15 Aug 2014
Hey! Something that’s been on my mind for some time is best practices for success in your fitness. I have been meaning to put paper to pen but…Here are my TOP 5 best practices to be successful in your fitness. Keep in mind this is not absolute and I make no claims to be a demigod with devout clarity. I am just an aging CrossFit gym owner that loves to sweat and get others in the best shape of their lives.
5. Warm-Up PRE-Mobility – Get the blood flowing before stretching or rolling. This can be a short run/row/bike/jump rope. Mix it up and vary the duration from as little as 5 minutes to as long as 15 minutes depending on what you need for that day. I have gone as far as 20 minutes at really easy pace before mobilizing and hitting a WOD. Of course this will require you to have the ability to show up 10-20 minutes before class. The benefits ARE worth it!
4. Aerobic Base v. Strength Base – If you come from an endurance background or have participated in sports with an endurance base, then you need to prioritize your strength building. For example, someone that played soccer or ran cross country already has a solid CV/CR endurance base and will see the greatest improvement in CrossFit performance by prioritizing strength work.
Just the opposite is true for someone that has a power sport background. Football players, wrestlers, power lifters and weightlifters need to develop a better aerobic base. That means hitting some Long Slow distance work at an easy pace. This is exactly where I fall and I have been spending more and more time on it with great results.
3. Cut the Sugar – I am referring to any added sugar to food products or cooking that you consume on a daily basis. You will be totally surprised at how much sugar is added to make processed food palatable. I am sure Coach Alex can really go deeper on this topic and outline why it is your best interest to limit/avoid sugar consumption.
2. Sleep, Mobility, Stretch – You spend anywhere from 4 to 12 hours a week in the gym. That leaves at a minimum 156 hours where you are not in the gym training. What you do with this time is just as important if not more so than what you do inside. Sleep is crucial and there is research suggesting timing your sleep to follow the (REM/NREM) stages that last approximately 90 minutes each cycle. This research says that the total duration is not as important as being in alignment with the cycle. So if you tend to sleep less, try to get 3/4.5/6 hours of sleep to ensure you wake up feeling refreshed. Try it and see how it works for you.
The human body is meant to move. Our society has become one that is less and less active. This is not good. When you are not training or not sleeping you need to make sure that you incorporate frequent and brief sessions of movement that include some stretching or mobility. Get up from your desk, hit some upward and downward dogs. Stand instead of sitting while you work. Take the stairs. You will feel better and have more energy.
1. Cook for Yourself or Get Custom Fit Meals – You need to know what you are putting into your body. See #3. From watching the Food Network, it is astonishing to me how many recipes call for SUGAR and other ingredients that are not best for you. The only way to control this is to prepare your own foods or order prepared foods from a company such as Custom Fit Meals.
WHAT’S ON TAP/PROGRAMMING
These next two weeks we are going to be working up to 2RM’s in some of the lifts. The next couple cycles of programming is going to have a lot of percentage work based on these numbers. You will need the following: Back squat (8/18), bench press (8/20), deadlift (8/22), shoulder press (8/1), push press (8/9), power clean (8/25), and front squat (7/25). If you didn’t complete the lifts on the prior dates then you may use a recent (1-3 months) 1-3 Rep Max for any of the lifts.
We need everyone to get numbers for these lifts to allow class to move smoothly. The percentage work will begin on 9/3.
1. Complete reps of 15-12-9 for time of
135/95 Squat Snatch
2. Handwalking practice. If you cannot walk on your hands, then practice balancing just off a wall.
Run a Partner 5k (Both run/finish together) (Row is 6k)
then AMRAP 12
5 Deadlift, 205/145
1. Back Squat – 2RM
2. Complete 3 rounds for time
21 Front Squats @ 45% of 2RM
1. EMOM 12 – 2 Snatch TNGo
1-4 – 70%
5-8 – 75%
9-12 – 80%
2. AMRAP 8
15 Box Jumps
1. Bench Press – 2RM
1. EMOM 20
Odd: 5 Push Press
Even: 10 Burpees
2. Complete for time
1. Deadlift – 2RM
Deadlift @ 60% of 2RM
1. Power Clean – 2RM
2. 5 rounds for time
15 Squat clean @ 50% of 2RM
20 Calories on the A/D (12 calories on the rower)
06 Aug 2014
Congrats to all the people that performed the CrossFit Total last week and hit some new PR’s! Lot’s of hard work paying off and it’s awesome to see. Keep up the hard work and let’s keep crushing it as we head into the Fall.
