WORKOUT OF THE DAY

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Training Hard By Chris Daly

“Go hard or go home”

We have all heard this phrase muttered through countless gyms, but what does it actually mean? Can you truly go “hard” every day that you train? A better question is should you push that much every day? What most people perceive as effort could actually be fatigue, over-training or low recovery. Simply grinding through workouts day after day leaves an athlete in a state of not knowing: not knowing what should feel easy versus what should feel difficult. 16996473_1447376231962045_2694871336163876663_n

There are many factors which determine how we feel each day. One such factor is our Central Nervous System and how it recovers between efforts. If you are constantly “going hard” every day you train then the end result is often CNS fatigue. Our central nervous system connects the brain with the spinal cord and creates a relationship within our muscles via the PNS (peripheral nervous system). Think of it as your brain controlling your muscles.

When you’re tired or sluggish, particularly if your mind is foggy, there is a great chance you are under-recovered. Maybe your sleep was poor. Feeling stressed out? There is a good chance that could be contributing to your sluggish mood. How many of you have continued training on those days, maybe even performing multiple training sessions? Instead, this is a perfect time to step back and take that day off!

When you are constantly coming in giving full effort on high-intensity workouts or performing heavy, compound movements such as squats or cleans, your body is being taxed. There is only so much the CNS can endure; it needs time to recover fully. As coaches we understand that everyone wants to improve. Unfortunately, most people think that more is always better. In reality, doing less in the gym and more recovery outside of the gym will eventually lead to bigger fitness gains.16865231_1447376181962050_4429853593307666844_n

There are many other factors leading to an increased ability to “go hard” including training years, accumulated volume and proficiency with the movements being performed. Athletes who train at a high level know the difference. They have years of training and good recovery habits; they understand that working at sub-maximal loads will make them more proficient in the long run while reinforcing basic skills; they understand that performing long, slow aerobic work will build their capacity. Most importantly, they will recover faster than the people who just mindlessly push themselves as hard as possible each day. They have prepared themselves to “go hard” over a long period of time through intelligent work. These athletes know that training as hard as possible every day isn’t the answer.

Ask a regional- or games-level athlete how many days a week they train, and how many sessions they perform in a week. Chances are they probably perform fewer than some of you who try to take 2 classes a day for 6-7 days each week. Then ask these athletes how they recover, because that is one of the main reasons they are performing at such a high level. By now you are probably saying, “but we aren’t all regional-level athletes!” Exactly, so why are you trying to train like one?16939014_1447377345295267_4601096089770453436_n

As coaches we love having enthusiastic members who enjoy training and working to get better. Over time your ability to progress through training will suffer if you can’t differentiate between when you should push and when you should take a day off.

 

In Summary:

  1. Every training day should have a purpose, a reason and intent behind why it was programmed
  2. Always strike a balance between easy days and hard days
  3. There is no secret pill or shortcut; time has to be spent building up skills and volume! A quote I like along these lines is “If there were shortcuts they’d be called routes.”
  4. Listen to your body (and your coach); chances are they are both giving you the same advice!
  5. It’s okay to give 70-80 percent effort in a workout (What did he just say?!?!?). Longer workouts are a perfect opportunity to focus on your movement and breathing (see Coach Nate’s article on that)!

Lastly, let’s discuss your approach before you arrive and when you enter the gym. Lifestyle choices play a major role in your ability to perform and recover. Are you well-rested and do you have a regular sleep schedule?

Are you well-nourished with a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats? Are you hydrated and consuming at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day?

When you show up to train the next phase beings.16996426_1447376448628690_5617504257061068671_n

Are you on time (early so you can prepare your body)? Lateness is a choice, so choose to be on time. When you are late it shows your classmates and your coach that there time isn’t very important, and this causes class to run late. Sometimes things are out of your control and keep you from being on time every day, but make an effort to prioritize your fitness too!

Am I paying attention to the coach as they explain the intent of the day’s workout? The social aspect of the gym is important, but giving the coach your attention is crucial to understanding what you should be doing during that hour.

Am I asking the coach questions? Oftentimes there is a lot going on in that one hour of class. Asking questions is important to understanding our goals for you during that class, and all of us would rather have you ask questions than be lost or confused.

