Diminishing returns in training. Working smarter not harder!

Work smarter not harder! This is a phrase being used more and more throughout many fitness and training institutes. Why though? Surely hard work pays off, that’s certainly something I was constantly reminded of as a child. 

Given the huge variety of movements covered by CrossFit, it can be easy to fall into the trap of constantly overtraining. This may be fuelled by a desire to learn and improve more of the movements but more commonly down to a fear of losing a level of fitness or ‘gainz’. You may laugh but it’s an epidemic. 

The fear of losing your hard earned gainz seems to be spreading throughout gyms worldwide like wildfire. Having spent countless hours training hard, eating well and getting into a consistent routine with your training, the obvious step to more gainz would be to cram another hour a day increasing the intensity and therefore becoming fitter. Right??.... Wrong!

For every athlete training intensity, volume and relevant rest and recovery will be different. The first thing to establish when looking to find the correct balance for yourself are your goals or current targets. From this point, increased volume for many may actually have a negative impact forcing the body into a phase of muscle burning. Additional training done correctly with more focus on technique and overall body awareness may generate a more productive response.  

More commonly seen in the business world (the law of) Diminishing returns 

“used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.”

can be applied to training and shows that the equation for effort in, isn’t equal to the progress or 'gainz' we get out at certain points in our development. The initial progress made or increased performance whilst new to a particular discipline will be fairly noticeable. As time passes these big strides forward begin to reduce in size and at points begin to plateau. Further progress from this point begins to take longer to achieve and therefore requires more work but spread over a longer period. 

Games level athletes have a far higher level of fitness to maintain and therefore the volume of training to support let alone improve is insane compared with the majority of the CrossFit community. To try and base your fitness goals or training routine around these guys would be crazy. Be smart with your training, focus any additional time and effort on real weaknesses and not just on increasing a favourite lift or improving your time in a popular WOD. Listen to your body to avoid overtraining and potential injuries. If rest and recovery are what your body needs, check out Jacks article on recovery here

The secret to understanding your own peak fitness and unlocking the next level is simple. Find a balance that supports all areas of your development, pushing outside of your comfort zone occasionally to affect change and listen to both your body and the coaching staff.