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Motivation.  If you really want to see great strides in your fitness and abilities, it’s no longer enough to know whether or not you are actually motivated.  We need to start digging into how we are motivated.

Let me explain:

There is a ton of research out there that I won’t bore you with that basically says motivation exists on sliding scale with amotivation – the complete lack of motivation on the far left, and intrinsic motivation on the far right.

Amotivation, we try not to concern ourselves with, you can lead a horse to water and all that.  Immediately to the right of amotivation though, is external motivation. It’s the scale between external and intrinsic motivation I am going to focus on.

When I was a kid, my dad used to say, ‘if you don’t clean your room, you will get punished (read ‘spanking’)’.  So, I would go up to my room, pull out a snow shovel and clear a path from the door to my bed. The room was now ‘clean’, in a manner of speaking.  

I did the least possible work to avoid a punishment.  I was externally motivated to perform a task. I didn’t want to do it; I certainly didn’t go above and beyond what I was willing to do to avoid said punishment.  The idea to clean the room was not my own, and I definitely didn’t enjoy doing it. My motivation was entirely external.

Several years later, I was a proud member of the United States Marine Corps, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and I got my first station; MCBH Kaneohe Bay, HI.  Apparently, the Marines had a pretty high standard for the cleanliness of barracks rooms and those that occupied them.

There is some external motivation involved in the form of push-ups and extra duties if the barracks wasn’t kept as the platoon sergeant thought it should be.  But, since I was one of three in a single room, there was also a sense of accountability. If I screwed up, all three of us got punished. If I screwed up, I would be letting my fellow marines down.  I would feel bad, and internally punish myself. I would call myself all kinds of names in my head and stress about how my fellow marines would view me as a result of my unreliability.

So, I cleaned the room and took care to make sure it was properly completed every day.  I was experiencing Introjected Regulation; I was participating in a task I don’t enjoy to avoid an internal punishment.  Strangely, once I started carrying out my share of the clean-up chores, I started to internally reward myself and feel good about what I was doing. I became even more diligent in these mundane tasks, that I still didn’t enjoy, to experience an internal reward!  Motivation works both ways.

After the Marine Corps I move to SoCal and moved into an apartment with two friends in Newport Beach, CA right across PCH from the ocean.  I immediately started living the party lifestyle while I attended community college. I still didn’t enjoy the task of cleaning my room, however, I noticed that California girls appreciated a clean and well-organized room.  

So, what do you think I did?  Damn right! I spent half an hour a day just making sure that room was spic-n-span!  Seeing the long-term benefits of having a clean room encouraged me to engage in an otherwise unpleasant activity.  I had just learned about Identified Regulation, long term benefits shaped my choice to engage in an otherwise unpleasant activity.  

Five years later, I was back in Hawaii serving as a police officer with the Honolulu Police Department. I had a lovely one-bedroom apartment in downtown Honolulu, right across the street from Aloha Tower and within walking distance of all the great sushi spots and attractions of Chinatown.  

This was the first apartment that was truly my own and I loved living the bachelor life.  I worked hard and I diligently paid my rent. I was still no great fan of cleaning, I would put it off as much as possible throughout the week, but I’d grown up a bit over the previous few years and I knew I needed to start living like an adult should.  Besides, this was my space, I wanted to take pride in it and enjoy it.

That meant you clean your space.  You put away the clothes after the wash, you clean the bathroom before the mold starts to grow – not after it takes over, clean your fridge and run the damn vacuum once a week.  This is called Integrated Regulation; coherence of the activity with your self-values shape the choice to engage in the unpleasant activity.  I was cleaning because the value to me of having my own space that I could enjoy required it.

Many moons later, I have another little apartment, this time in downtown Gainesville.  It’s not much, 500 square feet and could be described as spartan. I love it. It’s just what I need with nothing I don’t.  I keep my place very clean and extremely well organized. The difference is, now I clean the apartment almost daily because I love to clean!!  I love seeing a sparkly and shiny apartment when I come home from classes or work. I enjoy walking in and not seeing clothes piled up on the bed or dishes still in the sink.  

Cleaning is therapeutic and fun for me now.  Even if I just cleaned the bathroom yesterday, I’ll probably give the shower a wipe down after I use it today.  As an added bonus, I get to enjoy my space all the more because I’ve put so much work into it. I take pride in what I’ve accomplished with a 3M pad and some 409, and it makes me want to continue keeping this space as clean as possible.  I’ve finally made the breakthrough into Intrinsic Motivation when it comes to cleaning.

Intrinsic Motivation is the gold standard in sport psychology.  Everything we do to help athletes is to help funnel them into a state of intrinsic motivation with regards to their craft.  

I am never going to the CrossFit Games as an athlete.  I know that and I’m fine with it…mostly. But I will never stop pushing myself every day in the gym. Why?  Because I want to look sexy as fuck by graduation? Partially. But I also just love working out. I love and crave the feeling after a good session with the barbell.  I never want to stop feeling just a little bit sore the next day after a particularly hard METCON. I get off on seeing how hard I can push myself in the middle of a WOD.  Did I push further then yesterday?

