Today we’re taking a look at some of our athletes from the noon class at Our Crew Fitness. This is a video review that I put together to help them and you develop your stroke and find new areas to improve upon. I’ll be posting regular video reviews about once a week, usually on Thursdays. If you’d like feedback on your stroke or would like to see me talk about a certain area of the stroke, please let me know in the comments. If you’d like to be featured in the weekly Video Review please send me a 5 stroke video via email to pat@.
Today’s topic relates to how you sit on the erg and how your feet are connected to the erg. Are you balanced on your sit bones or falling off them? How does your point of contact with the seat affect your posture and positioning throughout the stroke? Are your feet connected to the footboards at all times? What part of your foot? These are things to think about and an area where you can make a quick change to see big gains. Let us know what you think and if you have any questions.
Also, if you’d like to join in the fun in person, Renegade Rowing Classes are held throughout the week. Checkout the schedule and pricing here. When you’re ready to get after it and have some fun, sign up for a free consultation with Coach Pat here.
08 Apr / 2015
For those unfamiliar, Food Babe is a consultant turned health/food blogger and public speaker whose mission it is to investigate and uncover “what’s really in our food”. Until this week I don’t think I ever paid her much attention. I knew she had a book out, and I may even have shared a graphic she made about pumpkin spice lattes with some commentary on how they’re not the best thing for your health. I’ve also heard some rumblings in the health professional community about her, mostly along the lines of she’s unqualified and uses fear mongering tactics to spread misinformation. But there’s a lot of people that educate themselves on the internet and pose as experts under the guise of inspiration, recipe sharing, and blogging.
Then I read this article in Gawker, entitled “The ‘Food Babe’ Is Full Of Shit”. It is a robust discrediting by another female blogger with a background in Chemistry and forensic science and toxicology. The health professional in me always trusts science backgrounds over Google prowess, I also appreciate skepticism about our current food system. So, is Food Babe, whether she is full of *%it or not, a good thing or a bad thing?
In Favor of Food Babe: There’s a lot wrong with the way food is produced and consumed in the US. Things banned in Europe are still in our food (seriously, if you can make it without something the Euros think isn’t safe why not just do it that way all the time?), food label claims are often bogus (“all natural” Cheetos anyone?), and there’s little government regulation. A crusader using social pressure to improve our food system should be welcomed.
Food Babe Issues: My issue with her is this: she is very easily discredited, as the article shows. She does use fear mongering tactics, which do no one any good. A lot of people can’t afford organic food, and scaring them into thinking they’re actively murdering their kids by feeding them conventional green beans is a bit too extreme for me. And like I mentioned, she’s easy to discredit. She has written (and removed once her mistakes were called out) articles on how air in airplanes has too much nitrogen (air IS majority nitrogen, a fact she apparently missed) and how your microwave is basically a nuclear reactor. Sometimes journalists don’t fact check (see: Rolling Stone debacle) but someone purporting to have expertise should not make such wildly inaccurate claims.
I also do disagree with her tactics. She takes things wildly out of context, and makes it easy for the industry to fight back and win the public debate in the future. A mad lib of what I predict:
Food Babe: We should all stop eating X Food by Y Big Food Company because it contains (insert chemical approved by the FDA for a certain functionality in food processing) which is also found in/used for (some other scary/non-edible item or use which is totally out of context).
Y Big Food Company: This product has been deemed safe by the FDA and tested by our food science department. These claims are wildly inaccurate and put forth by someone who thinks your microwave is the A-bomb. Who do you trust, SCIENCE or her?
Big Food 1, Food advocates 0.
Here’s the thing: questioning what’s in our food is important. Pressuring food companies to remove unsafe products is important. Voting with our wallets for items like free range eggs, humanely raised meat, and supporting local farmers is all important. But we have to pick our battles and use solid ammunition. Because yes, Subway’s dough thickening agents IS used in yoga mats. But is that what makes Subway a poor food choice? Or is it factory farm meat that is high in sodium, white bread, and the potato chips and cookie that accompany the sandwich? While it may sound weird to say “there’s a yoga mat ingredient in my bread”, I don’t think THAT is what is causing obesity, diabetes, and poor health in America.
