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.

 

 

 

 

Why Crossfit Is Not Just a ‘Fad’

Here is some great food for thought on Crossfit. Check it out, write down your feelings. Either way, Crossfit isn’t going any where. The businesses will rise and fall, just like anything else in the economy. It is the community that will keep the mentality, and the vitality of Crossfit alive.

Crossroads of the Heart

One of my posts that receives the greatest number of hits each day is this piece on Rich Froning, both 2011 and 2012’s Fittest Man in the World.  Based on this information, the increasing number of commercials on TV, and friends / family members who have gotten involved with a ‘box,’ I’ve determined that crossfit is officially “IN.”

However, as with all things that undergo a drastic surge in attention, crossfit has also received a boatload of criticism.  To the outsider (or unaddicted-er), the community resembles a meat market for egotistical jocks, an inflated workout routine and even criticized for injury-prone movements.

Yet, perhaps the most insulting comment of all comes from the people who call crossfit a FAD.

I will probably still crossfit while I’m pregnant and beyond the age of 70

Ok, before you start freaking out.. are you a crossfitter?

No?

Ok, let me explain something.

I…

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I’m Moving On…

No, I am NOT giving up on CrossFit!

I recently moved, and that move took me an hour away from my current box. I am still WOD’ing 3x a week at my original box. The part that is becoming frustrating, and demotivating is that it is so far away. Two days a week, I drive down to the box after I get out of work and one day a week I have to drive all the way down from home. I have a coffee and enjoy the drive, sometimes its relaxing…other times its annoying. There is something about a good playlist, and the open road that can really help clear the head. If you combine that with a kick ass workout, that will put you on the road to stress free pretty freaking quick.

I have thought, stressed, and debated this process over and over in my head many times. I have some really awesome support at Crossfit 508, in Attleboro MA. People may not know my name, who I am, or even that I am writing this blog about them as we speak. However, after all of that, after every ounce of energy was disposed of…and I was hanging in that POST WOD haze, they were there to support me.

This past weekend our Box moved locations. We went from Attleboro, to a location in North Attleboro. Saturday was the last group WOD at the old Box. We sent the Box off with the following “Bittersweet WOD” it was a partner WOD:

  • 50 Burpee Buy In (25 each person)
  • 100m Overhead Walking Lunges w/ 20# Wall Ball. Split evenly between the pair.
  • 200m Kettlebell carry each does 200m.
  • 400m Run. Each do 400m.

I saw it up on the whiteboard, and thought…3 rounds? Sure…why not? Well, lets just say I was smoked after doing 25 burpees. No rest for the weary tho, onto the walking lunges. I have been doing a lot of work with hip mobility and getting the flexibility down to do lunges properly. I thought I was making great progress, that was until I placed a 20# Wall Ball over my head.

I can’t say enough about my partner during this WOD. I was partnered with a woman who had been with our Affiliate manager/owner for many years. She had nothing to offer but encouragement. Instead of getting in my face and yelling “NO REP” when my knee wouldn’t touch the ground during a lunge she would offer encouragement, despite being only able to speak 2-3 word sentences from the shortness of breath caused by the work out. I was the last to finish all 3 rounds of the work out. There is something to be said for that, but you know what? I finished at least. I finished the workout with a time of 31:23. I was actually surprised, I came around the corner on the back half of the last 400m run. I wasn’t sure what I heard…then it became clear.

“LET’S GO RYAN, POWER ON THRU!”

I thought holy shit! They’re cheering for me? Aren’t they exhausted, tired, trying not to puke? Oh wait…that’s me. I got angry. I felt like a gazelle trying to get angry at the pavement and kept just slamming my legs in my stride trying to shave whatever time off of the clock that I could. I was at that moment where I thought I would surely die, and I jumped over that line that was holding me back in my head. They saw me come around that corner, and the rest was a blur. Next thing I knew I was starring at the timer wondering if I was going to vomit all over the pavement.

So…you’re probably wondering why I went on that psedo-tangent there huh?

It finally clicked inside my head, this isn’t specific to my Box. This is a mentality of the people that Crossfit. We are all there in the WOD, we all have to get thru that grueling work out one way or another. This is a form of support that will never change. It’s the same mentality from the people that do Crossfit.

