H.A.M.

Hard as a Mother Fucker.

That’s what it means for those of you not up on your Ubran Dictionary terms. This past Monday was the first time I had ever had to stop during a WOD and say “I need to stop.” It was a weird experience for me that is for sure. You see, I have been working with a chiropractor for about a month now to deal with some issues related to a previous work-related injury. Since I’ve started working with the Chiropractor, I have drastically dropped my intensity at workouts. That was until this week. We have been doing some “One Rep Max” Attempts at AE Crossfit. I thought, why the hell not. I’ll give it a shot. I worked on Snatches and Hang Cleans.

I don’t like going from zero to a one rep max lift. Part of this is just ingrained training from my Crossfit Birth. When I work on 1RM, I will start with 5 reps at about 65% of my previous 1RM, then 3 reps at 75-85%, and finally will do 1 reps increasing in weight until I hit a “No Rep.” I am very happy to announce that I had a 25 pound personal record with my hang clean, for a total weight of 165. At 165 pounds I got greedy, I wanted to add more weight onto the bar to see just how far I could go. So I added 10 pounds. I reset my body position and began the motion of a hang clean. I used the power to clean the weight up to the front rack position, except I had lost control over the lift and ended up hyper-extending, or arching my back significantly. I had dropped the bar right away, and decided that a 25 pound PR was good enough.

Now, I didn’t start out writing about this post to brag about my abilities when it comes to lifting. I am writing this post to talk about proper form. I have collected some videos that you can check out below. Some of these failures are just related to the weight, meaning that the weight was simply too heavy for the strength of the athlete. Others, however are just overall poor form.

I’ve also been watching many of the other athletes at my current box and find that they don’t seem to be all that concerned with form at all. I would watch them carelessly muscle weight above their heads with no regard to form. It almost seemed like it was a bit much for the coaches to try and keep up with people and their form, but they did a good job with keeping up on correcting people.

Since the reason I started this blog was to help guide the beginner Crossfitter, I will say this:

  1. Without form, your lift means nothing other then the basis for your pending ortho injury.
  2. You will see your strength PR’s skyrocket when you get the PROPER form down for OLY lifts.
  3. Work up to the “Hardo” weight. If you start off with the heavier stuff, and don’t work up to it, that will also increase your likelihood of injury.

Here are some of the videos I was speaking about. Tell me this, what do you guys think about the form in the clips below? Let’s get a good discussion going about it.

This first video is from the Crossfit Albany. I have no idea who their coaches are, what they are doing, or even if this is a LEGIT WOD session. If it is, shame on them because their coaches are just setting their athlete’s up for potentially debilitating injuries.

Here, is simple misfire lifts that just don’t go exactly the way that it should. Remember people, it is easier to drop the weight and set up the lift again, that it is to repair an injured back, neck, or other body part.

 

 

 

 

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Stay on Top of It.

A little Tuesday Meme humor for you… 🙂

I was at the box last Wednesday, our strength and mobility work included working on Hang Clean Progressions. These progressions worked up to our 3 rep max weight (so 92% of your 1RM). I didn’t have my Weight Log with me at the time, so I went with what I thought was close to the required weight. I worked up to a weight of 145#. It felt good, and I definitely worked hard for my last few reps. After getting home, I had realized that I actually set a new personal record. It was a 45# PR! I almost actually started dancing around in excitement.

Now, I didn’t start writing this post to tell you how awesome I am. Although, let’s face it…I am kind of a big deal. Not sure if you knew that or not yet. Just kidding.

In Crossfit we use a variety of factors to quantify our training. Some of them are the Benchmark Girls (Fran, Grace, Diane, Chelsea etc), Hero WOD’s, and our 1RM (Rep Max) Numbers. Staying on top of these numbers allow you to actually see the results of your training. It’s not up to your coaches to keep track of it, it is up to you.

