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Nov 22 2013

Why Track Your CrossFit WODs

By: Coach Mike Lowe

All too often we see athletes stare at the whiteboard wondering what weight they’ll be using in the strength workout of the day (SWOD). They have no reference to guide them, or memory of what weight they used last time, sometimes, they don’t even remember their one rep max. Later in the week, this individual is usually the same person to approach us about feeling tired or “not as strong” and wondering why they feel this way. With a logbook, these problems can be easily avoided.

It’s surprising that although we’re quick to buy special shoes, jump ropes, tights, and the newest-best thing to get an edge in the CrossFit game, that we don’t maintain the most basic tool to monitor and IMPROVE our performance. Here are 4 reasons why you should start tracking your workouts today.

1) Identify Strengths/ Weaknesses

Tracking your workouts allows you to gain focus on your training. It also allows you to see strengths and weaknesses. If I write that I was able to complete 21 thrusters unbroken but that I had to break up my pull-ups into set of 7, I can now identify the need to work on pull-ups in future workouts. This also allows me to start supplementing my workout with strength work geared towards pull-up strength. I can also track the weight I use every time for a SWOD or metcon so when the same movements appear, I have a reference as to what I’ve been able to do before and whether I think I can go heavier while maintaining perfect form. These opportunities for improvement and increased strength are evident as you continue to track your progress.

2) Motivation

Motivation, especially when you’ve been CrossFitting for a while, can be difficult. The honeymoon phase of CrossFit is over and for some it becomes increasingly difficult to get into the gym and attack their workouts. A logbook, though, can show you where you once were and how you overcome those challenges to get where you are now. It can also motivate you to set new goals and take your training even further.

3) Injury Prevention

Having a log book can help you see patterns to help avoid injuries. Keep track of how you feel during and after your workouts. Is there a nagging shoulder pain every time you do kipping pull-ups? Do your knees ache after you do front squats? Identifying when and where pain occurs can help you discuss these issues with your coaches and find a solution before anything gets worse. Maybe its a slight form issue that can be easily corrected or maybe you need to scale back on overhead movements to provide your shoulder with a little extra rest. If you’ve identified the pattern, we can help prevent the injury.

4) Correlating Diet and Performance

What you’re eating and how you do on your workouts are two training factors that are inseparable. Keeping track of your food and water intake and comparing that to your workout time can help you see where adjustments need to be made. See what works and what doesn’t work by detecting the patterns of your best and worst days at the gym. From there, keep eating the same way that you did on your best days and track whether or not you see an overall improvement in performance.

Get Started

Now that you’re ready to start tracking your WODs, get a notebook, wodbook, cellphone app, or other means that you can use to start using to write down your information. Bring your WOD tracker with you every time you come into the gym and use it for everything. Write down the warm up, the skill, SWOD, metcon, and everything you ate/ drank that day. Include how you attacked the workout. What was you rep and rest scheme? Did you have a scheme to begin with? Were you able to do some things unbroken but others not? Where do you think you could have improved?

All this information will now start to become part of your personal database that can be used to help you become that best athlete you can be. This knowledge and understanding of your progress gives you power and accountability to continue improving.

At CrossFit 915 we believe that tracking your workout is so important that we offer a FREE service to our CrossFit members to help you get the job done. Visit Crossfit915.socialwod.com to view your workout profile. As long as your scores are regularly tracked on the whiteboard, you should be able to find your name and claim your profile. Here, we keep track of your performance, the weight you used on the strength workout, and even your score on the metcon. You can also use this site to enter benchmark scores, one rep maxes and more.

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Nov 21 2013

Stretching for CrossFit Athletes

By: Coach Noemi Dimuzio

Unfortunately today, stretching has taken a backseat in many exercise routines. Many people have lost sight of the importance of stretching and what it can do for your body and strength.  Some active individuals believe that stretching takes up too much of your time and can be skipped altogether.  However, consistent work can help prevent injury, attain flexibility, as well as provide other benefits.

         Stretching is most beneficial after you’ve warmed up your body.  It will help increase range of motion by releasing tension and elongating the muscles.  Stretching increases circulation that helps with mobility and prevents the muscles from tiring too soon.  The enhanced blood flow provided will assist to alleviate sore muscles and aid in recovery.  Stretching has also shown to improving athletic performance and decrease the risk of injury.  The increased range of motion allows your limbs and joints to move further and more freely without obstruction thereby limiting the potential of injury.

