When it comes to athletic training, an athlete and a coach have to train smart. One of my favorite quotes is “You don’t train maximally. You don’t train minimally. You must train optimally.” When it comes to athletic training, you have to have a goal in mind. Whether your goal is to be healthy and fit or a competitive athlete you must have goals to see the benefit of any training program. If I want to be healthy and fit I have to train one way and if I want to be competitive in sports I have to train a completely different way.
One mistake I constantly see is competitive athletes try to go 100% on every workout everyday they walk into the gym. This is not advised nor is it smart to do. As a competitive athlete I need to know what it is I’m training for. Is if for the CrossFit Open in February or October? Is it for an upcoming competition in December? Or is it for an upcoming marathon in March? By setting this date I can now tailer my program to that specific date. I can organize my training volume and loads to peak on that day. The problem in the CrossFit world is athletes feel the need to “win” every workout. They must have the fastest time on the whiteboard. When you train this way you are leading yourself down the road to overtraining and injury. The human body can only handle so many 100% efforts at a given time. This is why no one trains for a 1 repetition back squat maximum every day. One day you main do 70% of that repetition maximum and another day you train at 90%. You vary the training loads to meet a specific time frame to go for a 1 rep max. Most CrossFitters are very smart in this regard. They don’t train their heavy lifts at 100% every day but then in their conditioning work, they try and go 100% every chance they get. This is the “training against the whiteboard” mentality that we talk about often. Even in a track and field program, a coach will taper workouts so athletes are not running at 100% every day. After a while you will only see a regression in your progress. In the original CrossFit.com methodology you rest every 4th day because of the intensity at which you train. After 3 days of training at high intensity your body needs a rest day in order to reset and recover. Now in today’s world of Crossfit we have lost sight of this and athletes try and train for 5 days straight and rest on the weekends. This is a decent strategy if it is what you are able to do to workout 5 days a week due to time constraints but it is not a great strategy if you want to be truly competitive. You will see several online programs even adopt a 3 days on, 1 off, two on, 1 off strategy in their methodology. This is done because what we now know about the human body is we need those off days in order to train optimally. Even in these programs however, athletes at the highest level do not train at 100% every single day. Some days are at a 70% effort and others at 85%. This is called periodization. Getting the human body ready for “game day”. Whenever that may be. If you only train at 100% you will get injured and you will de-train. You must periodize your training so as to peak on game day. This is not new information, however in the CrossFit world I believe athletes have lost sight of this. Training for competition is different than training for general fitness. One is not better than the other. However if you are training for competition you must remember to periodize your training so you can peak at the appropriate time.
Training with a goal in mind is critical if you want to be competitive in any sport. A linebacker in football must train differently than a running back and vice versa. If you want to be competitive in the sport of CrossFit you must be smart about how you approach every training day. If I train at 100% on a daily basis I’m only going to hurt my chances of ever reaching my true maximum potential. There has to be a time and a place to go 100% and also times to scale back your intensity to be able to train another day.