I’m sure we’ve all heard of the saying “sometimes less is more.” This is true for many things in life and working out is no exception. Of course there are many people that don’t put in enough work to get the results that they want, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the opposite side of the spectrum, people who do too much. We all want to get into shape, but there must be a balance between doing too little and doing too much.
One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of crossfitters make is working out too much. They see videos of the games athletes working out multiple times a day, or maybe they see a few people in the gym working out twice a day or more. What they don’t see is what’s going on behind the scenes. First of all, most games athletes don’t workout multiple times a day all year long. In general, they increase their volume (workout 2 or more times a day) in the weeks or month leading up to the games. Also, what you typically don’t see is the time spent on recovery (ice baths, massages, cupping, chiropractor visits, etc.). I’ve seen many people with good intentions through the years do more harm than good because they were just doing too much.
So what can happen if you don’t have a balance between training and recovery? Two main things; overtraining syndrome and CNS (central nervous system) fatigue. I’m not going to dive deep into the science of these two instances, but I will share some symptoms of each. Overtraining syndrome symptoms can include; washed out feeling, lack of energy, sudden drop in performance, insomnia, headaches, decreased immunity, moodiness, depression, and an increased incidence of injuries. Some symptoms of CNS fatigue are; increased resting heart rate, slowed reflexes, irritability, decreased sex drive, mental sluggishness and discomfort in any physical exertion.
I’m sure no one wants to experience any of these symptoms and in fact, many of us workout to improve most of the symptoms listed! It’s true that working out on a regular basis can help with moodiness, depression, irritability, decreased sex drive and many other things, but too much of a good thing can be bad. If you want to spend more time in the gym and get more out of your fitness routine then you have to be smart about it. One thing that you don’t want to do is to come into the gym twice in one day and do the same workout or another intense, strenuous workout. What you could do is come into the gym in the morning do the strength then come in the evening and do the metcon or vice versa. Another way you could go about it is doing the full class in the morning then just doing some lifting technique work with an empty barbell or some gymnastics/skill work and some light cardio in the evening. Perhaps the best use of your time would be to focus on mobility on your second trip to the gym. Mobility/flexibility is one of the most overlooked aspects in fitness. Everybody wants to be strong and be able to do metcons well and fast, but they don’t realize how much mobility plays a part in their ability to increase their fitness. So, if you want to do more than what is written on the whiteboard: be smart about it. Spend the extra time on your weaknesses, improving your technique, skills and mobility. And please, listen to your body (and coach!), it will let you know if you need a rest.