image courtesy of What Should CrossFitters Call Me?
A funny thing typically happens when you take the advice of your coach: it works, and like magic, the movement or skill you are trying to perform suddenly is easier, more efficient, safer, etc., etc. Please, hold your surprise and your applause. Just as you are probably not shocked when your mechanic fixes your car, understand that teaching and correcting movement is what we do for a living.
Trust in a coach is built upon a foundation of competency, mutual respect, and reliability. If your coach consistently looks out for your best interest (we always are, even if you aren’t), provides sound and effective advice, and demonstrates interest in your continued improvement, the least you can do as an athlete is lean on them for guidance, and put their advice into action.
Lifters often discuss the notion of ‘time under the bar’ as a common saying that describes one’s experience in the realm of strength and conditioning, powerlifting, weightlifting, etc. We coaches have hard earned “time under the bar”, invaluable experience that is only earned through years of hard training. We’ve got knowledge to share gained through self-experimentation and trial and error so that you can hopefully not make the same mistakes. Let us be your lifting sherpas on this CrossFit journey.
By: Marcus Taylor
The past couple weeks we have been making floorplan changes to the gym to open up the space more and provide you all with the optimal training facility. We’ve moved the O-lifting equipment, painted height numbers on the boxes, and now we hung three climbing ropes. We WILL be adding rope climbs and rope climb variations into the warm ups and WOD programming so everybody is now on notice. What that means is that you’re going to need the proper equipment for protection against rope burns, blisters and hand soreness. Here are my suggestions….
1) A good pair of leather/suede utility gloves:
I know we normally frown upon using gloves BUT these ropes can cause some noticeable discomfort. Drop by your local ACE or Home Depot and grab a decent pair for around 15-20 bucks. Not cloth but leather or suede.
2) Calf sleeves (above):
Not only are these great for Deadlifts by protecting your shins from the bar but they are equally as functional and serve the same purpose for climbing ropes. Especially in the early stages of learning to climb these will help tremendously. Dick’s and Sports Authority would carry these so get some and keep them in your gym bag. Another solution would be to wear knee high socks. They are good in a pinch but don’t offer the same level of protection as the neoprene calf sleeves.
“Stick to the basics and when you feel you’ve mastered them it’s time to start all over again, begin anew – again with the basics – this time paying closer attention.” – Greg Glassman
Attention to detail and mastery of the ‘basics’ are fundamental concepts I strongly believe in as a coach, and try to put into practice every class I coach. It is common to want to gloss over the simpler movements in favor of more explosive, technical, more glamorous exercises before the appropriate foundation is laid. This is mistake. Put another way, are you here to train and hone your craft or be entertained?
Increased movement speed comes from improved movement efficiency. Increased load, and therefore increased strength and power, comes from improved neuromuscular efficiency, which comes from deliberate practice (repetition). This means we must focus our energy on performing our movements more skillfully and consistently, first and foremost. When it comes to both CrossFit and strength training, you need to recalibrate your expectations and time horizons for progress and advancement. Heathy, sustainable performance improvements are the stuff of delayed gratification. Earn the privilege of performing harder exercises by demonstrating proficiency and skill in their foundational precursors.
There is an anecdote in a great documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi wherein the sushi apprentice first learns how to make the rice for months, if not years, before being allow to handle the fish simply in a preparatory context. It will be many years still until the apprentice sushi chef can actually prepare and make the sushi. If you cannot make the rice correctly (fundamental to great sushi), why would we possibly let you handle something as important as the fish? That privilege can only be earned, much like it should be in the gym. I challenge you all to be much more mindful and exacting in your own movement practice, seeking to refine and improve technically every time you set foot in the gym.
From our friends over at Custom Fit Meals-
1. It consists primarily of saturated fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs): Nearly 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated fats. Many studies have proven that the “artery-clogging” idea was a myth and that saturated fats are not likely associated with heart disease. Secondly, coconut oil’s saturated fats are “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs), which are medium-length fatty acids that go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they quickly become a source of energy.
2. It helps regulate blood-sugar levels and can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes: Coconut oil can help improve insulin use within the body, helping to regulate blood-sugar levels. Additionally, a recent study found that coconut oil protects against insulin resistance, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
3. It helps regulate cholesterol levels: Coconut oil is high in lauric acid (a type of MCT), which increases the so-called “good” (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. Coconut oil also lowers “bad” (LDL) cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is essential for the creation of hormones. So basically, it takes something bad and turns it into something that we need!
4. It boosts energy levels: MCTs are broken down in the liver, where they are efficiently converted to energy for the body.
5. It boosts metabolism and may assist in weight loss: A study reported in the Journal of Nutrition found that coconut oil boosts metabolism. Researchers found that participants who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil per day burned more calories than those who consumed less. Furthermore, a 2009 study found that women who ate two tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks had lower amounts of abdominal fat, which contributes to heart problems. In addition, they did not gain more weight than those women who did not consume the coconut oil daily.
6. It curbs cravings: The high quality fats in coconut oil are extremely satiating. Hunger is an indication that our bodies are not being fed correctly (either in regards to quantity or quality). Proper amounts and quality of fat and protein in our diets provide our bodies with the necessary energy to run properly, and keep our cravings in check.
7. It has anti-aging effects and may negate the effects of free radicals: Coconut oil has a positive antioxidant effect on the body by helping to stop the oxidative damage of free radicals. Oxidation is believed to contribute to cardiovascular problems and skin aging.
