Tag Archives: crossfit

The Power of Rest

1 May

Here at FIT, we are always encouraging clients to set goals to work towards.  In the busy world that we all live in, however, these goals are unfortunately often undermined by “life events” and other time constraints that derail us.  It’s amazing though, that sometimes these life events are just what we need to help push us over the edge in our performances and other goals.

Be it fat loss, a faster 10k time, or bigger numbers in the gym, it is important to set realistic and attainable goals.  All of us are familiar with the S.M.A.R.T method goal setting: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.  We systematically help our clients work towards these goals with what we do in the gym, as well as guidance for the other 120+ hours per week outside of the gym (and sometimes even with homework).  Recently though, we had a client who took a three week vacation and still managed an incredible feat when she returned to her workouts: a 15% increase in her deadlift!

 

This client had just gotten back from a 3 week vacation overseas, with nothing more than the occasional run as her mode of exercise; along with lots of eating, drinking, and touring through western Europe.  What wasn’t astonishing was her admission that she her body weight hadn’t changed at all while gone – this is actually pretty common – but rather her performance that day.  She warned me that, “this is my first workout back, so be gentle on me.”  If any of you know me, you’ll know that I’m always looking for the best possible performance out of our clients (the best of what they’ve got that day).  We started slowly with the deadlift, but gradually she started to put more weight on the bar, and get closer to her prior 1 repetition max (1RM).  When all was said and done, she had surpassed her old 1RM of 100kg (210lb) and topped out at 120kg (242lb)!!  That’s an incredible improvement any day, but after being gone for three weeks?  That’s amazing.

 

This performance really got me thinking, and my response was, “That’s the power of rest.”  While that got a good chuckle out of the rest of the Crossfit class, it was very true.  While exercise enthusiasts often use exercise to “destress” from the daily bombardment of emails, errands, kids, etc., we coaches are keenly aware that exercise is itself a stressor.  Now, it can definitely be a beneficial form of stress, but as far as the body is concerned, stress is stress.  What this normally hardworking client didn’t totally recognize, was that by taking those 3 weeks off to relax, recharge, and divert her attention to other endeavors, she was lowering her total stress load.  What that meant was that upon returning to the gym, she was totally re-invigorated to workout, and her body was ready (and able) to take on the stimulus of a hard workout and make extraordinary progress.  In physiological terms, this is what is called super-compensation: resting after a period of intense training results in improvements beyond the previous trajectory from the training stimulus.  Translation: allowing one’s body to rest after continued bouts of hard training may result in even better results than expected.

This client definitely benefited from super-compensation, but there are other “feel good” reasons for her improvements: she was more enthusiastic to hit the ground running upon returning to the gym, and her body wasn’t stiff, sore, or tired from recent workouts.  It’s a common thread that I try to repeat to clients: you can’t just keep beating the body up and hoping for improvements.  Rest, recovery, relaxation; these are all important aspects to making gains (whether increases in weight lifted or decreases in pant size).  Our stress levels have a chance to return to normal, all our bodies’ aches and pains subside, and our enthusiasm to challenge ourselves increases.

 

So…next time you are sitting down with your coach to discuss your goals or upcoming plans, keep the power of rest in mind.  Good luck with your next challenge!

My experience as a Crossfit “athlete”

16 Sep

2 weeks ago, Jimmy, Danielle, Jenny Lewis, and myself competed in the 2012 edition of Moxie Madness, hosted by Crossfit Moxie in San Jose.  This was a 2-day even consisting of multiple timed workouts each day, similar to the format of the Crossfit Games, with each workout being scored separately.  The team with the fewest points across all of the workouts would be the winner.  The format was for 2 published workouts and a “floater” workout to be performed on Saturday, with an additional workout Sunday morning.  The top 10 teams from each division (Novice, Masters, Advanced) would compete in a final workout on Sunday to determine the winner…unfortunately Crossfit Los Altos didn’t get a chance to try this fifth workout.  But we DID get to try our hands at the following:

WORKOUT 1

For time (20 minute time cap)

12 Burpees 12 Front Squats (135lb/95lb)

12 Kettlebell Swings (32kg/24kg)

12 Box Jumps (30”/24”)

Suicide Sprints (~15/30/45′ each)

Team Crossfit Los Altos

Jenny and Danielle

WORKOUT 2

For Time:

25 yard prowler push for girl #1 @ 110lbs, guys run with them while holding 45lb plate

25 yards prowler push for girl #2, @ 110lbs, guy continue to run with them while holding 45lb plate

At the turn the guys will each put their 45lb plates on the prowler and take over.

