If you have ever tried to start a new healthy habit or perhaps eliminate an old one you know difficult change can be. Our bodies are adaptation machines however and will adapt to the stimulus they experience most frequently. One way to prime your body for change is to exercise. Exercise causes a whole host of changes in your physiology that can make learning a new habit or skill easier. It is also a great replacement for bad habits you are trying to eliminate. Whatever your goal may be, fitness can play a huge role in your transformation. The most important part of change is starting, taking action towards your goal. Even if you slip and fall it is way better than never having tried at all.
That’s why if you are interested in pursuing a new career, relationship, or habit you should make it a priority to dedicate time each week to rigorous physical exercise. Exercise has numerous physical benefits but it goes beyond that. The way you eat and the way you move your body has a direct impact on the way you think, your mood, and how you make decisions.
Improving cognitive function can give you the energy and mental stamina to make other great changes in your life. Numerous studies have shown significant brain benefits as a result of both cardiovascular and resistance training routines. Exercise has been proven to increase the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin and other neurohormones like the endorphin dopamine. These act on the opiate receptors in our brain to reduce pain and boost pleasure.
“Nothing will work unless you do.” -John Wooden
Exercise has also been shown to stimulate the growth of the hippocampus, synapses, and glial cells in your brain. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and individuals who exercise are able to better recall information.
Synapses are the junctions where our cells communicate with one another, sending signals throughout the body that guide our actions. Exercise stimulates the growth of synapses which helps reinforce learning. The stronger we develop neural pathways through our synapses the stronger we reinforce the pattern. If you are trying to learn a new routine or information exercise can help.
Glial cells provide support and protection for cells in the brain and central nervous system. Exercises stimulates the growth of these cells helping you literally build a bigger brain. It is believed that a bigger brain leads to enhanced cognitive function.
Exercise also increases blood flow, improves our hormonal balance, and aids digestion and insulin sensitivity. These are all tremendous factors in our ability to be alert and energetic. If you are looking for the attitude, attention, and focus to make positive changes in your life then exercise will help you.
If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to fitness or any other change you want to make in your life, get in touch with a coach who can help you. A coach will help you evaluate your situation and come up with a plan that fits your needs and lifestyle. A community that is focused on fitness and self improvement will also help you stay dedicated to your goals.
Speed Is a Skill
Here is how to master it…
Depending on your sport the importance of speed could be a defining characteristic of your success. Naturally track and cross country athletes want to run fast, but speed can help in almost all team and individual sports where strength and conditioning comes into play. Whether you’re a running back who needs to hit the gap just a split second before the linebacker can wrap you up or a basketball player who needs to explode past the defender for a layup speed can be your best friend on the field or court. Given all else, a faster athlete tends to be a better one and luckily many of the defining characteristics of speed are skill based. That means they can be trained and improved upon. It is important to work with a coach who can teach you the skills and mechanics you need to learn. When improving speed is the focus you need to make progress in at least one and possibly all 3 areas of strength, mobility, and mechanics.
An athlete can become faster by improving their absolute strength and relative strength to their body weight. This can be achieved through a combination of resistance training and plyometric exercises. Heavy squats and deadlifts will help develop the motor unit recruitment and force production ability of the leg muscles. Plyometric exercises like box jumps will strengthen connective tissue and improve the stretch shortening cycle in the muscle. Athletes will grow stronger and more powerful and this will directly correlate with increases in speed. Working with a coach who is well versed in speed development will help you get results quickly as well as stay injury free.
Improving mobility, the ability of your joints to move freely and easily can directly improve your speed. This is primarily due to the increase in stride length when the hips, knees, and ankles have full range of motion. This allows for greater muscular contraction due to the body having a higher threshold for motor recruitment. Your coach should explain the proper way to dynamically stretch, warmup, cooldown, and mobilize as a part of your program. It is important to discuss any past injuries with your coach so they can help you to the best of their ability.
The foundational movement pattern of running is a skill just like any other. Learning how to generate power through the proper mechanics can be a game changer for many athletes and may make you feel like you are running for the first time all over again. The timing, stride length, ability to change directions, and use both the arms and legs for explosive movement are all essential skills to improve speed. Your coach will be able to address your unique needs and provide the proper guidance to dial in your mechanics.
If you are serious about improving speed to crush it in your sport seek out one of our coaches to develop a training plan to reach your goals.
“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.”
