19.3 – Strictly Amazing

Hi there folks!  With three CrossFit Open workouts behind us, we have tested a wide range of our fitness already.  19.1 was all about horsepower with nothing too tricky to trip you up, 19.2 invited you to lift heavy if you could stay in the game long enough, and 19.3 was a chipper of lower-body stamina and high-skill upper-body gymnastics.
The first thing that needs to be said, and celebrated, is that we have an athlete/coach in our midst that really took advantage of her opportunity to shine with 19.3.  Alyssa placed 4th IN THE WORLD in her 35-39 year-old age group!!  I think we all knew that she was going to do very well given her elite gymnastics background as well as her supreme level of conditioning, but this is a monumental achievement!  If you haven’t given her a high-five, do it!  Both to congratulate her, and also maybe some of that fitness will rub off?  And if you haven’t been attending Alyssa’s gymnastics seminar on Thursday evening or Saturday morning, you have to get there!!
Secondly, something that we’ve talked a bit about previously is getting yourself physically ready for the Open workouts so that you can be at your best come game time.  That definitely starts with nutrition and hydration, priming your body to perform at a peak level.  And when it comes to the day of competition, you need to be properly warmed up and ready to move through the ranges of motion that will be required in the workout.
But we also need to think about planning out our week of training leading up to Friday’s Open WOD, and paying attention to how our bodies feel throughout the week so that we can be primed when the time comes.
Coach Tristan recently sent me an article from a great CrossFit blog and program called Street Parking.  The article is about taking rest days, and specifically answers the questions, “How many rest days should you take?” and “what should I do on my rest days?”  If you’re struggling with constant soreness, being tired, or feeling like you’re not performing like you could when the CrossFit Open workouts come up, this is a good read for you!  Check it out below.  I’ve edited it a bit for length and removed some references to specific programs that they offer that wouldn’t make sense in our context.  Enjoy!!
Rest Days – The Low Down on How Many, How Often, and WHY??
Rest Days are CRITICAL to achieving results.  But how much do we need?  How do we know if we are resting enough – or too much?
We took a survey recently on the Street Parking Members Facebook page asking “How often do you guys rest?” The highest result was “whenever I feel like I need it,” followed by “two days a week,” and then “one day a week.”
None of these answers was the RIGHT answer – but there are some pitfalls to each that you need to keep an eye on. For example, someone who may not absolutely LOVE to work out, resting “whenever I feel like I need it” may inadvertently turn into “whenever I want to get out of working out.”  This is a quick excuse if you get home from a long day at work and remember that a new episode of your favorite show is waiting for you on Hulu. You think you need a rest day because you’re tired, but really you just want one. You have to know yourself and know it’s not a good option if you’re already looking for an excuse out!
On the flip side – those of you that stick to a rigid schedule – 2 days a week or 1 day a week – may be skipping rest days when they would actually be beneficial.  For those that rest a set number of days a week, rigidity with which days you rest each week could lead to anxiety. If you chose the same specific days each week to rest, say Thursday and Sunday, and then something comes up Friday and you can’t work out, this could send you into a panic. Or, if you’re super wrecked on Wednesday but your rest day isn’t until Thursday, you may not choose to rest when you actually really need to. 
My goal here is to get you guys thinking about YOUR rest needs, empowering you to decide for yourself how much rest YOU need and when, and to give you some alternatives to rest so that you can make some choices if you feel you need to keep moving to maintain consistency even when you’re feeling wrecked.
So how much and when should I rest? What’s best?
First things first- you need to look at your nutrition when figuring out your rest. 
Proper Nutrition = Less Rest Needed
With proper nutrition you’ll be more well recovered and you’ll need fewer rest days. If your nutrition is crappy, if you’re not eating enough or if your nutrition is inconsistent, it will eventually lead you into needing more rest days or taking more days off.  Or – at least your recovery and therefore results will be subpar. Make sure when thinking about rest days you don’t just assume you need more rest when things are not feeling quite right. Take a look at your nutrition, and your sleep habits as well! Both play a huge role in recovery.
As always, our main focus for everyone is consistency. But….
Consistency does not equal intensity every single day.
To help you determine intensity and rest based on your consistency, I’ve broken it down into four different stages of consistency so you can determine which stage you’re in, and go from there. This will vary from – someone who JUST started working out – to someone who has been consistent in training and nutrition for quite some time. In each stage I’ve laid out what your movement each week should ideally consist of in terms of moving days, work out days, intensity days and rest days. 
The Different Types of “Days”
Moving days: Days you’re doing SOMETHING but not an actual work out. This could be a long walk, a hike, a casual row or swim, a bike ride with a friend, a maintenance video, moving for leisure and fun.
Work out days: Days you’re doing CrossFit, but NOT focusing on intensity, maxing out, or having the best whiteboard time. Days you take it a little more easy – don’t start the clock – or go lighter ON PURPOSE. Focus on form and movement. On these days skip starting the clock or tracking your rounds. 
Intensity days: These are the days where you’re going to push for the best performance and score that you can, push to hit those goal times or goal rounds. Intensity doesn’t always mean to go faster. If you’re lifting that day, this might mean that you actually push intensity by going super heavy – which is completely different than just keeping the weight moderate and working technique.
Rest days:  DO NOTHING. Get out of the gym. A total break physically and psychologically.
The Stages of Consistency Rest Recommendations
STAGE 1: Someone who is new to working out, recently injured or recovering from being seriously ill, post partum mothers, etc.
3 Work Out Days
2 Moving Days
2 Rest Days
0 Intensity Days
If you’re brand new and you’ve never worked out in your life, I’m not expecting you to go to 7 days of movement right off the bat. It’s not realistic and it’s not sustainable. If you’re doing super scaled workouts going from never working out to three times a week and then moving two other days that’s already going to be a huge load added to your body than what it’s used to. This stage should last 4-8 weeks. 
STAGE 2: Someone who’s been consistent with Stage 1 movement for 4-8 weeks.
4 Work Out Days – (1-2 of which should be made into Intensity days)

