Movement

3 Steps to Better Ankle Mobility

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3 Steps to Better Ankle Mobility
Written by: Coach James

Last week, we looked at “6 Drills for Better Wrist Mobility” and some exercises to help improve flexibility and mobility. This week, we will continue with “Warming Up for the Warm Up” and take a look at the ankle. Poor ankle flexibility can prevent you from reaching the bottom of the squat while maintaining the three points of contact (ball of your big toe, pinky toe, and heel of your foot). We will touch base on soft tissue mobilization, calf stretching and mobilization with a band.

First, let’s take a look at soft tissue mobilization of the ankle and the calf and some different ways you can approach this. Your first option, and most popular but not the most effective, is the foam roller. This can help break up the soft tissue in the ankle and calf but with a wide surface area you’re not able to keep deep in the muscle to break it up. I would recommend using a lacrosse ball instead. It is much smaller which will lead to greater pressure in a single isolated area. When using the lacrosse ball, you should focus on splitting the calf muscle. I know this might sound horrible, but it will be beneficial. Your calf is comprised of two muscles, your gastrocnemius and your soleus. Your gastrocnemius is what makes the rounded shape of your calf while the soleus runs under the gastrocnemius and is longer and flatter and runs further down the leg. Another way you can approach this is with a barbell (as seen below). The reason the barbell will work better than the foam roller is because it has a smaller surface area, same as the lacrosse ball.


Now that you have broken up the soft tissue, the next step is stretching the calf. There are a couple different ways to do this. The first one is to stand arm length away from the wall in a stagger stance (one foot in front of the other). Keeping the back leg straight start to slowly bend your elbows and front knee until you feel the stretch in the calf. Hold this position for 30 seconds and switch. I would repeat this 3-4 times each leg. A second way, you can approach this stretch is to do the plate stretch. Start by putting the ball of your foot on the plate so that your heel and mid foot are off or on the ground. Next, bend the knee forward as you did with the wall stretch. You can try with the opposite foot forward for 2min, and then with the opposite foot back for 2min to stretch the calf from different angles.


The last step in attacking poor ankle mobility is mobilization with a band. First, attach a band to the rig. Next, place your foot inside the band, placing the band low on the foot (not the ankle) and walk out away from the anchor point until you feel tension. You should be in the stagger position with the banded foot out in front. You should hold this for 2 minutes and, if your ankle allows, rock forward and backwards trying to push your knee over your toe. If you’re comfortable with this stretch, you can add a plate or even a small box into the mix and elevate the front foot. Once your foot is elevated, you can press your knee over your toe by slowly rocking back and forth. If you want to spice it up a little more, you can pulsate 10-15 times slightly shifting your knee medially (towards the inside of your foot), forward, and laterally (towards the outside of your foot).


With these 3 steps and a little time, we should increase your ankle mobility, help your range of motion, and improve your squat stance.

6 Drills for Better Wrist Mobility

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6 Drills for Better Wrist Mobility
Written by: Coach James

To continue with the last article on “Warming Up for the Warm Up“, this article will touch base on wrist mobility and what you can do to improve it before/after class. Wrist mobility is majorly overlooked and rarely does anyone do anything about it. Poor flexibility in this joint can lead to an imbalance in your squat (front squat, overhead squat), handstand pushups/walk, and your presses (push press, push jerk, split jerk). If you’re anything like me, you want to move the most weight you can, but also be efficient and comfortable in these positions. Let’s look at some exercises you can do before the warm up that help loosen up the wrist.

1. Wrist Rotations. This is a very simple but effective exercise. Interlace your fingers and move your wrist in every direction. If one position feels better than another, hold it for a few seconds.

2. Prayers. Place your hands together so that your palms are touching, fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Now lower your hands down as far as you can until your palms start to come apart. The further your able to make contact, the better your stretch.

3. Static Holds. Pull your wrist back into extension and/or flexion and hold for at least 20-30 seconds.

4. Planche Pushup Position. Start in the push up position, once you’re set, shift your weight forward so that your shoulders end up in front of your wrist. Hold this position for 20-30 sec. If this is too intense, drop down to your knees.

5. Wrist Walks. Place your hands on the wall with your fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Keeping your arms locked out, walk your hands down the wall making until your hands start to come away from the wall. Once you’re unable to move down any further, rotate your hands so that your finger tips are now pointing down towards the floor and walk your hands back up to the original starting point.


6. Waiter’s Carry with Plate. Start with a lighter plate in the palm of your hand with full extension of the arm. Start with only one arm as it is easier to control and once you’re comfortable with one arm move to a plate in both arms. The goal of this exercise is to keep the plate parallel to floor while keep a good overhead position.

