What is Your Why?

Let’s preface the following thoughts with this: For some, CrossFit is not the be all end all to your daily well being. In opposition, some are here nearly every day of the week. Why do you show up for a 60-minute class? What is your Purpose? This question is one many of us overlook. It applies to almost every facet of our lives. Here, we consider the Health/Fitness or CrossFit angle.

There are many obstacles that present themselves to us within the CrossFit community. Olympic Weightlifting technique, overall or specific joint mobility, persevering through high rep burpees, or a strict pull-up. We have all come face-to-face with these barriers. How have you responded?

Why do you walk into the Kendall Square CrossFit weekly or daily? Why expose yourself to grueling workouts with your least favorite movements? Why have you not been able to do a strict Dip, Pull-up, or Handstand? So many more questions as to…. WHY?

The incite here is in piggy back to what Coach E-Diddy brought to light last month. He spoke about the ability to move well before trying all the fancy things the cool kids are doing. In closing I will leave you with these thoughts/questions to ask in order to properly self-assess.

  • Have you asked yourself, Why do I show up to class?
  • What are my goals? Short term? Long term? Life?
  • Do I do enough skill work in areas I need most growth?
  • Do I spend enough time mobilizing and moving well?
  • Do I eat well to support my goals?
  • Do I want more in programming than what I am getting day-to-day?
  • Do I ask my coaches for help or support to help me reach my goals?
  • Do I sleep enough hours per night to recover appropriately?

This list can go on for pages. Ultimately, are you holding yourself accountable every day to be the YOU, which YOU want to be?

Putting the Cart Before the Horse: CrossFit Prerequisites

The horse pulls the cart, not the cart the horse.

In order to achieve a healthy level of success in anything, it is essential to begin at a proper place, and to do things in their proper order.  

There are basic physical prerequisites that we must meet in order to engage in a dynamic fitness program like CrossFit.

Many people hate on CrossFit because they think that CrossFit doesn’t care about movement quality. This is contrary to the truth.  CrossFit’s Level 1 coaching course, their whole weekend long certification, is essentially a course on how to move well and how to teach others to move well. Moving well is the premise of it all!  

Ask yourself this, “do I move well”?  

If you can’t answer this with certainty, then it’s likely that you need to get back to your roots and work on the basic movement patterns.  

All too often, I see athletes trying to execute a snatch without the prerequisite ability to perform a stable overhead squat.  Even more common is an athlete trying to execute a clean without the prerequisite ability to do a front squat with solid form.  

If we don’t have the foundational ability to perform the basic movements with proficiency, we are simply unable to perform anything beyond those basics.   

Most people get involved with CrossFit to improve their fitness.  Many, however, get caught up in the numbers game and forget about their initial reason for getting involved, sacrificing real fitness and performance for merely a faster WOD time or a heavier clean and jerk.  But heavier is not always better.  More is not better, better is better.

The next time you approach a WOD, ask yourself this: “Am I prepared to hit this WOD with the confidence that I can do all of the prescribed movements with fluency and come out the other side feeling good”?  

“Can you move better”?  I bet you can!  

I challenge you to do this, and to remember your initial intentions for getting into CrossFit:

Leave your ego at the door.  Honestly assess your basic ability to move well, with ease, and with confidence.  

Don’t put the cart before the horse, get your foundational movements squared away before trying to tackle advanced movements.  At the end of the day, if we have a weak base, then we have nothing much thereafter.

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How to Workout When You’re Feeling Sick

It’s that time of year when it seems everyone is getting sick.  As the temperature changes germs seem to be spreading like wildfire and it’s hard to avoid the inevitable.  Our goal at Kendall Square CrossFit is to improve our members overall well-being, which includes keeping them healthy and happy throughout the year.  Of course, we love seeing your faces every day but we know that an illness may sneak itself in there at some point and we want to make sure you are taking the proper precautions to get yourself better and back to your best self.

Let’s face it, we have all thought ‘exercise is healthy’, ‘I can just sweat out my illness’, but is that really the case?

Exercise is a stressor, which means it awakens a stress response on the body and though it may make you feel better after a nice workout, it is compromising when your body is trying to fight something off.  A healthy body can adapt to this stress, progressively making us fitter and stronger but hitting that tough workout while sick can be more than our immune system can handle.

Recommendations show that a minimum of two weeks should be taken before engaging in intense physical activity after suffering from “below the neck symptoms” (coughing, vomiting, diarrhea).  While you may feel a bit better with “above the neck symptoms” (runny nose, sore throat) and think its a good idea to get into the gym, you may be more susceptible to passing it on to someone else.  Be smart with your choices when deciding when to come back to the gym because it may not be just you but others who will suffer as well.

This doesn’t mean you cannot go out and move around. In fact, non-strenuous movement (walking, bike riding, gardening, T’ai Chi) has been shown to boost immunity, resulting in a faster recovery time.  So when you’re, sick get outside and go for a walk, making sure not to increase your heart rate too high!

Sitting is the New Smoking

Americans are spending more time seated than ever before, and I am one of the biggest offenders.  I am guilty of sitting at my computer (as I write this), sitting on my commute, and even sitting on the couch after a long day.