As an athlete you know how to work hard. You show up day in and day out. You keep track of your training, nutrition, and recovery. But do all your actions truly align with a deeper goal. The one you say you want to accomplish but still feel hesitant towards. Are you truly on the path to mastery?
In his book Ego is the Enemy, author Ryan Holiday tackles the difficult topic of the place of ego in success. So often we become impatient on our path to success. We get caught up in what is unfair. We want to boast or show off and show the world our best side. All the while neglecting our weakness. Avoiding the work truly necessary to get better.
Can you think of a time in the past few weeks when you let ego get the best of you?
In this moment you were probably not taking the best course of action. Not focused on your values, who you want to be, or on taking action toward your goals. This can be problematic if you consistently let ego get the best of you.
Wanting to be the best will make you train hard toward your goals. Thinking you are the best can even have its place. If you are an athlete and need to go into every contest or event with confidence that you can win. But when you begin to act and treat everyone else like you’re the best…well that’s when you start running into problems.
The danger of ego is directly related to the reality distortion field it creates. You have seen examples of this in those who have achieved some levels of success. In business, music, and certainly in sport there are countless men and women who have made fatal blunders due to unruly egos. Often times they think themselves invincible and surround themselves with a team of people who only feed the ego and let it grow out of control.
Compare this to an individual who has their ego in check. By getting out of your head, detaching from the internal dialogue, emotional language, and most importantly outcomes of a situation you will be in a much better place to decide and act.
Winston Churchill says, “facts are better than dreams”. If you can be realistic with your current standing or status it sets you up for true success. You will know where to leverage your strengths, how to attack your weaknesses, and a realistic view of the challenges and competition that could get in your way.
How about in the gym-are you checking your ego when you train?
Working with a coach is one of the best ways to get a reality check. They can hold you accountable when you try to skip the warmup you should be giving more effort toward. They make sure you get deep enough on every rep of your squat. They scale down you when you think you have to RX every WOD so that you get the right stimulus.
They’re not just fitness police though. They’ll tell you when it’s time to put more weight on the bar. To tell you exactly the strategy you need to execute in competition. They may not always give you the answer you want, but always the answer that you NEED.
If you have a health goal you want to achieve don’t let ego get in the way. Reach out today to speak with one of our trainers.
(Picture from Power of Positivity)
Energy Systems Exploration
As a living, breathing, blog reading individual you’ve probably learned the basics around how food provides the body with energy. There are actually several different ways that this can occur and they depend on the activity being performed. Depending on our sport or activity, nutrition, genetics, and level of training will each play a role which energy system is primarily utilized. Regardless of which energy system is predominantly used all energy is stored in the form of ATP.
Adenosine Triphosphate or “ATP” is the energy currency of the body. Each of the energy systems in the body have their own way of producing ATP to power our daily activities. There are pro’s and con’s to each energy system but ultimately having a better understanding of how our body uses energy can help us make informed decisions on diet and exercise. Let’s learn about each energy system…
● Alactic System aka the Creatine Phosphate System
● Lactic Acid System aka Glycolytic
● Aerobic System aka Fatty Acid Metabolism
“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” —Tony Robbins
(aka the Creatine Phosphate System)
What is it: The alactic system utilizes creatine phosphate (CP) as an energy source. It fuels high intensity efforts. Creatine is able to donate its phosphate molecules to the the Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) molecule allowing it to return to ATP, with potential energy stored in its chemical bonds. Creatine comes from the food that we eat with the highest levels in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish. It can also be supplemented for vegetarians and vegans.
Time domains: This energy system is exhausted in 8-12 seconds for most individuals and you will fatigue when your CP and ATP stores have depleted. It is great for quick bursts of energy.
Efficiency:It requires 30 seconds to 2 minutes to replenish energy stores.
By products: Heat released from the breaking of chemical bonds.
Examples of activity: You may see this energy system in action through the short powerful bursts seen in weightlifters, powerlifters, pitchers, and shot putters.
What training looks like: Training the CP system means using short time domains with long rest periods in between. In the gym this means keeping rep ranges to sets of 6 or fewer reps.
Lactic Acid System
(aka Glycolytic system)
What is it: The lactic acid system utilizes glycogen (glucose stored in the muscles and liver) as a fuel source. It is for longer lasting high intensity activities. Our body is able to store about 500 total grams of glycogen in the muscle and liver tissue which provides around 2,000 calories worth of energy. Running out of this fuel source is commonly referred to as “bonking.” Some athletes consume carbohydrate foods, drinks, and supplements during training and competition to prevent running out of this valuable fuel source.
