It’s no secret that CrossFit entails a lot of high intensity exercise; that’s typically why WODs are designed to be so short, and yet they produce the same (if not better!) positive results as longer and less intensive cardio or weight training sessions. The key to having success with high intensity workouts, however, is that they need to be accompanied by both active and passive recovery sessions. This latter aspect is something that many Crossfitters either don’t focus much time on or skip altogether, and this can be extremely detrimental to the body. Crossfitters need to educate themselves as much about recovery as they do about active training.
Weight training puts stress on the body; our bodies react to the stress and adapt our level of homeostasis in order to prevent damage to the body. Homeostasis comes from the Greek word for “steady”, and refers to the body’s way it maintains stable conditions like temperature, water, and oxygen contents in order to maintain survival. After repeated training sessions our homeostasis learns to reset at a higher level, and this is what makes us faster and stronger.
However, when we are NOT training, our bodies are trying to reverse the impact of the stress we’ve placed on them. They need to completely recover from the stress before they can perform optimally in the next workout; thus, the faster we recover the quicker we can get back to training. For some, this is a matter of hours. For others, days, weeks, or even months. The difference is in the time you spend focusing on recovery, and the effort you put into finding a strategy that works for you. The better you get at recovering, the better results you’ll see in the box.
So what are some ways you can ensure your body gets the recovery time it needs? Here are 8 easy things you can do every day, in and out of the gym:
1. Be proactive and add recovery into your schedule.
You plan out your training sessions, right? You should also be planning out your recovery sessions. Make sure you add both active and passive recovery techniques into your training schedule, and don’t skip them. They should be as much of a priority as your workouts are.
2. Focus on nutrition.
We discussed the importance of nutrition in this post, and it’s as essential to your recovery as it is to your performance. Your body uses food to fuel your workouts, and it also needs real food to repair itself in between training. Eat lean meats, veggies, and healthy fats and stay away from processed food that can cause inflammation.
3. Make sure you get enough sleep.
When we sleep, the body repairs itself. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re not giving your body enough time to reset. Add sleep into your schedule, and make it a priority just like you do anything else that’s important.
4. Stay hydrated.
When we sweat we lose water; dehydration reduces blood volume, and blood volume directly impacts aerobic capacity and performance. Thus, if we’re dehydrated our bodies can’t perform optimally. Try to drink somewhere between 40-70% of your body weight in water every day. Set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to drink water if you have a hard time remembering.
5. Warm up and cool down after every workout.
Again, this is part of being proactive about your recovery. Take the time to adequately warm up and cool down before EVERY workout. I know I’m guilty of skipping one or both of these things from time to time because I feel like I have something more important to do, but the truth is that if you’re going to be doing high intensity exercises you owe it to your body to spend time preparing it for these types of workouts.
6. Utilize foam rollers.
Foam rollers are cheap and can be purchased on Amazon, and most CrossFit boxes make them available to their members as well. Spend some time before and after a workout rolling out your muscles and smashing knots to maintain good tissue quality.
7. Incorporate stretching and mobility exercises into your fitness routine.
At CF3P we participate in ROMWOD at least once a week in order to keep our tissue and joints healthy. High intensity exercise puts strain on our muscles and causes them to become tight, and stretching and mobility exercises help them to relax. These types of exercises also build flexibility which will improve your ability to perform functional movements.
8. Contrast baths
Hot water increases blood flow to sore muscles while cold water reduces pain and inflammation. Spend 5 to 10 minutes on each and you’re guaranteed to see a difference in your recovery.
What do you do to recover? Do you have any pre or post workout tips to share with our readers? Comment in the section below!