Ever since Sunday, I’ve been hitting my CrossFit workouts hard. This week has been all about heavy weights, which I haven’t done for a while, especially after coming back from surgery. My shoulders are trashed. My calves are trashed. Squatting down in the simple things like doing laundry is difficult.
This morning I had a workout planned. I did not do it. I was too sore, and my body was crying out for rest. Here’s some tips on how to know when to rest from exercise, CrossFit workouts, running, or whatever sport you do.
Tips to Know When to Rest from Exercise
Your body is crying out to you. This one should be intuitive, but I often ignore this one. When everything is sore and everyday movements become a challenge, it’s time for a break.
Your exhausted at the end of the day. Exercise causes trauma to our bodies that our bodies need rest and sleep in order to recover from. If you’re not giving your body rest, then you are not maximizing your time under the barbell. When you’re tired all the time, it’s your body crying out to rest, so it can do its job and repair muscle fibers and tissues, so you can be stronger for your next CrossFit workout.
Your mental game is affected. Loss of enthusiasm, motivation, and desire is a sure sign you need a rest day. If you’re only half into your CrossFit workout and you’re just going through the movements without any heart, then you’re not doing yourself any good. Rest and hit your workouts hard in the upcoming days.
You have a tweak that won’t go away. If you exercise or do CrossFit a lot, odds are you’re familiar with tweaks — some muscle feels a bit off and when you move it, you notice it. Most of the time, these tweaks resolve themselves on their own in a week or so. However, if you have a perpetual tweak that won’t go away, it’s time for a break. Take at least one rest day and then rest that muscle as much as possible. Modify the CrossFit programming to suit your needs or design your own CrossFit programming.
As you can see, the key is listening to your body. Rest is crucial to progress in sports, but it’s so hard to take that day when our passion is our sport. Below are tips for rest days.
Tips for Rest Days
Active recovery. It’s hard for some of us to not do anything physical on rest days. Active recovery is a great way to let your muscles recover but appease your mind that is nagging at you to work out. I personally like to walk my dog on rest days from CrossFit or go swimming, which is no impact and gets all your built-up lactic acid in your muscles.
Distraction. Plan rest days during the week instead of on weekends, so you’re busy all day long. Plan rest days during the weekend if your weekend is packed, and you won’t have time to exercise.
Plan your CrossFit programming or workouts. Planning my next workouts satisfies the need deep within me to workout. It gives me something to look forward to when it’s time to hit my CrossFit workouts hard again.
Read a book. Alternate worlds are always good to enter when trying to NOT do something like exercise.
Get a massage. Let’s face it, we all need massages if we lift heavy weights. Schedule your massage during your rest day if possible to maximize the effects of rest on the body.
Go to bed early that day. Get extra sleep to afford your body the time it needs to repair muscle tissue and grow stronger.
We only get stronger when we rest. Adequate rest and nutrition play a big part in our muscle gains and, odd enough, our muscle loss.
Working out and lifting heavy weights, whether you do CrossFit or a different sport, is only half the equation. Keep in mind the harder part — eating right and resting — and you’ll see results quicker.
Today’s CrossFit workout I wanted no part of. If you skip a CrossFit Workout that was programmed, it’s known as cherry-picking in the CrossFit world, meaning you only do the workouts you want to do and skip the ones that are hard or the ones you dont’ want to do. Today’s programmed CrossFit WOD was this:
3 rounds of:
10 power cleans
10 front squats
10 push jerks
1st round was 95 lb, 2nd round was 105 lb, 3rd round was 115 lb
Then we had a WOD that was this:
3 Rounds for Time:
10 power snatches 80 lbs
20 box jump overs
30 wall balls
I haven’t lifted that much in push jerks since August. I knew that was going to be tough mentally for me more than physically. But I did it. Not happily (I’m glad it’s over), but I know I need to do this stuff to be stronger and to improve at CrossFit. Here are tips when faced with a workout, so you don’t cherry-pick it:
Go at your own pace. Don’t worry about what others are doing around you. Remember this is your workout, so do it your way.
Concentrate on good form. For weights that heavy for you (80% and up), good form is crucial to a) being able to do the work b) being able to lift heavier weights moving forward. Take that extra second to get set before you lift to ingrain muscle memory to these Olympic moves.
It’s about the work. Take it one rep at a time if this is tough for you mentally. Just get the work done and finish.
In CrossFit, we all have the movements we love and those we hate. When faced with those you hate, don’t avoid them like you do your mother-in-law. Do them. You’ll be a stronger, more well-rounded athlete overall. And you may even find you like the moves once you get good at them.
At my last competition, the Turkey Challenge, we had a WOD with sandbags. I fell in love — so much so I bought two sandbags from Brute Force for myself for Christmas. One I filled with 35 pounds and one with 62 pounds.
Filling sandbags is not as easy as it sounds. Here are the steps and methods I utilized:
Buy sand (play sand is recommended) from your local hardware store or superstore
Fill the filler bags accordingly. A less filled bag is more unstable and will tax your grip and balance more. We used a funnel and a measuring cup that had a pour spout. This enabled us to accurately fill the bags with the same amount of sand.