I never liked cleaning my room when I was younger, but I always did it for a variety of reasons and motivations.  It’s okay if you don’t love working out or going to the gym every day. It’s okay if you’re doing it for external reasons, or reasons other than love of the process.  Just keep it up, see the results, see the long-term benefits, feel good about your accomplishments and one day, probably sooner than you think, you will cross that threshold into intrinsic motivation when it comes to fitness.  

Coach Dave

Preparing for Birth

 

Written by Isabelle Ramirez

 

Consider birth an athletic event.

 

It’s like a marathon, requiring mental and physical endurance. You wouldn’t go run a marathon without training would you? Hopefully not.

 

I approached my training for birth like I approached my training in CrossFit. I am 100% convinced that ‘training’ and not just staying active helped me have an almost symptom free pregnancy, birth and recovery.

 

Let’s talk about the difference between the terms “training” and “staying active”.

 

Training would be an intentional, consistent and thought out plan with an end goal in mind.

 

Staying active is invaluable. It’s taking the stairs when there is an elevator available or taking your kids for a walk on the weekend instead of sitting in front of the TV. We all benefit from both.

 

I prefer a training plan to help me train AND stay active. I found BirthFit during my first pregnancy when I was looking for resources for the pregnant athlete. I followed their program during pregnancy and when I decided to begin to workout again.

 

It helped prepare me for the biggest and most challenging workout I will ever do. Even bigger than Murph. (Murph – for reference, is a very difficult workout designed and performed by Navy Seal Mike Murphy)

 

Below are few take-aways from my training journey

 

  1. Give yourself some grace. If you were a stellar athlete before, good for you! You may be able to continue with some movements, or you may not be able to keep up with your past self. Eventually most movements and weights will need to be scaled and modified to fit your new body or any symptoms you may have. Sometimes you will feel great, workout on those days. Some days you will feel like you can’t even manage to drive to the gym, that’s ok too. It will all even itself out in the end. Stressing out about staying in peak shape won’t do anyone any good. Workout when you feel great, don’t feel bad when you can’t.
  2. You CAN squat below parallel (BUT, only if it feels good) The squat is a primal, functional, transferable skill. Some women birth their babies in the squatting position. Keep in mind though – Birth or labor should not be the first time in 9 months that a woman is in the deep squat position.
  3. You CAN still lift. I had a bunch of people tell me not to lift weights or carry my own groceries. If there are no medical conditions preventing you from lifting and you were lifting before you got pregnant, then continue. We’re training for birth, not shying away from it.
  4. Pregnancy is not an excuse to go wild on some cravings. Use this opportunity to fuel your body with what it needs to create your greatest accomplishment. Talk to your healthcare provider about foods to reduce or add to your diet and a multivitamin that works for you. If you’re trending down a path with less than ideal choices, remember point one from above and move on. Food doesn’t make you a bad person. Start fresh with your next meal.
  5. It’s alright to modify. This goes for movements, whole workouts and schedules in general. Step back and realize that the ‘Rx’ doesn’t matter (RX for reference is doing the workout as written, as designed, as prescribed – or as RX’d). The Rx is the Rx only because your head coach deemed it so for your gym population. This one goes back to intention. It’s easy to get swept up in the hype of a big group class and remember how you once performed. Due to hormones in your body, you may not react to a very heavy weight the same way when you weren’t pregnant. This is not safe. Modify movements with abdominal flexion as your baby grows to avoid core dysfunction and replace them with a movement that offers more stability. Your baby and belly will thank you.
  6. Stay off of Instagram. Easier said than done in this brave new world of social media. Social media can be amazing and offer connections to things we would have never found years ago. It can also create expectations that are not set in reality. I’ve scrolled through instagram and found beautiful pregnant momma’s working out and showing off their tiny little bellies. Good for them! It was not good for me though when I started comparing myself and my body to what they were doing or at least looked like they were doing. Comparison is ugly. Do your best to get out of that loop when you notice you’re heading down that path. One woman may be able to run a 5k at 7th months pregnant, another one may need to stop running during their first trimester. Every woman and each pregnancy is unique. So are you.

 

All of these things helped me feel better prepared for the birth of my daughter and later on my son. Each pregnancy and postpartum recovery has been different and challenging in its own way. Don’t let birth -and the toughness it requires, go unprepared for.

 

Women were made for this. You can do it.

 

There are multiple resources available online for the pregnant and postpartum athlete. Do some research yourself and ask your coach to look into safe modifications and consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions concerning training.

 

Isabelle Ramirez is a CF-L1, USAW-L1 and BirthFit coach at CrossFit Iron Legion in Ocala, Florida. She has 2 little ones and loves heavy squat cleans.

The Dreaded Butt Wink: Good, or Bad? I’d rather not take my chances and find out later.

Butt Wink? The heck is that?

It’s a moment in the bottom of the squat – just south of parallel, that the persons pelvis begins to rotate backward and slip under the body.

Here is a question I received from a fellow coach this week regarding the Butt Wink, and squatting. The response is not overly Scientific, but may give you some sound logical insight to this phenomenon and why it should be avoided, when possible.

For reference, I am answering under the understanding that this athlete has plans to be a weightlifter.