If you have not yet heard the phrase, I am here to tell you, “sitting is the new smoking”.   According to Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk, “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death”.  Sitting, also like smoking, has long term effects that are proving to be irreversible.

Studies have shown that sitting is leading to the following:

  • Greater risk of developing cancer
  • Greater risk of developing heart disease
  • Increases risk of obesity
  • Increases risk of developing type II diabetes
  • Greater susceptibility to muscular issues
  • Higher risk of developing depression

Sitting is taking the national stage as very serious health concern.  The only way to minimize risk is to minimize the time on our butts.  If a standing desk is not an option, be sure to take regular breaks to get up and walk.  And always maximize your time in the box.  Warm up properly, stretch after class, and utilize off hours to work on mobility.

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Hand Tear Prevention and Care

Hand tears. We have all experienced the  excruciating side effect from a high rep pull up workout. Some of you even take to Facebook to upload a picture of your bloody hand tear for everyone in your news feed to see (hint: no one wants to see your bloody hand).  Regardless, these tears hurt and as a result I have members come to me and ask for a modification because their hands hurt too much to do the WOD.

It sucks and it is the last thing you need during the open season which is less than 3 weeks away!

To prevent the dreaded hand tear consider the following;

Chalk:

Chalk is not always the answer! If your hands are dry, you don’t need chalk. If your hands are sweaty you just want to apply a thin coat of chalk to help with your grip. What many people end up doing it coating their hands with chalk and then 30 seconds later, putting on even more chalk. At this point, you’re creating the perfect storm for friction and tears

Most often, people use the walk to the chalk bucket as an opportunity to rest during the workout. Don’t walk away from the bar! Instead,  look at the clock and give yourself 5-8 seconds of rest. Be diligent about timing your rest. The chalk bucket “rest” is actually way longer than you actually need, and during the open every second counts!

Towels:

Use a towel to dry your hands during a workout, not more chalk. They offer towels at the front desk. Ask for one, it doesn’t hurt to have it available for when you may really need it. It may also come in handy to wipe up all that sweat you left on the floor.

Hand Care:

If you are going to be doing Crossfit you need to take care of your hands! This doesn’t mean you need to start getting bi-weekly manicures. All you need to do is spend a few minutes in the shower smoothing down your calluses with a pumice stone or callus shaver. You want your hands to be smooth; removing rough and lumpy skin will decrease the likelihood of tearing your hands.  It will also be more pleasant when shaking hands with a non-crossfitter who doesn’t find calluses to be sexy.

Grips:

For some people, grips are a great accessory to keep your hands from ripping. Personally I do not like to use them but I know plenty of people that swear by them. You can get a cheap pair on amazon for just under $12. But, for those of you not willing to make the investment you can also make a decent grip out of tape. Having something to buffer the constant friction between your hand and the bar is incredibly helpful during a high rep workout. Angie is a great example. 100 pull ups, 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 air squats. It is almost impossible not to rip your hand after doing 100 kipping or butterfly pull ups!

Post-Rip Care:

So you finished a workout and your hands look like you have been in a knife fight. It is important you immediately start taking care of them so you don’t have to miss any workouts. Step one- wash your hands! Hand tears are open wounds and the last thing you need is an infection. Make a beeline for the bathroom and wash those hands and then make sure to completely dry them. If there is any loose skin it is probably best to remove it with nail scissors to prevent it from ripping any further. Step two- go home and slather Climb On! all over the rip before you go to bed. I will usually try to cover the rip so I don’t wake up with Climb On all over my sheets or face.  This stuff literally works miracles. I say this from experience. You can purchase some at REI or take advantage of your amazon prime account (you have amazon prime, right?) and order some ASAP! You can thank me later 🙂

Equipment Maintenance

Day to day we are putting our bodies and our equipment through a gamut of physical abuse. Proper recovery, nutrition, and rest is how we help keep our bodies functioning to its fullest.

With respect to our equipment, the above mentioned techniques won’t help our equipment last longer. Thus we need to be conscious of how/when we drop our bars, leave our chalk out, take care of the Ergs, or carry our plyo boxes. Below is a brief video on how to keep our Rowing Ergs in tip top shape to last a while.

NEW YEAR, NEW GOALS!

Goal Setting

So it’s the New Year, the time when new goals are set and aspirations are high. I bet you have already started making a list, or at least thought about all of the things you want to achieve this year. Maybe it’s getting your first double under, butterfly pullups, handstand pushups or a bodyweight squat clean. Whatever it may be, it is important to understand how you plan to reach these goals. Some things to keep in mind:
1. 1. Is your goal S.M.A.R.T.?

The basic goal-setting guideline designed to ensure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time- bound.

This simple acronym is incredible important when setting your goals

2. 2. Develop a system or a process

In order to reach a goal you need to create a process to get there. You cant just expect that by showing up for class you will be able to string together 10 kipping pullups in a few months. While you may eventually get there, its not guaranteed. If you can get one kipping pull up your process to reach 10 can be as follows: every Tuesday and Thursday you do a 10min EMOM of 2-3 kipping pullups. Once that becomes easy you increase the reps to 4-5, then 6-7 until you reach your goal of 10 kipping pull ups. This is a simple process that can help you reach your goal.

