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19 May 2013

A Few Post-Regionals Thoughts

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After three days and seven events, the CrossFit Games North East Regionals competition has officially ended. I am surely not alone in saying that watching these top athletes compete in both the team and individual events renewed my focus for training!

By the end of the three days, I definitely had some favorites among the athletes. One thing I think is neat about CrossFit, though I realize this might not be exclusive to CrossFit, is that you can find top competitors of all different shapes and sizes. Yes, they’re all jacked; but from the short, stockier Amanda Goodman (1st place individual female) to the tall, lean Kaleena Ladeairous (3rd place individual female), no one body type is the undisputed template for a CrossFit champion. Each height and body type carries different benefits and disadvantages. The same holds true for men. I was reminded this weekend how happy I am to be part of a sport and subculture that celebrates people for their capabilities instead of their appearances. Whether you’re a shorty or a tallie, a biggie or a smallie, CrossFit can be for you!

Another really cool thing was the support of the crowd and fellow athletes for all the competitors, not just the winners. In almost every heat, competitors who had already finished rallied around those who were struggling to finish their reps. And some of the loudest cheering from the stands was reserved for athletes who, after failing rep after rep, finally got that heavy clean and were able to move on in the event.

I’m looking forward to getting back in the gym tomorrow, for my training and yours. I’m expecting to see lots of screaming in each other’s faces as you all cheer your fellow class mates through the benchmark WOD “Helen” on Monday!

-Coach Monica O.

crossfit-pyramid

This is the theoretical hierarchy pyramid produced by Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit. We are a CrossFit gym and believe in the methodologies and principles passed on by CrossFit HQ. In following that vision it guides everything that we do in relation to fitness.

Why am I writing about this? Well, we have always attempted to pass on the knowledge we have gained so that we are enabling our community to be better able to hold themselves accountable. You know, ‘give a man a fish and he has a meal. Teach him how to fish and he will never go hungry again.’

How did the pyramid come about? After many, many years of trial and error with thousands of training sessions with athletes in the original CrossFit in Santa Cruz, CA. MAny of you reading this may not realize that CrossFit has been around much longer than the CrossFit Games as seen on TV in recent years. In fact it started way back in the 80’s and 90’s and first went live on the internet back in 2001. So, the history is rich.

Back on track with the pyramid. It all begins with Nutrition. We harp on this every day in the gym. If you are eating shitty, you are going to get shitty results. Simple. Very few can eat fluff regularly out of the jar and still perform at a level that achieves a great degree of fitness. Without getting too complicated – eat meat and vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds, little starch and no sugar. Eat only enough to support exercise but not to add body fat.

The second level is metabolic conditioning. This is the essence of CrossFit when it is written about training for work capacity across broad TIME domains. Be able to perform in short, moderate, and long duration activities. If you are not training in all of them then your fitness will be limited. So, if you skip out on certain workouts because you its too long or too short, then you are blunting your improvement.

Level 3 is gymnastics. Being able to control your own body in space and time and being able to perform in the necessary ranges of motion. This is why we emphasize the mobility and skill work. If this groundwork is not given proper attention then movements end up having to be substituted for for safety concerns. Progressions are delayed and improved fitness opportunities are lost.

Weightlifing. This is the step that everyone wants to jump to so quickly. I get it. Lifting barbells and continuously adding more load to bars is exciting and rewarding as you get immediate feedback of progress. Far faster than in the nutrition, metabolic conditioning, and gymnastics components as those require more discipline. Its important to understand that if you have not gained some mastery of your own body (gymnastics) and that you have not developed some aerobic and anaerobic capacity (metabolic conditioning) then your gains in fitness will once again be blunted.

Sport. Right now we are in the middle of the CrossFit Games season. The NorthEast Regionals are this weekend in Canton, Ma and many of us will be attending as spectators. On display will be our regions best at applying the first 4 principles and the will be competing to earn a trip to LA for the CrossFit Games Championships. Most persons that walk in the doors of any CrossFit gym do not have the goal of competing in The Games. But it can still be appreciated the discipline, time, sacrifice necessary to successfully reach that level. For most, it takes many years of training, eating right, getting plenty of rest and recovery, etc to qualify for Regionals and The Games. It is only rare circumstances where an individual can be CrossFitting for less than one year and immediately be competitive. These cases typically are athletes that have an older training age and have been exposed to the 4 previous principles in some manner though not formally through CrossFit.