As a coach I hope to continually teach you new things and give you tools to improve yourselves. Over the past week if you’ve been taking the noon class with me you may have experienced a new warmup that improves your mobility and gets you ready to move with the barbell. That warmup is a variation on the morning warmup I learned from The Movement Fix. I’ve been giving it to a number of my private training clients as well and it seems like it really helps everyone loosen up and move a lot smoother.
If you workout in the morning or don’t want to sit around all day getting tight before the evening classes, then you should give the warmup in the video above a try, every morning for the next week. Let me know how it goes. If you’re unclear about some of the movements let me know and I’ll get you fixed up.
If you’d like to see the improvement this makes be sure to test and re-test with a couple of air squats before and after.
Here’s the routine:
10 shoulder rotations
10 prayer stretches
10 crab walk rocks
10 ankle moves
10 hip rotations
10 straight leg raises
10 hip extensions
repeat on other leg
spine 10 cat camels (don’t push the ranges of motion)
30 Jul 2014
The video above is from a leader in backs and biomechanics, Dr. Stuart M. McGill. I first read about Dr. McGill’s work a few years ago and was awakened to it again last month at a movement seminar called The Movement Fix. Are sit-ups or any movement that put’s your lower back through repeated repetitions of extension and flexion really necessary?
Are Sit Ups Bad For Your Back?
Yes, Sit Ups are bad for your back. What? Yes, think of your back, especially your lumbar spine (low back), as a credit card. You can only bend that credit card forward and backward so many times before eventually it snaps. Sit Ups put excessive compressive loading on your spinal discs and can easily lead to disc bulge and disc herniation.
Rowers with no posture or core support end up bending from their lower back rather than pivoting from the hips, which leads to all the horror stories of slipped discs in rowing. This also shows up during any movement that involves a deadlift when athletes aren’t focused on maintaining good posture. In rowing, different coaches may or may not have you reach from the thoracic spine, but a common theme that any coach will agree with is keeping the lumbar region stiff, supported, and protected. The muscles that surround and support the spine are made to brace and resist motion, not create it.
Without core stability it is impossible to transfer the force from your legs to the oar/barbell and move the boat/load at any type of speed. This idea of core stability and the ability to connect your feet to your hands through the core is a skill needed in life and fitness as well. There is no way to do an Olympic Lift like the Clean without having a solid core to work from.
After reflecting on this topic for a couple of years, I’ve decided to eliminate sit ups and other similar movements from my training. Sure I will compete and perform sit ups, but I don’t need them to train day in and day out. I like my back to much. Instead I’ve been playing around with paleo crawls, planks, bird dogs, and curl ups on a regular basis.
If you’d like to chat about this topic or would like to know what I’ve been doing for core stability let me know. I hope this sparks some thought and further questions. Have an awesome end of the week CFB
15 Jul 2014
Hello Folks! I am going to start posting blogs of Yoga/Mobility warm ups and cool downs! I will give y’all some knowledge to give your body some love after kicking your own ass in class! Love/Hate relationship. :)
02 Jun 2014
“The greatest adaptation in CrossFit is of the mind.” -Greg Glassman
CrossFit is so physical. We push our bodies to the limit. Everyday we ask more of ourselves. We hit the WOD, some strength before or after, practice some skills, then mobilize and feed our bodies so we can come back in and do it all over again. This is what CrossFit is between 3-6 days per week.