3. Acknowledging the small victories.
Achieving your goals can be exciting, but getting there can be stressful especially if we have set VERY big goals. During the process of reaching your goal it important to recognize when progress is being made and acknowledge your smaller accomplishments. Make sure that you are ENJOYING the process and rewarding yourself, even if it is only a 2 pound PR!

4. Certain things are out of your control
You may have set a SMART goal, and developed a process but that doesn’t mean that everything is going to go as planned and your goal will be achieved in the exact timeframe that you want. You need to be prepared for the unexpected and learn how to modify your process to work around that. Say you are working towards a 225 Power Snatch and you tear your labrum. Surgery is scheduled and you will be out of commission for the next 6 months. Now is the time to focus on your other goals, like mastering the pistol. While shoulder surgery was not in your plan, it doesn’t mean you will never reach your goal, it just means it may take longer than expected but you need to keep your head up and focus on the other goals you have set.

Hopefully you keep this advice in mind when setting and reaching your goals. Always remember, the coaches at KSCF are eager to help you in any way possible so come talk to us if you want help developing a process or just need some positive self talk during a not-so-great lifting session

Are You Working Out Too Much?

The Overtraining Syndrome

As we move into the fall and winter seasons many of us will find ourselves falling into a new routine.  Be it focusing more on work, school, or your Netflix account; inevitably spending more time inside and closer to the stresses of daily life.   If you are a fitness junkie like me your escape will be the gym and one day you may wake up and realize that you spend more time there then you do at home or out with friends.  On the outside this may not look too bad, aside from being told that you’ve become anti-social.  What we don’t see is how this constant state of stress is affecting our body on the inside.

Overtraining is defined as a result of extreme levels of training measured by frequency, intensity, volume, or all three without a sufficient amount of rest or recovery in between sessions.  Once your body falls into this state for a constant period of time an athlete is diagnosed with overtraining syndrome and at this point you may begin to see your performance decrease.

Would you define yourself as an “Overtrainer”?

Let’s take a look at some of the negative effects overtraining may have on the body.  As we become more fit it is understood that our heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood through the body, thus resulting in a decrease in resting heart rate.  Once an athlete hits a state of overtraining the opposite may occur; resting heart rate may increase and, even more shocking, exercise-induced heart rate may actually decrease.  In an overtrained athlete the heart is not as efficient as it was once trained to be.

Muscle recovery is also affected by the state of overtraining.  Due to the higher volumes of training, levels of creatine kinase will increase alerting the body that there is muscle damage.  In connection, glycogen levels will decrease.  Essentially this means that the muscles are not recovering as they should because they are constantly being broken down without sufficient time or resources to repair.

Hormonal changes may also be seen among both men and women.  Levels of testosterone in men may see a significant decrease which is just unwanted all around.  Being one of the main hormones aiding in muscle building, sex drive, and growing a beard things may go significantly wrong.  Cortisol levels have also been reported as increasing due to overtraining.  Cortisol is the main stress hormone in our body which alerts the brain that something isn’t right and we should be prepared.  Cortisol is also know to increase body fat, mainly because we are in survival mode and this is a natural response in preparation.

Other effects of overtraining include:

  • Decreased oxygen intake
  • Increased muscle soreness
  • Increased anxiety, depression, anger
  • Increased fatigue/chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased drive
  • Lack of confidence leading to depression
  • Repeatedly getting injured

 

In the end you will notice a change in your overall performance.  Failing on lifts you previously were able to hit, having trouble getting through workouts, and just feeling overall sluggish.  You are starting to regress.  Actively getting weaker, slower, and your stamina is deteriorating despite the regular physical activity you are taking part in.  These are all signs of overtraining.

The solution is simple: REST.  Take a break from the gym for a few days and let your body heal itself.  Give it a break from the constant stress of exercise and focus on other activities.

If all of this information is not enough to turn you away from the gym for a few days hopefully a real life situation will.  Being a coach at another CrossFit box I have seen overtraining and its effects first hand.  We had one client who had the typical CrossFit mentality of pushing oneself day after day leaving no room for rest.  She started to see her body deteriorate from the over stimulus.  She lost strength, drive, and stamina leading her to become frustrated.  Upon the suggestion of one of the coaches she took a full week off from the gym.  She did absolutely nothing gym oriented for 7 days.  On the day she came back she immediately jumped onto the pull-up rig and busted out 2 strict pull-ups.  To make even more of an impact, she had never been able to perform even one pull-up prior to her week of rest.  Giving her body that time of rest allowed her muscles to recover and perform beyond what she was able to do before.

Next time you question whether you should head to the gym for a workout listen to your body, identify your own motives for training, and educate yourself by either talking to a trainer/coach or researching.  In the long run switch up your training routine and don’t push yourself every time you workout.  And most importantly rest!