Balance or Bust: Preventing CrossFit Burnout

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For CrossFit newbies and veterans alike, the temptation to give 110% day in and day out — often without enough or adequte mental or physical rest — is strong. How else are we supposed to emulate the gods of the CrossFit Games and push ourselves to discover new limits? Our natural instinct is to believe that more is better, right? Not only is that kind of philosophy misguided, but it can also lead to injury, mental burnout, physical burnout, or even all three.

Freddy C.’s Words of Wisdom

Freddy Camacho, owner of CrossFit One World and Master’s Division competitor at the Reebok CrossFit Games this past July, knows a thing or two about how to manage a sustainable relationship with CrossFit as an athletic endeavor. Read an excerpt of his recent re-post of a blog entry from 2010:

CrossFit is hard. Most people have never trained as hard as we ask you to train. We prefer short and intense workouts because the results are amazing, but the toll on the body and the mind is pretty brutal. Pretty soon, staying home and doing nothing sounds a whole lot better than going to the gym and getting your ass kicked over and over again.

You can avoid CrossFit Burnout if you remember a few tips:

  • Avoid giving a 100% effort every day.

    I have been doing CrossFit for over four years now. If I was trying to kill every workout, I would have given up CrossFit and started step aerobics by now. On some days, you need to plan on just cruising through the workout. If you are new, I would recommend working in an “every other workout” cycle. One workout I try to give a max effort, the next workout I just cruise or scale the workload. As you get stronger and fitter, you can go all out for two workouts and then take it easy for one. Eventually, you will want to always work hard, but you will know when you need to take it easy.

  • Avoid taking extended periods of time off.

    Once you start rolling past a week of time off, getting back to the gym gets harder and harder. It’s better to come to the gym and take it easy than to not come to the gym at all.

  • Strategize.

    I never do a workout without a game plan. Granted, there are a few workouts you try to do non-stop, but for the most part, all workouts should be thought out. You need to plan on your rep scheme, amount of rest time between reps, weight to be used, etc. If you go balls to the wall right from the get go, you are usually destined to have a bad workout. Having a bad workout every time you come to the gym will dishearten you in no time.

That’s only half of Freddy’s list of pointers! Read the full post here.

“8 Signs You Are Overtraining”

If you don’t believe Freddy, see a less CrossFit-specific list of warning signs from Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple.

Less is more – as far as exercise goes – is becoming another accepted truth, especially when you understand that 80% of your body composition is determined by how you eat….

What follows is my basic list of signs that indicate you may be overtraining. Some are objective measures, while others derive from my own personal experiences with overtraining. There are overlaps, and I’ve probably missed more than a few, but I’m confident what’s listed will be invaluable to anyone who trains, and trains hard.

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