06 Apr 2015
One of the things I preach to everyone involved in the strength programming is to really focus on recovery. This usually doesn’t take much convincing around 4 weeks into a micro-cycle after they’ve been hitting it pretty heavy and hard for a few weeks. When lifting heavy weights frequently and working with a lot of volume, your body accumulates fatigue quicker than you can recover. This is part of the design of strength programs (or really any periodized program to be fair) that forces our bodies to super-compensate and lead to progress. However if we never let our bodies recover after putting it through days and weeks of thrashing, how can we ever progress? Every so often we need to take a backseat and let our bodies make those adaptations to the stresses we’ve been putting it through. This doesn’t mean that you can’t come in to the gym. We love seeing you in here! It just means that maybe you scale back the weight and intensity during your WOD’s. It could also mean that you need to stay out of group classes if you don’t have the capacity to scale back when 3-2-1-GO! is heard. Spend an hour mobilizing and riding the bike… or shit go outside for a run now that we’ve survived Snowmaggedeon! But every month or so, scale it back for a couple of days. Your body will thank you and will offer you the gift of new PR’s and new goals to reach.
Conditioning: Complete reps of 21-15-9 for time
Bodyweight Back Squats
Skill/Strength: Abs – accumulate 10 minutes of ab work
22 Mar 2015
Alright guys and girls. As promised, I am continuing my rant on grip. Last week I discussed how to approach a bar on the ground and why you should want to grab it differently. This week will be shorter, but no less important as we discuss what happens when the bar goes overhead.
To briefly touch on what I discussed last week, grabbing the barbell with purpose and vigor establishes control of the bar. With this minor adjustment, when the bar begins to move, magical things happen unbeknownst to you. The radial tension from grabbing the bar tightly will “radiate” to other parts of your body and generate more torque and control. This makes moving the bar and weight seem just a little bit easier.
Now another reason why we want to grab the bar tightly. When/if the bar needs to go overhead, do you want it to be in your fingertips, or do you want to have a solid grip on the bar where you have control of the bar versus the bar having control over you? My thoughts exactly. So what I’m really trying to convey is a better sense of control. If you start with this:
then you’ll end up looking like this:
But if you start like this:
then you’ll end up like this:
That’s right! World-class. I did say magical things would happen didn’t I? But seriously. Doesn’t it look like he’s got control? Give it a shot. Remember that it takes a lot of practice to make something a habit. That includes gripping the bar correctly. Keep practicing and it’ll become second nature eventually.
I’ve also got an announcement to make. Monday and Wednesday this week @ 4:3pm will be our new Strength Class. Next week and in the weeks following, it will be on Monday and Thursday… same bat time… same bat channel. This class is for all Strength Challenge participants as well as any member who wants to do the class. The programming will be different from what is on the Blog and will coincide with what the Strength Challenge is doing. You can choose to do the entire programming that I have written for them, or we can modify it. I will be coaching these classes just like any other class. The programming may run longer, and at that point, the extra work is to be completed on your own, or you can call it a day. It’s entirely up to you. You’ll get a chance to see what a day of the programming looks like and get in some heavy lifts. I hope to see a bunch of you there! Until next time…
15 Power Snatch
15 Mar 2015
Surprise! I know… it’s been a hot minute. Well I’ve got some things I hope to address (or shall we say readdress for some of us). Today I only discuss one though. And this is how you “handle” the barbell. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this error, addressed it (notice I didn’t say fix it?), and seen dramatic changes in how the ensuing movement is performed.
Let’s first take a look at what I’m talking about. Here is a picture of “poor” handling of a barbell.
What you will notice is that it kinda looks like I’m not really sure if I want to handle this kind of weight. It looks like I’m just going through the motions of lifting weight versus believing that I can do whatever I want with this weight.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Does it look like I have a solid grasp on the bar? Or does it look more like I’m barely hanging on to the bar? Exactly! Now if that bar were to go overhead, what do you think would happen? Would you have full control of that bar? You’re right, probably not. (I’ll address overhead grip in another post, don’t you worry.)
