Im talking about recovery days here in regards to your training schedule. This is a complex and tricky subject as everyone will differ in what they need. However, your recovery days (when and how many) will depend on the following:
So here are a two fitness components that we hit a lot in crossfit - how they fatigue your body and how it's best to recover from them. There is a lot of information here, but if you want to plan your program you'll need to have some understanding of them anyway:
Cardiovascular or aerobic fitness. That is, how much oxygen your body can use to make energy.The way to stress your body here is to get your HR up. One of the adaptations your body makes is to then build a more powerful heart. The heart is a muscle so it's like doing strength training for your heart.
Be careful with this high intensity, very puffing, lungs burning, 6x500m row hard on 4:00 type of training. This type of training will leave you gulping in air and get your HR above 85% max. Now the heart is a muscle, so like a muscle you only need to train this once (for a beginner) to three times (for advanced athletes) a week.
If you keep doing this type of training without enough recover days between, then after a couple of weeks your performance for these wods will plateau or start to drop off. You won't feel sore (you can't feel your heart) or tired. You will probably just blow out early in the wod or just can't get the intensity you're used to.
Intensity is much more important than duration. For example a 1000m row at 100% is much better than 3x1000m at 90% with rest between each. Keep thinking of it like a muscle. Want bigger legs - you need to walk out the gym knowing you've done a leg set!
Really, you can do any type of training as your recovery days if it doesn’t stress your heart too much. So you might do a high intensity cardio set Mon, Wed, Sat and in the off days do your strength, power etc WODS.
Muscular endurance: WODS that make you lift a force for lots of reps. One that came up in the Masters Qualifiers was 100 chins followed by 100 WB's. This type of WOD leaves your muscles SORE. You're mainly hitting your slow twitch fibers here. There are two types of muscle fibers - sort of - fast and slow. Fast are used when you need to generate a lot of force, Slow are used when you need to generate less force. However, once you deplete or fatigue your slow twitch you then start using your fast twitch. After such a set your muscle cells have been damaged. What happens is that (in your recovery) it then rebuilds itself. However, it will rebuild itself stronger (bigger). It's been known for a while that your slow twitch fibers can definitely hypertrophy (get bigger), however if the set is big enough your fast twitch will also be stressed and will also likely hypertrophy too.
Recovery here needs to be specific (for the muscles groups used). So if you have been doing a big pulling exercise (e.g. chinups, CTB, MU, rope climb) then you may need to rest that movement for 2-4 days afterwards. You will likely get some DOMS anyway (delayed onset of muscle soreness) 24-48 hours afterwards, which generally makes training that muscle group very unpleasant anyway.
It will also depend greatly on your training age. If you have been doing crossfit for more than 2-3 years then maybe only two days between these sorts of sets will be enough. If you're just starting out (less than 6 months) then 4-6 days will be needed.
If you're doing lots of these types of WODS, make sure your protein levels are sufficient. I put my clients on around 2gram/kg of body weight.
Next post I'll look at a few more components, then I'll put it together into a weekly schedule.
The main thing for all this recovery is are you following a program-centered or athlete-centered recovery schedule?
The former means you recover when the shed does. If your shed is doing 3 days hard and one day easy, followed by 2 days hard and one day easy then you're following the program.
If you recover when you think you need to (or your coach thinks you need to), then you're following an athlete-centered schedule.
Personally, I believe, for an athlete, you need to do an athlete-centered schedule. You're training and recovery needs are different to everyone else's so why follow everyone else's plan?
If you got this far, you're doing well. I'll finish this one of during the week.
Hope the Opens training is going well! 3 weeks to go....
I think your main 'skill' when going into a WOD is being able to have a pacing strategy that fits in with your capacities.
Many times I have been able to beat my competitors, who have been fitter (stronger etc) than me, because I have paced the WOD better. It's a skill like any other that you need to develop, and that takes time, but it's very important if you want to do well in competitions. You only have to look at the pacing of those athletes that are at the top of their sport - they seem to just come home so strong and fast.
To be able to strategise a WOD, you really need to know what it is in that WOD that will fatigue or limit you. The fitness components that are generally the culprits are:
There are others, such as mobility, power, agility etc, but these are rare (unless you're at the Games).
Once you decide what component it is that will fatigue you, it;s then a case of pacing that component.
