Volume

Friday December 9, 2011

A. Agility Drills

B. 15-12-9-6-3

DB Hang Clean (35/20)

Burpee Box Jump

ANNOUNCEMENT: No 6am tomorrow morning

Volume

How many days a week should I workout? When should I rest? Should I workout when I’m sore? These are very common questions in any fitness program, but with CrossFit, volume is a topic of much debate and discussion. There really are no hard and fast answers when it comes to volume and training. Everyone has different capacities, recovery, and goals. Here, I will try and layout some ground rules for when to take a rest day, when you should come in, and how many days is right for you.

CrossFit HQ recommends training in a 3 on 1 off fashion. This may seem like a lot of workouts per month but there are a few reasons behind this format. One, it creates a large amount of variety. If you follow this and end up training 6 days per week, chances are there is going to be an excellent mix of skills, heavy lifting, body weight movements and cardio. With good programming (CrossFit Redondo!), your weaknesses will be hit, every body part will be taxed, and the 10 pillars of fitness* will be covered during that 6 day training cycle. This 3 on 1 off format means doing about 20 workouts per month. That is 20 hours of CrossFit training in 30 days. This should be your ultimate goal regarding training volume.

Coming in 2 days per week can do wonders for your fitness. I’ve seen consistent 2-day-a-weekers make steady progress over the course of a year. This training format would be on the low-end of the volume scale, especially when it comes to CrossFit. The reason being is that little variety can be obtained in 8 sessions per month. If you come in 2 days a week and seem to always show up on a pull-up day and never on a strength day, glaring weaknesses in strength will emerge. You may not see box jumps for 3 months, or may end up running every other session. Coming in less just means getting less variety, and possibly uneven results.

Another reason increased volume is beneficial is the fact that the workouts are short, but intense. We are at the gym for an hour, but the intensity period is only 3 to 25 minutes in length. Warm-up and mobility is definitely improving your fitness, but the magic is in the workouts. Coming 5 or 6 days per week will ensure you’ve worked out intensely for at least 100 minutes total that week. Again, with lower volume there is a chance you will only get 15-30 minutes of intensity that week. That is still enough to improve, but if your goals are more aggressive, it won’t get you to them as quickly.

Rest days are just as important as training days. Any good training program must have rest days. During a rest day, your body has 24 hours or more to rebuild, repair, and recover. The workout itself is just a catalyst for change; the rest period is where the change actually takes place. It is sometimes difficult to know when to take a rest a day. It sounds simple, but use your best judgment. If you are ridiculously sore, take a day or two off. If you are mildly sore, a workout will likely help relieve the soreness. Too much rest can also be an issue. The feedback I have gotten from the 1x and 2x people is that they are in a constant state of soreness during some weeks. This is because they workout hard, get sore, have multiple days off and then repeat. You can see how this can be a vicious cycle. Working out just enough to get sore, but not quite enough to get the adaptations not to be sore every time you squat, for example.

Everyone is different, and as you gain more experience, you’ll begin to know when it’s time to get after it and when it’s not. This is a good resource for signs of over-training: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/overtraining/.

Here is what I would recommend to people coming out of OnRamp or Elements: consider doing at least 3 or 4 days per week. This will allow you to have plenty of rest days, yet get enough volume to learn the movements. Remember, the first 3 months of CrossFit is a huge learning experience.  The more you show up, the easier this experience can be. Two days per week is okay to start with as well, but more for budget or scheduling reasons rather than training reasons. My experience is that nearly anyone can workout at least 3 times per week.

For those of you at the tweener stage (3 months or more post OnRamp), now is the time to check in with your body and your goals. Is the soreness getting more manageable? Do you feel antsy and want to train more days? It may be time to bump up. You can transition to 2 on 1 off or just every other day. As examples, Stacey and Dion increased from 3x per week to unlimited and have seen drastic improvements from that increase. I believe both of them may have struggled with the added volume the first week or two, but after that really started to improve rapidly.

As a final note, for those of you wishing to compete at some point, I can make suggestions on how to go about that. The CrossFit Open begins on February 22nd and anyone can participate. If you are serious about doing well, reach out to me and we can get you on track for success!

*cardio endurance, strength, power, speed, stamina, balance, agility, coordination, mobility, accuracy