25 yard prowler push for guy #1, @ 200lbs

25 yard prowler push for guy #2, @ 200lbs

Then…

300 double unders…. 2 guys, one guy working, switch as often as you want

75 Power Snatches @ 65lb ….2 girls, one girl working, switch as often as you want.

Cannot switch to next exercise until others are done! When guys have finished double unders and girls have finished power snatches they will switch exercises.

300 double unders…. 2 girls, one girl working, switch as often as you want

75 Power Snatches @ 95lb… 2 guys, one guy working, switch as often as you want

Then…

25 yard prowler push for guy #1 @ 200lbs

25 yards prowler push for guy #2, @ 200lbs

At the turn the guys will each remove their 45lb plates on the prowler and the girls will take over.

25 yard prowler push for girl #1, @ 110lbs, guy run with them while holding 45lb plate

25 yard prowler push for girl #2, @ 110lbs, guy run with them while holding 45lb plate

Danielle starting the prowler push

FLOATER WORKOUT

3000m team row

4 x 750m row, with a 5 yard sprint from the starting line to the rower.

SUNDAY WORKOUT (#4)

12min AMRAP for max reps

Hang Clean to Overhead anyway

x7 each RX @ 135lbs/85lbs

x5 each RX @ 165lbs/115lbs

MAX RX Alternating @ 205lbs/135lbs

To say that this was a lot of work to cover in 24 hours might be a bit of an understatement; even after the floater WOD – which we completed first – our legs and backs were a little tired and stiff.  Jimmy even felt a little twinge during the row, but powered through successfully for the rest of the weekend. The row did, though, act as a nice warm up for the other two workouts we would need to complete that day.  We were out on the field at Spartan Stadium – San Jose State’s football field – so it was incredibly hot and bright.  It’s quite a different experience working out in the middle of a turf field in the sun instead of indoors, with climate control, firm flooring, and no sun blaring down on you.  The nice thing about it was the crowd.  Having a couple hundred people cheering you on, music blaring, and a few dozen others competing all at the same time really gets the adrenaline going.  The weights seemed “heavy” during the warm ups, but once I heard “3-2-1 Go!” it was just time to start moving and race against the clock. We didn’t have the best scores, but that really wasn’t the point – we all worked hard and got out there to compete!  While Danielle is still actively competing in weightlifting, Jimmy plays basketball, and Jenny is an avid triathlete, this was my first time getting the competitive juices flowing in about 2 years (haven’t been able to get back into playing soccer).  It was great to feel the excitement and “in the zone” feeling of fighting for a win.  I don’t know about the rest of them, but it really instilled a desire to get back into competing – whether back at soccer, more Crossfit throwdowns, or possibly enter a weightlifting meet (as Rob keeps encouraging). We all workout for different reasons – lose body fat, increase muscle mass, stay “healthy”, relieve stress, and even to fulfill a sense of competition.  Whatever the reasons, it is a great feeling, as well as a wonderful exercise in motivation, to step out of one’s comfort zone and try something different (and maybe more difficult than you thought you were capable of).  What will your next physical challenge be?

Why You Don’t Need Machines in Your Workout

28 Oct

The contestants on The Biggest Loser work hard. They spend the majority of their day in the gym working with very talented personal trainers. For a brief period their life is focused around losing weight. We all know that just isn’t how it works in the real world though.

Even if we could have access to such a phenomenal gym and experienced trainers, sometimes exercise machines just do not translate well into real world fitness. And honestly, you do not need machines to complete an effective workout. The Biggest Loser actually proved that in season 11 when they brought in two new trainers who had more experience with mixed martial arts, CrossFit, and boxing than they did with fancy treadmills and cable equipment. The teams who worked in the non-traditional, no machines setting actually seemed to have better weight loss and strength results than those who stuck with treadmills and machines.

There are several reasons machines don’t translate well into real world fitness. First, they are designed to isolate muscle groups rather than work the body as a unit.  This can lead to muscle imbalances and potential injuries if agonist and antagonist muscle groups are worked evenly.

Second, exercise machines rarely allow you to move at a speed that motions occur in the real world.  Upper slow movements have low carryover to activities of daily living.

Third, exercise machines typically lock you into one movement plane. For example, leg extensions allow you to lift your leg at the knee up and down. That may be fine as part of a rehab program, but for real world fitness you’d perform walking lunges with trunk rotation side to side.  This would give you a more dynamic multi-plane movement.

Other limitations of exercise machines are:

Complete home gyms can cost several hundred to a few thousand dollars. The alternatives to home exercise equipment are much less expensive.

Exercise machines take up a lot of space. This is especially important factor to consider if you live in a small place. Even models that slide under the bed need to be slid out and set up somewhere. While we can all dream, not everyone’s “real world” includes an extra room in their house dedicated to fitness equipment.

