14 May / 2014
This past Sunday, Mother’s Day, I was relaxing and watching the Today Show, when I saw something that made me do this:
Let me explain: they had a segment on cooking Mother’s Day brunch featuring Mary J. Blige’s personal chef. She was making a bunch of delicious looking stuff and making it healthy. One item was granola, using mostly nuts, dried fruit, and palm sugar. And as she’s describing the granola she keeps talking about palm sugar as “a better sugar” and a healthier sugar. Now you see why the face palm?
I see this on a lot of Paleo blogs too; they’ll use honey instead of sucrose, and almond or coconut meal instead of flour and proclaim it a healthy item. So now seems like a good time to tackle the “better sugar” question.
The Glycemic Index
Let’s start here with a quick review. The glycemic index is a measure of how a particular food or beverage affects your blood sugar compared to 50 grams of white bread. Low glycemic foods have a glycemic index (GI) below 55, and high glycemic foods are above 70. High glycemic foods cause a larger spike in your blood sugar, resulting in more insulin production and usually followed by a drop off. This cycle occurring over and over again can lead to insulin resistance, and ultimately diabetes. Lower glycemic foods tend to hit the blood sugar more slowly, resulting in less insulin release and a more stable curve. This graph illustrates it well (hint: you want to be closer to the blue line).
Now here is where a few common sugars fall on the glycemic index:
It would stand to reason that lower glycemic sugars like palm sugar and agave would be good for you compared to sucrose, right? Not so fast. Sugar its still sugar. All forms of sugar are calorically equivalent at 4 calories per gram, and are still a source of calories that provides zero nutritional quality (no fiber, no vitamins, no minerals, no other nutrients). Agave is highly processed, and coconut palm sugar production may well be unsustainable.
It’s kind of like what I said about high fructose corn syrup and sucrose: just because one thing might be similar or slightly better than another thing, doesn’t mean both are good for you. If you’re pursuing a healthy diet, finding the healthiest type of sugar is like finding the healthiest version of Frosted Corn Cereal – one may be better than another but neither are all that great for you. If you are making something that requires sugar, think about how you can cut back on the sweetness. Maybe add a banana instead of some of the butter in cookies or bread, which will maintain consistency and add more natural sweetness. Or check out Stevia. I haven’t done any research personally (meaning I haven’t used it a bunch yet), but I’ve heard great reviews.
What are your thoughts on sugar? Do you have a go-to type of sweetener?
13 May / 2014
We have addressed this topic in the past but now may be a great time to address it again.
In CrossFit we perform a great deal of volume with barbells, pull up bars, rings, and kettlebells. It is important to establish a plan on how to prevent rips and tears as well as how to care for them if they do occur.
First, allow me to say this, a hand tear is an injury. It is not a badge of honor of how BAD ASS you are. If you tear your hand, you may be derailing your ability to train for the next few days. Oh, your significant other is not going to allow you to put your hands on him/her either so now you are really out of luck!
Prevention is Key
First, go to your local pharmacy and pick up either a pumice stone or a callus shaver in the foot care section. I personally prefer the callus shaver as it slices those babies down really quick and easy. You may prefer both to smooth over any edges left by the callus shaver. Take the shaver or stone and cut down any built up calluses as needed. Once per week does the trick for me. Others need heavier maintenance.
Beyond, keeping the calluses down you can also be sure to apply lotion to your hands to ensure that your skin does not become too dry with cracks. This will lead to rips and tears as well. I am not a big lotion guy. In fact the only time I use lotion is when I am rubbing some on my wife’s feet and legs. But hey, maybe you like the stuff!
Friction is The Enemy
The reason the calluses build up and ultimately tear is due to friction. If your skin is constantly being rubbed along a surface it is going to be build to protect itself until it finally tears because it is too big. How can we minimize this? The first is obvious with using chalk.