All of these movements can be done on your own with minimal equipment and space. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing these exercises on a daily basis. Doing them will greatly increase your wrist flexibility which, in return, with help you get into a better front rack position and increase the weight in your front squat and clean. These exercises will also allow you to receive the bar better in the bottom of your snatch and overhead squat, as well as put you in a better position for handstand pushups and handstand walks.

Hope this helps you all reach your goals and become better athletes. As always, do not hesitate to ask questions if you are unclear on one of the movements.

Warming Up for the Warm Up

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Warming Up for the Warm Up
Written by: Coach James

As a lot of you have noticed, we have a prescribed warm up each day before the strength portion that we, the coaches, put you all through. This includes 5-7 minutes of stretches and/or mobility and another 5-7 minutes of a general warm up. This is essential as it gets the heart pumping, the blood flowing and the muscles warm and pliable. Even though our warm ups are specific for that day and cover most of the large muscles that will be involved in the strength portion and WOD, for some people this will not be enough. So let’s take a minute and talk about some things you can do on your own to get warm and loose so that your able to meet your maximum potential.

Everyone knows their own body… even if you’re just starting out. You know what muscles are tight as soon as you sit your bag down. You know what muscles will hold you back or prevent you from reaching that maximum output. Most of us come into the gym five to ten minutes and normally stand around and talk about how awesome or horrible our day was or how bad we are doing in our bracket challenge, blah blah blah. Instead, there are multiple things that you could do to help you be a better athlete and get you prepared for the day.

The first thing you can do is to grab a bike or rower and just start moving! This will increase your heart rate and increase the blood flow to the muscles. In return, this will make the muscles more pliable and easier to stretch. This is most important for those of us with a desk job or that are master division athletes. As we get older, our muscles become less pliable and harder to warm and stretch, which means an increase in risk of injury. It is essential that we take our time warming up and to stretch on a regular basis to keep those muscles nice and loose.

Something else you can do to help you get a jump start on warm up is to look at the board and see what the warm up is and what stretches will be covered. You can then take this information to determine if there are some specific stretches that you personally need to be doing that will benefit you the most. For someone like myself that is coming off a lower body injury, I personally love to do the pigeon pose for 2 minutes each side. This really helps my low back and hips to loosen up so I am able to reach full depth in my squats without pain or excessive tightness. These are just two simple and easy ways to get yourself ready and warm for the warm up. As always, if you are unsure about what stretches you should be doing, do not hesitate to ask one the coaches. We are here to help you in anyway we can and help you reach your full potential.

Understanding the Shoulder and How to Strengthen It

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Understanding the Shoulder and How to Strengthen It
Written by: Coach James

Many of you may have noticed that on Monday we brought back the banded shoulder accessory movements. These movements include sword pulls, face pulls, and snow angels. What you may not realize is how important these movements can be. It does not take much to strengthen your shoulders as a whole and using the thin orange band will get the job done, if done properly. Strong shoulders are essential in CrossFit, as there are a lot of movements that require us to be stable in the overhead position (snatch, OHS, pullups, jerks). Strengthening these small muscles will greatly improve both your stability and overall weight which means big PR’s!! CrossFit has received a bad reputation for individuals getting hurt. This is not because CrossFit itself is bad, but that the individual could have been weak in a certain position or doing the movement wrong. Something we hear a lot is the word “impingement”, but do we really know what this term means and what it actually is?

  • From renowned strength coach, Mark Rippetoe: “Shoulder impingement occurs when the rotator cuff tendons get “pinched” between the head of the humerus and the AC joint, formed by the end of the collarbone and the bony knobs at the end of the shoulder blade. Impingement means an entrapment of soft tissue between two bones in the area of a joint. You can safely experience this entrapment feeling for yourself: sit or stand up straight and raise your arms from your sides to a position parallel to the floor, with the palms of your hands facing the floor and your elbows bent at 90 degrees. Now, raise them just a little more. The pressure you feel in your shoulders is the impingement of your cuff tendons against the AC.”
  • “Now, rotate your hands up so your palms face forward, elbows still at 90 degrees, and raise your hands up over your head. Then shrug your shoulders up at the top, like you’re trying to reach the ceiling with your hands and shoulders. Pressure’s gone, right? This is the lockout position of the press, and notice that at no time in this process did your shoulders feel impinged. This because the shrugging of the shoulders at the top pulls the AC knobs away from the head of the humerus, so that impingement is anatomically impossible in the correct press lockout position. The press simply cannot impinge your shoulders.”
  • Even if you have good position, is it still very important that we strengthen all those small muscles that are a part of your shoulder as a whole, including all the rotator cuff and shoulder girdle muscles. The muscles that make up the rotator cuff include: supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, teres minor muscle, and the subscapularis muscle. The five muscles that comprise the function of the shoulder girdle are the trapezius muscle (upper, middle, and lower), levator scapulae muscle, rhomboid muscles (major and minor), serratus anterior muscle, and pectoralis minor muscle. Now, I know I am getting a little technical with all these muscles, but it is important to realize how many small muscles you have working when you’re pressing something overhead. All these small muscles play a huge part in how you move. If one is weak that means another muscle has to pick up the slack. This is where you see instability and mobility overhead.

