For CrossFitters, the box is a place of refuge that provides surges of glory each time a gruelling WOD is completed. In order to maximize strength, however, athletes simply cannot avoid rest days. You may think that performing a WOD daily will only increase your strength, but overtraining is a phenomenon that will seriously hinder your ability to become the strongest and healthiest version of yourself.
Why Rest Days Matter
During sleep, your cells go into overdrive working to repair what needs fixing. Sleep works to restore the vitality within you that may have been lost throughout the long day. Naturally, when athletes take rest days, their muscles will go into repair mode. If these critical rest days are not taken, and even ignored in place of more training, the body will not be granted adequate time to focus on increasing strength gains.
Taking rest days works like a domino effect. If you rest properly after a hard day’s workout, this can lead to better muscle growth. Better muscle growth can lead to improvements in physical performance the next time you train. Rinse and repeat.
CrossFit’s high-intensity nature forces the cardiovascular and muscular systems of the body to push themselves past their thresholds. In doing so, athletes increase the count of capillaries, mitochondrial enzyme systems, and glycogen within their muscles.
Without taking breaks, you willingly increase your susceptibility to injury. Furthermore, if recovery time is not allotted, the body will stop storing high amounts of glycogen and what all athletes fear happening will occur: you will Plateau.
Plateauing is to not improve beyond your maximum performance. While many think they didn’t run, lift, or eat enough, plateauing could also be due to overtraining and lack of rest days.
What Constitutes Overtraining?
Overtraining occurs when the body is repeatedly trained to the point where even rest will not provide it with proper recovery. The two primary types of overtraining are systemic and localized.
Localized overtraining is the most prevalent and can occur when you train the same muscle group repeatedly. To avoid this, body builders often designate certain days of the week to focus on exercising specific muscle groups.
On the other hand, systemic training, although rare, has more damaging effects on the body. This type of overtraining wreaks increased havoc as it forces the body to enter a catabolic state, which then surges the amount of cortisol released from the adrenal cortex.
Systemically overtrained CrossFitters looking to drop down a pant size will have zero luck, as cortisol decreases the body’s capability of utilizing fat stores as a source of fuel. Furthermore, cortisol halts muscle regeneration, lowers testosterone production, speeds protein breakdown and impedes protein synthesis.
Are You Overtraining?
Fortunately, the body will provide you with multiple signs that you have overtrained.
Physical symptoms include, but are not limited to, chronically sore muscles, higher frequency of injuries, unexplained weight loss, decreased appetite, high blood pressure, increased incidences of colds, fevers, and flu, and a rapid morning pulse or elevated heart rate i.e. if you’re normal resting heart rate is at 60 bpm, but your current heart rate is at 70 or 80 bpm.
Although overtraining is caused by physical stress, emotional symptoms also play a part in the injury.
Emotional symptoms include lack of interest in participating in activities that were formerly enjoyed, depression, irritability, mood swings and insomnia. Typically these symptoms present themselves after the body has been subjected to chronic overtraining, which typically takes weeks and sometimes even months to reach. Additionally, the symptoms that come from persistent overtraining continue to present themselves long after recovery time has been taken.
In order to become your best self, you have to remember that there is no shame in taking rest days.
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- Overtraining is a serious condition that can increase an individual’s risk for injury.
- Lack of rest days can lead to minimal muscle recovery and growth, as well as plateauing or the inability to go past your current fitness level.
- Inadequate recovery can lead to both physical and emotional strains which can result in long-term side effects.
- You can improve your rest days by taking supplements formulated to boost muscle recovery and growth.