Longevity (n): [lon-jev-i-tee] Duration of individual life. Generally, the longer the better, so long as the years are healthy. The secret to longevity: good health maintenance. CrossFit and Longevity go hand in hand if approached properly.

Former Member and Coach Mark Harris

For some individuals, the desire for longevity gives them motivation to work out and maintain a healthy diet. Problems abound however, because there is so much conflicting information about what constitutes healthy exercise, and what constitutes a healthy diet!

The CrossFit stereotype gets many people think negatively about CrossFit’s impact on longevity. If you are a CrossFitter, you’ve probably been told “you are just going to hurt yourself” or “that will wear out your joints”. But, there are strong correlations between the CrossFit method and longevity!

The first thing some CrossFit enthusiasts need to realize, is that you are not Mat Fraser. Therefore, you do not need to train like Mat Fraser. If your body allows, and has the proper fitness level, you may try to compete, but not everyone can do it at a highly competitive level. Sometimes we get caught up in the moment and get to thinking that a trip to the CrossFit Games is in sight.

St. Louis Affiliate Cup, Emily and Angie

We all need to ask ourselves, what it is that we are training for?

As CrossFit Vitality explains, you must always remember risk verses reward. CrossFit is known to be very competitive, with an intense atmosphere, which is one of the best things about the sport. However, you must know your limit. When something is hurting (like, not good pain) you need to know when to stop pushing. It is important to take control of the situations and remind yourself of the repercussions of pushing beyond your limits. Often, especially in the less experienced CrossFit athletes, when you get tired, form suffers and the risk of injury increases.

“50% of all sports injuries are the result of overuse.”

There is a term that Susan Friend mentions in her article on training for longevity, that describes the type of training that should be done to excel in training for longevity. The word is  “undertraining”. Undertraining is the opposite of overtraining. Fifty percent of all sport related injuries are the result of overuse. In order to steer clear of this, you must train below maximal loads, stop training before muscles, tendons, and joints are overworked, and take time off from training to allow muscles to recover. (This does not mean you need to blow off training because you don’t feel like doing it, abandon an exercise because it is hard to do, or work with weights that aren’t challenging.)

Not only should you train smart, but you must take time off to rest and give your muscles time to heal from stress. The CrossFit method recommends 3 days on, 1 day off for maximal benefit. Allowing the body to rebuild from the work, before starting back again.

Since a 3 on / 1 off workout cycle doesn’t line up well with a 7-day week, it is good to allow five days a week for training and two for rest and recovery. If you are able to do this, you should also try to spread your rest days out. Ideal rest days would be days 4 & 7. Ben Bergeron, the CrossFit coach to Games winning Mat Fraser and Katrin Davidsdottir, follows this philosophy. Many boxes are closed on Sunday and offer an “active” recovery day on Thursday. Active recovery is a less intense, low volume workout that is done on an off day. Aerobic restoration activities are common on this day. Examples of this are swimming, rowing, airdyne, cycling, and hiking. Another good thing to do on rest days is mobility.

Don’t confuse working extremely hard with working beyond your threshold. You can work hard on Fran and be flat on your back for 10 minutes and that is fantastic, but doing Fran at that intensity 3 times a day (to get better), won’t make you better. It’s exactly what I’m referring to when explaining overtraining. “3-2-1-GO!”

Oh, and mix in some other activities! Variety is the spice of life, and there is no reason not to put your CrossFit Training to the test in other sports!