Every day when you come in to workout, we go through a warm up prior to starting your lift or WOD. The warm up is tailored to that specific day to prepare your bodies, physically as well as mentally, for the exercises you will be performing. During the warm up you can possibly identify some problem areas that might be bugging you, whether from a previous WOD or maybe even an impending injury. At the same time, you are also sending messages to your muscles saying ‘Hey guys, I want to hit a PR on my backsquat today! So you need to wake up and help me out here!’
As coaches we give you cues to point out the areas you should be targeting. While most of the time, athletes are pretty good at staying focused during the warm up, sometimes it becomes too much of a social hour and less of a warm up. It turns into a “bar” happy hour where athletes are just going through the motions of the warm up but not actually paying attention to cues your body is sending you.
Now, we understand the gym is a place for most of us to unwind and release some tension from our work day. And I’ll be the first to say that I’ve been distracted and have also distracted others by catching up with friends and what’s going on in their day-to-day. All I’m saying is perform a proper warm up. Remember that PR you wanted to achieve? Well your hamstrings might be in disagreement and say ‘No way dude! My partners to the north, G-lootes have been bummin it in a chair for totes too long today! Hit me up next week!’ But if you aren’t focused on the signals your body is sending you during the warm up, you’ll miss the clues and risk injury. Rather than speed through the warm up, take note of what’s ailing you that day. Focus on more mobility work rather than put your body through something it can’t and won’t handle.
For more tips on what you can do to minimize your risk at exercise induced injury, read the rest of the post from the Whole 9 blog here.
Don’t forget to wear your Halloween costume to all classes today or face a 100 burpee penalty!
2 Chest-to bar pull-ups
2 Pistols (per leg)
4 Chest-to bar pull-ups
4 Pistols (per leg) ….
Continue adding 2 more reps until time expires.
While I was making dinner the other night, I listened to an interesting podcast from the Dave Aspry’s bulletproofexec.com site. His podcast included guest Dr. Ben Lynch and they discussed MTHFR, the dangers of folic acid and why you should care. The podcast is over an hour long and it’s super technical and interesting, so I recommend listening here if you’re interested, but I’ll try to cover the high points.
First, if you do a google search of MTFHR there are a ton of articles with titles about gene mutation, overcoming disease and depression, and even infertility. These topics sound familiar if you have done any research on the Paleo diet, and if you’re following a Paleo diet, you’re already on the right track.
Your body uses methlyfolate to make proteins, process antioxidants, process fats, reduce inflammation and is also involved in cell growth, maintenance and repair. I’m sure the list goes on, but clearly its important. If you have a MTHFR gene mutation, which the majority of the population does, you’ll have a reduced ability to convert folate (not useful) in the body into methylfolate. This gene inefficiency can lead to issues with cardiovascular health, mental disorders such as depression, bipolar, anxiety, cancer, infertility, autism, troubles with weight loss and diabetes. YIKES!
So, what can we do? One, if you are taking vitamins, specifically a B complex or a multivitamin, look at the ingredient list and specifically for either folic acid or folate (as folic acid). I thought I was making a good choice with my vitamins but the second item was what was listed on my B vitamin bottle, so the vitamin producer was paying attention to economics, not science. What you want to find is vitamin producer that uses 5-MTHFR specifically. Two, if you really want, you can get genetic testing to determine if you have the MTHFR gene mutation. Fortunately there is a really easy way to get that testing completed for $99 through 23 and me. Third, just take precautions and follow a paleo-type diet, eat protein from meat and avoid processed foods that are often loaded with folic acid.
Like I mentioned earlier, check out the podcast if you’d like a more scientific explanation of MTHFR and why you should care about it.
Don’t forget to wear your Halloween costume to all classes tomorrow or face a 100 burpee penalty!
Yup, I said it, you’re not a 10. Maybe a 6 possibly an 8 on a good day. I’m sure as hell not a 10, I’m a solid 6.5; 7 on a good day. In my dreams I’m a 10. In fact, I can scientifically (somewhat) figure your exact number out. What am I talking about? Your damper setting! What did you think I was talking about?
If you were to enjoy a few moments of sitting on an erg, you may notice the giant rotating lever on the right hand side. Next to this lever are numbers ranging from 1 to 10. While these numbers are in no way indicative of your personal worth or amount of sass, they are very important. The damper directly controls the amount of air flowing into the flywheel at the completion of the stroke. Smaller numbers means less air slowing the flywheel down which is less resistance. More air is more resistance which essentially stops the flywheel upon completion of the stroke. Rowing at a 1 is like rowing a sleek racing shell, quick and almost effortless. Rowing at a 10 is like rowing a tugboat full of candy across a sea of caramel, it’s Halloween, I can make that reference.
