How do you cover your Recovery?

How do you cover your Recovery?

With most ambitious fitness enthusiasts, people want physical results fast. You will sacrifice many things in order to increase your Clean 1RM, improve your “Fran” time, or complete the workouts “Rx”. Whether you have to come in to the gym 5-6 days/week or sacrifice your technique, people want results as quickly as possible.

While putting your body through all these outside physical and mental stressors, do you take as much or even half the time to let your body recover appropriately? This is where we need to look a bit deeper.

Think of your body as your bank account. In order to have a high yielding account, you need to be making Benjamins and depositing into your account to stay in the green. If you are constantly buying new toys, clothes, and withdrawing, you will see your balance fall into the red.

Now, picture your account as your body. If you are making lots of withdrawals (working out 4-6x/week, eating/sleeping poorly) and not depositing (soft tissue work, flexibility/stability work, sleep, proper energy intake) you will find yourself in the red or acquire a physical injury/ailment.

Simply, be aware of your body and the methods you use to improve your abilities while staying within your overall holistic state of well-being. Here are a few tips to help make the right deposits into your body’s bank account.

  • Sleep 7-8 hours/night
  • Fuel your body within 30mins post-workout w/a 3::2 Carb to Protein ratio supplement. This could be with food or liquid form. Discounts @strength.com/kendallsquare
  • Take 10-15 mins 3-5x/week to work on soft tissue release and flexibility/mobility

 

Maintaining Your Health During Travel

Kendall Square is a very transient area. Many of our members find themselves traveling often for work, school, or pleasure making it a challenge to fall into an exercises routine or hitting goals because the consistency just isn’t there. I recently came across an article which addresses how travel can disrupt our healthy lifestyles and what we can do to lessen the blow a bit.

Should you Exercise?

Travel can be very stressful on both the body and the mind. Adding exercise, especially high intensity exercise, can add another stressor to the body which can end up being more of a burden than helpful. Play it by ear, depending on how you are feeling. If you are going to compromise sleep to get a workout in it may not be the best option. If you are feeling good, are well rested, and your body isn’t too stiff from the travel then try to stick with your normal routine and try to make that a priority while you are away. Remember, just because your body isn’t feeling the best doesn’t mean you should just sit around. ROMWOD and YogaGlo are two awesome resources that make hotel workouts easier. You can also go for a walk or visit a nearby park. So many options with little to no equipment!

Sleep

When it comes to sleep, try to stick with your normal routine. Shower, read, brush your teeth, etc. Your body likes routine and sticking to your bedtime schedule will tell your body it’s time for bed. Also, make sure to prepare your room to aid in a good night of sleep. Blackout the room with curtains, turn off lights and keep the temperature cool.

Jet Lag

Many of us travel through time zones which can really mess with our schedules. If you are traveling for a week or more try to shift your schedule to the time zone you are in. It may also help to change your schedule at home a few days before you leave by moving all activities up an hour. If you are traveling for less than a week, stay on your home time. Also, make sure to hydrate always while also keeping caffeine and alcohol to a minimum.

Getting through a Long Flight

Preparation is your best friend when traveling. Make sure to pack some snacks or a full meal (check the TSA website for approved items) to get you through a long trip. Airplane/airport food isn’t always the healthiest and can completely through you off. During a long flight, prepare by wearing comfortable clothes, getting up to stretch throughout and hydrate!

Dining Out

Again, planning is key here. Make sure to take a look at all the restaurant options in your area and make a list of the best options for your diet (vegetarian, paleo, etc). Tell the waiter what your food preferences are as soon as you arrive so they can assist in substitutions. When in doubt, make it easy for yourself by ordering a salad without certain items dressing on the side, a burger without a bun or stick with an entrée that offers meat and vegetables.

All in all, try to keep your stress levels low, keep your routine as normal as possible and most importantly, be present and enjoy yourself!

 

To Open, or Not to Open

To Open, or Not to Open

We are immersed in the CrossFit Open season, seeing new challenges this year. Many of us have taken on these tests, some have seen success while others have found their limits. This idea of how the CrossFit Open can demand so much from each athlete becomes a topic of debate. Is it worth the time and energy to put my body and my mind through the rigor of these workouts? I have reached out and heard feedback from our KSCF members and found introspect as to why they have or have not signed up for the CrossFit Open this year

 

To Open

First, we believe it is a huge achievement to register for the CrossFit Open. Especially for those who are doing it for the first time.

My beliefs are that the Open is simply a “competition” with oneself. It is an opportunity to evaluate your personal skill, strength, and mental resilience in a community and worldwide event. You are able to receive support from fellow friends, boxmates, and others while testing yourself.

Here are some responses from our KSCF members. Some are direct quotes and some are paraphrased from what I have heard.