There is such a thing as TOO MUCH CHALK. The substance is not supposed to be caked on your hands. If you are an excessive sweater then you need to have a towel to dry off your hands and forearms before applying additional small dosages of chalk to your hands. Don’t be a chalk whore. I have also heard of applying body glide to your hands and then a little chalk on your hands before hitting the pull up bar or barbell. I have not personally tried this yet but it makes sense. Marathoners and distance events use body glide all the time to prevent chafing brought on by friction.
Gloves are another option. Wait, gloves? That is being a sissy right? Set aside your macho ego. If you tear and tear regularly, get a pair of gloves. Buy the smallest size of batting gloves you fit into, they will stretch, and practice your grip. It will be different and you may have to make some small adjustments.
Build up your grip strength. This is a huge reason for rips and tears. Though we don’t want to have a death grip on the pull up bar when we need to finish 100 pull ups, we also don’t want our forearms and grip to crap the bed after 15-20 reps. Look for another post coming soon to address grip strength and programs to follow that can easily be applied 2-3 times per week at the end of your workouts.
In the Heat of the Battle
While you begin following the guidance written above, what about today? Tomorrow? Here is one basic rule I follow. Don’t go to failure on any set of pull ups, high volume snatches, or cleans. Once your grip begins to fail, you WILL rip your hand. Work smaller doses of sub maximal effort. Though it may seem counter intuitive, you will actually be able to finish your WOD faster due to less no reps and needing to take extra time for the muscles to recover. As you apply the grip strength work and continue training the number of reps you can complete will increase.
One last thing. If the WOD calls for 100 pull-ups and you know that the volume is too much for you, don’t “suck it up” and go after it. Build up your capacity over time. Scale it down. Know your limits, work to the very fringe of them to keep pushing further, but be smart. Then you will be able to continue training and improving your fitness instead of sitting on the sideline and having to go to sleep with latex gloves and moisturizer.
12 May / 2014
‘Sup peeps! I just wanted to get something off my chest.
While I love that you all come in an make mobility a part of your normal everyday routine, I would like to try to help you make the most of the time you spend mobilizing. Many of you roll in, change, and roll-out before class. Don’t roll in and roll out! Your body needs to be warm… and I mean WARM before you start. And don’t think that foam rolling is the cure for your tight hamstrings.
You should be getting hot & sweaty before your workout, then opening up joint capsules (banded distractions) then if you have a very sticky/tight spot, try spending 2 minutes doing some trigger point work on that spot, only if you’ve already gotten nice and warm and gone through some dynamic warm-up (yes, you can do this on your own before class too guys/girls).
In the cool down period following the workout you would effectively be doing an “active-cooldown.” Instead of laying on the ground, towelling off and heading out the door, spend some quality time moving and mobilizing as your body temperature returns to normal. This is where you will be addressing areas that us coaches have been telling you that you need to work on to increase you ROM. Some of that may be more trigger point or for those of you who can’t get enough of it, foam rolling work, to “unlock” areas that have knotted up during the workout. This will also assist in pushing blood through what you’ve just worked aiding in your recovery.
You can look at your mobility work as a planned session that is separate from group classes. Whatever you do, please… PLEASE don’t roll in to roll out.
Thinking of your future,
09 May / 2014
Yeah! It’s Friday baby and that means it’s time to FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP! The week has been fun and different. All week has been training for todays testing day. Yesterday was a bit of a sampler with the 1k row and many crushed it! I have enjoyed seeing you all respond to the slightly different programming and being open to going after it.
What has been your favorite part of the week? What did you enjoy the least? Please give your feedback in comments. In fact, as a challenge, I would appreciate if you began commenting daily on your results in the comments section of the blog. We will be looking each day for your results and feedback on the WOD. Your participation will provide great insight.
ODDS & ENDS
- No 8am Track Practice this week – Coach Voci is away this weekend and there is quite a bit going on inside the gym. It will resume next weekend weather permitting.
- The Strength Challenge begins and Hydrostatic Weighing is this weekend. The CrossFit Total is being programmed for the entire gym whether you are participating in the challenge or not. Expect to be in the gym for 1.25 to 1.5 hours as the Total always is a bit longer. Classes will start on the hour. The back squat and press will be completed within the hour and then members will move to the platforms to complete the deadlift.
