How often should I do CrossFit?

The question we get asked the most at MVMT42 is: “How often should I do CrossFit?” And this is a great question! The answer depends mostly on your training experience, your goals and of course how much time you have. Or better said, how much time you want to spend on training.

Advice for beginners

For beginners who haven’t done any training for a long time the best advice is to first get training regularly in your system and your weekly schedule. Try to pick the same days every week and block the time for your training just as you would block time for work or family time.

By coming to the same class each week, hopefully you see the same coach. By doing that that coaches can help more accurately prescribe loads and movements for you.

As far as frequency goes: try to go to 3 times a week as quickly as possible. Working out 1 day and taking 1 day off is a good starting point. An example is working out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and taking Tuesday, Thursday and the weekends off.

  • Get used to working out regularly

  • Go to working out 3 times a week as quickly as possible

  • Choose a frequency you can maintain for the long run

For athletes on our 2x a week membership, that’s typically recommended because you have another activity or sport outside MVMT42

More experience?

The CrossFit workout template suggests you work out 3-5 times per week using a schedule of working out 3 days and then taking 1 day off. When you have been training some time (as a very general rule of thumb let’s say 3-6 months) this is a great workout frequency that will give you incredible results.

Don’t overtrain. If the professional CrossFit athletes are training in this schedule, don’t think your genetics are different to the other 7 billion people on earth. If you think they are doing extra work, realise they are training super low intensity at long time domains to help with recovery. But this isn’t CrossFit. It’s active recovery. For the general population that’s walks, maybe jogs, swim, sauna and anything else you can move and hold a conversation.

Now for some fitness geeking

The human adapts in recovery; training is a stress. Over stress will cause injury, chronic fatigue, be harmful for your health in the long term and most importantly, have a negative effect on training. Quality training over quantity is essential. Just suffering and going as hard as possible for 5-10 days in a row will not achieve and will never achieve athletic development. If it did, all athletes would do this. They don’t, because it doesn’t work.

The only time an athlete can get away with high volume is if they are very weak. If an athlete is not strong then they can’t drive intensely, they can’t create power. If an athlete is strong they can create power.

So let’s take a workout.

  • 8min AMRAP

  • 5 clean and jerks at 80/60

  • Row 250/200

  • 15 Pull ups.

A weaker athlete would have to scale this. They don’t have the power to lift 80, or puling strength for pull ups. Let’s scale to 30kg and ring rows. If over 8minutes they hit the same score as an RX athlete, the total work done is significantly less. The power is significantly less. The CNS response is also less. This athlete could spend years just scaling down the movements, even if they get a higher score the total work done would still be less.

The option here for the athlete is to either scale and train frequently. Or really focus on strength development, which you can’t short cut. Come in less, feel fresh in training and push those numbers up.

But whatever happens, they can’t have both. As volume goes up, intensity HAS to go down. Nobody breaks this rule. Strength work is just very simply an expression of high power and intensity.

Could you come into class everyday? Sure, but she won’t get stronger. Strength work is just very simply an expression of high power and intensity, as intensity goes up volume goes down. So if you want to be stronger you MUST rest. Note I’ve just repeated this sentence on purpose. If you read the CrossFit workout template it gives some great frequency options for those keen beans.

Listen to your body

This all being said, the best advice about training frequency I can give you is: “Listen to your body“. If you feel really tired and beat up because of training, long days at work or not enough sleep at night, just take an extra day off from training. Rest a bit more and come back in a few days re-energised.

Coach Nathan

Smart Performance