That being said, I have been playing with a couple different ways to track WOD’s and 1RM’s over the past few months. I started out originally using a simple composition journal. I found that easy to do when everyone else is doing the same thing. If no one else around you is doing it, then it is very hard to have to stop between the work outs and flip through the journal. I think after a few months of trying different methods, I have finally found a system that works.

First, for the 1RM’s I use an iPhone App. This app is called “MyWOD.” Through MyWOD you can easily track everything about Crossfit. You can track your WOD’s, PR’s and Rx WODs, Max Weights, and Common WOD’s (Heros and Benchmarks etc). I like using this app specifically for tracking my max weights. It allows for quick and easy reference during WOD’s with little interruption to the flow of the class.

To track my WOD’s I actually just started using Beyond the Whiteboard (BTWB). It is a company, unaffiliated with HQ, who have developed a web based workout journal. Since my box has subscribed to the company, it allows all the members to log on and track their WOD’s weekly. The WOD’s are typically already entered into the website and all we usually have to do is add our results to the site. BTWB also allows us to track meals, and weight, as well as establish and track our goals for the year. It takes all the information and inputs it into graphical format for quick and easy interpretation of results that we are seeing. My only complaint about this website is that there no specific place to track our one rep max. If they had that, it would be probably the best and easiest way I have seen to track and manage your workouts.

While this may have been a bit of a rant, hopefully it helped you figure out how to keep track of how you’re doing. I’d love to hear from you, and see how you track your WODs.

Something’s missing….

Good Sunday Morning everyone!

To all the Father’s out there, Happy Father’s day.

So I started at a new box at the beginning of this month. It has been kind of a rough transition for me for a bunch of different reasons. I am going to talk about atmosphere, equipment, facility, and coaching. I can’t decided if this place is too “post-bok” for me or what.

Atmosphere is interesting. Due to my schedule I am usually restricted to the morning WOD’s. I call it the hour of the soccer mom’s. I usually go for a 0900 hrs WOD. The class size is extremely manageable and allows for individual coaching with little effort. It isn’t really a social group, but that may also be because I am the new guy. Definitely a problem I didn’t have at my last box. That is starting to improve, but it is frustrating.

Since AE Crossfit is part of the Athletic Evolution training facility, the equipment is new and expansive. Options are endless, thanks to their two different indoor turf areas. The only thing I could really complain about their equipment is that they have no rowers. I didn’t really think about it until I was craving some rowing work and I looked around for them in the box (and their training side). I couldn’t find a single rower. Now, AE Crossfit is a new box, it opened back up in Nov/Dec of 2011. I understand that you need to work out the kinks in the process, but I was beside myself that there were no rowers. Luckily the WOD’s have successfully distracted me from that.

Finally, coaching. I have only worked with one of the coaches for the gym. That beings said my opinion of the coaching can be a bit one-sided and may not be fair but its my experience thus far. I have worked with a coach who appears to be very knowledgeable in the ideals of Crossfit. He has a strength and conditioning and sports medicine background (at least that’s what he says). He is helpful when he notices a problem with your form or technique. The only thing that bugs me, and I mean REALLY grinds my gears about him is the cell phone. In 5 out of my first 6 workouts, after the WOD is done, and he shuts the music off, he is texting while leading stretching. It would be fine if he was able to master the art of multi-tasking but it seems like this is a skill that he needs to practice. He can get very easily distracted (via the phone or talking in person) and will leave us in a stretch longer than needed.

I am gonna take some time and walk through a typical hour at AE Crossfit. We all come into the box, put our names up on the white board, and move over to the turf for a dynamic warm up. The warm up usually consists of running laps, with burpees, jumping jacks, air squats, spider man stretches, and inchworms. It definately gets your heart rate up, and gets you ready for the WOD. Next we move onto the skill/strength session. This is usually the only part of the workout that leaves me unsatisfied. There is usually one strength movement (bench, squats, snatch, push press etc) with a weight of your choosing, combined with a mobility component. I can see the value in it for beginners, but it seems to be a bit lacking. I am also used to doing Wendler Cycles at my old Crossfit Box which I LOVED.