Time domains: It is the primary fuel source for activities lasting from 30 seconds to about 3 minutes. You know you have fatigued this energy system when hydrogen ion accumulation causes a burning sensation in the muscles.
Efficiency: The lactic acid system is very efficient at providing fuel but fatigues quickly. Due to the long recovery time it is favorable to alternate levels of intensity between glycolytic and aerobic dependence to sustain high output.
By products: The byproduct of this system is pyruvate. Which must be cleared from the blood to continue to utilize this energy system. This can take 30-60 minutes.
Examples of activity: This energy system would rule during a 400 or 800 meter sprint, a hockey lines time on the ice, or most CrossFit workouts. It is seen in mixed use with the aerobic system during longer workouts or soccer and basketball games where the players alternate between a slower jog pace with periods of intense sprinting and jumping.
What training looks like: To train this energy system you can utilize interval style training. Intense bursts of energy followed by a recovery period that allows you to stay at a threshold of high output. These athletes tend to have increased muscle mass and ideally lower body fat percentage.
(aka Fatty Acid Metabolism aka Krebs Cycle aka Citric Acid Cycle…)
What is it: This is the creation of energy from fat, glycogen or protein in the presence of oxygen used to power low and moderate intensity activities. The mitochondria present in muscle cells takes the available fuel source through a variety of reactions to produce ATP. Since fat molecules packs 9 calories per gram they tend to be the main choice for this energy system. Even the leanest individuals carry enough body fat to fuel many days worth of activity.
Time domains: Any activity lasting more than 3 minutes in duration.
Efficiency: This system produces energy much more slowly than the others. The good news is it can utilize an unlimited fuel supply of fat.
By products: The aerobic system only produces water and carbon dioxide when generating ATP.
Examples of activity: This energy system is your predominant fuel source for jogging, cycling, swimming long distances, and most of your daily activities.
What training looks like: Athletes who have become efficient at using fat as a fuel source are able to convert the energy from fat more quickly, allowing them to sustain higher levels of work capacity for activities with long durations. These athletes are usually easy to spot as they have exceptional muscle definition and extremely low body fat.
As you can see from the graph, our average work capacity is dictated by the length of time we are performing an activity. By training in all three energy systems we can become more efficient in all areas, thus increasing our work capacity across the board. Individuals who only try to utilize cardio or lifting heavy weights to improve work capacity will fall short of their well-rounded counterparts. If you’re an individual who wants to improve general health it is beneficial to train each of the energy systems.
If you’re ready to increase you work capacity and become more fit give us a call today and we’ll help you get started!
3 Key Steps To Starting An Effective Daily Routine
“I’ve been thinking about taking up a meditation practice.”
“I really need to drink more water…”
“I feel so good when I exercise, I want to go to the gym more often, but can’t find the time!”
If you’re like most people you probably have considered starting a new daily routine to optimize one or more aspects of your life. In a world where time has become more and more valuable, distractions are at an all time high, and to-do lists are as long as ever – people are looking for ways to better themselves. One of the most common ways that folks use to make a change is by adopting a new routine.
Routines are actions or a combination of actions that yield a specific outcome or result.
They are the surest way to make an impactful change in our lives. By the end of this article you will be familiar with the 3 key steps to consider if you want to start an effective daily routine!
“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”
Step 1: Keep the end result in mind.
As humans we have hundreds of little routines we practice each day. Most of these we don’t care to or need to focus on, they simply happen. Adopting a new routine is usually in pursuit of something new that we wish to attain. The benefit of successfully completing the routines could improve us physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Make sure to keep the end result in mind as you select your routine.This life changing benefit will keep you motivated and excited to stick with your routine!
Some common results people shoot for with their routine include:
● Decreased stress
● Increased energy
● Better sleep
● Improved mental clarity
● More time
● Better performance at school/work/sport
Routines to achieve these outcomes might look like:
● Take 10 deep breaths before beginning a new project at work.
● Exercise at least three times each week.
● Turn my phone to airplane mode 1 hour before bed.
● Make a list dividing each job into its constituent parts.
● Plan out my daily schedule every morning while I drink my coffee.
● Visualize what a successful outcome would look like for my upcoming event.
1. a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
Routines are most effective when practiced daily. Sometimes we need to focus extra hard on following through with a new routine until it becomes a habit. This is an important factor to consider in both the selection and implementation of your new routine.
