I am often asked how much CrossFit training an individual should be doing. Personally, I have struggled with over (and under) training over the years.
The answer, unfortunately, isn’t black and white. There isn’t a magic formula to determine how much you should be training and how hard. Trust me, I wish there were. I can tell you that it is very individual and dependent on your body’s ability to recover, as well as your personal goals.
Ideally, we are training in a way that allows the athlete to recover properly and avoid injuries, while still achieving overall goals. And there is a lot to all of that . . .
First, you need to know what you are working toward. Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to get stronger? Are you trying to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure? Are you training for a race? Are you getting ready to compete? Are you off-season cross-training for a sport?
Your answer to these questions matter. If you are competing or have a specific event date, that could mean you need to step up your training appropriately, short term. If you are maintaining your current weight or trying to lose weight, that may mean a schedule that isn’t as intense and that is more sustainable long term.
Next, you need to take a good, hard look at yourself and honestly assess how your body is recovering from your workouts. Nutrition and sleep play a massive role in this. I want to be very clear: if you aren’t sleeping well and don’t have your nutrition dialed in, you are just beating yourself up at the gym. Your body doesn’t have what it needs to recover and build muscle. Your efforts can be for naught.
Your body isn’t getting stronger from wrecking yourself, lifting heavy stuff in a workout for 30 minutes. Your body gets stronger at night while it is resting and repairing itself. You need to make sure you are working out hard enough so your body has the stimulus that requires it to repair from, but also resting enough and giving it the nutrients it needs so that it can actually do the repairs. It is a very fine balance of exercise, nutrition, and rest.
Very rough guidelines would suggest to do CrossFit three times a week if you are maintaining what you have, and five times a week if you are training for something specific with a deadline. CrossFit Headquarters suggests three days on, and one day off schedule. Regardless of the guidelines you are following, rest days are important. At the very least, one day a week, and most would actually suggest two rest days a week, especially if you are giving your all to your workouts each day!
I would also recommend taking a look at the year as a whole and making sure you have an off-season or a time to focus on recovering your body. Even the most committed athletes in the world ramp down their intensity or even take small breaks from training, as well as altering their training for in and off season.
And it’s not just about spending hours at the gym. It’s the quality of every minute you are here. Quality over quantity, and having a clear purpose for every minute of your time at the gym. (And that might even include days where your purpose is just to move, or to have fun – and that’s OK!)
Bottom line is that frequency and intensity vary by individual, and recovery is an important part of the equation. We are always willing to sit down and talk to you about your goals, where you are at, what you are working toward, what you need to do to get there, how to scale the movements and workouts, and how much and when to recover, and any nutritional and recovery advice to aid you in doing that.
CEO and Founder
Prowess Fitness + Nutrition