Rest days should not be days where you just don’t go to the gym. Instead, they should be used to make the most out of all your hard CrossFit training. Here are 5 ways CrossFit athletes should spend their recovery day in order to maximize performance:
The most essential part of recovery is sleep. CrossFit training elicits neuro-endocrine responses, hormonal changes in your body that signal to your body that it needs to adapt. Positive physical adaptations (less fat, stronger muscles) do not happen during our CrossFit training sessions. Rather, they happen while we recover during sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for athletes is 9 hours. So shut your TVs off, turn off all lights, and don’t set your alarm- just SLEEP! (Unless you’re setting it to be up for the 0500 WOD of course)
Okay, I know you have heard this a million times by now- it’s been beaten into your heads over and over so I will get it out of the way. DRINK MORE WATER! We should be consuming half our body weight in ounces of water every day. Our muscles cells are 75% water, and blood contains about 83% water. Even at 1% dehydration, an athlete suffers a significant decrease in performance. Water is vital to many physiological processes that foster superior athletic performance. Without the optimal functioning of these processes, muscle tissue and neurological recovery will be slower.
The most commonly used method of mobility techniques is Self-Myofascial Release or SMR. SMR exercises use tools such as foam rollers and lacrosse balls to help soften and lengthen muscle tissue that may be restricting blood flow or proper joint positioning. I’ve been asked numerous times “How can I reduce soreness and muscle fatigue?” Well people- MOBILIZE! After a grueling series of CrossFit workouts, your body recognizes the damage in muscle tissue as an injury and goes through a process of healing involving inflammation, muscle spasms, and soft tissue adhesions. Practicing SMR on your rest day will help to relieve these adhesions (which most of us refer to as “knots”) and restore muscle range of motion and function for CrossFit exercises.
4. MEAL PREP
Rest day is the perfect time to prepare your meals ahead of time. Making the trip to the grocery store several times per week to buy whole foods will allow you to plan out your meals so you’re never left in a bind, forcing you to settle for the doughnuts in the office or fast food on your way home from work. Also, preparing your meals can be a great opportunity to spend time with your kids by getting them into the kitchen to help you cook- all while learning and developing healthy eating habits. Here are a couple of essential items to buy for effective meal prep:
- Cooler or Insulated Lunch Box
- Shaker Bottles
5. “REGULARLY LEARN AND PLAY NEW SPORTS.”
Where have we heard this before? (If you really don’t know, it’s from the last sentence of Coach Greg Glassman’s “World Class Fitness in 100 Words”) We all love CrossFit routines, CrossFit workouts, the CrossFit community, and the satisfaction we get from seeing improvements at CrossFit exercises, but we can’t forget about all the other fun and challenging athletic activities that life has to offer. Trying new sports is a great way to put all your hard training to the test! Did you play baseball as a kid? Go to a batting cage and test your new coordination and speed! Do you not have an athletic background but have kids involved in sports? Learn to play their sport! It may embarrass them a little, but they’ll be secretly happy you’re becoming more involved. Whatever it may be, get out there and try something new!
Start thinking of rest days as active recovery days by using them as preparation for your next torturous WOD. By doing so, you’ll avoid injury, stay focused, and hit new PRs!