I have learned more in the last 2 months of Crossfit, not about the sport, but about myself. That security is allowing me to move on. I’ve decided that it will be better for me (from a big picture) to switch to a closer box to my home. There is some comfort in knowing that the CF world is VERY small. We’ll definitely run into each other again some day.

That being said, there are a few points that I want you fellow beginner Crossfitter’s to remember:

  1. Don’t give up, the beginning is always the hardest.
  2. You’ll pass out before you die, despite how many burpees are on the whiteboard.
  3. It’s not how good you are, its how good you want to be.

Paleo Challenge, 1 Month Down, 2 Months to Go

Lately, I feel like I am writing more about eating that I am about the WOD. Maybe for good reason, maybe because this is my safety topic. Who knows? For those of you who may be a tad behind the 8 ball in everything that is going on in my life, because clearly I am worth the attention haha, I am almost to the half way point in my gym’s Paleo Challenge. Today, I am talking about how the challenge is going for me so far.

The best way that I could describe it: Picture an old man standing in front of a locomotive and trying to keep it from moving.

Years of bad eating habits have finally started to slow down, and even worked on getting reversed. I still have intense sugar/carb cravings and occasionally I give in a lot more than I would like to admint to anyone. I have learned, through this challenge that Chicken Parm is no longer my best friend. Burgers with no buns, and side salads are. I think the most important lesson I have taken out of this so far, is how much I really do love cooking. In the past it used to just make quick meals that would get me in and out of the kitchen. Now (partly because I have a bigger kitchen now) I actually enjoy making most of the recipes that I find out there on the various Paleo Blogs.

Well, now lets talk results. I have lost 15 pounds so far, and feel like I am leveling out on that front. Take note: LBS off the scale isn’t always the best benchmark for physical fitness, but it certainly is the easiest (aside from staring in a mirror.) I feel more alert, and like I require less sleep. When I wake up in the morning, I am ready to go out and tackle what lies ahead. Before I switched my nutrition, I usually needed 3-4 cups of coffee loaded with milk and sugar prior to facing the day. This is a huge improvement, as I rarely require 1 cup. 

While were on that topic…I do love me some Coffee. Nothing better on a hot summer’s day then that ice cold coffee. Well, maybe an ice cold Sam Summer…but thats another topic. I have always drank my coffee with Milk & Sugar. Now, while focusing my nutrition on more primal basis, I have to try and find better ways to sweeten my coffee and still enjoy it like I used to. Good news is, I have found the perfect mixture. I use Vanilla flavored Almond milk with a 1/2 tsp of Stevia sweetener. If you haven’t tried it yet, TRUST ME you’ll love it.

No one is perfect in this run around the sun that we have. Even in the Box there are times where we “NO REP” and miss getting our shoulders locked above our heads, or we don’t dip completely below the parallel for our squat. It’s tough, and its frustrating. Most of the time we learn from it. Every time I “NO REP” with my nutrition, my body has NO PROBLEM giving me the big ol’ f*ck you when it tries to digest it.

No one will be the same when it comes to the nutrition that works for them. Everyone will have to find the sweet spot that allows them to meet their peak performance, and feel the best. I’m not there yet.  I haven’t seen many improvements in my performance, other than increased endurance.

For more information on my sources for some AMAZING Paleo recipes, head over to my links page. Also, I just added my online WOD Journal section. I am going to use this to show my “scalable and quantifiable” progress to all of you.

You Always Remember Your First…

…Toes to Bar that is.

I can remember it now, thinking in my head…”you want me to do what, where, and how quickly? Are you outta your mind?!”

That was my first thought when I did my first group WOD. I had just finished my 3 foundation sessions, and was starting to feel comfortable. My workouts had been progressing well and I was pleased with my progress. Then one day, this double WOD decided to rear its ugly head:

WOD 1: Alternating Tabata
Russian KB Swings (32#/24#) [I went with the 24#]
Ab Mat Sit Ups

WOD2:
EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute)
7 Toes to Bar
7 Jumping Air Squats

So I have a core muscle group that is not exactly up to par. The idea of trying to get my toes up to my head made me wanna vomit (not as much as box jump burpees, but that is a post for another day). So I scaled the work out, my favorite part about Crossfit is being able to scale the work out to a point that makes your goals obtainable. I started out on the gymnastics rings so that I could focus on bringing my knee’s above the parallel. It worked out pretty well. Of course by “worked out” I mean I did it right most of the time with only a couple misfires.

