If you are familiar with the CrossFit style of training (all of you at Triumph should be!), you know that what we do is pretty dang intense. Intensity, hands down, yields the best results for fitness because intensity is a measure of fitness. But doing intense workouts day in and day out without a rest day is not smart, and can lead to injuries and overtraining (feeling burned out, strength numbers take a dive, etc etc).
CrossFit.com promotes and uses a 3 on 1 off structure for training, meaning that they program 3 days of workouts and then schedule a rest day on the 4th day. While this is great, and probably the best way to train, it doesnt fit a 7 day week nor does it fit the average members schedule nicely.
At Triumph Fitness, we program for 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday. If you are completely new to CrossFit, I highly recommend starting with just 3 days a week. For example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Do this for a couple weeks and let your body adjust to the volume and intensity that we pursue. Once you feel more comfortable, start working in a 4th day. This could be something like: Monday/Tuesday/Rest/Thursday/Friday and on the weekend get outside and go for a walk or play some sports.
Once you feel ready for it, you can bump your training up to 5 days per week, and a lot of people will train on a schedule like: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Rest/Friday/Saturday/Rest. Again, I recommend letting your body get used to 4 days a week for at least 3 weeks to a month before trying out this 5 day model.
How will you know when you need a rest day? It´s pretty simple. Listen to your body. On the 3rd or 4th day of training, do you still feel strong? Is your conditioning fatiguing more quickly than it did earlier on in the week? These would be great indicators that a rest day is needed. Again, listen to your body and avoid training more than 3 days in a row.
What if you come in feeling good, but quickly realize you should´ve taken a rest day? Don´t leave! Go ahead and do some mobility and light rowing, or ask a coach to modify the workout down to something less intense and let us know that you aren't feeling great that day. Moving your body around a little, getting your blood moving is a great way to break up some lactic acid and help your body recover for the next day!
What should you do on your rest days? I absolutely insist that you take at least one day per week and do NOTHING fitness related. As CrossFitters, we tend to get pretty addicted to staying active, but it is ok to take a day off and read a book, go to a movie, clean the house, grab coffee with a friend etc, etc. On the other rest day that you have scheduled, enjoy your fitness. Go out to the dog park and run around, explore Rock Bridge State Park, ride a bike, do your weekly meal prep, go to a yoga class, swim, etc.
Again, we treat our bodies like machines here in the gym, but they aren´t! We need rest, we need to recover. Our muscles break down and need to rebuild. Even our minds break down and get tired and so we need those days to just press the reset button and let ourselves reboot.
Finally, what you do outside of the gym can affect your training also. Remember to eat right, sleep good and keep your stress levels down. Combine too many training days/weeks in a row with poor nutrition, bad sleep and high stress and you can become a victim of overtraining. Symptoms include a lack of appetite, insomnia, decrease in strength and energy and a noticeable change in mood. It really is simple to avoid overtraining if you just listen to your body and follow the general rules I talked about above!
Then, you'll be ready to outrun that hippo!