Another reason you should want to grab that bar tightly: radial tension. When you squeeze the bar tightly, you activate other muscles in your forearms which activate other muscles further upstream, generating more power output. Sounds like a deal to me! Extra weight simply for grabbing ahold of the bar tightly? Yes please!
Here’s a picture of what this should look like:
Which one looks like it is going to be moved with intent? Good. Now go practice this EVERY. SINGLE. TIME you pick up the bar. I’ve got a feeling that you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how it affects your movement.
30 Nov 2014
So I know I’m not the one who normally talks about food, but I was browsing the interwebs and stumbled upon this article. It’s a pretty short and interesting read. I think we sometimes reject others’ perspective because of our preferences and preconceived biases. I challenge you to read this with an open mind, regardless of whether you adhere to the paleo diet/lifestyle or the “see-food” diet (like myself as of recently). I know that food is a pretty sensitive topic for most people, but we must realize that science is constantly changing our working knowledge of what, when and how we should eat for both general health & fitness and performance. Does this stir-up any visceral emotion/reaction in you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
14 Nov 2014
So I’m back to blogging regularly, and I want to address some things that have been both bothering me and causing me to reconsider my training. I’m hoping that you can learn from my experiences and not go down the same, winding road that I’ve taken. Let me start by saying that I’m beginning to realize that as I get older there are some things that need to change. And that’s precisely what this series is going to be about; things to consider as you age in regards to your fitness.
This first post is relevant to EVERYONE who walks into a gym, not just the aging athlete. I’d like to re-address an issue that I see all too often that simply needs to change. Every single one of you are competitive to some degree. That’s part of what enticed you to try CrossFit. While competition is great, it’s not really the point of what we do here, or this post. But that internal motivation and drive is what makes us strive to be better than that other, less-fit/less-healthy version of ourselves. With that being said, I see a lot of potential and opportunity left at the door. Let me explain.
All too often athletes and beginners alike, roll in the door, sign-in (RIGHT?!), walk up to the whiteboard and wait for class to start. If they didn’t plan correctly, they might be about 3-4 minutes early. They then wander around until class starts picking up a jump rope for 1-2 minutes, play with a kettle-bell for a minute or two, or lay on a foam roller without much thought as to what they are doing. Some might even go for the good ol’ super front-rack or banded overhead distraction because they have been doing it for the past 2 years and they think that it constitutes pre-class mobility. Let me ask you a question: Do you have a plan for improving mobility so that you can finally get into a legitimate back squat or front-rack position? How about those Overhead Squats? Those are fun huh? For most people, achieving these take some dedicated mobility. Not just 3-4 minutes of “hoping” your mobility improves.
Without a plan to improve mobility (let’s face it, almost everyone could stand to improve mobility in some way) you aren’t doing yourself justice. You are leaving potential and opportunity at the door. This is the biggest and greatest benefit you can afford yourself and your training. It is the most attributable factor to improved fitness and all those new PR’s you’ll be seeing. Get a mobility plan and aggressively attack your weaknesses and limiting ROM.
This shouldn’t have to even be said, but as we age, appropriate warm-up/mobility can make or break your day in the gym. I am able to attribute “good days” in the gym to adequate/proper mobility and warmup, and “bad days” to times when I just don’t have the time to get in the necessary mobility. This wasn’t always the case though. I used to be able to walk into the gym and jump right into a working set of bench (because I abhorred back squat in the not too distant past). Was that the right move then even? Hell no! I would be in a much better place now if I had spent even a little bit of time on movement prep. I now try for at least a half hour of mobility/movement prep before even thinking about picking up a barbell. Anyway, I digress. Let’s get back on track.
YES, mobility is necessary. Vital. Imperative even. Every person has areas that are specific to them that need to be addressed, so I can’t say “Do this” or “Do that.” But I know of a couple of coaches that might be able to help you out on that front. Jen has a mobility class 2x/week now. You have options. Exercise those options people! Here’s what I can do for you though. I can promise, no matter your age, you NEED to work on mobility. Give mobility a chance guys. It’s not going to hurt (too bad). But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t be the guy/girl who walks in and jumps right into class. You can’t do that, and expect to have a good day in the gym. See what a legitimate mobility session pre-WOD can do for your training. It will open the doors to new PR’s all over. I promise.