Dr. BJ Fogg, a behavioral scientist from Stanford, has a basic behavioral model he uses to describe the steps to change. He claims that in order for a behavior change to happen you need to have the right mix of motivation, ability, and a trigger.
If we are highly motivated to complete a task then the odds are that when a trigger occurs we will produce a successful outcome. Likewise we tend to be successful at tasks that are easy to complete even if we are not so motivated to get them done.
Makes sense right?
The challenge many of us face is that we fail to set up routines that take into account the motivation required to complete a task requiring a higher level of ability. We shoot for the stars and quickly burn out after our initial gusto wears off.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t aim to make big dramatic change with our new routine?
Kind of…not exactly…but yes.
At least Dr. Fogg would advise against it. Instead he suggest focusing on the smallest possible change available to you in your new routine. Consistency wins the long term change game so you should pick a routine that you know you you can complete every single try. This will generate momentum and a new skill that you can apply later to more challenging target areas.
Action Step: Get out a pen and paper and spend 5 minutes brainstorming some ideas of areas you would like to implement a routine. Think about the end result you would like to achieve and make note of the top 2 or 3 new routines that would be a first step on the path. Then let’s move on to step 2!
Step 2: Determine the lay of the land
This is a chance to take inventory of your assets and keep an eye out for potential pitfalls. Implementing a new behavior is challenging because it requires knocking our brain off of autopilot. Rather than coast through our day following the usual agenda we are throwing a strategic interruption to our thought pattern that lets us try something new. This step can be split into two categories:
Supporting Factors, things that can help you implement your routine. Some examples could be:
● A supportive partner or best friend
● A commute to work that offers some alone time
● Sticky note reminders you place all over your house
● A trainer, coach, or mentor who wants you to succeed
Distracting Factors, barriers, or common faults that would get in the way of you completing your daily routine. This might look like:
● Social settings where you may feel awkward practicing your new routine.
● People who interrupt you and take up your time (EVEN IF YOU YOU LOVE THEM)
● Physical struggles with things like exercise or waking up early.
● Bad influences on your diet, behaviors, or actions.
Action Step: List the top 3 assets you have that could help you start your routine and then the top 3 distractions that may keep you from succeeding. For the distractions, find a solution for how you could overcome it (eg. Coordinate workout schedules with a friend, sIgn up for a class the night before, or prep healthy lunches for the week on Sunday afternoon)
Step 3: Track Your Progress
Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the founding father of using routines for personal development knew the importance of tracking and measuring his daily practices. Each morning Franklin asked himself, “What good shall I do today? And in the evening, “What good did I do today?” Taking the time twice each day to check in on his progress created more opportunities for growth and self-improvement.
Not only that but Ben cycled through a list of 13 virtues he chose to improve his morality. He would focus on one for a week at a time and document any infractions to the redeeming quality. He noticed significant improvement in his adherence cycling through each virtue four times a year.
As you prepare to start your new routine you want to keep track of your progress. Having clear defined parameters will make you more likely to succeed and recreate the process again for future habits.
Action Step: Make a plan to track your progress. What is the the key aspect of the routine are you measuring. What time of day will you log your results? Are you writing it in a notebook or on your phone or laptop? What will you write on days when you forget to adhere to your routine?
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”- Archilochos
So now that you have the 3 key steps to starting an effective daily routine how are you going to implement them?
What do you think about during a workout?
How heavy the weight feels?
The daunting number of reps remaining or time left on the clock?
A creaky knee or that shoulder that always flares up?
Whether you’re in the gym to improve your health, gaining strength and conditioning for your sport, or you are an aspiring professional exerciser you can stand to benefit from improving your mental game. Mental Game is the self talk that dictates how you execute, the inn
er voice calling the shots. If there have been times in training, competition, and life where you walked away feeling like you could have performed better then maybe it is time to consider improving your mental game.
In his podcast Finding Mastery, Michael Gervais interview 4x worlds fittest man Rich Froning. When it comes to the mindset of a champion there is no one better to listen to. Rich discusses his approach to training, competition, and his journey from being a relentless individual competitor to a team champion and family man.
“In training, you listen to your body. In competition you tell your body to shut up.” -Rich Froning Jr.
Rich mentions that he hates losing. In fact, he goes so far as to say that he hates losing more than he loves winning.
