A few months ago we released an article about how long it takes to improve in CrossFit. Using “Fitness Level“, our robust measure of an athlete’s physical capacity, we looked at improvement rates across all levels and abilities. We found that on average it takes about 5-6 months to improve your overall Fitness Level by 10 Levels (e.g. going from a level 60 to a level 70).
In this article we will be exploring whether working out additional days per week is worth the extra effort. For years, many prospective crossfitters have wondered if working out five times a week was worth the time commitment. Is three days a week enough to see good improvement? What about two days?
Fitness Level Overview
Working out 5 days per week week produced 27% faster improvement than 3 days per week.
After analyzing the data, we found that working out 5 days per week week produced 27% faster improvement than 3 days per week. Even increasing from 3 to 4 days per week is associated with 10% faster improvement. We’ve often heard people discount the value of only working out 2 days per week, but the data shows that those athletes only progressed 7.5% slower than their 3 day per week counterparts.
So is it worth it? Well, that depends.
Clearly there is a substantial performance benefit to working out 5 day a week. But there may be some downsides as well. For one, many gyms charge more for 5 times a week vs. 3 times a week. If that’s how it works at your gym, the additional cost is something to consider. If your gym only offers unlimited memberships, then coming 5 times a week gives you more for your money.
Also, the additional workout time is a factor to consider. Working out 5 times a weeks requires 66% more time than 3 times a week, for only 27% faster results. If you’re already strapped for time in your weekly schedule, this tradeoff may not be worth it for you.
Another issue is recovery and injury risk. The more days you workout, the less your body gets to recover. This can set you up for endless days of soreness and could possibly put you at a higher risk for injury. As always, listen to your body and rest when you need it.
Ultimately, the answer to the question depends on your goals. Are you just trying to stay healthy? Or are you trying to make Regionals this year? If improving as fast as possible is your number one priority, then you should strongly consider increasing your workout days to 5 (or more). If you’re just doing it for fun and health, then there is no need to push your luck. Pick the numbers of days that fit in your lifestyle and that allow for recovery, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your fitness for the long haul.