recovery if you’re feeling over-trained in any way. Best not to throw more debris on the wreckage by continuing to move.
On planned rest days, one thing to avoid doing, would be ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. This can lead to additional soreness by the time you get back to the gym. Not to mention your body probably won’t be as well primed for the next wave of training as it could be.
So, if you feel that your training in pounding you into the ground, take a step back. Trust me, you don’t get any better by training repetitively without the proper rest. All you have to gain is additional soreness, reduced energy levels, frustration, and potential injury. Because after all you’ve been doing SO MUCH why wouldn’t you get better, right? But chances are you would benefit more from just doing less. Let me remind you, exercise is the practice of breaking down the body. It can only get stronger if you build it back up. In short, make sure you are listening to your body.
Not a lecture, just my thoughts.
Written by Will Oliver