You build muscle during recovery, not during a workout.
“How often should I do CrossFit workouts?” is actually a question we get pretty often. If you are just starting we recommend 3 workouts a week with a one day rest in between. That is how we program our on-ramp package as well. If you’ve been around CrossFit for a while you might have heard the phrase “3 days on/ 1 day off”. Or if you’ve gone to CrossFit’s official website you will see that after 3 days of workouts there is a mandatory recovery day. Both of these refer to how often you should train. Very few of us actually follow this rule but I will tell you why you should consider it.
Due to the nature of CrossFit’s workouts, our bodies undergo a massive amount of stress during that one hour of our day. The aftermath of the workout, though, can last for days. After 4 days we might still be feeling the effects of a workout done 3 days ago. The built up stress and fatigue does not decrease without proper recovery.
We realize the 7-day week ins’t a perfect fit with the 3 days on/1 day off rule. Most athletes like doing Monday-Friday and taking the weekend off because it syncs with work schedules and family duties. What we see most of the time, though, is either the loss of intensity on that 4th and 5th day, or the appearance of nagging injuries around the joints, or even the physical plateau of an athlete. The cause of all of those is not allowing our bodies to recover properly. Another option that is closer to the 3 days on/ 1 day off rule but it could fit with your 7 days week is having one recovery day on Wednesdays/ Thursday and one on Saturday/ Sunday.
More is not better, better is better.
That above is a saying we like to refer to often in CrossFit. If you can’t sustain a high intensity on a workout due to fatigue, or poor recovery, you are not getting much out of that day’s training. In fact you might actually be delaying your desired results. We would much rather have you take a day off to properly rest and smash the next day’s workout. It will be worthy and your body will thank you. Ideally, we would want to add a recovery day during the week, and add a work day during the weekend. If making to the gym on the weekends is tough for you coach JC comes up with some good home workouts!
On the other hand, taking a day off does not necessarily mean sit on the couch all day. There are many things to do on rest days that will allow for recovery while being beneficial to overall fitness. Stretching, a light jog, a massage or a pick up basketball game are all good examples of recovery day activities. Perhaps the best thing you could do on recovery days is to come to open gym. Spend some time working on barbell technique, flexibility or other gymnastic movements! There is always something to improve in CrossFit!
We know most people enjoy coming to the gym because they see results, they connect to the community and make friends. If it makes your life easier to do a 5 days on/2 days off, then by all means, use it. But for optimum performance learn to listen to your body and to be okay with missing a day here and there. The road to fitness is shorter if you allow yourself some recovery time.
by Coach Matt