Do You Even Rest, Bro?

5 recovery musts for the CrossFit newbie.
By Jessica Kelly ,

So you’re a month or two in. You learned what AMRAP means on Day One, but you haven’t quite figured out who the hell “Grace” is and why everyone thinks she’s such a little bitch.

But the question you’re really afraid to ask after 21-15-9:

Do you even rest, bro?

Maybe it’s a guy thing, like asking for directions. Or maybe people are just intimidated by the culture of intensity cultivated by CrossFit, but we all seem way more into talking about workday masochism than rest-day maintenance.

Well, hopefully that’s what I’m here for. To answer the questions you don’t know you need to be asking.

If anything, you’ve asked your coach how often to show up to your box, but most likely you haven’t asked what to do when you don’t. So here goes: The five things you need to be doing to recover your body … so you can crush it even harder next time.

1. Stay Active

Credit: Photo by @Rawtographer

I know, I know, you thought this was all gonna be about rest, but you do realize you’re a CrossFitter now, right? You don’t come to The Box for BS, so I’m not going to serve it to you here. I’m not going to tell you that you should sit on your couch and house a whole bag
of cheesy poofs three times a week. Sorry. The best rest is active recovery. That doesn’t mean run a marathon, but it does mean keep moving.

Go for a hike. Take a yoga class. How about some swimming? Hey, even go for a jog with a non-CrossFit friend ... you still have those, right? They’re probably starting to miss you right about now. Just try to refrain from talking about CrossFit the entire time … unless you like getting punched in the face.

2. Body Maintenance

When you’re not destroying it, you should be maintaining it. And (sorry, again), that takes time and effort. You think you’re gonna do a sub-3 “Fran” and not have to do a little rebuild and repair work afterward?

Whatever type of work you do, it’s the listening that’s important. Go through a mental checklist after each workout … is that the good kind of sore or the “sound the alarm” kind of sore? Don’t wait until you get an injury to work out the kinks.

You might not be lucky enough to train at a box with an ice bath (I do and it’s amazing. #sorrynotsorry), but you can at least spend some quality time with the foam roller. And don’t just do those IT band rollouts everyone does … you can roll out basically every bodypart with that baby. Maybe even invest in your own so you can multitask on a Sunday night while you’re freaking out about the White Walkers. Try a little self-inflicted myofascial release on the muscles and soft tissues surrounding your joints. Especially if you’ve got some wonky movement habits, really digging into those tight muscles can go a long way to rebalancing the joint apparatus.

Get creative with your bodywork the same way you get creative with your workouts: Do a little investigating and find out what works for your goals and your maintenance needs. Research the methodologies and listen to the way your body reacts. I love acupuncture and my CrossFit coach swears by it. (He has an appointment once a week.) And I’m really excited for a Float Therapy friend date I’ve got scheduled in July. (Hey, it’s way more Paleo than catching up over beer.)

3. Use Your Blender

We talked about nutrition and supplementation last time, so you’re already all over that, right? This is different. Definitely get those macros in line: Make sure you’re fueling your workouts properly and getting protein when you need it. But find a way to turn your protein shakes into a reward. After all, you’ve definitely earned a treat after an excruciating EMOM. That might mean getting creative again. (Are you sensing a theme yet?)

The more you enjoy your fuel, the easier it’s going to be to stick to get the building blocks your muscles need to make you into a lean mean MURPHing machine. Even if you’re on the go, make sure you’ve got an awesome-tasting protein powder.

But at least once a week, whip out the blender and get fancy. Find a way to turn your ordinary run-of-the-mill protein shake into a creamy, protein-packed, flavor-meets-macros powerhouse. I’m obsessed with this black forest shake recipe from Quest. Add a little MCT Oil powder (yeah, powdered oil, we’re living in the future) to amp up those healthy fats. Dig around a bit, find some cookbook inspiration and get blending.

4. Hydrate

You know this already, but until you start carrying around that comically large water bottle, I’m going to keep repeating it: HYDRATE. Errday. Errhour. Hell, errminute. Even on your rest day, hydrate bitches! By the time you’re thirsty, it’s too late. The cells in your muscles need water to work. You want to survive your first competition? You’d better start drinking water the night before. And keep drinking until well after the Games have come and gone. The right recovery starts with preparation.

And if you’re the type who dehydrates easily, take a tip from triathletes and look into salt tablets, especially if you’re not into sugary electrolyte drinks. If you’re doing long, hard workouts (which I know you are …), then you’re going to need higher quantities of those electrolytes that might get thinned out by rapid water use and consumption.

5. Get Out of the Box

You heard me. Don’t just think outside the box, get your rock-hard ass out of there every once in a while, too. The real beauty of CrossFit isn’t the time you spend tearing yourself to shreds. (Although I admit that’s really fun.) The joy of CrossFit is what you are now (or soon will be) capable of because of CrossFit. CrossFit is designed to better prepare you for all of life’s adventures.

Taking a few consecutive days away from the box every five or six weeks will do wonders for you: It’ll keep you coming back, it’ll give you time to do some deep repair and recovery and, perhaps most important, it’ll give you a chance to put your superpowers to the test.

You don’t have to go climb Mount Kilimanjaro on your off-week … but you could. Hit the slopes, go bouldering, see how your liners are stacking up, book yourself a close-to-the-city micro-adventure.

My guess is that after just a few weeks of CrossFit, your body will be primed for adventure time in a way it’s never been before.

WOD. PROTEIN. RECOVER. REPEAT.

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