Question:

Hey broski I want to get your opinion on the dreaded “butt wink”. I have an athlete that is built like a weightlifter and has awesome squat mechanics but I noticed she has a major butt wink. I have been having her squat to a box to try and prevent the wink, but it is significantly higher than her traditional squat. She says she is losing a lot of strength when she does not reach her previous depth. So my problem is I’m not sure what to tell her”.

I have heard the butt wink is ok and I have heard it is terrible and should not be allowed. I also understand it can be related to hip socket depth as well, so there is no stretch in the world that will fix it. Have you dealt with this problem before? If so how did u tackle it? I’m wondering if I should tear down and rebuild her squat, or just leave it be as she is not experiencing any issues from it (yet). Thanks in advance man hope all is well.

Answer:

I would really have to see her Squat to answer that definitively. If you have a video, or can get one; I’d be happy to check it out.

I try to keep my lifters from letting that happen as much as possible. As Weightlifters, we tend to take plenty of shearing force in the spine at sub-maximal loads when we perform the Snatch and Clean and Jerk.

That said, I like to think of Squats as the opportunity to build tissue and strength through the best Range of Motion (R.O.M) available to the lifter at the time.

When you’re missing R.O.M and speed, in the Squat; those can be built up with lighter jumping exercises at the end of a training session. This should help promote flexibility through dynamic action as well. High Box Jumps, Box Jumps w/ 2 boxes on either side of the feet(for foot speed and landing low), Broad Jumps, Frog Jumps, etc. and Lunges , of some sorts, post lifting.

If it’s structural, then I think you go with what’s safe for the lifter. Even it means keeping them from doing full depth on Cleans, Snatch, Squat, Etc.

Usually shorter Range of motion squatting, with complete control of the speed of movement – is a great remedy. You can see where the problem begins and stay above it. Over a few reps, you may even notice it get better, especially if it’s due to overly tight Hip Flexors and Quads.

And don’t forget – This could also be due to a lack of coordination, as the muscles translate tension to each other; mainly if you have a newer lifter. The nervous system hasn’t quite gotten use to talking with all that muscle at once, so it’s trying to interpret the data as you move. A muscle imbalance could also cause this.

Ask her if she wears heels a lot? (because ankle ROM can be the culprit)

Obviously, we can get way more in depth with the answer; I just wanted to offer sound logic when thinking about the safety of your lifter. Remember, your athletes trust you. I also have my own theory on how a Butt wink is more indicative of weak back extensor and glute muscles, as opposed to tight hamstrings. More Back and Hip Extensions during warm-ups may help get this lifter moving in the right direction.

I hope this helps you in your coaching endeavors in regards to the Butt Wink Question. And to you athletes who made it this far – feel free to apply or discuss these methods with your coach.

Here’s to moving safer and more efficiently!

Cheers!

-Coach Jason

New world? Strong statement I suppose. Make no mistake – those of us involved in building a strength culture are 100% working to create a new world.

 

Stronger Moms = stronger babies. Setting an example right from the start is HUGE. Our community at Iron Legion has some of the most impressive examples of Moms. Moms that have literally decided that THEY are the best example for their children.

 

It’s a running joke at Iron Legion to not drink the water. It’s pretty likely you’ll get pregnant. And let me tell you – we have seen a LOT of babies get their start right here. A LOT.

 

Is it in the water? Nah. But I will say it’s 100% attributed to our community – a community that holds itself to a higher standard. We all want to be the best versions of ourselves for our families – we do that through accountability, nutrition, mindset and great workouts. Healthier, stronger people and families are created as a result.

 

I’ve believed in Moms training to full term, always. I believe that the human body is literally designed to handle WAY more than our current modern society thinks it is. Coolest part is that I get to see it first hand with our Moms.

 

I’ve seen both sides.

 

Moms that immediately stop training a few months into pregnancy – a choice that is theirs and one that I have no business in.

 

But –

 

I have also watched Moms continue to train in some way shape or form for the full term of their pregnancy. And the ones that do – are able to get right back at it sooner.

 

It goes without saying they are happier, healthier and stronger.

 

In all my support of this during the years, I want to tell you about a flaw in myself that I corrected.

 

A couple years back we had a coach give birth. She was one of the ones who trained straight through. I loved her dedication to her training and our community. Still do.

 

She had her baby – and wanted to get right back at it. She would wear her baby in a sling and want to coach.

 

I confess I’m a bit of a knuckle dragger at times. I got this thought that maybe it wasn’t the best “look” to have her coaching on the floor with a baby. I thought it might hurt our “strong” image. I was uncomfortable with it and thought about minimizing her time on the floor.

 

What I was thinking was silly. Stupid. And 100% against what we are all about.

 

I stood behind strong Moms 100%, yet I had an issue with it when they wanted to continue their work, their passion – with their kid? I had an issue with me that I had to deal with.

 

Let me clarify – I’m not talking about someone just wanting to bring their kid to work. I’m talking about someone who was working HARD and making her new situation work any way she could. This person was still finding ways to bring value even though her circumstances had changed so dramatically.

 

And you know what else she was doing?

