While there is no perfect training volume and frequency, there are several ways to improve the quality of your workouts and your overall performance without beating yourself up too much. Here are some ways to take your training to the next level.
Incorporate more unilateral exercises
Unilateral exercises are single arm, single leg exercises. Outside of pistols (which is an advanced movement), there isn’t a whole lot of unilateral movement in CrossFit. Lower body exercises such as walking lunges, Bulgarian split squats, and single leg deadlifts and upper body exercises such as 1 arm dumbbell push presses and 1 arm dumbbell rows are great accessory exercises. You may never have to do these movements in competition but that does not make them any less valuable to your overall fitness.
Develop a thorough and consistent warm-up routine
The more advanced (and older) you get, the more important it is to perform quality warm-ups to get the blood flowing, increase range of motion, and wake up the nervous system. Although sometimes tedious and time consuming, a good warm up can make the difference between a mediocre workout and a great workout. Taking 10-15 minutes to mobilize tight areas, as well as performing adequate warm up sets before starting your workouts will go a long way in both improving performance and preventing injury.
Here’s a simple yet effective barbell warm-up that you can do before any of your workouts: Perform three sets of five of each of the following exercises with an empty barbell: good mornings, overhead squats, shoulder presses, front squats and Romanian deadlifts.
Incorporate more horizontal pushing and pulling
Most of the training we do is primarily in the sagittal (vertical) plane for example pull-ups, clean and jerks, thrusters, etc. Many times meaning little work being done in the transverse (horizontal) plane.
To prevent injury and muscular imbalances, it’s important to include horizontal presses like push-ups and dumbbell bench presses as well as horizontal rows like bent over rows and inverted rows into your programming at least once a week. This will help to strengthen supporting muscle groups and prevent nagging shoulder injuries.
Incorporate more interval training
Doing WODs day in and day out can be quite taxing on both the muscular and nervous system after a while. A great way to train with intensity without destroying your body is to do more monostructural interval training.
For example, intervals performed on a rower or assault bike can provide great conditioning stimulus without creating as much muscle soreness allowing for better recovery throughout the training week. Here is a great interval workout you can try on the rower:
Row 5 x 500m with 2 min rest between rounds. Pick a pace you can sustain for all 5 rounds.
Swapping out a WOD here and there for some intervals every now and then might be just what you need.
Incorporate more EMOMS
The Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM) has become very popular and for good reason. The EMOM is a type of interval training where a certain amount of work is performed and then the remainder of the minute is used to recover.
This training method is an excellent way to learn how to pace yourself during workouts, and to find your threshold for various movements and loads. The EMOM will also help you to better manage the intensity of your training.
Taking time to do the little things, like warming up, adding accessory work to your training, and not beating yourself up with high volume/intensity every time you train will make a world of difference. Training will also be more enjoyable and you’ll see better gains in the long run.
Photo credit: Bruce Williams @Baw3_Photo