    As I stated in the beginning, we are incorporating these banded drills every Monday. It is important to understand that these muscles are not very big and it does not take very much to fatigue them. The small orange band will provide plenty of resistance if done properly. We are just hitting on 3 common movements but there are plenty more exercises you can do to help strengthen your shoulder, as well. I have a weak shoulder and tore my supraspinatus a while back. The two that I like most and use EVERY DAY is internal and external rotation of the shoulder with the small orange band (video below). Personally I can only complete 15-20 reps of these two movements before my shoulders are on fire. I know that these movements can seem “silly” or “stupid” but if you want to have a strong overhead game, or just strong shoulders with little to no pain while overhead, these movements will help you. I recommend that you do these every day.

    Slip ‘n Slides & Focused Practice

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    Slip ‘n Slides & Focused Practice
    Written by: Coach Evan

    Especially now that we’re in the midst of the Open, we all can’t help but wonder, “How are these top athletes so dang good?” One of the coolest things about CrossFit, and the Open, is that anyone can participate. But that also makes it even more mind boggling when you post your Open score and someone has you beat by 10 minutes. It becomes personal when you’re actually competing against the top athletes, something most basketball or football fans never get the chance to do.

    How did they get so good?

    A large part of the answer is myelin. Myelin is the secret to success and talent. It is in no way a shortcut, just merely an explanation. Inside of your body, myelin is something you can cultivate with the right kind of motivation, practice, and focus. Simply, it is a mixture of proteins and phospholipids that surround nerve fibers and increase the speed at which impulses are conducted. The best part about myelin is you can utilize it right now, today, to become better at anything.

    Imagine that a long winding nerve fiber connecting your brain to your muscles is a slip and slide filled with water. Every time you want your muscles to fire, your brain sends an impulse down the slide. These impulses travel fast, so fast you don’t have to think about them. But without myelin the impulses are moving relatively slow. Now imagine soap and oil have been added to the slide and that impulse is now careening toward its destination twice as fast. Every time your brain sends an impulse down that slide, more oil and soap is added to make it even faster. This is exactly what happens to your nervous system. It recognizes your brain using a neurological pathway over and over and wants you to be faster and more efficient when you use it. Enter myelin and the Schwann cells that myelinate the nerve fiber. Every time you perform a snatch, a pullup, hit a drum, strum a chord on a guitar, or even take a step, myelin is being wrapped around the nerve fibers that make it possible to perform these movements. The benefits of myelin are clear AND we have debunked the myth of muscle memory at the same time.

    Your muscles don’t have brains; therefore, they cannot remember anything. However, the muscle memory phenomenon can be explained by myelin. We think of muscle memory as the ability of our muscles to perform movements without us having to focus on them. We’ve practiced the movement enough that it is second nature to us. While the latter remains true, it’s not that the muscles have remembered, it’s that myelin has been wrapped around and around the nerve fibers that connect our brain to our muscles, telling us how to perform a certain movement. That’s why it becomes second nature, because the impulses, through myelin, can happen so fast that you truly don’t have to think about them. They almost act on their own accord.

    But how do we develop this second nature? How do we get enough myelin wrapped around the nerve fibers to make it “easier”? Through practice. Lots and lots of practice. Unfortunately, just logging the hours doesn’t cut it if you’re looking to become highly skilled at something. It’s a highly intense and focused practice. It’s not just mindlessly performing a movement the same way you always have. Its pinpointing errors with a magnifying glass and fixing them right away, taking a small bit of a bigger piece and perfecting it, then putting other small pieces together until you eventually have the whole puzzle fitted together seamlessly. It’s putting thought into your work. This can make 10 minutes of super intense practicing more effective than an hour of going through the motions. Work smarter, and harder. So, when you find yourself practicing an instrument, drawing, writing, or training in the gym, these are the most important times to be focused and analyzing your actions with that magnifying glass. Move slow and with purpose until the pieces fit together. Don’t just throw a barbell over your head. Think about the best way to get it there.