Let's have a look at some Fran WODS. For a person going around 3 minutes anaerobic/aerobic fitness is generally the issue. It could be that their anaerobic system is too developed (e.g. they're a real power athlete) or that their aerobic system is not developed much at all. It's a little tricky, but these two energy systems always share the workload, depending on your energy demands.
Anyway. this person needs to make sure they don't go out too hard. Otherwise they will 'blow up'. You've seen this, where they get to the 1:30 - 2:00 min mark looking good and all of a sudden they start resting. This person needs to pace it from the start so they don't rest.
Another person with a 5 min Fran time (assuming they have gone out at a good pace) will generally be fatiguing from muscular endurance. That is, they get on to the pullup bar, and they can't grip it, or their arms give out. They aren't (too) breathless, but they just can't complete the moves to the correct standard (this is where they will start cheating the form).
This person needs to break up their pullups - maybe go 3x7 on the 21, 3x5 on the 15 and then 5/4 on the 9. This allows the specific muscles to have a short rest. So now you are in charge of the rest, instead of your muscles!
For a person going 10 minutes, it may be that strength is holding them back. That is, they have trouble thrusting the thrusters, or getting their chin over the pullups. Their form will go very quickly once they have fatigued. A good strategy might be to go doubles or triples on the thrusters. So do manageable sets - similar to what you would do in a strength set.
BUT, you say, how do I know what will fatigue me if I haven't done the WOD before? Good question. And this comes from a) experience (doing lots of wods etc) and b) listening to your body during a wod.
Example: I'm doing Fran and I'm smashing it up and I'm at the end of the 15 thrusters. But I start to experience a burning sensation in my lungs and legs when I put the bar down. Not Good! Now I know I need to slow down (just a fraction) to get me through so I can go unbroken. IT may be that I walk a little slower to the pullup bar. But if I do this, then BOOM - PB. If you didn't know the tell tale signs of fatigue, then you'd just keep going until you blew out. BOOM-disaster.
The WOD Jackie is a classic - people always go out too fast on the row. I think I go around 6:30 but my row is always around 3:50. Which is very controlled. But that allows me to do the thrusters and pullups unbroken. I could go out 10 or 20s faster in the row, but my anaerobic system will be firing up too much and I know my legs will get soft and useless during those thrusters.
NOW.... the BIG thing for a competition is to be able to 1) CONTROL your nerves so you don't go out too fast (how to do that is for another post) and 2) be flexible with your strategy. That is, be willing to break your WB's up a little more if you need to. Don't stick to your plan of breaking every 20 WB's if that means you wont get through the WOD.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY - IT WILL LET YOU KNOW IF YOU NEED A REST OR NOT (JUST BE CAREFUL AS SOMETIMES IT CAN TRICK YOU)
As Mike Tyson once said....
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
I had a competition on Saturday. These days you could literally do a competition every week - there's just so many of them around. So how many should you do and why?
I try and do a comp about every fortnight. Although August/November I think we had them weekly.
The reason I do comps are:
If you find any of the below relate to you and competitions, then I think you need to limit the number you do until you can overcome them:
Obviously this is a HUGE topic, and one that I will definitely go over again.
The main thing to take away here is that competitions can be very useful. You can use the smaller ones as part of your preparation for that big one (e.g. Opens). For the smaller ones, don't focus on outcome - focus on effort and process (e.g technique, skills). Use them to rehearse such things as your eating, warm-ups, wod strategies etc. These skills need to be developed under pressure - which can be hard to find in training.
And enjoy yourself. No-one cares how you do (sorry, but that's mostly true at our level). They care that you did your best, that you were a good sportsperson, and that you enjoyed yourself. So make sure you do!
Crappy training top hey - I mean everyone knows this one!
But I think we tend to overlook it's effectiveness - plus we all seem to train the things we enjoy (and generally what we're good at) and avoid those things we hate.
So my tip is for a month write down your 3-5 worse movements - mine are MU (I had to retrain myself to use long straps after the Games - we only had short straps at our gym and they're very different), Burpees, BoxJumps, Wall Ball, Sq Snatches, Chest to Bar.
Then choose how many (reps) of those lifts you will get done that month. Do this by looking at how many you would normally do, and then what you think you might be able to do considering how many sessions per week you do and how hard that move is. So if you normally do about 40 a week, you could aim for double that.
