Back in March, Coach Alia and I attended a rowing seminar and I had mentioned in one of my posts that we would be sharing some tips in the near future. The time has finally come where Alia and I would like to host a Rowing Workshop. We decided that two different days would be best. The first is Thursday, June 6th and we will have two sessions that day. The first workshop will be at 630am and for those that can’t make an early morning session we will have the other at 12:00pm. The second day will be Saturday, June 8th and that session will be at 11am. Each workshop will be an hour long. Some of the topics that will be covered will be body positioning, damper settings, and overall technique. There will also be a short workout towards the end of the session. If rowing happens to be a goat of yours or you simply want to row better we believe this workshop is perfect for you. There will be 8 spots available per workshop so check the schedule next week for availability and go ahead and sign up. The workshops will be free for all, but if you are feeling generous you can donate $5-$10 that will go to the gym. We can’t promise that you will find a new love for rowing, but you can expect to be a more efficient rower. We are very excited to be hosting this workshop for the gym. If you have any questions feel free to contact either one of us.
As we continue with our benchmark WODs from the start of our Nutritional Challenge, I thought it would be helpful to re-post some box jump tips for today’s max height box jumps. Max height box jumps tend to strike fear in me. It’s that fear of missing the box and scraping your shin or exploding and miscalculating the angle forcing you to overshoot the jump. However, the last time we did max height box jumps, I cleared my head of my fears and returned to my childhood when I would jump over anything that got in between me and my target victim in a game of tag, including retainer walls. Maybe it’s because the retainer walls I imagined in my head had nice “cushions” of plants to break my fall, whatever it was, it worked and I PR’d my jump. If this strikes a chord with you, try it out. If not, here are some helpful tips to achieve your max height box jumps today.
1.) Stand in front of the box. Your feet should be directly below your hips.
2.) Crouch down, bending at your hips and knees into a partial squat, swinging your arms behind you.
3.) Explode upwards, coordinating the swing of your arms with the extension of the hip to maximize momentum. This should be a function of your hips and calves more than your quads.
4.) Tuck your knees and hips. Fully extend the hips at the top.
5.) Jump backwards slightly, making sure to clear the edge with your shins and knees, but minimizing the height you gain off of the box.
6.) Land with soft knees, absorb with your toes first, flexing at the ankles.
** If you have a history of overuse injuries in your knees/lower legs, or you are relatively new to training, a step off the box into a powerful jump would be more appropriate. **
As many of you know, I love to jump rope and I geek out over new jump rope technology. This past weekend, I made a new discovery! At the SoCal CrossFit Regionals last weekend, I discovered the holy grail of jump ropes. I’ll be honest, when I first saw the rope I wasn’t impressed. The handles looked too heavy and the rope lacked the second bearing to provide a second pivot point. However, they had a max rep double unders in 1 min competition, so of course I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t get a PR because the rope was unfamiliar to me and not quite the right length, but I knew immediately that the rope was far superior to any that I had used before. The rope was FAST and when my form started to deteriorate as I got tired, I could feel the rope fighting the inefficient turning. The brand is called RPM and it’s definitely a fitting name. Now what makes this rope so great?
First, the rope is a lot lighter than it looks. The handles are a heavy duty metal designed to withstand having a barbell dropped on it, but if you’re turning the rope correctly, it feels like an extension of your hand. This leads in to a second point, it trains you to turn the rope correctly. It becomes challenging and quite tiring to turn the rope with your arms, so it forces you to learn to turn the rope with your wrists. When you start turning with your wrists, dubs feel effortless. The rope sticks out of the handle in the direction that it is turning, so a second bearing is unnecessary. This contributes to the effortless feeling when turning the rope, as well as the automotive grade bearings they use. All of those features make it great for both the advanced jumper and someone who is just learning their dubs.
