CrossFit seeks to build a program that would best prepare trainees for any physical contingency—prepare them not only for the unknown but for the unknowable. Varying workout elements provides the mechanism for creating a stimulus that is broad, general and inclusive. Any program, no matter how complete, contains within its omissions the parameters for which there will be no adaptation. Routine is the enemy.
However, there is a natural tension that exists between varied stimulus and ordered progression that leads to success in many known tasks. Routine is a double edged sword: it can provide the necessary framework for success or lead to gaping blindspots that lead to the loss of game, mission or life.
Routines are habits and like habits can be good or bad. A good habit like brushing and flossing can be preventative of future pain and disease. And a bad habit like smoking can lead ultimately to illness and death.
The two guiding principles should be dosage and balance.
A routine of exercising everyday is generally favorable. However if your exercise routine every day is the same chances are it will eventually become ineffective and possibly detrimental. For example, if you run 3 miles every morning, at first that might be a huge benefit to your health. However, if the stimulus ceases to be sufficient enough to drive adaptation, you will cease to adapt and get the benefit of that exercise. Secondly, the repetitive stress of running everyday can lead to orthopedic injuries.
Biologically speaking exercise works on the principles of stimulus and adaptation. You overload your body with some stimulus of force, distance or time and your body adapts to that stimulus by creating more muscle fibers or becoming better at gas exchange or becoming more metabolically efficient. When the stimulus ceases to exceed a certain threshold, the body ceases to adapt. That is why all programs vary the parameters over time and progressively get more challenging as the athlete adapts.
The body is wired for survival. If you ask your body to run, it will run. If you ask it to lift, it will lift. However, the body isn’t wired for optimum safety and mechanics. You have to teach it to run and lift with proper mechanics. Each foot strike when you run can send a force of greater than twice your bodyweight into your body. Multiply that by the thousands of foot strikes you will make running 3 miles per day, then ask yourself how long your body can tolerate that before something gives.
Balancing variance with routine is a skill that must be cultivated. Create good habits but make sure those good habits have lots of room for variation. I taught yoga for many years in New York City and sometimes we would be in a studio on the second floor and sirens and the other sounds of the city would bombard us through the windows or we would be in a room inside a gym blasting techno music right outside. And most people found it very challenging to concentrate and relax. I would always remind my student that anybody can go to a mountain retreat and meditate and find peace and quiet but the true object of meditation is to find peace and quiet while in the middle of the storm of noise in the city.
Setting aside 6 minutes of 60 minutes every day to exercise is a good routine, but make sure that within that time you allotted that you have made it hard and stressful and taken yourself outside your comfort zone.