    The top people in any field understand this concept even if they don’t know what myelin is. They engross themselves fully in their craft when they are practicing or creating. Their focus is laser sharp, and when something goes wrong, they know why and how to fix it. All you have to do is put these ideas into action consistently, even just for ten minutes out of an hour-long workout, training, or practice session.

    Two more fascinating bits about myelin. The first: although myelination is most important in childhood development, you won’t stop myelinating nerve fibers until you die. The second: once you start the myelination of some fibers, not only does it stay on those fibers for the rest of your life, but it makes myelinating other fibers even easier. This is one reason why people may be gifted in athletics but also in music, or any other pairing.

    There is a book called “the Talent Code” written by Daniel Coyle that analyzes the talent of athletes, musicians, and coaches, among others, through the myelin’s perspective. The book has drastically changed the way I approach anything that requires practice. That includes being an athlete and coaching, but also things like writing this article, or dealing with issues in relationships. If this has caught your interest at all, maybe you feel like you’re in a slump or maybe you feel like you need an extra push or an edge, check out that book.

    What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)

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    What Happens After Your Newbie Gainz Stall (and when under-eating no longer works)
    Written by: Coach Slater

    Newbie Gainz
    When you first start at Derby City, it’s almost a guarantee to PR every time you step in the gym. In the first 8 months, you’re gaining muscle and losing body fat at a crazy pace. You’re exposing your body to new stimulus, learning new techniques every single day, and your body is physiologically adapting as a result. It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that these gainz will continue in a linear fashion forever. You’re going to clean a gazillion pounds in six months, or you’re going to win the CrossFit Games in two years.

    What’s happening in this newbie phase is called neurological adaptation, which means that you are causing a large number of neurons to fire rapidly in a more synchronized way, enabling you to rapidly lift heavier weights. So, your muscles aren’t necessarily growing yet, you’re just training your nervous system to create more efficient pathways. After your body begins to cement the neurological adaptations, then you’re able to push yourself harder and harder, triggering muscular adaptations, which is when muscles grow and get stronger. That’s why it’s important to focus on technique when just beginning, so you’re not neurologically adapted in poor positions. You want to give your body the ideal opportunity for future growth when those newbie gainz slow, to not create muscular imbalances by recruiting the wrong muscles in a particular movement.

    So, when your typical neurological adaptations slow (aka, your newbie gainz stall), you begin to rely on muscular adaptations. This is the phase where discipline and dedication are needed, because you’re no longer setting new PR’s every time you walk in the gym. It “feels” like you’re flat-lining, but you’re not. You’ve just progressed to the next inevitable step in your training evolution. Now is when you need to find discipline to stay consistent with your workout frequency, nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction. Whereas you were once focused on achievement every time you first walked in the door… “first pullup, first bodyweight back squat, first snatch over whatever pounds”… you need to discipline yourself to focus on “progress” now. Achievement is so ingrained in our culture that we often ignore progress. But, you’re in this for the long haul, right? Now’s when you prove it with discipline and consistency. That’s what you do when you newbie gainz stall.

    Ruining Your Newbie Gainz
    Let’s go back to the beginner phase I mentioned earlier to talk about how you could be hurting your future progress by undereating. You can make gainz in that neurological adaptation / beginner phase while in a caloric deficit. You could come into Derby City, undereating because you think that’s what you have to do to maintain the body you want, while actually doing damage to yourself, and still make gainz. You could eat only 500 calories a day and still PR your back squat every week because your brain is just learning to do the movements efficiently. You haven’t really hit overload yet. But… when you finally do hit that point, you’re going to regress and you’re not going to like it. Now you’re under-recovered and going into a negative hormone state. Maybe you’re wondering why that awesomeness couldn’t last forever? Well, you have to adapt. What works today isn’t going to work next year.

    This is the first time your body has done this kind of training, and your body doesn’t know any better than to adapt. Now the next bikini season rolls around and you think, “Well, 1,000 calories worked last year. Let’s do 800 calories this year.” But, you find that you can’t lose weight, or worse yet, you gain weight. Your body learned to create homeostasis at 1,000 calories, so there’s no longer a caloric deficit which will work. Your body is going to remember the stimulus that took you into adrenal fatigue and it’s not going to allow you to get there again. So, typically, you dig harder and add more volume via running or extra “cardio” outside of the gym, without fixing the real issue related to your recovery/nutrition. You’ve metabolically adapted to undereating and now you have to start from scratch to reteach your body how to eat and produce.