This month my goal is 800 WB, 800, Burpees, 800 BJ, 500 Chest to bar, 400 Sq Snatches (over 60kg) and 400 MU. My MU are combined BMU and RMU. Last month I did 300 RMU and I actually 'clicked' at how to link them more efficiently. How many did I have to do to click...280!
You must keep track! SO have an excel sheet ready to go - I just write it up on the whiteboard.
Easiest way for me is to do a set like this in my warmup - 5-10-15-20 WB, Burpee, CTB. Don't do it as one continuous set but do the 5's, then trigger a bit, then do the 10's, trigger, do the 15's etc. You get 50 reps in before you've even started your strength work!
I do this about 5-6 weeks out from a big comp (i.e. the Opens this time). If I get through to the Masters Qualifiers Ill change the movements to suit that competition.
Good luck with it and let me know how you go!
If something is holding you back - attack it!
Well today was one of those 2/10 days! I felt terrible. Cherise and I did the 16.5 thruster/burpee wod and I went 23.01. At the Opens last year I went 14.27. Some days a big effort just doesn't mean a good performance.
Anyway, I thought I would touch on my diet. I'm pretty simplistic in this and follow the basic dietary guidelines. Note that I'm not allergic or hypersensitive to anything, and I love eating.
PROTEIN: I always start with my protein. As a Masters athlete this is a MUST. I get 2 gm/kg bodyweight a day. For me that's about 150-180 grams a day. Remember I log my diet. So I know how much I'm getting in. If you haven't logged before then you should do it now. Even if after a few weeks you decide it's not for you. If you don't log, then you just don't what you're getting in. Sometimes I use a supp - especially if I'm losing fat. So I may take a whey protein to get me up to that 2 g/kg.
Total Calories: This comes second. If I need to lose fat then I'm on about 2000C/day. To maintain my weight I go to about 2300C/day and in multi day competition I go to 2500C/day. On holidays I go to about 10000 C/day (but thats another post). At the moment I'm losing fat for the Opens so I'm on about 2000C/day.
FAT: For me I just try not to eat bad fatty foods (where the fat is a solid at room temperature) and make sure I get in a little good fatty foods. Salmon and avocado are my regular good fat foods. though I do have my daily peanut butter wrap for breakfast.
CARBS: make up the difference. So I get in whatever carbs I need to make up it to my 2000 C/day. This is where logging helps. You can play around with your diet to make sure you're hitting the right things. E.g. take out a coffee and throw in a beer...
FRUIT/VEGIES: 2-4 servings of fruit and 400-600grams of veggies a day. Veggies are generally of the coleslaw/leafy variety. Only because I don't cook (and neither does my wife), so if it doesnt come prepared then it doesnt go in my shopping cart. The closest I come to cooking is throwing some kangaroo sausages into a microwave, or warming up my half a chicken (I have half a day - from woolworths, yummm).
BCAA: Too much research on leucine to ignore! Get at least 3 grams in. I get a lot more - maybe double that easily. A good whey protein will have the 3 grams per serve. I like it in a BCAA mix as there's no calories, so I sip it all day. Scivation Xtend is my favourite.
Creatine: One of the most researched supps and as a Mastesr for me this is a must. Six weeks out from competition I start to use it. About 5g/day. Take it whenever - it builds up over time in your body. You will likely put on some weight - I put on about one kg. So be prepared. I go off it after comps.
Beta Alanine: This is an intracellular buffer. This means for those heavy and puffy wods you get it's benefit. Think Fran, Grace, Isabel, Diane. It takes about 6 weeks to load up in your body. So I start it when I start creatine. It wont work as a pre-workout supplement - it needs time to saturate the muscle fibers. You may get that tingly, itchy feeling which I hate. That has nothing to do with the effects, so whether you do or don't get them doesn't matter.
Multi Vitamin: My insurance tablet. I take Opti Men which has everything you could want. My diet doesn't have a lot of variety - a big downfall for me. So these probably help out.
Iron tablets: I don't eat much meat (we don't cook) and I'm low on iron so I have one a day.
Electrolytes: At the moment I'm also having some electrolytes as I'm sweating about 10L every session!!!! If you're a heavy sweater and it's hot where you are then I would suggest using them.