If you wish to aspire to the sport of CrossFit, then you must have a realistic idea of what it entails and know the road ahead is a long one. It is important to lay the foundation with a solid nutrition plan. You have to train all of the metabolic pathways and not allow biases to cloud your judgement. Learn how to move your body through many skills and progressions while continuing to improve your mobility. Attack the weightlifting and continue to make gains in strength so that loads used in conditioning become a smaller percentage of your work capacity. If any of the principles are out of place, you will blunt your longterm health and fitness.

~Neal

15 May 2013

Airdyne…

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Those of you at the Allston Gym are lucky enough to now partake in the pain of the Airdyne…

On our bikes, I would say the goal is 400-450 Calories in 10 minutes… First to 400 wins… and then 450 wins more.

The race to 450 is on…

13 May 2013

Training Through Hard Times

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Lets Face It, Life Throws You Curve Balls

Between injuries, getting sick, emergencies, work, weather, peer pressure and other outside influences, training isn’t easy.  No matter how good your plan is, someone is always throwing a bone into it.  How you work around those dark times and how you let it affect you mentally is very important.  If you are willing to give up a training day over a little bit of rain, what else are you willing to give up?  This is obviously an extreme example, but I would say the most annoying things to work around are injuries.  You have to be able to listen to your body and find other weaknesses to train until your body is healthy.  Knowing the difference between an injury and soreness is very critical.  Your body is always communicating to you, are you listening?  I never let sore quads keep me from a squat day.  Your warm up time is always an opportunity to learn about whats working and what isn’t, then decide if training is possible.  Is your knee bothering you?  Not the end of the world, work on that bench press that you always avoid.  Also the opposite, are your hands torn to shreds?  Good thing you don’t need your hands to squat.  You can ALWAYS work on something.  If you have these kinds of nagging injuries and you still want to do class, we are always very accommodating about working around those injuries until you are healthy again.  I’ve had people with broken wrists, recent ACL surgeries and many other serious things still take a class.

Mental Toughness

When I think about mental toughness, I think of a story about Steve Prefontaine.  If you haven’t heard it, it is astounding.  He ripped his toe open on a diving board, then went on to destroy a 5k in record time.  Should you destroy your body when its injured?  No definitely not.  This is an athlete who knew what was going on and worked so hard to get where he was that he wasn’t going to let a little pain on his toe keep him from what he does best.  The closer you get to your goals and the harder you work in the gym, the more you will also find yourself, walking through blizzards and hurricanes to get into the gym to train.  Its just a matter if you are willing to do it…

http://youtu.be/AXyh4dAuZl8

12 May 2013

Seeking Pollyanna

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Before diving into the meat of this post, a brief yet important note about the CROSSFIT NORTH EAST REGIONALS COMPETITION, which will be held this coming Friday through Sunday, May 17-19, at Reebok Headquarters, 1895 JW Foster Blvd. in Canton, MA. Please come out to support our regional CrossFitters and get crazy motivation for your training this year!!! If you want to see elite CrossFitters crushing WODs, this is the place to be. Click here for a full list of events the athletes will be tackling over the course of the three day competition, and buy your ticket(s) or three-day pass(es) here. Our DTX location will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, so put all the energy you would have put into your weekend WODs into yelling your faces off and getting stoked about the sport of fitness!!

Now, about Pollyanna. I’ve been thinking a lot in the last day or so about the various responses we can take when something happens to us that we don’t like. Essentially, there are three options. First, you can wallow in the suck, so to speak – just sit in your unhappiness, roll around in it, and enjoy feeling sorry for yourself. We’ve all been there; sometimes it feels better (certainly easier, and sometimes more satisfying) to stay miserable than to step outside your current state of mind and conjure up a different train of thought. The second option is to try to change the situation.  Thirdly, you can choose to find something positive in the situation, even if it’s not one you would have initially chosen for yourself.

Let’s say my T-spine mobility sucks, so it’s impossible for me to overhead squat properly.  Following the first option, I can complain incessantly that I have bad mobility, do nothing about it, and continue to use it as an excuse to avoid getting better at overhead squatting.  Following the second option, I can ask coaches about things I can do to improve my mobility, then work my ass off to make that happen.

Of course, we all know that just because you sincerely want to make a situation better and try really hard to make that happen does not necessarily mean the situation will actually improve. Many things in life do not so readily respond to treatment as do mobility issues in relation to overhead squatting. However, all is not lost. We still have option three: to find something good about the situation we have been dealt.

