Do It Right


Do It Right

One of the things I love about CrossFit is that it has allowed me do things and accomplish feats that I never though possible. When I walk into the box I am ready to do more and more. I feel like I can do anything. I have become addicted to that feeling. I yearn for it and don’t want to be without it. I look forward to that high. Some times I push and push to the point of my own detriment. This is the point I want to talk about.

We go to the box to get better. As long as we are better when we leave then when we walked through the door, we have accomplished our goal. But what does “better” mean? Does it mean that I have to PR every time I show up? Or does it mean that I have to push myself until I throw up every workout? Maybe it means that I push myself to that 50/50 point. You know, that moment in the workout that you tell yourself that you’re on a roll, but its 50/50 you hurt yourself on that next lift. I am not saying I am right I am just saying it happens. Or how about when your shoulder is sore but you do snatches anyway? Maybe its day four in a row and you know you should take a rest day, or a day for mobility and stretching.

Getting better can mean doing one more rep at the same weight perfectly. This builds motor patterns that will allow the particular movement to become “second nature”. Maybe the increased mobility will allow you to get deeper and more comfortably into the bottom of that squat. Maybe that saves your back or shoulders from excess force that would cause injury. What if the rest you get that day allows you to push more next time and you finally hit that PR. The PR you wouldn’t have hit with lactic acid filled muscles that have been fatigued for three weeks.

Remember that we are playing the long game. If you are like me and you have chosen CrossFit as your preferred mode of exercise, then you will be doing it for a long time. There is no rush. Pace yourself and do it right. Don’t workout an injured joint or muscle. Don’t exercise 37 days in a row. And don’t put your health at risk because of your pride. What you should do is work hard, listen to your coaches, scale when needed, and be patient and consistent. Your gains will come much quicker when you do it the right way.

What are we actually working with when we mobilize?


Have you ever wondered what that gewy film is on a chicken breast? Its called myofacia and guess what, we have it all over our body. It surrounds and contains muscle, helps tissue glide on one another and can often times restrict motion. I want you to check out this short video. You don’t have to watch the whole thing but just check out what we are actually working with when we are mobilizing. Myofacia is a misunderstood tissue that needs to be addressed just like muscle, tendon, bone and joint capsule. If we can understand why and what we are actually doing when we put our selves through this “productive torture” we call mobilization. We will be more consistent in our efforts and see more benefit. Some of this video is minimally graphic. Enjoy!!!

Perspective on RX


It’s been almost 8 years since I first started coaching CrossFit and 11 in the CrossFit circle. In those eight years, I’ve met 1000’s of athletes and coached many hours of group classes. During this time, I have gathered certain coaching perspectives that I believe, could be detrimental to your progress in the gym, and that is the notion that every session must be RX. I’d like to see if we can change the perspective on completing a workout as prescribed vs scaled. This is meant to give you a little perspective and maybe even eliminate a little bit of weight off of your shoulders! (Both in a literal and figurative sense.)

Integrity of Movement

As always, your safety is my number one priority. If your quality of movement is ever suffering for the sake of moving a prescribed weight, this could eventually lead to some very serious injuries. So instead of thinking of Rx as a certain weight that might have been prescribed on the whiteboard let’s try something new! Think of “Rx” as staying back on your heels during that push-press dip, or keeping your back completely neutral during every single deadlift that you perform during your workout! Change your perspective on what “Rx” means! It’s not just about who can do the workout Rx, it’s about achieving the desired training stimulus in a safe and effective training environment.

Strive for the Stimulus

Every workout you do, every time you see a prescribed weight, a standard movement listed in your program or whatever it might be, I want you to remember that someone just completely made that number up! The number is prescribed to generate a certain stimulus but not every athlete is going to use the same weight and receive the same stimulus. Let’s look at what that means for our sample workout below.