If neither of those analogies work for you think of this. Rowing at a 10 is essentially opening the door for injury. Wide open. It would be like doing max deadlifts at high volume. Why? Why would you do that? Even after a few sets of moderate weight deadlifts, the average athletes’ form starts to fall apart. Imagine form breakdown on an erg. Opening the back early, using the wrong muscle groups, it’s bad news. And our bodies, while strong, usually don’t adapt in the way we want them to under heavy loads. Very few people have good form on an erg let alone keep it together at a high damper setting for a long amount of time. Similarly, using a trainer bar with plastic weights for deadlifting will not do much for you in the long run other than teach you form. That has it’s benefits but we’re looking for a good sweat session. In a workout capacity, rowing at a damper setting of 1 won’t help you gain meters.
How can you find your optimal setting? Well, you can fine tune that info at our rowing classes or know that the average setting for men is 6-8 and women can hover between 5-7. Try it out and stop trying to be a hero. Leave the 10’s for strength training work and the 1’s for form. Happy rowing!
Back Squat 3 x 5
10 Thrusters (135/95)
5 Muscle Ups
25 Double Unders
10 Thrusters (95/65)
2 Rope Climbs
15 Double Unders
So, with our new venture and roll of the dice, we figured one of the biggest areas we can tighten our budget is with food. Our grocery bill, previously comprised of J&J Beef, Whole Paycheck, and farmer’s markets, and our dining out budget were astoundingly high once we added it all up. Granted, Cade’s love of meat and Sean’s protein demands don’t help. Not like I eat like a bird either!
We did a quick assessment, and on some days, our family of 3.75 can put down close to 2 pounds of meat per meal. Yikes! Factor in good meat and produce sources, which is easy to find up here, but still by no means “economical,” it makes it tough to stay on budget. So I’ve made a plan for the next few months to see if I can stay on task and cut our grocery budget by 30% and our dining out budget by 80%.
1. Cash only: Keep two envelopes with cash for each budget. Put all related receipts in there for accountability.
2. Buy in bulk when possible: Shop at Costco once a month for supplies and some organic foods (toilet paper, guacamole, pet food, marinara sauce, olive oil, spices, butter, greens/salad, mustard, supplements, apples, sweet potatoes).
3. Shop at grocery store for a 5-day food plan: We try to buy pastured eggs/bacon for breakfast and plan for dinners with enough leftover for the next day’s lunch. Nom Nom Paleo has been a go-to for recipes and to keep things from getting boring.
4. Keep a stock of different seasonings/flavor genres: Coconut aminos/green onions/ginger/garlic make an instant asian sauce while Salt Creek Rub(thanks, Marcus!)/apples/onion/mustard make for a perfect pork dish. Sriracha, maple syrup, coconut milk, lemongrass, crushed tomatoes, and various cheeses are big “bang for your buck” seasonings.
5. Grass-fed when possible: Buy pastured chicken and grass-fed/pastured fatty cuts of meat. Leaner cuts of beef will most likely be whatever is on sale and available. Pastured chicken thighs are cheaper and because they were raised well, I don’t have to worry about the Omega 6 to 3 ratios. Since animals store toxins in their fat, I would splurge on the fattier meat (chuck roasts, pork butt roasts).
5. Buy seasonal produce: It’s almost always on sale, freshest, and has the least carbon footprint. The only thing we do get (and hope to cut down on) is bananas for Cade. Also winter squashes are versatile, inexpensive, and delicious savory or sweet.
6. Plan your meals out: Try not to get caught in a situation where we’re hungry and “don’t have enough time to cook.” This has been an easy excuse to run out to “grab” a bite. The result is a mediocre meal that costs more than a home-cooked meal and not even enjoyable the way a well planned, yelp researched meal would be.
What are your budget saving ideas? Any advice? Post to comments.
Push Press 3-3-3-3-3-3-3
(Perform each set OTM every minute after a 5 minute warm up)
10 Hang Power Cleans (155/105)
All in all, things are going well here in Portland. I’ve been posting updates every couple of days on our Intrepid Athletics PDX Facebook site so be sure to like the page and stay updated on how things are going. As of today the lime green stripe has been painted around the entire gym but the dark blue only half. The rubber mat flooring was delivered on Thursday and I’ve laid and trimmed 5 of the 13 rolls starting from the front of the gym by the double roll-up doors and working back. The bulk of our equipment has also arrived and Coach Avelyne helped unpack most of the gear while her and her boyfriend, Mike, were visiting last week.