Exercise machines don’t travel well. You can’t just pop your Buff Body 3000 into your suitcase and head out on a business trip. Real world fitness needs to work for you, not against you. Since you can’t take your machine with you, you might not work out. There’s no reason to make travel harder than it has to be. Creating and keeping fitness routine that can go on the road with you will make it more likely you actually follow through on it when you are out of town. Many people who travel regularly prefer to use bands and sneakers to get their workouts in. Even the hand weights get left at home in these days of overweight luggage fees. Exercise bands are extremely light weight, come in several different levels of resistance, and can even be tucked into your sneakers to save space in your luggage.

Finally, if you are short on time, exercise machines won’t help you get through your workout as quickly as other types of fitness equipment. You will need to stop between each exercise to reconfigure your machine. These pauses in your workout every 1-2 minutes really kill the effectiveness of your workout. The ideal workout keeps going and never lets you bring your heart rate below your personal baseline. You just can’t accomplish this with an exercise machine.

If you want an effective workout that is easy to duplicate whether you are home or traveling, then ditch the machines and look for fitness tools that actually work in real world fitness.

Why FIT CrossFit – Guest Author Ilana Sharaun MA, MFT

11 Jan

Living fully has always been my way. Building a family, finding an occupation I love, and contributing to my community have all been deep sources of meaning and happiness. So, when it became obvious that the stamina and energy I took for granted were not as plentiful as they used to be, I knew it meant making new choices in the way I live. This meant that I must become aware of what affects my well-being, and find the right balance that would result in feeling more alive and vibrant.

A Journey Toward Greater Wellness

This journey toward greater wellness demanded that I address all aspects of my life, and among the most important was exercise. All the studies I have read show that physical activity is directly linked to well- being, but the amount, intensity, and frequency of exercise were not clear. Therefore, I looked for a regimen that will allow me to experiment. I wanted a challenging program with variety, scheduling flexibility, and some form of accountability. Most importantly, I wanted to have fun, which (for me) meant working out with other people.   FIT CrossFit delivered what I was looking for. My life is super full, so having the choice of three sessions per day, six days a week is a huge benefit. The daily routines are flexible and adaptable to each person’s fitness level, not a one sizes fits all program. The trainers are very knowledgeable, supportive, and motivating. The group dynamic is invigorating and encouraging. We all know that the toughest part of Crossfit is just getting started, and the biggest obstacle is believing that you can do it. This personal challenge is what I find most invigorating, and I always leave with more energy than I came in with.

How has my fitness level changed since joining CrossFit?

On a recent hiking trip to Rocky Mountain National Park I was astonished to find myself charging up mountains and flying down the steep slopes. I experienced a joy of movement in a way I never have before. I trusted my body and released myself to the experience without fear.

Living fully means that balancing and rebalancing my life is an ongoing process. The daily strength, stamina, and confidence that I get from the FIT CrossFit training program helps me stay balanced and focused on the priorities I value most in my life.

CrossFit on the Road

4 Jun

Summertime is rapidly approaching, and for many of us that means vacation! It also means time away from FIT.  But, you don’t have to let your fitness suffer.  It only takes 30 minutes a few times a week, to maintain the fitness you’ve earned.  All you need for a solid workout is:

1. Motivation

2. Space

3. Creativity

Motivation will most likely be the greatest obstacle to training while on vacation.  Having a structured regiment at your finger tips could be the stimulation you need.  While planning your vacation,  put a 30 minute WOD on your travel itinerary.

Finding space is easy. The hotel fitness center (as small as it may be), a park, or even your hotel room has ample room for squats, push ups, and burpees.  Another option is to find a CrossFit affiliate within your travel destination.  Most affiliates allow experienced CrossFitters to drop-in for a workout.

With some creativity, equipment limitations are easily overcome.  Some fitness centers have dumbbells and cardio equipment, however usable items can be found anywhere. Look for monkey bars and benches in the park. Even a hotel chair can make a good dip station. Regardless of exercise equipment, the combination of body weight and gymnastic exercises are virtually limitless for a great workout!

Here are some sample workouts designed to deliver a good dose of intensity in 10-20 minutes.  All you need is your able body and a little room to move.

-50-40-30-20-10 reps of: Squats, Walking Lunges, Push-ups

-5 rounds: Run 200m, 15 Burpees

-As many rounds in 20 minutes: 5 Burpees, 10 Squats, 15 Pushups

For more CrossFit on the Road workouts email me at jimmy@focusedtrainers.com.

Remember, getting the workout in is great, but if you’re putting too much junk in your body’s fuel tank you’re really just taking one step forward and two steps back.  Have a great summer!