Why wallow in unhappiness when it is so much easier and more pleasant to look on the bright side? Admittedly, I have been accused many times of being an incorrigible Pollyanna. The accusation is pretty much spot on.  While I am not 100% happy 100% of the time, you can bet your ass that if there is any positive spin that can be put on a negative situation, I will very quickly dig it out of whatever hole it’s hiding in and focus on that instead of on the negatives. Some situations take more effort than others, but I would rather do the extra work and end up happier.  Why live life any other way? Some people say this is delusional thinking: if a situation is bad, why pretend it is good? Unsurprisingly, I think that’s a little too pessimistic. Few things are purely good, just as few things are purely bad. Maybe you have gotten a lot better at running, but your pull ups are still very weak. If we program a WOD that is 4RFT of a 400m run and 30 pull ups, you might crush the runs but not do well overall because the pull ups will be quite difficult. You can either focus on the fact that your pull ups are bad, feel discouraged, and let it ruin your day; or you can acknowledge that your pull ups still need more work, but be stoked because your runs were so much faster than they would have been a few months ago, and isn’t improvement awesome?! Same facts, but you can choose to highlight one over the other. You can still honestly acknowledge that a situation is not ideal without letting it get you down; and just because a situation is less than ideal does not mean there is absolutely nothing positive you can take from it.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies”?  I think the same thing is true for chronic frustration or habitual annoyance at petty things (and important things!). The primary person who gets hurt if I’m a chronic grump is me.  All the little things add up. With the notable exception of chemical imbalances, for the most part on a daily basis we can choose to be happy, or we can choose to be sad. The enjoyment we get out of life is more a function of our attitude toward it than of the specific daily events that happen to us. None of our lives are perfect.  But whatever your situation, maybe you have an opportunity to find joy in unexpected places.  Maybe you’re getting great practice at perseverance, or patience, or at finding compassion for people you don’t necessarily think deserve it. Or maybe there really is nothing redeeming about your bad situation, but hey, maybe you have great friends, or you know how to read so you’re able to get into a really good book that helps you escape for a few hours, or at least you have a place you can come after work to slam bars and get out some frustration.

Don’t wait for big, momentous events to make you happy.  Choose to find happiness in everyday things, even in circumstances where it seems hard to find.  Emotional well-being is just as much in our control as is physical well-being and fitness.  Don’t shortchange yourself by allowing the vagaries of life to determine your mood.  Seize happiness, kick gloominess to the curb, and embrace your inner Pollyanna. And come cheer with us at Regionals next weekend!

-Coach Monica O.

08 May 2013

PRs, what it takes, and hand care

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There have been a ton of PRs lately!  Take an opportunity to boast a bit and be pround of what you have accomplished.  Post your recent Pr’s to comments, and here are some of the best hitting a few Prs of their own.

And a day in the life… what it takes to get to that level…

And if you hands are feeling a bit beat up, here’s some advice

06 May 2013

Gym étiquette When Lifting

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Lets Max Something!

There have been some instances lately that left me unsettled.  This is in regards to when someone is lifting weight and what others are doing around them.  Any lift over 80% is going to start taking more and more focus.  If this focus is broken, the lift is probably lost, which is usually going to leave that lifter upset.  You don’t want to be the reason they are upset.  Lets go over some general ground rules for things that would lead to breaking a lifters concentration:

1) BEING in front of them.  This one annoys me the most.  It isn’t about walking around in front of them, if you are within 10-15 feet of being in front of them, in their field of view, you are probably distracting the lifter in some way.  You HAVE to pay attention to whats going on around you in the gym, if someone is about to back squat 500#, don’t stand 5 feet in front of them staring at them, you are not going to help them make the lift, you are more than likely causing them to miss it.

2) Being loud and obnoxious.  Because we have multiple senses.  Vision is now out of the way, if you aren’t in front of someone, then they can’t see you, so you can’t be visually distracting.  But if you are talking about your favorite TV show 5 feet behind them, you are probably just as distracting if not more.  Whatever you have to say can wait 5 minutes, unless if you are bringing up a safety concern to the lifter.

RESPECT the training Environment

I’ve continued to say this time and time again.  You don’t have to be quiet as a mouse, you just need to learn the difference between being a distraction and being encouraging.  Getting people fired up for a lift is great.  Next time you are in the gym, do your best to look around and notice what is going on.  This will not only help you navigate the gym in a safer manner, but will also help every lifter around you hit those big PR’s they were warming up for.

~Coach Serious….is serious about letting people focus on their heavy lifts!

05 May 2013

Cherry Picking

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Dear CFBers,

Ahhhhh, cherry picking. You know…when you drive to an orchard, bring lots of containers with you, mosey around, and spend the day meandering through the rows of trees and picking cherries. ‘One for me, one for the bucket…two for me, one for the bucket….’ And then drive home with red-stained fingers and lips, and bake a pie. (A Paleo pie, of course.)

