I talk to a good amount of athletes who finish a workout and say that the workout “crushed them,” but what they are actually saying is “I didn’t do well in that workout” or “everyone did better than me today.” I know this because I do it just as much as everyone else, but how should we change our frame of mind to turn hard days into encouraging days that help us move forward?
- The WARMUP: Most workouts you see daily have a warm up, a strength and a metcon. Every warmup has a minimum of 5 pieces. Every strength has a minimum of 5 lifts and most metcons contain 2-4 movements. What I’m saying is, don’t get so caught up in the score on your metcon that you don’t notice that your strength has increased significantly in the last 6 months or that you are much more mobile during warmups than you were when you started CrossFit.
- YOUR GOALS: You went to your limit during that workout. You pushed! You gave it what you had, and that’s what matters. CrossFit gives results to those who give effort. Everyday you get to choose whether or not to put effort into moving forward in your fitness journey, and today you chose to take that step. Forget the score. If you gave effort, you already won.
- WE'RE IN THIS TOGETHER: Everyone else is feeling exactly what you are. It’s easy to think you are the only one who has a really high heart rate or a shirt covered in sweat. While you were laying on the floor trying to catch your breath after that workout, you didn’t notice the other 3 people doing the exact same thing. Putting forth effort is tough, but results come from hard work. Don’t forget that the person next to you worked really hard too, and they feel exactly like you do. When you only focus on how hard that was for you, you are assuming the person next to you didn’t have to work as hard as you did. Being a part of a community works both ways. The people around you will encourage you to keep going on your hardest days, and you will also encourage them when they may be struggling. By working hard for that extra rep when you’re feeling tired or giving that extra effort on a tough day, you’re encouraging everyone around you to do the same.
So today, even if you didn’t get the score you wanted, take pride in knowing you took a step towards better health, you gave effort and most importantly you helped grow a community. Now take time to consider how you can do that even more tomorrow. These 3 steps matter more than any score will ever matter but if you continue to take these steps I can guarantee you’ll see your scores improve.
Strength can be a tricky thing. To some people strength seems to come more naturally, while others have to work hard all five training days per week in order to see strength increases. No matter which category you are in, there are a few things you can do outside of the gym to increase strength.
Eat Usable Food Sources
This is an area in which a large majority of people struggle. Strength is increased when the body’s limits are increased, and one of the greatest ways to increase your body’s work capacity is to give it fuel. Normally when people hear that “food is fuel” they instantly think of calories, so they find calorie dense foods and make them staples in their diet. This kind of thinking has some merit, but if you switch your mentality to food that digests well, you will see major strength increases.
For example, the calories in a fast food cheeseburger may add up to the same amount as you would find in a meal of grilled chicken, some white rice and veggies, but your body is going to more easily digest the chicken, rice and veggies, which means the calories in this meal are much more “usable” for the body than the cheeseburger.
Quick Tip: If you are wondering which foods digest better and you want an easy reference point, stay on the outside ring of a grocery store (meats, veggies, fruits, seeds/nuts, etc.) for most of your shopping, and that will help you get a great baseline for foods to fuel your strength.
Everyone knows the “eight hours of sleep” rule, so we won’t be diving into that. Instead we want to focus on the quality of sleep you get. Eight hours in bed isn’t eight hours of sleep, just like sitting in a parked car for eight hours doesn’t mean you drove eight hours to your destination.
A few simple ways to increase your sleep quality is by making your room as dark as possible, keeping the temperature in your room cool and by keeping your phone/tv off thirty minutes before bed every night.
The last thing you can do to improve your sleep that has major strength benefits is to fall asleep and wake up at the exact same time every day. Getting your body on a consistent schedule will help raise the quality of your recovery, which in turn will help you train harder more often.
Quick Tip: Limit caffeine intake after 2 pm for deeper sleep.
Journal/Track Your Training
At South Landing CrossFit, we use Wodify to help us track our progress and make sure we are heading in the right direction. Consistently inputting your scores will help you visualize both your progress and your areas of weakness, which in turn will allow you to see if the things you are doing outside of the gym are helping you toward your goals.
Taking it one step further and keeping a personal training log of how your energy was, how your mood was and how well you slept will help you start to see why you are either making progress, staying the same or struggling to maintain strength. If you come in for a heavy squat day and struggle to even hit 85% of your one-rep max then you can go back to your training log and look at the last two weeks and see how your sleep, mood and energy have been impacting your training.
Knowing how your life outside of the gym is impacting you is a huge advantage in gaining strength because you have the ability to either dial back or train harder based on the metrics you have been keeping.
