Coach's Blog

#5 Rest Days, Structure, and a little Sacrifice…

I want to be fitter, I need more!
How much training, is too much training?
I guess this is different for everyone. At CrossFit Teesside, when people first start, our recommendation is to aim for three sessions a week, preferably with a rest day in between.
For a beginner this is perfect, the volume of reps that they are being exposed to in their first few weeks of training won’t be too much for them, and they will be able to gradually get used to the intensity of the workouts.
Once things become a little more comfortable, and the body starts to adapt and fitness starts to build, if desired sessions can be increased to 4 or 5 per week.
Now, for the average CrossFit enthusiast, 5 WOD’s per week is quite a lot for the body to recover from, there has been a large amount of volume (reps) completed, not just for one particular muscle group, but for the whole body, and I would be confident in saying that for most of our members who attend our classes, the two rest days somewhere in between are definitely needed!
Fitness is building, things are going well, but other people in the Gym can do certain things I can’t, and I’d like to be like those beasts from Instagram and The Games, ASAP!!!!
Here’s where things begin to wrong…
The athlete who is completing five WOD’s a week decides that they would like to get stronger, so they start also, completing two strength sessions from one of the boards every week. Their Strict Gymnastics needs work, I know this because everyone’s does! This means that they need to add a session in for Strict Pull Ups each week, possibly another for Strict Handstand Push Ups. Sometimes, once finished with the Class WOD, if this athlete has some spare time, they will also knock out an Engine Board session or two as well. You know what…. I’ve got the afternoon off work, I might as well go in again and get some “Accessory” work in too!

Everyone thinks, about the extra Training they need or want to do to get better at something, but where is the extra Recovery to balance this out?
Most of the time it isn’t happening…. because the more you train, the more time is taken away from recovery…
This athlete, is on a road to Injury, or, they are limiting the progress they could be making, without even realising it. Simply, by not allowing the body the rest it NEEDS, in order to recover, your improvements could be actually slowing down, even though you want them to speed up!
So that’s why in this scenario, “More Isn’t Better”!
But…. if your smart about it, and, allow for proper rest and recovery, you can do more, and benefit from it, but more shouldn’t be Everything!
First Step…. Plan your Rest Days!
Might sound strange to some people this… but the first thing I think about when I sit down every Sunday to plan my week, is when my two Rest Days are going to be. That’s right… Two! I put in five hard days of training each week, some of these include two sessions a day, so I’m absolutely going to give my body two days to recover, and when I say rest, I mean it. I don’t mean, on these day’s I will only come in and do some Strength, or some “Accessories”…. that is not resting.
If you are intent on visiting The Box six days a week, make sure you have planned in your one Rest Day, and also, when your “Active Rest Day” is going to be. Once more, lifting heavy weights, swinging around on the rig, or simply going slower during a WOD is not Active Rest. Hitting an Engine Board session at a lower intensity on the other hand, would definitely work in nicely on an Active Rest Day, spend some time in the Mobility Corner rolling or stretching out, this is what we mean by Active Rest.
Maybe, you don’t need to get into the Box for the 6th day in a week, but you just need to get moving. Rather than doing nothing at all for two full days, get outdoors for some Active Rest, go walking, go for a light jog, get out on a bike, swim! Anything that’s not “For Time” or “AMRAP”, and involves being out in the fresh air will work well!
Your rest days are your body’s chance to heal and recover from being beaten down during the training you’ve been doing. If your not taking these, then how can you expect to see the results you would like? Beat it down, then let it Build back up!

Routine is the Enemy!
It is true that we change our workouts every day, so we do not get stuck in a routine. This Constant Variance ensures that the body is always adapting, we are training to be Generally Physically Prepared, ready for the Unknown & Unknowable!
However, in order to stop us from over training, doing too much of a certain thing on one day, or placing too much volume on the body, too soon, a little bit of “Structure” can go a long way.
If you would like to get Stronger, completing two Strength sessions a week should become a very important part of your weekly training.
Plan when you are going to do these sessions before anything else. After your Rest Days, make them the next thing you write in your book!
Now check the Website and see what coming up tomorrow. If you know that Monday’s Class WOD is going to be tough on the legs, don’t plan your Heavy Squats in for Tuesday, because you’ll feel terrible for them. Even worse is if you also intend on doing Wednesday’s Class WOD, that could potentially be another assault on the Legs, your training the same Muscle Groups three days in a row, you will need more than two Rest Days to get over this!
Instead, do your Heavy Squats on Monday, followed by Monday’s WOD. Keep all your Leg work on the same day. It is most likely that Tuesday’s WOD, will not focus on that same area of the body, so your good to go, and on Wednesday, if you have some spare time to complete your second Strength Session of the week ahead of schedule, your legs will be ready for action, so go for it!
It is true, that you won’t be at your absolute best for the Class WOD that follows, but havn’t you expressed your desire to get Stronger? I’d rather lose a few reps in the WOD than not be able to lift the desired weights in the lifting section after thrashing myself in an intense workout. If you decide to complete “Extra Training”, to focus in on a certain area of your Fitness, or to build towards a Goal you’ve set yourself, make it a priority and commit to it! Now, the Class WOD is your “Extra Training”!
This stuff is not rocket science, its just sensible training. Listen to your body, and learn how it feels at certain times of the week, after doing certain movements or workouts, then structure your training accordingly.
Remember, that if what’s on the Whiteboard, or the extra session you want to get in doesn’t suit how your body is feeling, but you’d just like to do more… there’s always the Engine Board! Hit this stuff as much as you like, its always Intense, but it doesn’t place as much stress on the body as anything else we do. A hard Engine Board session does only good things for your Fitness, and can be the perfect way to loosen off. This is the only “Extra Training” we offer in the box, that I wouldn’t limit the amount than someone does!
If time doesn’t allow for multiple sessions in a day, and adding another day of training in the week would eat into your Rest Days, then a little bit of Sacrifice, is a necessity.
If you need to Sacrifice one or two of your Daily WOD’s, to allow space to complete your Strength Training, then do it, the WOD’s will always be there for you once your Strength is where you want it!
However, the need for sacrificing WOD’s shouldn’t only be dependant upon the time you have, but what about how you body is handling things?
If your already feeling banged up by the end of the week from three or four Class WOD’s, is adding in two extra Heavy Strength sessions and a Gymnastics session next week really a good idea?
Some people’s bodies can handle the extra volume, but for others, there is a fine line. It doesn’t mean the Extra Training is off limits, for this athlete, it may just turn out that at least to start off with, a Strength session should not be completed as an “Extra”, it should be done “Instead of”.
For example, if you have decided to start following the Strength Board twice per week, it might be a good idea to begin with, to do these on their own days, with nothing else included.
Think of it as, not neglecting your WOD’s, but instead, prioritising this certain aspect of your Fitness you’ve decided to focus on. See how your body reacts to this new stimulus, before you make it an addition, to everything else you already doing.
After a few weeks, if the body feels fine, your recovering from it well, then, it might be ok to hit a Strength session, as well as the Class WOD in the same day. Just gradually build up the volume, don’t increase it all at once!
I think sometimes, we have to be honest about what our own bodies can handle. We would all love to be able to train like a Games athlete, and complete WOD after WOD without any problems. But if the goal is to actually get fitter, and little niggling injuries keep stopping us from doing the things we would like to, or, if progress seems to actually be slowing down, from adding more training to our schedule, then its pointless.
Quality, over Quantity, in the long run, is a recipe for success!