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29 Apr / 2015

What Does Vitamin C Actually Do?

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We see vitamin C a lot these days, mostly in the context of cold prevention (or treatment). Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin found in certain foods and added as fortification to others. Humans don’t synthesize vitamin C, so it’s essential that we include it in our diet.

Roles of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, L-Carnitine, and some neurotransmitters, and is also involved in some protein metabolism. It is also an antioxidant thought to help regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin E, helps the body absorb non-heme iron (meaning iron from plant based foods), and plays an important role in immune function. Vitamin C deficiency results in scurvy (often linked to pirates and sailors, who went long periods without fresh produce), which causes fatigue and connective tissue weakness.

Collagen synthesis and immune function are the most notable and widely recognized roles for Vitamin C. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, found in muscle, bone, and tendons among other important tissues.

When Do You Need Vitamin C?

Vitamin  C has been linked to a few conditions over the years.

Cancer Prevention  – numerous studies show that a diet high in fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of many cancers, although similar to vitamin A, there is no research that demonstrates vitamin C alone is responsible for this reduced risk or that supplementation would offer any benefit. It seems the pattern of eating fruits and vegetables is more important than single nutrients.

Cardiovascular Disease – research suggests that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of heart disease, potentially due in part to the antioxidant content of these foods. This makes sense because oxidative damage is one of the causes of heart disease. One British study found that those with the top 25% in blood vitamin C levels had a 42% risk of cardiovascular disease, but the Physicians Health Study found no significant decrease after 5 years of supplementation.  Most clinical interventions and several larger prevention studies have showed no benefit from supplements. As with cancer, you are better off eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables than supplementing one single nutrient.

The Cold – evidence indicates that vitamin C intake greater than 200 mg a day does not prevent a cold. One study showed a small reduction in cold duration – 8% for adults and 14% for kids. Although if you think about the common cold lasting about 2 weeks, that adds up to about a day. Taking vitamin C after symptoms have already started provided no benefit. Research has shown vitamin C intake of 250 mg – 1 g/day to reduce the incidence of a cold by 50% among people exposed to large bouts of physical exercise and extreme cold – including marathoners, soldiers, and skiers. So, it would appear supplementation is mostly effective for people exposed to extreme environments.

How Much Do You Need?

According to recommended daily allowance (RDA) – a level that should be sufficient to meet the needs of 98% of the population –  the average adult male needs 90 mg a day and the average female 75 mg a day. This is super easy to attain, and most people get way more than that. If you eat 1/2 cup of red bell pepper, a cup of broccoli, and a glass of OJ, you’re already well over 200% of your daily recommended intake.

My Recommendation?

Eat your fruits and veggies. If you ski a lot in the winter, consider taking a supplement if you get sick often. Once you are sick though, forget about the vitamin C. Consider taking a zinc lozenge instead. Or just sleep and drink a lot of fluids.

One caveat: I do often recommend – and take myself – EmergenC when sick. I know, I just said vitamin C does not good, why would I recommend a supplement with 1,000 milligrams of it right? Well, for one because it makes me feel better. It has other vitamins besides vitamin C (including B6 and B12), and because it makes me drink more water. I like it because it works for me, even if the Vitamin C isn’t the reason.

Source: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

Image c/o Keith Williamson 

29 Apr / 2015

Last Call for Whole Life Challenge

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From Coach Kari:

I’m so excited you have all signed up for the next WLC. As you know it starts this Saturday May 2nd. If you know anyone else interested in joining our team have them sign up! Nicolette and Micky have agreed to help with the first WOD and measurements this weekend.

You have two choices:
-Saturday at 8:00 am
-Sunday at 9:30 class

If you can’t do either let me know and we can make other arrangements.

The team page is up for comments already and hopefully we can plan some potlucks without snow interference!

See you all soon!

Kari

27 Apr / 2015

Weekend Recap

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What a weekend! This is the sign that greeted our intrepid athletes as they entered the gym on Saturday morning. Coach Pat doesn’t mess around! We had a slightly smaller throwdown crew, but it was a lot of fun!

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Our first workout of the throwdown was “Kelly, Meet Eva,” a devilish combination of two deadly girl WODs. It was pretty awful, but tons of fun.

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The second and third throwdown WODs were a 1/2-Bear Complex ladder (clean, front squat, shoulder-to-overhead), with barbells weighing 55, 75, 95, 115, 135, 155, 185, 205, 225, and 245 pounds. The maximum weight lifted for the day was Coach Mike with a day’s best 235 pounds. Next was an elimination round featuring two minutes of work followed by 30 seconds of rest/score reporting. Our burpee-filled first round had a tie, so we tacked on one extra round.