07 Sep 2014
“I can’t do handstand push-ups! How do I get better at pistols? I just can’t figure out Double-Under’s.”
Alright everyone. We hear you. And we’ve decided to do something about it. Here’s the deal. We are going to be working on some skills that are plaguing our members. Skills are to be worked on before or after class. The daily skill and their progressions will be posted on the whiteboard for the day and then moved to another whiteboard for you to come back to and catch up on skills you chose to work on. (If this doesn’t make sense, it will. It promise.) You should do these skills and their progressions at least once per week, but can do them more if you so choose. Just make sure to give yourself some recovery time if you’re feeling beat-up.
So let’s get right into it. Here is the first section on the Handstand Push-up skill work. Let’s first define to which Training Phase you belong.
There are 4 phases depending on where you stand with the handstand pushup.
Phase 1: Unable to do 1 strict OR kipping HSPU
Phase 2: No strict, but able to do kipping HSPU
Phase 3: 1-5 unbroken strict HSPU
Phase 4: 5+ unbroken strict HSPU
You are not permanently in this phase, rather you will graduate as soon as you are able to achieve the next levels requirements. So now that you know where you fall, lets get to work. Perform these 1-3x/week (preferably on HSPU skill day and every other day). Next week will be new skills to work on or add into your HSPU training.
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 30A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 40A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 50A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
5 x 5 Handstand Push-Up Negatives @ 60A1; Rest 90 seconds (A= reset)
Alright, get to work!
12 Aug 2014
The Strength Challenge has come to a bittersweet conclusion. Everyone involved enjoyed the programming and absolutely CRUSHED the CrossFit Total. Every. Single. Person PR’d their lifts and increased their Total. I enjoyed working with each and everyone of them and truly look forward to seeing how they respond to the programming with their new strength.
Alright. Alright. You want the results. Well here ya go.
We had 3 ladies undertake this challenge. They were all completely dedicated to the programming. Ali put 25 pounds on her CFT and gained 7 pounds of muscle! Kristin put 24 pounds on her CFT, which should have been 35 pounds. Damn Deadlift…
Kathy? Oh yeah Kathy. She put 47 pounds on her CFT! What?! She also put on 3 lbs. of muscle and lost 2 lbs. of body fat… not that she really needed to lose any. That is pretty damn impressive for three months! So I am proud to say that Kathy is our winner for the women’s division of the strength challenge! Congratulations Kathy!
On to the gents. There were initially 5 guys in the running, but one dropped out due to scheduling issues. But the other 4 guys stuck it out… even while traveling abroad for one of them. There were some pretty dramatic changes for the guys in both body composition and CFT numbers. Rory Q. was a monster. He put 6 lbs. of muscle on while dropping 11 lbs. of body fat! What?! I want results like that! He also added 65 lbs to his CFT. Great job Rory! Denis T. was an animal too, adding 7 lbs of muscle and 25 lbs added to his Total. Atta Boy! Mark Pelofsky. Dude was traveling all the time. California, Seattle, Italy. You know your average weekend getaway. He kept at it though. His dedication truly showed. Mark added 7 lbs of muscle and lost 2 lbs of body fat. He also added 45 lbs to his Total. I’m so happy for Mark. He worked really hard over these past 3 months and it really shows.
Oh, and there’s this guy Tim. You might have seen him around the gym before. At least you have if you’ve been there these past 3 months. I think he might have been in there as much as me! His numbers? Eh. They were alright. He put on, you know, only 18 lbs of muscle! Get the f@$& outta here! 18 Pounds?! 6 pounds a month? And to add to that, he lost a pound of body fat. Then there’s his Total. He added A. HUNDRED. POUNDS to his Total. A hundo. A Benjamin. You get the point. Unreal. I guess that leaves no doubt who is the winner for the guys. Tim B. I am proud to say that you are the men’s winner!
Kathy and Tim will be receiving a nice little prize package including some Progenex, Pure Pharma, and a gift card to help fuel their workouts from Starbucks. But to be honest, I really think everyone that did this was a winner. They all put up some serious #gains and will be killing it in classes, so watch out! If you see anyone wearing their new Challenge t-shirt in class (not for sale, must be earned), give them a little space because they are going to be going H.A.M. on their workouts from here on out.
