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Another testing block has come and gone, and we are ecstatic to see so many new PRs in the various disciplines! Lets take a quick look at each section and share some thoughts on each (these are generalizations of the WHOLE community, so realize of course you may be an individual exception) I promise this time I’ll be super brief, so hopefully everyone has the patience to read this one…
Lower body strength and movement quality:
As always an area of primary concern, and once again HUGE gains across the board here! Lots of progress in back and front squat, and even if you may not have a set a PR in both, progress is evident.
Upper Body strength (push ups, pull-ups etc.)
This remains one of our big communal “goats” and is something that will absolutely be targeted going forward. There will be a protocol posted to perform DAILY for those looking to crack that first pull-up (far left of the white board, updated weekly)….which is by far the hardest, after that one falls the rest come much quicker.
One of our goals when splitting the programming to the strength group and olympic lifting group was to give those who are able the ability to develop these technical lifts with more frequency. As was seen with this batch of testing there were big strides made in this area by those that were training primarily in this group. Just a side note don’t be shy to use an occasional workout and spend the “oly group” time working on technique if you feel you’d like to learn (and are without any movement limitations)
High Level Skills/Gymnastics
These numbers did not improve tremendously because they were not trained with a very high volume. We were focused more on the baseline movements and olympic lifts, rather than gymnastics volume… To set ourselves up going forward. Prepare to see more “On the minute” work that includes gymnastics/body weight volume. Sadly in this category the doubles unders remain a bit stagnant…Still looking for the magic solution there, but until then I can promise you will NOT improve UNLESS you are devoting 3-5 minutes a day 4-5 days a week to this little gnat of an exercise.
Our next block of programming which will lead into the holiday season will be focused on and include the following:
Upper body Pushing/Pulling/Gymnastic strength – 3+x/Wk HIGH priority
Shoulder Health/ Function – 6x/Wk HIGH priority (separate write coming on this soon)
Olympic Lifting development – 2x/Wk Medium-High Priority
Lower Body Strength – 2x/Wk Medium Priority
Mixed Modal MetCon- Daily/ Medium Priority (we saw good overall gains in conditioning modestly across all areas this way so we will continue with a more varied approach to our energy systems work)
Challenge Sessions involving heavy carries – Will pop up a bit more frequently….
That is basic gist of it! Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about your goals and the best way to get there!
Been in a rut lately body comp wise? Here are 10 quick tips to jump start your progress to looking and feeling like a resident of Mt. Olympus!
1) Focus your diet on animal protein (locally sourced and pasture raised if you have denounced mediocrity!) and green veggies… No bout a doubt it, if you want to look better nekid this is step 1! Its not a real “meal” without this items!
2) Do/watch/listen to/ something everyday that makes you laugh so hard you metaphorically snort milk (metaphorically raw milk) out of your nose… Research continues to show us this is one of the best ways to fight elevated cortisol levels (an imbalance of which is a primary culprit in MANY health issues and body fat dilemmas).
3) Earn your carbs… With what we do in the gym there is certainly a need for some level of carbohydrates in almost all our diets. That need is highly variable dependent upon a host of factors (i.e current body fat, type of workout, body composition/performance goals, genetic carb tolerance, and much more) but to generalize for most of us 80% of the days carbohydrate consumption should fall around the workout (before during and after).
4) If you aren’t “regular” make a change…. Make sure the foods you eat agree with your system and also try adding a solid probiotic, extra fiber, and more cruciferous veggies. A healthy digestive system means proper absorption of nutrients, a robust immune system (if you are one of those people that is always getting sick and the sniffles check your gut… 80% of our immune system is there). As a wise man once said, “strive daily to produce a foot long floater with minimal odor” (hehe poop).
5) Fortify your diet with essential supplementation… Ask any good functional medicine practitioner and they will tell you that anyone living in our society is likely deficient in omega 3s, magnesium (a key player in blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, and sleep), zinc, and many trace minerals…. For this reason I think most people should consider these a part of their “food shopping” rather than something on the side.
6) Limit cheat meals and the like to once every 2 weeks….Again this varies based on your leanness but for most of us once a week is honestly too frequent if you are after serious change. By waiting 2 weeks before allowing an indulgent meal you learn to appreciate it more, and demonstrate a higher level of commitment to making a change.
7) Alcohol …. When it comes to this its just a plain question of what do you want more? A rock solid head turning body and health so vibrant it blinds the sun? Or do you want to indulge in liquid mediocrity and look like a human version of the chocolate monster from candy land? The choice is yours friends…
8) Embrace a good ole cuddle session with your significant other (or a dog)… Legitimate research shows this DIRECTLY and immediately increases hormones and neurotransmitters that destroy stress and are beneficial for body composition improvement. Bet you never thought you’d hear a strength coach recommend that to speed up your progress!
9) Stop making excuses… We all have something going on, travel, family events, work, or whatever it may be. You have to be willing to take the time for yourself to make a positive change.], and this may mean being a bit selfish with your time. Don’t be afraid to do that. Last time I checked no food was ever eaten by accident, “officer the assailant forced me to eat cheesecake and pizza at gun point… It was horrible!” Yup pretty sure that one has never come across the desk of hopkinton PD. Be responsible, take action, and leave the excuses for someone else. Food preparation and bulk cooking can eliminate 95% of all potential dietary excuses.