It feels like we’ve got a lot done, but we’ve still got much more to do. Tomorrow we’ll be taking all cardboard boxes to the recycling center and getting rid of the broken pallets that Ruth won’t be able to convert into patio furniture for our home. I’ll be taping and painting the blue stripe over the next couple of days so that it wraps around the other half of the gym and touching up the stripes I’ve painted so far. As I lay the next couple of mats, I’ll be able to start the installation of the pull-up/squat rig. The racks will look familiar to El Segundo Intrepids as we plan on doing a nearly identical layout as we had with the last pull-up bars; six squat racks, three per side, and plenty of pull-up space with some dirty south pull-up bars on the sides for multi-level pull-up options. Because we have more floor space here at our Portland facility, the pull-up rig will be put right in the middle of the gym and have more space on the back side since the mezzanine won’t be hovering over the back three racks. After all the rubber has been laid, the painting has been finished, and the pull-up bars are in I’ll put in 4-6 lifting platforms.
Our goal is to have the gym in a useable state by Saturday so we can start holding classes. Our class offerings will also look similar to our El Segundo location with CrossFit (our official CrossFit Affiliate name is CrossFit Intrepid North), CrossFit Kids and Teens, Weightlifting, Strongman, and Practical Movement Skills. We’ll keep our Facebook site up to date on all things Intrepid Athletics PDX so be sure to like our page, post a review, or just drop us a message or video from time to time. If you’re social media savvy, help us out and post a review on our Yelp page about your experience with Ruth and I at Intrepid Athletics El Segundo. We hope to have an official Grand Opening sometime after the holidays and baby #2 has arrived, so stay tuned.
Not For Time
Max Pull Ups (until you come off bar)
10 Overhead Lunges (135/95)
5 High Box Jumps (36/30+)
Max Pull Ups (if using a band, no stopping)
10 Lunges (front or back rack)
5 High Box Jumps
Since it can be quite confusing when one is presented with conflicting advice, I felt it necessary to rehash the issue of icing. It’s no secret that we coaches at Intrepid are advocates of icing both for recovery purposes and to knock down inflammation post-injury. This stance dates back to Sean’s post Ice, Ice Baby or my ode to the ice bath, Polar Plunge.
One of our athletes approached me since we frequently quote Kelly Starrett (aka K-Star) and in fact link to his site, Mobility WOD. His question was with regard to icing, since K-Star had a change of heart and is now very much against the idea! Kelly was one of the people I quoted back when I wrote about ice baths, so I had to check out his post.
In his post, K-Star references a couple of studies that influenced his decision and says that he has gone anti-ice with his clients post-surgery and post-injury for the last year. He goes on to recommend revising the well-known RICE recommendation to instead be MCE (movement, compression, elevation). This taken alone can be pretty convincing to jump ship when it comes to icing.
However, another site we reference (and link to in the sidebar), 70’s Big, also tackled this icing debate. Justin was a little skeptical of the case presented by K-Star and felt he may have drawn an incorrect conclusion from the studies. Justin stressed that the benefit of icing is going to depend upon the specifics and will vary from person-to-person. In his next post, he then detailed exactly when would be the best times to ice and how to get the most out of it.
While I would strongly recommend you check out the posts yourself to come to your own informed decision, I can say that our advice at Intrepid falls along the lines of what Justin at 70’s Big suggests. That is, icing is beneficial for acute, soft tissue injuries and the contrast method (ice baths) can aid with systemic inflammation. Any other conclusions would need more substantial research that just isn’t present yet.
Earlier this week we had a WOD with 9 box jumps during every round. Normally I do not have any issues with the movement. Box jumps are actually one of my favorite movements that we do in the gym, but that day they just didn’t feel right. My timing felt off as well as my overall speed of the jump. I am usually quick to touch the ground with both feet before making my way to the top of the box. During that particular WOD my feet felt heavy and felt like they were getting glued to the ground. In the end it was just one of those off days and we are bound to have them as Holley mentioned in her post.
If this off box jump day became a more serious issue I would consider ways to improve the box jump. Just like any other movement (clean and jerk, snatch, etc.) there is a proper technique. When we are discussing box jumps we need to make sure we leave the ground with two feet and land with two feet at the same time. When our feet land on the box it shouldn’t be a hard stomp. It should be a soft landing and under control. There are times when I haven’t been properly balanced on top of the box and that leads me to falling off. Help your balance by focusing on a horizontal point. Even looking at your target will help with balance.
What about rhythm? Jumping down and back up in one motion is probably is the most effective way of completing a rep. Taking the rest on top of the box is better because as soon as you begin resting on the ground you have to waste more power and energy to get back up. It would be a lot easier to rest at the top of the box and use the momentum of jumping down to the ground to get back up like a spring.
What I like about box jumps is that it can really help with other movements that we perform in the gym. Box jumps help with increased explosiveness. The more we jump and the higher we jump onto a box the more explosiveness we will develop in our legs. This also ties into our Olympic lifting. We need fast hips during the pulls of the snatch and the clean. Box jumps definitely help with faster hip flexion. Box jumps can also improve our cardio. The box jump for multiple reps can be an exhausting movement. After 5 reps your heart rate is already on the rise.
