If you’ve spent time with CrossFit enthusiasts, you’ve probably realised two things: They love talking about CrossFit, and how challenging their workouts are.
But as any dedicated gym goer knows, too many tough workouts in a row can leave you feeling worn out, even to the extent of feeling sick.
This may be because, as few as two consecutive difficult workouts, can actually suppress the immune system.
In a new study, Brazilian researchers put nine experienced CrossFitters, with an average age of 28, through two workouts, exactly 24 hours apart.
The participants did high-intensity training, with their regime including Olympic lifting, power lifting and gymnastic exercises. They aimed to finish the workouts in the fastest time possible, without compromising on technique. The researchers then assessed muscle power, levels of inflammatory cytokines and levels of metabolic markers, before, during and after the workouts.
Accordingly, they found that the workouts provoked a strong metabolic response and reduced the levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins produced by white blood cells that act to dampen inflammation.
“This means that the consecutive workouts were actually suppressing normal immune function,” study authors said in a statement.
However, the workouts did not adversely affect the muscle power of the participants.
Following the results of the study, lead author Dr Ramires Tibana of the Catholic University of Brasilia, said that non-athletes who want to improve their health and quality of life through Crossfit training should decrease their training volume after two consecutive days of high intensity training to prevent possible immunosuppression.
This is particularly important for people recovering from illness, who may already have an impaired immune response, or at times of the year where viral illnesses are prevalent.
Dr Tibana also discussed other practical steps CrossFitters could take to enhance their recovery, including a rest day between exercise sessions: "A rest day is important for recovery for subsequent training sessions. Other alternative recovery techniques are regenerative training (with low intensity and volume), massage and cryotherapy."
The study was published in journal Frontiers in Physiology.