How much volume do you really need?
I need to be fit faster, so I should workout more
I need to lose weight, so I should workout more
But it working out MORE always the answer?
Not as often as you would think!
The beauty of CrossFit has always been getting a super effective dose in a short period of time. That is why CrossFit workouts tend to be fast but deadly. Somewhere along the way people started getting the idea: Well if that workout made me fitter imagine what 3 of those a day would do!
And I get it – it seems like a simple formula. BUT there’s a lot more to it than that.
Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit has said, “Be impressed with intensity not volume.”
Let’s take the workout Fran: 21-15-9 pull-ups and thrusters. The goal of this workout is to be short and painful. For many that have done it all out before, seeing Fran on the board is more intimidating than seeing a 30 min amrap on the board. Why? Because they know how painful it is when you hit it’s intended stimulus. And it’s MUCH easier to sustain a good pace for 30 minutes than to sprint for 3 minutes when your whole body is screaming at you to stop.
“But Fran is under 5 minutes I should SURELY be doing more than that.” So let’s change Fran to 4 rounds of 21-15-9 pullups and thrusters. Then what happens? As the time period increases the intensity decreases and the stimulus is lost. The increased volume hasn’t made it harder, it’s simply changed the workout.
What is generally seen when people suddenly ramp up their volume:
For a while, they feel fine (maybe even invincible) Then slowly it gets hard to get out of bed, their shoulder won’t stop nagging them, they can’t seem to push as hard as they used to, they can’t lose weight… Why is this? Constant stressful volume can actually have the opposite effect on weight loss – causing you to hold on to fat more than normal. It may also increase your chance of injury. Your body can only do the so many repetitive movements so many times before it starts to break down.
If you want to get fit and stay healthy for the long term, try this:
1: Hit every workout with it’s intended stimulus and stay consistent. Learn how to sprint, how to pace workouts that ask you to have consistent split times, how to grind.
2: Practice SKILLS and WEAKNESSES. If you have a goal of getting a pull-up, muscle up or you really suck at a certain movement… Write them down and take time practicing your skills or working on the accessory movements needed to help you get there. Move with purpose.
3: Recover like a boss. Practice good sleeping habits, be a clean eating ninja, and MOVE. Get outside, walk, hike, ride a bike. This is where the key to weight loss and success are.
What if you want to be competitive?
Perhaps you may consider adding more to your routine. But lean in to it with intention. Volume for the sake of volume is not the answer to being a successful competitive athlete. Be smart about your training; don’t sacrifice the length of your CrossFit career for a few crazy workouts.