  • “Since I have started the Open this year, I really like how it has challenged me and opened my eyes on my weaknesses and where I need to work more.”

  • “I knew this Open wasn’t going to be a good one for me, but I signed up because it will expose my weaknesses and I plan on training my ass of this year for next year’s Open.”

  • “I enjoy the camaraderie. But personally, I compare myself to myself and what I have or have not done in the present or past. The personal aspect is much deeper for me, which is not in the scope of your question. Although the workouts are not the same year-to-year, it is a good way to use motivation from others to test yourself and use your rankings to others to compare how you’ve done from year-to-year.”

Not To Open

  • “There are both CF-related as well as personal factors that deter me from the Open. I am not convinced of the goodwill of those behind the competition and the workouts themselves. I am not convinced that I am physically or mentally prepared to see how I stack up against all other crossfitters. I have not yet worked out how CF fits in with my broader goals and life in general, and entering myself into a competition under such circumstances does not seem wise. If I am honest with myself and pay heed to my natural tendencies as well as my previous sports-related experiences, I can clearly see that it would be ill-advised at this time for me to compete in the CF Open.”

  • “If I didn’t sign up for the Open, no one would count my reps.”

  • “I did not want to sign up because I felt as though I was not in my peak physical composition and would not stand up to the standards I had set for myself. If I participate in the Open and do not achieve what I feel I should, I know it would deter my inner confidence even more.”

For all who are part of the KSCFam, may the odds be ever in your favor?

The CrossFit Open: A Tool For Success

The CrossFit Open: A Tool For Success

“My goal for 2017, is, to do all of the CrossFit Open workouts, Rx.

I don’t want to be in the scaled division anymore.”

                                                                   -KSCF member

This statement, made by one of our KSCF members in early January, is by far the greatest thing I’ve heard in the box so far this year.  It speaks to the inspiration story behind The CrossFit Open.  It is a clearly telling message of how this worldwide competition is a great source of encouragement, and how it is a strong motivating factor that pushes us to aspire for new personal heights!

The Open competition is the epitome of a fitness measuring stick. It serves as a tool for tracking our personal progress each year, and as our barometer for measuring how we stack up with every other fitness-hungry person around the world.

The Open gives us the chance to compare our own performance with everyone out there, WODing their hearts out too, in the more than 10,000 CrossFit-affiliated boxes worldwide.  Moreover, it’s an energizing stimulus that incites us to push harder, and to always strive for new personal bests.

For this reason, for the purpose of propelling yourself to higher heights, I urge you to join in the fun and compete with the rest of us in this years CrossFit Open!

Let us revisit the determined sentiment of our CrossFit companion quoted above…To move above and beyond, to work oneself out of the scaled division and finally compete in the Rx division of a global fitness competition- this is a supreme goal, and it will be a superior achievement.

I can’t wait to see this individual live out their aspirations in a few weeks, in The 2017 CrossFit Open, starting on February 23rd.  I promise, You will too!

Building Toughness in the Gym

Many of us have seen the person in the gym who may not be the strongest, may not be the most fit, or may not have the highest skill level.  What this person has is something called toughness.  Toughness is characterized the ability to overcome challenges, ignoring the voice in your head when the odds don’t seem to be in your favor.

So how do you build toughness in the gym?

Little challenges are helpful to building up toughness and allowing you to better yourself inside and out of the gym.  Here are some examples of challenges that I and others have used.

Set Challenging Goals. When performing major lifts try to push. We did this with the Wendler program and I believe a lot of you surprised yourselves. Take a front squat for instance, pick a weight that is challenging for 5 reps and push to 10. Keep the bar racked until that full set of 10 is done. Just make sure you are staying safe. Do not push yourself too far to the point where form is compensated.

Intervals. What is worse than having to do the same thing over and over while also getting more and more tired.  This is the epitome of building toughness.  Set goals for yourself here too, but make sure they are reasonable so you are able to get yourself to the “redline” point without complete failure.  For instance, using the assault bike 6 sets 30 seconds on, 15 seconds of rest I know I can complete 8 cals if I really push myself.  Through all 6 sets I want to get to at least 8 cals.

150 Unbroken Wallballs.  Using a movement with less skill but which requires a mental push is a great way to build toughness.  The goal here is to keep the ball moving until all reps are complete.  If this seems a little too out of reach cut the reps down or break into sets.  I have personally used this one myself.  During a workout, I pushed myself to complete 50 wallballs unbroken, I honestly didn’t think I could but I surprised myself, and then I did it twice more in the same workout.  Now I know, during workouts, where I stand and how far I can push myself.

