Recovery! How, Why, and What?

Congrats on getting through the CrossFit Games Open 2022!! This week we will be focusing on a DELOAD week. Our goal here is to give you the opportunity to back off on intensity and overall volume to focus on recovery. We can also use this week to spend additional time taking care of any nagging things we have felt in the past to avoid them turning into an injury.

For you to get fitter and become a better CrossFit athlete, you must recover from training sessions.  The body doesn’t adapt to the stress of training while you train; it happens in the “off” hours between sessions.  The brain signals to the body during exercise that the stress level is high enough that it must make adjustments so that you’ll be better equipped next time.  Some of those “adjustments” include: a stronger heart, stronger lungs, increased mitochondria in the muscle cells, muscle hypertrophy, improved balance and coordination, and more.  Basically, everything you want to improve on as a CrossFit athlete.

This is why, when it comes to training, more is not always better. At a certain point, more training will become detrimental to your performance.  The window of time between training sessions is when you truly become better at your sport, whether you’re doing CrossFit or something else.

The Three Pillars of CrossFit Recovery

Pillar Number One: Sleep  

It’s free, it’s enjoyable, and honestly, it’s the most important thing in this whole discussion. You’ve likely heard this before, so beating a dead horse may not be necessary.

Here are some highlights of the benefits of sleep:

  • Muscle-building hormones like testosterone and HGH increase during sleep.
  • Good sleep helps fight off colds and infections that can keep you out of the gym.
  • Good sleep balances your brain chemistry and allows you to “reset” for the next day.

Some research-based keys for CrossFitters to get good sleep:

  • Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Sleep in a dark, cool room.
  • Create a 10-minute before bed routine for your mind to “wind down” before sleep.
  • Avoid screen time for an hour before bed.
  • Stop hitting snooze. Seriously.

The CrossFit Journal published an article in 2012 about Sleeping for Performance. The key takeaway? No matter how much you use a foam roller, no matter how consistently you train, it all comes down to getting some quality rest.

Pillar Number Two: Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for promoting muscle recovery after an intense WOD.

You know the deal. Eat lean protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Don’t let the fad diets turn carbs into a villain; you need an adequate carbohydrate intake to fuel your tough workout while leaving enough in the tank to recover.

Wholesome ingredients give your body the raw materials it needs to repair tissues between training sessions. If you find yourself prone to injury, riddled with fatigue, and unable to give it your all during a workout, focus on getting in the basics of proper nutrition before moving onto supplements.

Pillar Number Three: Water and Hydration

What does a serious athlete gearing up for the CrossFit Open and a casual visitor at their local CrossFit gym have in common? Water.

As the human body is composed primarily of water, you want to stay hydrated at all times. Water creates an internal environment conducive to recovery and repair. If you’re thirsty when you start your WOD, you’re already dehydrated.

Even one hour of CrossFit training can severely dehydrate the body if not balanced out. Most people shoot for 40-70% of their bodyweight in ounces of water per day. If you have a headache or feel dizzy and nauseous after a tough workout, chances are it wasn’t the double unders that did it to you; it was a lack of proper hydration.

This information was compiled from several CrossFit journals.

If you have any questions, please discuss with you Coach during your next class.