One of the nice things about CrossFit is that the workout is all planned out.
No need to set up and plan out a daily workout, you just show up, work your ass off, cry on the floor for a few hours, pack up your bags, and then you’re on your way until next time.
But when should next time be? The next day? Twice a week? Every third Tuesday, but only if the sitter can take care of little Matthew?
Planning out how many workouts a week is ideal can be a tough thing to do.
You’re always sore, so how do you know when your body is making gains and when it is just in a constant state of muscular fatigue and breakdown?
Let’s take a look at every possible amount of workout days a week and compare them.
0 DAYS PER WEEK
This particular category is populated by the ‘Non-CrossFitter CrossFitters’.
They talk about CrossFit, they know about CrossFit, they SAY that they do CrossFit, but do they? Not really.
Maybe these people go to CrossFit a few times a year, just to prove to themselves that they are “Still a real CrossFitter” when even their own brains start to doubt them.
Then they half-ass it at the WOD and afterwards talk about how they’re “Not even sore, I guess I still got it.”
This is clearly not the ideal number of days to do CrossFit each week (Unless you don’t do CrossFit at all, in which case, you do you). Zero is barely even a number.
- – You’ll never be sore
- – More time for sitting
- – No possible chance of injury
- – You don’t actually do CrossFit
- – No physical improvements
- – Lack of mental improvements
- – No emotional improvements
To bastardize a quote from Syndrome in the movie The Incredibles: “When everyday is a recovery day, no day is a recovery day.”
1-2 DAYS PER WEEK
Hey, at least we’re into real numbers now. No more of that ‘0’ stuff.
You are a CrossFitter if you fall into this category. Lots of the people who do 1 day per week are new to CrossFit, or use CrossFit to supplement other types of workout regimes.
For the sake of the article, let’s pretend that all people who do CrossFit once per week are only doing CrossFit for physical activity, and not doing a conglomerate of different things.
First things first… If you’re doing CrossFit once a week, you are already miles ahead of the CrossFit Couch Coach who doesn’t do any CrossFit at all, but never shuts up about how good he would be at it if he were doing CrossFit.
Aside from that, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You can go and kill yourself every Tuesday night in the CrossFit gym and feel like you’re going to make massive improvements.
But if you then spend the next 6 days sitting and waiting for the next Tuesday, you’re never going to get far.
In terms of the physical toll your body takes, every WOD will be like your first, and who could ever forget your first WOD?
The muscles burn like never before, you spend the entire time wishing you were never born, and Pukie the Clown is an ever-present spectre looming over you the entire workout.
All in all, it is not a fun experience.
The first few days after your WOD, your muscles will be sore. This is them growing and healing.
The next few days after that, where you’re still not working out? Your muscles are reverting back to their original state. All the growth you got from your Tuesday night and subsequent recovery days are lost.
Back to square one.
1-2 days per week is the ‘Groundhog Day’ of CrossFit workout, meaning you’re stuck in an infinite time loop of your own misfortune.
IDEAL? NO… BUT LESS NO.
3-4 DAYS PER WEEK
OH YA, now we’re getting somewhere!
The people in this category love CrossFit. Like, LOVE IT love it.
You’re probably not trying to go pro, but you love CrossFit for all that it does for you. The physical workout. The mental and emotional health. The great community.
All of these aspects are now ingrained in your life, and you don’t know what you would do without them.
This amount of workouts per week is great for flexibility.
Two days on, two days off, workout Friday, weekend off? Sounds pretty great.
The only downside is the Monday Workouts. No matter how much you love CrossFit, you’re only human, and no human being likes burning off a few too many beers from the weekend in their Monday morning WOD.
But if you treat your monday WOD like a cleanser for your weekend, then there’s no reason to stop partying on the weekends, right? RIGHT? I’m asking for a friend.
Alternating days on and off? Awesome.
There is no problem of muscles reverting to normal. If you go hard at CrossFit 3-4 times per week, you still have ample recovery days for your muscles to rebuild.
It may seem counterintuitive, but working out more often will greatly reduce your soreness throughout the week when compared to working out 1-2 times per week.
For beginners, 3 times per week is the ideal starting point.