 

Setting an example of what a strong Mom can look like. Setting an example by staying the course and following her dreams – even with a life changing event!

 

Strong? You bet your ass. It’s the equivalent of carrying a baby to term on a battlefield, having that baby in battle, and then continuing to press on.

 

That motivation and desire to continue forward even though her life had changed so dramatically was, and still is – a very endearing quality. I noticed that our community at Iron Legion didn’t shy away from it. They RECOGNIZED it as the strength it was.

 

I have too. There is simply nothing more badass than a Mom that stands for something. A Mom that leads by example and does whatever it takes to continue to better themselves and their family.

 

I’m glad I had that opportunity to change and grow. I believe our community at Iron Legion is better for it as well.

 

I’m proud to announce we are currently watching a few more Moms pushing back against the status quo and training to full term, and new Moms returning to training and taking charge after their pregnancies. I’m proud of each and every one of them and want to take a minute to thank them for setting a new example for our future generations.

 

We are establishing a new strength culture here at Iron Legion. Our Moms are on the front lines and the first example of strength that a child sees. Want to change the world? Start with yourself. We got your back.

Speed and Strength of course:

Most of us begin our CrossFit journey with an idea of losing some body fat, gaining some muscle, and improving our metabolic conditioning. Getting strong just happens to be one of the side effects of being CrossFit- not necessarily the primary goal. As time carries on, confidence begins to grow. Our original goals are met and we start looking at increasing skill/strength levels.

Barbell movements tend to become a big favorite; especially as we start noticing the higher skill gymnastic movements, like Muscle-ups, Handstand Pushups, and Pistols, might take a bit longer to perfect.

Because of this, some of us might think “well, I guess I’ll just get as strong as possible in the meantime” and so you start searching for maximal strength on the Barbell lifts: the Deadlift, Press, and Squat. This slowly turns into athletes attempting maximal, or near maximal loads, on a weekly basis. This can be detrimental to the Olympic Lifts.

Here is a very cool spreadsheet highlighting your strengths and weaknesses on some of the more complex movements that require speed, like Snatch, Clean, and Jerk:

http://www.waxmansgym.com/calculator/

Some of you… most of you, may have noticed that the spreadsheet pointed out a glaring weakness in Speed movements versus the basic strength movements. If this is the case, then the data is suggesting that you are either:

  1. A) Going too heavy, too often- which is causing your nervous system to be over taxed. This also causes normal muscle sequencing patterns to go awry, which ultimately means you aren’t moving correctly (we’ll say “efficiently” for you CF’ers who LOVE that word). This is why Deadlifting heavy doesn’t necessarily translate to a good (read: safe) Power Clean.

(NOTE: this is usually a problem for more experienced CF’ers)

  1. B) Lacking Technical Proficiency- which is why positions feel “weird” or “painful”. Practicing just Snatch and Clean doesn’t guarantee you will see your greatest potential.

(NOTE: this is more of an issue with beginners, but can also result from lifting TOO heavy)

Both are relatively easy fixes, but both also require discipline….and TIME!

If example A is your problem, try focusing on movement integrity over maximal exertion. Instead of adding weight or getting near maximal loads, see if you can move faster with moderate weights while maintaining the integrity of the exercise. Try coming up faster from your squats, pulling faster on your deadlifts, and pressing the weight overhead with more SPEED.

If example B is your problem, try introducing some new movement patterns that mimic the exercise you need more proficiency at. Sometimes this means going slower and heavier, through a shorter range of motion.

I’ll use the second pull of the Snatch and Clean as an example. If your knees keep caving in during the pull of either movement, then it means your body has not figured out how to connect to the muscle properly at the speed you are demanding. I would suggest getting involved with heavier (90-105%) percentages of your Snatch, but only work the 2nd pull. Again, focus on movement integrity and remember SPEED is the last requirement here. Balance and Positioning are the most important.

Safety Tip: Please refrain from asking other members for advice. Although they are helpful, an experienced coach will give you a much better analysis. A great athlete hack is to video yourself and find some time to sit with a coach and go over your work. By all means use your friends to help you video your work, but ultimately – if you want to get better, engage your coaches for feedback. That’s what we are here for!

The Olympic Lifts (Snatch and Clean and Jerk) are the backbone of functional movement. Time spent learning the complexities of these two lifts will pay HUGE dividends in your training and performance – whether you are pursuing CrossFit or general fitness.

Grab a video camera or better yet, set up some training time with a coach. Your body will thank you for it!

See you in the gym!

  • Coach Jason Philyaw

WARNING: Cocaine (Stimulants) and Exercise don’t mix well

“Supplementing your supplements”

2 years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman named…oh, let’s call him Tim! Tim was an Airline pilot. He traveled all over the world flying private and commercial flights, enjoying elaborate parties with some high end clients now and then. One afternoon(4p.m.) Tim got involved with a pretty nasty workout involving Thrusters, Burpees, and Toes-To-Bar; immediately after he had arrived from a prior flight around 10 that morning.

The volume was pretty high, but not uncommon for his level of fitness.

