OPEX HQ Coach Sam Smith provides an answer.
CrossFit® Athletes are always on the hunt for the best fitness program to boost their athletic progression. This is especially the case this time of year because the CrossFit® Competitive season has ended for many of those who didn’t make it to the CrossFit® Regionals. The instinct for many of these offseason athletes is to jump straight back into intensity and CrossFit® training immediately to get the jump on their competitors. However, in our decades of experience in coaching CrossFit® athletes, we’ve discovered that the best training plan to pursue in the offseason for longevity in the Sport of Fitness® and guaranteed athletic development is the exact polar opposite of traditional CrossFit® methodology. It’s Functional Bodybuilding.
In a general sense, the ideal time to implement a Functional Bodybuilding program would be far away from competition, also known as the off-season. OPEX HQ Coach Sam Smith shared with us why, “The reason behind this is because of the characteristics involved in a Functional Bodybuilding program which include controlled tempo, unilateral patterns, low demand on the nervous system and rehabilitation based concepts. And as a comparison, characteristics of a competition phase: chaotic activities/tests, high demand on the nervous system, stressing the metabolic system to the limit. The farther away we are from a competition the more “polar” we want the training to be.”
As OPEX HQ Coach Sam Smith explained above, the reason why a Functional Bodybuilding routine works so well in the offseason is because it gives the body a chance to recover from the intensity of the competitive season. The body needs balance, and the methodology and training style of a Functional Bodybuilding program gives the body a chance to ‘calm’ down.
Smith explained further, “This (Functional Bodybuilding) gives the athlete a chance to recover, slow things down, and work on issues that need precise control and attention to create change. When we move fast or do activities at a high contraction rate, the brain takes part in a process known as ‘interpolation.’ What this means is the brain will create a pattern or map of what is to happen next and will skip steps to complete the activity faster. The problem is, if there are limitations in the movement, the brain can’t make those motor changes in a high paced environment because interpolation will take over. Thus, we have to slow things down and create new neural patterns to replace the current one and improve movement efficiency. That is why Functional Bodybuilding is great for off season based training when contraction rates are lowered and emphasis can be placed on movement quality and re-patterning to allow for greater ceilings of potential.”
Functional Bodybuilding routines facilitate the replacement of bad movement patterns by using concepts like tempo to slow these movements down. As the movement is slowed down and the athlete is removed from ‘intensity’, the body and mind are better able to master the basic mechanics of the movement. This process inevitably improves athletic performance when intensity and competition is reintroduced. Why? Because the athlete has mastered the basics of that movement opening the door for even faster and efficient contractions in competitive situations.
Clearly, the path toward more speed, power, and strength in the CrossFit® Competitive season lies in slowing down your training now during your offseason. If you are curious to learn more about Functional Bodybuilding and its benefits to off season training for CrossFit® Competition, you can download our free training template here.