Quick Tip: Journal as soon as you can after training. Write down your thoughts on training and why you think you are progressing or not, and then start using that information to make changes that will get you closer to your goals.
These three things are things that most people do in one way or another, but doing them for quality is where you can start making big increases in the gym. When your life is full of quality then you will see that reflected in your training. Set a high standard for yourself and for your goals, and you will notice progress very soon.
As coaches, we continually push each of you to improve form and technique, while also encouraging you to hold a high quality of movement standards. Though the push-up is a simple bodyweight movement, it is a very difficult movement to maintain the correct positions on throughout the movement. Oftentimes positions are compromised due to a lack of strength for proper technique or due to bad habits that have been ingrained over a long period of time.
In a push-up, errors can occur from the get-go. Examples include an ugly set-up, sagging the hips or leading with the wrong body part. Form may also break down during the push-up while your body is under fatigue. For instance, elbows flying out wide, lack of core engagement and “snaking” up.
Rather than explaining the push-up myself, I’m going to leave the progression to the CrossFit gymnastics guru himself: Carl Paoli. I highly encourage you all to stick around and watch these videos. They are short, sweet and full of great information!
P.S. Keep in mind a scaled push-up doesn’t mean failure! It just means you are keeping proper form while gaining the strength to move to the floor.
**click videos below to play...
Pushup Progression Part 1:
Pushup Progression: Part 2Read More
Comparison is the thief of joy.
One of the greatest pieces of the CrossFit package is the community you gain when you start training at a CrossFit gym. We have an incredible community of people at South Landing CrossFit that we are amazed by more and more every week, but we want to remind you that the successes of others should never dull down your own success.
Sometimes as a staff, we will be excited to see an athlete hit a major PR on their back squat, but when we come over to congratulate them, their response will be something like “yeah I’m pumped, but I did use the trainer bar.” Or maybe an athlete will have an incredibly fast time for the day on a metcon, but when we give them a high five we’ll hear “yeah it was really fast, but I didn’t use as much weight as so-and-so.”
What the person next to you did during the workout shouldn’t dictate the value of what you accomplished. You got yourself to the gym, you did the entire warm up, strength, and metcon, and you did it all the best you could. That is enough and something to be proud of!
Be okay with doing great! Maybe one day you’ll be doing just as much weight as the person next to you, but you will never get there if you don’t take the time to appreciate your success.
During your time in the gym, we encourage you to work hard, and as you improve, always be more aware of where you were yesterday, last week or even last year instead of where someone else currently is. Chances are, the person next to you was in the exact same place as you at one point. Celebrate the steps of your journey. Every step is important and every step takes a lot of hard work that we are very proud of you for! So today, keep moving forward.
-Coach BillyRead More
Sometimes taking steps towards a healthier and happier lifestyle can feel overwhelming. In a world that sells thousands of diets, health routines, exercise videos, etc., it can be challenging to understand both where to start and how to sort through the massive amounts of information we are bombarded with daily.
Let us give you some insight: if in doubt, simplify. Here are 3 ways to simplify moving towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.
We see paleo, zone, macros, gluten free diets, and the Whole30, and honestly these DO work for some individuals and have the ability to change lives. We don’t argue that. However, they aren’t for everyone, and at the end of the day you can simplify the core of these to eating REAL food. We are talking the stuff that expires, is from the ground, and that our bodies know how to process (think lean meats, nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies, and some grains).
So, instead of trying to read 10 books on new diets and what exactly is and isn’t allowed, think ‘simplify’. Go to the grocery store and challenge yourself shop the perimeter and only buy REAL food. Oh, and go ahead and go through your pantry and throw out anything that would keep you from moving forward. If it stays in your home, you’re most likely going to eat it.
Come up with a plan and take your first STEP.
We love plans. Having a plan is important for three reasons: it makes you write it down and take responsibility… it can be a tool to create consistency… it gives you a starting point. Sometimes we just need something to tell us to take that first step, and a plan can do that.
But, plans can also be dangerous. Oftentimes our “plans” turn into “next month,” or “next year”. Set SPECIFIC measurements with your goals. For example, “I’ll start my workout routine on Monday, November 7th”. We must live intentionally, and we must take each step forward with specific intention.
Find one person or a group of people who you trust and who will keep you accountable to move towards your goal of living a healthier and happier life, and rely on that person or that group to hold you accountable to your plan. Maybe those individuals are at the gym or in your family, but regardless, don’t try to do this alone.
Community is so important because there WILL be days you don’t want to take steps forwards. There WILL be days that it just seems too hard. Set yourself up for success, and find a group that daily keeps you accountable towards your goals. Remember, we are all in this together, and it WILL be worth it!
