One of the questions I get asked the most by athletes beginning CrossFit for the first time is “How many times per week should I come into the gym?”
GREAT question. How much training is too much? How much is to little? Most importantly how much is enough?
Depending on your priorities, lifestyle, and outlook on fitness the answer could vary.
When a first-time CrossFit Athlete asks me this question, I give everyone the same answer… Listen to your body. Your body will tell you if you are good to head back into the gym for another beat down.
Did you wake up and feel like you got hit by the Gain Train? You probably did. Take an extra day. Make sure you are eating, drinking, and stretching and mobilizing. Your body is telling you to chill out, so do it.
Are you feeling like you could workout every single day? Are you sore at all? If not, it could be a sign of a few things. One could be you nailed your diet, the workout was in your wheelhouse and you just had a all around solid day. Awesome! Don’t get used to it… You should be sore REGULARLY. You should get tight. If you are not feeling any of these things it could be a sign of training too little or not hard enough.
How much is enough?
The million dollar question. And the answers are all over the board depending on who is behind the keyboard. Right now its me and for me enough is when…
I sleep really well.
I have an aggressive appetite.
I can feel yesterdays workout but its also not keeping me from moving.
I am alert and ready to hit the next session.
I maintain focus all day.
I look forward to heading back in for the next session.
These are my signs I look for when I’m training. Find yours, and don’t let the gain train run you over.
Keep reading if you want to nerd out some more…
What’s going on during training? Stress. Recovery. Adaptation.
This is the process in which we all get GAINS! Yes, even the ladies (but not bulky ones).
Stress is anything that takes the body out of homeostasis or your happy palce. The WOD, a run, skiing, surfing, work, relationships, anything that raises the heart rate, body temperature, etc.
Next, your body goes into recovery mode. Taking the nutrients you eat drink, breathe and deliver them to the parts of your body that need to rebuild. Hormones are also kicking in here to help get the body back to homeostasis.
While rebuilding, your body is taking notes… “Holy $&#@ that was stressful, we need to rebuild him but this time better, stronger, faster, down here, over there and right there. Also let’s take that extra fat from here and use it for fuel” This is your Adaptation.
Now Relax! Seriously.
This is where it all pays off. Your body must rest, if no rest, no adaptation. If no adaptation, no gains.
Have you ever plateaued?
Have you ever woken up feeling almost hungover and all you did was workout the day before? Without getting into the nitty gritty details of the other things that could be stressors in your life, these could be signs of not getting enough rest or even worse, over training.
Your rest days are more important that you think!
Muscle tissue responds to stress very well and will get stronger very quickly. Up next, are you ligaments and tendons. They respond, just not quite as fast as your muscles. Quite slow actually, there is no direct blood blow to ligaments and tendons, so the rebuilding and adaptation is much more difficult. Finally, your bones, similar story as your ligaments and tendons adaptation takes MUCH longer. Have you ever broken a bone? Toon a while to heal right. Same thing happens when you train.
Now… Put them all together…What happens with your muscle tissue gets really strong, really fast? Your bones, ligaments and tendons can’t keep up. Cue injury!
And if your bones ligaments and tendons can’t adapt to your strength training very quick, how long do you think its going to take them to recover if you sustain a serious injury?
I am not saying don’t workout hard cause you are gonna get too strong and blow up your tendons. Quite the opposite. you SHOULD train to get stronger, how do you think your body protects itself? This post is to stress the importance of recovery. To get you to listen to your body, It’s an incredibly powerful machine and you only get one, so learning to be in tune with how it works is important.
Take a rest day. The answer is rarely, train more. So relax, bro!
Train Hard, Recover Harder.
What about Active Recovery. What about it? I will talk more on this topic later, I’m actively going to go take nap.