Crossfit is quickly turning into a mainstream sport in the United States and around the world. With the Crossfit Games just ending last week and having significant coverage on ESPN we have now entered the post-games off season. Like many other sports, Crossfit has a cycle throughout the year, with an off-season, pre-season, and competition season.
Knowledge of Crossfit’s seasonal schedule can give you an insider’s view of what can be expected for exercise programming. This is helpful for injury prevention, recovery, and optimizing performance for athletes.
When the Crossfit season is in the off-season many gym training programs enter a brief time of deload/decreased volume to help athletes recover from the high intensity training throughout the year.
Once the deload period has ended, programs start to focus on foundational strengthening. This allows athletes to start prepping for the start of next season in a progressive, and safe way.
The CrossFit Open occurs in February most years. This competition is “open” to any athlete that wants to test out their fitness. About 6-12 weeks before the Open begins, gym programs start to ramp up their volume and intensity. Barbell cycling is incorporated in workouts as it is a common component of the Crossfit Open. Additionally, gymnastics start to show up more frequently in programs. By the end of your training cycle, right before the Open, your training program should have the ideal amount of volume and intensity so you can perform at your best.
Once the Open has ended the competitive Crossfit season has ended for most athletes (including myself). For those elit athletes that qualify for the next stages of the quarterfinals and semifinals, the journey continues on. For those folks, you can see a brief time of deload and then a restart to building training volume and capacity for later in the season.
As you can see, like other sports, CrossFit has a predictable season. To stay healthy, minimize risk of injury, and improve performance, athletes of all skill levels must respect the long time frame of the season.
If you are a CrossFit athlete it is important to find a team of coaches, performance physical therapists (such as your friends at Vital Force Physio), and a community that can hold you accountable to your training cycle while helping you push forward to reach your goals.
Dr. Tom Long, PT, DPT, OCS, OMT-C, CF-L1
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