With a bunch of feedback from all the athletes involved, I am contemplating starting a new Strength Challenge starting in September. It will run another 3 months and will be done before December and all the holiday commitments take up your attention. If you are interested, please see me or leave a message below.
Congratulations again to Kathy and Tim!
17 Jul 2014
First and foremost I am very proud of all my lifters. Everyone trained hard, showed up Sunday and gave 110%.
- Sharon walked away from the platform elated having not only achieving meet PR’s but lifetime PR’s on both lifts. She also went 6 for 6 successful lifts. Overall she increased her total by 6kg. Sharon got a silver 2nd Place Medal.
- Sophie competed in her first weightlifting meet and posted some very impressive numbers also going 6 for 6 successful lifts. She ended her total with her Clean and Jerk 1 kg from lifetime PR and matched her Snatch PR. Let me say these PRs were established 1 week from competition. Having gone 6 for 6 and hitting these numbers is mind blowing. It proves that the determination and hard work invested paid off. Sophie tied first place; however due to the other competitor weighing less, she medaled 2nd Place Silver.
- Sean has improved his form remarkably in the last year on both lifts, especially in a meet setting where you are attempting much higher weights than practice with 100 people watching. Sean Snatched higher than he did in his last meet but had some trouble with the clean and jerk. Next meet I am sure he will make these attempts he was aiming for.
- Joe was a last minute competitor having been accepted on the waitlist 2 weeks out. This was also Joe’s first weightlifting meet and he ended his snatch 1kg from his PR and hit a clean and jerk 1 kg more than his lifetime max. I think he performed remarkable when looking back on how little preparation he had as far as practicing the lifts consistently. I feel he is a natural lifter who has the ability to be great if he decides it is something he wants to pursue.
- Martin I know we all like to pick on Martin and he deserves most of it, but Martin showed up at my doorstep at 6:50am Sunday when he did not lift until 3-4 that afternoon. He helped me keep track of the warm up platform and the competition platform for 4 lifters. There was more than one instance that I had a lifter on each Platform and I would not have been able to manage this as effectively without Martin helping me with the early lifters and Sharon helping with the heavyweights. I know Martin stretches more than any human being needs, but he has also been a competitive athlete most of his life and it showed when he stepped on the platform. Martin hit 3 beautiful snatches obtaining a lifetime 5kg PR. He opened the clean and jerk with his last meet PR, and then hit a 5kg PR on his next lift. On the third lift he hit 100kg which is a 10kg lifetime PR and was so excited he dropped and celebrated before the judges told him “down” and he received a no lift. So on the books a 5kg PR but as far as I am concerned he nailed 100kg. We had a very frustrating week leading up in practice so I am very proud of the turnaround.
- Eric was also competing in his first meet. He has been training for months diligently. He needed a 205 total to qualify for National Masters so wanted to start somewhat conservative to ensure he made the minimum total. He very easily made the total and hitting 4 of 6 lifts but the misses were big jumps on the third lift of both snatch and clean and jerk but both went overhead easily just very minor mistakes that red flagged him. He is a very hard worker and has the ambition. No doubt he will succeed as far he wants to go with his endeavors.
~ Coach Julie G.
24 Jun 2014
There are many things throughout the day that cause us stress; work, family, traffic (especially this!), the foods we eat, exercise. And all of these stressors contribute to inflammation. Many of us may not realize that we are inflamed, but it manifests itself in such things as stiff muscles and joints, knots and swollen muscles, skin rashes, colds and other things you may not think of of as “inflammation.” Here’s a link to a good article written by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple called “What is Inflammation?” Take note where he mentions that inflammation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s our body’s natural response to injury, pain, illness or stress.
While I could spend a lot of time discussing inflammation, I think Mark might be a little more qualified to talk about it more than I am. So, I’m going to use this opportunity instead to talk about a great way that I’ve personally used to reduce my inflammation. Most of my inflammation is the result of my training here at CFB. I eat a fairly clean diet (at least now I do), I have few external stressors in my life (did I get enough sleep last night before I had to wake up at O dark hundred to be in to coach?), and I have no major injuries (for now… thankfully). So my training leaves me pretty beat up. I am consistent with getting mobility work in every day, mostly because I know that it will make me feel better for my next workout. When I start getting to the point where I am spending almost an hour on mobility to get ready for a workout, I know that something has to give.