Am I in the right class based on how I’m feeling and moving that day?16997826_1447377901961878_6817119035546523202_n

Maybe my CNS is fried and I am under-recovered; this is a great day to do some mobility work or sit on a bike for some light pedaling. On days where there is a lot of heavy barbell work and squatting in the CrossFit class, maybe go to endurance and scale down your effort if you are feeling fatigued. If your movement quality needs work then take a gymnastics or weightlifting class to slow things down and fix your posture and core strength.

After thinking about these questions, ask yourself: how prepared are you to “go hard” that day?

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Training Hard: By Chris Daly

“GO HARD, OR GO HOME”

We have all heard this phrase muttered through countless gyms, but what does it actually mean? Can you truly go “hard” every day that you train? A better question is should you push that much every day? What most people perceive as effort could actually be fatigue, over-training or low recovery. Simply grinding through workouts day after day leaves an athlete in a state of not knowing: not knowing what should feel easy versus what should feel difficult.

16996506_1447375861962082_1728119826813537793_n

There are many factors which determine how we feel each day. One such factor is our Central Nervous System and how it recovers between efforts. If you are constantly “going hard” every day you train then the end result is often CNS fatigue. Our central nervous system connects the brain with the spinal cord and creates a relationship within our muscles via the PNS (peripheral nervous system). Think of it as your brain controlling your muscles.

When you’re tired or sluggish, particularly if your mind is foggy, there is a great chance you are under-recovered. Maybe your sleep was poor. Feeling stressed out? There is a good chance that could be contributing to your sluggish mood. How many of you have continued training on those days, maybe even performing multiple training sessions? Instead, this is a perfect time to step back and take that day off!

When you are constantly coming in giving full effort on high-intensity workouts or performing heavy, compound movements such as squats or cleans, your body is being taxed. There is only so much the CNS can endure; it needs time to recover fully. As coaches we understand that everyone wants to improve. Unfortunately, most people think that more is always better. In reality, doing less in the gym and more recovery outside of the gym will eventually lead to bigger fitness gains.

16996177_1447375828628752_1716948013886929687_n

 

There are many other factors leading to an increased ability to “go hard” including training years, accumulated volume and proficiency with the movements being performed. Athletes who train at a high level know the difference. They have years of training and good recovery habits; they understand that working at sub-maximal loads will make them more proficient in the long run while reinforcing basic skills; they understand that performing long, slow aerobic work will build their capacity. Most importantly, they will recover faster than the people who just mindlessly push themselves as hard as possible each day. They have prepared themselves to “go hard” over a long period of time through intelligent work. These athletes know that training as hard as possible every day isn’t the answer.

Ask a regional- or games-level athlete how many days a week they train, and how many sessions they perform in a week. Chances are they probably perform fewer than some of you who try to take 2 classes a day for 6-7 days each week. Then ask these athletes how they recover, because that is one of the main reasons they are performing at such a high level. By now you are probably saying, “but we aren’t all regional-level athletes!” Exactly, so why are you trying to train like one?

16996473_1447376231962045_2694871336163876663_n

As coaches we love having enthusiastic members who enjoy training and working to get better. Over time your ability to progress through training will suffer if you can’t differentiate between when you should push and when you should take a day off.

In summary:

  1. Every training day should have a purpose, a reason and intent behind why it was programmed
  2. Always strike a balance between easy days and hard days
  3. There is no secret pill or shortcut; time has to be spent building up skills and volume! A quote I like along these lines is “If there were shortcuts they’d be called routes.”
  4. Listen to your body (and your coach); chances are they are both giving you the same advice!
  5. It’s okay to give 70-80 percent effort in a workout (What did he just say?!?!?). Longer workouts are a perfect opportunity to focus on your movement and breathing (see Coach Nate’s article on that)!

Lastly, let’s discuss your approach before you arrive and when you enter the gym. Lifestyle choices play a major role in your ability to perform and recover. Are you well-rested and do you have a regular sleep schedule?

Are you well-nourished with a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats? Are you hydrated and consuming at least half of your bodyweight in ounces of water per day?

When you show up to train the next phase beings.

16996132_1447375891962079_2747325445129697437_n

Are you on time (early so you can prepare your body)? Lateness is a choice, so choose to be on time. When you are late it shows your classmates and your coach that there time isn’t very important, and this causes class to run late. Sometimes things are out of your control and keep you from being on time every day, but make an effort to prioritize your fitness too!