50 Unbroken Back Squats at Bodyweight. This is a great goal to try to work up to or to push your body into doing every year to show progress. Make sure to warm yourself up for this properly by warming up to the working weight through a series of sets. If bodyweight is a little aggressive right now choose a load that you can do for 30 reps and then challenge yourself to do it for 40, then 50 and work yourself up. You will get there one day! Of course ensure that you are a strong squatter first as mediocre form and technique can become dangerous with all of the volume accumulation and time under tension.

Nine Minutes of Hell. We have done a workout in the past similar to this one. The title is not my own, but definitely describes the workout well. As stated above, please make sure proper form is first and foremost before attempting this challenge or adding weight. Take roughly 35-50% of your 1RM back squat and perform the following:

3 minutes of Back Squats without racking the bar
2 minutes of Rest
2 minutes of Back Squats without racking the bar
1 minute of Rest
1 minute of Back Squats without racking the bar

In addition, if you are pressed for time, this workout gets you in and out of the gym pretty quick so you can get back to your daily life.

Good luck and enjoy!

Do You Trust Your Gut?

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates

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The old adage “trust your gut” is no longer a hypothetical phenomenon; It is REAL.

Current science shows us why the inner workings of our digestive tract, our gut microbiota, is vital to our health.

Why is Gastrointestinal health so pivotal to our overall health?

GI functioning regulates our metabolism, our hormones, and maybe even more importantly, it plays a huge role in determining our energy levels.

Metabolism is rather simple. It is the process in which our body converts food into energy to do work, and then thereafter, the excretion of the substances that are not usable by our bodies (a.k.a. waste)

Benefits of proper GI health

  • Increased satiety of meals
  • Decreased diarrhea, constipation,  and IBS symptoms
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Increased synthesis of nutrients and their bioavailability
  • Decreased obesity, Type II Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, and other Metabolic diseases
  • Decrease in Neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s, MS, autism)

Proper nutrient absorption to the breakdown of food, our intestines is where all the magic happens.  Within this part of the intestines exists thousands of microbiota. The last stop through the intestines is the colon. The colon presents us with many bacteria (good and bad), more specifically, Prebiotic and Probiotic.

Pre/Probiotics

Some well known bacteria are Prebiotic and Probiotic. These two include various microbiome that helps improve our gut flora.

Probiotic is a greek word meaning “for life”. We can find many of these Probiotics in foods which have been fermented. Although the benefits outweigh the negatives, digestion of Probiotics are affected through the GI path. Stomach acids and liver bile can break these bacteria down, disabling them from making it through the intestines and into the colon.

Prebiotics are a bit more gritty than their probiotic brothers. These guys are not affected by the acids or bile, and so can travel through the intestines and be utilized fully. Generally, prebiotics make it through to the colon where they help fertilize even more good bacteria.

Add these to your diet to get that GI Flora brewing:

Probiotics

  • Yogurts
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir

Prebiotics

  • Raw asparagus
  • Raw leeks
  • Raw dandelion root
  • Onions, cooked or raw
  • Raw garlic
  • Very unripe bananas before they turn yellow

“If you don’t take care of your gut, you don’t take care of your body, and if you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”

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Skillz With Focus

If you are new to CrossFit you’re at a great advantage, and you have a once in a lifetime opportunity at your doorstep…Tabula Rasa, the blank slate-  take advantage of this!

As a beginner, you’ve not yet been shaped.  You have the potential to shape yourself well, to develop quality movement patterns, and to form good habits right from the start.

For long term success, it’s crucial to be patient, and take the time required to learn each skill with quality.

In a letter to coaches, CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, explains:

“There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art, to quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate movements, skills, or techniques.  This compulsion is the novice’s curse- the rush to originality and risk.”

“The Novice’s Curse manifests as weak fundamentals, and, ultimately, a marked lack of virtuosity and delayed mastery.”

So, how to avoid the novice’s curse and develop into a well-rounded athlete?

Here are some simple and effective strategies for optimizing skill acquisition:

  • Define the goal, devise a plan to reach it, follow the plan, and adjust it accordingly along the way.
  • Don’t overload and overwhelm yourself, pick one or two skills to work on. Work them until they’re developed to proficiency, then move on to the next goal.
  • See it to Feel it…You must feel what’s happening in your body in order to change what’s happening with your body.  Often, we must See it in order to feel it. So, watch yourself- take videos, compare and contrast them with videos of the pro’s, and get coaches feedback.
  • Ask coaches for advice, that’s what we’re here for.

Utilize these strategies to get skilled!  And you don’t need to be a beginner to take home the message.  Many, many CrossFit veterans are still afflicted by the novice’s curse.

Be hasty and take the easy road now, get left in the dust later.  Be prudent and take the high road now, become a skill master!

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Eat Whole Food

Anyone who has ever walked into a GNC, or watched infomercials at 3am knows how enticing it looks to pop a pill and achieve your fitness goals in 30 days.