Now lets fast forward a couple weeks. I had a freakish amount of energy one morning (most likely due to the current Paleo Challenge). We were doing focus work for the Pre-WOD. I chose to work on Toes to bar (T2B). It was a skill that I needed to spend time on and perfect. Thankfully the purpose of focus work is to do just that, low extremely high quality reps to perfect the skill that you are working on.

In my head I’m thinking “you got this, just kick that shit every time.” I grabbed the bar and brought my legs up above the parallel. After a few misfires, and some pointers from my coach, I FINALLY nailed my first T2B!!!

I hear her scream in support from across the room, meanwhile in my head I’m jumping around screaming in excitement at my newest achievement! It was truly a gratifying session. That is why I love Crossfit. You may not be able to nail it on your firs try, but everything is custom to your goals, and abilities until you reach the Rx.

Speaking of Rx – I also finished my first Rx workout that day!

WOD
1 min calorie roe
1 min wall walks
1 min atlas stones (ground to shoulder) (95/65)

It was finally an accomplishment that I could be proud of. Something that I could brag about. It also was pretty awesome to be able to put my name on up in the Rx Colum for that WOD on the good old white board!

Until next time folks, remember…you have to start somewhere. Good luck!

OMG – SHOES!

If any of you thought of this video clip after reading that title….

…Then give yourself a high five!

Any who…I was always a major fan of the ever versatile generic name brand running shoe. It was a shoe that I could use all the time. Well, that was until I met the Box Jump. I was working out on my own, away from an affiliate and I wanted to try and perfect my technique with the 24″ box jump. Well, lets talk about how awesome it was to do box jump in running shoes. I caught the edge of my arch support on the lip of the box, and before I realized what happened I was going up and over the box and face first into the floor on the other side.

Inov-8 230 lite.

So I did some research. I asked my coach, and fellow crossfitters. As we all know that is where we get the best information, by people’s experience with them! I was led in the direction of two different shoes. The first was the inov-8 line of shoes. I have been told this is a better shoe for when you get used to working out with minimalist foot ware. I have yet to actually use them. They have a whole line of various minimalist shoes. They look cool, that’s for sure.

Next up, we have the Reebok Crossfit Nano’s. I was a little weary about trying this shoe at first. For a couple of reasons, first I have never in my life actually been a Reebok product fan. Secondly, I was a little skeptical about their involvement in Crossfit. My impression was Reebok being the big corporate mongrel trying to cash in on the Crossfit movement. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I have a pair of the black and grey Crossfit Nano’s. I loved them so much, I may get another pair to use for my daily sneakers! Let’s talk about why I love them so much.

First, there is the nano technology. These shoes were researched and developed by Reebok to meet the ever changing Black/Grey Crossfit Nano'sdemands that the Crossfit athlete encounters. It has a minimal sole, that is designed to match the pressure points on your feet. It doesn’t hyper/hypo-extend the arches of your feet. It simply matches the natural demands the body has, while still offering the support  to allow you to make the transition into minimalist work outs. It was tough at first. I found myself having to adjust how I ran, walked, jumped, squat, everything seemed to realign to the natural way that my body was supposed to work. I found myself driving my heels into the ground and adding some spring in my toes when I ran. I felt it wasn’t as easy to roll onto my toes during squats. All in all, I love working with the new shoes.

That being said, everything has to have a down side right? There is a couple problems with this shoe, but not enough to make me move onto another brand yet. First, the shoes are a bit narrow. I am not speaking from a standpoint of support because that is pretty spot on. I am speaking from a standpoint of physically fitting my foot into the shoe. So they run a little small, but I went up 1/2 size and that problem was resolved. The other con or generally neutral feelings I have about the shoe is Reebok’s UFORM technology. The UFORM technology basically allows the shoe to fit the natural curvatures of your feet. I actually didn’t notice any difference (at rest) in the feeling of the shoe before or after doing the UFORM process.

Overall, if you are considering Crossfit you do need to take a look at your shoes. You will learn a lot about the way you exercise with the simple change of shoes. As a beginner, the Nano’s have treated me very well. If you are a beginner too, or someone who is just about to get used to changing your foot ware, try out the Nano’s.