I think there’s a good analogy here between Food Babe and Ted Cruz. If you follow politics at all, you know he’s kind of a nuts (or as John McCain would say “a wacko bird”). Now, he may have a good point or two about a few specific areas of policy (I haven’ t dug deep enough to actually verify this, so let’s not make this a political fight). But his “the world is on fire”, no grey area, loud mouthed tactics make his message completely unfounded to most people. And while Food Babe has good (even great) intentions, her delivery and tactics will ultimately be counterproductive to her aims. If we want someone to call out the Food Industry on its faults (and we definitely do), it needs to be someone credible.
What do you guys think?
06 Apr / 2015
Hey guys, after a short hiatus, we’re back on for Afternoon Tea this Sunday at 4 PM. Brian “Angry Beaver” W. will be in charge of programming the session, but we talked about doing a longer WOD like EC followed by a shorter WOD like Grace. Currently, there is only one entry on the EC board, so we’ve all got a chance to get on the board!
Here is another one of the 4/25 throwdown WODs:
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
05 Apr / 2015
A big part of what we try to do is to achieve Virtuosity – performing the common uncommonly well. This is not sexy, per se, but it is paramount to developing truly exceptional fitness. If you watch any of the best athletes competing in any sport, you will see as close to flawless movement as possible.
When mechanics are sound you are more efficient, more powerful. You can better express strength and fitness. These next 8 weeks we are going to pound the basics. We are especially focusing on improving pull-ups (strict then kipping) as well as dips (strict only). Lets review a few principles for each.
- Pull-up Progressions
- Ring Rows
- Strict Pull-ups in a band
- Jumping Pull-ups/Negatives/Flex Arm Hangs
- Strict Pull-ups
- With Load
- Kip Swings
- Kipping Pull-ups
- Dip Progressions
- Bench Dips
- Stationary Dips in a band
- Jumping Dips/Negatives/Dip Supports
- Stationary Dips
- With load
- Ring Dips
- With load
If you cannot perform pull-ups, the best starting point are ring rows. This will begin providing the strength for the shoulder girdle and is a gateway to the vertical pull-up. After you can complete 3 sets of 15 reps with excellent form at around 30 degrees. You can begin working in some strict pull-ups with a band. NEVER should there be any kipping in a band. Choose the lightest band you can complete at least 5 reps with and then build up to being able to complete 10 to 15 reps unbroken before moving to the next lightest band. Continue this sequence until you have moved through all of the bands. By this time you can also begin working in some negatives (jump up and slowly lower yourself down to full arm extension), flex arm hangs, and jumping pull-ups. We will not ask you to perform these in a conditioning WOD because they can cause serious trauma when performed under high volume and for speed.
You are now finally ready to begin performing strict pull-ups. Here is a great article outlining how to keep working on getting more strict pull-ups from CrossFit Virtuosity. Even 4 years later, I have not come across a different version that works as well AND you will see that it has work for getting better at upper body pushing movements (the second focus for these next 8 weeks). Once you can complete 5-10 strict pull-ups without coming off the bar, you can begin adding some external loading to your pull-up. Start light and make small jumps.
Kipping pull-ups are a necessity in what we do because it allows you to do more work in less time. Therefore as soon as you are performing pull-ups with a band for assistance, we will begin teaching you the kip swing. Caution! We don’t want you to begin performing kipping pull-ups until you can perform at least 5 strict pull-ups. This is to ensure you have developed the strength of the shoulder girdle to withstand the force placed upon it by kipping pull-ups.
The progression to performing ring dips mirrors the pull-up progression in a very similar fashion. You can carry over the same rep schemes as you make your way up the ladder to the next progression. Notice there is no mention of utilizing a band once you are beyond the stationary dip? The rings are a dynamic plane and if you cannot stabilize them with your own strength, you have no reason to be on them. Respect the progressions and you will get there.