Berocca: I love a Berocca or two. My post workout drink is a mix of electrolytes, a Berocca and some BCAA. It's delicious and starts your recovery off nicely in this hot weather.
Coffee: Is a wonderful drug. If you want to use it as a performance enhancing drug, then go off it 3 -4 weeks from your competition. Look up the guidelines on what amounts you should be having and when. I do this and find it helps me, especially getting through that last WOD in a big day comp. However, if you're having it every day, then it's not doing anything for you except getting your body up to a baseline level. So go off it, then hit it when you really need it.
WATER: Drink enough to make your urine clear. Your first pee of the day generally won't be clear, but after that it should be.
Don't tell me you dont have time to eat well. Like I said I don't cook and ALL my meals are prepared in 4 minutes or less. Learn to get your nutrients in or suffer the consequences. If you're not sure, just send me a comment and I'll help if I can.
This is MY meal plan. Yours will be different. However the guidelines are there. Unless you fall into a special population e.g. vegan, then it's not rocket science..
Dont go for fad diets that restrict anything. I eat a huge bag of popcorn during my weekly movie outing. I have a few beers every week. I binge eat at parties. I have Zero Coke every day. But at the end of the week, when I look at my nutrients and calories, they will generally fall under what I have stated above.
Your diet, along with your sleep, is your biggest recovery factor. If you're missing out on nutrients then you're not reaching your potential. Find someone you trust and get some help.
My next post I'll do on weight management - this is a toughy! Especially if you like eating as much as me. But if you want to compete well, you need to be at your ideal weight.
I'll finish with a quote I remember (but I'm sorry I can't say where from):
athletes eat and train, they don't diet and exercise.
I can't leave here (i.e. work) for another 40mins as I have to pick my daughter up from work, so thought I'd get in a quickie (post!).
As I said earlier one of my main reasons to do this blog was due to my frustration of seeing all the PR's and awesome wods been done by people on FB. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for PR's and a huge Grats when you get one, but in my experience the better you get at something the rarer your PR's are going to be..
As a long time swim/crossfit coach I always go by the 80/20 rule for myself and my athletes. And that is:
80% of the time you feel average
20% of the time you either feel bloody invinsible, or like total shit.
I pretty much fit into this ratio. This means if I do 7 sessions a week, 5 or 6 of those I feel pretty average and 1 or 2 of those I feel pretty good... or pretty bad.
Most days I could very easily not train. Sure once I start to warm up and get into it I feel ok. But rarely am I 'pumped' up to do a training session. Similarily, on any given day there are half a dozen guys in my shed who could (and often do) beat me in a wod.
As an athlete, you will probably be doing a little more than the normal casual crossfitter e.g. a strength session beforehand and your skill work. Plus you will be training a little more often. So it only stands to reason that you may be a little more tired.
However at a competition it's a totally different ball-game. And the reason that I'm hard to beat at a big competition (and so you should you be too) is your progamming.
You need to make sure that those
invinsible-feeling days are those days you're competing.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you're looking at all those PR's on FB, or when you're seeing the athletes at their compeitions smashing out amazing feats of awesomeness. But you need to know - this is not the norm! Not even for the Rich Fronings. Even the top guys and girls do 100's of lifts for every one PR they hit. Most sessions they just turn up, do their work and go home - no FB photos or high 5's.
It can be a grind, and it can be tough to train at times. And sometimes your best effort will result in a crappy performance. But keep an eye on your long term goal. Stay focused. Keep motivated. Every chinup, every deadlift, every stupid burpee is getting you closer to your goal.
And next time you get a PR - I want to see it on FB!
I'm going to put in my weekly training. There are a few abbreviations. If you're having trouble deciphering, just let me know.
Just offhand here is a little key:
RMU - Ring muscle ups. I got some long straps one as at the Games they use them and we only had short straps. There's a lot of difference between the two and if you want to compete make sure you can use both.
RC/LRC - rope climb and legless rope climb
HSW - hand stand walk. This is normally unbroken.
W RSq is Wendler Rear Squat. Wendler is a strength program I use. Been on it for 16 weeks and I think I'll stop it this week. It's excellent for CrossFitters!!
This week was a bit of an easy week. Tried to recover a bit. Shorter WODS and not so much strength/skill work.
