This isn’t a shaming article on CrossFit, there are a lot of things that CrossFit does right like they build an amazing community that enjoy exercise. However this is about how CrossFit and other types of high intense interval training can do more damage than good if you don’t recover properly.
High-Intensity interval training is a form of training that utilises interval training of near maximal intensity followed by periods of low intensity recovery. The benefits of HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) are improved anaerobic capacity, anabolic hormone up-regulation, heart rate recovery and an increase max heart rate, all during a shorter workout period (fewer than 30 minutes). However there’s a catch.
Exercise programs like Insanity and CrossFit have lost the “I” in the HIIT for interval – the pause or interlude as between periods of intense activity. In many of the exercise programs out today the work to rest ratio has become so high, the exercise program is really moderate-high intensity steady state cardio (continuous endurance cardio) – the opposite of what you want when you train for HIIT.
According to Borer in Exercise Endocrinology, continuous high intensity exercise has a catabolic effect on the body, increasing production of catabolic hormones such as cortisol. This hormone is not what you want when it comes to exercise and building muscle because excessive production of this not only increases protein degradation in muscle and connective tissue but also truncal and facial lipogenesis and fat deposition (creates and stores more fat around the face and waist). When considering how stressed most people are (physiologically and psychologically) sometimes exercise programs like CrossFit are not the way to go.
Strong Medicine has an excellent point by calling this the “Stress Cup” (Allostatic load) and if you had a bad day at work where you were stressed to the max and when going home, your kids made a mess of the house this elevates your stress levels and if you do a high intensity exercise program on top of that like CrossFit this can potentially make your stress cup overflow , doing more harm then good. That’s another reason why having a fitness professional is good because they can tell if you are having a good or stressful day and they can adjust the exercise program on the spot (if they are good).
Here are a few things that can help you: – Ying/Yang – When you do high intensity exercise you want to recover just as much or it will come back and bite you. By recovering it could mean anything by taking a few sessions to stretch/foam roll and eating very nutritious full meals.
Don’t Skip Your Rest Periods- They are there for a reason.
Heartrate Variability – Check your heart rate the first thing that you do in the morning and this little gizmo can tell you if you are good to go with a hard exercise session that day or take it easy. Check it out here!
To reap the benefits of true HIIT (above 90%) interval will require a short bout of exercise (5-45secs, think of weight lifters and sprinters – this is your CP-ATP system in layman’s terms) followed by a period of rest that allows the body to recover into an aerobic state (below 65-80% for most people) Maintaining a high- intensity state without appropriate rest periods can have a wide variety of consequences.