In a headline: We have made mistakes, so you don’t have to.
Doing more than just the Workout of the Day (WOD) and training back to back sessions is very tempting for a number of reasons.
- If you modified the weight, reps or movement you may feel you ‘didn’t get enough out of the workout’.
- You may have doubled up on a second WOD because you are eager to improve your fitness or readiness for competitions.
- You may just love the feel good endorphins of smashing two hours of working out and being around the gym and the community.
- Some folks want to drop the ‘extra weight’ they gained on holiday.
Below we want to discuss the best way to spend your time in the gym and outside of the gym to optimise your progress and ensure our community is functioning in the best possible way. We hope to provide some education so you don’t fall into the trap that I and many of your coaches and co-owners have fallen into.
We have made mistakes, so you don’t have to.
Technique is everything.
Firstly, let us start with a quote from the founder of CrossFit® himself, Greg Glassman. We believe in this, wholeheartedly.
Technique is EVERYTHING. Without it you will not express power in any significant measure and you will be remiss in trying. You may expend a lot of energy trying but you will not be efficient or effective in your efforts…
To make the most of the technical elements of CrossFit®, like gymnastics and weightlifting you need to be fresh. Your body absorbs the technical work better that way.
If you smash a WOD and then go straight into Weightlifting or Gymnastics you are actually stunting your progress. Please, avoid doing this at. all. costs. If you DO want to train twice per day and you have had a good chat with a coach about the benefits for you of doing so, we would like to see AT LEAST 4 hours between sessions but ideally 6!*1
Under developed technique will of course influence your intensity (intensity being kilograms lifted or maintaining a certain pace) and without intensity you may feel like you missed out on your workout. But believe us, putting in the effort to get better technically will improve other elements of fitness you may not have considered.
And through the above it leads to development of Strength and Power.
This is why Practice Days make up 60% of our training days with built in rest to preserve quality movement. This is why we have several dedicated GYMNASTICS CLASSES for you to book into and why expert coaches are on hand for you to book in with for skills session if you so wish.
Shapesmiths Top tip: Stay patient and ‘trust the process’ when it comes to getting better at barbell work and gymnastics. Work with your coaches to ensure you are ready to increase your intensity and when you do and are given a green light, don’t be afraid to push hard during your workout. It may hurt for a minute or two, but it’s where the results are. The only difference between your workout and someone else’s, is what you put into it. If done properly, there should not be a need to add a second WOD.
DOING VOLUME FOR VOLUME’S SAKE, WITHOUT INTENT.
Have a purpose! More is not better; better is better.
We have often observed folks, who are really into CrossFit®, that load up and increase volume because they see the best CrossFitters in the world are doing two or three sessions per day, 4-5 days per week.
As you will read, further in this article, doing two sessions in a day is not necessarily a bad thing. You just need to have a purpose and understand the bigger picture. With no purpose and no big picture in mind you will simply break yourself down and impede your gains, brah!
Having a purpose means knowing the energy system and muscular groups you’re trying to tax during a workout. Knowing how you are going to pace a workout to teach your body to thrive and not just get slower as a WOD progresses. It allows you to work smart and hard, not just hard.
REST DAYS ARE GROWTH DAYS
In order to see consistent progress in your time spent at the gym you are going to need to take some rest days. These days allow you to grow. They allow your muscles to recover. They allow your neural system chance to recuperate.
An essential player in the recovery process is Growth Hormone (GH). It allows the body to repair itself after intense exercise through muscular hypertrophy and plays a significant role in the maintenance of lean body mass. Bigger picture: you should know that nearly 50% of GH secretion occurs during the third and fourth NREM sleep stages.
If you are regularly skimping on sleep, you are missing the body’s prime production time of GH, and thereby not recovering as you could or should be. Basically all the effort you put into your training was just thwarted by a significant percentage if you were sleep-deprived during it.
ARE TWO SESSIONS PER DAY – EVERY SO OFTEN – FOR YOU?
They could be for you if you are able to
a) get enough sleep in the realm of 7.5-9 hours.
b) you take one complete day off and one day where your volume is really low and kept to cardio/biking/trail running/yoga/swim type activities
c) you have relatively low stress in your life.
d) you can space the two sessions out by a minimum of 4-hours but ideally 6 hours so you can refuel, rest and recover. Back-to-back classes of any kind a huge NO.
e) you can afford the time.
I think it’s pretty clear that only a small amount of people are capable of truly being able to hit all of the above. Therefore it’s wise to be sparing with any two per days.
What extras can I do to keep progressing?
If you have some time and energy before or after a WOD, here are a few things you can do to get more out of your workouts:
- Instead of doing an extra workout, practice, practice, practice! The more comfortable you get with the CrossFit movements, the sooner you’ll be able to add intensity to your workout.
- Come into the gym 20mins early to prep for the WOD. During the WOD class utilise every available moment to practice.
- Take advantage of any workshops and seminars.
- A little a day will go along way! Don’t kill yourself trying to perfect the snatch in one day. Practice a little everyday and you’ll get the hang of it.
As usual, come at use with any questions or follow ups. We are here for you!
*1 A Story, S Wong et al (2012) Eur J Appl Physiol. Divergent muscle functional and architectural responses to two successive high intensity resistance exercise sessions in competitive weightlifters and resistance trained adults.