He pushed through the workout; squeezing out every rep he could. He was walking around and talking normally right after the workout ended, but obviously taxed from the training and showing no real signs of overtraining. After being at home for several hours, he started developing severe cramping, his urine was the color of Coca-Cola, and he was feverish. Tim was experiencing the onset of Rhabdomyolysis.

3 weeks later he came walking back in to the gym for his next workout. Because I saw him so infrequently, I waddled on over and asked how life had been; flying, exercise, the ladies..you know, normal gym talk. 🙂 Tim proceeded to tell me about his 7 day stint in the hospital recovering from Rhabdomyolysis. I was shocked that he had not mentioned it before, seeing as our training staff at the time may have been able to at least come visit him at the hospital. After all, we did this….right? Our irresponsible programming almost killed this guy…right? WRONG!!

Tim neglected to disclose that he had been involved in an “epic party sesh” with some clients. His drug of choice; Cocaine, and not a small amount!

The reason he didn’t tell us about the case is because, and I quote: ” I was stupid and did not realize the implications that such actions would have. It was completely my fault, as I chose not to tell anyone about the use, in fear of judgement.” How modest.

That was two years ago, but important. As a fitness professional, part of our job is to keep you safe. As a student/client/athlete part your job is to inform your trainer of anything that could be affecting performance; even drug use. It’s tough to talk about, but we need to know everything you are taking…EVERYTHING. Even if you don’t like disclosing that information, it could keep you from DYING ONE DAY!! Seriously….

Because this topic was brought up the other morning, I figured I would post this warning about stimulant (not over the counter) use and exercise.

“Cathinone use can also cause rhabdomyolysis, which is a melting of the muscle tissue and the release of muscle fibers into the blood stream. This can lead to kidney failure and result in a user needing permanent dialysis.”

(That’s without adding exercise!)

If you did not study chemistry…..do not try and practice it on yourself; especially during an intense exercise routine. Some of you guys and gals are starting to get deep down the Rabbit Hole in exercise supplementation and it’s looking scary.

Most of you have some sort of pre-workout supplement that has about 30 different chemical names on the back; 3 of which you can identify. That’s a problem! What is the other stuff in their doing?

For one, it could be actually hindering your progress. Especially if you are not eating properly to facilitate the necessary recovery of certain chemicals in the body. Your kidneys might be wasting precious time filtering out a bunch of garbage that you do not need to take. You may also be sprinting down the road to overtraining. Not overtraining from too much exercise, but depletion of proper nutrients. Remember overtraining encompasses several factors; Nutrition, whether it’s too much or too little; sleep; and daily activity(read exercise).

It is crucial that we have a better understanding about what’s going on with our body, and how to exercise and eat properly.

Take supplementation seriously – talk to a coach about what you are using. Not a “sales guy” at the McVitamin store.

Be smart about what you put in your body.

  • Coach Jason Philyaw

CrossFit and Intensity – When and How to Scale Properly

Whether you are new to the CrossFit or general fitness scene – or an OG athlete, there will be times when scaling a workout may be the right thing to do in the pursuit of your goals.

Here is a great way to “scale” your work for success!

Regulating your Volume and Intensity:

On Volume:

As beginners we all tend to be very mindful of coaching, and listen to every minute detail regarding each exercise that is placed before us on a daily basis. We try and soak up every bit of information on proper technique, breathing correctly, and mobility issues that may be hindering us from correct movement.

 

Congrats to those of you who fit in this category, you will lift safely for a long time; but you may never get as far as you could by LOGGING your workouts down on paper -or even an app.

 

Proper logging requires that you note warm-up sets and reps; weight you used; belts or strap usage on a movement; nutrition for that day; perhaps even logging the mood you were in, or even the song you played(I know..lame), during your workout.

 

This doesn’t mean for Olympic lifting Classes only, but for your Crossfit Workouts as well. It’s an easy way to determine if you should go for that “100 pull-up” workout or not; you know, the one that has everyone walking like a T-rex for a few days…

 

Example:

Workout: 100 Pull ups

100 Push ups

100 Situps

100 Air squats

 

If you’re logging properly, and this workout shows up on your whiteboard, it might be a good idea to take a glance back and see what your last pull up intensive workout was. If you look back and see that you have only ever completed 50 pull ups in a workout…EVER, then most trainers might recommend that you try and go for 60 reps; hell lets even say 75 reps, just to push it a bit.

 

This can keep you from an potential overuse injury, that can set your training back by weeks, if not months. Don’t even THINK of scaling to 100 reps of Rack Rows, because the issue is still the same; total overall volume of the workout. Even 100 Rack rows might get you those nasty, sticky, bicep and forearms; especially when coupled with 100 push ups.

 

For weightlifting, it’s no different. You can log your total Volume during a workout and see how many pounds you’ve actually managed to move around in a given training session. This is a great way to regulate intensity, especially while training sick, or nursing an acute injury.

 

If a workout required you to squat for 4 reps x 4 sets @ “X” weight, but you’re feeling great; you may not need to add anymore weight, but maybe just another set…heck, maybe just a set of 2 extra reps. Thereby increasing Volume.