Now with that being said, it should be known that I don’t really want to leave. I just would like to see some improvements at the box that could really improve their performance as a box. Also, they all gave us new scan tags to check in when we come to the BOX. I think they are pretty funny, despite the globo-gym feel it gives off…take a look.

I am happy to say that I am member # 047!

Now, with all this bitching and moaning. My question is how do you approach the owner/coach about where the programming is going? This is something I haven’t had to deal with at my previous box. I was lucky to have a myriad of coaching styles and knowledge bases to pull from. Some were really good with nutrition, some with strength and conditioning, and some have it all going on.

Maybe I am just being hypercritical?

New Month, New Box

I can’t recall a time P.C. (Pre-Crossfit) that I ever spent so much time analyzing and interpreting a box. I went to a new box this past Monday. It was only 5 minutes from my house, so it was super convenient.

I haven’t decided yet if this box is for me, or if it is just one that will become a memory. It is AE Crossfit in Woburn MA. The manager (Erik) was super responsive to emails. I informed him I was looking into finding a new box, and he was very accommodating with getting me in to try out some WOD’s.

What’s that they say about first impressions? This Crossfit box is part of a larger athletic performance training facility. I was not sure what the actual square footage, but there was plenty of impressive equipment. The people in the gym, were a little standoff-ish at first, but after a quick introduction on my part that was no longer an issue.

Programming was pretty solid, we did a dynamic warm up (which was a pretty fun way to do it if I do say so myself) then we did a mobility skill session prior to the WOD. The WOD was challenging but not overbearing.

Pricing was also very reasonable for all the boxes in the area. First Responders/Millitary can get an unlimited membership for $125 a month. Most box’s in the area have prices ranging from $150-200 for unlimited sessions.

Overall, I would say that I definitely enjoyed my first visit. I am going to keep going back until I realize one way or another if I will make it my home Box.

Until next time, Keep Calm, and WOD on.

EDIT 1: So I have been here a few weeks now. I am not super impressed with the strength and conditioning, but the WOD’s are still pretty solid. Still on the fence as to if this place is for me. I will definitely enjoy it for now.

An Open Letter to Crossfit 508

To all the members and coaches at Crossfit 508:

Thank You.

The end of January of this year, I failed my third attempt at a PAT Exam for a job. I finally decided that enough was enough. I have had several friends who were already into Crossfit, and I simply reached out to them for information. I paired that with endless hours of aimless YouTube clip browsing, and main site perusing. It was settled, I was mentally ready to “TRY” Crossfit.

A quick Google search would bring me to an affiliate map, and I found the closest box. I remember my first night like it was yesterday. I got to the Box about 15-20 minutes early, so nervous that I was feeling like my bowels would turn inside out and eject out my…well…you get the picture. I walked into the gym, and then it hit me…

HOLY SHIT, I AM ACTUALLY DOING THIS.

At first, I felt like the fat kid in gym class that no one wanted on their matball team. Then the first member came over and introduced themselves, and it was like I was instantly welcomed into the club. Throughout my foundations program, I worked with Ditano as she showed me the ropes. Kicked my ass with…motivation when I needed it. I will always remember the little short winded shouts of encouragement form people doing the regular WOD. After that, I worked mostly with Dawn-Marie during the daily WOD’s and I didn’t get to work with the other coach’s all that much, that is probably the only thing I regret.

Thank you for inspiring a positive change in my life that was long overdue. Good luck in achieving your goals from here on out. I will miss you guys!

~Ryan

The significance of “Murph”

Happy Memorial Day

A special Thank You to the Men and Women of our Armed Forces, protecting our daily lives. Your sacrifices are not forgotten, and cannot be repaid.


In Crossfit there are several workouts which are labeled HERO WOD’s. These WOD’s are designed to push you mentally and physically in the effort to pay tribute to those who have laid down their life in the field of battle, or public safety. Each WOD has a story, each story has a purpose.