Luckily my training has some built in back-off weeks where I still do some work, but the volume is much lighter and it affords me the opportunity to focus on my recovery. During this time, I go in for a 60-90 minute massage (every month). This always gets me ready to do some solid work in the coming weeks, plus I always feel like a million bucks after I leave. I also increase my protein intake a bit for muscle recovery; eat a lot more fruits and veggies for their vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; and double my fish oil intake. See I know that the reason my muscles are tight and screaming at me every day is because they are inflamed from the work I am making them do for me day-in and day-out. Fish oil makes me physically feel better. My muscles become less swollen and my joints seem to lose their snap, crackle, and pop. Not to mention the other health benefits I reap from the increase in fish oil consumption.
When I went to Regionals to cheer on Carla, I did a little bit of booth hopping checking out all CrossFit products. I came across the Pure Pharma booth. I know them for their high quality fish oil, Vitamin D and Magnesium supplements. After a short conversation, I was asked if CrossFit Boston would like to carry their products to offer our members the benefits of their products. I brought this idea to Neal, and he said he wasn’t interested in carrying the products himself, but I could if I thought we had a need for it at the gym. And I did just that. I am now carrying Pure Pharma products at CFB. I believe we have some of the best protein we can get at CFB, and I wanted to carry something that we can all get benefits from. See I think (unfortunately) that a lot of members see taking a post-workout shake as something for a “competitive” CrossFitter. I don’t agree, but I think that we can all agree that EVERYBODY can reap the benefits of Fish Oil. That is why I decided to carry Pure Pharma. They are the best in the business, and it is in everyone’s interest to get the best stuff available to them.
I am carrying the entire Pure Pharma line. You can check it out here, and if you have questions, would like more information, or are interested in starting to see the benefits of these great products, you know where to find me.
16 Jun 2014
Sun’s Out Guns Out for the win! The CrossFit Boston softball team finally got their first win of the season. It took us 4 games to finally figure it out, but we worked it out. Why did I decide to write about this today? Well, I guess I’m proud of what we’ve all done and how far we’ve come. What follows is my version of how we got to our first win.
The first game of the season, we had literally NO idea what we were doing. No one knew what positions they were going to play or what was going to win us games. And it was obvious. The other team capitalized on this and annihilated us. So bad that the mercy rule came into play. That was the beginning of our journey to learning how to win. Many lessons were learned… and taught clearly.
The second game we found out who were our positional players and how to rotate players through positions. We had a little bit of batting practice afterwards (which may or may not have included a post-loss consolation cider… come on guys, beer isn’t paleo) that finally gave some people some time behind the bat that they needed.
The third game we thought we were going to be alright, but then something fell apart. Not sure what it was, but the wheels came off. It was kind of a frantic game. We played with the lineup, which actually taught us that we needed to play with the lineup again
This game was kind of a mess from the beginning too. We had 3 players who didn’t have a glove, so we had to ask some players from the other team if they wanted to join our team… which to be honest, we needed extra players since we barely had enough players to even play the game. (AAAAAHEEEEMMMMMM!) We had some ups and downs during the game. We were up by 7 or 8 points and all of the sudden, they came back and scored 11 runs in a single inning. We were moderately crushed. But we had another full inning to go, and only needed a couple of runs to tie it up. Batters up! We did it! We ended the inning up by 2 and only needed to hold out one last time in the field. It was a tough inning (mentally and emotionally), but we eded the inning without allowing a score.
So back to the question I asked earlier. Why did I decide to write about this? Because we all learned something. That is something everyone can take back to the gym. Every time we do something we should be thinking about how we can make that lift or movement easier. Learning how to make movements easier means that we have a better bar path or are using our hips in the most efficient manner. The more you do this, the more consistent you will be which just might get you that PR.
So take a lesson from our season thus far and learn something to make your time in the gym more effective.