3 Tips To Crush Your Next Competition


3 Tips To Crush Your Next Competition

 

Have you ever gotten anxious before a competition? Maybe you have trouble falling asleep the night before or feel sick to your stomach thinking about how well you’ll perform. You train day in and day out with no issues, but this is different…you’re going to have a score for this one. One that represents you and allows you to be analyzed and compared to everyone else. Maybe you think about all the things that could go wrong.  Whether it is testing a new 1 rep max, performing a benchmark workout, or trying your hand at a fitness competition there is can be a lot running through your mind before a performance. That is why you owe it to yourself to physically and mentally prepare to test at your best.

 

 

  • Stick with your normal routines

 

When NASA trains astronauts to go into space they have rehearsed the entire morning routine leading up to the launch. The same breakfast, the same checklists, the same drive to the station. By performing these repetitions hundreds of times by the time they arrive at launch day there is nothing out of the ordinary for their minds to be distracted by. It is just another day.

 

It’s the same concept with a test. Now is not the time to try anything crazy. Don’t have a crazy big breakfast of eggs and bacon if normally you just down a smoothie before you head out the door. This goes for dinner the night before as well. Maybe try that new sushi restaurant after your competition.Another wise decision is to avoid taking any new supplements. Most folks are tempted to sip on an energy drink or supplement with the hopes of the add performance benefit of whatever is on the label. Maintain your normal caffeine intake. Make sure you consume water.

 

Treat it like any other day at the office, not an important event with high stakes. By normalizing as many conditions as possible and staying relaxed you will conserve energy and keep your body out of the fight-or-flight mode until it actually comes time to compete.

 

This includes the days leading up to the test day as well. You want to taper your volume (the total amount of work) you perform in the days preceding competition but aim to keep a high level of intensity. This means powerful bursts of energy that will keep your nervous system primed to perform at a high capacity. If you go too many days without working hard your body tends to “forget” what it is capable of performing.

 

  1. Warm up with a purpose

If you have a normal warm up routine stick with that. Keep in mind that the warm up should consist of a progressive sequence that gets your body in a peak state to begin the workout or lift you are attempting.

 

Generally this looks like some tissue prep that involves taking your joints through their full range of motion as well as foam rolling, the use of resistance bands aerobic stimulation. Get the blood pumping with a light jog, row, bike, or jumping rope. Follow this up with some dynamic stretching where you progressively increasing intensity and range of motion. Now it’s time for movement specific prep. This could be performing the the movement you will be testing or performing a smaller segment or variation that utilizes similar muscle groups. The goal is to prime your body to recruit as many motor groups as necessary to accomplish the lift.

 

Some individuals tend to under-prepare in their warm up while others overdo it. Aim for that sweet spot where you feel energetic, light, and springy. You should have gotten your heart rate up enough to break a sweat but you should not be soaking through your tee shirt. Once your body is  primed it’s a great time to refocus on your goals for the workout.

 

  1. Get specific about your desired outcome

Specificity is key when it comes to eliminating fear and achieving the outcome you want. Things get a whole lot less scary when you clearly define what you want to happen and how little the negative part would actually affect you. This allows you to decide on a game plan taking into account the highest upside of success meanwhile addressing the potential setbacks and how you will adjust your strategy if any of those were to occur.

 

Mitigating downside is usually a more effective strategy than swinging for the fences. Even if there is an area that you are particularly strong in, say deadlifts, you can’t expect to win a long chipper workout with a move that you consider to be your weakness. Handstand pushups for example. Your strategy should geared toward getting through the set of handstand pushups as quickly as possible by planning out how you will break up the sets and how much rest to give in between. Once you’ve determined your strategy practice it. Your body will know exactly how it feels on rep number 8, rep 17, and rep 29. You’ll be much more effective and able to improve your performance by planning for your weaknesses.

 

Bonus Tip

Test, test, test your equipment beforehand! You do not want your glorious efforts and strategic execution to be thwarted by a loose shoelace or clips that won’t stay tight to your bar. If you might need chalk during the WOD grab your own piece and keep it close by. Talk to whoever is judging you and discuss movement standards and how they will be counting reps. Don’t leave any room for error, after all it’s your score!

