July 23 2015
So I wasn’t in the gym today. Theoretically it was my “day-off” but I worked such long hours I gave myself a migraine and found myself looking forward to getting back to work where I can actually relax a bit and avoid the computer screen for hours at a time.
What did I miss? A very tough triplet. Great job everyone who got in to face HSPU, Pistols & Pull Ups! Looks like Dangers, Magnum & Bruiser all finished RX’d and quickly too!
After breakfast with Springs I enjoyed the bright Vancouver morning as I walked down Dunbar Street to a meeting with Big Boss. His medical team has advised he continues CrossFitting but no more than 3x per week. I think it is good advice! In fact many people could benefit from training a little less frequently and I believe most people can achieve great fitness results with only 3-4 days of CrossFit per week. Especially if they are taking care of their nutrition.
The guiding principle is known as MED: Minimum Effective Dose. The minimum amount of something required to get you the results that you desire. Anything more is excessive. And in some cases can be harmful.
We have such a more is better mindset. If 3 days of CrossFit works well then 6 days per week must work twice as well, right? Not necessarily. It depends. How old are you? How athletic are you? How is your nutrition? Are you sleeping enough? What are your stress levels like? How is your body feeling?
Many CrossFitters are people who are driven in their everyday lives and come in with already elevated cortisol levels. Guess what? High intensity training spikes cortisol levels. This doesn’t mean its bad. In fact a spike in cortisol can stimulate a return to equilibrium provided we are afforded some down time. Problem is if we’re spiking that cortisol everyday and fueling our engines with stress we never give our bodies the opportunity to return to equilibrium.
Chronically elevated cortisol will lower your testosterone, cause you to get fat, increase risk of injury & illness and reduce your enjoyment of life.
So why do I train 6 days per week (or more)? Because while health and fitness is my primary goal, I also love to compete and skill development and acquisition requires committed practice that cannot be achieved training only 3 days per week. It is a trade off, I give up a bit of healthy life balance in exchange for some improved performance but I do not kid myself that I’m doing so in the name of optimum health. That I could get with 4 training days per week.
You will see athletes like Dangers complete the day’s WOD then hang around during Open Gym mastering handstand walks and 200# squat cleans because they are gearing up to kick my ass at the 2016 CrossFit Open. He is doing this because its fun. Should you? Well that depends on your goals. If you love competing then maybe it is entertaining for you. Maybe you are willing to increase your injury risk in pursuit of better WOD times.
How do I balance out my competing needs for fitness & performance?
1) I don’t train at 100% every day. I make sure I leave something in the tank most days. 80% gets me a solid workout and decent fitness returns. Heck, some days I’ll settle for 70%. Will that attitude get me to the 2016 CrossFit Games. No way! But it might get me to 60 years old with a healthy, high-functioning body.
2) I set performance-based goals for myself inside a WOD so that rather than worrying about finishing faster than Bruiser, I am practicing doing 15 pull ups unbroken each round.
3) And when I feel really beat up and exhausted, I listen to my body and take a day off.
If your goal is simply fitness then you want to be focused on your Minimum Effective Dose. Nothing more. Use CrossFit to support your lifestyle and use the precious hours you save from the gym for life activities that really light you up!
The challenge with CrossFit is that it is a hybrid. Is it a fitness program? Yes. Is it a competitive sport? Yes. It is easy to get confused about which is which and which you are after.
Health & Performance. You can have a little bit of both. But there will always be a trade off.
Have I just committed CrossFit heresy?