As helpful as stretching can be, improper stretching can actually cause an injury so its important to do so correctly.  First, do not consider stretching as a warm up.  When you stretch with cold muscles you may increase the risk of hurting yourself because the muscles are in a tighter, more inflexible state.  So it’s best to stretch after you’ve exercised when your muscles are loose and warm and will respond better to elongation.  Also, do not bounce while stretching as bouncing can cause small tears in the muscle.  These tears leave scar tissue and as the muscle heals it creates tighter muscle strands making you less flexible.  What you can do is ease into 3 sets of holds for about 15-20 seconds each, slowly increasing the pressure of each stretch.  Remember what you do to one side you must do to the other.  Don’t aim for pain.  You should feel some tension as you stretch but if the tension turns to pain, ease up and gradually increase as you become more flexible.  Focus on major muscle groups: calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders.

Keep up with your stretching just as would any skill or strength practice.  You can achieve the best results by stretching at least 3-4 times a week and keeping a consistent routine.

Still need another reason why stretching is essential?  Find your Zen in stretching (a relaxed meditative like state).  This reduces tension in your muscles that helps you feel more relaxed overall both in mind and body.  When you are relaxed, you’re a happier healthier person.  Life is so much better when you’re relaxed.

Stretching is a necessary and essential part of any exercise program however, keep in mind that if you are injured give yourself a few days before you start stretching again. Stretching right after a fresh injury can lead to more injury or prolonging your recovery.  So please take caution and listen to your body.  Your coaches are always there to help you find ways to stretch and stay healthy but remember they are not doctors.  If your injuries haven’t healed please visit your doctor so that they may diagnose you and your coach or trainer can help you recover faster.

To help get you started check out this video made by Coach Marc Duchene and Sarah Lopez

Nov 20 2013

Eating for Performance: The Role of Breakfast

By: Coach Josh Duran

31.5 million.

That’s the number of people in the United States who do not eat breakfast on a daily basis. I am sure they all have the perfect excuse, “I don’t have enough time in the morning to eat”, “I am too busy getting my kids ready for school,” or, “I’m not hungry in the mornings.” But if you exercise on a regular basis, the bottom line is you cannot afford to skip this meal.

What do you think your body is doing when you sleep? Most people probably don’t truly understand what is happening during this time, but it is very important to consider. When we workout, lift weights, etc., we are creating tiny micro tears in our muscle tissues. Then when we sleep, our body uses that time to repair itself. Even when we sleep the body is working to keep blood pumping and our core temperature stable. What does this mean? Well let’s look at it this way, during a typical Crossfit workout, somebody will burn anywhere between 600-800 calories depending on what the workout is. Immediately after any workout, the best thing you can do is replenish your body with water and healthy protein, right? Make sure your body is properly nourished and hydrated. Well the same is true after a full night of sleep.

Research has shown that on average our body burns around 75 calories each hour we are asleep. So assuming that you are sleeping a full 7-8 hours a night (which if you are not, then that’s a different article I need to write), that means your body is burning between 525-600 calories over the course of a full night of sleep. This ultimately equates to a workout. That’s where the next steps of nourishment and hydration come in. After a night’s sleep, we need to fill our body with water and protein. Not doing so will kill your GAINS! So wake up 10 minutes earlier, get everything ready the night before, do whatever it takes to make time to have a good HEALTHY breakfast, your body will reward you for it later!

Nov 13 2013

What is Mobility and Why CrossFitters Need It

By: Coach Jennifer Kruse

CrossFit 915 Mobility Class – Wednesdays at 5&6 PM

In 2005, Kelly Starrett, a physical therapist out of San Francisco CrossFit, began helping athletes- both beginners and elite- manage existing injuries. From the evaluations and studies he conducted, he found “98% of orthopedic injuries are preventable and that athletes simply lacked an understanding of simple mechanics and the tools to improve those mechanics.”

To help resolve this issue, Starrett began the blog Mobility WOD and later, published the book The Supple Leopard. Today, regular mobility work, or self-maintenance to improve our range of motion, flexibility and movement mechanics, is seen as a must for successful CrossFitters!

To achieve our best performance in the gym, and simply to stay healthy, we must mobilize. An athlete will not reach their peak performance if they neglect to attack poor mechanics, address sticking tissues and keep their joints moving through a good range of motion.

So how do we get mobile?

It seems simple enough: roll out, right? NOPE. It’s actually a little more complex than that.

Mobility can help address short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule limitation, and more; but before tackling those areas, we need to be sure to get our blood flowing, and our joints loose. That’s where a proper warm up comes into play. All too often, athletes convince themselves that light mobility work can be considered warm up, when in fact, mobility work shouldn’t begin until we’ve done some dynamic stretching and primed our muscles, joints and tendons for some work.

