If you work out on a regular basis, particularly in a high intensity program such as CrossFit, you’re bound to have some days that your body just doesn’t feel great. You may be sore from the previous workout, maybe just feel fatigue, or maybe you simply feel like you got run over by a truck. This is unavoidable and everyone has this experience at some point in their training life. If you want to continue to make progress in your training it’s important to get the work in, but at the same time recovery is extremely important and you don’t want to compromise your gains by pushing through when your body is telling you to rest.
In the long term, you need to consider your recovery habits, and perhaps change some of your daily habits to ensure your body is recovering the way you need it to. The two habits to consider are your nutrition and sleep. The foods you eat affect the hormones released which will either contribute to your recovery and make you stronger, or hinder your recovery and limit the benefit you get from your workouts. Your body releases growth hormone during REM sleep in order to recover from your workout the day before. If you’re missing out on cycles of REM by not getting a MINIMUM of 8 hours sleep, your body’s not getting the recovery it needs to allow you to train like you want.
That’s all well and good, but what do you do when you have that day when your body feels like bag of smashed a**holes?
Skip It – Your first idea will be to skip the workout that day. Sometimes this is necessary to do, but I recommend you at least do some static stretching or light warm up movements. If you get through a warm up routine and still feel like hot garbage, go ahead and skip the workout in favor of more sleep. 95% of the time however, simply starting to move will wake your body up and give you the energy to workout.
Scale the Workout – Sometimes you have to check your ego, and use lighter weights than you’re used to, or limit your effort to 80% instead of 100%. Don’t let this get you down mentally. It happens to everyone. If you continue to miss lifts and stubbornly go back for more, not only are you NOT getting a lot of benefit from the workout, you’re also compromising future workouts.
Push Through – Sometimes just sucking it up and going hard is your best option. You won’t always train in optimal conditions, and if you wait until your body feels bulletproof before going back to the gym, your workouts will be few and far between. Sometimes you have to put on your big boy/girl pants and just hit the workout hard.
Of course afterwards you want to make sure to eat plenty of good clean food and get lots of sleep.