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 I got to work out for the first time after my surgery. It was glorious. To feel my heart race again and try and beat the clock. Magic!
For those of you who do CrossFit, you know you walk around in a state of perpetual soreness. Since I haven’t been working out, I haven’t had that. Today I got it back. I used to bemoan the fact I’m always sore. Then I accepted the fact I was always sore. Now, for the first time, I missed the soreness of CrossFit.
Today I got to work out for the first time after my surgery. It was glorious. To feel my heart race again and try to beat the clock. Magic!
For the third year in a row, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving by doing a CrossFit WOD called
Murph. A hero workout named for Lt Michael Murphy, who died in Afghanistan serving our country, it consists of:
1 mile run
100 pull ups
200 push ups
300 air squats
1 mile run
This is one of the most famous CrossFit workouts and is traditionally programmed for Memorial Day around the country. However, I began doing this on Thanksgiving as well three years ago to commemorate the Fallen.
The weather was perfect: 55 degrees and sunny. I invited one friend and it was him and me who performed it. It was fun. It wasn’t my best time, but I wasn’t pushing all out. It was, again, just doing the movement and enjoying life. Thank you to all who have served our country and especially to those who have made the greatest sacrifice and given their lives. Words are not enough.
I never realized the importance of having moves you dominate in CrossFit until my last competition. Called in your wheelhouse, these CrossFit moves are vital to winning workouts and, if you compete, to competitions.
CrossFit moves in your wheelhouse are moves you dominate every time they show up in a workout — moves you are really, really good at. I made up time in my CrossFit competition when one showed up in one workout, and I won the event where both moves were in my wheelhouse.
In CrossFit, advice is often given on how you need to focus on the moves you’re bad at, so you improve those. This is true. However, you need to make sure you don’t forget NOT to practice the moves in your wheelhouse, so you don’t lose those in sacrifice to others.
The fact of the matter is: you will improve those moves you’re not so good at, but they will never be like the ones you’re naturally good at, the ones you like, the ones you dominate.
CrossFit Moves in My Wheelhouse
As you can see, I’m not very good at most CrossFit moves. But these ones are popular and when thrown into a CrossFit WOD can make all the difference whether you win or lose.
CrossFit is constantly-varied, functional movements at high-intensity. Every CrossFit workout you do, you’ll get better. Know what you’re good at and add to them if possible — all the while improving all the other CrossFit movements. This is the key to winning at your box, in your heat, in your mind, and at CrossFit competitions. Good luck!
Last night, I went to bed at 6:30 pm. I was physically exhausted — something I am definitely not used to.
After a 2-day CrossFit Competition, and I worked out yesterday morning with no rest day (I squatted and did a workout with a run, hang power snatches, and burpee box jumps), I was dragging all day at work and when I came home, I was tired. I couldn’t even eat dinner. I just went straight to bed.
CrossFit Competitions will wear you out — emotionally and physically. You want to do your best, you’re disappointed when you don’t do your best, you stress over the details like the drive down and when to eat, and then there’s the actual workouts themselves, which are bears to get through.
The Importance of Sleep after a CrossFit Competition
All of this equals exhaustion. When this happens, listen to your body and get some rest. Sleep is so important with CrossFit to let your body heal, recover, and rejuvenate. Here’s my advice after a CrossFit competition or some other grueling workout, such as a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race:
Get extra sleep. This will allow vital tissues and muscles to recover and recuperate after what you’ve just put them through.
Drink more than you think you’ll need. I usually lose about 4 pounds every CrossFit competition. Most of this is water weight. At a CrossFit competition, you usually don’t drink much because you don’t want to have to go to the bathroom, you forget, or you’re just too nervous. Afterwards, you need to replenish. Drink extra water and recovery drinks for optimal muscle recovery.
Take rest days. I’m a hypocrite. I don’t do this. I don’t like to get behind on my training. Yet, you usually suffer if you don’t (or you’re so tired you lose a whole night!). Give your body some well-deserved time off.
Take inventory of what you’ve learned. I learned a lot from this last CrossFit competition. I learned once again I’m stronger than I think I am when I flipped a 300 pound tire multiple times. I learned I need to practice on a bar that I can’t touch the ground on. I learned I can still kick ass when the I have to, especially if the moves are in my wheelhouse. I learned I still have the fire to compete that I thought I had lost from burn-out. I learned I’m just as good as others, if not better.
The whole point of CrossFit competitions is to learn from them, push yourself, and be proud of your achievement. You probably won’t win them all. But within each competition, there will be a personal victory — either a move you did you didn’t think you could do or a workout you annihilated.
Keep in mind why you compete in CrossFit, and you’ll just keep getting better and better.