10) Eat enough and eat frequently… When fat loss is the goal often times calories get slashed too low too quickly, leading a “stale” metabolic state. By eating every 2-3 hours and meeting an appropriate calorie range (a good STARTING POINT is 15 calories/ LB BW) you will set yourself up for continued fat loss and a strong metabolism that won’t decrease your performance while striving for body comp improvements!
“With Great Power Comes great responsibility”
CrossFit as both a sport and a fitness modality possesses within itself the ability to dramatically change us physically, emotionally, and mentally. It can sculpt our bodies, mold our confidence, and emotionally connect us to people we otherwise would never have known. The positives of crossfit are numerous and profound, and hopefully you have personally experienced this as well. On the other side of the coin, CrossFit is certainly not without it’s risks, and recently the media has tried to display CrossFit in a way that would make the average person fear stepping in a CrossFit gym. What we would like to discuss is what these risks are, why we do things the way we do, and what you can do as an individual to maximize your benefit and minimize your risk.
CrossFit is an intense physical activity, intense at relative levels, but intense none the less. With any intense physical exercise or sport there is always a risk of injury, heck forget exercise even in life! (we’ve heard more stories of injuries doing yard and house work then we’ve had at the gym!) The simple fact is the human body is not indestructible (though we are striving to get as close as possible!) and we need to take measures to be as safe as possible, especially if CrossFit is your “fitness” modality, and not a competitive sport for you.
Having said that lets reinforce the greatest mechanism you have to prevent injury…. CONSISTENTLY AND PERMANENTLY DEDICATING YOURSELF TO THE TECHNICALLY PERFECT EXECUTION OF ALL MOVEMENTS. I think we should make everyone solemnly swear on a bible to do so. If we asked you as an individual how to correctly perform a certain movement (once past the introductory stage of your CrossFit life) I’m sure many of you could easily describe the important points, yet its revoltingly common for the most seasoned of us to continually exhibit the same movement faults even when you are well aware the correct technique points. Why does this happen? The first and most obvious is fatigue, movement quality suffers under fatigue, but thats why we need to be so diligent at all times in only allowing ourselves to practice perfect movements, so that when fatigued our body reverts back to the only movement pattern it knows, the correct one. The more you “respect” a movement the easier it is to keep it solid when you’re looking at the tail end of a brutal met-con. We squat, hinge, and do some kind of pushup nearly everyday for this reason. If you have a technical flaw in this base movement how can you expect to successfully graduate and add load to it? The best thing you can do to help this is keep track of the coaching cues you are given in your TRAINING LOG so as to not make the same mistakes repeatedly. You will continue hear us hammer this point home, and we sincerely hope you will respect even the simplest of movements in order to keep yourself healthy in the long run.
Another huge factor in your health and safety is avoiding movements for which your body is simply not ready. We strive to provide as many substitute movements as possible in place of the higher risk/higher skill exercises (namely overhead movements), but often times its easy to get caught up in the group mentality and ignore what may be best for you. Even if a movement isn’t acutely painful, if you have a restriction that is keeping you from performing it correctly, it is just a matter of time before a slight “twinge” pops up and becomes a larger injury or issue. We understand that sometimes the more basic movements are not as exciting, but our goal is to keep you healthy and get you fit first and foremost, and often times this requires regression of exercises. Just because an exercise is regressed for you, does not mean it is any less beneficial, in fact quite the opposite. Be selfish sometimes, and know that what is best for so, may be a modified movement, and that is absolutely fine.
While the work you do in the gym is a huge determinant of your progress, what you do outside the gym is equally important. What we are referring to here is mainly self restorative care. If you have movement restrictions are you taking daily steps to improve them? Or are you simply hoping they’ll vanish on their own? Say for example you have poor hip mobility in a squat, you should be taking 5 minutes (minimum!) everyday to sit at rock bottom of a squat breaking down the restrictions keeping you from a smooth and fluid squat. The reason this is so important is because every time you perform a sub-par movement you are breeding imbalance and faulty motor patterns….These will both inevitably come back to similar issues we described above, you are only as solid as the base of your pyramid. Fitness built on a foundation of dog-doo and dandelions will only take you so far.
Unlike strength which can improve by training it 2-3x a week, movement quality is something you must always be working and conscious of. If you spend 10 minutes opening up your shoulders at the gym, then 10 hours sitting in a garbage posture, do you think that change will really stick? If you really want to advance to the higher skill movements attacking these movement limitations 2-3x a day is absolutely necessary. If that isn’t something you think you can manage, just know that you are probably going to be better off with the modified options, which is also fine!
In summary, CrossFit like all other worthwhile endeavors is not without it risks; however by taking the proper steps of: being aggressively dedicated to the repetition of perfect technique, scaling and opting for substitutions even when it may not be the most glamorous, and taking your movement quality mindset with you everywhere you go and working on postural/mobility drills outside of class time, you will be able to mitigate these risks and enjoy all the positive power the CrossFit world has to offer. Your coaches are here to help you in your fitness journey and keep you safe, but it is up to you to listen to your body and know when to take the path that best suits your needs!