I was instantly sold on the rope and purchased one (including an engraving of my name on the handle) at regionals. They offer black and silver handles and two types of cables. They have a heavier coated cable designed to last longer when you’re learning dubs and landing on the rope all of the time. Plus the extra weight helps you to feel the rope a little more as you’re learning proper dub technique. They also offer a light weight uncoated samples for the proficient jumpers. For the proficient jumpers, it’s the next step to making your dubs (or triples or quads?) faster. I knew it was a good rope when we saw reps from other jump rope companies trying out and purchasing the ropes.
If you’re interested in getting one for yourself, they will be at the Games in Carson (you don’t have to have a ticket to check out the vendors). Also, you can order them and replacement parts on their website. Once you purchase a rope, they also have a great page on how to size your rope based on your skill level (or read about it in a past post). I met a few of the professional jump ropers that work for RPM and it turns out the National Jump Rope competition is in Long Beach at the end of June. If you’re interested in going let me know, here’s a link to a preview of performances from years past.
We are nearing the end of the Nutrition Challenge and all who participated are to be commended, both for their achievements as well as for their perseverance. There are a few last details as we finish out the challenge.
This week we will be re-performing the same workouts and lifts we used as a baseline when we began. Meanwhile, I will be tabulating the data we have collected (baseline results, final results, dunks) and Ruth, Sean and I will determine the winners. There will be one winner from each category: fat loss, muscle gain and performance improvement.
The winners will get a prize package that will be in keeping with the new nutritional habits you have formed. To be eligible for final judging, you must meet the following three criteria:
Pre- and post-challenge dunk results
Completed both the baseline as well as final workouts
Write a short essay about your experience in the challenge — perhaps how it changed your life, what you took away from the experience and any changes you intend to keep going forward
Please be aware that portions of your essay may be used for future posts, but I will consult with you to ensure your comfort with what will be shared.
With the Intrepid Running Class well underway, we’ve been stoked to see each class fill to near capacity. It’s awesome to see a group form within an already strong community and we’re excited to see Intrepid represented in local running events! For those who are curious about the running class, the hour is spent partially on mobility and recovery, optimizing running form, and of course, going out to run. The running WOD varies from sprint intervals, to tempo runs, longer runs, and time trials.
With increased volume sometimes comes increased injury, especially when working on proper technique. Here are some of the common aches and injuries caused by less than optimum running form and the faults that can cause them:
Plantar Fasciitis: One of the most common causes of heel pain which involves pain inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, which runs across the bottom of your foot — connecting your heel bone to your toes. It’s often worst in the morning when you get out of bed.
Causes: Pushing with feet (instead of pulling), heel striking leading to pronation (rolling inwards).
Shin Splints: Most common running injury, it is caused by inflammation of the sheath surrounding your tibia (shin bone). Left untreated (or unrested), it can lead to hairline fractures that are incredibly painful and can take weeks to recover from.
Causes: Pushing with feet, landing with flexed ankles, landing on balls of feet and not letting the heels kiss the ground.
Fix: Bunny hop drill, wall pulls, wall runs, lunge drill, draw the ABC’s with your toes, ice/rest, roll calves with roller/lacrosse ball.
Calf pain/tightness: Same cause/fix as shin splints. Patellar Tendonitis Syndrome (PTS): Keeping in mind that the force you create when you land while running is 2.4x your body weight, the excessive stress on your patellar tendon caused by heel striking will lead to potentially chronic inflammation.
Causes: Striking with heel, leading to pronation.
Fix: Wall pulls, wall runs, lunge drill
Hamstring Pulls: Most people report hammy pulls during sprinting. Conventional wisdom had been telling runners for years to reach and push to generate speed. Unfortunately, the more you reach back with your leg, the longer the lever you create with your hammy. When the poor thing is stretched at its limit as you contract it to reach even further, a strain, pull, or tear is inevitable.
Causes: Mostly caused by pushing and reaching back with your leg as you run.