Waaaaaiiiiit a minute, I forgot, this is a CrossFit blog, not a food blog. Sorry.

Let’s start again:

Ahhhhh, cherry picking. You know — when you check Facebook or the CFB website shortly after 8pm to see what the next day’s WOD is…and THEN make a decision as to whether or not you really want to take the class. In case you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, I’ll provide you with an example in the form of an internal dialogue:

Saturday night. 7:30pm ‘Hey, I’m registered for CrossFit class tomorrow! I can’t wait. I wonder what the WOD is going to be!’
Saturday night. 8:30pm ‘Hey, I’m so excited about this CrossFit class. I’m going to see if they’ve posted the WOD yet!’ checks Facebook and/or the CFB website ‘Ooooohhhhhhhh, running.’ shudders
Saturday night. 9:00pm. after pondering the WOD for the last 30 minutes. ‘So, about this class tomorrow. You know, I heard the weather might be a little cold. And/or I’m not in great running shape, and I don’t want to be the slowest person. And/or I really don’t like running. And/or I’m trying to get my strength numbers up, so I don’t want to run. And/or…running sucks, I’m going to sit this one out and come on a day when there’s something more fun programmed.’
Saturday night. 9:15pm. cancels reservation for Sunday class

We are sneaky, sneaky people. And by “we,” I mean your friendly CrossFit Boston staff, and by “sneaky,” I mean that we can see what times people cancel their classes. Strangely enough, we have found that there is a not insignificant number of cancelations shortly after the WOD is released, whenever the next day’s WOD involves running.

I’m picking on people who don’t like running, but most of you have some movements and/or WODs you’d rather avoid. That’s fine, and it’s normal. It only becomes a problem if you purposely avoid the WODs you don’t like, in favor of doing things you’re already good at. You’ve probably heard us say that the only way you’ll “get” double unders is by failing at them repeatedly. The same principle holds true for anything. Is your aerobic capacity lacking? You’re only going to improve it by working on things that challenge it — including running. Or maybe it’s handstand push ups that you can’t…well…stand (haha) — but you’re not going to get better at them by avoiding “Diane,” you’ll get better at them by coming in on days we do handstand push ups and working the appropriate scales.

Doing only the things you already like will help you get better at those things, but it will also make you an even more unbalanced athlete. CrossFitters pride ourselves on being generalists, not specialists. So the next time you see a WOD you’d rather not do, ask yourself why. Chances are, if you don’t like a movement, you’re probably not very good at doing it, at least compared to things you ARE good at. And you should especially be working on things you’re not good at! Talk to your coach ahead of time if you’re worried about scaling, or have questions about what you can do in and out of class to improve. But however you go about it, tackle your dislikes and weaknesses head on.

No more cherry picking!

Except if you’re going to bake us pies.

03 May 2013

Progress

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“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”

-Chinese Proverb

The journey to elite fitness is a long one. Not one that is completed overnight, nor one month, not even four. It is an endless dedication to a better way of life. There will be hiccups along the way. Learn from them. You will have small successes. Celebrate them. It is not perfect. Develop the discipline to perform the daily tasks that will lead to more success. Look around you, there is inspiration every day. Become the inspiration to others. It doesn’t require flash. It requires determination, perseverance, and passion.

Have GRIT.

grit

01 May 2013

meat…

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As many of you may have seen, there have been several studies floating around about the evils of… Meat!  According to these studies, it would seem that Robb Wolf, Loren Cordain, Mark Sisson, and Chris Kresser, have been wrong and that meat may not be a beneficial component of a healthful diet.  These are some of the names at the top of the Paleo/Primal science front, and these studies seem to contradict everything they have been saying…  In order to be fully upfront, I think how they created the studies themselves was a bit flawed as it is easy to start out with a goal in mind and find the “evidence” to support a specific cause and in the process create a story that the media will flame across the internet.

 

Here is the Original article from the New York Times…

Culprit in Heart Disease Goes Beyond Meat’s Fat

There have already been multiple outlets that have sufficiently debunked or brought up some serious questions in regards to the finding of these studies.

See Here:

The Red Meat Scapegoat: The New York Times, Carnitine, Heart Disease and Science

And Here:

Red Meat and Eggs on Trial Again, But Jury Is Still Out

You probably know which side of the camp I fall into on this… That being said, take a read of the articles.  If you aren’t willing to take the time to read this stuff and make an informed decision on the topics and only browse a headline here or there, you are doing your healt an injustice.


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