First off, I want to give a tip-o’-the cap to all my athletes who did Open WOD 14.1 this past weekend. I was very pleased with the effort put forth by everyone, the encouragement, and positive attitudes across the board. For those of you who did not sign up for this year’s CrossFit Games Open, we are performing the Open WODs as a group on Sundays at 12pm. If you’re available to drop by for any of the upcoming workouts, it would be great to have some more spectators on hand to judge and support the athletes who are competing.
For those of you who did perform 14.1, this next bit is intended primarily for you. How did your performance stack up against your expectations? Did you do as well as you thought you would, or are capable of doing? Where did you fall short? Were your limitations technical, physical, mental, etc.? How could you have prepared better in hindsight even without knowing the specifics of 14.1? These are just a few key questions to ask yourself looking forward to the next 4 weeks, and to next years Open.
Here’s a useful post by the supple one himself on the value of competition and the takeaways for you as an athlete as you reflect on your performance. Remember- most of our time in the gym is devoted to training, i.e. getting better at specific movements, skills, and athletic attributes. Some of our time is dedicated to testing these things we’ve been training to improve- think benchmark workout, max deadlift, 2k row, etc. Few of us take the next step and actually put some skin in the game and compete against the field- be it a 10k race, weightlifting meet, CF competition, etc. The Open is a competition, plain and simple. The only thing that is reflected is the results, the final score, your quantitative performance and how it ranks against the rest of the world.
CrossFit is a purely individual sport. If you are dissatisfied with your score, look no further than the mirror, for you have nobody to blame but yourself. This brutal honesty and self-evaluation is essential to getting better. You are in control of your effort, your diet, sleep, stress management, and time devoted to training. If you missed the mark, run through this checklist and play back the tape from gameday and take an objective assessment of these different variables.
Insanity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The smart athlete is critical of herself and changes behavior to elicit positive changes in the future. Which kind of athlete do you want to be?
I am a big fan of high quality espresso and french-pressed black coffee. While I don’t consume as much as Marcos (no one does), making my coffee in the morning is a ritual I relish performing. With that being said, the ‘Bulletproof Coffee’ method is something that has been on my radar for years, but I have been skeptical to try it. I am a firm believer in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought.
After resisting trying something new for a long time, a friend of mine graciously got me a bag of Upgraded coffee beans from Bulletproof Exec. and MCT oil to use in the making of Bulletproof coffee (shout-out to Greg!). Here’s the basic premise:
- Brew your upgraded coffee via your conventional coffee making means (I use a French press)
- Put the coffee in some kind of blender / food processor
- Add 1-2 TBS of unsalted, pastured butter to the coffee (I use Kerry gold)
- Add .5 – 1 TBS of MCT oil to the mix as well (I got mine from the Bulletproof Exec. online store)
- Blend for 20-30 seconds and enjoy!
Here’s the deal, caffeine is a fat soluble molecule. When you add the pastured butter and MCT oil to your coffee, it transforms your regular cup o’ joe into a frothy latte of rocket fuel. Your coffee is now supercharged and full of delicious, satiating, healthy saturated fat. I recommend drinking this coffee first thing in the morning, crushing a few hours of work, then consuming your normal breakfast. Expect a heightened state of mental acuity and a lack of hunger due to the filling nature of the coffee you drank.
I still enjoy my regular espresso and black coffee, but I definitely like how I feel after drinking my butter coffee concoction and the ease with which I can fast until lunch before eating my first meal. Regular intermittent fasting = effortless fat loss. Also, you simply have more time to be productive when you are mentally freshest early in the morning. Really, all you need to make this thing work is some good coffee beans and unsalted, pastured butter. If you want to add the MCT oil and use a specific kind of bean, you can try that as well. Don’t take my word for it- try it for yourself!
