3 Stages that our Bodies go through after a CrossFit workout
We all know the way you feel after a CrossFit workout. Exhausted, disoriented, drained, empowered and gassed. Your heart is up and you are breathing hard and heavy. It takes you a few minutes before you realize what you just did, or carry on a conversation. There are so many things our body is going through seconds, minutes, hours, and at times days after a workout! CrossFit causes stress to the body, and a process called general adaptation syndrome (GAS) forces the body to adapt to it using these three main stages.
The Alarm Stage
In the first stage, the body encounters an “unaccustomed” stressor; that is, a physical demand it doesn’t have the capability of meeting completely. Think about your first Thruster, pull up, or snatch. This puts stress on cells (muscle cells) involved in the processes that are called on to meet that demand. When a cell is stressed beyond its capacity, it gets damaged. In the case of muscle tissue, cells or fibers are disrupted. The cell membranes are degraded, which causes swelling, and you spend the next day or so moving very slowly from the resulting delayed onset muscle soreness. (DOMS)
The Resistance Stage
Within the next 36 to 48 hours, your body begins transitioning out of the alarm stage and DOMS subsides. It has now gauged the damage, responded to it and can begin the repair process during what is known as the resistance stage. Your body actually responds in a very logical way to this stress event. Your body does not want to go through the alarm phase again if you ever re-encounter that stressor in the near future! During the resistance stage, muscle cells not only repair themselves to the level they were before, but they actually complete a repair process that will ensure they will be better able to meet the demand of that stressor. This process may take as many as three to four days, you will have more microfilaments pulling on tendons, which creates more force and increases strength.
The Exhaustion Stage
We all need the alarm and resistance stages if we are to become stronger, faster, fitter and more powerful! However, if we don’t allow sufficient time for the body to complete the repair process, we run the risk of moving into the next stage- exhaustion. In the exhaustion stage, cells are not fully repaired before again encountering a demand they cannot meet. Once again, damage occurs, and the alarm process begins. Over time, insufficient repair time (rest days), stemming from training sessions that are too intense, too frequent or too frequently intense, leads to overtraining and breakdowns. You will notice slower WOD times, and you will find it will be harder to lift loads you use to manage easily. Your heavy lifts will drop in weight and PR’s will come less often.
Making sure we train smart and allow our body to recover properly is important! The intense workouts put major stress on our bodies and can cause internal injuries. Showing up at the gym 5 or 6 days in a row and going through high intensity workouts will not make you stronger or faster. Listen to your body and allow it to heal before hitting another hard WOD. Your body will thank you and reward you in future workouts!