The DIP progression will end at strict ring dips with the kipping ring dip not being taught. The reason for this is to ensure tension is maintained throughout the entire movement and the shoulder girdle is always stabilized. If you are able to pick up a “kipping” rhythm on your own, so be it.
The number one thing I want to convey here is be patient with the progressions. This isn’t about today, tomorrow, or next month. This is about doing this correctly so that you have a base strength that will stay with you forever and PREVENT injuries to the shoulder rather than contribute to injuries.
Determine where you are presently, drop the ego at the door, and begin working towards the next progression. Don’t place a time frame on this, just come in and put in the work every time you walk through the doors. In no time you will be moving up the ladder.
Conditioning: Complete reps of 21-15-9 for time
Bodyweight Back Squats
Skill/Strength: Abs – accumulate 10 minutes of ab work
Strength: EMOM 12 – 3 Clean and Jerk
continue to add weight as you are able
Conditioning: AMRAP 10
10 Deadlift, 155/100
10 AbMat Sit-ups
Strength: Back Squat 2RM
Perform 7 sets of 2 reps
Conditioning: Row (calories)
Repeat 5 rounds of a 30 calorie row for time
rest 1:00 between efforts
Strength/Skill: Turkish Get-ups
Practice your TGU for 15 minutes. Work up to as heavy of a load as you are able with PERFECT FORM
Conditioning: Complete for time with a 20 minute cap.
30 Snatches, 75/55
30 Snatches, 105/75
30 Snatches, 135/95
15 Snatches, 165/115
A. Strict Pull-ups – 5 x submax reps
B. 5 x Handstand hold for max time or handstand walk for max distance
Conditioning: Complete 4 rounds for time of:
7 Handstand push-ups
30 Unbroken Double Unders
Complete for time in a group of 4:
50 Thrusters, 95/65
10 Rope Climbs
40 Thrusters, 95/65
8 Rope Climbs
30 Thrusters, 95/65
6 Rope Climbs
Work must be divided evenly and only one person may work at a time.
01 Apr / 2015
It sounds like the Navajo Nation has come up with a pretty good idea. Starting April 1, junk food sold on the reservation will be taxed at 2%, in addition to the removal of a 5% sales tax on healthier items like fresh produce. The money garnered from the sales tax will go towards promoting farmer’s markets and local vegetable gardens. An excerpt from Time Magazine:
With nearly half of the Navajo youth population facing unemployment and 38% of the Navajo reservation at the poverty level, supporters say the act may serve as a prototype for sin taxes to curb obesity in low-income communities across the U.S.
You can read the whole article at Time.
The argument over “sin” taxes like junk food and soda have been waged viciously over the past few years, in places like Berkley and San Francisco. In Massachusetts we’ve put a sin tax on alcohol, cigarettes, and now plastic bags but have yet to touch the beverage and food industry. There are good arguments on either side. The pro-tax group claiming it will promote better habits, even out the price gap between healthy and processed foods, and provide money to earmark for obesity research or other prevention programs. The anti-tax groups (notably funded heavily by industry) claim it will have a disproportional burden on lower income communities.
It sounds like despite the potential burden, the Navajo Nation is willing to give it a go anyway. I”ll be interested in how this plays out, and if it can push other communities to do the same.
30 Mar / 2015
30 Mar / 2015
Are You Training OR Are You Just Working Out?
This is much debated on internet forums and in gyms everywhere. I believe that you need to be tracking your workouts (not all of them, I will explain later) or you are just working out and not doing everything you can to create the change you are seeking.
When you wake up and read the WOD posted for that day, 99% of the time you should know exactly what you are going to go for that day, what you did last time, how you are going to improve this time, etc.
There are many ways that you can track your workouts. There are many apps available on smartphones, an old composition book, OR you can use our ZenPlanner Workout Tracker. Lets look at a few of those options.
Apps like SugarWOD and Beyond the Whiteboard are great in that you can upload your workouts into them (customizing as needed) and track your training. The big downside with these is that there is no comparison to our community and our gym’s programming will not already be uploaded.