In my last post on being in shape to ski/snowboard difficult terrain while at altitude, I discussed my own fitness shortcomings and misconceptions prior to undertaking that exact adventure. In this post, I’d like to evaluate a few strategies to optimize your skiing / snowboarding experience and not get thrown into a meat grinder your first two days like I was.
First, unless you plan on heading out to your travel destination 3 weeks early to acclimatize to the altitude, expect to be winded a bit faster than usual. However, in the lead up to your trip, here are a few strategies outside of your normal CrossFit routine to better prepare you for the rigors of all day riding:
- Do some supplemental long, slow distance work in preparation for being on the slopes all day. Think running, rowing, swimming, biking, etc.
- Even better than that, throw on a backpack and go hike for a few hours on hilly trails to specifically condition your legs
- Get a massage before you go to hit the reset switch and get your body feeling great before you go to the well physically
- Supplement some additional bodyweight conditioning i.e. air squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups, sit ups to improve your muscular endurance with minimal impact or soreness
- Get out on the slopes locally at least once before your trip to refresh your body as to the specific movement patterns that are required while skiing/snowboarding
Keep your diet clean in the run up (start 2-4 weeks out) so that you are light on your feet and things are running smoothly internally. Additionally, I highly encourage you to pack a foam roller / lax ball so that you can perform soft tissue work while you are away. I can honestly say the 30-60 minutes I spent foam rolling, stretching, and mobilizing post-snowboarding each day was an absolute game changer. Additionally, listen to your body- I drank copious amounts of water to stay hydrated throughout the day and was in bed by 10pm out of sheer exhaustion every night.
If you follow these steps, I guarantee your body will be much more responsive and resilient in response to the challenges you throw at it in the mountains.
by: Marcus Taylor
So last Thursday my wife and I (#TeamTaylor) finished our Whole30. As some of you know, it has its ups and downs. We had moments where we wanted to kill each other because we craved some sugar, didn’t know what to cook, got tired of what we were eating, etc. Two weeks into it we sort of fell in line with the program. We made meals that we could take for lunch as well as have for dinner. We found meals that were just as good as their “non-paleo” counterparts and cooked those often. Socially, we still went out with friends and had fun but didn’t succum to binge drinking or fatty foods.
Just to add a little background…My wife, Shavonn, and I just got married in September. One great piece of advice I got from a close friend was to “have a family project”. To find a goal and accomplish it with your new spouse. This will help to build your marriage and continue to strengthen your bond as a unit. Insert Whole30 for #TeamTaylor.
I actually appreciated the experience of cleansing my body and attaining a goal with my spouse. We both saw physical results (Me=9lb loss and Her=5lb loss) as well as emotionally bonded over this. We both needed each other and would not have been able to do this without one another. Shavonn and I feel great and are motivated to continue along this path. We are now going to an 80/20 (Paleo/Non-Paleo) rule when it comes to our diet. We feel that we have finished setting up the guidelines for a healthy lifestyle in which we will pass on to our future children.
My advice and tips for the Whole30…
1) Plan your weekly meals and pack them daily
2) Experiment with meals before you undertake the Whole30 challenge
3) Have a dedicated Whole30 partner or group (this will make you less likely to cheat)
4) Map out your cheat meals for the day you get off (you deserve it)
The 2014 Baltimore Open weightlifting meet took place this past weekend, and it got me thinking about some of the nuances of competition versus regular training in the gym. There are a whole set of skills to cultivate and factors one must consider that are unique to the competitive atmosphere.
- While your competition date, format, and events may known in advance, there are many potential unknowns as well: venue, competitors, and last minute changes can all be disruptive factors. You may known your opponents, but you probably haven’t been in the gym with them the last few months and know exactly what they are capable of. Chances are you may never have competed at a certain facility, and no gym is going to be quite like the one you are used to training in. Also, your competition start time could get pushed back or forward, potentially affecting your warm up and fueling schedule, for example.
- You can’t move the date of your competition because you had a bad week, suffered a minor injury in training, had to travel for work, or don’t feel prepared. You’ve gotta be ready to perform at your best despite a suboptimal set of circumstances in the lead up to and on the day of the competition.