Am I paying attention to the coach as they explain the intent of the day’s workout? The social aspect of the gym is important, but giving the coach your attention is crucial to understanding what you should be doing during that hour.

Am I asking the coach questions? Oftentimes there is a lot going on in that one hour of class. Asking questions is important to understanding our goals for you during that class, and all of us would rather have you ask questions than be lost or confused.

Am I in the right class based on how I’m feeling and moving that day?

16938741_1447381951961473_4849667404593949113_n

 

Maybe my CNS is fried and I am under-recovered; this is a great day to do some mobility work or sit on a bike for some light pedaling. On days where there is a lot of heavy barbell work and squatting in the CrossFit class, maybe go to endurance and scale down your effort if you are feeling fatigued. If your movement quality needs work then take a gymnastics or weightlifting class to slow things down and fix your posture and core strength.

After thinking about these questions, ask yourself: how prepared are you to “go hard” that day?

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Breath Control: A Matter of Life and Fitness

Written By Nathan Gagnon
CF L1, RKC

The rule of three in survival states: a person can go three weeks without food, three days without water, and three minutes without air. Obviously there will be individual and circumstantial exceptions to this rule; however, there is no more immediate need for our physical survival than the ability to breathe. So why then do we insure the water bottle we carry with us is never empty, log every morsel of food consumed to track our macros, but don’t spend a second thinking about how and when we breathe?

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Part of this can be explained because, if we pay no attention to our breath, it will be regulated by the autonomic nervous system. This system controls unconscious physical processes such as digestion and heartbeat. We can be “unconscious” for eight hours at night while sleeping and our heart will keep beating while we keep breathing.

Our breath, however, is unlike other autonomous physical processes in that we can exert conscious control over it. We can hold it, breathe at a tempo, and choose whether we are breathing through our nose or mouth. While our heart rate and breath are closely related, we cannot simply change our heart rate by thinking about it; we can, however, control our breath.

What does this control do for us? Our breath is closely related to a number of physiological responses, some of which we would like to dampen or better regulate. While we can’t master all domains with our breath, we can greatly influence our performance.

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Take, for example, when you enter a stressful social situation, such as a presentation, job interview, or first date—your palms may start to sweat, your heart starts to flutter, and your breath will start to naturally quicken. The mental stress of the situation has activated your sympathetic nervous system, also known as your “fight or flight” response. While this was a useful adaptation for early humans who had to quickly utilize this adrenaline to try and kill the lion or run, modern humans need to gain better control over this response. Your racing mind and perspiration soaked shirt don’t instill confidence in a potential new employer or hot date.

So how can you mitigate this negative response? The secret lies in consciously controlling your breath. Former Navy Seal and author of The Unbeatable Mind, Mark Divine, is a strong advocate for a technique called Box Breathing. In Box Breathing you inhale, hold your breath, exhale, hold your breath out, and repeat at an even tempo. A sample tempo involves breathing in for four seconds, holding for four seconds, breathing out for four seconds, and holding for four seconds. This cycle can be repeated for however long you choose. This conscious control of your breath will take your mind out of the excited state surrounding your stressful situation and activate your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as your “rest and digest” response. This response will slow your heart rate and ease your mind. Try practicing Box Breathing for just five minutes before your next stressful social situation and you will enter into a noticeably calmer, more mindful state.

How does all of this relate to fitness? We all know the feeling of having our heart rate spike while slogging through a workout, causing us to gasp for breath. Am I advocating box breathing during your next set of thrusters? Not exactly. While exercising, we are very much in tune with the primal “fight or flight” state. Our muscles demand more highly oxygenated blood, so our breathing and heart rate will elevate in order to deliver. This doesn’t mean we can’t influence the situation by remaining conscious of our breath, regulating its rhythm, and dampening this response. Every fitness movement has an eccentric, concentric, and isometric portion where our muscles are lengthening, shortening, or remaining static, respectively. While most people are aware of their position while performing a squat, you would be surprised by how many people are unaware of when they should be breathing during that same movement. As a general rule, you should inhale during an eccentric movement, exhale during a concentric movement, and maintain a slight pause in breath during an isometric movement (depending on the length of the hold).