- CustomFit Meals – I would like some feedback from those that have ordered. Either drop me a line or just post to comments.
- If you signed up for the Challenge or for Hydrostatic Weighing. You will receive and email to remind you of your scheduled time. Please be on time.
WHAT’S ON TAP
This week we are continuing with classic CrossFit programming. Monday and Tuesday are particularly challenging in that they are back to back. Be sure that you are doing what is necessary to recover from Monday to Tuesday if you are training back to back days.
1. Pull-ups – 5 x max. Strict-Kipping-Strict-Kipping-Strict.
2. Complete the following circuit 5 times. It contains three elements and is a powerful whole body workout. Each element is 45 seconds with a 15 second rotation (not one second more or you start over).
Wall Ball, 20#/14# to a 10’/9′ target (reps)
Hollow Rock (reps)
Sumo Deadlift High Pull, 75#/55# (reps)
1. Powerclean 10-10-10
Rest 5-10 minutes
2. AMRAP 20
10 Thrusters off 10″ box with dumbbells totaling 30% of your weight
15 Back extensions
1. Wall-Ball – 20#/14# to a 10’/9′ target
30 seconds – max reps
Rest 30 seconds
60 seconds – max reps
Rest 60 seconds
90 seconds – max reps
Rest 90 seconds
120 seconds – max reps
Rest 120 seconds
Beat 15 throws in 30s, 30 in 60s, 40 in 90s, and 50 in 120s Total exercise 8 minutes.
Submit total throws for all efforts and bodyweight.
2. AMRAP 20
Lunge ten steps each leg, alternating
Clean & Jerk, 50% bodyweight X 10 reps
1. Bike/Row – 3 x 2 minute max effort (calories)
Rest 5 minutes between efforts.
2. 4 rounds for time of:
15 GHD sit ups
5 Handstand push-ups
10 Back Squats @ 2/3 of bodyweight
Bar for Back squats must be taken from the ground each rep.
1. Push Press – 8-6-4
2. AMRAP 15
3 L-sit pull-ups
1 minute max double unders
Post rounds completed and total double unders completed.
1. Deadlift 3-2-1-2-3
2. 3 Rounds for time
15 Toe2Bar (strict and slow)
20 Med ball cleans, 20#/14#
That’s right, it’s finally warm and nice outside and we’re doing an all out 1k row in the gym! So, what are you going to do in preparation and during the 1k to get through it and back outside? Here is a solid warmup and 3 skills to get you ready and give you something to focus on when that voice inside your head tries to tell you to stop.
Renegade Rowing Club Warmup:
1min – 1/2 Legs Only
1min – Full Legs Only
1min – Legs and Body Only
1min – Full Strokes
1min – Pause @1/2 Slide Every Stroke
5min – 10 Strokes On/ 10 Strokes Off, 15 On/15 Off, 20 On/20 Off
Performing an appropriate warmup for the workout that is set out each day can make or break a performance. Above is the warmup we use fairly consistently in classes at CrossFit Boston and at the Renegade Rowing Club. It’s a good 10min warmup to focus on posture, control, and connection. Checkout how slow the Renegade Rowing Club approaches the catch in the beginning. Executing this drill with control will allow you to really focus on putting technique changes into effect and hitting that catch with good timing and connection.
Please share what you do for a warmup when rowing is involved in the workout. What is your focus?
Posture, Control, Connection … Get Some!
- Posture – When dealing with posture we’re looking for the torso to be stacked and strong at all times, whether you’re in the lay back or swinging forward to prepare for the next catch.
- Control – When talking about control we are looking at the smoothness of the recovery and how the seat moves toward the catch. Does it rush forward for the next stroke? Is there control in the last few inches of the slide to change direction without pushing the boat backwards? I like to think of control as an ability to stop at any point in time and be in a strong position.