Once warm, consider the movement(s) of the day or the movement positions where you find yourself having the most difficulty. Then complete some reps of those movements: whether they be squats, holding a bar on the front rack, or maintaining an overhead position such as a press or handstand hold. As you complete your practice reps, pay attention to sticking points, weird form issues, and a lack of range of motion. During this phase, try to identify tight spots that need to be mobilized and attack that area.

You’re not limited to tools you can use! Lacrosse balls, voodoo floss, barbells, kettlebells, super friends….attack that area until you notice a change! If you’re unsure of where to start, visit Mobility WOD and do a quick search on the area that you’ve identified. Your search is bound to yield several videos that can help guide you. Once you’ve mobilized, retest your problem movement again to see if there’s improvement. Do your joints move more freely? Is your pain alleviated?  If there’s no improvement or change, work the surrounding area carefully until you find an exercise that helps.

As you do your mobility work, keep in mind, that just as in all movements we do in CrossFit, core stability is key. Maintain a neutral spine and “turn on” or squeeze your butt. From there, strive to maintain good mechanics. Continue to move surfaces through a range of motion- contracting and relaxing muscles involved in the affected area. Remember, movements shouldn’t feel awkward or questionable. Excessive tingling ISN’T OK.

Finally, take your time. A good rule of thumb is 10-15 minutes of mobility work per day. It doesn’t need to be an occupation. It also doesn’t need to be laying on a foam roller and checking your Facebook account. Mobility is about preventing injury, resolving pain, fixing common movement problems, and boosting athletic performance. If you take it seriously, you will see serious results.

Final thoughts

The human body is an amazing tool. It can take millions of repetitive movements without much wear and tear UNTIL poor mechanics get in the way. Even then, we are so perfectly formed that the body can take an excessive amount of poor mechanics until a knee cap has a hole in it, a rotator cuff  tears, or an Achilles’ tendon ruptures. In other words, take care of the ONE BODY YOU HAVE. Don’t push through pain or bad form for the sake of a clock, or what place you finish in a workout. Mobility is, first and foremost, preventative maintenance. Take time to improve your positions, form, and flexibility before something starts to hurt, and your body will thank you in the long run.

CrossFit 915 offers a free mobility class for members every Wednesday at 5 and 6 PM with Coach Jennifer Kruse, a certified Movement and Mobility coach. Join us tonight! 

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Nov 11 2013

There is no Trick

By: Coach Amy Duchene

“I really want to get butterfly pullups. What’s the trick?”

“I can’t seem to get double unders. What’s the trick?”

“What’s the trick to getting a muscle up?”

I hate to break it, but there is no trick. All too often we’re asked questions like these when leading a class or skill session. While as coaches we can definitely give you advice regarding form and efficiency tips, at the end of the day, we don’t have a magic phrase or insider tip that we haven’t shared with you yet. When it comes to mastering the more advanced skills of CrossFit, practice, tireless effort, and building strength are the keys to your development.

So you want to get your muscle up? Personal training with our gymnastics coach is a great place to start. Participating in a gymnastics cycle is another option. Work your way up to 6 strict pullups and 8 strict ring dips then practice your transitions.

If your goal is double unders, schedule time every day after the WOD to complete 30 double under attempts. As you become more advanced, work up to three sets of ten unbroken double unders, and so on.

If you’re trying to master butterfly or kipping pullups, the same applies. How many days a week are you working on them? How strong are your strict pullups? If you’re not improving on your basics, and practicing your skill work regularly, you need to revisit your strategy.

If you only reserve WOD or skill time as your place to practice advanced movements, your progression will simply take longer. Unless you’re already strong enough (or coordinated enough in the case of double unders) to complete a movement, coaching cues can only take you so far. It’s all about the extra work, putting in practice time, and getting strong enough to satisfy the movement requirements that completes the journey.

The good news is, anyone can do it. If you put your focus on dedication, and not tricks, tips and YouTube videos, you WILL see improvement. If you keep looking for the shortcut, or waiting for a light bulb to go off, then you’ll be waiting around while others master skills.

Ask your coaches about progressions towards more advanced movements and what types of strength work you can incorporate into your skill development to get there sooner. Come early and stay late when you can. We love to have people around before and after class safely working on skills and seeing improvement!

At CrossFit 915 we also offer one-on-one skill sessions with any of our coaches. From Olympic lifting technique, to double unders, or anything in between, we’re here to help. These private sessions allow us to spend a little extra time with you, that may be outside of the scope of normal classes, to accomplish your goals. Skill sessions can be done with the coach of your choice, or we can pair you up with a coach depending on the skill you are trying to master. Contact amy@crossfit915.com to schedule yours today!

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