    So, using this theoretical 1,000 calorie human, they can’t just start eating 2,200 calories tomorrow, like maybe they should have been doing the entire time. What if they’ve been eating 1,000 calories/daily for years now? Well, if they start eating 2,200 calories now, they’re going to gain weight incredibly quickly and lose trust in the process. Instead, they need to slowly adjust by gradually increasing calories, basically starting a metabolic repair program. Specifically, I suggest keeping your protein intake constant at around 0.8g/lb of bodyweight and adding 5-10% to your total carbs and total fats each week until you get to a “more reasonable” total number of macronutrients based on your lean muscle mass, body fat, and activity level. I like to suggest Carbs at 0.5g/lb of bodyweight for Off Days, 1.0g/lb for Easy Days where you’re moving slowly just trying to get loose for the day, and 1.5g/lb for Moderate Days at Derby City where you’re working hard, getting in a good sweat, etc… I typically hold beginners and intermediate athletes to “Moderate Days” and never progress to Heavy Days or something higher, because honestly, most people overestimate how hard they’re working.

    Bringing It Home
    To summarize, let me say that you needn’t be disappointed when those newbie gainz slow. It’s a natural part of your progress, and it marks the point in your fitness development where you need to learn discipline. Working out, eating right, and sleeping well should become a part of your daily regiment, just like brushing your teeth, showering, and going to work. I included “eating right” because you could be harming your future progress by messing up your nutrition during this beginner phase. In reality, I should have said “eating right” before anything else, because nutrition should be at the base of your fitness pyramid. It’s importance can’t be overstated. If your newbie gainz stall completely, the answer is always the same: you’re not eating enough, and you’re not recovering. Recovery is made possible by food and sleep. Set yourself on a path for future success.

    References
    Predicting metabolic adaptation, body weight change, and energy intake in humans”, Hall, Kevin.

    Changes in Energy Expenditure with Weight Gain and Weight Loss in Humans”, Muller, MJ.

    The Truth About Metabolic Damage”, Teta, Dr. Jade.

    Why We Train the Way We Train

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    Why We Train the Way We Train
    Written by: Coach Slater

    Why do we squat and deadlift? Why do we clean and snatch? Why do we tell you to lift heavy and move fast? Why don’t we do small, repetitive movements like at those Barre classes? Why not whatever-the-fuck-they’re-doing-at-HomeFit? Why do we train the way we train at Derby City?

    First of all, it’s important we emphasize that heavy, multi-joint, compound movements, those which utilize many different muscle groups at the same time, are the best for creating metabolic change which leads to muscle adaptation and fat loss. The best. Hands down. Proven over and over again. They’re the best at increasing lean muscle mass and elevating post-workout energy expenditure. That’s why we perform these movements all the time at Derby City.

    There are many movement patterns (i.e., squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, jumping, throwing) that we can utilize in different directions (forward, sideways, side-to-side) in different manners (i.e., single-leg vs dual-leg) with different loading implements (i.e., barbell vs kettlebell).

    For example, you’ve probably seen some variation of these movements at Derby City:

    Hinge – deadlift, clean, snatch
    Squat – back squat, front squat, overhead squat
    Single-Leg Squat – lunge, step up, front-foot elevated lunge
    Vertical Push – strict press, push press
    Vertical Pull – pullup, chin-up, chest-to-bar pullup
    Horizontal Push – pushup, hand release pushup, banded pushup
    Horizontal Pull – ring row, bent over row
    Core Work – planks, hanging knee raises, toes-to-bar
    Accessory – wall slides, turkish get-ups, farmers carries

    These are just a handful of movements that we think can be safely loaded and trained properly. In general, these are all functional movements, common to your daily life. We program these movements in various manners to give our bodies the most stimulus, in accordance with something called the Strength-Speed Continuum. It looks like this:

    Absolute Strength — Strength-Speed — Speed-Strength — Absolute Speed

    The more you focus on movements on the far left, the stronger you get, at the expense of speed on the far right. The more you move right, the opposite happens. Absolute Strength is like your 1-rep max in the back squat: high amount of load but relatively low speed. Absolute Speed is like a sprint and box jumps. Strength-Speed is moving heavy weight as fast as possible, like a heavy-ass power clean. Speed-Strength is like rotational slamball throws or lightweight snatches moved quickly. Each component supports each other, so to be your fittest, you need to work on each one but to different degrees, and to what degree depends on your current level of fitness. Someone just starting at Derby City might find that a simple air squat, pushup, or kettlebell deadlift is a great test of Absolute Strength.