IT Band Syndrome: Unfortunately most of your problems with your IT Band has been decades in the making since the average urban human spends much of his life in a seated position. This creates a tight immobile IT Band instead of a pliable one. Its job is to stabilize the knee, especially when the hips are below the knee. The quad should running smoothly over the band, but scar tissue between the muscle and the band (and a weak glute) can add to the problem.
Causes: sitting all day at work
Fix: Roll your IT band. Yes, even if it makes you cry or curse. Roll it every day.
Lower Back Pain: When people first learn about the POSE method and the “fall” position needed to generate forward momentum, they often misinterpret this as a bending forward at the hips (Think the beginning of a stripper stretch or RDL). This is mostly caused by our self preservation instinct and counterbalancing so that we won’t fall forward. Ironically, the fall position necessitates us getting leaning so that we almost do fall, whereupon our foot lands on the ground directly underneath us. The lean is from the ankles and not the hips.
Causes: bending over at the hips while running.
Fix: Wall run, partner assisted lean starts.
Since most of the above injuries involve inflammation, let me take a moment to plug our friendly fish oils. Get in the habit of prevention rather than ignoring the problem and then masking the eventual pain with NSAIDS(advil/tylenol/etc) instead. You can’t “pop a couple of fish oils” and expect instant results, however. Reread Marcus‘ and Sean’s post on your Rx’d fish oil for athletes.
In short, there’s good swelling and bad swelling that occurs when you exercise. The good swelling is necessary for recovery. The bad leads to injury. NSAIDS only alleviate the good swelling and not the bad. Fish oils only treat the bad swelling. Which one do you want to take?
*Nutrition Challenge bencharks will take place Wednesday and Friday (and included yesterday’s workout)*
Hang Power Clean 3×3
12 Kettlebell Snatches
8 Toes to Bar
A common oversight among athletes and coaches alike is weight distribution in the foot. Not only while lifting but also when just standing around. I’m slowly making my way through Kelly Starrett’s new book Becoming a Supple Leopard when I had a light bulb moment. Despite the teachings early on from Coach Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength, the lecture from Mike Burgener and Greg Everett, and now the words of Kelly Starrett, I heard what they were saying but the concept didn’t register in my brain until recently what keeping my weight in the center of my foot felt like, and what a difference it could make.
All too often our default is force our weight back onto the balls of our heels when lifting because the most common fault is for our weight to shift forward more to the balls of our feet. This usually happens when the bar drifts forward or because our posterior chain is either fatigued or just weaker than our quads. A more accurate placement of the weight in our feet is just forward of the ball of the heel, or just in front of our ankle bone. This puts our center of mass directly in the middle of our base of support (the area between the center of our heel and the ball of our foot–see Holley’s post “Area of Base“). Mark Rippetoe’s cover art on his Starting Strength book is a great graphic to help deliver the point of not only where the bar needs to be, but also where our weight should be because those two things are inextricably linked when we’re lifting.
On the other hand, I typically find myself with my weight too much in the front of my feet when I’m standing around. Being more mindful of keeping my weight centered in my foot helps my posture and my gluteal activation when standing and walking. Pay attention to the weight distribution in your stance and see if you can improve it by centering yourself better over the middle of your foot. Dig your heels down when you need too, but know that too much weight back can be just as detrimental as having your weight too far forward.
Starting June 3rd, the Basic Barbell trial phase ends. To continue lifting we ask you pay an additional $60 per month (in addition to your CrossFit membership) for the 2 extra sessions per week or you may pay on a class by class basis at a cost of $15 per class. The program serves as a way to increase lifting volume beyond what is accomplished in the CrossFit class as well as an on-ramp to the Advanced Barbell course which focuses exclusively on Olympic Lifting. New participants need prior approval from Ruth or Sean, so check with us first if you’re interested.
