I’ve been working with CrossFit athletes for years, and one thing we all have in common is we LOVE to train and we HATE taking time off. When our lifts start to plateau, we automatically think we have to train more / train harder to get them to go up again. But, a lot of time, the exact opposite is true. If you’re the type of person who is doing 4-5 WODs a week, and really pushing yourself to high intensity, this message is for you: The quality of your rest and recovery is just as important as the quality of your training.
Last week you may have noticed that John didn’t complete a single workout from Sunday 1/22 until Saturday 1/28. That’s because on Saturday 1/21 he was warming up a deadlift when he tweaked his back – on a weight that should have been very light for him! He completed the WOD, but at a weight almost 4x less than what the WOD called for. Then, on Monday, he was warming up a front squat when he felt a sharp pain in his knee. He bailed out of the WOD completely.
That night John decided it was time for a deload week. His body was sending him a message – loud and clear – that it was tired and needed time for a deep, thorough recovery. John took a solid week away from CrossFit WODs. He did some light assistance work, lots of stretching, and suppressed the temptation to work out, even when some of his favorite lifts came up in the programming. John came back strong on Saturday 1/28, hitting a new PR of 285# on his Clean (and narrowly missing 295#)!
This week, it’s my turn for a deload week. Unlike John, I didn’t have any back or knee pain… my body sent me a much more subtle message. Have you ever had a day when you pick up a 95# barbell, and it feels like 115#? Or you do a 400m run and your feet like they’re inside concrete shoes? If it happens just once, maybe you were just having an “off” day. But if it happens a few days in a row, your body may be trying to tell you something. That it’s tired, and it needs some time off to rest and recover. That’s what happened to me.
If you’re the type of person who is doing 4-5 WODs a week, and really pushing yourself to high intensity, this message is for you: The quality of your rest and recovery is just as important as the quality of your training. Help your body recover by practicing good nutrition every day, and taking in a recovery meal or drink immediately after your workout. Then, about once every 6-8 weeks, take a week COMPLETELY off. Here are some signs you may be overtraining:
- You tweak a muscle doing a light or routine lift.
- A barbell, kettlebell, or wall ball that you frequently lift feels heavy and unmanageable.
- You have trouble hitting high intensity in a WOD because your mind and/or body are holding you back.
- You have trouble sleeping
- You notice a change in your appetite.
- You can’t seem to kick a cold.
- You’re less “lean” than normal, even though you’re working out more.
- You are constantly sore and tight.
If any of these sound like you, please talk to John, Nikki, or one of our coaching interns… and consider the benefits of a deload week!