The days of arriving at the box, hitting a quick workout and leaving are over.
Today we know the importance, and benefit, of doing extra work outside of the box or gym. This is because the workout itself is not where the gains in performance are made. It’s what is done between workouts that’s of the utmost importance.
Fuelled for performance
Firstly, athletes need to be well fuelled and recover adequately with proper nutrition. This is done by eating meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise, but not body fat, says coach Greg Glassman, CrossFit founder and CEO, on the CrossFit Inc. website.
This is achieved through the time spent on the various types of foam rollers, as well as the use of TheraBands (elastic bands) and lacrosse balls. Through this process the muscle filaments and fascia get realigned through massage therapy, which further aids in the recovery and restoration of muscle tissue, which all helps to prepare the body for the next workout.
Time should also be spent ensuring that joints and the joint capsules are lubricated and free to move unhindered in the direction they were intended.
The importance of incorporating stretching, myofascial release through foam rolling, mobility exercises and pre- or rehab exercises are now also widely incorporated into modern training methodologies.
And many of these activities also help to improve movement efficiency, which doesn’t simply come by practicing a movement pattern in isolation. There are various factors or variables that need to come together to complete the puzzle.
And, as with various strength and conditioning programmes, there are also the accessory exercises that should be completed to compliment the core training involved in the programme. These training protocols also have various accessory mobility and recovery exercises included, which often can’t be completed at a single session.
This all means that many competitive athletes and regular CrossFitters now spend just as much time on mobility and recovery as they do on lifting the weights or activating muscles during a workout. These athletes stretch, roll and mobilise before and after their workouts to maintain a full range of motion in their joints and muscles, which will also allow them to accelerate gains because of the resulting efficiency of movement.
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Heat, cold and zzzzs
The use of ice baths and hot and cold recovery treatments are also becoming more common place in the recovery techniques that athletes use between workouts.
Possibly the greatest contributing variable to the optimal recovery of an athlete between WODs is sleep. This is the body’s true recovery time as this is when the body adapts to and compensates for all the physical factors practised during the day. While we sleep the body also utilises ingested nutrients to rebuild the body and replenish depleted energy stores to prepare itself for the next day’s challenges.
To get the most from your exercise programme, the time between WODs becomes vitally important.
Too many people still think that doing just a few minutes of exercise will transform their body and allow you to compete against the best.
The truth is that there is so much more to performance than just the training.
It is all the behind-the-scenes stuff that most of us never get to see that builds the greatest champions. At the end of the day, it is optimal recovery and the adaptation to previous workouts that will allow athletes to hit their next session or competition harder and faster, and enables the body to go that much further.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.