    If you want to nerd out for a little bit, here’s an in-depth explanation of the Strength-Speed Continuum from renown strength coach, Eric Cressey. He’s smart.

    Now, let’s go back to that lean muscle thing that I mentioned earlier. Lean muscle burns more calories. A big problem with “cardio” for fat loss is that more you do, the better you get at it, and the more fuel efficient you become. But, if your goal is fat loss, then you actually want to be “inefficient” and burn as much fuel as possible. If, instead of endless cardio, you focus on getting stronger, you’ll perform other training (WODs) at a higher/faster rate which makes them more effective at eliminating body fat.

    Barre isn’t going to give you long, lean muscles. Your genes are going to determine their length. Someone with long femurs will have long muscles. Someone with short femurs will have short muscles. If you want to be leaner, learn to use your body efficiently by squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, jumping, throwing and picking up heavy weight. If you like Barre, Pilates, or Home-Fit because it’s fun and you have some friends doing it and it’s fun to try something new with them… then hey! Cool! Do that. No one’s saying that it can’t be fun. But, don’t think those things or a local 5k will help you get in shape forever. They’re nice, but they’re not a solution. Instead, lift heavy and move fast like we already do here at Derby City.

    References
    Robertson, Mike, “Q&A: Power Development“.

    Yeung, Anthony, “Strength Training (Part 11 of 30): Strength, Speed, and Power

    Competitor Class

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    Competitor Class
    Written by: Coach Slater

    In a recent post, I told you about Additional Work that was available for you to perform during Open Gym. The response has been so good, that we’ve decided to *try* to restart our old Competitor Class. As you hopefully know, the Barbell Class takes place Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 4:30pm and is a great way to get stronger. If you’re looking for a “next step” beyond regular classes, we recommend starting there first. Getting stronger will always give you the most bang-for-your-buck when it comes to your fitness goals. So, those looking to participate in this redesigned Competitor Class should already be strong, confident in the major movements we see in class each week, and competing in local/regional competitions at least twice a year.

    This new class will complement our class programming by adding an additional conditioning piece and/or strength element. We’ll allow people to scale the reps occasionally. That’s to be expected. But, if you have to scale the weight or movements frequently in this class, then it might not be for you, yet. If you’re on the fence, ask, and I’ll do my best to guide you toward the right decision for you based on your goals and where you’re at with your current fitness level.

    This class will be overseen by Coach Evan on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 5:30pm. It’s set at 5:30pm so people who attend 4:30pm class can hit this additional work afterwards. Or, people can hit it at 5:30pm, then stick around for the class at 6:30pm. What you CANNOT do is attend this 5:30pm class and skip both the 4:30pm and the 6:30pm. This is not an either/or situation. This class is designed as an addition to our current class programming.

    Below, I’ll show you what a typical week looks like, by looking back at what last week would have involved. If you have any questions/concerns, shoot me a message or ask me in the gym. I’m happy to help.

    Monday
    CrossFit Class
    Sport:
    E2M16M
    1 Squat Clean & Jerk @ 80-90%
    +
    AMRAP 14
    5 Push Jerks – S: 155/105
    10 Cals on Rower/Bike or Run 100m
    S: 20 Wallballs

    -then-
    Competitor Class
    Suicide Shuttle Sprint (300yds total per suicide) x 4
    0yd-10yd-0yd
    0yd-20yd-0yd
    0yd-30yd-0yd
    0yd-40yd-0yd
    0yd-50yd-0yd
    Straight into 40 Push Ups
    Rest 3:00
    +
    Pause OHS – 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 1

    Tuesday
    CrossFit Class
    E3M12M
    4 Push Press @ 80-85%
    +
    15, 12, 9, 6, 3
    Burpee to 6″ Target
    AKBS – S: 70/53
    C2B Pullups

    -then-
    Competitor Class
    OTM for 10min
    20 Weighted Situps
    10 Deadlifts
    *Alternate Movements
    +
    5 Rounds
    Bike 30/15 Cals
    7 Muscle Ups
    Rest 3min

    Wednesday
    CrossFit Class
    OTM for 18min
    Power Snatch – 6 x 2 – AHAP
    Snatch High Pull – 6 x 2 @ ~100% of 1RM
    Snatch Deadlift – 6 x 2 @ ~125% of 1RM
    +
    6 Rounds
    15/12 Cal Row or 18/14 Cal Bike
    9 Front Squats – S: 135/95
    S: 30 Double Unders

