Crossfit is awesome, of course we want to do it everyday, but training 5 days a week is often too much for people, depending on their training history.
A common misconception is that if we want to reach our goals quicker, that we should train more. 3 days a week turns into 5 days a week which turns into 5 days a week with two workouts a day. Unfortunately, its not that easy.
How much work you put in the gym each week is referred to as your training volume. It takes years for bodies to adapt to the training volume of Games and Regional athletes. If someone is new to Crossfit, 5 days a week is a huge shot to the body. Someone who is new to Crossfit and tries to hit 5 days a week will likely feel a lot of Central Nervous System fatigue towards the end of the week which influences performance, mental function, cortisol levels, and recovery. Not to mention sexual function ;)
Despite what instagram tells you, gains are not made in the gym. Instead the gym primes our body to make gains, but the real magic happens at home, when you are resting, eating, sleeping and recovering from your weeks work.
As a coach I would not advise anyone to work out more than 5 times each week. Ideally, if you are working out 5 times per week, you would need to have a rest day mid-week if your schedule permits. The classic Crossfit approach to training is 3 days on, 1 day off, 2-3 days on, one day off. This is because after 3 days of Crossfit, our body might not necessarily be sore, but the central nervous system is taxed, and performance will start to decrease which doesn’t allow for the body to hit the high intensity.
If you are wanting to increase your training volume, do an inventory on your lifestyle. There are four areas which are equally important, and need to be in order to justify increased training volume. If one of these is lacking, and training volume is increased, it is possible to “over-train” which will lead to decreased performance, increased cortisol levels which can actually lead to the body storing body-fat in the stress areas (belly, hips, triceps).
The four main areas that need to be in order are:
1- Sleep. If you are training 5 days/week, you must be sleeping at least 7-9 hours per night. If you have trouble getting to sleep early enough to make this happen, try turning your cell-phone, tv, and any screens off at 8:00pm. This leaves you with reading, stretching, visiting friends or your partner. This relaxation is important.
2- Nutrition- Are you eating enough? The right amount will be different for each individual, but skipping meals to try to lose weight while increasing training volume will lead to a loss of muscle mass, retention of water and body fat. Ensure each time you eat throughout the day that you are taking in all three of the macro-nutrients (Protein, Fat, and Carbs).
3- Hydration- Adequate hydration is often over-looked but extremely important. The average person who is “crossfitting” should be taking in at least 3-4 litres per day. Drink Up!
4- Stress- Stress can manifest itself in the body in many ways. There is the obvious stress from work, family, money, etc. This can have a major influence on your training, recovery, and performance. In addition to the traditional causes of stress, lack of sleep, and lack of the necessary nutrition will also garner a stress response from the body. This means that if you increase your training, but aren’t taking care of yourself outside of the gym in terms of hydration, sleep, and nutrition, your body will be stressed, and respond accordingly.
Conclusion- More is not always better. If you have goals of improving your performance in the gym, simply doing more is not usually the best option. Training with more a more focused and process goal oriented approach will get you there faster. Over-training leads to plateaus (staying at the same weights for months), and even decreased performance (hitting a wall in workouts, not able to increase weights for several weeks), and that is just inside the gym. Over-training can also affect your mental-function, sexual function, body-fat, and muscle mass.
Take care of yourselves.
Crossfit 46 Coaching Staff