- There are no do overs. In weightlifting for example, you only get 3 attempts in the snatch and 3 attempts in the clean and jerk. If you screw up, you don’t get an extra lift or a mulligan. Either hit it or miss it, but you only get one opportunity to make it count.
- Mental toughness is an acquired skill, earned through hard training and experience in stressful situations. People are not born great competitors with killer instinct, they cultivate it over the years in the crucible of competitive arenas. Pyrros Dimas missed his first 2 snatches in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, then cooly nailed his 3rd attempt and went on to claim his 3rd consecutive Olympic gold medal in the men’s 85kg division. He was a lion of a competitor, hardened over the years at multiple world championships and olympic games, so he knew how to deal with a potentially disastrous situation and make the best of it.
- Especially for athletes newer to a sport, competing frequently is a huge part of learning the skills of competition. These are disposable skill that will fade if not used regularly, especially for novice athletes. Test yourself often to strengthen your psyche to better handle the stresses of a meet, race, match, etc.
- This is the “secret” of competition. You must strike a balance between training, working hard on your weaknesses and improving, and getting in the ring and actually testing your abilities against other athletes in a structured environment. I’m looking forward to getting back on the platform again soon so that I can hone my competitive skills further and better translate my abilities in the gym to new records on the platform.
In modern life there are few real opportunities to truly test our fitness and physicality. A small portion of folks continue to compete in athletic competitions after college, and an equally small subset of the population actually works in the military, law enforcement, Fire/EMT, or another job requiring manual labor.
While many people workout, fewer actually train- train for life, sport, or for some other specified purpose. For those of us that train, we are ideally rewarded with opportunities to see whether or not our training and preparation have been effective.
Personally, I got my ‘are you fit for your sport?’ moment this last weekend, snowboarding in Colorado. Different sports have different metabolic demands, and making this mistake can be very costly for an athlete. Case in point – I’m perfectly fit for the sport of weightlifting and the associated training. However, I am severely not in shape for extremely rigorous big mountain snowboarding. Riding technically demanding trails in heavy snow at 10,000+ feet altitude all day for 4 consecutive days is beyond exhausting on your body. Balance, coordination, stamina, and strength/endurance in your core and lower body are essential to the skier/snowboarder. Power, maximal strength, coordination, and efficient technique are essential to the weightlifter.
I made the mistake of placing too much stock in the notion that I’d be able to get by with my lack of conditioning by virtue of the fact that I’ve got a lot of experience riding, very good sport specific balance/coordination, and plenty of lower body and core strength. Wrong. After one day, my legs, ankles, knees, and lower back we’re smoked. Add to the fact that I was sucking wind like I was mid-Fran all day was more than enough to make me realize the folly of my ways.
If you don’t want to get embarrassed on game day, know your own abilities and the demands of your sport/competition/test. Then, construct a plan to optimize your readiness for that task, execute the plan, and prepare to dominate on gameday.
No, this is not a blog post about the virtues of the Olive Garden. Rather, it is a virtue we try to embrace here at CrossFit Silver Spring. This is yet another example of something that is very simple and intuitive in theory, but not always easy in practice.
As coaches, we are striving to cultivate an atmosphere that is welcoming and inclusive, whether you are a new athlete, someone walking in off the street, or a CrossFitter visiting from out of town. This is also why we try to always have folks introduce themselves to whomever they don’t know at the beginning of class. It is much more enjoyable to train and suffer alongside folks that you know on a first name basis than the alternative. Additionally, this sense of community and camaraderie is one of the most powerful tools we have in our arsenal with regards to reshaping fitness and lifestyle habits, and as such must be constantly tended to.
Treating your athletes like family means knowing your athletes well, and having a vested interest in their success. It means going out of your way to answer questions, provide guidance, and accommodate them whenever you can (within reason of course).
