Crossfit 214 Sports
Our Sports program prepares advanced athletes for Crossfit in a competition setting. Periodized training cycles, higher volume programming, designed with superior results and sustainable training in mind. With intelligent design and the support of coach and peer in the class, the Sports program offers the best of both worlds for the Crossfitter looking to take their game to the next level.
5-Part Series on Recovery
With the introduction of the CrossFit 214 Sports program we will be presenting a 5-part series on recovery to accompany the increased training load some of you are taking on. Even those taking part in the regular Fitness and Athletics programs will find improved recovery increases gains in the gym, health, and well-being.
The first topic we will cover is sleep. We all know that sleep affects our performance. Great sleep leaves us with lots of energy, better focus, even improved coordination. Even just one night of sleep deprivation can cause unwanted increases in cortisol levels, poor insulin sensitivity, and blunted training response.
All athletes should strive for a minimum of 8hrs per night of solid uninterrupted sleep, more if training loads are higher or more intense than normal. Many athletes even note improvements in performance from up to 9-10hrs of sleep.
Some quick tips to get the most out of your sleep:
- Make your bedroom cool, quiet and dark. Blackout curtains are a must unless you’re getting up with the sun. A warm room can get in the way of your core body temp dropping as you reach deep sleep interfering with your rest.
- Plan to spend 8-9hrs in bed. Even if you don’t sleep the whole time being committed to resting will start to form a habit of longer sleeping cycles
- Avoid alcohol before bed. Alcohol disrupts sleep rhythms dramatically robbing you of the healing and hormone processes that normally take place at night. Even though it may feel like you’re falling asleep well with a buzz, you’re just sedated , not actually resting.
- Practice some simple meditation if you have trouble winding down. Lay flat on a hard floor (no pillow) and take 10min to clear your mind. Focus on keeping your mind blank and push out any thoughts that creep in. After 10min you might find yourself asleep on the floor. Time to crawl in bed and go back to sleep.
- Turn off the electronics! Phones, iPads, computers, and TV all emit a blue light that tells your body it’s daytime and you should be awake. While there are programs like F.LUX that will adjust your computer monitor for a less invasive hue, the best bet is to turn everything off 60min before bed at a minimum. If you have trouble falling asleep, try no artificial light 60min before bed. Yup, you guessed it. Candles only. Uniquely relaxing.
- Try a natural sleep aid. Melatonin is a great sleep aid that augments quality of sleep. Most sleep aids (Tylenol PM, ZQuil, Ambien, etc) adversely affect sleep quality and will harm recovery. Melatonin is naturally occurring and doesn’t have these negative effects. Most find 3-6mg works great to help them fall asleep.
For a more in depth look at the specific benefits of great sleep and the downsides of deprivation check out the CrossFit Journal Article Sleeping for Performance.
The second topic we will cover is nutrition. Proper nutrition is the bedrock of an effective training program, and the effect of nutrition on your results cannot be overstated. Sound nutrition practices can support an increased training load and lead to improved training results, body composition, and overall health. Poor nutrition habits can contribute to overtraining, injury, and a decline in overall health.
Some quick tips to get the most out of your nutrition:
- Find out what your body needs, and provide it. If you are unsure of how many calories you need to eat, what macronutrient ratios to hit, or when to eat which foods, make an appointment with a coach and get some guidance based on your own personal workout schedule and energy expenditure.
- Track (weigh and measure) your food. Once you know what to eat (and how much) buy a food scale and measuring cups. Weigh and measure your food to ensure you are getting the appropriate fuel for your workouts. Measuring doesn’t have to last forever. After just a few weeks of weighing and measuring you’ll have a good idea of what you need each day by just eyeballing it.
- Avoid alcohol. Not only does alcohol affect your sleep, it also negatively affects the endocrine response your body has to resistance exercise for up to 72 hours. If you are going to have a couple drinks, do it earlier in the day and go to bed dead sober for the best sleep.
- Cut out potentially inflammatory foods. Many people have food intolerances and sensitivities of which they are not even aware. Eliminating gluten, dairy, corn, and high-fructose or high-sugar foods may have a dramatic impact on performance, body composition, and general health. If you have access, getting tested for food allergies is also a great option!
- Set aside time on rest days to prep your food. We highly encourage limiting your training only to days specifically designated as Sports training days. On Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, take some time to plan and prepare your food for the week. Not only will you be able to better control exactly what is going in your body, but you might save a little money as well!
- Rely on whole foods. Not the grocery store chain, but rather meat, vegetables, nuts and seed, fruit and safe starches such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, rice, and gluten free oatmeal.
The third topic we will cover is active recovery. While taking a rest day is often a good idea, a day of zero activity after a particularly tough training can often be detrimental and leave you tight, sore, and more prone to injury. Often taking 45 minutes to an hour to do some light cyclic work and mobility can improve your movement patterns, cut down recovery time, and lead to bigger gains.
Some guidelines for an active recovery day:
- Start with some light cyclic work. Row, airdyne, bike or hike at a conversational pace for 20-30 minutes. Keep your stroke/pedal rate low and just enjoy moving. Swimming can also be very restorative if you have access to a pool. You should be energized after this, so make sure you’re not going too hard!