2 Moving Days
1 Rest Day
For example here, you could do CrossFit two days and really push it for your intensity day, and CrossFit again in the other two “work out” days but just don’t start the clock.
Go for a long walk with a friend and a bike ride, or do some active mobility work on your moving days, and then the final day do nothing!
STAGE 3: This is the ideal place for everyone to live! It’s realistic, it’s sustainable, it won’t wreck you, and you’ll see great results.
4 Work Out days – (3-4 of which should made into be Intensity Days)
2 Moving Days
1 Rest Day
This is basically the same as the Stage 2 break down – but with added Intensity Days.  Again the “Moving Days” can still be work outs – but intentionally should not be “going for it” levels of intensity.
STAGE 4: The people who love working out so much that they constantly want to push it and are at a period in their life where the want to push more because they have the time to do it. 
5 Work Out days – (3-4 of which should be made into Intensity Days) 
2 Moving days
0 Rest days
This only works and you’ll only see better results in this stage if your recovery practices, sleep and nutrition are dialed in, and if your overall life stressors are low. This stage give you ONE more work out day – but still keeping the Intensity Days at 4 or less.  I just. DON’T recommend more than that for almost anyone.
Rest Should Maximize your Intensity and Volume.
So how do you know if you have picked the right STAGE- if you’re doing it correctly???
If you’re going into your intensity work outs and your scores are getting better on retest days, or you’re able to use more weight and you’re not wrecked for days afterwards, then you’re probably resting enough. If you feel sluggish, your scores aren’t getting better, the weight feels heavier than normal, or you’re not improving, then you’re probably not resting enough.  You probably ALSO need to look at the other recovery factors, too. Remember, the answer is not necessarily always more rest days, it could be more sleep, better nutrition, etc. 
We all know the people who want to work out 7 days a week, or they work out 6 days a week with 1 day of “active recovery.” I’m not a fan of this and here’s why…
In terms of “active recovery,” if you’re capable of doing something physical that actually HELPS you recover, then by all means, do it. If you can go on a 5K jog as your “active recovery” and that 5k makes you feel more ready and rested for Monday’s work out, great. However, don’t assume it’s doing that if you haven’t tried the opposite!
It’s very often that people are addicted to exercise and have this crazy idea that if they take a rest day that they’re going to gain 10lbs overnight. They are not really doing that active recovery day because it helps them to recover, they are doing it because they are terrified of not working out and think they need to work out seven days a week to see results. You need to be honest with yourselves and ask, “Do I really think this helps me recover, or am I just afraid to NOT do something?” Usually, these are the same people who are afraid to eat enough. Undereating and working out seven days a week because you’re scared to eat more and scared to rest isn’t going to help your results. You’ll have a way harder time seeing results than those working out a little less, resting, and fueling properly. 
Along with this, we see a lot of people who work out seven days a week but they never push intensity. “I did program A but it was too easy so then I did program B, too!” That shouldn’t be possible.  Unless you purposely worked out slow! If that was your intensity day you shouldn’t be able to rally ten minutes after you finished working out to do another workout or do it again with heavier weight.
If you feel like you can do more on your intensity day, right after the workout, you did it wrong. 
These people do what I call “jogging.” They do the work out, but they never push intensity (this is fine if you’re brand new and in Stage 1!) These people think they need to work out MORE, but really they need to work out HARDER. What is going to allow them to work out harder is if they rest one or two days a week so they come in feeling fully recovered and are okay pushing that really uncomfortable pace knowing that at most they are going to do three days of fitness in a row and then take another rest day.
If you try and push intensity seven days a week you’re going to end up jogging. Up to four intensity days a week is all anybody needs!
Sometimes we wreck ourselves too much and we try and do intensity every day.
Expected intensity every single session will lead to LESS CONSISTENCY! 
Why? First, it’s too much pressure! If every day you have this idea in your mind that you have to go all out 100% to get a good work out, then when there are days you know you that you just can’t – because your baby kept waking up all night, or you just got off shift work, LIFE HAPPENS –  you’re going to think to yourself, “well since I can’t go 100%, I just can’t work out today.” Or you’ll attempt it and completely wreck yourself in the process – opening up the door for more common illness or injuries.
Last week I did the burpee squat work out under intensity, then Friday we did a team work out and really was the hardest I have gone in a WHILE. Saturday I couldn’t do anything. Neurologically I could feel how wrecked I was so I took that day off. Sunday I did the Open work out and pushed intensity and then on Monday I was wrecked again but still wanted to work out.  So I didn’t start the timer Monday morning. I did it RX, didn’t time myself, and rested a lot. Tuesday I felt like I was starting to get sick…probably because I wrecked myself for three days in a row. Intensity too many days in a row has now started to interfere with my consistency.
Remember that you will move in and out of the 4 Stages at different periods of your life.  You may start in Stage 1 – and move over time to 3 or 4.  But then, you may go through a period where your life is hectic – you get a new job, move, have a pregnancy etc.  The goal isn’t to STOP working out because you can no longer maintain a certain Stage or Level.  The goal is to live in the one you need to be in right NOW.

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