- Connection – Last and most important, connection! Is the seat and handle connected and moving together into and out of the catch as if connected by a strap? If you can focus on keeping your hips and hands connected as you apply pressure to the footboards you’ll be able to find suspension and become weightless on your seat. If you want to save some energy and be more efficient during your rowing wods, connection is where it’s at.
If you have any questions or are looking for some more tips checkout renegaderowing.com.
Also, be sure to sign up for the CFB Yoga Launch on Sunday, May 18th at 8:30am! – Sign Up Here (link to CFB Google Form)
07 May / 2014
Colorful plates are in these days, and don’t just mean the cool red and mint ones you can get from Crate & Barrel (although those are awesome too). I mean the “eat the rainbow” slogan is starting to take hold in the healthy eating community, and we’re packing our plates full of green, red, blue, purple, orange, and red for maximal vitamins and nutrition. No white foods on our plates!
But wait, why no white foods? Well, probably because we’ve been so conditioned to view them as nutrient void, low quality foods. And many white and tan foods are just that – like fried chicken, french fries, white bread, rice, mayonnaise, etc. But some colorful foods are not so good for you either, like ketchup (in red, purple, and green) and green sprinkles from JP Licks.
White vegetables are white because of flavenoids (a substance known to have antioxidant activity and thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease by decreasing inflammation and platelet aggregation (1)) called anthoxanthins. Some white fruits and vegetables like bananas and potatoes are also a good source of potassium, an important electrolyte in muscle and heart function.
Some white fruits and vegetables have even been given the impressive label of “super food”. Some of these include:
- Bananas – bananas are high in potassium and are a great pre or post workout snack due to their carbohydrate and potassium content.
- Garlic – garlic, as well as onions and leeks, is high in allium, which has been associated with protection against colorectal and gastric cancers (2).
- Ginger – often used as a flavoring, ginger has been associated with such benefits as reduced inflammation in the colon (a precursor to colon cancer), decreased muscle soreness after exercise, and nausea among others (3).
- Cauliflower – in addition to all the antioxidants, cauliflower is also a cruciferous vegetable high in fiber, and as a bonus it’s super versatile (you can even make rice and “mashed potatoes” out of it).
Also don’t forget about potatoes. They aren’t as bad as you might think (if prepped the right way).
02 May / 2014
Fire it Up Baby! This has been a tough week of training. The tempo squats were brutal and fun at the same time. Only a CrossFitter would combine “brutal” and “fun” in the same sentence. This upcoming week is promising to be just as challenging in a totally different way. More on that later…Shirtless Bob was so fired up he sent me this pic from the CrossFit in Rome!
STRENGTH CHALLENGE AND HYDROSTATIC WEIGHING
This upcoming weekend is the Hydrostatic Weighing with Fitness Wave. As of now there are many spots still available. Friday is almost filled up but Saturday is pretty wide open. Here is the link so you can sign up. Be sure to mark whether you are participating in the challenge or would just prefer the hydrostatic weighing.
So, WODIFY is out and Pocket Coach is in!
MemberGuideToPocketCoach This is the link to download a PDF explaining how to use Pocket Coach. Of course the coaches are also available to help you!
This upcoming week’s programming: I have been testing out the next week’s programming for the last few weeks. I did this regularly when I first started out but it has been some time since I had done as frequently as I have been. I started doing this again so that I can better communicate to my coaches and interns what it felt like and the flow of the class should be, etc. This will allow them to better communicate to you as a member what to expect, how to scale, where to push and where to back off. Let me know what you think.
For TOTAL weight:
Deadlift 5-4-3-2-1 reps
Rest 5 minutes
Box jump (20″ box) 50 reps (step downs only)
Rest 5 minutes
2 rope climbs
**Overhead Lockout with a plate – 45#/25#
This is done with a partner. Partner 1 performs the 800m run and rope climbs while partner 2 completes the OH lockout with a plate. When each person completes the run and 2 rope climbs, you have completed 1 round.
