6 Recovery Methods For CrossFit

The recovery phase that happens after an intense bout of exercise is paramount to an athlete’s long term success. During a WOD we are actually damaging our muscles because of the high stress levels placed on them while under load as we perform our beloved constantly-varied-high-intensity-functional movements. It is how an athlete behaves afterward that provides the therapeutic effect of exercising or the… *ahem*… #GAINZ.


Use these six major factors to get back to your WOD faster than you can say “21-15-9”.

1. Drink a recovery shake post workout.

15 Minutes (or sooner) post WOD consume some fast carbohydrates (i.e. simple sugars) (CHO) and some quality protein (PRO). But how how much of each? One of the most popular formulas used by top coaches to determine the right amounts is the following:

0.25-0.4 grams of carbs per pound of body weight from sources such as berries, dextrose, d-ribose and others that have a high glycemic index reading. (e.g. a 185 lbs person could experiment with 46-74 grams of carbohydrate post workout)

0.15-0.25 grams of protein per pound of body weight from a quality whey protein.
(e.g. a 185 lbs person could experiment with 27-46 grams of protein post workout)

*Important! If you are focusing on fat loss, you should use your target body weight in both carb and
protein formulas.

2. Eat for quality.

chickenEveryone has their version of a diet that works well for them. And over the last 10 years things have gotten pretty tribal. There are many camps: Zone, Paleo, 80/20 Paleo, I eat grains but just the good ones, Bulletproof believers, and the list goes on and on.

What you’ll notice about every single tribe is that they all agree on one thing: quality.

Place an emphasis on the quality of your food by shopping for organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised products whenever and wherever possible.

But the argument on quality goes farther than what you buy. It reaches the point of how you cook it. The reason this is so important is because many people are juggling a hundred things at once and often put themselves last. Meaning they don’t have time to cook for themselves and may lean on “picking something up” or grabbing something on the go. Here is where things can go awry. Food quality is such an essential variable that compromising it often enough with on-the-go foods will likely start having a negative effect on your training.

Avoid this pitfall by hiring a food delivery service that will replace 3-5 meals per week. These services are growing in popularity and are here to stay because they work. Passionate people who love food dedicate themselves every week to producing food for athletes, executives, students, shift workers – anyone who is battling time management issues.

If you live in the Toronto area, let me recommend a few companies to look up.

Paleo Toronto
Eat Savage
Fit Orgnanix

3. Get restful sleep!

Always the gold standard in recovery, sleep can make or break your workout. During restful sleep your body produces growth hormone. Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland of the brain and plays an important role in human development by affecting skeletal growth. Umm *ahem* …gainz.

A study performed on the link between growth hormone and sleep shows that the peak of GH secretion was delayed as the onset of sleep was delayed, thereby lowering the cumulative therapeutic effect.

While many people insist that they can perform optimally on less than 8 hours of sleep, the truth is that those who sleep for longer are simply recovering for longer periods of time and the results will be noticeable.
A great way to get a more restful sleep is to take a magnesium supplement with your dinner or about 45 minutes before bed. Magnesium has a calming effect on the body and allows you to fall into REM sleep more easily.

4. Educate yourself on mobility.


A) A positive trend moving through the CrossFit community for the last few years has been the focus on mobility both pre and post workout. First to educate the CrossFit community with his effective mobility techniques was Dr. Kelly Starrett of CrossFit San Francisco. Starrett founded Mobility WOD and is the author of the wildly popular book Becoming a Supple Leopard.

B) While mobilizing and stretching was commonplace among strength coaches, it’s becoming increasingly popular amongst the masses in the form of self care or self mobilization. Another great resource to leverage would be the ROMWOD camp. ROMWOD stands for Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day. It is a website that provides daily videos designed to help increase your range of motion, optimize athletic performance and promote recovery, healing and longevity.

C) Find a local athletic care provider. Most benefits plans will cover full or partial wellness options that can be used towards seeing a professional that can treat aches and pains.

The fact is in CrossFit, we push harder and find our limits more often than in any other style of training done today. And if you’re going to lay it out on the floor on a daily basis, you’d better be just as ready to know how to take care of your body when it needs it. Learn about the benefits of mobility, get an online subscription that will keep you accountable and seek out a professional that can treat your aches and pains.

5. Understand your box’s programming and plan rest days.

Every great Box runs some sort of split. A split is a spread of work over a given period of time to effectively and efficiently cover the needs and goals of their athletes.
Example of a Split for CrossFit:

Day 1 Heavy Strength Work + Short Metcon
Day 2 Moderate Strength Work + Skill + Short Metcon
Day 3 Light Technique + Heavy Component in WOD
Day 4 Off
Day 5 Long Metcon + Mobility + ROM Work
Day 6 Off or Active Recovery
Day 7 Off


CrossFit is not random – it is constantly varied – two different things. So find out what your box’s program designer plans on a weekly basis and plan to hit the days that balance “what you need to work on” and “what you love doing”. It’s hard – and I totally get it – but try to stay away from hitting WODs you love when you’re smoked. Just don’t do it.