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In the end, “I’m Dying 2″ won the throwdown with “Franks & Beans” coming in a close second. Rumor has it that if I had been faster by five seconds in the first workout, there would have been a tie. That tie would have been decided by either rope climbs, or, if Angry Beaver had his way, fireman’s carries. In any case, the throwdown was tons of fun and was expertly run by Coach Pat. Thanks, Sunshine!

After the throwdown, a bunch of us went over to S&S for some awesome company and brunch (eventually). Once the brunch crew dissipated, a smaller group decided to stuff ourselves just a little more with ice cream from Christina’s. It was magically delicious!

And because we are just so bad-ass, our day was not yet over, as we still had our spring celebration to go to. We decided to test our fitness with a little salsa dancing, though we realized that salsa dancing is much more funner the more drunker you are. Accordingly, we met up at the Tavern in the Square for some food and drink. Here is a lovely picture of some lovely human females:

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Look how lovely they all look together! I like how Shannon’s pants match Halfpenny’s shirt and the fractals in Cori’s skirt match the flowers… Anyway…

After some awesome salsa-ing, during which our intrepid leader, Neal, hurt his hip, we decided to go check out one of my favorite DJs ever, DJ Kon, and Middlesex. Tolly, Courtney, Linh, Halfpenny, and I ended up dancing our tired legs off until about 1 AM, when we all collapsed outside on the sidewalk. We even ran into Melissa J. there. It was epic. In any case, it was a fun night, even though we were all exhausted.

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And as if the weekend couldn’t get better, we had a surprise drop-in, Dennis, who flew in all the way from Louisiana. He joined us for a fun little WOD, which included weighted pull-ups. Compare and contrast Mark and Josh’s faces with everyone else’s. BLUE STEEL.

In any case, I’ve been exhausted since and it was worth every sore muscle and bruised toe. Our next throwdown will be at the end of July, so get yourself ready!

Peace and bacon grease,

Mickey

24 Apr / 2015

Throwdown!

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Please remember to arrive no later than 9:15 with your judge. Here are the WODs:
10 AM “Kelly, Meet Eva”
3 rounds for time (22 minute cap)
Run 400 meters with a 20# medicine ball, partners must run together
30 box jumps, 24 inches
30 wall ball shots, 20 lb
30 Kettlebell swings, 2 pd
30 pull-ups
10:50 AM Max Lift (14 minute cap)
Bear Complex Ladder
Clean, front squat, STO (squat clean does not count as a front squat)
11:20 AM
Top ten teams advance, in the event that fewer than 10 teams participate, we will eliminate rounds from the top.
AMRAP Every2Minutes Onthe2ndMinute Elimination Round, lowest reps is eliminated.
1. Burpees
2. 135/95 deadlifts
3. Double-unders
4. 135/95 snatch
5. Wall climbs
6. 135/95 OHS
7. Rope climbs
8. Fireman’s carry out and back (each 200m) (no cap, winner takes all the marbles)
Renegade Rowing Club Practice

Renegade Rowing Practice

When performing cleans or snatches in a wod with moderate weight it is possible to touch and go.  In order to touch and go there is a gathering point just above the knee when returning the weight to the floor where athletes lock in their posture and prepare their body for the next repetition.  When rowing on the water many coaches talk about body preparation by half slide to be ready for the catch.  This usually involves thinking about or feeling a gathering point as the bodies swing forward out of the finish so that everyone in the boat can get together and time the catch correctly.  When rowing by yourself on the erg it is possible to slow yourself down on the recovery and gather yourself and your body preparation as you start to slide forward toward the next catch.

Take 5 minutes today to row nice and slow and see where you tend to gather yourself.  Too often competitors or athletes in the gym gather at the finish and dump their weight to the floor.  Instead think about the finish as a continuous movement and put a gathering point just after you swing the body forward and begin your slide.  This will save energy, improve your sequencing, and make everything much smoother.

Since we have a throw down coming up this weekend – and presumably a few more this summer – I thought this old post on what to eat when you’re competing would come in handy. I believe this was posted around the Open last year. Share your competition fueling plan in the comments!