Jars and tubs with ingredient lists that could take an hour to read, closer to two hours when you factor in the time to pronounce them.  And then look up what they even are; methylsulfonylmethane.   But who can resist getting the extra edge, and falling for the “guarantees”.  I know I often can’t.

The nutritional supplement industry raked in $32 billion in 2012 and is expected to double by 2021, all while not needing FDA approval before hitting the shelves, scary stuff.

However, the fact remains nutritionists, scientists, and researchers alike do still not fully understand how our bodies interact with all the nutrients in food.  It is estimated that 80% of nutrients found in whole food that provide health benefits are still not known.  So don’t be surprised if your bottle of wonder supplements doesn’t keep its promises.

When you rely on supplements you sacrifice all the benefits of whole food.  Nothing will ever replace working hard, eating right, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep.

And the next time you want a cookie, eat a cookie.  Sugar, butter, vanilla, egg, flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips.  Not – Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour [Unbleached], Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Non-Hydrogenated Margarine [Natural Oil Blend] (Palm Fruit, Canola, and Olive), Filtered Water, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Lactic Acid (non-dairy), Annatto Extract), Raw Sugar, The Complete Cookie Protein Blend™ (Soy Protein Isolate, Wheat Protein Isolate, Wheat Gluten, Pea Protein), Non-Dairy Chocolate Chips (Chocolate Liqueur, Sugar, Non-Dairy Cocoa Butter, Vanilla), Brown Rice Syrup, Filtered Water, Chicory Root Fiber, Oat Fiber, Natural Vanilla Flavor, Sea Salt, Baking Soda.whole-food-shopping-list-

Can Beer Aid in Recovery?

When I was in Grad School, my final project was a Grant Proposal and mock research study on recovery drinks. We chose three common beverages; whey protein mixed with water, chocolate milk, and tart cherry juice, along with water as the “control”. Spoiler alert, the whey protein and chocolate milk came out on top.
 
We all know that the best components for a post-workout recovery drink or meal is a mix of protein and carbs in order to replenish what was lost and broken down during our workout. Ironically, this concoction sounds a lot like another popular drink on the market.
 
Beer has made its debut over the last few years as a choice in the post-exercise recovery beverage line up. Most heavier beers contain a solid amount of carbohydrates, measureable amount of protein, and it’s made with water, right? Not to mention, there is a hint of electrolytes and some plant-based nutrients coming from the hops, yeast, and barley. All components we want after a workout.
 
Not so fast, most beer contains only about 14 grams of carbohydrates in one drink which is not sufficient for recovery. It is also missing out on lots of significant vitamins and hydrating electrolytes, also important for our recovery. The effect of alcohol on your body may also be a major disadvantage.
 
It’s not all bad! Beer may not be a sufficient drink post-recovery on its own but it’s not a bad addition to your post-exercise meal. Make sure to eat a balanced meal with the beer providing a sufficient amount of protein for your muscles and to buffer the effects of the alcohol.
 
So next time you go out for a recovery meal, don’t hesitate to grab a beer along with but remember moderation is key!
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Training with Intention and the Hook Grip Nitty-Gritty

Whenever you step into the box, take a moment to think about what you want to accomplish. At its core, every BHAG is just a collection of small achievements that we accumulate over time. Each training session is an opportunity to tick an item off the list (no matter how small) that will bring us closer to our endgame, and training with intention will make every session count.

Knowing what you want to accomplish in a WOD is paramount to how you approach the movements. For example, the hook grip is critical to Olympic lifts in terms of grip strength and transferring momentum from your body to the barbell. If you are going for a 1RM snatch, you’ll pull more weight with a hook grip than without one, plain and simple. If you’re doing a WOD with high-rep power snatches, a hook grip is still your best bet–not only will it preserve your grip, but the strong connection will allow you to cycle the bar faster.

Now, if you’re going to hook grip either way, does the reason why really matter? The answer is a resounding YES! Despite what Yours Truly may have told you in class, the truth is that while you should almost always hook olympic lifts, there are exceptions. If your grip strength is lacking, for example, heavy snatch pulls with a conventional grip could do your body good, even if it feels like blasphemy (which it should). The point is that your choice is a deliberate one based on your training goals rather than a sheer force of habit or aversion to discomfort.

Last month Coach JJ asked us, “What is your why,” and I cannot stress how important it is that we answer this question. It is something we should ask ourselves in every aspect of our lives, from that big picture, overall purpose that gets us out of bed in the morning to the grittiest of details that drive our day-to-day progress. So the next time you go to the box, take a moment to define your intention. Whether you’re there to work toward your goals or just to get your sweat on and have a good time, do it deliberately.

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