There are many arguments around the topic of over training and not improving in CrossFit! Will too much training hinder your growth and strength and does quality of training outweigh quantity or is it purely a case of under recovery?
Firstly, let’s look at the argument of will too much training hinder growth and strength gains. Yes, this can appear to be true as muscles, tendons and ligaments do not have enough time to recover and grow if they are trained too intensely too often with little recovery time in between. Muscle growth is stunted as muscle fibers that you may have gained during your strength cycle/session cannot be used fully anymore as they have become prematurely fatigued while other assisting muscles are pulled in to help!
This can lead to other detrimental effects such as elevated heart action, heavier breathing and, very noticeably, higher levels of lactic acid build-up. All these additional effects are extremely detrimental to growth and strength training leading to catabolic effects on your muscles.
If you should decide to train through the signs of over training then you will eventually spiral into a downhill roll which may lead to injury and extreme fatigue.
Secondly, we will look at quality of training over quantity! Is less more when it comes to strength? The answer from most appears to be yes! Really focusing on how your muscles are moving and if they are being recruited correctly far outweighs using them and engaging them as quickly as possible and as sloppily as possible. Less reps at a moderate weight with good technique is far more advantageous in helping you correct form and technique than low reps with heavy weight with poor technique. Although there is a place for low reps with heavy weight, but good technique! This comes in time. You need to earn this right.
Lower weight also helps in the long run as risk of injury is also lowered.
If you feel during your strength cycle that there is not enough volume, which I must add should never be the case if you are on a good training programme, then adding in some mobility or corrective exercise work is always a good idea. Mobility and corrective exercises are a must for injury prevention and improving movement patterns which directly link to any movements you do in CrossFit, such as overhead mobility, hip movement during lifts and making sure that your wrists move properly when upside down or in the catch of a clean or snatch.
Lastly, some would argue that if the correct recovery techniques are used between sessions, such as massages, using compex machines, Epsom salt baths, floatation tanks etc alongside nailing your nutrition and supplementation, then no amount of training is too much! This argument again has points for and against but I will leave you to ponder over this! But remember no human being, no matter how good they are, is not indestructible! And maybe have a think about the longevity of your career! Do you want to be a one hit wonder?
Looking at all the arguments above it is clear that there are points for and against and, like most things, everyone is an individual and each person’s exercise tolerance and recovery is going to be different.
If you take anything away from this then I would suggest that, if you take your training seriously, then invest some time and money into a good training and nutrition plan to make sure that you don’t over train or put yourself in a detrimental training position. I’ve been there and trust me it wasn’t nice and I successfully made zero gains! Well that was a wasted strength cycle!!! Don’t let it be you!