As the 2021 CrossFit Open and subsequent Quarterfinals come to an end,
only a very select few of the world’s top athletes advance to the next Semi
Finals stage. This also marks the end of the season for everyone else. For
this majority of athletes, the Monday following Quarterfinals is day 1 of
preparation for the 2022 season. But what exactly does this mean?
For athlete and coach alike, our brains immediately go to devising an
offseason plan to address weaknesses. This may be in one area of general
fitness, such as improve aerobic capacity, or gain strength in one particular
lift, such as the clean and jerk. It could also be increasing muscle endurance
in bending patterns to better handle 150 reps of DB snatches, or improve
density in a skill, such as bar muscle ups. Examples of this are endless and
they’re all correct. I mean, the offseason is the time for skill acquisition,
increasing aerobic base, and pursuing strength gains. However, it seems like
many coaches and athletes ignore a very important transitionary period
between in-season and off-season. This is the period I’ll be referring to as
By no means have I come up with this concept nor is it foreign to athletes of
every other sport. But I feel like in the sport of fitness, it is frequently
ignored. It’s all around us. I can sense a tone of anxiety in my clients in
wanting to start working on their weaknesses. It’s all over social media in the
form of training posts tagged in the sorts of #day1 and #roadtosemis2022.
The “no days off” attitude is romanticized in our community as we applaud
the seemingly hard work ethics that the athletes possess. And I get it. I
mean, I get fired up with this idea as well. This doesn’t make it right, though.
After a period of highest physical expression, there needs to come a period
of rest and recovery. Let’s backtrack a little to better understand this.
If your season was periodized correctly and the Open/ Quarterfinals was the
priority event in your plan, then during that five week period you were at
your peak. This means that you were performing at the very top of your
ability. Theoretically, this implies a level of performance that is unsustainable
past that period of time. Now, visualize a mountain. You climb all the way to
the top to reach the peak. On the other side of it, there’s a steep drop. After
the peak there’s a descent. This applies to physical expression and also
applies to periodization. If we don’t plan for this “drop” after the peak, we’re
not only putting the athlete at risk of physiological fatigue and injury, but
we’re also pulling from his or her ability to climb up to another, presumably
higher peak next time.
So, finishing a repeat of Quarterfinals Test 5 on
Sunday morning and jumping right back on the horse to start “getting
stronger” on Monday or Tuesday may not be a good idea. Instead, you
should plan for a period of down time, allow yourself to come down the other
side of the mountain and gather the resources to later be able to make