 

It’s the little battles that help you win the War. You don’t need to add 30 pounds and go for 4 more reps, just enough to stimulate the body so there is no accommodation. This also means Volume can be increased by heavier warm-up sets. It’s a small change, but it’s still a change.

 

This should be especially important to you Crossfit Individuals, as most people tend to cater their warmup with higher skill movements, and push the volume up that way. This way their WODs can stay regulated, and more focused on weaknesses, or strengths.

 

Example:

“General CF Warmup”

400m Run or 500m Row

30s x Samson Stretch

10 x Air Squats

10 x Pull ups

10 x Situps

10 x Push ups

 

Could be:

 

“Skill Transfer Warmup”

400m Run

5/leg x Overhead Walking Lunge w/ Plate (45/25)

10 x C2B Pull Ups

10 x Russian KB Swings (70/53)

10 x Wall Balls(30/20)

10 x GHD Situps

10 x GHD Hip ext.

 

This is a very general idea, but you could always seek the advice of a coach to help you fine tune your warmup. They don’t have to have as many reps as your previous warmup progression, because you are adding difficulty.

 

Some athletes love bringing up weaknesses through their warm-ups. Muscle Ups, Strict Pull ups, and Strict Toe-2-Bar; are examples of Skill movements that could be thrown in to your warm-up, to help increase strength before you start kipping around like a monkey having a seizure. Websites like Gymnasticswod.com have great strength progressions that could act as a warm-up before your WOD’s. Obviously, you want to consult a coach first.

 

On Intensity:

Sometimes you can walk into the gym feeling amazing, with no real pain or stiffness to speak of, and a full 8 hours of beauty sleep under your belt. Unfortunately, even that will not be enough to FULLY recover from a previous days training; say after a 1RM for instance.

 

There are several ways you can check yourself, before you wreck yourself – I really love the Vertical Jump test, after a warm up, to see how the central nervous system is firing. Find a “target” in your gym so you can test the height of your jump. It doesn’t have to be every day, but maybe those special days where everything just hurts, and your joints feel like they are bonded together with super glue.

 

Jump to your previous target and see how close you get. If you’re within an inch, or you’ve jumped higher, then it may be a good day to keep the intensity level up in the workout. If you jump 6 inches lower, it might be a sign to reduce the intensity.

 

This can be done several ways, typically by reducing the load you are working with in any given workout. It could also mean taking longer rest periods between sets, or even turning a Crossfit workout that is “For Time”, into an Interval workout.

 

Example:

5 Rounds for time:

5 x Hang Power Clean

10 x Handstand Pushups

400m Run

 

…could be changed by stopping after the round, and resting the exact amount of time it takes you to complete each round. This would give you a work-to-rest ratio of 1:1, allowing you to recover more adequately between efforts.

 

Intensity could also be reduced by changing high skill movements, such as HSPU’s, into their less coordinated counterparts, DB Presses or BB presses; changing the speed at which you run; and even modifying Hang Power Clean to an RDL, or Deadlift.

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Reducing Volume also helps with keeping intensity low, but if you’re looking to keep your conditioning level up, try and keep sets and reps as is, and work on reducing weight.

 

Make sure you consult a coach before adjusting your own intensity in a workout. It may be true that a coach wants to really push you through some mental barriers, especially if you tend to shy away from more intense workouts; so please, don’t just give yourself an excuse to be soft:)

 

I hope this helps! Keep training hard and I’ll see you in the gym!

 

-Coach Jason

If you have been a member of a gym or sports team for longer than a few weeks, you know what it means to be sore the following day. The experienced athlete has a general idea of how sore they will be following a particular workout, where as the novice athlete is caught completely off guard by their inability to sit on the toilet the next day.

 

This is a normal process and even a healthy one believe it or not. The next day sore you feel is often referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) in fitness circles. DOMS is an important biological response to the stress of exercise.

During an intense workout, the repetitive contraction of muscles under load creates small microscopic tears in the fibers that make up our muscles. Lots of little microscopic tears sounds like a bad thing! In reality it is the only way for our muscles to elicit a growth response. In order to grow bigger more resilient muscle tissues, we must first show the body that our previous level of strength was not totally sufficient.

 

This micro damage dealt during your workout provides signals to the body to begin the repair process. The exact reason for DOMS is unknown but many speculate that it is there to act as a warning to our body not to stress the same tissues to the same intensity. If we don’t allow our bodies to repair the damage done in the gym then the build up of waste and microtrauma can accumulate and cause more issues down the road.

DOMS is our bodies built in recovery reminder. Without it, we would continue to push ourselves harder and harder each day until the result was an injury or mental burnout. The body does a good job of moderating our intensity, for a little while.

 

As our training experience increases, the amount of work necessary to cause soreness the next day also increases! The novice athlete of only 4 months will continue to be sore after each new day of stimulus where as the veteran of 4 years may train an entire week straight and never experience that pain signal from the body.

Once we adapt to the stimulus of training everyday, the signal to take some time off comes in a different form and is subtle until enough training damage has accumulated, then the effects can be very noticeable and sometimes harmful to the athlete. Over training, the term used to describe training beyond what ones body is able to recover from, is an easy trap to fall into and it can begin to affect much more than just your ability to sit on the toilet the next day.

