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People like their WODs. We get that. But just as important as getting your intense workouts in is spending time properly recovering from all the hard work you've done. Recovery is not sitting on your couch all day resting. In fact, that kind of "rest" is likely to hurt your progress more than help it. Part of recovering from workouts is doing light movements; not every workout day should be at full intensity. When we think of active recovery days, which we all should be including in our weekly plan, we should think of flexibility, mobility, and skill work. Activities that promote recovery will benefit your workouts and your daily life. Studies show that active recovery is better than complete rest because it promotes blood circulation, which reduces lactic acid in the muscles, speeding up the recovery process. Doing recovery work has both psychological and physical benefits that help the body reset after the stresses of training.
So how can you add more active recovery to your training schedule?
Let's start with yoga. Tabata Times recently published an article on why CrossFitters should do more yoga. You can check it out here: http://www.tabatatimes.com/10-reasons-why-crossfitters-should-start-practicing-yoga-5282013/
Many CrossFitters find yoga to be challenging because it is so different from what we do regularly. Yoga is a great restorative way to improve your flexibility and to balance out the types of exercises you perform in CrossFit, along with getting a nice mental break from the stresses of everyday life. Give it a try and see how much better you feel afterwards. Yoga with Liz is on Wednesday mornings at 9:15am, and on Sunday mornings with Nate at 9am.
Mobility class is another way to improve your flexibility, but you can think of it as more active than stretching. Often you'll be using weights and other tools to practice controlling your body through a range of motion. It is not as useful to have a lot of flexibility if you cannot support a load through every part of that range of motion. All of us could benefit from improving our mobility, and certainly our squat, press, overhead squat, etc. would agree.
You can work on your mobility at home or at the gym by utilizing tools like lacrosse balls and foam rollers. Read Kelly Starrett's Becoming a Supple Leopard, or check out mobilitywod.com for ideas. You can also take advantage of Michael's Mobility Class every Saturday after the WODs. Having a trainer to help you figure out what is limiting your range and preventing you from achieving good positions is a crucial step to improving your form in CrossFit workouts. Michael can also give you "homework" to work on during the week to progress in this area.
Finally, open gym can be used as a way to actively recover by practicing skills in a low-stress environment with the opportunity for individual coaching. Open Gym time is now Sundays at 10am. Several people have asked for open gym time so they can come in and "work their weaknesses," and we think you'll see that it's a great benefit to you to have this time available. If there is a skill you've been wanting some coaching on and there's just never enough time in the classes to get the one-on-one help you need to master it, come to Open Gym! A trainer will be available to help answer questions, check your form, and instruct you on those kipping pull ups or rope climbs you've been meaning to learn. If you frequently hear that your clean needs work or your rowing technique is off, come get some personalized help. If you've written a goal on the goal board but just can't seem to find the time during the week to work on it, come get some practice in! And if you missed a class or two during the week that you had planned to attend, come make up a workout. Think of how many times you've told yourself, "I should really do more mobility," or "I should spend time practicing my double unders so I can stop doing singles." It's easy to justify skipping recovery work and skill practice, but now is the time to stop saying "I should" and start making it happen.
We decided to implement these changes to the weekend schedule as a step towards making our programming as effective as possible. Every good program should account for rest days and recovery days between heavy strength sessions and high intensity workouts. Initially we were programming 7 days a week, with the assumption people would be taking rest days as needed. The problem with this plan is it necessitates adding strength days and complex movements to the weekend workouts, when attendance is significantly lower. Because of this, many members were missing key elements of the program on Saturday and Sunday.
Our program for the last few months has been based on a 5 day on, 2 day off schedule, with the weekends involving lighter conditioning work. Weekends will now also serve as an opportunity for extra skill work, active recovery, or for the chance to introduce a friend to CrossFit. Saturday classes will be open for guests to come join you for your workout. Sunday is now designed to be an active recovery day or for you to make up a missed workout. We realized it would benefit an athlete more to make up a core workout from the program (including the strength portion) than to do extra workouts that are not part of the main structure of the program.
We will continue to have Olympic Lifting every other Saturday, as a chance to focus on some much-needed work on the clean, jerk, and snatch. We will also continue to offer Team Training on Sundays, as a way for intermediate and advanced members to build skills which come up less frequently and attack weaknesses. Because these classes can involve higher intensity, they should be followed with an active recovery or rest day.
We'd love to spend some quality one-on-one time with each of you during Open Gym hours so that you can reach your goals more quickly. We also highly encourage everyone to find more ways to incorporate stretching, mobility, yoga, etc. into their weekly routine and to take advantage of the new classes and hours. Our intention is to make it a little easier for you to make active recovery a regular part of your routine. Please give these classes a try, and send us your feedback on classes and scheduling to firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are additional class times that would allow you to attend more during the week, please feel free to send those over as well, as we would like to accommodate as many of your schedules as possible.