The first few weeks will be very difficult, but it will get your body and mind used to working out multiple times a week, as well as adapt your body to quicker recovery between workouts.
IDEAL? FOR THE CASUAL CROSSFITTER, YES.
5 DAYS PER WEEK
Make room for the professionals!
5 days of Crossfit is commonly seen in the advanced/professional world of CrossFit.
In the study “A Theoretical Template for CrossFit’s programming” performed by the CrossFit Journal in 2003, a few different methods for training 5 times a week were looked at.
Although there was some merit to doing 5 days of training followed by a weekend of rest to better follow a common work week, the highest performance increase was found in a 3-day-on, 1-day-off workout regime
(Check out the full article here: http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/06_03_CF_Template.pdf. C’mon, read it. It’s like CrossFit for your noggin).
This split of days gives a very high volume of workout each week ( most weeks being 5 WODs, with 6 days of workout being very infrequent), while still giving frequent enough rest days that the athletes body does not break down.
This, of course, does clash with the weekend. Most Crossfitters who workout 5 days a week, however, consider their CrossFit Box a second home, and therefore will have no problem with this.
If you are thinking of making the jump to 5 days per week, remember the importance of recovery.
You are now working out like a professional CrossFitter, so you need to recover like a professional CrossFitter as well. This means no finishing your WOD, driving home, drinking a milkshake, and lying on the couch until 2am.
Nutrition, stretching, rolling, and sleep are all incredibly important aspects of being at your peak. Especially with only 1 day of recovery before another 3 days of hard workouts.
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IDEAL? HELL YA, BROTHERS AND SISTERS!
6-7 DAYS PER WEEK
“In training, you listen to your body. In competition you tell your body to shut up.” – Rich Froning, Crossfit athlete
Listen to Rich Froning, guys. Or listen to every high-level CrossFitter, for that matter. Check out any of their page and you will see mention of timely, specific recovery.
Check out Carol-Ann Reason-Thibault’s Instagram (reason.thibault_caro), and you will see that peppered throughout her posts on nutrition and workouts are posts about how and when she is recovering.
Every week isn’t a competition (although this week does mark the end of the CrossFit Open), and it is important to remember that.
It is easy to get into the mentality of “most professional CrossFitters workout 5 times a week, therefore if I workout more than that, I have a higher chance of reaching my goals and becoming a professional.”
Sadly, this is a case of ‘more is less’.
Your body will be breaking down more than it is building up, which will quickly lead to burnout, decreases in performance, and you will soon find yourself succumbing to things like illness and general lackadaisicalness.
If you’ve ever tried to do a CrossFit WOD while feeling particularly susceptible to fluids leaving all orifices of your body , then you know this is not conducive to a great CrossFit workout.
As in everything in life, if you want to be good at something, look at what the top people in that field do, then copy them with your own little twist.
IDEAL? TRY DOING IT 7 DAYS A WEEK FOR A FEW MONTHS STRAIGHT AND THEN ANSWER THAT.
8 DAYS PER WEEK
We like your spunk, kid. Your brain seems to be a little lacking, since you think there are 8 days per week, but at least your heart is in the right place.
Since there are only a few options why this is your answer to ‘How many days would you like to do CrossFit per week?’, let’s go through them:
1. You are a small child who has not yet learned the days of the week
If this is the case, congrats on figuring out how to use the internet, little guy. The ‘anything is possible’ attitude is awesome, but please, don’t do CrossFit 8 times a week.
For a young one such as yourself, this would be really tough on the body. Also, stay in school, and don’t forget your Ps and Qs.
2. You own and/or created some sort of time machine
If you really do own a time machine, then the biggest problem here is not the logistics, but rather the lack of imagination and big-picture thinking on your part.
Really? You own a time machine and your best idea is “I’m going to use it to do an EIGHTH day of CrossFit each and every week.”
Come on, man. Think bigger! You can go back and visit any era you want.
Maybe you can see dinosaurs, or maybe you can go back a few years and stop the creation of ‘Little Sheldon’ before it even begins. Think of the possibilities!
We all love CrossFit, but some opportunities are too good to pass up.