What do you like about box jumps? Have you noticed improvements in other movements by simply working the box jump?
Teams of 4:
Buy In- 10 Burpees (Relay Style)
*Two people working at a time
I’m a fan of stories from Ancient Greece. I like to share them with my 7-year old boy and help him understand the lessons any allegorical tale has to offer. One of my favorites is the story of Milo of Croton.
Milo of Croton was a 6th Century BC wrestler, athlete, and all-around badass. He was said to have dominated the competition for a time lasting over 20 years. He was one of the earliest Olympic Games champions earning that title a total of 6 times. However, one of his most famous claims to fame is the story of why he is often referred to as the “father of progressive resistance exercise.”
When Milo was a young man he lifted and carried around a young calf as he cared for it. He did this over the course of 4 years. As the baby calf matured into a young bull, Milo continued to lift and carry it around which in turn caused him to grow stronger. He is said to have carried that animal around until it became a mature bull.
Then, he ate it. By himself. In one sitting. Talk about getting your post-workout protein!
Unfortunately for Milo, his demise came when his hubris got the best of him. He came across a split tree in the forest and attempted to tear it apart with his bare hands to display his strength. His hands got stuck in the trunk’s crevice and, unable to free himself, he was attacked by a pack of wolves.
The story illustrates some great lessons that can be applied to strength training. On one hand, the story shows what happens when we let ego take over instead of trusting nature’s process. On the other hand, Milo’s story illustrates that strength building and the methods by which it is acquired is nothing new. A progressive increase in stimulus (weight) and the body adapts (strength). That strength is earned patiently over time.
This ancient lesson teaches that strength training can be very rewarding even with tiny incremental bumps in weight. Progress can be shocking when looking back, say, 4 years before the athlete ever began training.
Bench press 3 x 5
3 rounds of the following:
Then, 800m Run
Have you ever experienced one of those really rough days at the gym? You know, when you stand up out of the squat rack with you warm up and you swear you loaded the bar wrong because you must already be at your workset weight? Catalyst Athletics released a great blog post about this topic specifically, you’re having a bad day at the gym, what happens now? While the post is geared towards olympic lifting, it can apply to you no matter what activity you’re doing. When you realize you’re having one of those off days, you have several options going forward. You can scale back on weight or intensity, you can give up on that particular activity/skill and maybe spend a little extra time on mobility, or just pack it up and go home. I’m sure there are a variety of other options, but once you realize you’re having an off day, before you decide on your next move, consider the factors that are contributing to your off day. Did you miss out on sleep? Did you skip out on mobility work the day before? Was a particular part of your warm up missing? Did you have an especially draining day at work? Did you miss a meal, or make poor food and drink choices the day before or earlier that day? Are you starting to get sick? Any of those external or internal stresses can contribute to a bad day, and a combination of a couple may make for an especially bad day. Once you’ve considered contributing factors to your bad day, then make a call on how you proceed, or mention it to your coach and they can give you advice going forward.
The blogger from Catalyst, Mike Gray, makes a great analogy which leads to a very important conclusion about bad days and I’ll share it with you below:
“It’s like walking a tightrope: when it’s going well, the rope feels like a sidewalk and you just can’t miss, but at some point that sidewalk shrinks down to the size of a piano wire and it makes staying up there that much more difficult. So you are going to slip and your body is going to remind you that not every day is going to go as planned.”
I love that analogy and it’s so true when you’re making progress, but at some point you will slip up. What’s important to remember is we can’t get hung up on yesterday’s rough day, log it and move on and look forward to a better day tomorrow. When preparing for an olympic weightlifting meet, I’m almost to the point that I look forward to my bad day right before the meet because the next day when it matters, it goes so much better!
Skills Day: Farmer handle carry
The goal board near the athlete journals has been a bit still lately. Has any progress been made? Are you shy about your goals? Did you forget?
In this age of smartphones, computers of every shape and size and automated everything, we really don’t have an excuse to forget to work on our goats. If you like to live in the digital world, check out an app called Balance. It is a tasking app that can be set to remind you to work on your goats, goals or tasks on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.
Completing a task will unlock rewards and while it isn’t money, it is satisfying. For instance, want to be able to hold an L-Sit for more than a minute? Set a reminder in Balance to alert you on a certain frequency to practice L sitting. It’s really an app centered around building good habits. If you’re one who is great at procrastinating or need an extra bump of motivation, check this free app out. It’s never a bad thing to build good habits.
Power Clean and Jerk 3×3
5 Snatches (115/75)
7 Toes to Bar
9 Box Jumps