CrossFitters are often rushing around between work, home and play and then training at maximum effort during high intensity WODS with a goal to do more work in less time. Phew! Our community is full of motivated go-getters that are passionate and driven to be better and accomplish more. I am one of those people. CrossFitters train hard, work hard, play hard and live hard. The workouts are constantly challenging our ability to be more intense. I don’t believe it is healthy to go as hard as possible all the time. We need to insert breaks in our intensity in life and in fitness training to reach maximum results and a more balanced life.
Periodization training is the cycling of workouts and training in order to reach maximal fitness gains. Distinguished coaches in CrossFit and other sports often debate periodization training. Athletes may need to follow a linear, non-linear, concurrent, or conjugate approach depending on their specific goals or the season of their sport. Let’s remember that CrossFitters are athletes, but not all athletes are CrossFitters. The three typical phases in the macrocycle (over a year) are preparation, competition, and transition. CrossFitters are always stuck in only one of those phases: competition.
You may know a lot or a little about periodization or the usages of following a cycled-schedule. Regardless, my point is the same. It is not a good idea to go hard and fast in all workouts and throughout your life. The CrossFit methodology asks that of us. Pair that with highly motivated individuals and I see a common problem across my clients, athletes, other coaches and owners. It is an unhealthy routine that drives people to physical and mental burnout and therefore lack of fitness gains.
When CrossFitters have a clear, relaxed and stable state of mind, they see drastic performance increases and have a better quality of life. I can sum up the idea of an optimal periodization schedule in two words if you don’t feel like reading any further: SLOW DOWN. Now if you are interested in hearing my tips…continue on.
The first time I meditated, it was challenging to sit still and I found it pointless. My first couple of yoga classes I thought were a waste of time and too slow. I hated walking, because I could be running and I would get more out of that. I needed to accomplish more in every day than the last. I wanted to finish every task as quickly as possible and rush on to the next. My scheduled ‘off days’ were commonly filled with ‘sneaking in a few lifts.’ Playing pick-up sporting games took a back seat to timed WODS. Going on a hike or bike ride without a particular distance or time as a goal just didn’t happen anymore. I know you can all relate.
If you are a constantly busy person and think that you “can’t take a break,” “have to do more” or “all out is the only way”…here are some tips to help you schedule workouts and your life in a way that supports optimal mentality.
- Take at least 2 days off every 8-day cycle, with at least 1 of them full days off (outside of your box without Googling ‘CrossFit’ at all) and the other off day may be an active recovery/light day.
- If it has been a month and you have done nothing else active besides CrossFit, fix it. It is already too late if it’s been a month.
- Every 60-90 days take 3 days off in a row. Get out of your CrossFit routine, try a new sport or activity or just fully rest and recover.
- Every 6 months, take 5-7 days off in a row. Especially after a competition or a hard cycle of training.
- Implement 20 minutes a day at very minimum of quiet alone time. Turn the phone off, get away from the computer, close your eyes if you’d like and just let your mind wander. Take deep diaphragmatic breaths and just be thoughtful. *You can do this with a purpose (meditating on a certain topic, prayer etc.) or you can just let your mind go wherever it wants. Just be alone and quiet every single day with no interruptions (I take about an hour, daily).
- Attend yoga, pilates, tai chi, meditation or another ‘eastern exercise’ course that forces slower movement. If it is uncomfortable, do it until you get comfortable.
- Play pick-up sports, surf, climb, ski, hike, swim…all without a specific goal or time domain. Just enjoy the process. As often as possible outside of your CrossFit WODS.
- Implement ‘play days’ into your training schedule (or your client’s). Flip tires, climb ropes, play dodge ball, throw sandbags, or make up games. None of this should be done for a score. Have a hobby that is strictly for relaxing purposes only (read a book, play music, journal).
If this all sounds nice and ideal yet you still don’t think you can apply these principles immediately, I can guarantee you are overstressed and your demeanor is having negative impacts on your workouts, relationships and mental clarity. The best athletes and coaches that I work with seek balance. The individuals who continue to push and push reach a breaking point and their performance suffers. Whether you want to win the CrossFit Games, operate the best gym, or be in the best shape of your life…you need to implement a periodization schedule that promotes elite mentality.
If you’d like further assistance, contact me at Dawn.FletcherFitness@gmail.com.