Use a scale. After filling the bags, we would weigh the bags on a scale to make sure they were equal.
These Brute Force bags come with military-grade velcro. Velcro the bags and place them in the outer shell bag, shaking to make even.
You’re ready to begin!
WHY TRAIN WITH SANDBAGS
Sandbag training is utilized for unstable load training which is the ability to unconventionally move or lift an odd object that is unstable or has an uneven load efficiently. This type of training provides a much more dynamic and challenging training experience. You must engage your body’s stabilizer muscles, building coordinated strength and balance throughout your entire body.
Unstable load training is definitely challenging, no doubt about it. And fun. Once I’m healed from my surgery, I can’t wait to get started!
U.S. Army First Lieutenant Dimitri Del Castillo, 24, of Tampa, Florida, died on June 25, 2011, in Kunar province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire.
His CrossFit Hero Workout is:
400 m run with medicine ball
25 weighted pull ups
400 m run with medicine ball
25 handstand push ups
400 m run with medicine ball
25 chest-to-bar pull ups
400 m run with medicine ball
This was a great workout to do without utilizing a barbell. All body weight movements with added weight. Fun to do. A great recovery workout. Perfect at home workout as well.
Two-day CrossFit Competitions are rough: You’re tired from Day 1 and you have another tough day ahead of you.
Day 2 of the Turkey Challenge began with a “Burden Run,” and, yes, it is just what you think it is.
Wearing a 10 pound weight vest, you had to run with a 60 pound sandbag on your back for 150 meters, do 10 back squats with the bag, 6 lateral burpees over the bar, and then do max calories on the rower. 5 rounds. 2:30 minutes each. 30 seconds rest in-between.
I actually did really well on this one, except once I couldn’t get the bag up. But I got 4th place.
I did 7 tire flips with a 300 pound tire (never done that before).
AND I won my final WOD: 10 rounds of 15 double unders and 1 rope climb.
Overall, a great day. It boosted my confidence after the first day and has got me wanting more. After I take a break and get my tooth fixed.
Lessons Learned from 2-Day CrossFit Competitions
You get to do exercises you otherwise don’t: sandbag runs with a weight vest and tire flips.
I’m stronger than I think I am. I did 300 pound tire flips — 7 of them — and I didn’t think I could do one.
Overall, a great competition. Fun to watch. Learned a lot. Got remotivated for CrossFit. Good, albeit long, weekend!
Since I’ve been working out by myself a lot, I’m in no rush. It’s become about the work, not the time.
When a heavy barbell move is programmed into a CrossFit WOD, I usually do one rep at a time.
I did a CrossFit workout programmed by Bergeron he named Jump City:
800 Meter Run
80 Double Unders
21 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)
400 Meter Run
40 Double Unders
15 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)
200 Meter Run
20 Double Unders
9 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)
The hang power cleans were heavy for me, so I did them one rep at a time. During the hang power cleans, I kept asking myself, Why are these so hard? They shouldn’t be this hard. I started paying attention (since I wasn’t in a hurry to finish–I had no time crunch).
Why my Hang Power Cleans were Hard!
I noticed the same thing my daughter noticed with my bar muscle ups and ring muscle ups–my left wrist does not rotate. In essence, I have a death grip on the bar–a common fault for all of these moves.
This was the first time though I’ve become aware of this doing hang power cleans in CrossFit. It makes sense as to why I’d fail occasionally on my left side and why it would be hard–because I was stopping the upward momentum of the bar by not allowing the bar to rotate around.
For the rest of the CrossFit workout, I tried to be cognizant of this but, of course, like everything performed multiple times incorrectly, it will take a while to reprogram it.
Yesterday, I did a workout that was 5 minutes of work with 5 minutes of rest for three rounds. It involved a 400 m run, pull ups, and a bike. It was a great workout and I really pushed myself.
Today, I just finished a workout of 30 power snatches, 1 mile run and then 30-20-10 reps of kettlebell swings and thrusters.
Both were great workouts. But the first one I pushed myself, went really fast, but had rest. The last one I concentrated on doing the reps of the snatches, a run, and then directly into the other reps with no break except to change weight on the bar.
Both felt great but I got different benefits from them.
BENEFITS OF MODALITIES IN CROSSFIT
Mental conditioning. Knowing a rest was coming allows you to push yourself more because you know you get a break. Knowing you don’t have any rest is more of a marathon/pace workout where you don’t want to run out of steam too quickly.
Physical conditioning. You need to work all your metabolic pathways (Short distance training- anaerobic training and Long distance training- aerobic training), which makes you better at both.
Constantly-varied, high-intensity workouts. The reason CrossFit is so successful is it is constantly-varied and you get an amazing workout. You constantly keep your body guessing as to what it will be working and you never get bored, so you’ll be more likely to stick to your exercise routine.
Pushing yourself is important if you want to progress. Equally important is finding your pace and sticking it when you need to–so you can push your long-distance (aerobic training). You need both in constantly-varied movements to accomplish your fitness goals. Happy Training!