The Whiteboard Obsession

Here’s the dirt.  Mainly for crossfit newbies, but I see it happen with you seasoned folks as well.  It even happened to me.

Crossfit sometimes gets a bad rap because of the volume of injuries.  So, why so many injuries?  Its because most of us are a bunch of prideful b holes that would rather kill ourselves trying to do something we probably shouldn’t be doing.  “RX or die!” You know who you are.

The Shrine

white board

Example #1

I can remember a time quite a few months ago training a newbie. It was probably his first or second week of training and the workout had 135 lb clean and jerks.  Now this kid had never really done clean and jerks before but he was hell bent on doing this workout RX.  In warm ups I had him show me a few at 95.  Looked pretty good.  Not Olympic status by any means, but ok.  Then 115.  ehhh.  115 was probably pushing it.  I walk off to go check another person’s form and see him trying the 135.  Back arched big time on the pull, leaning back like crazy on the catch.  I can see it in his eyes “I got this up so I’m going for it.”  Oh geez!  So now I have to tell homeboy that just because he can lift that up doesn’t mean that he should.  Then comes the fit throwing.  Then comes the “I’m just going to do this until it gets to heavy and then drop the weight”  Which is all well and good with me if your form’s okay but his wasn’t.  So now I’m the bad guy.  Next thing you know, kid can’t even come back to workout for a week because his back is so sore. People!  When your trainer suggests you drop the weight, you need to listen!!!!!

Example #2

Excited guy that hasn’t ever done a crossfit WOD but has to prove to me that he can do 3 dead hang pull ups in a row.  Yay!  Lets have a party.  I’m happy you can do 3 pull ups in a row.  But when you have to do fran, there is no way you are going to dead hang your way through that shiz.  When I say use a band, just use one.  Please.

I am all for getting you stronger.  That is my job.  Its what makes me happy. It is also my job to scale your workout to what would suit you best.  Especially to help you avoid injury.

Example #3

Those souls that walk straight into the gym and stare at every score and modification of every person that ever worked out.  Is crossfit a competitive sport?  Absolutely.  But you should NEVER focus on what everyone else is doing.  You need to start being competitive with yourself.  Keep a journal to note your progress.  Who cares if “joe bob” did helen in 8 minutes.  For all you know “joe bob” didn’t get his chin above the bar on his pull ups. or didn’t get his kettle bell over head.  You need to focus on you, not the stupid board.  Some days you may have an off day, and that’s okay.  We all do now and then.  If you’re not feeling the prescribed workout, then don’t do it.  But if your form is good and you’re just being a wuss, I will probably make you do it RX anyway.

So kids… Do YOUR best, not someone else’s!

That is all :)

(PS, if I used you in these examples, I’m sorry:)

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why high rep workouts are no bueno, and my new idol

Let me just tell you that I had the most amazing time last week!  By last minute happenstance I was able to come across a ticket for The Outlaw Tour.  For any of you that aren’t familiar with “the way” then you should educate yourselves here.  Rudy is a flippin’ genius.  Things that hadn’t made sense to me, even after 4 1/2 years of crossfitting (is that even a word?)  have come to light.  I’m not going to spill everything I learned there in one post but I will share one of the most important, in my opinion, tidbits of info.

But before I do that, (you like that little teaser there? ;) let me just share a picture of me and the beautiful Elisabeth Akinwale.  Elisabeth in action:  I guess you could say that I have a girl crush!

She came in 7th in the crossfit games this year and she is very motivated to come out on top next year.  Watching her lift was so inspiring.  She was easily snatching 185 and has a 1 rep max of 200!!!  This is more than most men.  I didn’t get to see the 200, but working out 20 feet from her was one of my coolest fitness moments.  Even if I was only snatching a mere 105 or 110 ( I cant remember)  however, I did successfully snatch 115 yesterday!  A little weak, but I’m owning that one for now!

Now on to the juice.  Playing off the title of this post…I learned last weekend why long, high rep workouts blow.  First let me start off with a question.  Which do you think makes you stronger?  A. 100 butterfly pull-ups  or  B.  25 strict, weighted pull-ups?   which one makes you faster?   A. 2, 800 meter runs or B. 10, 100 meter sprints?  This isn’t a trick and I know that I’ve answered question two right here on this blog a few times.  Seeing as how I’m an anti-long distance runner who sometimes runs long distances. (oxymoron, I know, but I enjoy being contradictory.  It keeps life interesting ;).

