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Katie Hogan: The Issue of Recovery in Training

Katie Hogan NorCal Regional

Image: CrossFit NorCal Facebook

So technically speaking, my CrossFit competition season just ended. The CrossFit Games NorCal Regional – a 3-day competition that was one of the toughest combinations of movements and workouts I’ve experienced since I started competing in CrossFit in April of 2009.

Still, I found myself better prepared over the course of the 7 events and better recovered from day to day than I ever have been before. A testament to my level of conditioning as well as my daily recovery process, I felt better and better as the competition went on despite the inevitable effect 7 workouts would have on my body.

Throughout the year of training, my coaches and I discovered that my “rest days” needed to be on the more active side in order for me to recover and come back to the gym stronger the next day. If I had a day with no training and no movement whatsoever, my body would not be happy.

While I needed a rest day to recharge my system, it was doing me more damage than good to take a full rest day. That’s where my coach Jesse came up with the plan to at least jog or row and then work my way through a smashcon™ in which I chose 3-4 exercises that I hit for 2-3rds. And that’s how my rest days became active and my body learned to recover.

Flash forward to the week after my Regionals: season is over so it’s time to reassess goals for the coming year, make my CrossFit New Year’s resolutions, eat whatever I want (chocolate chip pancakes and cinnamon rolls?), and take a nice break from the grind of my normal training schedule.

I literally did nothing for a whole week. Ok, so I got a little antsy after the first 4 days of watching people train and I tried to snatch heavy. My body wasn’t cooperating at all, so I didn’t do much.

After a full week off I returned to the gym ready to start things up again. Fail. I felt terrible. Just awful. I couldn’t hold any position, mobilizing felt impossible, as everything was bound up and tight. I was a mess! My body, the same with everyone else’s, is designed to move.

Which led me to the question that so many of my clients have come to me with in the past:

Katie Hogan NorCal Regional 1

Image: CrossFit NorCal Facebook

Do you really need a deload week in your training?

The idea behind deloading is that your body naturally after 3-4 weeks needs between 5-7days off in order to recharge and recover. Ultimately, this week is designed so you can return to the gym the next week and ramp your training back up and go even harder/heavier/faster.

It got me thinking, are people training hard enough to merit a deload week? Or are they really just not putting enough into their daily and weekly recovery process? Athletes need to assess themselves everyday: Am I eating properly? Am I training properly? Am I recovering properly?

I think people who feel they are in need of a deload week should consider that they are more likely under-recovered than over-trained. I’ve found that I can train week after week with increasing intensity and performance gains by following the rules of proper recovery:

– Staying disciplined with eating only whole foods

– Keeping up with my fish oil and daily vitamin supplements

– Prioritizing regular sleep

– Maintaining hydration with use of electrolyte tablets like Nuun

– Diligently mobilizing by means of smashing muscle tissues and utilizing banded stretches from

The reality is, your body can handle the training, don’t convince yourself otherwise. Your body is designed to move. You can heal from injury and recharge from tough training cycles by taking care of yourself and staying active in your recovery. I know I’ve learned my lesson about taking a break. If I expect my body to work for me, I need to keep it moving.

I love this video on the training mentality of powerlifters. I think a lot of CrossFitters can relate to this too. Time to go be a savage.

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The Rx Review is an independent fitness website, reporting on the Sport of Fitness, functional fitness news, The CrossFit Games, health and diet related information, and also provides reviews on sports performance products.