Technique

Stop Changing Your Weights Mid-Workout

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Stop Changing Your Weights Mid-Workout
Written by: Coach Evan

Many of us find ourselves staring at the whiteboard and the prescribed weights trying to decide what weight to use. Maybe it’s Fran and you finally want to do it as prescribed. Maybe you’ve been wanting to try a heavier weight in a workout, but have been apprehensive. Big weights scare all of us, you’re not alone.

You decide that today is the day. You’re going to try it. You’re feeling good, you’re ready to lift that heavier weight all through the workout. You warm up, you’re feeling confident, even though you might move a little slower, you’re still going to be able to do it.

First lift: smooth. Feels heavy but yea well duh. First round: Oh, man that was a little harder than expected. This is where the doubt and fear sets in. Second round: there’s no way I can finish this. Get to the third round of five: changing plates to a weight I know I can do.

STOP.

Unless you are hurting yourself or others around you, don’t change your weights mid-WOD. Safety and proper technique are always the most important. The second most important thing is that you are constantly pushed out of your comfort zone. Most of the time you are changing the weight because you’re afraid you won’t finish, or you’re afraid you’re going to fail a rep. You’ve heard this time and time again, but it’s easy to forget and easy to not want to apply it to your situation: failure is a great way to grow. I would encourage you to try new strategies often until you find what works for you to keep growing as an athlete; to push yourself. Then you’ll see your progress soar. Whether the strategies work or whether you fail, you will learn a lot from trying them. If they fail, you can analyze and adjust. If they worked well you’ve found a new strategy to use in future workouts. Not failing is great way to grow, too.

You may also be afraid that you’re going to hurt yourself. One of the great things about Derby City CrossFit is that our coaches are always watching, whether you can see it or not, and we’re paying attention to how you lift, especially in the middle of a workout. If we notice that something is going badly, we will come over and help with technique and possibly suggest that you modify the weight. If we don’t, have a little more trust in us and more importantly in yourself that you are moving well. You might not be able to do sets of 7 or 8 and have to back off maybe even to sets of 3. But just because it feels hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the weight.

I see athletes use the same weights in workouts over and over again who crush the workouts with that weight but then wonder why they aren’t making progress. I also see athletes who are eager to try heavier weights start the workout with them and then immediately strip the weight down only five or ten pounds and then crush that lower weight. Why did they take the weight off? Because it’s hard to live outside the comfort zone.

Unfortunately that’s what CrossFit and growing as an athlete (and everyone in this gym is an athlete) and becoming fitter is all about. You have to be willing to push outside of your comfort zone to get better, which goes for most life situations too. Make a commitment to yourself that as long as the reps are still possible and still safe, you end with the same weight on the bar. Even if you get time capped, even if you barely get through any part of the workout. See it through to the end, and you’ll have better information for next time, or you might even surprise yourself by doing better than you thought. The latter is almost always the case.

Is the Comp Class Right for You?

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Is the Comp Class Right for You?
Written by: DCCF-er Phil Newton

As summer creeps in and everyone is on that mad dash to finalize that hot beach bod to show off on the ‘gram, I have had a few people ask me about the Comp Class and what it’s done for me. I’ve been doing the extra programming for a solid year now, and I can tell you, it pays off. With that being said; I can’t say that it’s right for you. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you dive into the additional programming:

1. Are you going to the gym consistently? 4-5 days a week minimum?

If the answer to that question is no, then stop reading this article and get sweaty in a class! Doing more work on fewer days is not going to get you the results you want.

“Pfft, whatever Phil, I’m always up in there getting my fitness on.”

Well alright then chief, buuuuuuut…

2. Are you consistently hitting the workouts each day you train with high intensity?

You should be giving everything you have in the normal classes before adding additional programming. The class workouts are enough, if you have the desire to push yourself for the hour you are in the gym each day. Hit the sport weight, do the extra rounds, push yourself to do the difficult movements that you avoid. Give everything you have in class and you might just see that you don’t have the energy for extra work.