So, hopefully you answered B for both questions.  I’ve noticed some gyms in my area are programming these insane workouts almost every day of the week!!  Met con workouts that take an hour.  Where you run a mile and do 100 push-ups in your warm-up.  Then you do on to do a 40 minute workout of random crap!  Amazingly enough (thick sarcasm there) these gyms are not turning out any good athletes.  Why? because these athletes are broken!! They are never going to get faster!  I mean, they will to a point, but pretty soon there will be no PR’s getting hit.  They are going to plateau, pretty much forever until something changes.  I know from personal experience.  I was one of those who loved long, drawn out, high rep workouts.  But my clean and jerk never went up.  My snatch stayed the same.  Or in Layman’s terms, I wasn’t getting any stronger.

So, if this is you, or this is the way your gym programs, give them the finger and do your own thing or find a box that’s worth a crap. Here’s some tips to fix this problem right now!  Everyday, pick a weakness.  My weaknesses are toes to bar (stupid stupid toes to bar!) and handstand walks/push-ups.  Take 10 minutes a few times a week to perfect your bad areas.  Take 20 minutes a day to work on Olympic lifts.  Don’t max out every day, but go heavy and and change it up.  One day do high hang cleans or snatch, one day do from the ground, one day off the boxes.  Then take 15 minutes to work on strength. Mainly front squat and back squat, but you can always throw in push jerk, dead lift, bench, weighted pull ups, dips etc.  Then take 12 minutes to do a met con.  Something fast and intense.

This is one hour of gym time at its absolute best!  You are getting a complete, well rounded routine that will make you stronger and faster.  Forget that 40 minutes of push ups, pull-ups and and kettle bell swings.  Do it the right way and when you have a benchmark workout, you’ll be blown away by how strong you feel!!

PS if none of this made sense to you because your workouts are spent on a treadmill, elliptical or even worse, a leg extension machine, please consider that what you are doing is a complete and total waist of time :)

That’s all for today kids.  Next time I’ll come back with even more juicy deets.

Second feels more like 1st loser

So typically I have a lot of uplifting things to say here, but I’m really not in the mood. I had my little fundraiser/team competition last weekend.  It was so fun and for such a good cause.  A load of people were there competing and the workout was pretty intense.  We went in heats.  Our team ended up being in the second to last heat, which was pretty crappy but whatever.  What we didn’t expect was for them to turn it into an individual competition, and that’s exactly what happened.  I am super competitive but I guess I just didn’t have it.  I was ahead for most of the workout, but the last 30 seconds totally killed me.  I was literally dry heaving near the bushes after I peeled my butt off the ground.  I ended up getting beat by a few reps by my friend, Marianne.  You beat me girl, fair and square.  But I have been getting some serious heat for losing!  I’m sorry that I sucked everyone, now get over it!  However, there were some pretty legit girls there and they were younger and buffer (with 6 packs even), but we totally took them down!  New competitions are coming in October in which I team up with Freaking Roy from the gym.  Now for this I am feeling the pressure.  He is a total bad @#$.  I can’t go down this time.  Roy doesn’t go down.  I think my plan will be to bring a rope and tie it around myself so he can drag me along.  Either way, I gotta get out of my stupid head and make this happen.

Enter Roy:

See what I mean?

Just kidding.  A fire has been lit and I am seriously serious.  Training, getting ready, lifting heavy.  Marianne, Judd believes that you are a “Lance Armstrong-like” anomaly.  I hate having to compete against you.  I feel like I am the julie foucher to your annie thorisdottir. But this time, I’ve got Roy.  hahahaha.

In other news, I lost a pound.  I am so ticked.  I thought I was eating enough and I guess it just wasn’t so!  I am back at 135.  That 140 seems so far away!!  With losing that pound my body fat stayed exactly the same which means that whole pound was muscle!  Son of a!!!!!  I am really going to have to up my calorie intake, which seems impossible right now!  Well, off to go put some food in my hole!!!

PS I clean and jerked 140 lbs today.  yep

Changes!!

So much has changed in the last month!

We all know how I am an avid primal eater (for the most part).  Recently I have taken it upon myself to steer a little off this strict path and do some experimenting.  Since a recent nutrition class at my gym, I was introduced to a new way of eating.  Thanks so much to Gregg, who taught that class and has been challenging me and keeping tabs on me because it has definitely spruced things up.  What am I doing, you ask??

In previous posts I have written down everything that I had eaten over a space of a day or two.  A day normally consisted of 1200 calories a day and I was primarily focused on low carbohydrates.  Well, after a month on this diet, this is how I ultimately felt…

My times at the gym were getting slower, I was tired.  SOOOO tired.  I was weak. I was scatter brained.  I was seriously thinking that there were major things wrong with me.

