Regarding recovery. The exercise volumes in CrossFit are EXTREMELY HIGH. Whenever I have a foundations session with someone and they say words to the effect of “I’m in pretty good shape, I ride my bike a lot” or ” I lift weights 3 times per week” I have to stifle a smirk.
I say this with no sense that I’m holier than thou, as I had the same experience. But now,from the vantage point of 5 years in, I should stress that ACTIVE recovery is a big part of your fitness efforts. What exactly is “active recovery”? Good Question. Active recovery is taking conscious steps to shorten the time between the onset of significant muscle soreness and when you can train again. It is part nutrition, part rest and part manipulation (for lack of a better word). I will elaborate.
If I squat on sunday, I will likely be sore on Monday. If I do nothing to offset that soreness on Monday, I will probably STILL BE SORE ON TUESDAY. If I take measures to address that soreness, I may be ready to go on Tuesday. Over a given year that is X number more training days I now have given myself to improve. This is a big deal in terms of your overall fitness advancement.
Lets examine each aspect and how you can affect it.
Nutrition: Let me preface this by saying that first and foremost you must eat to your best advantage. Protein and healthy fats high, carbohydrates/starches low. Your water intake should be high, and whole foods are the best sources, if your circumstances allow such. I am firm in my belief that CrossFit need not be bogged down by 1) gadgets (this shoe and that wrist wrap, and that sweat band etc) or 2) supplements ….BUT…. after a certain point SOME supplements CAN impact your recovery efforts and therefore your fitness. On that front here are some of my top choices:
BCAA’s (Branched chain amino acids, whic are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine). High doses of BCAA’s (15-20 Grams) go a long way to offsetting delayed onset muscle soreness. as does
GLUTAMINE another amino acid that reinforces recovery efforts. Whitney, Jeff K, Kathleen, Nick and Myself (and possibly other I have forgotten) all report an immediate and tangible reduction in muscle soreness when these dosages of BCAA’s and/or Glutamine are adhered to,
FISH OIL: The science behind fish oil as an anti inflamatory is pretty compelling. Here you DO want to spend up to the higher quality brands like Carlson’s or Nordic Naturals and take more v less.
Rest: Time off of working the sore muscle/bodypart is necessary, but again, our goal is to recover as fast as possible and get to training again. To that end, deep restful sleep is worth more per minute than rest while you;re awake. If you (like me) have trouble sleeping, first examine your intakes. Caffeine is the most obvious no-no. A central nervous system stimulant, caffeine will/can inhibit your sleep in all phases. Alcohol is less obvious, as it often helps you FALL asleep but significantly hinders DEEP sleep. Understand that the hormonal effects of deep sleep are significant and in their absence even 10 hours of tossing and turning light sleep will leave you at less than optimal recovery. Recently, I have had good luck in improving my sleep quality with Magnesium supplementation. Look for a magnesium supplement with the -ATE (like asparate) suffix not the -IDE (like oxide) suffix. Start with the suggested dosage and over 3-4 days work your way up to double.
MANIPULATIONS: Stretch, Roll and Temperature. Stretching is the one most people know about. An aggressive post workout static hold will go a long way towards offsetting your soreness. So, when you’re done with your squats, before you leave and sit in yuour car and contribute to further muscle shortening, STRETCH. 30 Second holds. Moderately Intensity. This can do a lot.
Temperature manipulations 90% of the time, are a fancy name for ICE. This is a big and uncomfortable commitment. You have to get an ice bag, apply, suffer, deal with the drips etc. So much so that I only ice when it’s a big deal, say between day 1 and day 2 of a competition, BUT it is HUGELY helpful. You will suffer during, but you will feel a difference. The exception is IMMEDIATELY PRIOR to working out, you wouldnt want to Ice up the group about to work. Then and there mild heat is valid as it physically warms up the target group. Even something like the neoprene knee sleeves some athletes wear is a form of heat therapy.
Therapy Rolling: I’ve saved this for last because it is, per unit of time, THE SINGLE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR FITNESS. In the above scenario, if I squat on Sunday, I’m sore on Monday. If I “roll out” on monday, more than ANYTHING ELSE (IMO) I will be setting myself up for success on tuesday even if Tuesday is more squat demand. If i do nothing, Tuesday will likely be another lost day. The rollers and lacrosse balls are, per unit of time, your very best recovery tools, and they are free and they are idiot proof. I can tell you exactly how I think they should be used, and if you did everything COMPLETELY wrong, you would still have advanced your recovery. There are a million youtube videos on how to roll body part X. Please check them out or better yet, ask me.
On a different note: EQUIPMENT FOR SALE!
We will soon be making the switch to 100% of our weight plates being the softer “hi-temp” plates that we keep around the support column. Ahead of such, we are selling our harder rubber rogue plates. Most of these are about 8 months old and lightly used as we have always defaulted to the hi-temps whenever possible. We have ten 45’s, sixteen 25’s and sixteen 10lb plates that I am selling for $1.1/per lb to members ($1.25 non-members). These are all crack free, zero to minimal damage and will last for years in a residential setting. Please let me know if these are of interest. I will give you all first shot at them before putting whats left on Craigslist. Additionally I am selling our two 32 mm bars. These are rugged bars that will stand up to any drops. The issue is they do not spin as well as our newer 30 and 28mm bars, noticeable on the snatch and the clean and jerk, but negligible on any of the other lifts. Those bars for $50.