Since in the previous post I told you to make sure you're recording 'everything'... in this blog I'll tell you what I'm recording.
But first, WHY I'm recording them.
My go-to guideline when programming is always this simple equation:
Adaption = Stress + Recovery
If you can get that right, then you're 50% there. Very quickly, here's what they mean:
** Adaption - what you want from your program. Do you want to be faster, stronger, more powerful, more muscular, less fatty, smarter...?
** Stress - what you do to yourself that causes the body to change. You want to get smarter, then you need to study. Study is stress. you want to get leaner - then you need to calorie restrict, and that's stress. BUT stress can also be other things such as lack of sleep, chronic worry (about finacnes, your health or your family's health, bad personal/work relationships, 'bad' nutrition, sitting for long periods, etc etc etc.
** Recovery - Allows your body to make those changes. You can't study all day effectively. you need to take breaks, eat well, sleep well etc.
What does this mean:
WITHOUT ADEQUATE RECOVERY, YOU DON'T ADAPT!!!!!!
So your stressors AND your Recovery are both equally important. And if it's important, then you need to record it!
So here is what I record:
My training sessions - pretty simple really. I just write down what I did and any results.
Injuries/illnesses, sickness - these are a major stress so record them. I also record anything that's been niggly for more than a few days.
Competitions - may also be a huge stressor. Especially if you are the type who worries going into comps. So in that case, not only do you have the physical stress of the comp, but also the psychological stress that goes with it in the days before hand.
Other - Long work weeks, stressful events (e.g weddings), big nights on the piss...
Resting Heart rate - every night just before I turn off the lights to go to sleep! If it's over 50 I take notice (it's normally 45-48). If it is over 55 then I reduce my training (unless there's a reason for it - e.g. Ive just had a big meal..).
Sleep - how many hours and the quality. I use a sleep app called "Sleep Time'. My target is 8-8.5 hours a day. I often need a day sleep to get this though.
Nutrition - my macros and calories. For me, if I dont record it, i put weight on. I LOVE food
Other - E.g. If I get a massage,
I have found that most people can apply the stress within their crossfit training, but then they don't take into consideration their other stressors. For example, if you're training hard on under 7 hours sleep, or not eating a nutritous diet, then you're not going to reach your potential. And 'not reaching your potential' is a best case scenario. Often too much stress and not enough recovery results in sicknesses and injuries.
What do you do if you can't control your stress? For example, if you HAVE to work late nights or you constantly fight with your kids/parents/colleagues. Well, thats in the next blog! But I can tell you now, you won't like it.
BLOG TIP: To adapt, you need to train (stress the body) PLUS recover. If you want to reach your potential, then work hard AT BOTH!
It's not a New Year resoltuions or anything, but I'm determined to post a regular blog leading up to the Opens, Qualifiers... Games.
Two reasons I'm doing this - first is to keep me motivated (I think it will help) and the second is due to the number of posts I see on FB etc about CrossFitters/gym goers doing PB's and/or awesome workouts. I was hoping to offer an alternative 'real-life' perspective and post about my dull and boring training/life...
I also think there a lot of crossfitters out there trying to achieve a higher level and not having enough support. I've been crossfitting for a while so hopefully you might get some helpful tips or motivation from these posts.
I've attached my recent training program as a guide to what I've been doing. I think recording your training and results is a must if you want to keep progressing. If you're not then you're just relying on luck. CrossFit is tricky in that it requires numerous skills and fitness components, and I think for an athlete who is aiming to compete then you have to make sure you're hitting everything regularly - and that you're progressing. There's a million ways to do this - I will let you know how I do it, but you need to devise your own. So if you want to compete at a higher level, or if you just want to keep improving, then make sure you're keeping a record of your sessions.
I just use an Excel spreadsheet from my ipad. It's easy to see the whole training block then. I've done over 20 years of coaching (swimming) so I love programming.
Just some quick details - some of it is in code. Sorry about that. You can comment me if you really want to know something though. Days off are in purple and injuries in orange.My warm-up is fairly standard, so I'll put that in separately next time. I'll go into my programming a lot more nex blog as well...
Blog Tip: if you're not recording your training... start today
Dion Walmsley, Head Coach at CrossFit Kanga, Richlands