After talking with Gregg he basically told me that my body was starving.  I never thought that could be what it was.  I didn’t really feel a lot of hunger.  I ate plenty, or so I thought.  There was the jerky and nuts snacking and more snacking, and more snacking.  This didn’t amount up to very much.  Especially with what I needed my body to do.  I am at about 135 pounds.  My goal is to gain 5 pounds of muscle.  so I am really trying to gain it the right way and its pretty tough to do!  Who would have thought gaining weight would be hard! hahaha! In order to do this I have to test my body fat every week and make sure the weight I am gaining, is in fact muscle.

I am eating so much now.  So much that I almost want to barf.  I probably eat about 2400 calories a day.  That’s 6 meals at 400 calories.  I am eating the minute I wake up and before bed.  Basically every 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  This is an insane amount when all you are eating is clean food!!  I have strayed from primal.  I am giving this new diet a month to see what changes occur.  I now eat whole, sprouted grains.  Oatmeal in the morning, bread for lunch, brown rice.  Lean proteins (not so much beef and bacon :(  and LOADS of veggies and fruit.

So far here is what has happened.  This whole week has been a week of pr’s.  For any of you who speak the crossfit lingo…I did fran in like 4:19, Helen in 9:40, fight gone bad score was 332.  My broad jump increased from 92″ to 97″. I did 69 double unders in a row.  L sit time was 1:01.  My back squat 1RM was 165 and this week I did 185 three times.  I have so much energy I can jump out of bed in the morning.

I thought for sure that eating all of this food would fatten me up, but its done the opposite.  I have gained 1 pound and lost 1% of body fat in the first 9 days!  HUGE!!!!  I can’t wait to get to the end of this month and see what happens.  I will keep you posted!

shrink that waistline!

How is everyone doing on their abs challenge?  I’m loving going into the gym and seeing everyone doing planks and sit ups!!!  Thanks to everyone for participating and don’t you worry!  There is another challenge coming right around the corner!

6 pack abs.  The most coveted section of body known to man/woman.  Why are these stupid little muscles so stubborn?!?  Even after 2000 sit ups.  How do you get rid of the belly flab?

The secret to having a hot body is this…STOP LOOKING AT THE SCALE!!!!  This is where most people get it wrong!  There is no magical number that you need to weigh.  There is no size that you have to achieve to look good.

This is what you NEED to do…

1. take your measurements.  waist, hips, chest, arms and legs.  Write it all down

2.  Get your body fat tested!  Healthy for a girl is around 20-25%  for a guy 15-20%.  But!!!  if you want to see definition in your muscles and have that 6 pack, girls you need to be around 12-15% and guys 10%.  And remember skinny fat??  Just because you weigh 115 doesn’t mean you’re not fat.  Or just because you weigh 150 doesn’t mean you are fat.

Now, get all of these numbers accumulated and dated.  Put them in a safe place and after 30 days of serious diet/exercise commitment, check them all again!

Keys to lose belly fat: exercise!!  Lifting heavy weights!! So many people underestimate how important it is to bring back the basics!  Back squat, dead lift, clean and jerk.  All of these are intense core workouts.  Of course the sit ups work well too.  And not those sissy crunches either!  Full range of motion sit ups.

Diet!!  Cut down those carbohydrates.  Weigh and measure your food.  Try to stay around 75 to 100 grams of carbs per day. Give up bread and grains and sugar!!  make sure that you are getting all of your carbs from mainly veggies.  If you give up these things I promise!!!!!  you will be looking smoking hot in no time!!!

AVOID!!!!  diet pills and other fad diets.  Every time I see an advertisement for some instant weight loss cure that lets you eat what ever you want and not exercise, I wanna punch someone in the mouth!  People really believe this crap!!!  Don’t buy into that stuff.  Its sooooo bad for your health!

Now go and do people!!!  and let me know how its working out!

How mobility fixed my knee pain!

So today I’m talking about mobility.  I am no master of it myself, but I can tell you what has helped me a ton!  Its not just stretching!   I used to walk into the gym every day and sit on a mat and touch my toes and what not.  I thought I was super flexible because I could touch my toes!  hahaha. It was not until my level 1 certification that I realized how bad my issue was.  I had a problem with my knees caving in on my squats.  Normally when you squat down your weight should be on your heels and your knees should drive outward.  My problem was my knees would drive inside of my ankles and my weight would be on my toes.  This was causing a ton of pain in my knees when lifting and running!  So, along with some fellow trainers and a Dr. we figured out what my problem really was.  see photo:

What we realized when I was trying to tackle this issue is that I had VERY little hip flexibility. I never thought that my knee problem could be derived from my hip….BUT it totally was!  My problem, and most people’s problem is their IT band.  Now, if you are anything like I was, you probably have never even heard of this tricky ligament.  It runs from the hip to the top of the knee.