- Mobility Drills. Pick a couple of mobility drills for your shoulders, hips, and thoracic spine (foam rolling, mashing, joint distraction, static stretching) from MobilityWOD or The Movement Fix and spend 5 minutes on each.
- Get work done. Often having a licensed massage therapist, chiropractor, or other soft tissue therapist work through problem areas can be more effective than trying to fix a problem yourself. If that is an option, exercise it. You’ll be glad you did.
- Manage inflammation. Contrast baths, epsom salt baths, cryotherapy, and compression can all reduce inflammation. Try a couple different options out and see what works for you!
- Take some time for mental rejuvenation. This could be meditation, time family and friends, church, or just taking a walk after dinner
- Avoid eccentric movements in your cyclic work. Running in particular can cause quite a bit of inflammation/stress. Opt for a brisk walk or hike instead.
The next topic we’ll be covering for our 5 piece series on recovery is supplementation. While nutrition and sleep are by far the most important components of recovery, there are gains to be had through appropriate supplementation. Just to repeat, nutritional and sleep come first.
That being said here are some supplements that may aid in recovery and performance gains:
- Fish Oil: Fish oil helps balance the Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acid ratio in our bodies and effectively reduces systemic inflammation. For a relatively clean eater with no major issues ~3g of combined EPA and DHA per day is a great place to start, splitting the dose between day and night or at each meal.
- Vitamin D: We usually synthesize Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, however with many of us spending our weekdays indoors most of us could use some level of supplementation. Vit D is implicated in metabolism, testosterone production, immune function, and many other essential body functions. A daily dose of 5000IU to 10000IU depending on size of athlete and existing Vit D levels can be beneficial. Vit D levels can readily be tested by your doctor or through an independent blood tester like Inside Tracker. Remember, we don’t want middle of the range, we want optimal (top of the range).
- Creatine: Creatine supplements are widely studied, effective, and cheap. A dose of 3-5g per day post workout can help top off your Creatine Phosphate metabolic pathway and allow you another rep or two in your strength sets.
- BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids are the precursors to proteins and do not require digestion. They help combat catabolic breakdown of muscle during exercise and have been shown in studies to improve endurance when taken pre and intra workout. Dosages from 7.5-15g pre and intra workout are beneficial depending on size of athlete.
- Beta Alanine: BA has been shown to help prolong performance during high intensity exercise and delay muscular fatigue. Dosages of 4-7g split half pre and half post workout can help get just a few more reps out of intense days.
All of the supplements listed have been well studied and are readily available for very reasonable prices. It’s best to avoid proprietary blends in pre workout and post workout supplements since most do not explicitly list the amounts of each active ingredient and often carry with them unwanted substances. If you have questions on where to get clean sources of the above check with a coach.
When taking on an increased volume in your training taking time to keep your soft tissue healthy and happy is vital. Muscles, ligaments, tendons, and the fascial layer covering it all can benefit from a little extra care. At a minimum some light foam rolling of all the major muscle groups a few times a week can improve recovery and decrease incidence of injury. Improved blood flow, increased range of motion, and decreased soreness can be achieved with just a few simple techniques.
Some tissue care quick tips:
- Do it often. It takes time to see the real benefit of soft tissue care. Quick sessions before and after a workout are easy to do, and on off days you can spend more time focusing on it. A few minutes daily will reap huge rewards in the long term
- Foam Rolling. It’s easy to do, and provides instant feedback. Before and after your workout be sure to hit the major players for the workout that day. (Deadlifting? Roll out those glutes and hamstrings!) 10-15 passes on major muscle groups before and after your workout can help you warm up faster, and feel fresher the next day. Think of it like flossing. It may not like it at first, but do it regularly and you will see great results.
- Add some motion. Anytime you use a lacrosse ball (or sledgehammer or peanut) try to shorten and lengthen the muscle you are trying to work. The added tension from the lacrosse ball while lengthening the muscle can help break up any scar tissue, relax the muscle, and improve range of motion. This is essentially the same technique many sports therapist use, and you can do it yourself! Unless you have some major mobility restrictions this is best done after a workout or on your off day.
- Use that recovery day. Your recovery day is a great day to get some major tissue care done. Spend a little extra time on anything that it tight, foam roll all the major players, and just give yourself a good once over.
- Incorporate it into mobility drills. Doing some drills to work on your overhead position? Roll out those lats and pecs before hand. Want to get deep into that pigeon stretch? Get a lacrosse ball into your glutes. Doing some soft tissue care before your mobility or stretching drills can really increase the value of both. Just like peanut butter and jelly.
Use your resources . There are some places a lacrosse ball can’t go, and some aches a foam roller won’t fix. A licensed massage therapist, chiropractor, or any sports therapist can make a world of difference. Regular visits are a great way to prevent injury and promote recovery. Other great resources: MobilityWOD, Dr. Hogan at The Active Rx, and all of your coaches at Crossfit 214.