I love the Holiday season! I love time with family, delicious food and everything this season brings. The Holidays can also be a little overwhelming if you have taken strides towards a healthier lifestyle, and it can be overwhelming to stay on track during this time. We want you to enjoy your Holiday season, while also not completing backsliding on your goals! Here are some of our favorite Holiday Hacks to stay healthy this Holiday season!
Holiday Hack #1: Bring a dish!
Bring a dish you love so YOU know what is in it. My favorite Thanksgiving meal is sweet potato casserole. It's delicious, but guess what, the marshmellow's and pounds of brown sugar don't have to be there to make it delicious. Pick your favorite dish and make a healthy version of it. That way you know that you can eat what you love, but you also know what is in it. Here's a recipe you can try.
Holiday Hack #2: Choose what you love, leave what you don't!
Life is short and if pumpkin pie is your FAVORITE dish in the world and your mouth waters when you think about it, by all means enjoy a piece (not a pie). The Holidays aren't about restricting everything you eat, but when you put a piece of pie, a spoonful of pumpkin cheesecake, an aunt's special brownie recipe, a cinnamon roll (when you don't even like them), a donut, and some skittles on your dessert plate, maybe think twice. Make your "splurge" worth it. Enjoy it. Savor it, and then be done. It's all about making smart decisions and choosing moderation.
Holiday Hack #3: Don't go to an event hungry!
Don't go to a Holiday event or party starving. If you do, you'll have the same results as you do when you go to the grocery store hungry! You'll eat WAY more than you ever intended, feel sick, and then feel you're off "track" all the sudden. You're not off track, you just went somewhere really hungry.
Be smart and eat a small heathy snack or a lite meal beforehand. Eating a little bit beforehand can go a long way. Also, think about having the one plate rule.
If you are doing Holiday meals at your house and want to use recipes that are healthy, here are two great recipes to try for your family!
As always, keep moving forward!
As CrossFitters, we are bombarded with advice in the health and wellness department, and it’s easy to get lost in the vast amount of information. So without much ado, let’s discuss a topic that I feel is extremely important moving forward: Overtraining and Inadequate Recovery.
The technical definition for overtraining states:
“any practice of, or training for, a particular sport which is in excess of that necessary to effectively participate in the sport. Overtraining increases the physical stress on specific parts of the musculoskeletal system, and increases the risk of injury” (1).
For our purpose, CrossFit is the “sport.” We must understand that CrossFit, while in many ways is sport-like, is exercise and fitness. CrossFit technique does not involve practicing your free-throws, slap shots, or penalty kicks. It is a major physical stressor and loading of the body. Therefore, overtraining is more of a possibility in CrossFit than other “sports” and needs to be addressed in order to prevent injuries, as well as allowing for maximal fitness gains. #gainsbro
As you move out of CrossFit “new” to CrossFit “intermediate” there are some important things to keep in mind.
1. As you increase intensity, you must proportionally increase recovery.
Let’s say your routine used to look like this:
- Friday workout (SLCF)
- Saturday Open gym (maxed out DL) → “RossFit” → Community Class
- Sunday (20 Min Run)
- Monday workout (back to SLCF)
As you learn more about your body's capabilities and how to mentally/physically push workouts, even recovery-based workouts or “easy” workouts become more challenging. You will use heavier weights, work faster, and mentally push harder, perhaps without even realizing it. In doing so, your body takes a beating! Keep in mind, life factors are also included in your training and will influence overtraining. Examples are family activities, work, errands, stress, fun stuff, etc.
It is so important to listen to your body as you continue to increase intensity in the gym. Our bodies are smart, and they talk to us. The real question is, do we listen? Our challenge is to start trying to listen to what your body is saying, and learn what optimal recovery looks like for you.
2. You need to fine tune your recovery through proper nutrition & rest.
Recovery comes in many shapes and sizes. First and foremost, your sleep should be on-point. The sooner you get yourself in bed and asleep (before midnight), the better the hormonal “reset-buttons” will be. A minimum of 6 hours is necessary, but most do better with closer to 8 restful hours.
Nutrition also needs to be a focal point.If you are fueling with junk and processed food, you will feel like junk during sleep and in your workouts. Recovery from that workout will take much longer and PR’s/gains are harder to come by.
Active recovery also becomes a necessity. LAX ball rolling in the gym, massages, slow movement, and proper stretching is a must to not deal with nagging wears and tears or even major injuries.