You may have seen a post I made on the DCCF Social Page during regionals about Max Bragg, the guy who made it to the East Regional and competed against Mat Fraser (You know who he is) and held his own. Well, he only did affiliate programming and look how far he got! Trust me, that dude is fitter than you.

You may be saying, “But Phil, obviously he’s a genetic freak with a job that supports his fitnessing!”

Well, you’re right, but before you think adding more work will get you where you want to be ask yourself this…

3. Is your nutrition dialed in?

If you’re eating a Whizzburger and a chocolate shake for dinner after you leave the gym every night, you’re not going to fuel yourself with the energy that you’ll need for high volume. I’m not saying you have to go strict paleo or get out the scale every time that you’re sitting down for lunch to weigh out if that extra bean sprout in your kale salad is gonna ruin your macros, but you should be mindful of the things you are putting into your body.

So, your nutrition is good, you’re hitting it with intensity, and you’re hitting it often. Surely that’s it, right? Au contraire…

4. Are. You. Recovering!?!?!

This is probably the most important step and it’s often the most overlooked. Are you taking the time to do mobility work outside of the class? Are you taking care of nagging injuries? Are you getting enough sleep? There’s a lot to consider about how much stress your putting your body through.

If you aren’t treating your time outside the gym as just as important to your training, you will see diminished results inside the gym.

If you’re nailing all the first four points, then I just have one last question for you.

5. Why?

This is a question that I ask when people say they need extra programming and almost always I get the same response.

“I want to get better/stronger/faster.” I support that decision 100%, that’s why we all show up in the first place. What you should think about is, why is this extra programming going to be the element that gets you there? Slater had a great article a while back about goals and habits that is really worth a read if you missed it.

So what goal will this extra programming help you achieve that would not be accomplished from the regular class? You want to work on additional skills under fatigue to help your chances in upcoming competitions? Yep, that’s a good reason. You want to get your bi’s and tri’s lookin’ sweet for the honeys out on the lake? A little less so. Be specific in your goals with the extra work, because it IS WORK.

The extra accessory pieces are tough, and if you aren’t ready to suffer, you’re not going to get anything out of them. But if you’re ready to sweat a lot, cry a little, and work hard; then I’ll see ya in there. I’ll be the guy almost throwing up coming off the assault bike.

Comp Class runs Mon, Tues, Wed at 5:30p & 6:30p; and Fri at 5:30p.

Do as I say: Fast Track Your Double Under Progress

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Do as I say: Fast Track Your Double Under Progress
Written by: DCCF-er, EA Duncan

In the interest of full disclosure, let me admit that I am not good at Double Unders. My longest string currently sits at 12 and the maximum cumulative amount I’ve been able to commit to doing in one sitting before hitting myself in the face with a rope too many times is 75. So why am I writing to you? Because I want to save you from my mistakes and fast track your progress. I imagine with proper prioritizing I could have had all of the following breakthroughs in one week, at least six months ago. And honestly, I think someone who never struggled at DUs has no place giving advice about them.

1. Stop doing singles. One of my main sources of frustration with DUs is that I consider myself a damn good jump roper. I was a legitimate contender at Jump Rope For Heart as a kid (Did anyone else do this in elementary school?!) and I can keep steady singles for a long time without getting caught up. Sadly, if the goal is DUs singles will NEVER get you there.

2. Stop looking for the silver bullet rope. Everyone wants to give you advice about ropes but the bottom line is half the world says shorter/light, half the world says longer/heavier and people who are good at DUs could probably do them with an actual piece of rope if they needed to do so. Try a bunch of ropes if you can. Find what works for you. (If you’re dying for my personal opinion I vote shorter and I use a Buddy Lee rope for most practice because it hurts less when it hits me. I hope to graduate to my Rogue rope for good someday, but for now it’s for small numbers only.)

