How To De-load, Rest and Recover Properly in CrossFit Training
What is a De-load?
De-load is a term we use when reducing the training volume and or intensity that we train at.
Everyone will de-load in some way, as it is impossible to maintain a high levels of physical training without a de-loading phase at some point.
Most athletes are used to taking a rest/recovery day during the week to allow themselves to recover. Having a de-load period is very similar to a rest/recovery day, just over a longer period of time.
De-loading doesn't just mean stopping completely and watching movies all day, although it can, if that is what is needed. It’s also about moving and getting the body prepared to be in the best possible shape to get back to your next phase of training. Sometimes this can be just as beneficial mentally, as well as physically.
When to De-load?
The most obvious time to schedule a de-load block is after competition, it is a natural time to do so, as you have had high levels of exertion and most likely you will have a longer period of time before your next competition.
However there are other times it can be useful too, during a long off season it can be useful to schedule periods of de-load to avoid “burn out” .
These scheduled de-load periods can happen every 4-8 weeks depending on the person and type of training they are doing. A de-load phase also becomes useful just before competitions, but this is something we can cover at a separate time as Competition preparation is quite specific.
There are also times when you have to take “unscheduled” de-loads, these can happen for various reasons; an injury or illness, increased work or family commitments, however the process back to full activity is similar.
The aim of the de-load is to allow the body to recover from the last block of training and prepare the body for the increased demand of the next block. If done correctly, you should return from a de-load week with a properly adapted, well-rested, stronger and more focused body.
Our philosophy regarding programming, means we never go into a cycle that completely avoids CrossFit (constantly varied functional movements). We believe that the training of constantly varied movements across broad time and modal domains is crucial to success in the sport.
Not everyone can stick to a specific de-load schedule, for the pure reason everyone is unique, some athletes handle more volume over a longer period, some athletes handle less. Therefore the uniqueness of each athlete needs to be accommodated for.
It is therefore important that you take control of your recovery and decide when this is necessary. Listen to your body and be aware when the right time is for you to take a de-load.
Signs you need to De-load
Here are a couple of guidelines to follow that may help you decide if you need to de-load or not:
TAT tired all the time.Consistently not attaining previous times or weights in workouts.Starting to pick up little niggles or small injuries that keep returning and won´t go away. Motivation for training is reduced.
Finding what works for you
As every person and therefore athlete is different the structure needed to de-load properly is different.
For example most elite athletes after the Games will take a period of a month to back to normal training, whereas after Regionals it may only be 1 week, especially if they have qualified for the Games.
Your de-load template should therefore be flexible to these varying time domains. Sometimes you just need a few days to de-load before you can start coming back, other times you need to take longer.
Here is a brief look at a typical de-
load templates that you can use as a guide. The “Days” in brackets are the recommend time spent in each part. For example this template can be as short as 4 days or as long as 12.
Part 1: (Days 01-03)
Stay away from the gym, make sure you feel fully rested, this may involve taking naps during the day. You should look to be sleeping at-least 8-10 hours a night. During this time you should keep physical activity very low. It is also important to eat well during this time, making sure that you don’t just binge out of junk food because you are not at the gym, but use the time to eat well.
Part 2: (Days 02-06)
This is where you can start to move again, it doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous, maybe some stretching/walking, just get the body feeling good and enjoy the movements. It is still important you are getting sufficient sleep and eating well as these two aspects will have a huge impact on you returning back to optimum training.
Part 3: (Days 03-09)
Now you can start to up the intensity and volume, however we would suggest not going back to your full training routine. Here can be a good time to focus on improving specific movements you may need to improve or spend the time on technique over heavy loads.
Part 4: (Days 04-12)
Now is the time for you to start entering back into your normal training routine.
The key is listening to your body and doing what is best for your recovery and performance. If you would like more information feel free to get in contact.