 

While over training can leave you feeling sore, it usually will begin to manifest in the experienced athlete as decreased subjective strength, poor performance, low energy, low sex drive, or prolonged aches and pains. If left unaddressed for a significant amount of time the athletes likelihood of injury sky rockets.

All of this to say, your body needs to REST. It needs time away from the stresses of life in order to rebuild and replenish it’s stores. How and when do we provide our bodies with adequate rest?

How to properly recover:
  

Recovery is going to look a little different for everyone but it takes on the same basic principles. Without diving too deep into the weeds, here are Iron Legion’s recommended recovery strategies.

75/25- For someone who has been in the sport of crossfit for an extended period of time, they should be breaking their training week up by spending 75% of their days training and 25% of them recovering. This would simply be a 3 days on 1 day off approach to the training week. For beginner athletes this number may need to look more like 50/50 until their bodies begin to adapt to these new changes.


Sleep- If you take one thing away from this paper, let it be this. Sleep is the most important variable when it comes to healing your body. All of the body’s major recovery mechanisms are either turned on for the first time or hiked up to another level when you fall asleep and stay asleep. Our bodies produce hormones like HGH and testosterone when we sleep. Our brain washes away harmful wastes that contribute to the development of Alzheimer Disease when we sleep. Damaged muscle fibers are repaired and enhanced while we sleep. The definition of recovery should be: “Sleeping a lot! And then some other stuff.”


Low Intensity Movement- On those days when you aren’t going to the gym (Every 4th day or 25% of the week), the best way to prepare your body to come back to training is to continue moving. A rest day does not imply no activity. On the contrary. Adequate rest for your body would come in the form of exercising those same exact muscle groups that were trained during the week. The only difference is, this activity needs to happen at a very LOW INTENSITY.

 

Examples of low intensity exercise include yoga, walking/jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, playing a recreational sport, or even a body weight workout done with no timer and no sense of urgency. Active recovery should keep you moving but the goal is not to exhaust yourself, merely to stimulate the body’s repair processes!


Nutrition- Everything we eat is either used to create new cells and structures in the body or to fuel old ones. This is especially true in the window of time following a workout. As soon as you finish training your bodies repair mechanisms jump into action and they will be in action for the next 12-24 hours.

 

Anything you eat in that time you can pretty much guarantee will be used to replenish used energy or literally become the tissues we just broke down. With that being said, after you workout, do you want a small percentage of you becoming fried chicken and macaroni? Or would you feel more comfortable knowing you just replaced some muscle tissue with steak and broccoli? The food you put into your body following training is so important in ensuring you recover well. Make smart choices.


Limit Stress- Maybe you are so exhausted that the only thing this recovery day is going to entail is watching netflix in bed. That is ok too. The main component of recovery is just an absence of stress on the body.

 

If doing the above things seems like you are still training and might as well just be at the gym, then do whatever is going to make you feel fulfilled and happy. Our body needs to be in a parasympathetic state in order to repair itself.

 

If your idea of a rest day is spent working 12 hours at a desk job getting yelled at by your boss –  Sure, you aren’t training, but there is no way your body is going to be able to relax enough to elicit a repair response in a stressful situation like that!

 

Sometimes its good to get out of the gym, spend some time outside, sleep well, keep moving, eat high quality food, and relax! Think of it as charging your batteries for your next “all out” training session!

 

Coach Alex Ford

What is Sugar?

Sugar is an ingredient found in most foods we eat.  It occurs naturally in many foods, like fruits, milk, vegetables, and whole grains.  Sugar can also be added to food and this is why we tend consume too much sugar each day.  It is recommended that women only consume 6 grams of added sugar per day and men 9 grams.  Unfortunately, the average person is consuming  three times (or more) of the recommended amount.

 

Is all sugar bad?

Sugars that occur naturally in food are not included in the daily recommended amount because this is the preferential way to get the sugar your body uses for energy.  When we start consuming processed food, soda, fruit drinks, candy, cakes, etc., we are eating added sugar.

We know that soda, candy and sweets have added sugar in them, but there is added sugar in many foods that you would not think it to be.  It is very important to read labels and to know what ingredients are added sugar.  The most common forms of added sugar are the following:

  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Molasses
  • Any of the sugar molecules that end in -ose, like glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, etc.

If you are unsure if something had added sugar then read the label.  The label has the total grams of sugar listed which will include the amount of added sugar.

 

What effect does sugar have on your body?

It is very important that we take control and begin to limit the amount of added sugar we intake every day.  Too much sugar can have very serious effects on your health and wellness.

Diabetes:  It is widely known that prolonged excess sugar intake can lead to Type 2 Diabetes by increasing obesity and increasing insulin resistance.

Weight gain:  We all know that excess anything can cause weight gain.  This is still true with sugar.  It may even cause weight gain faster than expected due to the fact that a small food choice that contains a large amount of sugar will not leave you satisfied and leave you still hungry.  You will probably eat to satisfy the hunger and therefore increase the calories by even more.

Heart Health:  Excess sugar intake has been linked to increased risk for heart disease.  Sugar has been shown to increase artery clogging deposits and increasing blood pressure both of which increase your risk of heart disease.

