Does CrossFit have an off-season? Should smaller guys or girls go for a weight/muscle gain in the winter months? Many of my training buddies argue “yes – you can always get back in shape in early spring and be ready for the Opens”. Personally, I’m a quite skeptical of this concept.
Just to clarify – there’s a difference between:
1) Focusing on strength for a period and laying off longer, strenuous wods in order to aid recovery between grueling strength sessions.
2) Increasing your calorie intake dramatically to the point were most of your snacks are blended peanut butter and cream. This calorie fetish is often accompanied by high volume strength training /powerlifting and absolutely no CrossFit workouts or GPP.
In my experience, option 1) tends to work really well for many and is actually just a part of a periodized training plan. Strength gains can be made while keeping body composition favorable.
What makes option 2) problematic is actually a combination of two common mistakes:
- You overestimate the amount of fat free mass that is actually possible to gain (in a limited period of time) for a somewhat trained individual.
- You (greatly!) overestimate the amount of work it takes to shed 5-10 pounds of fat and get back into CrossFit shape.
What happens in most cases, is that someone bulking will end up with a major portion of the weight-gain being fat. And while fat might serve as a nice source of warmth in the winter, we all know how much it will aid you in your next ”Fran” or ”Helen” attempt. That’s right – it won’t.
You might argue that ”as soon as I start doing CrossFit again the fat will just melt of me”. Maybe, but then you are either genetically gifted or extremely disciplined. Ask yourself this: If it was SO EASY why would the world need supplements and new years resolutions?
I found a quite well-written article on the subject on this page:
(ignore the sales pitch in the end! His diet and might/might not work, that’s not the point here).
And for those of you that are lucky enough to speak Danish, this is a more comprehensive article:
In the end, it’s your body and I won’t tell you what or what not to do. Bulking and subsequent cutting might be the answer for some. I believe that a more long-term strategy involving slow, but lean mass gains and a clever, periodized training regime to be the most effective.
If you have any comments – please feel free to post them! I would love to hear your thoughts. – Ditte