The great thing about CrossFit is it works. Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity several days a week, combined with a healthy diet and good sleep, will absolutely get you results and change your life.
A question I get a lot though is “how often should I come to class?” Here’s the simple answer up-front: if you want to get fitter, I recommend you come to the gym four to five times per week.
CrossFit is awesome both for its simplicity and it’s effectiveness. But it isn’t magic. For it to work, you have to be consistent. CrossFit.com prescribes 3 days “on” followed by 1 day “off,” but that’s a tough long-term schedule to follow because it’s not always possible to train three consecutive days.
Instead, think about it this way.
Make it your goal each week to get to the gym four times. In general, try not to train more than three days in a row, and not take off more than two days in a row. Put another way, train often enough to reach your goals but not so often that you develop overuse injuries.
Here’s a trick for when it seems like you just don’t have time…sit down Sunday evening and schedule the four to five classes you’ll attend during the coming week. Put them on your calendar. The human brain is funny…it knows we only put important stuff on our calendars and is a lot more likely to work overtime making sure we follow-through on those things.
There are some caveats to the 4-5 workouts per week prescription. Would I rather you come three times than not come at all? Of course! It will take longer for your body to adapt and make the changes you want, but getting three hours of intense exercise each week is still much better than getting none.
Also, we absolutely have to listen to our bodies and not lose sight of the importance of recovery. 4-5 hours per week of intense exercise is ideal, but they must be paired with quality nutrition and plenty of good sleep.
Think of exercise, nutrition and sleep as like the wheel of a car. When they’re all working together, the tire rolls nice and smoothly and gets you where you want to go. When one of those things gets a little out of whack, it’s like running over a nail and developing a slow leak…if you don’t get it fixed, eventually the tire will go flat.
Here’s a challenge: for the next month, prioritize your nutrition and sleep and make it your goal to commit four of the 168 hours you’re given each week to exercise. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.
Finally, remember this. Fitness + luck(bad) = our health. We each have a choice–make time for fitness now, or be forced to make time for sickness later.