3. Stress makes everything worse.
In the U.S. we deal with massive amounts of stress on a daily basis. Some of us are programmed to handle it better, but regardless, stress is unavoidable. This can be work or lifestyle related, but will always hinder recovery and make overtraining more likely. It is important to be aware of the stress you are under and how your body is recovering. They oftentimes go hand in hand.
4. We aren’t all genetic freaks.
Finally, we all want the above things to not matter that much, and for some people, they don’t (annoying, I know). Professional athletes, some celebrities, and games athletes already have a genetic advantage to the masses. Remember, we are all different, and recovery looks different for each and every one of us. We can only control ourselves, so I leave you with the challenge to start paying attention to your recovery and find what works best for you.
Our goal at SLCF is to keep you healthy and happy on your fitness journey. So remember to decrease the factors for potential overtraining and increase recovery time… aka listen to your BODY! In doing so you will be fitter, stronger, faster, leaner, and overall healthier!
overtraining. (n.d.) Segen's Medical Dictionary. (2011). Retrieved September 19 2017 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/overtraining.Read More
Ever unable to make it to the gym and just want to move? Or maybe you’re on a trip and need some hotel workout inspiration? Here are our 5 at home/hotel workouts you can do at anytime, anywhere.
- "How Fast Can You Push": 5 Rounds For Time: Run 200m 10 Squats 10 Push Ups (modify pushups as needed)
- "Tabata Burpees, Situps, and Jumping Jacks": Complete 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. You will complete 8 rounds of each movement before moving to the next movement (you will be on each movement for 4 minutes total): Burpees...Situps (or plank)... Jumping Jacks!
- "Ready, set, go!" : For time run 1 mile -- complete 5 pushups & 5 jumping air squats every minute of your run.
- “The Grind”: For time: run 400 meters... complete 30-50 Squats... run 400 meters... complete 30-50 Push-ups (modify reps or modify to knee pushups if needed)... run 400 meters... complete 30-50 Sit- ups...run 400 meters
- “The Test”: 2 minute max burpees...1 minute break... 2 minutes max sit ups... 1 minute break... 2 minute max squats
Do you remember how during the first 6-9 months of taking CrossFit classes you were hitting a new PR every single week? You would come in and see "1RM Backsquat" and essentially know that you were about to put a new PR up. I've seen athletes come in and do a workout on day 1 and then repeat that same workout in 2 weeks and finish it 2 minutes faster on a 6 minute workout! That much improvement is absolutely insane, but we see it all of the time.
Well now you are 12 months into CrossFit and haven't hit a PR in 2 months, and you have zero clue why that is. You are coming even more than you were before and maybe even adding in a fun (but challenging!) session in open gym on Saturday mornings, but the numbers still aren't improving. Why is that?
The answer to your "why" is painfully simple. Think back to your first air squats in First Step. You may remember Crissy saying something like, "push your knees out" or "pull your chest up" about 100 times in 3 sessions and as she drilled it in, your movements improved drastically. Then you got into classes and we put air squats into almost every single warm up. All of the sudden you went from not even knowing what "below parallel" was on a squat (yes, it is a safe way to squat) to putting over 185 lbs on a barbell and squatting it with great form multiple times.
Did you get stronger in your first 4-6 weeks of CrossFit? Without a doubt! Was strength what was truly holding you back in the beginning? For 9 out of 10 people the answer to that is a resounding no. What was holding you back was your quality of movement. It wasn't strength that allowed you to squat below parallel, but instead it was quality of movement that allowed you to display the strength that you didn't know you already had. Once you improved the air squat your back squat grew and this is the way it is with nearly everything in strength and conditioning in CrossFit.
HOW TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD?
So where do we go from here? We go back to the basics. You've heard us stress over and over the importance of "excellence in the detail." Warm-ups can seem mundane and less exciting than strength work but be intentional with your warm ups. If the warmup says to do air squats then do them with as much intent and focus as you did in the beginning. If you are pressing a pvc pipe then press it to full extension and work to improve that front rack position. Nothing is asked of you that isn't fully designed to better you and warm ups are a great way to see increased results in your lifts.
Another good way to grow is to find your areas of restriction with mobility and spend 10 minutes on them every day. Try to spend 3-5 minutes in the bottom of a squat through out the day and maybe get upside down on a wall at your house a few times a week. I can guarantee you you will see measurable results in your performance as your movement patterns begin to improve through hard work and perseverance.
If you don't know how to find your limitations, come talk to a coach, and we will gladly show you a few ways to test, correct, and retest different movement patterns that limit you. What worked for you so well in the beginning will work for you just as well now if you give it the chance. When you limit your limiters you will grow in ways that you didn't know you could, so give the basics a chance and see what happens.
-Coach BillyRead More