This is a common occurrence in top athletes that relates back to a very basic human instinct. That is, all decisions that we make are performed in the name of avoiding pain or seeking pleasure. In this case Rich could not bear the sting of losing after a second place finish in his first CrossFit Games appearance. Even after taking home 6 titles proving his dominance as the f
ittest man in the world, you can still hear the bitterness in his voice as he discusses that fateful day almost a decade behind him.
What separates Rich and makes him such a great champion is what he did with that experience. When most people could have complained, or quit, or cried Rich let that experience fuel his fire. He did this by attacking his weaknesses in training so that way the next year he could show up with confidence.
Rich goes on to mention that he believed he wasn’t always the best athlete in competition but that it was his willingness to push himself harder when it mattered most that lead him to victory. This is a skill he has been cultivating his whole life. Growing up in a family surrounded by older, stronger cousins Rich constantly found himself competing.
To succeed against a stronger opponent, effort becomes of the utmost importance. Like the old saying goes, “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” We can all benefit from this maxim and train like the underdog. In the training environment you can create situations that will push you into an uncomfortable place. The more time you spend in an uncomfortable place the less uncomfortable it becomes. This allows you to push deeper and find new thresholds.
Are there any areas in your life that you find uncomfortable? Do you find yourself shying away from those situations or coming up with excuses?
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength” -Arnold Schwarzenegger
Everyone’s favorite Mr. Olympia has the mindset of a champion, there is no denying that. As a successful bodybuilder, businessman, movie star, and governator Arnold shows us that with the right mindset we can achieve success and apply those principles to all areas of our lives.
So what does the mindset of a champion look like? Arnold suggests 6 rules for success:
1. Trust yourself, have a clear vision of the outcome you want and go for it.
2. Break some rules, be the exception, be the first, one of a kind.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail, if you are not failing you are not aiming high enough.
4. Ignore the naysayers, if you are serious about your goal there is no space.
5. Work like Hell, harder and smarter.
6. Give something back, what lessons have you learned that could benefit others?
Following these principles will benefit you regardless of your goal or undertaking. Every day is a chance for improvement and you get a fresh start right now.
Are there any areas in your life you need to start to trust yourself? Do you have toxic influences in your life keeping you from trying? What are you focused on besides your goal?
“I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot… when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.” -Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan was focused on making the shot
Not the win.
Not the loss.
Not the miss.
Just making the shot.
It’s a pressure cooker. To have the ball in your hands with the game on the line. Maybe you have been there before…maybe you have never been there, but always wondered what it would be like.
In life we aren’t always faced with such clear moments of decision, but that does not mean that there is any less pressure or less important outcomes. Every day there are perhaps dozens of little decisions we make that have shaped our character and crafted the life that we live.
Whether it is fighting for one more burpee in the workout, double checking our work before shipping a project, or even getting out of bed instead of snoozing for that 5 extra minutes. Each day we get the chance to take the shot. So many times though we don’t take it because we are caught up in our own heads.
By changing our focus to an outcome that we desire we invite in the opportunity for that change to occur. Our bodies adapt to the stories that our minds create.
Is your self talk keeping you from playing your best in any area? What is a new story you could tell yourself instead?
“If you can see yourself doing something, you can do it. If you can’t see yourself doing it, usually you can’t achieve it.” -David Goggins
David Goggins in no stranger to overcoming obstacles. From losing 120 lbs to becoming a Navy Seal, pull-up world record holder, and running 203.5 miles in 48 hours this man has what I would call mental warfare more than mental game.
How did he do it?
By facing his fears head on. Goggins recognized that by making decisions in fear he was headed down a path that he was ashamed of. He made a choice to become the opposite of all his worst fears, but this change did not happen overnight.
He describes the early days where he couldn’t run around his neighborhood block without stopping and returning to the couch for a chocolate milkshake. He was able to transition and improve by telling himself to be better and try it again. He internalized the message that he was not going to quit by training it every single day. Just like a muscle it grew over time. David would rely on this muscle every time he tackled a new challenge that felt insurmountable.
These are the lessons and tips from some of the best in the world. So how can you start flexing your mental muscles and change your self talk?
Next time you are talking yourself through a workout or challenging project keep these lessons in mind. Focus on the outcome that you want, not the negative result if things don’t work out. Break things down into small manageable chunks. Focus on your most immediate action and doing it to the best of your ability. And of course, work like hell. The challenges in life are there for growth, tackle them head on.
With many of our athletes signed up for a competition in October, here are a few tips to crush your competition.
