Contrary to popular belief, more is not better when it comes to training CrossFit. Unfortunately, this is something that can be very difficult to understand for many people who are eager to lift more, master all of the exercises, and Rx every WOD. That’s why if you absolutely MUST train everyday, here’s how you can do it.
Word to the wise, if you’re new to CrossFit or training in general, training is especially unrecommended. Not only can it lead to burnout and delay long-term success, it could make you more prone to injury if you don’t have a trainer or follow a well-thought out training plan. You’ve been advised…
Is it Safe to Train CrossFit Everyday?
Once you get into a rhythm, the days that you don’t train can feel like you have a monkey on your back. Even though you know that rest is necessary, you still feel unaccomplished if you haven’t sweat hard or lift something heavy. This feeling is common among many CrossFit athletes and it’s a double-edged sword. The same dedication to working out that changed so many lives for the better can also be associated with overtraining.
In order to train often but avoid injury and burnout, you need to be sure that your life outside the gym is world-class. You should get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night, eat whole foods most of the time, and stay hydrated throughout the day. If you want to train as often as possible, you need to be a well-oiled, and well-hydrated machine. Otherwise you significantly increase your risk of getting hurt which, ironically results in missing out on a lot more training than the one session you would’ve missed originally.
Even if you decide that rest days aren’t essential (although this article will prove you wrong), skipping them is not a good habit to adopt. More often than not, a good night’s sleep will do a lot more for your fitness level than any 6AM class ever will.
Will Training Everyday Make Me Better?
A common misconception is that the key to success in CrossFit is training non-stop. We’re all guilty of having thought at least once “If only I had the time to train two, three, or four times per day, I’d be just as good as the athletes that stand on the CrossFit Games podium.”
Unfortunately, that’s very far from the truth. Aside from the genetic gifts that the top athletes possess, they have worked up to being able to deal with the high volume-demands of competition. In other words, they have practiced moving heavy weights, and performing at high intensity for so long that their bodies’ have adapted. This is an endeavor that takes years of sacrifice, professional coaching and is not appropriate for everyone.
Moreover, If you're new to CrossFit keep in mind that less is more; the newer you are to a type of exercise, the less you need to do to improve. That means you should do the minimum amount of work needed to improve for as long as possible if you want to continue to see progress. It also means that if you do too much too soon, your improvements will not come as often unless you make some extreme changes to your training and nutrition.
You can train everyday, just probably not at high intensity. Let me explain:
In order to become more fit (i.e. have your body adapt to lift heavier, moving with more speed and agility, and producing power), you must accumulate volume. This can be done by consistently training with quality and intention however your body needs time in between these bouts of effort.
Meanwhile, training aerobic capacity, flexibility, and balance for example are aspects of fitness that don't necessarily add too much extra volume to your heavy training, but still contribute to becoming more fit.
You can maximize your pursuit of fitness by including low-intensity days to your week of training.
- Rest days – days outside of the gym
- Recovery days – light physical activity that can be done in or outside of the gym
- Deload periods – often a week of “light” sessions following a period of intense training like after The Open or following a competition.
Learn how to take a deload week, so that you can come back even stronger.
How to Train Everyday
So how can you make the most of your low-intensity days? Here are some alternatives to jumping in on a class, or getting an extra heavy training session in (Note that you can do many of these activities at home!):
Mobility work – Regularly doing soft tissue work and stretching to improve your positions and range of motion is one of the most effective ways of leveling up your training. We recommend using a fitness app like GOWOD that will test your mobility and provide you with tailor made routines.
Skill work – Practice your double unders, handstand walk, and other exercises that won’t add too much volume to your regular training. The Progrm’s Athlete Academy courses are a great way to brush up on some skills that are lacking with short, progressive training sessions.
Accessories & Injury prevention – Take some time to tackle the parts of your body that take the brunt of your training. Use banded exercises and eccentrics to deload creaky knees, and strengthen your rotator cuffs.
For many CrossFitters, skipping a day at the gym isn't uncomfortable because of missing the workout, it’s because it means deviating from routine. The routine of working out provides a sense of security and satisfaction but if you train often, it’s at the risk of hurting your progress. Try to find satisfaction in having a rest day or recovery day routine. Do some foam-rolling followed by a movie. Or meal-prep and chill with some friends.
In short, you can aim to be active daily, but for optimal fitness, training at a box every day is not a good idea. Even the top athletes take a day away from the gym, and continue to do great things. You’re no different.
Conclusion and Changing Your Mindset
We all think of training as doing WODs or practicing skills, but that’s only a fraction of what contributes to your progress as an athlete. The unsexy, lower-intensity stuff is often what gets overlooked but can provide a huge pay-off.
Remember that functional training serves to prepare you to face physical challenges that may arise outside of the gym. Get out of the box and explore what some of those challenges might be. Perhaps you skip the Saturday chipper or Friday Night Lights to take a dance class, go rock climbing, or go for a long walk in nature. You’ll be surprised at how CrossFit facilitates learning new sports and skills.
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