Teeth:  Sugar is the main cause of tooth decay.  Sugar feeds certain bacteria that as they grow in your mouth they produce the acids that cause decay to your tooth enamel.

Joints:  Sugar increases inflammation in the body.  Increased inflammation increases joint discomfort.  This is especially important to those that already have arthritis or joint pain.  Decreasing your sugar intake may help decrease the amount of day to day pain you have.

Brain:  Although sugar may give you a momentary spike in energy it is followed by a very hard crash.  This can cause more severe consequences than just feeling fatigued after the crash.  Too much sugar has been linked to depression as well.

 

Decreasing sugar is not just for you

Not only is decreasing the amount of added sugars you eat important to your health, but it is extremely important to our children’s health as well.  All of our children benefit from the healthy choices we make by having happier healthier parents, but if we apply our healthy living to their lives they will be healthier and happier too.  You are also setting up their future health choices.  If we teach them young it is easier for them to make healthy choices as they get older.  This is especially important for our children with special needs as the effects of sugar has been negatively linked to many special needs.

In my case, children with Down Syndrome tend to carry excess weight.  Their metabolism is a little slower than most people so I try to limit the amount of processed foods Kiera eats daily.  I do not cook separate meals for my family, so she knows (like all my kids) if she does not eat what is on her plate she will be hungry when she goes to bed.  Kiera loves grapes, bananas, strawberries, and mandarin oranges so I keep these on hand for snacks.  I am not saying she never has other snacks, but I try to limit them whenever possible.

 

How can I curb my sugar cravings?

Now that we understand what sugar is and why it has a negative impact on our health and wellness how do we stop eating so much of it?

Food tracking: Start writing down everything you eat.  You can better analyze how much added sugar you are eating and where you can cut back if you can see what foods you eat daily as a whole.

Read labels: Knowing what you are eating is the best step to eating the right foods.  There is a lot of useful information on the labels of food.  If you see sugar (or any of the other terms for sugar) in the ingredient list then it has been added.  If those ingredients are in the first 4 ingredients then A LOT has been added.  Be conscious of what you are buying.

One thing at a time:  After you have found where you are getting a lot of added sugars in your diet you may be tempted to cut them all.  This may set you up to fail and binge on foods with too much sugar.  Try eliminating one thing at a time.  Removing one sugar filled food from your daily diet each week will give you a better chance of sticking with it than cutting out all added sugar cold turkey.

 **Sodas and fruit juices are so full of sugar.  Because they are liquid and tend not to give you the “full” feeling that food gives you, you can consume a lot of added sugar to your diet without any benefits.  Therefore, these need to be the first cut from your list. 

Sugar replacement:  Have fruits available to you for the times when you are having a sweet craving.  The natural occurring sugar in fruits will help curb those cravings.

Stay busy:  Many of us eat because we are bored, looking for comfort, or it is just a habit to eat when not doing anything.  If you find yourself eating sugary snacks when you are not really hungry then get up and do something to occupy your mind.

Core strength: Not just important for aesthetics.

What is my core?  Good question.  Your core is your midsection or better known as your abs.  Even if you cannot see them you do still have ab muscles.  Although the six pack abs are awesome, the importance of a strong core goes far beyond looking good in a swimsuit.  Strengthening the core of our body will help you in various aspects of living.

It’s not about the six pack

First let’s discuss what makes up our core.  The major muscles that make up your core are the internal and external obliques, transverse abdominus, and the rectus abdominus.  The Rectus abdominus are the muscles we see when someone has a six pack.  The oblique muscles are on the sides of the abdomen with the external obliques layered on top of the internal obliques.  Finally, your transverse abdominus muscle wraps around your spine for protection and support.

What can a strong core do to help?

  • Relieve Back pain.  Most back pain, especially lower back pain, that people experience is due to having a weak core.  Knowing now that the transverse abdominus wraps around your spine it should only make sense that the stronger your core muscles are the more support and protection you back would have.
  • Protection for organs.  The Rectus abdominus, aka six pack muscles, are great protection for internal organs like the stomach, intestines, kidneys, and appendix.
  • Stronger stamina.  Stronger core and more stamina and energy go hand in hand.  The work that it takes to increase you core strength will by default increase your energy levels, which will in turn increase your stamina when performing exercise, chasing kids, at work, and doing every day chores.
  • Decrease health risks.  Strengthening your means you are lessening the amount of abdominal fat you are carrying around.  This decrease in abdominal fat helps decrease risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
  •  Stability/ balance.  Increased core strength helps better your posture.  This is going to improve your overall stability and balance.  You will be less likely to stumble or fall if you are more stable and therefore you will suffer less injuries.
  • Confidence.  I can admit I am a little self-conscious when I am not feeling quite as strong in the midsection.  As your tummy tones up your confidence will improve too.

What can I do to get my core stronger?

The obvious answer is ab exercises and exercise in general is going to improve your core strength.  Another tip is to practice good posture.  It takes strength to have good posture so the more you stand or sit up straight the more your abdominal muscles will have to work.  It will soon become habit for you and for your body.