Next is to develop a personal philosophy, and stick to it. You can figure this out easily by really paying attention to what makes you feel good. Remember back to what drew you into CrossFit in the first place. The ethos of CrossFit is to be ready for anything – it was never about grinding yourself into a pulp.

6. Listen to the Pros.

If you’re a beginner, it’s not recommended to go and try all the cool looking movements you see Elite CrossFittters doing, it is however, perfectly okay to talk to them about how they got to where they are today.  I reached out a group of coaches and athletes whom a greatly admire and asked them all 3 simple questions.

How many training sessions per week do you complete?

What are your go-to recovery methods?

How come they work so well for you?

Here’s what they had to say.

Chad Langan


Gold Medalist (62kg) Weightlifter, Owner/Head Coach at Maple City CrossFit

(Photo: Hook Grip)

How many training sessions per week do you complete?

13 training sessions per week + 2 sports per week.

What are your go-to recovery methods?
post workout pro/carb
Epsom salt
45 min mobility class weekly
Massage – not as often as I should but when I need it
Chiro – ART, acupuncture

How come they work so well for you?
I think they work so well because my training volume being high keeps my inflammation and cortisol high… So any technique that decreases that helps me move through range of motion better.
I move well but when I’m really sore – it becomes hard to hit the necessary positions and then adds extra stress on my body.

Sacha Adkins


CrossFit Games Regionals Athlete, Wodapalooza 2016, Granite Games
Coach at Reebok CrossFit East Woodbridge and Coach at CrossFit Markham
(Photo: http://www.photosbydesa.com/Beachwod)

How many training sessions per week do you complete?
I train 5 times a week, 4 individual sessions and 1 team training session. 2.5 to 3 hours per session.

What are your go-to recovery methods?
2. My recovery methods-
I see my physio every week. Getting looked over by a health professional has been integral in staying injury-free leading up to the open. I usually get active release therapy and dry needling is my all time favourite.

How come they work so well for you?
I also try to incorporate non-Crossfit activities into my workout schedule, such as spinning and swimming- getting out of the gym is good for me mentally. I have been doing yoga since I was a teenager and it has given me a great base of mobility. Practicing yoga not only has mobility benefits but also helps work on balance and stability that is neglected in my training.

Steve Cristini


CrossFit Games Regionals Athlete, Wodapalooza 2016
Manager at Reebok CrossFit East Woodbridge and Owner/Trainer at CrossFit Markham
(Photo: Facebook)

How many training sessions per week do you complete?
5-6 days per week. 2-3 hours per day on average.

What are your go-to recovery methods?

Weekly physio sessions
Compex muscle stimulator
Massages monthly
Eat a lot

How come they work so well for you?
My physio is amazing. He really is specialized in treatment for performance in CrossFit. Keeps everything firing perfectly and all parts in the right place. I am quite mobile for the most part (except my hip flexors) so I kind of hate actually doing a lot of mobility so it’s kind of nice to let him do the mobilizing on me and I can just lay there.

The compex helps aid in recovery and is very convenient. I can sit at the desk and work on recovery.

Food and sleep will always be the best recovery for me. I eat a lot of carbs for recovery. I have a very fast metabolism and my body really performs at its best on a high carb diet.
Naps would be amazing but I just don’t have time for them.

Brandon Crump


CrossFit Games Regionals Athlete, Granite Games, Head Coach at CrossFit Crux
(Photo: http://www.shooting-monsters.com/)

How many training sessions per week do you complete?
A typical week for me. Would be taking one FULL rest day as well as another day which is significantly less volume (call it active recovery if you will) all other days (5) I’ll be training hard. Usually broke into two – 1 hour sessions or one big session 2-2.5 hours
Hitting many pieces in there but will differ depending on the time of season

What are your go-to recovery methods?
My go to recovery methods
– taking my dog for a walk in the forest..
i) it gets me out walking and blood flowing to loosen the body up
ii) it allows me to chill out mentally

For me personally, (Unless I am so beat up I can’t walk- which happens from time to time – in which case I’d take a full rest day) it is more of a mental rest

Usually my body is good to go it’s getting my mind to co-operate that is the problem. So staying mentally rested (ie not burning out) is so important to me
– walks in the forest
– training in different environments (have about 3-4 spots I rotate through- I am VERY lucky)
– respecting the grind… Ie knowing when to push through and when to lay off..

Other recovery techniques
Chiropractor 2x a month
Nutrition is ok, probably could be better
Also bought an Electric muscles stim I use from time to time as well if I need it

Joe Johnson


CrossFit Games Regionals Athlete, Wodapalooza 2016
F*ck Cystic Fibrosis 
(Photo: Snowy River Images)

How many training sessions per week do you complete?
In the gym I workout 5 days a week one session a day for 3-4 hours each session.

