5 Factors to Prevent Regression

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by NICK PORTERFIELD, D.C.

5 Factors to Prevent Regression
When people first start CrossFit, they often make progress at a quick rate during the first few months. Many people have the ability to do more than they seem to at first, but they are held back by not knowing the proper technique for lifts, restrictions in flexibility, and a lack of cardiovascular ability. Once new CrossFitters work on the basics, their weights and times tend to improve at a fairly consistent rate. This progress can easily last through the first year with the will to learn.

A few months ago I passed the two-year mark of being a CrossFitter and retested my maxes in eight different lifts (shoulder press, push press, jerk, deadlift, clean, snatch, front squat, and back squat). It had been my first time maxing in three months and I PR’d on every lift except for the snatch (more on that later). It got me thinking, how far could I go? At what point will I hit a plateau? At what point might I even possibly….regress? That led me to consider what factors would lead someone to regress. We’ll all plateau at some point, potentially improving in small increments on occasion, but going backwards is something that is a whole other ballgame. Consider the following factors when preventing regression.

1. Diet

A big change for most average people when they begin doing CrossFit is that they realize their diet needs some improvement. Even if they think they are eating fairly healthily, they learn from others in the box that diet soda and frozen yogurt don’t count as “healthy alternatives.” Even once people are doing CrossFit for a while, they can easily and quickly regress from eating poorly and drinking in excess during the holidays or while on vacation.

Personally, during my first few months of CrossFit, I would always leave the gym feeling great on Friday, but I’d often feel like throwing up during the WOD on Monday. I ate well during the week and cheated a little on the weekends. Then I thought about it more and realized that when the “weekend” starts Friday afternoon and lasts through Sunday, then I was cheating for about 40% of the week. That’s not cheating; it’s just poor diet.

I’m not going to get into what you should be eating because people have different goals and require different nutritional needs to achieve those goals. I will state the obvious, though — that avoiding refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol will keep your fitness abilities trending in the right direction.

2. Sleep

Sleep

Potential weight gain and lack of energy from exhaustion will hinder physical endurance and your ability to improve.
More studies have been done regarding sleep and mental ability compared to sleep and physical ability. Three months after I started doing CrossFit, my wife had our first baby. I can tell you firsthand that lack of sleep will definitely cause your physical abilities to regress. For starters, when you’re exhausted, you may not even go to your local box to work out. That will lead you to regress, obviously. Lack of sleep also increases production of ghrelin, which stimulates hunger and decreases leptin, which is the peptide that suppresses appetite. There is a reason why it’s difficult to lose weight when you don’t sleep enough. Potential weight gain and lack of energy from exhaustion will hinder physical endurance and your ability to improve.

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