    -then-
    Competitor Class
    E2M16M
    3 x 2sec Pause Back Squat @ 60%
    +
    10 Minute Steady State Forward Facing Sled Pull

    Friday
    CrossFit Class
    10min to find heavy single Back Squat close to 90%
    -then-
    E2M10M
    3 Back Squat @ 80%
    +
    9, 6, 3
    Power Clean – S: 185/115
    S: Ring or Bar MU

    -then-
    Competitor Class
    3 Rounds
    AMRAP 3
    3, 3, 6, 6, 9, 9, etc…
    Back Squat – S: 115/85
    C2B Pullups
    Rest 2min
    +
    5 Rounds
    1min Max Stone Over Shoulder
    Rest 3min

    4 Secrets for Stress-Free Fitness

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    4 Secrets for Stress-Free Fitness
    Written by: Coach Slater

    TLDR: Cook for yourself. Show up consistently. Move well. Move often. Move intensely. Move heavy weights. You don’t have to worry about anything else.

    Meal Planning
    Your body is a machine and it functions best when fed the right fuels. By planning and cooking meals ahead of time, you’re setting yourself up for success because you’re more likely to avoid poor food choices when you have healthy options waiting for you. Realistically, meal prep only takes 1-2 hours to make a week’s worth of food. You telling me you really can’t find 2 hours ANYWHERE in your week to make some meals? How much Netflix are you watching? Can you do without 2 hours of that?

    Meal planning not only saves time and money, but it also reduces stress – which is a hidden killer of your fitness gains. Notice that stiffness in your neck or nagging pain in your lower back that won’t go away? Your resting heart rate and breathing rate have been slowly increasing over time and your once deep breathing is now replaced by shallow breathing. Now your muscle tissues are constantly “on” or “showing tone”, instead of being relaxed, resulting in nagging pains. And this constant stress makes your cortisol levels rise which makes you retain body fat, and now your day-to-day life is as stressful as someone breaking into your home. At least, that’s what your body thinks. Fight back by meal planning to reduce a little stress in your life.

    Movement Quality Over Quantity
    First move well, then move often. You don’t need a certification in identifying functional movement patterns, or even understand what that means, to move well. Maybe you haven’t played a sport since you were a kid and you spend most of your adult life staring at a computer. That’s ok. Are there athletes in the gym you think move well? Emulate them. Watch the small details of what they do and try to move in a similar fashion. As a kid, you emulated all-star athletes, and maybe it didn’t lead to you dunking over Lebron, or catching that fade pass from Aaron Rodgers in the corner of the endzone, but it did make you move athletically.

    And to further improve your movement, consider taking a weekly yoga class to work on moving better. Striving to move well during simple movements allows our bodies to progressively learn more complex movements. And moving well frequently across time allows our tissues and movement patterns to adapt. If you focus on moving well, the stress of what you’re doing can slip away. After you move well, then we progress to the next step…

    Heavy Weights
    The stronger you are, the faster your metabolism will be, and a faster metabolism leads to body-fat loss. Lifting heavy weights increases post-workout energy expenditure much more than steady-state “cardio”. Also, by lifting heavy weights, you provide your body a better stimulus to increase the size of your muscle cells which is the key for providing “shape” or “muscle tone” or “gainz”. So, lift heavy weights, which increases your lean muscle, which reduces your body fat, which allows you to showcase those sleek, sculpted muscles. As long as you strive to lift something that’s “heavy to you today”, then you don’t have to stress about percentages or sets/reps schemes.

    Exertion Based Workouts
    Our classes are programmed to allow for weekly/monthly/quarterly fluctuations in volume and intensity, but if you just want to be a little fitter and have fun, then don’t stress about whether your programming has all these special adjustments. Instead, just focus on moving well with heavy weights at whatever intensity you have to offer that day. On days where you feel like a 6 on a scale of 10, lift with a controlled effort. On days where you feel like a 9, push yourself.

    But, strive to move with intensity. You will get remarkably leaner doing high-intensity interval work than low-intensity, slow, steady-state cardio. So, what about a typical WOD where you’re working and resting a little in between movements/reps? That counts. What about our strength work where you’re lifting something heavy then performing some additional accessory lifts before resting and repeating? Yep, that counts, too. What about going for a slow 15-min jog? Nope, doesn’t count. You’ll lose upwards of SIX TIMES more bodyfat from a 20min interval session than a 40min jog.

    References
    Stress: The Real Epidemic, Robertson, Mike

    7 Benefits of Heavy Resistance Training, American Council on Exercise

    Movement Principles, Cook, Gray

    Interval Training – HIIT or Miss?, Boyle, Mike

    Fit with HIIT, Pena, Jimmy

    What’s Going on With My Sh*tty Knees?