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If we want to transfer this over to a metabolic scenario where we are doing a high number of reps in a given workout, we need to find a rhythm where we can match our movement and breath patterns. Hardstyle kettlebell training provides a useful template to practice with a kettlebell swing: as we hinge at the hip and send the kettlebell down and back (eccentric), we take an audible breath in through the nose; when we open the hip and squeeze the glutes to send the kettlelbell up (concentric), we audibly exhale through the mouth. Practicing this breathing pattern in synchronization with the swing will help you engrain this breathing practice into your other movements.

This concept applies throughout the fitness spectrum. Ask yourself when do you breathe during a handstand push up? How many steps do you take between breaths as you run? Have you been holding your breath through that whole set of thrusters? Do you think that’s a good idea after what we have discussed? This is all food for thought. Even if your Fran time is under three minutes, try and do it while holding your breath. You probably won’t survive, literally!

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The Importance of the Basics

 

For those of you who don’t know me, come to St. James in the basement…the little one. That’s where you are most likely to find me; I am there teaching beginners their very first  CrossFit class. Because of this, I get to see a lot of people make a lot of mistakes. You can see people sag their hips in push ups, come up on their toes in a squat, and round their back every time they pick something up off the ground. It’s horrible. And I love it.

Gino

The reason why I love coaching beginner’s so much is for that “A-ha!” moment. The moment they realize that mechanics will outperform muscle capacity every time. The moment when it clicks, when they understand that they currently have poor movement habits and that working away from them can resolve their injuries. That’s the stuff that gets me out of bed in the morning.

And this is where things go wrong.

Since we, as humans, are designed to overreach, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the following scenario: Someone performs their very first Double Under, and their eyes light up. You can almost read their thoughts: “I can do anything!” “If I can do this, a snatch-muscle-up-back-squat-PR can’t be that far away.”

We have all been there before, and we have all fallen prey to this. The fault is two-fold.

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For starters, the novice is often quick to believe that they are ready to progress after gaining a rudimentary knowledge of the basics. They don’t fully realize how much strength is required to become “not a novice.” Secondly, the beginner will fool themselves into believing that they will not make improvements without practicing the more difficult things… i.e., “I know I can’t do a Strict Pull Up, but I sure as hell can’t continue if I don’t get this butterfly kipping thing down.”

For the first problem, I encourage you all to stick to the four primary basic movements: Air Squats, Sit Ups, Push Ups, and Pull-Ups…pretty much in that order. If your Air Squat is not on point(1), don’t be afraid to stay light for a while. This sentiment goes for both beginners and EVERYONE who thinks they have progressed beyond a beginner. From there, work that core to death, because it is involved in everything you will do and will often be the limiting factor in becoming stronger(2). Third, your incapacity to press yourself through the plane of the push up will affect all other pressing movements(3). Get this one down before you bother going upside down or jumping on the rings. Lastly, and most importantly, before you do all of the cool stuff that can happen on a bar/rings, I strongly encourage you to protect your shoulders by strengthening them(4). You are risking a potentially serious, nagging injury if you begin before you are ready.

ringrow

The second problem AKA run-before-you-walk-itis, is not so quickly resolved. Optimism is contagious, and it’s fun to lift heavy things and do advanced movements. I get that, but before you start thinking about adding #cirquedusoleil to your Instagram posts, please remember that you are only as good as your fundamentals. All of the cool stuff you see done is just icing on top of a tough-as-nails cake. And if you don’t have enough ingredients, things aren’t going to come out right.

None of this is being said in order to scare you, but instead to prepare you.

Thanks for listening,

Coach Gino

 

1) If, ten years in, I am still working on my Air Squat, then so should you.

2) I have moved on from the Sit Up, yes, but the core is still something you need to improve as your fitness levels rise.

3) Always go back to the Push-Up! You’d be surprised how quickly it can go away. #lostabet

4) There is no use in Kipping unless you can withstand the volume. Train smarter!

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December 31, 2017

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 14 minutes of:
7 muscle-ups
50 wall-ball shots
100 double-unders

Men use 20-lb. ball to 10 feet, Women use 14-lb. ball to 9 feet

TEAM version

AMRAP 14

14 CTB

50 WB

100 double unders

*partners alt every :30