“DT”
5 rounds for time:
Rx Weight- 155/105
12 Deadlifts
9 Hang Power Cleans
6 Shoulder to Overhead

This workout is a great example because it’s going to generate a different stimulus depending on what you, as an athlete, are capable of doing. Some of the top athletes in the world are completing this workout in about 3:26-4:00. (Insane right?) Now, that’s a crazy fast time, but let’s take a “normal” person (not the freaks of nature who are going sub-4 on this). You are looking at about 6-9 minutes of work to generate the desired stimulus if this were to be prescribed in a class setting. I’ve seen athletes that were so set on completing the workout as prescribed that they work for 25+ minutes on a workout that is meant to stay under 10! The intensity plummets, maybe this weight is only 20-30 pounds under your 1 rep max, it’s no longer the same workout for you. The effects on your body are now completely different and you definitely won’t elevate your heart rate the same way someone did when completing this in under 6 minutes.

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t challenge yourself during some of these benchmark workouts to set a time for yourself to beat in the future. That’s not my point at all. My point is that we need to think of what the desired stimulus is for the day and think of THAT as “Rx.”

So don’t stress yourself out over whether you are lifting a certain weight during your metcon or not. You should never feel like less of an athlete for having to scale back on the pounds to keep yourself safe! Make certain that you are moving safely and efficiently and I promise you will see so much progress. Have patience with yourself and remember that no two athletes are the same. Never feel forced to do the same weight in a workout as someone else just because it was the Rx weight on the whiteboard. Stay safe and think of this fresh new perspective!

Expanded HX Classes


H-town Nation,

Over the last year and half, we added another type of class called H|X. We offered this as a Saturday option for those looking for more and different from our core offering which is CrossFit.

We clearly heard that you love our core program and coaches and it’s what keeps you coming back. However, there was also a consensus that there was a great opportunity to offer H|X even more and be complementary to the existing CrossFit program

(Coach Karen on Dumbells, Wod Wars 2016)

For those that may not be familiar with our H|X class it consists of using all of the current equipment except the barbell, along with new equipment options such as  Assault bikes, and dumbbells and will provide an entire new selection of exercises and workouts. You can expect to burn a lot of calories in this class and work yourself to a leaner physique and improved conditioning! If you’d like to know what your fellow members think about it, then listen to some of the feedback we received over the last year……..

My overall experience with H|X was fantastic! This is just the addition to H-town that I wanted! I’m excited to incorporate this into my ”workout regime.

I’m burning more calories with the new H|X program than I did in the regular classes, and I’m really enjoying the workouts, too.

I think the new H|X workouts are fantastic, and my overall experience has been really positive.

The new H|X program leaves you feeling accomplished…and you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile at the end of each class.

To be clear, we are not leaving our CrossFit programming. That class will always be central to who we are and what we do. And for those of you who are looking to compete at the next level then you will definitely want to strive for our RX+ for the most advanced clients.

 

SIMPLY H|X workouts are less technical from a movement perspective, meaning you can start challenging yourself right away. The exercises used and the way they are programmed in this class allow for intense workouts with less soreness than the CrossFit program.

Still Intense, But With More Focus On Calorie Burn:

H|X  workouts are designed to stimulate your metabolism, and leave you with an after-burn effect that keeps your metabolism elevated for up to 12 hours after your workout. It can be incredibly effective as your sole program, or can be the perfect complement to our CrossFit program that allows you to get in extra workouts each week without feeling beat up

Fun, Very Fun, and Extremely Fun Ratings:

So just how fun is H|X?  Of those over the last year that have participated in the Saturday program, 96% of your fellow H-town members love these new workouts! And we are confident you will too. Because we’ve removed all the barbell work and highly technical skill in the H|X program, there are no more dropping weights from overhead, no more heavy Deadlifts, and no more struggling with movements that take a long time to master. But have no fear – if you love the competition, heavy barbell work, high skill emphasis, and intense workouts that we do now, you’ll love the new direction of the CrossFit programs.

(Assault Bike work, Wod Wars 2016)

Let’s look at some of the logistical questions you may be having at this point:

Q: When will the new  H|X classes start?

A: They just did 2 weeks ago! Each of you will have the option to schedule for an H|X class or a CrossFit class with your existing membership through your app. Simply change the program in the drop down menu

Q: What new equipment will be added?

A: We have added 5 Assault bikes, and a wide range of dumbbells. Coming next: battle ropes

If you competed in Wod Wars this year then you know all about the Assault bike! This is one of the simplest tools out there for pure cardiovascular conditioning and fat loss! The bikes will be utilized in all of our program offerings.

