The more people I talk to the more it becomes clear that people do not have a clue… I’m going to break it all down so that you can now know what is REAL, what is super human, and where you fit in!
Do people take steroids? Yep. Do some CrossFit athletes take steroids? Yep.
Read the article below written by John Romano who is a well known ‘steroid expert’ that openly admits he has helped CrossFit Games level athletes run steroid cycles and pass the CrossFit drug screening tests. It’s happening!!
In the article it talks about the predominant way that steroids help in CrossFit is recovery. You recover quicker within workouts, between workouts and between training days so ultimately you can do more training and get better faster. All makes sense right?
WHERE I GET PISSED OFF
Time and time again I see athletes burn out, get injured, suffer from chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue. If they are lucky and it doesn’t get that far then the other thing I see is mild fatigue, the onset of overtraining and a lack of passion, purpose and intensity when they enter the gym and begin training.
Firstly, injury, chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue are the fastest ways to go backwards in training. Once it hits it can take years to get your health and you fitness back. I personally coach a girl that came to me after hitting adrenal fatigue, six months later we are only now getting her baseline health back, her hormones have begun to settle but she is still lifting sub maximally. It will be a year all up to get back to where she was. Technically that puts her two years behind!!
Secondly, the only way to improve is through passion and intensity. If you are mildly overtrained I promise you will not be able to maintain the high enough intensity to develop quickly.
More is NOT better!!! How many fucking times does it need to be said!!
SMOKE AND MIRRORS
Now, here is where everyone gets misled… Have you ever watched ‘Road to the Games’ or any other documentary outlining what some ‘superhuman’ athlete does in a days training? If you have watched one you will understand, if not then let me sum it up for you… They train a shit ton!! Multiple sessions a day, six or more days a week and most of the time at the high intensity required to make progress.
Then every wannabe athlete decides that they need to do the same if they want to make it to Regionals or the Games. They go hard, training like a boss, then all of a sudden run head first into a concrete wall because for some reason they can’t handle the same levels of training… Hmmmmm…
If you want to recover faster, without taking drugs then here are a few tips. Sleep more. I’m talking 10+ hours a day. Eight at night and then a nap during the day between training sessions. Eat more food. Nutrition is absolutely crucial when it comes to recovery. Eating for performance isn’t the same as eating for health, you need more fuel than what would be considered healthy. Those are the two main things and already 90% of the people reading this do not live a lifestyle that allows for it. On top of that you need nil extra stress (life/work etc) and potentially the addition of some good quality legal supplements.
Matt Fraser trained full time last season. If he wasn’t training he would have been eating, sleeping and relaxing. THAT IS WHAT IS REQUIRED IF YOU WANT TO TRAIN AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL. Sure we don’t all go out to win the CrossFit Games but you can see where the trend is heading and how far away you are from being able to handle the volume that ‘they’ train at.
SO HOW MUCH SHOULD I TRAIN?
Everyone is different, and it depends on many variables. Genetics is the big one, then age, work, training age, ability to cope with mental stress, nutrition, sleep, etc… You need to pay attention to your body and the signs it gives out so you know how much YOU can handle.
Signs of overtraining:
– Niggling injuries/tendonitis
– Lack of passion and motivation
– Sub par performances
I truly believe competitive CrossFitters (Games and potentially Regional level) have a competing life cycle of two to four years depending on their genetics and life variables etc… We see people come into the sport, do well in year one nice and fresh, then slowly over time they start to get worn out before they overtrain, something breaks or they just lose their drive. Either that or they juice up and consistently kick ass which gives the natural people little chance of keeping up year after year.
Nobody can just ‘keep going’ year after year at huge volume or intensity, it IS NOT POSSIBLE without assistance.
Same with competitions, if you try and do more than a handful of competitions each year it will add to the burnout. Competitions require 110% intensity and as we know if the recovery doesn’t keep up then we blowout. So with massive intensity we need massive recovery, and what is the point of competing followed by spending a week or two recovering when that whole time we could have been working on our weaknesses or adding another few kg’s to our squat.
HOW THE NATURAL ATHLETES DO IT
A perfect example of a Games level athlete is Kevin Manuel, a man I know would NEVER touch a banned substance. Hell, I’m pretty sure he would read the ingredients label on a chocolate milk and check the CrossFit banned substance list before drinking it.
Kevin works full time on a farm, has a wife and two kids and the morals of a saint. He is also very smart and intuitive with his training. He trains once a day for maybe an hour or two depending on how he’s feeling and rests multiple times a week (depending on how he’s feeling).
Usually Kevin places quite far down in the Open, which is SMART (not peaking too soon). At Regionals he is consistently top 6 which is something very few people could dream of, and when he got to the Games in 2015 he finished in 17th which is very respectable.
Now here is a guy that takes things slow, plays the game smart and STILL ENDED UP WITH ADRENAL FATIGUE!!! In my opinion, the only thing Kevin could have done to stop that happening other that train less is to work less, sleep more and eat more which is not really possible with his current lifestyle (family etc…).
I point out Kevin because I want to point out that you do not need to be training hard everyday at huge volumes to make the Games, you need to do just enough of what is required. You also need to be aware that if you stay natural you only have that small window of two to four years to represent yourself ‘at the top level’ unless you can fully live the life of recovery.
You know I always harp on about monitoring HRV so that you can see the early signs of overtraining and cut them off in advance… I won’t harp on anymore but feel free to have a look at this information if you’re interested.
It is all about balancing your training load with your recovery. If you really want to get to Regionals or the Games then you need to train quite a lot and to balance it out you need to make your lifestyle conducive. Sleep more, work less and eat better. If you lose that positive balance then you will not last long.
Make sure the program you follow is right for you. Volume is not better. Better is better. This is why the Underground RX Athlete Program has three levels of training so that our athletes can stay fresh and get better faster.
To get better you need to train harder, to train harder you need a lifestyle that is conducive of it. Stop trying to be superman and start running your own race!