Read that quote again by CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman. How powerful and true it is. He first made that statement while he was still running the CrossFit Level 1 Seminars around 2004. He and Greg Amundson (CrossFit Amundson, CrossFit Goal Setting, and Santa Cruz Original Firebreather) were observing seminar participants attempt muscle ups. Two males went up for the first attempt ever. Male 1 nailed it. He came down and his buddies were all congratulating him. He responded with humility I knew that I could do it. Meanwhile, Male 2 failed and as his buddies came to offer condolences, he stated that it was ok and that he knew he wouldn’t do it.
You see, you will achieve what you believe. Of course you need to have the appropriate skills and strength. That being a given, your mind will determine the rest.
20 May 2014
The Back Extension (Much too often confused with Hip Extension)
We have programmed the back extension quite frequently as of late due to the arising need to increase the strength of the erectors for each athlete. This movement is often confused with hip extension. Here is a breakdown:
- Set up so that the pelvis is trapped on the pads.
- Without any movement in the hip, extend and flex at the trunk only.
- Range of motion will differ between athletes based on mobility of spine.
The hamstrings and glute muscles are working to isometrically stabilize the pelvis. When you are under a load while trying to lift heavy or to complete as fast as possible, not being able to maintain stability of the midline will result in inefficient movement at best and injury at worst.
If we are trying to isometrically hold the spine then why train a movement that emphasizes trunk flexion and extension? Building up the muscles while developing the “hardware” of the CNS to activate those muscles are going to enhance your ability to keep the spine neutral while under load.
If you are in the gym on a day that there are not back extensions programmed, then hit 2-3 sets in your warm up before class. Try to build up to 25 super strict and slow reps. Before long, your lower back muscles will look and feel like steel cables and be bombproof!
16 May 2014
Boom! It’s another PR Friday and it is time to FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
Get after the deadlift today and rip that sh*t off of the floor. BEAST MODE. WARRIOR MODE. Be sure to post your results to comments here. This blog is going to become the de facto whiteboard for everyone so you can see each other results.
What Are You Training For?
Speaking of posting results…If you have not been getting into Pocket Coach and tracking your daily training then you are not really training. You’re just working out. That is ok if you have nothing to train for but if you are here for one of the following: improve performance, lose weight, gain muscle and strength, or for any other purpose beyond get a sweat; then you have no idea how to follow what is going on if you are not journaling the process on Pocket Coach. Get in there, play around with it and become comfortable with it. Don’t use excuses, hold yourself accountable. Your coach will then check in periodically to provide feedback and guidance.
What’s On Tap
1. Dumbbell Thrusters from 10″ box
15 – 12 – 9 reps AHAP
2. AMRAP 10
Glute-ham raise 7
1. Back Squat – 6, 4, 2
With a partner perform three rounds each for time
Front Rack Hold, 140#/95#
1. For time.
Row 1000 meters @ a 2:00(2:20)/500 meter pace or greater
Sumo deadlift/high pull @ 1/2 body weight X 21 reps
Row 500 meters @ a 1:45(2:05)/500 meter pace or greater
Powerclean (from ground) @1/2 body weight X 21 reps
Row 250 meters @ a 1:30(1:50)/500 meter pace or greater
Front Squat, 1/2 body weight X 21 reps
1. Run 6 minutes out/6 minutes back @ your chosen pace (no measure)
2. 3 RFT
Dips, max reps
Lunge 20 Steps
Push-press max reps @ 1/3 bodyweight
Lunge 20 Steps
HS Push-ups max reps
Lunge 20 Steps
Score is time and post reps for dips/PP/hspu to comments.
1. Run 1 mile
2. Perform 5 rounds, rest as little as possible.
15 Back extensions
15 Knee to elbows
3. For time as heavy as possible:
50 Unbroken Thrusters from 10″ box with dumbbells.
Don’t stop or pause; pump them out.