 

Have questions about training for a competition? Get in touch with one of our coaches today!

www.crossfithtown.com/get-started

5 Tips To Boost Your Squat


5 Tips To Boost Your Squat

 

“There is never an absolute answer to everything, except of course that you have to do your squats.” – Mark Rippetoe

 

The one exercise that we all know and love is truly the foundation of any strength and fitness conditioning program. Today there is enough equipment and variations to have you perform a different set of squats every day for a year. Depending on your sport, your goals, and who you get your information from there is a lot of terrific and some questionable advice when it comes to squatting. Today let’s explore 5 ways you can boost your squat and stay strong and healthy in the process.

 

 

  • Learn how to sit into the squat

 

Many individuals are familiar with the cue to “sit back” into a squat. This cue is problematic because it causes an anterior pelvic tilt that will cause the athlete to experience a rounding of the low back as they get deeper into a squat, commonly referred to as a butt wink. The goal should be to maintain a neutral spine throughout the entire squat.

 

Practice sitting into a squat by initiating the movement at the hips, knees, and ankles simultaneously. This allows you to keep an upright torso as you lower your body straight down into the squat. Put a stool, box, or medicine ball at a height close to the bottom depth of your squat. Practice lowering to this height and stay engaged with a neutral spine. Use a video camera or grab a friend to learn at what point in the squat your low back starts to round.

 

 

  • The truth about “knees out”

 

The Vagus Knee fault is term used for a lifters knee’s tracking inside the foot, essentially “caving in” during a squat. This is generally due to weakness or an inability to activate the lateral hip rotators and abductors. To correct this fault practice your squat with a mini band wrapped around your knees so you have to actively drive your knees out against the tension of the band. Another correction would be to practice tempo or pause squats that allow your body to develop more muscle memory in these positions.

 

Keep in mind that just because you don’t want the knees to cave inside the feet doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to drive the knees far out past your feet either. For most individuals the knee and thigh should stay aligned with the foot throughout the movement. By driving the knees out too far in the bottom of a squat you will increase risk of injury as well.

 

 

  • Amplify the signal

 

Learning how to breathe properly during a squat can provide a tremendous advantage to your strength and stability. Inhale fully into the stomach and chest creating intra-abdominal pressure before initiating any heavy lift. This creates a solid wall of pressure around the internal organs, chest, and of course the spine allowing you to keep proper form under heavy loads where you may lose your position if not properly braced.

 

The other benefit of creating this pressure is that amplifies the signals from your brain telling your muscles to contract. This might just give you the little extra push you need to stand up that weight.

 

 

  • Learn how to get under the bar

 

One of the biggest areas for rapid improvement in the squat come from approaching it as a full body exercise. The legs are the primary drivers of the squat movement, but by activating your your core and upper body properly you will be able to generate significantly more power.

 

One of the most common reasons for missing a rep in the squat is failing to keep a strong upright torso position. One way to prevent this is to step under the bar like you mean business. As you step under the weight and find the proper position across your traps stand up powerfully under the weight. Pull the bar against your body as if you were trying to wrap it around you like a blanket. This will help you activate your lats, a key factor in staying strong throughout the movement. Finally as you lower into the bottom of your squat squeeze the barbell as if you were trying to crush it in your hands.

 

 

  • Power through your sticking point

 

At first thought you might think that the sticking point (the hardest part of the lift, slowest point of acceleration) would be in the very bottom of the squat but that is not actually the case. The sticking point of the movement is generally encountered as you try to stand up the weight but can’t seem to push through. That’s because your body is at a point where the muscles are at their lowest possible capacity to generate force. At the bottom of the squat the muscles are fully stretched and able to generate “elastic” energy. As you start to stand the stretch is released. The sticking point occurs because the muscles are not at an optimal stretch that generates passive energy but they have not fully returned to a position where they are able to generate enough active tension to overcome the load.

 

If you find yourself hitting a sticking point in your squats you can train your muscles to become stronger at this particular range of motion. Practice pause squats where you hold in this challenging position for a few seconds. If you still find yourself struggling with the sticking point focus on generating more speed out of the bottom of your squat. Often times this momentum can carry you through the sticking. Make sure the bar keeps moving.

 

If you are serious about learning how to squat stop by to speak with one of our coaches today!

 

www.crossfithtown.com/get-started