Have you ever gotten anxious before a competition? Maybe you have trouble falling asleep the night before or feel sick to your stomach thinking about how well you’ll perform. You train day in and day out with no issues, but this is different…you’re going to have a score for this one. One that represents you and allows you to be analyzed and compared to everyone else. Maybe you think about all the things that could go wrong. Whether it is testing a new 1 rep max, performing a benchmark workout, or trying your hand at a fitness competition there is can be a lot running through your mind before a performance. That is why you owe it to yourself to physically and mentally prepare to test at your best.
- Stick with your normal routines
When NASA trains astronauts to go into space they have rehearsed the entire morning routine leading up to the launch. The same breakfast, the same checklists, the same drive to the station. By performing these repetitions hundreds of times by the time they arrive at launch day there is nothing out of the ordinary for their minds to be distracted by. It is just another day.
It’s the same concept with a test. Now is not the time to try anything crazy. Don’t have a crazy big breakfast of eggs and bacon if normally you just down a smoothie before you head out the door. This goes for dinner the night before as well. Maybe try that new sushi restaurant after your competition. Another wise decision is to avoid taking any new supplements. Most folks are tempted to sip on an energy drink or supplement with the hopes of the add performance benefit of whatever is on the label. Maintain your normal caffeine intake. Make sure you consume water.
Treat it like any other day at the office, not an important event with high stakes. By normalizing as many conditions as possible and staying relaxed you will conserve energy and keep your body out of the fight-or-flight mode until it actually comes time to compete.
This includes the days leading up to the test day as well. You want to taper your volume (the total amount of work) you perform in the days preceding competition but aim to keep a high level of intensity. This means powerful bursts of energy that will keep your nervous system primed to perform at a high capacity. If you go too many days without working hard your body tends to “forget” what it is capable of performing.
- Warm up with a purpose
If you have a normal warm up routine stick with that. Keep in mind that the warm up should consist of a progressive sequence that gets your body in a peak state to begin the workout or lift you are attempting.
Generally this looks like some tissue prep that involves taking your joints through their full range of motion as well as foam rolling, the use of resistance bands aerobic stimulation. Get the blood pumping with a light jog, row, bike, or jumping rope. Follow this up with some dynamic stretching where you progressively increasing intensity and range of motion. Now it’s time for movement specific prep. This could be performing the the movement you will be testing or performing a smaller segment or variation that utilizes similar muscle groups. The goal is to prime your body to recruit as many motor groups as necessary to accomplish the lift.
Some individuals tend to under-prepare in their warm up while others overdo it. Aim for that sweet spot where you feel energetic, light, and springy. You should have gotten your heart rate up enough to break a sweat but you should not be soaking through your tee shirt. Once your body is primed it’s a great time to refocus on your goals for the workout.
- Get specific about your desired outcome
Specificity is key when it comes to eliminating fear and achieving the outcome you want. Things get a whole lot less scary when you clearly define what you want to happen and how little the negative part would actually affect you. This allows you to decide on a game plan taking into account the highest upside of success meanwhile addressing the potential setbacks and how you will adjust your strategy if any of those were to occur.
Mitigating downside is usually a more effective strategy than swinging for the fences. Even if there is an area that you are particularly strong in, say deadlifts, you can’t expect to win a long chipper workout with a move that you consider to be your weakness. Handstand pushups for example. Your strategy should geared toward getting through the set of handstand pushups as quickly as possible by planning out how you will break up the sets and how much rest to give in between. Once you’ve determined your strategy practice it. Your body will know exactly how it feels on rep number 8, rep 17, and rep 29. You’ll be much more effective and able to improve your performance by planning for your weaknesses.
Test, test, test your equipment beforehand! You do not want your glorious efforts and strategic execution to be thwarted by a loose shoelace or clips that won’t stay tight to your bar. If you might need chalk during the WOD grab your own piece and keep it close by. Talk to whoever is judging you and discuss movement standards and how they will be counting reps. Don’t leave any room for error, after all it’s your score!
Have questions about training for a competition? Get in touch with one of our coaches today!
Breathing is a unique process in the human body. It can occur voluntarily or involuntarily, be a conscious or unconscious decision, and is constantly responding to feedback from sensors in your body. Oftentimes are breathe is being stifled by our emotional state, body position, or
Posture and breath
When you inhale your diaphragm contracts and moves downward expanding the chest cavity and giving the lungs space to expand. This simultaneously lifts the ribs and sternum. When you exhale the diaphragm relaxes and expands into the chest cavity as the ribs and sternum lower.