Because I was not flexible in my hips, my IT band was really tight and causing problems all the way down to my knee.  So, here’s what I did.  I made sure every day before and after workouts that I rolled it out, either on a foam roller or a lacrosse ball (OUCH).

I did a different stretching regiment  that included stretches like these ones…

and I would also drop into a super low squat (think like how a baby squats) and hold it for a few minutes.  If you can hold a super low squat, find something sturdy to hold on to while you do it. I focused about 20 minutes a day on my hip flexibility and I can say that now I have absolutely no knee pain!  Its amazing!   If you’ve got some good tips about knee pain, comment and let us in on it!

Couch to in shape in 6 weeks

We’ve all seen the couch to 5k programs.  That’s nice in all, but as you know, from reading this blog there is way more to being in shape than running (especially running at a slow pace).

First off, check your diet plan.  I’ve been following the primal blueprint and i LOVE it. It breaks it down so simply.  Eat loads of lean protein and healthy fats and only 50-75 grams of carbs per day.  A few days ago I talked about the food diary I’ve been keeping.  I can’t even express what a difference having that tool has helped me!  Stick to the diet and you are on the fast track to fat loss and health!!

Next, get yourself some new shoes or a new workout outfit.  Something to motivate you to get dressed for your workout.  Getting there is always the hardest part!

Figure your plan.  Are you going to workout at home, at a large gym, or a crossfit gym.  If the first two, then your approach will take more planning.  If a crossfit gym, talk to your trainer and they can customize a plan for you and keep you accountable!

Now, start slowly!  Especially if its been a long time since you’ve worked out.  So many people are so excited at the beginning that they get dizzy, faint, throw up etc.  This can be a huge stumbling block.  If you go for your first workout and it makes you sick, you will be less likely to continue it.  So, do some slow rowing or inclined treadmill for about a week just to get your body used to moving and your heart and blood used to pumping. If you feel good this first week, you can up your intensity on the treadmill or row machine or other type of cardio.

After this week of light cardio you will start to incorporate body weight movements. This means squats, push ups, planks, sit ups.  Get comfortable with these movements!  Try doing circuits with these movements.  Example- 4 rounds of 25 squats, 20 sit ups (not crunches!)15 push ups and 30 second plank hold.  So in case this is hard to understand…all of the above exercises would be considered 1 round.  Find other body weight movements and mix and match them all like we did above.  Lunges, assisted pull ups, hand stands, jumping squats, burpees.  There are endless combinations. You want your whole circuit workout to be about 20 minutes long and try to keep it at a good intensity.

Week three you should start incorporating light weights with your body weight movements.  Try some weighted lunges with a dumbbell in each hand.  Try stepping up onto a box about 18″ high with your dumbbells.  Find a trainer or study proper technique and do some deadlifts, back squats, bench press, shoulder press with a light-ish weight.

example of a workout for week 2 rounds of 50 weighted lunges with 10 lb dumbbells (1 lunge equals 1 rep, so 25 each leg) 150 jump rope singles and 20 push ups.

Week four continue your light weight/body weight movements but now find a day to do some interval training outside or on the tread mill.  Interval training is a more intense and specific workout than just jogging on a treadmill.  Example of interval training.  Sprint your fastest 100M then rest for 90 seconds.  repeat until you’ve completed 8 rounds.

Week five, up your weights with your bigger lifts (deadlifts, bench and shoulder press, back squats) even if its only by 10 pounds.  Pick two days (not consecutive, though) that you will do stregth training.  Do 4 rounds of 10 back squats with each round getting a little bit heavier.

Weeks six it all comes together.  Workout week should look as follows

Day 1   Body weight workout (no longer than 20 minutes) followed by and interval workout

Day 2  Heavy weight training day

Day 3 body weight workout

Day 4 Rest!!!

Day 5 Body weight workout followed by interval training

Day 6 Heavy weights day

Day 7 Rest!

None of these workouts will exceed 45 minutes.  Interval workouts are only about 15 minutes long, but keep in mind they are always at a high intensity. And make sure that you are drinking enough water and getting enough protein!

There you have it!  Be ready for that swimsuit season!!