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    What’s Going on With My Sh*tty Knees?
    Written by: Coach Slater

    OhMyLungeRecently, I saw this lunge happening in the background of a CrossFit pic in my Instagram feed. I immediately cringed. If this pic is you, I mean no offense. Let’s assume that it was just a fluke that you were snapped in this compromised position; but, for everyone else… if you’re lunging like this on a regular basis, then no knee sleeve is going to save you. And, if you’re one of the many CrossFitters who HAS to wear knee sleeves for every training session to avoid nagging pain, this article is for you.

    Here’s the plan for fixing your shitty knees:
    1. Improve your hip mobility
    2. Improve your ankle mobility
    3. Strengthen your ass

    Hip Mobility
    The knee is meant to bend up and down, not rotate. So, when there isn’t enough flexibility at the hip, your knee takes it upon itself to rotate for you, even if it doesn’t want to. The problem here is that assessing hip mobility involves some weird assessments including something called the Thomas Test and another thing called a Hip Internal Rotation Test. Basically, we’re looking for tightness in the musculature supporting the front-side (psoas/quads) and the backside (piriformis) of your hip. If you sit for a living, it’s likely that your tissues are less than ideal, and would benefit from some drills.

    You can improve your hip mobility by knocking out any or all of these drills pre-workout:

    Ankle Mobility
    Next, do your feet point outwards when you walk, run, squat? If your feet are rotating outward more than 10-15 degrees, it’s very unlikely that your knee is loading weight improperly. Or, do you suffer from so-called “flat feet”? This is another common ankle issue causing knee pain due to its affect in internally rotating your knees. People with flat feet suffer from a long list of related injuries including plantar fasciitis, shin splints, patellar tendonitis, and lower back pain. What’s likely is that you have poor ankle mobility and your body is compensating with everted feet (rotated outward) or flat feet to still allow you to move/workout.

    Here’s another test. With your shoeless foot 4″ away from a wall, can you drive your knee beyond your toes to touch the wall, without rotating at the hip or lifting your heel off the ground? If you failed this or suffer from the other ankle issues above, you can begin fixing yourself by performing the drills in this video:

    Strengthen Your Ass
    This is an easy one because it’s so simple to toss a mini-band around your ankles/knees and perform some glute activation before class begins. And, doing these long-term can lead to big improvements in your hip stability. But, one thing to note… you probably don’t have a problem with your knees caving while standing, only while at the bottom of a lunge or squat. So, perform the following drills while in a slight crouch, quarter squat, full squat, or even seated. Personally, I love lateral steps, backwards march, seated abduction, and kickbacks performed with a mini-band. You’re also probably familiar with clamshells, which are fine, too.

    With mini-band lateral steps, you want to make sure you’re not wobbling with your torso. Stand tall, stay tight, keep your knees turned out, and use those glutes to drive your heels outward. With the mini-band backwards march, focus on using your glutes to drive your heel away. Don’t lean and recruit the muscles of your outer leg or lower back. With seated abductions, keep your toes pointed at 11 & 1, so don’t allow your toes to flair out. With kickbacks, pull your toes up toward your shin and focus on pulling your heel back using your glute, not your hamstring. Perform three or four sets of these movements pre-workout and you should feel your glutes really burning.

    More Thoughts
    So, all of these strategies are meant to improve what’s known as a “valgus knee”, but there may be times when a “valgus twitch” isn’t a bad thing. There are plenty of high-end Olympic lifters and powerlifters whose knees migrate inward during the sticky point of their squat, before being driven outward. You gonna tell them their squats are shit, bro?

    Didn’t think so.

    For people as strong as this, it’s acceptable to have a little knee twitch when testing their max, because I’m sure their knees are tracking perfectly when working in a more comfortable range of 70-90%. And, there’s some research showing that a slight valgus knee actually makes it *easier* to extend the hips, but these lifters have used fantastic form over hundreds and thousands of workouts, so they’ve earned the right to have some knee twitch while testing out. Most of us, on the other hand, need to do our level best to never let this happen. Know your limits. You must learn the rules before you can break them.

    References
    Contreras, Bret, “Why Do People’s Knees Cave Inward When They Squat?

    Heatrick, Don, “Valgus Knees: Corrective Strength and Conditioning Exercises

    Heyne, Alexander, “What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You About Runners Knee And Chronic Knee Pain

    Pribut, Stephen, “Runner’s Knee, The Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

    Robertson, Mike, “18 Tips for Bulletproof Knees