The key muscles or primary movers in this process are the diaphragm, intercostal muscles, and abdominal muscles. Secondary mover muscles include upper trapezius, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapulae, and pectoralis minor.
Poor posture categorized by rounded shoulders and a forward head position can cause these secondary movers to become tight and overworked. This leads to a decline in respiratory function which can further exacerbate the breathing muscles and contribute to even worse posture.
To jump start your muscles involved in breathing try out this stretching and breath practice from Jill Miller at Yoga Tune Up: The Abdominal Vacuum.
So you might be wondering why you should worry about your breath when it’s so easy you can literally do it in your sleep?
Let’s start with the the one we all care about
1. Improved performance. A study at the University of Portsmouth showed that runners who performed inspiratory muscle warm-ups and training experienced a whopping 15% increase in performance after just 6 weeks.
Bringing a mindful focus to breath can also help improve energy. Individuals who practice deep breathing exercises report more energy, improved mental acuity, and getting a better night’s sleep.
An improvement in breath capacity will lead to a healthier digestive tract. The body has more energy to allocate towards digestion and is more efficient at eliminating toxins.
4. Decrease Stress
Breathing techniques that are designed to bring increased awareness the breath can carry over to other areas of life. It trains the mind to be less emotionally reactive while simultaneously reducing cortisol levels.
5. Heart Rate
Breathing practice has been shown to lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. Try deep belly breaths where the stomach fully expands and holding in at the full exhalation and inhalation points.
Many breathing techniques are geared towards unwinding, shutting down, and moving away from the flight or fight response we are used to feeling. Breath work also has many powerful applications to get us fired up and improve our u
When lifting heavy weights, a full belly breath can be held inside the abdomen throughout the lift. This Valsalva Maneuver provides internal pressure that supports the spine and braces the skeletal muscle throughout the lift. Limit this maneuver for maximal exertion efforts (eg. greater than 80% of your 1rm and 5 reps or less in your working set).
Breathing can also be used to prime your body into a peak state. Using rapid forced inhales and exhales through the nostrils will stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, and leave you feeling alive, alert, and awake.
Now that you know a little about how breathing affects your daily life and the systems of your body what areas do you want to incorporate a breathing practice into? Whether its for our health, relaxation purposes, or to improve our athletic performance we could all benefit from taking a deep breath now and then!
We all lead busy lives. If we are not careful, our fitness is sometimes the first thing to go and before you know it, we are feeling left with less energy. Here are five ways you can add fitness to your day:
1. Increase Physical “Work”
Technology has caused a major shift in the way humans live and made physical activity an optional daily occurrence. Luckily with a creative mindset we can still take advantage of many events in our days that are ripe for the picking with good old fashioned labor. Try some of these challenges to increase your work capacity throughout the day:
• At the grocery store steer clear of the shopping cart. Try to only use a basket (or two) to carry your food. As you navigate the aisles you’ll be improving your grip and building core strength with a bonus deadlift thrown in any time you set your basket down. By choosing to carry the items you will also develop awareness around what you’re purchasing. The bottom line, you get more fit and only the essentials make it home. Your inner hunter-gatherer will be proud!
• Park far away in the parking lot. It’s just as fast as driving up and down the lanes to get as close as possible.
• Take the Stairs. Every step counts and if you’re really motivated try throwing in some lunges.
• Leave the car in the garage.Take a new approach to your daily travel and try to walk or bike to work.
2. Stretch It Out (Every Chance You Get)
A terrific habit to build is to practice full range of motion and proper biomechanics in the daily activities you already do. How many times a day do you catch yourself hunched over, chin to chest with your neck craning to look into a screen. Ouch! Focus on good posture with shoulders back and eyes gazing straight ahead. See how it affects your mood, confidence and energy levels!
• While grabbing items off of a bottom shelf or cabinet, hold the bottom position of a squat and drive your knees out to the sides. Spending 10 minutes a day in the bottom of a squat can be life changing for your spine, hips, and knees!
• If you’re talking on the phone or typing at your computer incorporate ankle rolls at the same time. Rotate your foot at the ankle as if you were at the beach writing your name in the sand with your toes. Make sure to practice each letter of the alphabet.
• Driving to and from work? This is a great time to work on externally rotating your shoulders while sitting up tall with a proud chest.