3. Figure out if you’re not turning the rope fast enough. I didn’t have this break through until I used speed training balls. They’re essentially jump rope handles with wiffle balls attached to the end that will force your wrists to turn like they should for DUs. Thirty seconds with these and LIGHTBULB OH THAT’S WHAT THIS IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE, THAT’S NOTHING LIKE WHAT I’VE BEEN DOING moment complete. If you go to DCCF, I will leave them in the office for you. Otherwise, order some from Amazon.

4. Watch this video:

There are millions of DU videos out there but I found most of them laughably say “Get one, then work on stringing them together!” THANKS FOR NOTHING, INTERNET. The Again Faster video has an interesting approach to getting the rhythm: letting the rope turn and smack the ground without jumping. I’m not sure why it works, but the day I watched this, I finally got one.

5. Video tape your attempts. I get why CrossFit is all anti-mirrors-let-coaches-tell-you-what-to-correct-don’t-try-to-watch-yourself… but this does not apply to DUs. Verbal coaching cues about keeping my elbows or turning my wrists faster in never worked for me. After seeing myself on video once, I got what they were saying. I also noticed many other flaws. Put your iPhone to use.

6. Tuck jump the hell out of DUs for a while. After hearing the rope hit the ground, I progressed to where I could go “single single TUCK JUMP TO FORCE A DOUBLE” Eventually I progressed to only needing the tuck jump for the very first one of the string. Now I can get it started without the tuck. It’s a drill and it has its place. Anyone who tells you not to do this is an a**hole who never struggled with DUs and they can suck it.

7. Substitute attempts for DUs. Once you have even a singular DU start substituting attempts. If the WOD has 50 DUs, try 25 attempts (maybe even 15). It’s not fun watching everyone glide unbroken while you acquire whip marks, but again: singles will never get you doubles. And conversely, you’ll never get doubles without attempting.

8. Start every day in the gym with 2 minutes max DUs. In theory, this is what I’m doing to watch my progress. If you’re wondering if I actually get to it every day, let me hit you with what my Dad often likes to tell me: Do as I say, not as I do.

After spending 11 months whining that I didn’t have DUs I signed up for a competition that put 2 minutes Max Double Unders as the very first element of the very first WOD. I was stuck. I could either stand there and look like an idiot or I had to figure out how to do some. I went from 0 to 34 in matter of weeks. Sure, 34 is a long way from perfect. But if you do as I say and not as I did, maybe your progress will be more impressive.

Elizabeth Ann Duncan (“E.A.”) is an attorney by trade and an amateur CrossFit nerd by choice. She can now do DUs in sets of 50 and endoreses the RX ropes because she thinks the heavier handles help her rhythm and loves that the rope isn’t a weapon if/when it hits you. She still thinks if you didn’t struggle w dubs you shouldn’t be giving advice about them.

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.

    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

    Pain: Where You Think It Is, It Ain’t

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    Pain: Where You Think It Is, It Ain’t
    Written by: Coach Slater

    This article began after reminding myself of the phrase “Where you think it is, it ain’t,” said by Dr. Ida Rolf, a highly respected movement specialist, with regard to pain. The concept suggests that problems at one joint usually show up as pain in the joint above or below. For instance, lower back pain is likely due to loss of function below at the hips. If the hips can’t move, the lumbar spine will; but the spine is meant to be stable, not mobile. When joints that are supposed to be mobile become immobile, another stable joint is forced to compensate, which typically leads to pain or injury. Lose hip mobility, get low back pain. Lose ankle mobility, get knee pain. Lose thoracic mobility, get neck/shoulder pain (or low back pain).

    “Our response to injury is like hearing the smoke detector go off and running to pull out the battery. The pain, like the sound, is a warning of some other problem. Icing a sore knee without examining the ankle or hip is like pulling the battery out of the smoke detector. The relief is short-lived.”
    Ultraprevention

    As coaches, we work diligently to spot these issues before they become an issue for you. We may recognize “stiff” movement and wonder if a past injury or poor repetitive movements caused the body to get stiff in order to find stability where it has none. If you’ve foam-rolled forever, but not made any discernible change and still feel tight, then it’s likely that you haven’t fixed the stability issue occurring elsewhere in your body.

