I was told once from a prominent coach in the CrossFit world that “adrenal fatigue is part of the game.”
He then showed me proof. Numerous lab results from multiple athletes with low cortisol levels and blood that resembled more the unhealthy or elderly — rather than healthy. Yet all of the athletes were able to compete. showing no signs unless you knew what to look for.
It was then suggested that for the athletes to compete they need to support the adrenals (via herbal supplementation).
But it ate at me.
Why go through the trouble to plan workouts, have periodization, and worry about dose responses? If “Fatigue/Psuedo Performance ” is the only outcome — isn’t the dose too much? Or is it our job to pretend we are not overdosing and to do it anyways — and capitalize on small infrequent gainz, even though the foundation or support systems are crumbling from within?
I asked myself these questions and many more.
Then began to research and experiment.
I failed. I failed, and I failed.
Each time I would learn something new. Write it down and put it away. I have extensive notes on my failures — gentle reminders.
March of last year I started working with the Omegawave team system, a month later began testing all of the CrossFit Austin competitors heading to regionals. Soon after I was hired to coach the team for the 2015 season.
This gave me a unique opportunity to work with a group of highly motivated athletes. The core group are veterans having competed at the regional level for the last 3 years. As well as a crop of athletes just starting their competitive journey. In total we have 20+ athletes.
To be honest I thought they all would quit.
It was such a big departure from mainstream CrossFit.
All athletes are monitored via Omegawave. Structural integrity is assessed using PRI principles. I administer soft tissue when needed via movement assessment or athlete feedback and above all I stick to a strict methodology when programming.
Periodization, Health, and Hypertrophy
Simply we program in 3 week cycles and periodization follows a complex model.
Our cycles last three weeks because..
- It allows us to work at higher intensities more often throughout the year, but it also means we deload every three weeks. Higher work intensity = More frequent recovery
- Short cycles force us to make hard decisions. We only work on the necessities. Increase Strength Reserve and Increase Aerobic Profile (Alactic-Aerobic, Anaerobic-Aerobic, Aerobic)
Each cycle also allows us to run through Omegawave data and performance results to see if adjustments need to be made. We run the full Omegawave test to make sure we have recovered the Hormonal System (HPA Axis) at the start of each cycle.
This allows us to manage volume and to never add more than we can handle. We never want to drift into adrenal fatigue or a system under chronic stress. This should never be the norm. Chronic stress on the brain alters its structure and function. Increasing brain fog (memory loss), overactive sympathetic nervous system, loss of behavioral flexibility, and can increase autoimmunity — this can happen even in the perceived fit population.
Chronic Overtraining has a price.
Keeping the hormonal system in check we have seen increases in hypertrophy across the board. This has been accompanied by strength gains — even 10kg+ Personal Bests for the veterans in Olympic lifts, Squats, and Presses.
The emphasis on aerobic work and recovery has also shown positive changes in the Omegawave Data.
*Combined Men and Women Averages
|Aerobic 115||Aerobic 123|
|CNS 9.4 mV||CNS 19.3 mV|
|RMSSD 59||RMSSD 72|
Programming Do’s and Don’ts
- Always respect the synergistic effect of the Alactic, Anaerobic, and Aerobic systems being trained concurrently (Complex Methodology)
- Always respect the synergistic effect of Max Strength, Speed-Strength, and Hypertrophy as it pertains to increasing strength (Complex Methodology)
- “Never do a burpee slow” — Never slog through work. Training is unbroken and at performance speeds (FT fiber fatigue resistant).
- If technique fails — Stop
- Limit Anaerobic work to under 60 seconds (FT Mitochondria? – conflicting research on both side of this)
- Use Static-Dynamic work to elicit structural adaptations needed to support strength endurance (Increase capillaries and sarcoplasmic content, improve connective tissue, ST fiber hypertrophy)
- Do not do Max Aerobic Power training when trying to elicit aerobic heart adaptations
- If its important, do it often (skill work, gymnastics,specific warm ups)
- Always balance High Intensity and Recovery
- Respect biological oscillations
- Respect Fatigue Models (Glycogen, Speed of Contractions, Central/ Peripheral Fatigue, Neuro Inflammation)
- Individualize as much as possible
- Hard Days are Hard, Easy Days are Easy. Athletes should feel the difference.
- Never Overdose!!
By: Aaron Davis