CrossFit is addicting. We know. It’s fun, and it gets results. But sometimes you need a break. Our workouts are much different than the traditional training methods. The level of intensity we maintain makes it even more important to make sure we’re giving ourselves a break when we need it. We’ve talked about recovery planning & tracking, sleep, and foam rolling. Now let’s talk about rest.
Rest days are your weekly days to focus on recovery. At a minimum, you need to take at least one day a week completely off. Two would probably be better. And depending on the week, you may benefit more from three. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer. Age, the amount of quality sleep you get, your diet, and many other factors affect how often you should take a rest day. Usually, younger folks can train 5 to 6 days a week, while the older crowd might be better off training 2 or 3 times a week.
We usually recommend training no more than three days in a row before taking a day off. We have found that the fourth day sacrifices some intensity, which makes the workout less effective. It is usually better to take a rest day and come back even stronger and ready to go the day after.
Experiment with different schedules and see where you do best. You can see great improvements from a Tuesday/Thursday schedule in the beginning. Many people continue to see huge gains from training Monday/Wednesday/Friday. For some, three days a week is the ideal schedule. For others, once you have been doing high intensity training for some time, adding a fourth and even fifth day can help you reach your goals faster. But this is all completely dependent on you, your schedule, and how much effort you take towards helping your body recover. If you neglect rest and recovery, training six days a week can do more harm than good.
Some simple tests to see if you’re due for a half-intensity week
- Look at your Recovery Tracker. Are you in the negatives? You need a rest day.
- How did you feel when you woke up? If you were sluggish, more tired than usual, your heart rate was much higher than normal, or you felt mentally exhausted, take the day off.
- Are you seeing the first stages of a nagging injury? You may not be getting the rest days you need.
The key is to take the rest days before you really need them. So be sure and schedule them in. You can still go to the gym these days, but focus on foam rolling, stretching, and mobility.
Every so often, your body needs a bigger break than just one day. Some suggest taking a half-intensity week every four weeks, but this isn’t an excuse to get lazy. Look at your calendar and track the days you work out. Most of you will find that a vacation, sick kids, or a busy schedule kept you from the gym for a few days during the month. But if you look at your calendar and you haven’t missed one of your regularly scheduled workouts in over a month, you’ll want to consider taking a half-intensity week. This means reducing the volume and intensity of your workouts for 3-5 days. Below are a couple examples of how to implement a half-intensity week into your schedule:
Depending on your consistency, intensity, and recovery practices, this will vary from person to person.
Some simple tests to see if you’re due for a day off
- Look at your Recovery Tracker. Has it been in the negatives for over a month? You need some time to rack up the positive points.
- Have your workouts been on the decline? Do weights feel heavier than they should? Are you slowing down in the workouts? Taking a week off could be the cure.
- Has your joint/muscle pain been getting worse? This can be a sure sign of over training. Take some time to focus on resolving it.
Make it happen
Take a minute and flip through your workout log. When was the last break you took? Fill in your Recovery Tracker and see where you stand. Assess how you’re feeling today – is something hurting, are you overly fatigued? Determine if you’re due for a break. If you are, grab your ice pack and foam roller and get recovered!