The Recreational CrossFit athlete is a interesting athlete type, they can usually be found in the corners of their gym away from the main group class following grinding away some form of online programme. They are the true weekend warrior, smashing out throw down after throw down of all levels maybe even a podium or two. They can throw up a respectable snatch and plow threw WODS at a fairly decent pace or even link together muscle ups into the double digits. But then the open comes around and they find themselves far behind the big dogs? How can this be? They put in all the work followed their online programme to the dot, hit all their macros and ROMWOD’d every day.
So what do they do directly after the open, convinced it must be their lack of strength or engine etc they jump strait onto the next Russian squat cycle or aerobic capacity building rowing programme. To prepare to crush the next online qualifier or local throwdown. So the cycle repeats until eventually injury, poor performance or burnout soon catches up with them. Where was the offseason? The majority of sports will have some form of built in season even the local rugby club you played for will have a period on no completion and reduced training load. The offseason in most sports commences after the last fixture of the season or a certain event such as gymnastics meet etc. The athlete will use this time to rejuvenate both mentally and physically from the stresses and strains of training and competition. It is not uncommon for olympic athletes to have up to 6months-a year off of sports specific training after the olympics.
The Offseason seems to be a forgotten part of the CrossFit Athletes season or a ineffective and short period at best. The highly motivated athlete who continues to train their hardest all year round is not to be put down and it is not the purpose of this small post to do so. If your picking up little niggles on top of other nagging injuries, your progress has stalled and PB’S are few and far between, you find it difficult to sleep/ sleep to much or notice your beast mode fire to train has dropped, maybe its time to take a step back? If these issues sound familiar a step back is not a week off and then fully back into full bore training. Its a full step back away from your sport, with a shift to focus on recovery. Reconnect with your family and friends, pick up the hobby you left behind or try out a new sport for fun to keep a light level activity. Work some new movement patterns but most importantly relax and have some fun. Your body and mind will thank you for it and when you build back into structured training and competition, your much better set up for the success. A planned off season should be a integral anchor point of your training as much as competitions themselves, if you don’t plan one you will have one forced on you.
So before the next time you plan to jump on the next Smolov Jr squat cycle, consider that sometimes the best training stimulus you need is rest. Just because your a recreational weekend warrior does not mean you shouldn’t have a basic plan of attack of your season. Hitting every throw down, partner comp and online qualifier is not a clever strategy for success. Find a coach who can help periodise your season and peak for a few events with shifts in training focus. You can not PB all year round, avoid comparing yourself to every beast snatching the world on social media and reflect on what will be best for you. This will ensure a much happier and longer time in your sporting endeavours and get some balance back in your life, maybe even have a beer.
In Part 2 will cover ways in which to avoid burnout, what to do in the offseason, when to use the offseason.