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Rest: The key to optimal performance

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The Crossfit Games measures who can do more work in less time over a couple of days. This period will be intense for the lucky individuals that make it, but the real victory will be weeks, even months, earlier and not from what you think. Rest will prove to be the winning strategy. Using rest to maximize your work capacity is something many CrossFitters ignore. In fact, REST is just as important as training.

CrossFit training takes its toll on many different systems of the body and many people don’t realize the huge impact it has. The intensity, volume, and load impact the muscular system, as well as the nervous, skeletal, circulatory, and organ systems. These systems allow your body to function as a whole. When you train hard without taking adequate rest, things can fall apart quickly.

Without rest the muscular system does not get rid of waste products efficiently, limiting your ability to recover. The skeletal system struggles to align when the muscular system is not functioning properly, which can result in joint or bone injuries. The nervous system can cause a whole host of problems like preventing restful sleep to depression or sour mood. Your heart rate can elevate, too, slowing the body’s ability to heal itself due to working overtime.

So your body needs rest… but how much is enough and will it take away from your Games’ training? Rest is a funny thing. Some people intuitively know when they need it. I know when my sleep patterns and training are compromised. Being a weightlifter, it’s easy to tell when your performance is off, because there are two movements that you perform on routine basis: snatch and clean and jerk. When those suffer, you can pretty much guarantee it’s time for a lighter week of training.

CrossFit is a bit different because when one system is worn out, you simply try a workout for a different system, and your performance can still be decent. This can produce a huge problem over time if you aren’t careful. Below are some signs that it’s time to back off for a week.

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