Many Crossfitter’s have heard of “Murph.” Few have experienced it, including myself.  The Murph WOD is for time:

  • 1 Mile Run
  • 100 Pull Ups
  • 200 Push Ups
  • 300 Squats
  • 1 Mile Run

Doesn’t that make you want to shit your pants? Because it should. Most of this WOD is mental. You have to push yourself to the point that your body is literally going to fall apart. Here is the story of Lt. Michael Murphy KIA on June 28th 2005:

A team of 4 Navy SEALs led by LT. Michael P. Murphy on a mission to capture or kill a key Taliban leader, found themselves seriously outnumbered in a firefight with well over 100 enemy troops. Pinned down and under intense enemy fire, their communications operator severely wounded, they were in desperate need for help. Due to the mountainous terrain, their communications could not be received. Understanding the situation, LT. Michael P. Murphy moved to open exposing himself to enemy fire, to use his satelite phone to request immediate support to save his team. LT Murphy was mortally wounded making that call. They continued fighting until Lt. Murphy and two of his three team mates were mortally wounded. His fourth team member, severly injured himself, managed to escape where he was taken in by a local villager until he was rescued 4 days later. He went on to tell the story in a book titled “The Lone Survivor”

For his selfless leadership, courageous actions and extraordinary devotion to duty, LT. Michael P. Murphy received the Medal of Honor, the first service member to receive the medal in Operation Enduring Freedom, and the first Navy recipient of the medal since Vietnam.

How you do “Murph” can vary from Box to Box. It is pretty common to see the WOD done in partner form. Basically this splits each part of the WOD in what ever form the partnership would like. This allows for one partner to carry the load when the other partner needs a rest. All in all, you are keeping the sacrifices of people who you don’t even know in mind. You keep their sacrifices in mind when you feel like cheating a rep, or feeling like you cannot continue. You keep in mind that they couldn’t stop. They couldn’t see their families one more time, and it helps you pull that last possible ounce of energy out of your muscles in order to succeed in the WOD.

As hard as the “Murph” WOD is…I cannot wait to try it for the first time.

Obviously, Crossfitters around the world doing the various hero WOD’s will not bring those lost on the field of battle back to us. It does, however, help you take LESS things for granted. It helps you remember that someone, somewhere died. You may NEVER know their name, but they were thinking of you, and every American when they took the risks that cost them their lives.

Keep this in mind when you are enjoying that cold beer with your families this summer. To all those who have fought, and currently fought for my freedom…thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Click HERE for an article from the Crossfit Journal that explains the Hero WOD’s a little bit better than I can.

The New Obsession, is it Healthy?

As many of you CF’s out there know, we have a pretty awesome thing going on. We have the support of our fellow WOD’ers when ladies like “Fran,” or “Helen” decide to rear their ugly heads and kick our asses. The question I am going to pose to you today:

Is there a point where Crossfit & Paleo Nutrition can become unhealthy?

My gut reaction to that question is no, at no point can Crossfit or Paleo Nutrition become unhealthy for a person. You have to think about it. How could working out, eating right, and improving yourself actually be bad for you? For the 99.95% of CF’ers out there, it is completely a healthy occupation of the mind. We get into the program wanting to better ourselves in some way, whether that be appearance, strength, or some people can get into it for mental preparation.

BUT…..

See what I did there? I just put a big BUT in the post! HA!

I know….It’s 0745 on a Thursday morning and I am blogging because I woke up early, and can’t go back to sleep. Please excuse the cheesy humor.

Anyway, where was I? Right…I am waiting for the Crossfit God’s (Glassman flanked by his two angels Fran and Grace) to smite me down for this bit of pseudo blasphemy I am about to spew thru the keyboard.