One of the biggest points I took away from the recent MCT trigger point class involved fixing problems from the ground up. Feet are so incredibly important and precious. Feet are the starting place for fixing problems in the MCT trigger point world. Generally, I observe a lot of people foam rolling their backs, lats or quads. The big muscle groups that do a lot of work. But what about our feet. When you are at home foam rolling, as a good athlete does, are you foam rolling or using a lacrosse ball on your feet? Why not? There are so many ligaments and muscles doing all kinds of work down there all the time. They work just as hard if not harder as all the other muscle groups we have.
Feet are the front line when it comes to impact on the body and are required to be pliable enough to adapt to many different surfaces. On the flip side, if your feet are damage or impaired in any way it requires a total body compensation method that can throw your natural balance off and disrupt movement patterns. For example, We can sprain our fingers and it’s simply a matter of using our other fingers or hands to help manipulate objects. We bang our toe on the corner of a door or dresser and we hobble along helplessly for a few minutes or hours depending on the intensity of the impact. The posture changes, walking mechanics are altered. Recruitment of muscles not normally used in walking can be activated; like our shoulders to brace us against a wall as we hobble along. It’s silly that such a small area of our body is so important. But that is the point. Just because it is small, it doesn’t deserve to be ignored during MCT therapy or foam rolling.
Women take heed. I see women wear 5-6inch heels and watch the way it affects their body. All women with heel wearing experience are affected. From the young girl walking like a newborn fawn; legs and ankles wobbly and transferring into the upper body. Knees forward, pelvis tilted and lumbar hyper extended to the veteran runway model who artificially drops her hips to emphasize the femininity of her walk and transferring some of the flexion and extension into her upper back. That isn’t a natural pattern of walking. And men, on a sunny day wearing flip flops; toes curled to hold the sandal causing the toes hyper extend to maintain shoe position. Ouchie. I’m not saying drop the heels and sandals in a heap and burn them. Just don’t neglect the feet when you stretch and foam roll. It’s as simple as taking a lacrosse ball under a socked foot and rolling it around in small circles, applying as much pressure as you can stand. Same with the new MCT rollers. Wear socks and roll gently back and forth.
Side note, as an alternative to flip flop, may I suggest Tom’s or Sanuk’s sidewalk surfers. As far as heels go, well I guess some like to suffer for fashion.
We push with our legs and balance with our feet. Shake our bodies to the beat and hustle and flow with your feet. Would you run a marathon on your hands? It’s 26.2 on your feet. Take care of them and treat them well. It’s nice to come home after a long day at work or hard day at the gym and roll out your feet. Below is another great resource about feet from CrossFit Endurance, B-Mack and MWOD’s K-Starr.
Last week Mark’s Daily Apple had an interesting read on skipping meals and workouts as being healthy. Based off the title of the article it’s no secret that rest days are beneficial. Days away from the gym allow the body and mind to recover from the variety and intense workouts we do. When it comes to food, I am constantly eating throughout the day to keep my body properly fueled. During the nutritional challenge I especially had to keep up my food intake so I could perform well on lifts and WODs. So it would be hard to imagine that skipping meals would be beneficial for someone like me. As I read on I did learn that there are plenty of benefits of skipping meals, or as the article calls it, “Intermittent Fasting” or “IF”. Within the article there are a few links that provide back up on studies performed on animals and humans and the results from fasting. Through these experimental studies, humans not only showed a decrease of fat loss, but improvements in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. Although these particular cases had positive outcomes, it does NOT mean to go ahead and immediately skip meals throughout the day and see how you feel. If this is something that sparks your interest then do the research and find out if this something worth exploring. As for me I personally feel that I will have major setbacks if I don’t keep my body fueled. The times that I have missed a meal I start thinking that my body won’t be properly balanced for the remainder of the day and thus won’t perform as well in the gym. Luckily as I kept reading I found that our body doesn’t work like that. Just because I haven’t eaten for 8 hours my body won’t burn my muscle for energy. It is same concept when sleeping at night for 7-9 hours. Sure, I’ll be hungry, but just have to remember it is not the worst case scenario. So from this article we can take that skipping a meal and a workout is not necessarily the end of the world. You don’t have to beat yourself up over “Intermittent Fasting” with a meal or taking a “Rest Day”. Unless certain goals are in mind say, gaining muscle, then eating and working out consistently would be vital. Please go ahead and take a look through the articles as they provided great information.
