When it comes to working out, there are a four types of days you’ll see here at CrossFit Reform. It can easily be compared to a dinner plate and I’ll use that analogy going forward.
The main bulk of your days in the gym are what I’ll call “practice days.” These are the meat and potatoes. On these days you are working on improving aspects of your health, fitness, and skills. Think of improving your cardio or being able to do more pull ups in a row. Most likely, you won’t do anything extraordinarily impressive and you probably won’t be setting any personal records but that’s totally fine. It may not seem like it but these days are incredibly important to overall improvement.
Next are “high skill” days. I call these your fruit. These ones are fun because you get to play and learn new skills or work on improving a very challenging movement. A great example is learning to kick up and hold a handstand. That may progress to a handstand push up. It’s very technical and high-skill which is why it’s just like fruit. They’re great for us but we also have to keep in mind moderation. If we have too many days with high skill we tend to lose the intensity of those “practice day” workouts because we are too focused on slowing down and learning a difficult movement. There are days to not worry about getting a good sweat on but we need to know when those days can help us.
Probably the least favorite of the days are our veggies: the dreaded “mental toughness” days. When a mental toughness workout comes up coaches will hear things like, “we have to do ALL that?” or “there’s no way I’m going to finish.” Mental toughness days you need to just plug your nose and eat those brussel sprouts. There’s no hiding it that these days will not be easy; and that is intentional. There is a lot of value in feeling like you accomplished a near-impossible task. You walk (or crawl) out of the gym feeling like you just took on the world and won. Nothing else in your day will be as hard as those burpees. Unfortunately, here is where some people go wrong. They think EVERY day should feel like this. If you get mentally and physically beat up every day it’s only a matter of time before you can’t do that anymore.
…And here we are — Dessert
Just like when we were kids, we only got dessert if we cleaned our plate. We had our balanced meal (in this case our balanced training) and now our parents (or coaches) say it’s time to have some fun. These are what I call “competition days.” If you’ve ever participated in any type of performance (sport, dance, art, music) you know what these days mean. You spend of your time preparing for a competition and all your training culminates to one event. In a very simple explanation that is exactly how your training should be. Spend time building up your cardio, your strength, and your high skills. Now when a competition day rolls around you can push the intensity and try to get a personal record. Most days will be determined by the daily WOD. There might be a benchmark workout or a one-rep max posted which will make it easy to tell if it’s a day to challenge yourself. You may also walk in and look at the board and see something in your wheelhouse. I personally really enjoy hang power cleans. I know if they’re in a workout I can push myself and compete. On the other hand I know I am terrible at toes to bar. On those days, I’ll scale myself back to a good level and work on being consistent to gain strength.
Just like our nutrition we don’t want to overindulge in dessert. If you haven’t eaten your fruits and veggies you are severely lacking the nutrients you need to thrive. Knowing the right time to eat the donut is just as important as not eating one at all. This is why diets fail when you eat nothing but broccoli and dry chicken breast but also why you won’t see a change in your body composition if you just eat donuts all day.