With the battle ropes, you get out of it what you put into it! The ropes can be done with great intensity and very little learning curve. The Dumbbells are another great addition to our free weight selection – they allow for easy scales, additions to our exercise library, and new challenges for athletes in all of our program offerings.

 

H|X classes have now been added to the evening weekly schedule.

M/W @ 6:30pm – ARTS DISTRICT LOCATION

 

Please be flexible with us as we know change can be hard but we want to come up with the best options that can serve the majority of our clients. We will be certainly looking for your feedback on what works best.

 

Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone


Feel like your fitness is hitting a wall?  Want to get better?  Find a way to push through your comfort zone and reach the next level.

CrossFit is not an easy sport, is it because it’s hard physically, mentally, or both? Your mind is a powerful thing, it can help you get through the tough times, or it can cause you to fall apart. Those who continue to succeed and see results are those who learn to control their mind when it is telling them to stop. The fragile let their mind take over and defeat them.

As a coach you often hear me say “Push through at the end, this is thwkle6248when you get better.”  We can all work hard when we are rested; you have to train your body to continue pushing when you’re tired. If you never push past your comfort zone your conditioning your body to stop when you feel the slightest bit tired. Try to develop strategies to break through that mental barrier of defeat. Here are a few strategies to consider…

Tell yourself to get just one more rep. When your mind is thinking “put down the barbell” or “get off the bar,” you fight back with one more rep. Completing just one more rep when everything inside of you is telling you to stop is a sure way to grow your mental muscles, next time you might do two more reps. Over time, this builds and you begin to push just a little further in each workout.

Create small goals that are reachable during workouts. Before I even start a workout I break it down with small goals. Small goals overtime will add up to big goals. For example, if my workout calls for 30 heavy front squats, my first goal might be to get to just 5 front squats.  When I get to 5 and still feel good, I start thinking, “good, I’ll do 5 more without rest,” and when I get to 10 and start to feel fatigued I might just talk myself into “two more.” But at 12, I might use the “one more rep,” and then do it again.  After a few “one more rep” goals, I am at 16 or 20 . . . and all of a sudden I might be close enough to 30 to either take a quick break and knock out the rest in one set, or even finish it off by chipping away on more rep at a time. If we are always putting the bar down when feel the slightest bit of fatigue, when does it ever become easier?

When it’s time to break through that wall don’t quit. If you ever hear me say, “Find that dark place, and keep working.” It’s because as long as your mind tells your body to keep moving, your body won’t stop. Find a dark place meaning push out of your comfort zone and keep moving! If you are doing wall balls, running, rowing, burpees, air squats etc. these are all mental movements. Meaning, as long as your body continues to say keep going we should physically be able to push though without failing a rep. Your body can handle more than your mind thinks it can. Don’t let that little voice in your head beat you!

Mobility = Flexibility + Strength


I want to take a moment to remember why we work out. Is it the mental break from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives? Or is it general fitness that we are trying to gain so that we can live a healthy lifestyle, take care of our kids, and do the things we want to do? For some it may be to increase performance in a sport, or activity like running, intermural activities or CrossFit. In any case we want to be as efficient as possible in our efforts. If we are going to be efficient then we need to make sure and hit all components of fitness. Nutrition, cardiovascular endurance, strength, flexibility, mobility, and proprioception (body awareness) are the key components to fitness. Everyone has his or her own list of things that make up a “fit or healthy” individual. I have comprised mine using my experience in the medical field as a Physical Therapist for 9 years and being in the fitness industry for now 17 years. These are all pieces of a pie that when put together as whole make up a fit, healthy body.

I want to draw your attention today to mobility and flexibility as they relate to one another. Mobility is the ability of a tissue, muscle, tendon, or joint capsule, to move and be moved through a full range of motion (ROM) in a pain free manor. Flexibility is the quality of bending easily without breaking. In our case we are referring to muscle tissue.

Realize that our body adapts to the forces that we put on it. Its pretty amazing machine we are given right? If we lift weights we get stronger. If we write a lot we get a callus. And when we sit all day every day we get tight. Our bodies are not made to sit at a desk. We are made to hunt and forage and move around. Also realize that everything we do is in front of us. We type, we drive, and we eat. All things that, along with our good friend gravity, will pull our shoulders forward, push our chin out, shorten our upper traps and hamstrings (along with about nine thousand other muscles), and lead to lower back and cervical (neck) pain.