This culture also applies to you as an athlete. I implore you to do the same- go out of your way to talk to folks and be present when you are at the gym. If you see someone who appears lost or confused, see if you can’t drop a little knowledge on them and help move them along the learning curve. Remember, you were once that doe-eyed lost in the woods athlete unsure of how things work. Knowledge and experience are the best tools at combating intimidation in an unfamiliar situation; pass on what you know and help someone get a leg up on their CrossFit journey.
There are going to be times you can’t make it to the gym when you’d like to. Inclement weather (snow day anyone?), travel, getting stuck late at work, etc. are all going to come up at some point. Don’t’ despair, we’ve got you covered!
Think of snow days as opportunities to work on your bodyweight movements with a little at home WOD. Obviously, if you have some kettlebells or other fitness equipment at home, your options for training are vastly increased, but you can still hit a comprehensive, fun, challenging workout in your living room or garage with no gear. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, simply go shovel snow for an hour or so and see how prepared you are for some real functional fitness.
On our resources page, we have a link to a PDF compilation of hundreds of WODs
that require little to no gear whatsoever and are intended to be done at home, on the road, outdoors, etc. Next time you find yourself snowed it, bust out this list, pick a workout, and get after it!
Goats are things we struggle with in the gym, things we cringe at when checking the blog at night and make us consider taking a “rest day” instead of facing our fears and showing up to train anyway. Like most things, goats exist on a continuum, ranging from minor annoyance or dislike (double unders), to intense loathing (burpees). No matter what your goats are, we’ve all got them. Additionally, they aren’t going to magically work on themselves and improve out of thin air.
A phrase I am quite fond of is “if it’s important, do it every day”, from the legendary wrestling coach and US Olympic champion Dan Gable. Consistency is the secret sauce often discussed on this blog when it comes to best practices in achieving fitness / fat loss / wellness goals. Well, I’m here to tell you that consistency is also the “secret” to shoring up those glaring gaps in your game when it comes to training.
Pick a few things on your list of exercises you aren’t particularly good at or fond of, and start methodically practicing them outside of the gym. Shoot for a every day, or shoot for every time you come to the gym and once or twice a week at home. A couple of low-tech ideas to use as starting points: push ups / handstand / air squats / pull ups / planks / lunges / kettlebell swings. Keep the time commitment reasonable, say 10 minutes, and start today. Or give yourself a target number of reps to perform throughout the day. You will be amazed at how quickly your strength and skill levels improve when you expose your body to the same movements more frequently. Don’t’ hide from your weaknesses, actively seek to become more well rounded as an athlete and watch your progress sky-rocket.
Generally speaking, the younger the athlete, the more aggressive you can be in your training methods. Young athletes tend to be much more teachable, adaptable to stress, better movers, and overall are more capable of learning a broad spectrum of exercises quickly. It is important for us as coaches to look at both the training age (experience level) and biological age of our athletes when writing programs and workouts. Wanting to learn the barbel snatch or muscle up after watching the CrossFit Games is probably not reason enough for me to teach it to you.
Don’t get me wrong, I want my athletes to become more skilled, I really do. However, there is a certain level of mastery of the fundamentals that must precede tackling more advance skills. One of the best predictors of learning new skills rapidly is age. Our brains and bodies tend to be much more responsive to the demands of new sports and movements in our teens and twenties than in our forties.
Mike Boyle has a well versed line that basically goes like this, “my 50 year old lawyer personal training client is not an olympic weightlifter.” As such, there won’t be any training time allotted to learning these movements, as the risks probably outweigh the benefits. Now, there certainly are masters athletes competing well into their 60′s and beyond in the sport of weightlifting, but almost all of them started at a young age and never stopped lifting.
What we must ask ourselves is this: will learning (insert movement here) really help me progress in the direction of MY goals? If the answer is no, leave it to the pro’s and focus on the things you need to improve upon in order to get better and move closer to your personal ambitions.