The number one problem that we encounter with current CrossFit clients is not a lack of intensity in their training; it is too much. On the other hand, those who do not participate in CrossFit often have the opposite problem: too little intensity. To combat this problem, the fitness industry does not need some new, revolutionary exercise routine. We need to keep doing CrossFit, but moderate the amount of intensity.
CrossFit is not constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity…ALL THE TIME
If you visit crossfit.com, you will notice that they do not prescribe a high intensity workout every single day. CrossFit programs a workout five days a week, but never prescribes workouts more than three days in a row without a rest day. The purpose is simple. Too much training intensity, without proper recovery, can be detrimental to health.
Training = Stress. High Intensity Training = Higher Stress
Exercise is a stressor on the body, albeit a necessary one. The stress of training is what causes the body to adapt and produce increases in fitness. Proper training stress, aka “intensity”, also causes the body to use fat as a fuel for increased energy expenditure. In sum, if you want to lose body fat and increase fitness, you have to stress your body through an adequate dose of exercise intensity.
On the other hand, the average American is already stressed enough as it is. According to the American Psychological Association, over 70% of Americans experience negative physical or psychological reactions because of too much stress. Picture the average American’s life as a cup. Fill it with stressors from relationships, family, work, and a standard American diet and you will not have much room left. Now imagine dumping a bucket of high intensity CrossFit several days a week on top. You will be wiping up the mess for quite some time.
So, how much is intensity is too much?
The amount of training intensity that is appropriate varies from person to person. The more intensity in your training, the more recovery you need. For example, for the CrossFit games athletes that you watch on YouTube or ESPN and the ones that are required to do multiple, intense workouts a day, recovery is their full time job. They prioritize sleep, physical therapy, massage therapy, nutrition coaching, lifestyle coaching, etc. They are elite athletes that compete in a sport. Their goal is not to increase longevity and live a healthy lifestyle. Their goal is to win and in doing so, they will stress their bodies to a point that is in fact not that healthy at all.
At Vital Fitness, we do not offer a CrossFit membership that exceeds five days a week. The clients that we are trying to help are not elite athletes. Our clients do not need to train six or seven days a week to lose body fat, increase their energy, gain lean muscle mass, regain personal confidence, etc. Those who do wish to train five days a week are encouraged to make sure their nutrition and lifestyle habits match the volume and intensity that they desire in the gym. In addition, if you’re one of the many people that already has too much stress in your life, find a coach who knows how to properly scale or modify workouts in order to prescribe the correct dose of intensity for your season of life. Coaches who simply yell at you to “go harder” all the time are ignorant, and at worst, dangerous to your health.