What we don’t realize is that this static positioning leads to restrictions in myofacia, and muscle. Myofacia is a tissue that surrounds, contains and helps our muscles glide upon one another. These restrictions, much like scar tissue, are laid down in an unorganized fashion. When tissue is unorganized it is rigid and sticky. We need it to be mobile just like our muscles.

In order to counter act the effects that this has on us, we need to mobilize and stretch to increase our flexibility and movability.

Preferably we need to do some type of dynamic warm up to increase circulation to the muscles which increases heat and pliability of the tissue. Just give me two to tree minutes of movement. You can mobilize and stretch a cold muscle but is it the most effective thing to do? I think not!! Once we have gotten our blood flow going we want to use foam rollers, lacrosse balls, or what ever your choice of mobility tools may be. Breaking up restrictions prior to stretching is key in maximizing efforts to gain ROM and flexibility. Ideally we mobilize a muscle for two to three minutes then we follow up by stretching that muscle for at least 30 seconds three times per muscle group. So now we are breaking up unorganized tissue and lining it back up so that, if it is a muscle we are talking about, it can contract and relax, which in turn increases strength. This will also allow the muscle to circulate blood and nutrients more efficiently, which increases healing, and recovery.

Is it easy to just stretch or roll a bit because someone somewhere told you to and you are just checking a box? Yes, but if we want to make real change in our tissue we will make a little extra effort and do the things we need to do to stay fit and healthy. Just to recap, mobility before stretching will increase pliability in the tissue, which increases blood flow and nutrient delivery, as well as realigning muscle fibers to make it more efficient at contracting and relaxing. This in turn will help increase the strength and effectiveness of that muscle.

So what your saying is that mobility will increase strength as well as flexibility? YES!!!!

The Good Kind of Stress


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When you finish a CrossFit workout do you feel completely wiped out? Do you work as hard and as fast as you possibly can? If you do, you are creating good stress on your body.

Stress creates adaptation. It usually goes one of two ways.

With minimal effort, you do not put enough stress on your body. You will adapt to be slower and weaker. Basically, if you don’t use it, you lose it. If you stop challenging yourself, you will become stagnant in your progress and possibly even backtrack.

With maximal effort, you will stress your body enough to make it adapt into a stronger, faster machine. When you move faster, lift heavier, and rest less during a workout, your body will adapt, making it easier the next time you workout.

This is why I call it good stress.

There are a few ways your muscles can adapt.

Neuromuscular adaptations happen the fastest compared to other adaptations. Your body can recruit more motor units for a muscle contraction. This is called motor unit recruitment. The more motor neurons that are recruited, the stronger the muscle contraction will be (you will be able to lift more weight).

Hypertrophy is another way your body can adapt. This can happen in a couple of ways. Your muscle fibers can get bigger, or your muscles can increase the amount of glycogen (energy) they store.

Your body can also get more efficient at buffering lactic acid. When you get to the part of your workout when your muscles start to burn, you are feeling that moment when your body is reaching lactate threshold. This means you’re producing more lactic acid than your body can get rid of, and then your muscles cannot contract. Over time your body will adapt by buffering it out more efficiently so you can workout for longer at a higher intensity. Just be aware that training at your lactate threshold will require mental toughness because it is not comfortable. Some adaptations do not come so easily!

Blood capillaries will become more efficient to supply muscles with oxygenated blood. Your muscles can also develop more mitochondria to produce more energy for your muscles. Even your fiber types can change depending on what type of training you do (fast twitch or slow twitch).

There are also other adaptations that occur such as cardiovascular, bone, respiratory, and hormonal adaptions.

You need to create stress on your body by moving faster, lifting heavier, etc. Then your body will make adjustments and adaptations to get better. If you struggle to lift it, your muscles will get stronger. If your legs cannot sprint anymore, your will become more efficient at buffering out the lactic acid.

Once your body adapts to the stress, you have to increase the stress. This means you have to work faster, lift heavier, etc once your body gets used to it.

There is always room for improvement!