You may have read Kyle's previous Coaches' Corner in which he explained the differences in standards and expectations of our two branches of programming, Fitness and Competition, as well as how to choose according to your goals. While we have maintained these two variations of programming, you may have noticed alterations in the weekly structure of our workouts. As an extension to our previous article, I would like to go over our reasons for doing so, namely, recovery.
Previously we were following CompTrain, a program designed specifically for the annual CrossFit Open. While this program definitely has the potential to incite progress, we found the overall volume and intensity was a little bit too much to handle for the majority of our members. In addition, the goal of the majority of our members is not to compete, but to be healthy. For those who aspire to compete, Competition programming will provide you with the needed skills in order to do so. But back onto the theme of this article, recall back to our November newsletter. The point was made that not each and every workout is intended to be a one-two punch K.O. This applies not only to individual workouts, but has carry over into the long term.
Before I go a bit more in depth on recovery, I strongly recommend watching the linked video below. It covers overtraining and recovery rather extensively, and includes a very easily digestible visual of what recovery includes. Afterwards, I'll go into a brief recap of what recovery is, how it's reflected in our current programming, and what that means long term.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwKcayYkyAc
If you watched the embedded video, you may have been surprised to notice the extensive role that hormones play in recovery. They're rather quite central to the process. Any stress placed on your body, whether mental, physical, financial, secular, or social, needs to be counteracted with adequate rest time. While we may perceive these stresses to be vastly different in nature, they express themselves within your body all the same; through elevated hormone activity. Whether you're lifting a heavy barbell, or putting in overtime at work, or even laying in bed awake at night worrying yourself about the next day, your body is going to release hormones associated with stress. Namely cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These hormones are used to up regulate, or increase, internal bodily conditions, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolism. In addition, the release of these hormones, cortisol specifically, inhibits the immune system. Now, stress is not bad in and of itself. Its an intrinsic factor of fitness, and a strong motivator in daily life. But too much stress is detrimental. It is not too difficult to see, then, that constant stress is a sure fire way to send your body into hormonal dysfunction. And as pointed out earlier, this is not only a result from training. There is a balance that must be reached between attending the gym and other daily responsibilities, as they all contribute to your total hormonal fluctuation.
These factors were kept in mind when adjusting our program. Our previous regimen simply contained too much volume, coupled with constant intensity. It is not necessary to always feel beat up, nor is it in line with the goals of the majority of our gym membership, nor is it beneficial for that matter. A lot of our members would remark on a weekly basis that they felt the Monday workout all the way through to Thursday or Friday. The only reason you should feel this is if you've performed a movement or have utilized muscles that you had not for quite some time. It should not be a weekly occurrence. You should feel good sometimes, and a little violated others. Constantly feeling beat down is not a tell tale sign of proper programming. A few red flags to look for if you feel like you're doing too much may include; sudden and abrupt illness when you are rarely sick, nagging aches or minor injuries that seem to keep popping up, inability to fall asleep, or a noticeable decrease in speed and explosiveness. It's important to listen to your body and to play things by feel. I personally understand how difficult this is, as I tend to obsess over rep schemes, percentages, and not missing any training days. However, if your body is pleading with you to give it a break, listen to it and take it easy.
Onto the programming specifically, Mondays are going to consist of a relatively low volume and higher intensity main compound movement. Intensity here basically refers to load. A high load at lower volume is not going to be tremendously taxing, especially if you're just building up to one heavy set. This is then followed by an every-minute-on-the-minute style workout. We find EMOMs to be a nice way to start the week as they give us an opportunity to be a little more deliberate with strength and skill work in a CrossFit environment while at the same time increasing the heart rate to a manageable level with integrated rest. The following day, Tuesday, will include exclusively upper body strength and skill work. This is usually begun with another high intensity, low volume, compound movement. Afterward is a few back off sets of a related compound movement at lighter weights to accumulate a some volume. Next are few accessory or isolation movements to build up the muscles associated with the main movement performed earlier that session. These may be unilateral or include midline work to help correct imbalances and prevent injuries. Wednesdays will always include an Olympic lift as the strength portion. For those who are less experienced, this is time for lighter technique work. Those who are more experienced can load their bars a little heavier, although technique is still a priority. This will be followed by a MetCon, typically an AMRAP or a task for time. The conditioning work will likewise include the Olympic movement practiced in the strength portion, and serves as an opportunity to utilize said movement in a less deliberate, more fast paced setting. Thursday is much like Tuesday, the only difference being a lower body focus. And on Friday we like to team up and hit it hard with a bit more intensity. Sometimes this will be prefaced by strength work, but more often than not the MetCon is the main focus. What we end up with is a gradual increase in intensity across the week with balanced strength, skill, and conditioning work, with adequate rest.
On that note, we end with the long term outlook. There is not a whole lot to say here. Your training today is going to impact tomorrow's, and tomorrow's session is going to affect the next, and so on. If you judge the effectiveness of your workout by how dead you feel, you need to chill out. Strength has it's place, and so does conditioning. There are also times for a mix of the two. Do too much and you'll have spent a lot of effort with little to no reward at the end. Work smart, not hard. Don't focus on just today's workout. Look ahead in the week, and think of how you want to feel towards the end of it. Listen to your body and as always, get plenty of rest, drink your water, and eat ya veggies. Thanks for the read and happy lifting.