Before The WODs

Before a workout, your body should have a topped off fuel tank. This means you should have enough glycogen (the body’s stored form of carbohydrate) stored as well as some more readily available from food. In general, pre workout meals or snacks should be:

  • Enough energy to prepare you for the workout without leaving you hungry or with undigested food in your stomach
  • Low in fiber and fat
  • Higher in carbohydrates
  • Moderate in protein

Meals low in fat and fiber will allow your stomach to empty in time so you can avoid stomach discomfort. The carbohydrates will top off glycogen stores (which is important, since the body relies on glycogen rather than fat stores for energy during shorter CrossFit WODs), maintain blood sugar levels, and provide energy.  Protein will help you avoid hunger. In addition, it is important to be hydrated before exercise. The recommendation is that athletes drink 2-3 milliliters of water per pound of body weight at least 4 hours before working out to hydrate and get rid of any excess fluid (Rodriguez et al 2009).

After The WODs

Post Workout/Recovery is the most important time, as it is the time when your body reaps the benefits of all the hard work you’ve done. During the workout your body burns through your stored glycogen, you lose fluid to sweating, and muscle tissue is broken down. Recovery is when you can replenish your stored glycogen, replace lost fluid, and rebuild damaged muscles.

We used to think the precise timing of recovery was very important, advising that within one hour of a workout you had to have 30-60 grams of carbohydrate and15-20 grams of protein because this was during the time your metabolism was most active. The consensus was that eating right after the workout improved muscle strength and hypertrophy. However now we know that eating within this window is less important than previously thought (Schoenfeld et al). So, as long as you eat a good, nutrient rich (read: lots of vegetables and fruits) meal with protein and carbohydrates, and maintain an adequate calorie intake throughout the day, you will continue to build strength and fitness.

What To Eat

Try to eat something that not only provides these nutrients but also provides vitamins and minerals. Research has shown that chocolate milk may be a good recovery option because the milk provides calcium and magnesium, two minerals important in muscle contractions, and potassium, which is an important electrolyte lost in sweat. Other good options include a veggie omelet with fried plantain, sweet potato, or wheat toast and grilled steak with roasted vegetables.

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Hey guys,

It’s just a few short days until our next throwdown! Please arrive with your judge no later than 9:15 Saturday morning so everything can move smoothly. So I have the following people listed as teams:

Evan S. & Brian L.
Tolly T. & Cissy Y.
Natalie K. & Nigel C.
Omri L. & Linh N.
Brian W. & Matt E.
Shannon F. & Courtney S.

I know there are two or three more teams that have signed up verbally, but I forget who they are. Just email me at mickeygrrrouse at gmail dot com with who your team mate is and I’ll get it set up. Remember, people who have participated in the past get first priority before the at-large gym community. If you want to participate but need a partner, email me saying you need a partner and we’ll set it up.

Please remember that every team needs to provide its own judge, so if you haven’t done so already, secure that person and reply to this email to let me know who it is. Teams will not be allowed to participate without a judge.

You will be responsible for setting up your station, educating your judge on movement standards, and warming yourself up, so please make sure you (and your judge) arrive no later than 9:15 to get all of this stuff done. We will begin promptly at 10 AM and hope to be done by 12:15 or 12:30. There will be no score updates between rounds, just at the end.

Peace and bacon grease,
Mickey

17 Apr / 2015

FIRE IT UP! PATRIOTS DAY

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FIRE IT UP

Great week of training everyone! Tuesday produced a great amount of PR Bell moments with the Push Press, it even generated a PR Train/Congo Line at the 5:3o pm class! I even got Keith C to participate. Boom! Fire It Up! Fire It Up!

Omri returned from Israel last evening and proceeded to TRIPLE PR in some lifts. He was satisfied and went home to bask in all of his glory. :-)

Let’s keep the PR’s coming today with the front squat. See you in the gym.

PATRIOTS DAY 

Monday is Patriots Day and Marathon Monday. It is a wonderful day and logistically it can be a nightmare to navigate around Boston.

This year we will be open for the morning classes: 6 & 7 AM and then closing for the middle of the day. We will reopen for ONE class in the evenings 5:30pm.

Please mark your calendars.

PROGRAMMING

Sunday 4/19
Conditioning: Team Relay Event
Reps of 9-6-3 for time
Strict handstand push ups
Hang power clean, 160/110
Burpees

ABS: 200 reps

Monday 4/20
Strength: Back Squat
4×8 Straight Sets

ABS: 100 reps All hanging

Tuesday 4/21
Conditioning: Complete for time
Run 600m
Row 800m
Run 1000m
Row 1000m
30 Pull-ups
30 Push-ups

Wednesday 4/22
Conditioning: 3 rounds for time
15 Front rack lunges, 115/75
15 T2B

Strength/Skill:
A. Ring Dips – 3 x max reps
B. Flex Arm Hang – 3 x max time, rest as needed

Thursday 4/23
Strength/Skill:
A. Bench Press – 4×8 Straight sets
B. Band Pull Aparts – 4×24 reps

Conditioning: 600m Sandbag repeats
3 rounds with 2 minutes rest between

Friday 4/24
Strength: Clean 2RM

Conditioning: Reps of 21-15-9 of
Hang squat clean, 95/65
Ring Dips

IMG_3957When’s the last time you went for a row on the water or in the gym?  When’s the last time you warmed up for rowing?  When’s the last time you used Rowing as a warmup for something else?  For many of you rowing is either your main sport or a foundational training tool that you use to get in wicked good shape.  Regardless, anytime you pick up that handle you should be rowing with purpose and taking deliberate strokes.  So how do we develop purpose and deliberate practice?  A good place to start is the Reverse Pic Drill.