1. Snatch – 6, 4, 2, 2
2. For time (rest only during transition for the weights, have all weights out already)
15 Squat clean and jerk @ 50% BW
Deadlift @ BW, max reps
15 Squat clean and jerk @ 50% BW
Back squat @ BW max reps
15 Squat clean and jerk @ 50% BW
1. Bench press – 5, 3, 1
perform 30 band pull aparts in between each round.
2. Lunge 50 alternating steps with DB’s @ 1/4, 1/3, or 1/2 bodyweight and no stopping.
3. Push Press – 5,3, 1
perform 30 band pull aparts in between each round.
4. Glute Ham raise – 15, 12, 9
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.
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)
FIRE IT UP! FIRE IT UP!
This is the final week of the 2104 CrossFit Games Open 14.5. What a great workout to finish it off with. Two low skill movements that just require you to have an engine! I love it! I mean I hate it because I am 6’3″ 240 pounds and that is A LOT of mass to move up and down for 84 reps, but hey it is what it is!
Here is some tips and strategy from Barbell Shrugged:
2014 REEBOK CROSSFIT GAMES REGIONALS
It’s still a little early but our very own Carla B is sitting nicely in 34th for the Northeast Region. She has been busting her butt all year and it is paying off for her. This workout plays to her strengths as she can go and go and go! If you see her in the gym today or over the weekend let her know that you are rooting for her to kill it!
We will be setting up a tent at Regionals for members that wish to head down and cheer. We will keep you posted as the date draws near.
This Saturday, tomorrow, beginning at 6pm is our Spring Fling at Daedalus in Harvard Square. The 2014 Transformation Challenge winner will be announced and it will be an opportunity to kick back, celebrate the end of the Open season, and welcome Spring into Boston. Be sure to come on by!
Strength work continues in our programming along with a continued emphasis on strengthening the midline as well. You will notice in this weeks programming there is AB work to be completed on your own outside of the class. Don’t skip it. It is important and it will help you in the WOD and the rest of your training.
PR Friday is back! Each Friday there will either be a benchmark WOD or we will attempt to PR a lift. Get excited and set your hair on fire!
Saturday – 3/29
1. Run 400m x 5
rest 2:00 between efforts
2. 15-12-9 reps for time
Front squat, 185/125
3. Abs – Post class – 3 x 1 minute plank holds with a load on the back
Sunday – 3/30
1. Partner WOD
10 Handstand push ups
20 Pull ups
60 Double Unders
Both Partners must complete the workout in its entirety. Only one person working at a time and you may alternate in any fashion you wish. Neither partner can move on the next movement until both have completed the preceding movement.
2. Post Class ABS – 20 Ball ups (STRICT)
Monday – 3/31
1. Heaving Snatch Balance – work up to a heavy single, then drop to 90% of that weight and perform 6 more sets at that weight.
2. EMOM 12
1 Snatch, 165#/115#
3. POST CLASS ABS – 15 STRICT BACK EXTENSIONS (3-1-3) TEMPO
Tuesday – 4/1
1. Shoulder Press – 3 x 3 – work up to a heavy 3 and perform a total of 3 sets at this weight. Do not drop
2. AMRAP 15
Row 30 calories
20 Push Press, 75/55
20 OH swings, 32kg/24kg
20 Box Jumps, 24″/20″
3. POST CLASS ABS – 3X10 GHD SIT UPS
Wednesday – 4/2
1. “FRAN” – TEST DAY
21-15-9 reps for time of
2a. 100 Hollow Rocks
2b. Dip supports (top & bottom)
Thursday – 4/3
1. Clean – work up to a max double for the day (18 minutes)
2. Handbalancing – 5 minutes to practice walking on your hands
3. 30-20-10 reps for time
Knee to elbows
PR Friday – 4/4
1. Back Squat – 4 x 2, work up to a heavy double (attempt a PR if you have it) and then drop down to 90% of that weight and perform 4 sets of 2 reps at that weight.
2. For time
100 Alternating DB Snatch, 60/40
50 Mountain Climbers
25 AbMat sit ups