This old school method is a great way to keep track of everything that you are doing. The downside is the labor required to transfer your personal records from journal to journal each time you fill the journal. I used to use this method extensively, I still have some journals from when I was in high school and college. With books you still have the issue of not having a gym leaderboard and community.
ZenPlanner Performance Tracking
With our ZenPlanner Performance Tracking (ZP PT) the daily programming is already uploaded for you and there is a “Daily” leaderboard and “All-Time” Leaderboard as well. The ZP PT is mobile friendly. The first time that you open this link on your smartphone it will ask you to save it to your Home Screen. Go ahead and do this and now you can: reserve and log in for classes, view the class calendar, enter your results, and view and manage your profile.
If you don’t have a smartphone, you may use the tablets we have at the gym to log in as well or just click on your icon where you signed in for class and record your results there. If you prefer to head home and do it there, then you can of course just follow the link on your laptop or desktop.
What Should You Be Tracking?
This depends on what you are looking to accomplish. I like to track the following: weight, strength and conditioning benchmarks, food when eating something out of the norm, and the daily WODS. I could track rest and mobility as well but I choose not to as it doesn’t really vary for me. I know my routines and only when completely out of them do I write it down.
I track my weight because it is a goal of mine to lean out and achieve a certain weight, therefore I do this every day. If you are working towards something very specific, you need to track it daily. Not to the point of obsessive but just to be aware of it.
The benchmarks are obviously how I know if my fitness is progressing, maintaining, or slipping. Benchmarks are ESSENTIAL to be tracked. You need to know either your 1,3, or 5 rep maxes in all of the lifts and you should know your personal bests in the girl/hero WODS.
I like to record my daily results whether a benchmark or not because it keeps me in the habit of recording and I will put more comments in regarding my strategy or areas that struggled with so I know what to do if something similar pops up.
As a minimum, you should be tracking your benchmarks. This will make things easier and keep your head in the game. For some, this will be enough. Those that struggle with eating well, daily journaling of what you eat, when you eat it, how you feel after eating it will go a long way to correcting poor eating habits. I use this quite extensively with my clients. Then there are those like myself that need to track something daily to stay in the habit of doing so.
27 Mar / 2015
It is the last Fire It Up Friday of March and this incessant rain is melting away remnants of what was the WORST winter in my memories. For that I am grateful!
Today we have a classic Girl WOD with “Diane” in classes. 45 reps of 225# deadlifts and handstand push-ups! Here is a little strategy on how to approach this wonderful little gem. The deadlift load is a light/moderate weight. Choose the correct weight for this if 225# is on the heavier side, or you will miss the training effect. The reps should be able to be completed unbroken or one break within the sets. If you are dropping the bar each time from waist height, you have too much loaded. Keep a steady pace so that you can actually breathe. (Think breathing similar to what we teach when performing wallballs).
The Handstand push-ups are going to be where you will struggle unless you can perform 21 unbroken handstand push-ups. You want to have a plan going in as to how many clusters you will need to break the volume into. For example, if you 10 reps of HSPU are the most you have ever completed unbroken, then you should aim for 6/5/4/3/2 to complete the set of 21. You will probably need to reduce that down on the set of 15 to something like 4/3/3/3/2 and finally the set of 9 to 3/3/3. The most important thing is to not go to failure on any particular cluster. The primary muscle groups of the HSPU are small and when they are depleted well…
Good luck and FIRE IT UP!
Beginning next week, on Mondays and Thursdays the Strength Club will be rolled into the 4:30pm class. Attendees should be prepared for 75-90 minutes of training as opposed to the normal 60 minutes.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays will continue to be CrossFit classes.
“OPT Repeatability Test”
3 rounds, at 100% effort:
10 Kettlebell Swings 70/53lbs
10 Kettlebell Swings 70/53lbs
10 Kettlebell Swings 70/53lbs
Rest 12 minutes between rounds.