Crossfit can be unhealthy for a person. Many of us feel the need to workout. We get used to certain routines feel like we need to push ourselves to exceed the normal, or the comfortable. It can reach a point where it does become unhealthy. There is sufficient evidence out there that Crossfit can cause Rhabdomyolsis. “Rhabdo” for short is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage. Scary shit right? This CAN seriously F*ck up your life.

I did some searching on the great and knowledgeable internets. I found a CF Journal article from an MD in Northern Arizona. Rhabdo is commonly seen in burn patients, severe bee sting patients, and  victims of crush injuries. According to Dr. Ray, Rhabdo is occasionally seen in patients who have been exposed to high intensity exercise in high heat. Athletes will first notice their symptoms of Rhabdo when they start urinating “coca-cola” colored urine. You can also feel nausea, and muscle fatigue but as Crossfitter’s sometimes we overlook those symptoms because that’s how we feel after a really great WOD.

So I am not going to go much more into the science behind Rhabdo, I did link up to the article above and please feel free to read it for yourself. It is very informative. If there is anything you should take away from this blog post, its not that Crossfit is bad for you. I’ll admit I may, or may not have used that tag line to draw you into the post. Sue me. I want you to be educated so that you can properly hydrate, and rest after WOD’s to make sure that your body has time to recover and doesn’t literally destroy itself in protest to the exercise. If ever you doubt, or question any of  your symptoms after a high intensity WOD…SEE A DOCTOR. You only get one body people, take care of it. That is, after all, the reason most of us started doing Crossfit in the first place right?

Now…remember when I said Paleo can be bad for you too? I will admit I may have embellished that line a tad as well. Sue me, again.

I follow the Paleo Diet Lifestyle’s blog. I have all his cookbooks. There are some BOMB recipies on there, its an eBook download and let me tell you it was worth the $29.99.

Anyway, I am getting off track here. On the PDL’s website, there was an article that got my attention. It had to do with Eating Disorders and a Paleo Diet. It actually has a lot to do with how American society thinks about food. I am telling ya, it was a great article to read. I have talked a lot lately about nutrition, mostly because when it comes to food I have no will power. I try not to stress over what I am eating, but sometimes you just can’t help it.

What I love about this article is it touches on some very good points about combining Paleo with a person who has disordered eating. He does a great job noting that it is NOT actually the diet that causes these problems, but it is the effort to maintain the diet that can spiral out of control to an unhealthy obsession. In case I don’t say it enough, this was a great article. Please click the link in the paragraph above and read it over. Even if you don’t suffer from disordered eating, it provides a wealth of information on a topic that is so often tabooed in our society.

For example, he uses this self assessment to determine if you are taking the Paleo diet to an unhealthy obsession:

  • When you break your own food rules, do you feel like you’ve failed as a person?
  • Do you assign extreme moral qualities to food, especially negative qualities (e.g. “white flour is evil. Sugar is the devil. I don’t need to abuse my body with poison like that.”)
  • Are you nervous about eating something anyone else has cooked, even if the person tells you the ingredients?
  • Do you frequently get frustrated because nutrition information isn’t precise enough?
  • Do you feel fear or hatred for certain foods (not the people or the advertisers or the culture surrounding the foods, but the foods themselves)?
  • Do you ever lose sleep worrying over something you ate or are considering eating?
  • Do you consistently feel that you have to keep making your diet stricter and stricter?

If you can answer “YES” to any more than two of these questions, you should have some serious concern. Basically, if you find yourself obsessing over the food that you eat to the point that it effects your life, that’s when you have a problem.

Remember that this is not to put down the Paleolithic Nutritional plan. Like I said earlier, it is the best plan that I have encountered to date. It is backed by scientific research, and most importantly (for me) is not commercially motivated. No one profits off of you switching to primal eating…except for maybe Whole Foods, but that’s a topic for another day.

I hope this post gave you a little self-awareness about your nutritional plan and exercise routine. Neither of these plan’s are actually bad for you people, remember that. It becomes destructive when it becomes an obsession. The kind of obsession that keeps you up and night and effects your relationships with others.