Rest 5-10 minutes
Bench Press – work up to a 10RM
1. Back extension 15-15-15 slow and pretty. Snake or wave up.
2. Dumbbell Thruster from 10″ box – 20-15-10 max weight each set.
No “rocking up” or “plunking down”.
3. 5 minutes Max double unders
1. Muscle snatch – 15-12-9 reps with same load and 1 minute between sets.
2. Five supersets of back extension and sit-ups. Make each exercise slow and tough.
3. Muscle snatch – 15-12-9 reps with same load and 1 minute between sets.
1. Time five muscle-ups and 50 box jumps on 20″ plyo box.
Stretch/rest 20 minutes.
2. Time five muscle-ups and 50 box jumps on 20″ plyo box.
We’re interested in both times and decay rate from first to second effort.
If you can’t do muscle-ups, substitute fifteen pull-ups and twenty dips for each muscle-up. Must step down from the box.
Warm-up with about ten minutes of EASY rowing. Then…
1. Row a 1K for time. Submit time.
2. Squat (10″ box squat) – 5-3-1 reps
Submit total weight for all three sets.
1. Dips 5 x max dips.
Total the five sets. Note assistance if needed.
2. “Julie G” – 3 rounds for time of:
Snatch 1/2 body weight, 10 reps
Powerclean 1/2 body weight, 10 reps
20″ box jump, 15 reps (step down from box)
Saturday 5/10 – CrossFit Total
Back Squat – 1RM
Shoulder Press – 1RM
Deadlift – 1RM
30 Apr / 2014
Hey CFB, here’s a little TBT for you! Thanks for all of the responses and feedback last week. We hear you and we’re making it happen!
CFB Yoga is a Go!
Our very own Terese Holm, who has been certified to teach Yoga through Prana in Winchester, MA, will be leading us through an hour of awesomeness. In order for this to be a regular thing we need at least six people to sign up, but based on responses from last weeks post we should have plenty of people in here breathing, stretching, and posing. Here are the details and sign up links. If you have any questions please let me know. Checkout Terese’s description of the class and sign up below!
CFB Yoga – Launch Session!
Sunday, May 18th, 8:30am – 9:30am
Sign Up Here (link to CFB Google Form)
CFB Yoga – June
4 Sessions – Sundays in June as follows
6/8, 6/15, 6/22, 6/29 — 8:30am – 9:30am
Cost: $52 (for all 4 sessions)
Sign Up Here (link to separate CFB Google Form)
I have been practicing yoga for seven years. Yoga has helped me in all of my physical endeavors. I have a strong belief that yoga is beneficial to all walks of life. Yoga can be used to lengthen and strengthen the muscles of the body, as well as create a mindfulness of how the body moves. Through the yoga class we will focus on ways to maximize the body’s performance during a WOD, and speed recovery after a WOD. It is through an organized series of poses we will work to recover from the previous week’s workouts, while also preparing the body for the week to come. Through a focus of movement and breath we will work to become more conscious of the body’s abilities, which in turn will take full advantage of all our bodies have to offer when working with the movements we see every day at CrossFit Boston.
30 Apr / 2014
Over the past week I’ve had a few young, healthy people in my life discover they had high cholesterol. Which naturally leads to confusion/fear, considering a. they are young and healthy and b. high cholesterol = death by heart attack. But wait, is cholesterol really the defining factor for your risk of heart disease? I’m no cholesterol expert (there’s been a lot of research since I left clinical nutrition) so I decided to do some refresher research, and this is what I found.
Cholesterol Is More Than One Number
When you get your cholesterol numbers evaluated, you don’t just find out one big number. There are usually four numbers you get, and a few more you should think about. The ones you get are:
- Low Density Lipoprotein or LDL – LDL is one of five lipoproteins that transport fat molecules (including cholesterol) through extracellular fluid (the fluid in your body that is outside blood vessels). LDL has been nicknamed the “bad cholesterol” because it transports these fat molecules and deposits them in artery walls, which leads to atherosclerosis.