Every time I prescribe a rowing warmup I usually kick things off with the Reverse Pic Drill.  It’s a drill that includes 4 progressions:

Reverse Pic Drill:

1. Half Legs – Taking short strokes at the front end using the first 3 inches of the leg drive.

2. Full Legs – Slightly longer strokes pushing the legs all the way down.

3. Legs and Bodies – Longer strokes adding in the swing of the body.

4. Full Strokes – Full length strokes with the arms finishing the stroke.

When done well and with awareness this drill allows us to focus on three important skills with regards to rowing:

1. Posture – The Torso should be stacked and strong in a neutral and braced position at all points in time during the stroke.

2. Control – As the seat slides forward toward the catch it maintains a constant speed and does not accelerate into the catch.  With good control you should be able to stop at any point in time during the stroke and be in a strong position.

3. Connection – The hips and the hands move together into and out of the catch as if connected by a cable.  If the hips move, the hands should move the same distance, no more no less.  If you are connected you can also focus on your shoulders.  The hips, hands, and shoulders all move together in the first three inches of the drive.

I believe that if you can learn to do the Reverse Pic Drill correctly in your warm up, you can and will become a better rower.  The key is how you execute each progression and what you focus on.  Above is a video review of an elite rower I’m working with.  This is what the Reverse Pic Drill looks like in a single on the water. Check out what he’s doing well and what you can start to focus on every time you row.

If you’re interested in getting on the water, I will be organizing a sculling group to row out of Community Rowing Inc. in Brighton every Monday and Wednesday evening from 6:30pm – 8pm.  If you can fit that into your schedule I’d love to get you on the water.  We will be starting in May.  Shoot me an email ([email protected]) now and let me know if you’re interested.  I’ll keep you updated and get you setup to join us.

Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts in the comments!

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I stumbled on an article in Gawker yesterday by syndicated fitness columnist from the Chicago Tribune James Fell that was too funny not to share. It is an excellent rant about dark chocolate that can be applied to any food with a health halo, and with enough swearing to make a CrossFitter happy. But, amusement aside, I also share this because it makes a bunch of great points.

Remind me again, what are health halos?

“Health halos” result when a healthy quality of a food (say, the fact that it is organic) is viewed in such a way that it seems to make any food to which it is applied seem healthier than it is. For example, organic grapes are a great choice – grapes are a healthy source of sugar and fiber and since they have a permeable skin, it’s a good idea to buy them organic (they are on the dirty dozen list). However being “organic” doesn’t make brownies or candy any healthier than non-organic brownies and candy. I’ve often used the paleo example as well – a paleo meal can be healthy, but paleo chocolate truffles not so much.

What does this have to do with dark chocolate?

Dark chocolate is marketed as “healthy” or “healthier” because it has flavonoids, which are linked to lower risk of heart disease. The problem is that you’d have to eat a LOT of dark chocolate to get any risk reducing benefit from those flavonoids. Nonetheless, as Fell’s article notes:

For about a decade, the sales of dark chocolate have soared, regardless of the fact that it tastes like someone melted down a bunch of brown crayons, mixed it with charcoal and then let it solidify into bar form. Why the boost? As a senior VP from Hershey said in 2006 of the 37% spike in sales of their Special Dark, “There are underlying benefits with the consumption of cocoa that give consumers the permission to enjoy chocolate.”

Wait. “Permission to enjoy chocolate”? Just… fuck you.

Exactly. Of course, as Fell says, if you like dark chocolate, go about your business. I tend to recommend it because it is richer than milk chocolate, so you can enjoy a treat without going overboard. Then again, I happen to like but not love dark chocolate so that works for me. As I’ve said often before, what works for one hardly works for everyone.

But if you don’t really like dark chocolate (not even a little bit), and you just eat it because it’s the healthy kind of chocolate (or if you just want to laugh a little), please read his article over at Gawker.

CrossFit knock aside, it’s hilarious and makes great points.

Image c/o Christi


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