What are your go-to recovery methods?
For recovery I’ll stretch and roll out any major muscle groups that were used in that session. Then also work out any knots and make sure my body is moving properly, ie. Proper squat, oh position and front rack. I’ll also use a Marc pro to help flush any lactic acid and help recover faster. The biggest thing I find that helps is practicing moving properly in everyday life, squat down to get something on the ground instead of bending, sitting with proper posture but also trying not to sit unless I absolutely have too. Making these decision makes the biggest difference and I always notice when I haven’t been following them because my neck will hurt my hips will be tight and I won’t perform at my best in the gym.

How come they work so well for you?
The culmination of all those things fit best with my schedule so that’s why they work best, if I had the time I would do mobility and train all day but I have to get it in when I can.

Jonathan Gibbons


Paramedic, Weightlifter, Wodapalooza 2016
(Photo: Facebook)

How many training sessions per week do you complete?
I typically complete two training sessions per day, sessions can range from 1-3hrs in length. On average I train for about 4 hours a day. Thursday and Sundays are “active recovery” days where I choose some kind of longer low intensity activity. I do this for 3-4 weeks then I relax into what I call a “back off” or “deload” week. Meaning I taper back my intensity in my workouts to about 75-80% and will only spend about 2 hours a day training. “back off” week usually are the week leading up to a competition.

What are your go-to recovery methods?
My go to recovery method is simple, adequate sleep and on point nutrition. I’m really big on the value of a good night sleep and making sure that I fuel my body properly. Recently I’ve been using a program called ROMWOD. It’s a lot like yoga for crossfitters. I’m really enjoying it and seeing massive improvements in my range of motion, flexibility and muscle recovery. I use a Marc Pro unit for muscle stim and occasionally I will have a hot bath with epsom salts when my legs are feeling beaten down (yes.. real men have bubble baths haha!!)

How come they work so well for you?
My methods work well for me for obvious reasons. A full night sleep will optimize the bodies ability to produce testosterone which is an important hormone used in muscle building/recovery. A healthy, balanced diet with adequate calorie intake consumed from the proper macro nutrients fuels me throughout the day so that I am able to perform at optimal level. I find that I recover well because I’m not 100% set in my ways. I Understand that there are many ways to help the body recover. I am never afraid to try something new and I’m constantly trying to learn better ways.

Ashley Smith


CrossFit Games Regionals Athlete
Co-Owner & Coach @ CrossFit St. Catharines
Fitaid athlete
(Photo: Clean Motion Multimedia)

How many training sessions per week do you complete?
I train a full 5 days per week with one full rest day and one active recovery day

What are your go-to recovery methods?
I spend a lot of time before I train using the lacrosse ball, kettle bells and barbells for ‘smashing’. I get a lot of ideas in that aspect from Smashwerx. I also use the mobility bands for flossing, and activation exercises as well. Post workout I use a home stim machine, lacrosse ball for rolling. I also take JaktRx products for recovery. Their Wod Recovery Protein, Omega 3 fish oils and their Cocowodder Hydrate. Outside of that I take magnesium and GLC 2000 for joints and inflammation as well.

When it comes to sleep, as busy as I am, I still try to make sure to get 6 hours and if not a nap in the afternoon if I can.

I see a chiropractor / acupuncturist once sometimes twice a week. He helps keep me put together most of the time! I have several ribs that pop out weekly, and my left shoulder is still not very healthy. He gives me a “tune up” as I call it so I can keep training!

How come they work so well for you?

I find that ensuring I’m well hydrated and properly warmed up before training is very important. Helps reduce the risk of further Injury and reduces the muscle soreness post workout. Making sure I eat properly and fuel my body before and after, paired with good supplementation is also very important. especially when we’re in the gym breaking our bodies down we need to make sure we’re keeping them glued together so to speak!

At Niagara health and rehab – where my doc Geoff Gamble is, I find it’s huge in reducing the pain and inflammation so that I can recover better and faster in order to keep training the next day. He’s also very helpful in teaching ways to rehab and mobilize to help the recovery process as well.

Alex Cibiri


Veteran Strength Coach,

Owner of Element CrossFit

My first recovery tip for people is to trade a day at the gym for a fun activity they enjoy doing that doesn’t feel like ‘exercise’ or ‘training’. For me it’s basketball. For others it’s skating, or soccer or running. Too much training can turn things into a chore and also adding stress to the mix can hamper recovery. More time in the gym doing mobility is rarely the answer, getting outside and using your fitness is the key.

This is something that definitely needs to be customized by each individual as we all have different likes and dislikes and backgrounds. Sometimes it’s a day off reading a book and enjoying a glass of wine for the person that’s always on the go, and sometimes it’s a former yogi going back to hit a hatha class because it feels good.

It’s important to remember that recovery is just as much mental as it is physical and you need to recharge both when your body is calling for it. If you make it a regular habit in your week or month and become proactive about it, you’ll notice that you’ll be on the edge of burnout far less.




If you found this article helpful, please show your support by sharing to anyone who you think may benefit from it.  Thanks so much for your time and thanks for stopping by!!!

Warm Regards,

Sean Blinch

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