More Isn't Always Better
"I think this is my ninth straight WOD day"
That was me a couple of months ago. What can I say, the programming at our gym was on point and I had a lot of time on my hands to hit the gym (pre hockey playoffs of course). Unfortunately after nine days of training I was seeing my metcon times go up and my powerlifting numbers go down. Ouch. Definitely not what I was hoping to see after putting in hours of effort at the gym.
The general population of Globo Gym dwellers very rarely have to ask if they should take more rest days. For the most part their problem is getting off the couch to hit the gym more than once or twice a month. CrossFitters and other Fitness Cult fanatics are a different breed with different problems though. We tend to enjoy our time at the gym and get cranky when we have to take a day off. Kind of like when Vera used to tell Norm he couldn't go to Cheers.
What's the moral of the story? You need to take rest days so that your muscles can recover from the massive abuse you put them through. In an odd twist of fate, occasional laziness leads to gains - who knew?
The official guidance from crossfit.com is that you should work out for three days and take one day off. This isn't a hard and fast rule though. You know you're body better than anyone else - listen to it. If you feel crappy after two straight days of brutal workouts, skip that third day and go for a light jog instead. If you feel like a world beater after three days of relatively easy WODs, don't be afraid to hit the gym on that fourth day. Like anything in life, the rules for taking a rest day are more shades of gray than black and white.
There is another rest related issue that troubles me - people with legitimate injuries not giving themselves a chance to heal. If you have a fatigued rotator cuff, heavy snatches and butterfly pullups are not going to help it get better. Use common sense and focus on other movements and mobility until that area is back to normal. The worst thing you can do is make a bad injury worse by "manning up" and trying to power through it. That's a good way to turn three weeks of necessary rest into six months.
Since that nine day WOD run I've tried to focus more on keeping a regular rest schedule. I tend to do two to four days on with one to two days off and let my body determine exactly what workouts I will do and which ones I take a pass on. I'm fairly confident that this new rest schedule is responsible for some of the recent gains I mentioned in previous posts.
So how do you decide when to take a rest day? Do you have a hard and fast schedule or does it mostly depend on how you feel on a given day? Let us know!