This is a perfect time to talk a little bit about the CrossFit Rx (prescription) of exercise, how it came to be, the crazy stuff you will read about what other people do, and what it is that you, should think about doing.
We try to follow a schedule of 3 WOD’s (Workout of the Day) followed by a Rest Day. This 3 on/1 off schedule, known as a cycle. As it turns out, for regular athletes (like you and me), optimal fitness results from this volume of Constantly Varied Functional Movements Performed at Relatively High Intensity. That is, CrossFit.
This is not necessarily the most convenient workout schedule, seeing as it doesn’t respect the calendar in general or the workweek in particular. A 5 on/2 off routine seems more typical, doesn’t it? It sure fits your life better, but after just a couple of WOD’s you will very quickly realize that the intensity of redlining the majority of your workouts is an entirely different thing from what you may have been doing at 24 Hour Fitness. Indeed, think about paying close attention to scaling suggestions (load, volume, intensity) coming your way on a daily basis
How about you? All new and shiny. Most of you will discover that 3 consecutive WOD’s is too much. My most effective schedule (best outcomes/best recovery) has always gone something like 3 on/1 off/2 on/1 off. If you have a very deep history of athletics and fitness you could give the 3 on/1 off schedule a go, but if you are very new to fitness (or coming off a decades-long layoff) my bid is that you consider 2 on/1 off, working a bit behind the schedule but doing all of the WOD’s in the first 7 or 8 cycles. This will ensure that you get the “varied” part of the Rx taken care of.
After years of watching Newbies get overwhelmed or injured from doing too much work I’m more than OK if you look back and say you could have done a little more; you can’t unring a bell, but you can decide to ring it more in the future, ya know?
Which brings up the whole subject of competitive CrossFit and the kinds of volume and loads these professional and semi-professional athletes have in their programming. Let me be brutally frank: you are not them. CrossFit for you, and me, and roughly 99% of the people who do CrossFit is for the sole purpose of being healthy. Here in your CF infancy that will be more than enough. In time if you wish to engage in the recreational competition in Fitness as Sport (like USTA tennis or USGA golf or rec league basketball or…) all well and good. That’s all a blast, for sure. But it says here that even then anything more than 3 on/1 off is gonna be more than enough for, oh, 98% of us.