    Turns out, a tight muscle and a fatigued muscle look pretty similar. If I see “tight” hamstrings on someone, I assume you don’t use your glutes well. In turn, your hamstrings are working harder, becoming fatigued. If I see a lack of thoracic spine mobility, I look next for core stability issues. Maybe you can do a plank for a long time, but you can’t rotate fully on a rotational slamball throw. That stiffness might be a protective gate from your inability to be stable elsewhere.

    Recently, I noticed someone (who shall remain nameless) perform burpees with her left palm flat on ground, her wrist extended naturally, but her right hand was pressing thru the side of her thumb and forefinger, keeping that wrist neutral. I asked why on earth she would do such a thing and she complained of wrist pain on her right side. Performing burpees this way was the only way she could do so without pain. I immediately wondered if she had a right shoulder/scap issue. Turns out, she works at a computer most of her day, using a mouse. Her right arm basically never moves for hours at a time, as she performs monotonous mouse work, so her tissues kind of get stuck. I had her do a few tests on her right shoulder and found it was moving sub-optimally. I gave her some homework to work on her tissues with a lacrosse ball, perform some daily pec/shoulder/thoracic stretches, and get out of her chair more often so she can move around. If she sticks with it, I bet it fixes that wrist in no time.

    If you have small pains, and one of your DCCF coaches has recommended a few drills for you to perform before/after workouts, then you owe it to yourself to consider performing them… even if those drills just involve something boring like, ugh, breathing. Pain is an alarm signal for vulnerability elsewhere. Performing any movement with poor technique and simply trying to go harder, longer, or faster is a great way to get injured. Remember, more is not better, better is better, and we’re here to help.

    How to Not Rip on Pullups

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    How to Not Rip on Pullups
    Written by: Coach Slater

    Hand rips are cool and all, but if avoiding them is cooler, then consider me Miles Davis.

    You can avoid them, too, by first taking care of your calluses after your showers. Shave them down using a rough foot scrubber. (Skip the pumice stone. They’re not abrasive enough to do any good.) Then, when you’re next in the gym, stop using so much damn chalk! It makes your hands sticky, creating too much friction, which then creates rips and tears. Next, change the way you grip the pullup bar. Get it out of your palms. Doing so compresses the skin, and over time, builds severe calluses which are ripe for rips. Instead, get the bar into the base of your fingers. Is this harder at first? Yea, but we’re thinking long-term here.

    If you’re having trouble adjusting to this style of grip, or dealing with current tears on your hands, then here are my thoughts on grip options:

    JerkFit Wodies
    The material of these is so slick, your grip strength is zapped quickly with these gloves, no matter how much you chalk them up or how much they’re broken in. But, a benefit of the grips is that they have a built-in wrist wrap for added support in overhead movements.

    Bear Komplex
    These are often described as “too smooth”, likely because they’re made from a suede leather which isn’t as textured as other brands. Like the Rogue grips, they have an unforgiving strap which can dig into the wrist, too.

    Natural Grip
    This is a great local company, but if you’re in a pinch and don’t have these handy, you can make your own using $4 store-bought tape.

    HumanX Grips
    These damn things look absolutely ridiculous. You might as well be wearing oven mitts. If you’re interested in doing pullups and baking casseroles at the same time, then these are for you.

    Rogue Leather Gymnastic Grips
    These are grippier than the Woddies, but they bunch up, which can result in rips in your palm. Also, because they bunch, it can be harder to hold the bar because of how much thicker these make the bar feel. However, if you take the time to break them in and get them sized right, these are generally regarded as the best option. Not exactly a glowing review, but there ya go.