Most of us who have been doing CrossFit for a while know that your nutrition can both positively and negatively affect your workouts. Eating too little, not often enough, and consuming the wrong types of food can result in weakness, cause excessive lactic acid build up, and slow our recovery down to a snail’s pace. Eating clean and on a schedule can increase your strength gains, endurance and muscle recovery. So what happens when you go from a hard workout program to a goal oriented training regime? How does the volume increase affect our nutrition? More importantly…how does one succeed when training at a higher volume and how much does our nutrition play a role?
When a Crossfit athlete embarks upon a strength program the overall goal is to see lifting numbers as well as the number of body weight movement repetitions increase. Being able to lift more weight increases one’s speed during a wod when the weight is lighter. Stronger athletes tend to do better competitively at our sport. When we strive to increase the weight we are lifting by playing with our rep and percentage schemes, our muscles are being pushed to a new level of fatigue. This fatigue is the line we dance upon to grow muscle mass and strength. If we fatigue too early we miss out on the repetitions that are needed for our lifting numbers to increase. Miss too frequently and our 1RM’s won’t budge. To avoid missing those crucial reps, the athlete needs to keep maxing out at bay. This means adequate glycogen stores, protein intake for muscle feeding and recovery, healthy fats for tissue repair and caloric intake for energy output.
The most common mistake athletes make when increasing their training volume is simple going off the assumption all they need to do is ‘ eat more’. Just paying attention to caloric intake will not produce the results in the strength sessions that a well thought out nutrition program will. Overall each macronutrient value has to come up. For example : If you go from back squatting 1 day a week to 3 days a week those muscles are being seriously challenged. Your Carbohydrate grams need to come up to ensure that you have enough explosive energy to last you the entire 90 minute training session. Carbohydrates are the number one source of energy your body and your brain use for fuel. If you train in the morning, increasing your carb intake at night can bring up your glycogen stores so you are ready to train at an optimal level the next day. Protein numbers need to come up as well. In order to become stronger, our muscle mass must increase. The macronutrient responsible for muscle growth is protein. High volume training dictates a 1-3g per pound of body weight protein intake depending on an individual’s percentages. If I am a 125 lb. female with a 1RM back squat of 200 I may stick to a 1.25-1.5 gram ratio. However, if I am a 250lb male with a 1RM back squat of 500, I would probably need the full 3g per pound. Tracking your protein seems daunting at first, but after 1-2 weeks you can eyeball roughly how much you are eating per day. Fats are super important for muscle repair, joint care, keeping our adrenals in check, and our hormones steady. Your fat intake needs to come up also. Healthy fats like avocado, organic nut butters, nuts, oils, and supplements like fish oil, will help to speed your recovery so you’re ready to hit that next high volume day at full potential. Being aware of your nutrition needs during a strength cycle can make or break you. Eating as clean as possible is ideal but you can add some cheat foods in to assist you in hitting your caloric goals in moderation. Many athletes incorporate cheats like pizza (carb heavy), Ice cream (fat heavy) and Chicken Wings (protein heavy) to load the calories in. For total health, you want to avoid over doing it, but in moderation it can really make you feel unstoppable.
So how do I determine exactly what I need numerically? Easy. You can log on to www.iifym.com and use the free calculators to measure your training intensity/ body height and weight/ and goals. They will provide you with your macro nutrient values to follow daily. A tight nutrition program, coupled with plenty of hydration and sleep, and you’ll be very happy with your strength numbers at the end!! Happy Lifting Athletes! EAT UP!