Complete three rounds for time of:
40/30 pound Dumbbell snatch, 21 reps, right arm
21 L Pull-ups
40/30 pound Dumbbell snatch, 21 reps, left arm
21 L Pull-ups
Post time to comments.
These are squat not power snatches.
Front squat 3-3-3-3-3 reps
Post loads to comments.
Max calories in 10 minutes on the Airdyne or on the erg.
Test: Max Strict Pull-ups
Test: Max Kipping Pull-ups
Conditioning: 5 RFT
15 Unbroken Wallball Shots, 20/14
15 Unbroken Double Unders
Strength/Skill: Ring Dips 5-5-5-5-5
Conditioning: Complete 3 rounds for max distance
Row 4 minutes
rest 3 minutes between sets
Conditioning: AMRAP 20
1 Rope Climb
then perform 3 rounds of:
5 Power Snatch, 75/55
7 OH Squats, 75/55
Strength/Skill: Strict Pull-up Ladder
4 sets building up to 6 reps (work in groups of 3-5 people resting only as your squad performs their reps)
Strength/Skill: Push-up Ladder
4 sets beginning with 5 reps building up to 10 reps (work in groups of 3-5 people resting only as your squad performs their reps)
Conditioning: Tabata Squats
25 Mar / 2015
Typically, I don’t endorse fast food. It’s generally of poor quality, low in nutrients and high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. But sometimes you just have to eat and the only options are quick serve joints such as these. When I get stuck, there are my top go-to options. Remember that none of these are nutritionally ideal – most are still pretty high in sodium and can involve processed ingredients. But eating fast food isn’t about ideal nutrition, it’s about doing the best with what you have where you are.
1. The Burrito Salad
You can actually get this at a number of places – Chipotle and BoLoco for starters – which is why no restaurant name is included. Choose the salad option and top with vegetables, meat of your choosing (preferably grass fed/free range if offered), salsa, guacamole, and beans if you eat them. This will run you in the range of 400-600 calories and provide a filling lunch. The typical chicken salad at Chipotle will also provide 110% of your daily vitamin A, 94% of your daily vitamin C, and 23% of your daily iron needs.
2. The Jimmy John’s “Unwich”
The unwich is any of your Jimmy John’s favorites without the bread. My go to, the Beach Club, is 310 calories, 29 grams of protein, and 8 grams of carbs without mayo. If you remove the provolone too, you’re at 90 calories (in which case you should add something else or order it with half a slice of bread). Either way, you can also add an apple, banana, or yogurt from a nearby convenience store.
3. Sweet Green “Hummus Tahina” Salad or “Harvest Bowl”
While you cannot always assume that salad is the healthiest option (take most of McDonald’s salads), in this case they’re better than what you’ll find elsewhere. And there are now several Sweet Greens (or similar such places) in downtown Boston. My favorite is the mediterranean inspired Hummus Tahina salad (610 calories, not sure who much carbohydrate but with hummus, pita chips, and falafel in there, I would guess about 60 grams. Of course you can always ask those items to be disclosed or on the side) or the Harvest Bowl (685 calories). While neither of these is on the lower calorie side, quality makes up for it, and you can always save some for later (or share – Patrick is usually hungry enough to help me out when I can’t finish something).
4. Starbucks Bistro Boxes
Starbucks is my last ditch choice, but it usually works considering there’s almost one on every corner. Ranging from 270-480 calories, the bistro boxes are balanced and generally filling. The fruit and cheese one is generally my favorite, although all three get my relative thumbs up. As a bonus, they’re lower in sodium than the above options, with my favorite and the Protein Box ringing in at 470 mg (the Chicken and Hummus one is 580 mg). If you’re still hungry, Starbucks has a few other things you can pair these boxes with like bananas, Kind Bars (again, not ideal but not terrible), popcorn, or nuts.
Side note: should you stumble upon a Chik-Fil-A, I recommend you simply enjoy your breaded chicken sandwich or nuggets and waffle fries. You can eat vegetables later
What are your go to fast food meals?