- High Density Lipoprotein or HDL – HDL is similar to LDL in makeup but is known as the “good cholesterol” because it tends to transport fat molecules away from the arteries (usually into the liver, adrenals, or ovaries or testes). Higher levels of HDL have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
- Total cholesterol – this is a measure of all the cholesterol in your blood, including HDL and LDL. This number is going to be higher than just a sum of LDL and HDL.
- Triglycerides – this is a measure of fat buildup in your bloodstream. When you eat, your body converts any excess calories to triglycerides, where they are stored in fat cells. Between meals these are released to provide energy, so regularly eating more calories than are needed can lead to high triglycerides.
Notice a pattern there? Neither HDL or LDL are cholesterol in the first place, they are just the transporters. And cholesterol isn’t necessarily bad for your body, in fact it’s needed to make steroid hormones like androgen hormones and estrogen.
In addition to these numbers, you should also pay attention to:
- Cholesterol Ratio – this is the ratio between your total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends levels below 5, with an ideal ratio of 3.5 So, if your total cholesterol is 210 (high) but your HDL is 90, that puts you at a ratio of 2.2 (ideal)
- Pattern A vs. Pattern B – according to some newer research, there are different types of LDL. Small, dense LDL and large, buoyant LDL. The small dense LDL is what causes harm to the arteries, whereas the larger, buoyant LDL does little to no harm as it floats happily through your blood vessels. In Pattern A, the small, dense LDL is low while the larger, buoyant LDL and HDL are high. In Pattern B, the small, dense LDL is higher while the large, buoyant LDL and HDL are lower. Pattern B is associated with higher risk of heart disease, while Pattern A isn’t. According to this study, the high carb, low fat/saturated fat diet can turn Pattern A into Pattern B.
We often treat cholesterol like the end all be all risk factor for heart disease. And it is still an important indicator of heart health when interpreted correctly. But there are other factors that determine whether or not you’re having a heart attack. These include:
- Weight and anthropometric measures (like body fat)
- Physical activity levels
All of the above can impact a person’s risk for heart disease (which includes heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure). All of these factors should be considered when assessing someone’s risk for heart disease and suggesting prevention and treatment options.
If you find you have higher than “normal” cholesterol lab values, don’t freak out. Talk to your doctor (or friendly CrossFit Dietitian), who can help you look at your lifestyle and other risk factors that may be in play. And don’t jump on the statin bandwagon before you’ve looked at other things. When should you be worried? I’d be worried if your triglycerides were high, as this indicates a pattern of overeating, if HDL was very low, or if any of these numbers were exorbitantly high.
27 Apr / 2014
Sup everyone! I’m hoping you’ve all heard the good news about the new challenge we are rolling out for the summer. If you haven’t, please read Neal’s Fire it up Friday post for the big picture of the program. He mentioned that we were going to roll out more details soon, so here’s the not-so-skinny (see what I did there?).
First, we want you to get strong. Thats what this is all about. I’m not going to rehash everything that Neal already said, so here’s some more information. The cost is going to be $200 (lump-sum), or $75/month as an add on to your monthly membership. Whoa, whoa, whoa… calm down for a second everyone. This covers the cost of both hydrostatic weigh-ins, a challenge shirt (it’ll be cool, I promise), and prize money for the winner. “How do you win G2?!” I hear ya. Simply put, the person who gets the strongest while putting on the most muscle. There’s a little more to it, but that will be outlined in the handout that will be available in the gym this week.
There will be some extra work that will be assigned/strongly-recommended-that-you-complete for every week. This will be in addition to the regular gym programming and will be in the form of mobility, lifting, nutrition advice, etc. Some general guidelines for food will be outlined before the program kicks off too. You can expect to have to do some extra work every day that you come in to work out. Since this is a strength program, the volume will gradually get higher and higher, with some back-off weeks as well. Get ready to work!!
I think between Neal and myself, we have laid out most of the program. If you have any questions, leave a comment or ask a coach. I don’t know about you, but I’m super pumped for this. Strength is my favorite thing to work on! (I just got myself pumped writing that!)