3. Equalize The Sedentary Activities
Take advantage of time that doesn’t require movement to work postural muscles or build in fitness breaks. Alternating work and rest periods will increase metabolism and improve circulation. This can even be a great opportunity to develop your strength. By practicing strength daily you can make remarkable improvements in a short amount of time. Strength is a skill and the majority of initial gains in strength are due to neuromuscular adaptations to training.
• For office work or writing try a standing desk or treadmill desk.
• If you’re at home watching television try to practice push-ups, squats, or core exercises during the commercial breaks. One popular method technique is called “grease the groove. The premise is simple, pick a movement you want to improve at and perform a set of the exercise with half of your maximal reps (eg. if your max number of pullups is 10, you will want to perform sets of 5). Rest at least 15 minutes between sets. Repeat as often as possible throughout your day.
4. Get Outside Every Day
Getting outdoors is the perfect chance to reset and reconnect with your body. Whether it’s a park you swing by on the way home from your work or stepping out on the back porch with your morning coffee making time for the outdoors is an essential. Moving outside requires us to apply our bodies to move in new and challenging ways. Some recommendations:
• Climb a tree, seriously when was the last time you did? Go now, you can thank me later…
• Walk or run barefoot. Connecting your feet with the dirt, grass, or sand feels great, allows full range of motion, and strengthens the feet.
• Find a rock, log, or another odd object to be your new “pet rock”. Take your new found pet on a walk and enjoy this new test of fitness.
5. Find A Community
One of the best ways to add fitness to your day is to surround yourself with people who care about their health. Positive social support has been proven to improve adherence to exercise and dietary habits. If you feel like you need help in achieving your health and fitness goals maybe joining a tribe of people on the same journey is the best way to add fitness to your day!
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My First Murph
By Coach Dana
Flashback to May 2014, I was merely only 6 months into CrossFit & still unsure of what I got myself into. Everyone at the gym was doing “Murph” on Memorial Day weekend so I was too!
I remember the day being insanely hot and I was a little nervous but my choice was already made. After the warm up, we choose our designated pull up bars…I most definitely had at least 2 bands wrapped around the bar & then I went & set up my spot for push-ups… on my knees.
I remember the 1st run & how it was hot as hell and I thought I was going to die- don’t we always think that? But the thing I remember the most is those push-ups… I also remember Jenna by my side cheering me on & not letting me give up.
A majority of you don’t know what the “Old Gym” at CFM was… it was cozy & narrow and it was mostly mats & a small section of carpet. (Yes CARPET… Eli what were you thinking back then?!) Don’t ask me why I chose to do 200 push-ups on the comfort of rug… I guess because I thought it was going to be soft? Guess not. I now kindly ask you to please refer to the picture of my knees. To this day I still have scars there. I guess it’s kind of cool to have scars from your first Murph. Something to always remember where you came from.
The purpose of this post isn’t to give you a play by play of May 26th, 2014. It’s to let you know that we all start somewhere, and quite honestly it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you started.
Back to 2018, you guys have seen me running with the vest the past few weeks because this year, my 5th time doing Murph I am finally doing it RX! Which leads me to my main point.. it took my 5 years to do what I am capable of doing inside the walls of the gym & I earned my right to do it.
So before you say the words.. “Oh but I didn’t go RX” or “I did it with bands so it doesn’t count” or “But I did them on my knees” … remind yourself; 1. It most certainly does count & 2. It’s OK to not go RX.
RX isn’t expected.. its earned! What IS expected is for you guys to show up & give it everything you got. Most especially during Hero WODs.
So when you see RX next to someone’s name with a kickass time- they earned that! RX = hard work, commitment, & time. Not to say you don’t work hard but if you want that you need to work for it. You need to put in deliberate practice on your weakest skill(s). Attend class even tho its your least favorite movement. Every movement in CF helps improve another movement. So when you skip out on a day programmed with Overhead Squats you are indirectly preventing yourself from improving your Snatch, Front Squat, & any movement that requires your core… oh so pretty much every single movement in CF.
Don’t expect to be going RX this year, next year or ya know what… even ever.
Remember why you joined Elite Progression. It wasn’t to get better at CrossFit… it was to get better at life, to be a better human and sometimes I think a lot of us forget that. Be compassionate with yourself, for most of you you’re less than 24 months into your CrossFit journey. Enjoy the ride, don’t rush it.
Lastly, check your ego at door this month. Friday’s WODs aren’t for you. They are for the heroes that died for your freedom.
Come in, give it your all, & pay your respects with sweat.