Today marks day 1 of the SoCal CrossFit Regionals Competition where the top 48 men and women as well as the top 30 teams from the Open will complete 7 grueling events over the course of 3 days. For the second time since the inception of the Games, all athletes across all regions will complete the same 7 workouts to have a true worldwide comparison. Each athlete will have a Level 1 judge watching every rep to ensure proper movement standards are completed. And, barring disqualifications or failure to complete minimum work requirements, there will be no daily cuts. At the end of day 3, only the top 3 men, women and teams per region will advance to compete in the 2013 CrossFit Games at the Home Depot Center July 22-28.
Shown below are the Individual and Team Events listed by day. While tickets are no longer available online, you can still head down to the Del Mar Arena located at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar 92014 and purchase tickets at the door. There’s also a $10 daily parking fee. I believe there’s a group of Intrepids who are heading down to watch Saturday’s events.
Courtesy of http://games.crossfit.com/workouts/regionals
Courtesy of http://games.crossfit.com/workouts/regionals
As you can see, the athletes have their work cut out for them. Watching these top notch athletes give it their all for a top spot will be inspiring. The roar from the crowds cheering each athlete down to the last rep is the intoxicating CrossFit camaraderie that we love and it is sure to be experienced at Regionals. If you weren’t lucky enough to grab Games tickets on May 13 (They sold out in 15 minutes!), I highly recommend going to Regionals. Good luck competitors! We look forward to a great show!
Well, I think that I’ll go first. I participated in the nutrition challenge and I now have the results of my dunk and have an inkling about how the performance and strength portion will go. I’ll guide you through my personal evaluation and hopefully you all will choose to do the same. My first step was to look at my original goal and the steps I was planning to take to geth there. I made my goal to increase strength and I was going to do that by lifting more and increasing my food intake (paleo choices). I kept a food log and took weekly pictures to track my progress. I also added strict pullups, pushups and ring dips to my daily routine.
My next step is to evaluate how well I stuck to my plan to meet my goal, and the outcome of the challenge. I would say that with the exception of a couple of weeks where work and travelling kept me busy, I stuck to my goal. I was eating a lot more protein and always ordering extra meat when I went out to eat. The weekly trip to the grocery store included a lot more food than normal. I was also giving up some weekend metcons to lift more, and making sure I did squat and some form of deadlift twice a week each. At the end of the challenge I had gained about 1 pound of lean mass and my bodyfat percentage was essentially the same. I anticipate that both my performance and strength will have improved, just not as much as I hoped it would with my increase in food intake and lifting volume. However, I did notice a huge improvement in my ability to recover from a heavy lift day or from a tough WOD.
The final step is to determine a path forward based on your results vs your original goal. Personally I was hoping to gain more lean mass and improve my strength significantly and therefore end up with a performance improvement as well. Since I feel I fell short of my goal, but saw a performance improvement, my plan moving forward is to continue to not focus only on protien, but try to increase my fat and (paleo friendly) carb intake. I discovered that clearly I wasn’t eating enough to recover, so now that I’m recovering, I need to add more to my diet to see a significant strength and performance improvement. Over the next three months of keeping up with my lifts, and increasing my fat and carb intake, I’ll benchmark the challenge lifts once again and see if I find a more significant improvement.
Now that I’ve opened up to all of you, hopefully some (or all!) of you will be willing to open up with others and discuss your results and adjusted goals/plan. We’d love to hear nutrition challenge reflections from each and every one of our participants. Maybe consider submitting a post-style reflection that could be shared with the gym. There are a lot of different body types out there, but usually there’s someone out there with similar goals and goats, and they would benefit from hearing about your lessons learned. Now that I’ve broken the ice, who’s next?