How much should you exercise? Many CrossFit coaches encourage members to train 3 days in a row, followed by a day of rest, but real life often prevents this schedule.
Shawn Berkhof, an exercise scientist at Rutgers University, has studied this question. The results of his research are surprising.
“Inexperienced clients think that by doing CrossFit twice per week, they are avoiding soreness,” Berkhof explained. “But the truth is, they are making things worse for themselves. Real adaptation takes repeated exposure to intensity.”
Berkhof says that those hoping to avoid this state of perpetual soreness need to train at least three times per week.
But the surprising part of Berkhof’s research were the number of people willing to tolerate this lifestyle. His survey found that 50% of those who claim to “do CrossFit” are technically only “dabbling” in the program.
Berkhof says this estimate must include those who legitimately don’t have the time to train more than twice per week, and a sizable number of masochist who enjoy the pain.
CrossFit enthusiast Jenn Piper seems to be an example of the latter. The 32-year-old real estate agent trains only twice each week, and seems content with her near-constant infirmity.
“My schedule is simple,” Piper explained. “On Monday, I get crushed at the gym, and by Thursday I can almost walk down stairs without making sound effects. Then I work out again on Friday and start the cycle over. It’s just enough training to shock my unsuspecting body, while avoiding the type of consistency that would lead to any real improvements to my fitness.”