After talking with several of the members, I have realized we need to discuss the importance of rest days. Before covering the importance of rest days I feel I need to explain a few things about CrossFit and CrossFit’s methodology.
I am sure everyone has heard one of the trainers in the box speak about the workouts being intense or the intensity of CrossFit. Well what is intensity?
“Intensity, as we define it, is exactly equal to average power (force x distance / time). In other words, how much real work did you do and in what time period? The greater the average power, the greater the intensity. This makes it a measurable fact, not a debatable opinion.” Well what is force ? (force= mass x acceleration)
So what does this mean?
This means the goal should be to move heavy objects as fast as possible. To increase intensity either add more weight or move faster. This is the whole point of CrossFit and this is why CrossFit works so well. (On a side note, this is where scaling comes in. We do not scale to make a workout easier. We scale so we can produce the most amount of power possible. Since one of the aspects or intensity is time, we must take this in to account. If the workout calls for a 275 deadlift but this takes the athlete 45 minutes to complete, more power and intensity would have been achieved by a 245 deadlift completed in 2o minutes.)
What do rest days have to do with this?
Take for example, an athlete works out 5 days in a row. On the forth day, the athlete is extremely tired. During the workout the athlete decides to just go through the motions and “just finish” the workout. What is the athlete missing? INTENSITY!
There is nothing to be gained from a half hearted attempt at a workout.
Here is another example, An athlete is also involved in endurance events. The athlete decides to run a 10 mile long run at 4am and then come to the 6:00 am WOD. Since the run has taken the energy out of the athlete they decide to lighten then weight of the WOD and “just put in the work” This is removing the aspects of CrossFit which make this athlete a better runner.
So what role does rest play in Intensity?
Without rest an athlete is not physically capable of producing maximum power. This is the reason most CrossFit programs follow a 3 on 1 off schedule. This allows the athlete to push as hard a possible (very high intensity) for 3 days. The rest day then allows the athlete to recover, thus being able to push to max intensity the next 3 day cycle.
The 3 day on 1 day off cycle is not the only program that works. If you are tired, REST! If you feel good, PUSH IT! Just make sure the intensity is the goal. Do not workout just to get the work in. This has shown to be counter productive and simply a waist of time.
Active recovery days are a way to help an athlete feel productive while resting. Active recovery days should be based around mobility and range of motion. A good example of an active recovery day may include: 500m warm up row, 30 minutes mobility work and pvc pipe training, active cool down stretch.
Rest does not mean you have to sit at home on the couch. It does, however, mean the athlete needs to take it easy for a day in order to be capable of pushing to the fullest.
Make sure you are getting the maximum benefits of the program!