8. It boosts the immune system and has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties: Lauric acid makes up almost 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil. After coconut oil is digested, the lauric acid is broken down into monolaurin, a type of monoglyceride that kills bacteria and viruses, as well as other harmful pathogens.
9. It makes for a great skin moisturizer: This cooking oil also works wonders for the skin, keeping the skin’s connective tissues strong and reducing the appearance of fine lines.
10. It is ideal for high-temperature cooking: Consisting primarily of MCT fats, coconut oil has a higher smoke point than most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils. This makes it ideal for cooking at high temperatures.
11. I typically get my coconut oil at either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods if I’m in a pinch. TJ’s has the best price/quality I’ve seen on coconut oil, and I’ll typically buy a few jars at time because I use it frequently and to ensure there’s always extra in the pantry. The picture above is from Costco; I recently discovered they sell a 54 oz. jar of coconut oil for $15.99, which is a phenomenal price. If you cook with coconut oil like I do, do yourself a favor and give this stuff a try.
One of the most commonly asked questions I receive has to do with training frequency, basically boiling down to how often should I come to the gym? The answer: it depends. More specifically, it depends on any and all of the following things:
1) What other physically activity are you already performing?
2) What is your pre-existing fitness level, as well as your prior fitness level/athletic background?
3) What is your recovery capacity from training?
4) How dialed in are your lifestyle factors that support training?, i.e.
-sleep hygiene (how long, how is the quality?)
-stress levels and capacity to cope with said levels
5) What is your timetable for seeing results? (getting married in a month, or do we have time to make haste slowly)
6) What are your goals / what are you training for?
As you can see, a seemingly innocuous question like “how much should I workout?” really is much more complex and multifactorial than it seems. The reality is that things such as optimal training volume are n=1 affairs; you are all unique snowflakes in this regard, and one size fits all prescriptions aren’t typically very useful. With that being said, generally speaking I generally recommend folks start off training twice a week and eventually, over time, work their way to 3x week. Should everyone train 3x week? No. Some people can very easily train more than that, and would probably experience positive changes and improvements as a result. However, hectic work/life schedules as well as other physical pursuits (rec. sports for example) compete for our time, and often make training more than 3x week unsustainable. Striving for 3 quality weightlifting/higher intensity training sessions a week tends to be a sweet spot as far as return on investment of your time and effort is concerned. However, don’t let a good routine be the enemy of the perfect, or ideal routine. Focus on training hard, whether that’s twice a week or five days a week. Remember, consistency trumps short term intensity every time.
When it comes to lifestyle and diet adherence, the 80/20 principle seems to be the sweet spot when it comes to hassle free maintenance. I typically tackle this in terms of the workweek and the weekend. Monday through Friday or Saturday morning I try to stay very regimented as far as sleep routines, training, and diet are concerned. On the weekend, I give myself much more leeway when it comes to these same variables, i.e. living an enjoyable lifestyle, however you personally define it.
By doing so, you can ensure that you are at your best during the week, when you are likely busiest and need to be firing on all cylinders. On the weekend, feel free to kick your heels up a bit. Drink, eat dessert, and indulge if the opportunity arises. Try not to go out of your way to eat 3 pints of ice cream because it’s Sunday, but go ahead and deviate a bit from the norm.
If you are in a good place as far as body composition is concerned, and you stick to this 80/20 concept, you’ve probably got a bit of a buffer to consume some questionable chow, skip a workout on occasion, and generally not feel restricted by your diet. Remember, no nonsense during the week; stick to the game plan (Paleo) and earn your single malt’s and cannoli’s!
By: Marcus Taylor
Whenever I travel I make it a habit to visit a Crossfit gym or two. I love it because it allows me to become a student again. I introduce myself to the coach, fill out the waiver, buy a shirt, take pictures and admire the equipment. It’s like being a rookie coming into training camp. Outside of needing to get a few workouts to counterbalance my food choices (I fully indulge when on travel, by the way) I like to be coached…I like being a student. The world of strength & conditioning is vast and in order to become better you must truly humble yourself, listen to advice and be willing to accept criticism to explore every corner of it. The same goes for anything in life…you do more learning by listening than you ever will by talking. Stay classy CFSS!
I recently finished reading Steven Rinella’s Meat Eater: Adventures from the life of an American Hunter, a book I found to be both entertaining and insightful on a topic I was previously rather ignorant about. Rinella is a professional outdoorsman and lifelong hunter, whose passion and occupation revolves around all things hunting and fishing.
The book itself is an interesting mix of personal anecdotes and hunting tales, American cultural history lessons pertaining to the important role hunting and trapping played in Western expansion, and culinary lessons on various forms of wild game. The book also highlights the vast differences in upbringing growing up in, small rural town America in a hunting family as compared to growing up in suburbia. The contrasts are incredible, and make you wonder how people who may never have seen a deer in person, let alone hunted one have such strong negative opinions on the subject.
The book raises many interesting points on the pivotal role of hunting in both traditional and modern society, and also debunks many of the commonly held stigmas and myths surrounding hunting. The public often portrays hunters as barbaric and uncivilized killing wild animals simply for sport or their own enjoyment. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Hunters are typically the biggest advocates for environmental and wildlife conservation. They stand to lose the most when natural habitats are polluted or destroyed. The money generated through hunting licenses and animal tags goes directly into maintaining public trusts- namely, fish, wild game, and the parks they live in. It is easy for someone living in a city to say they support the environment and quite another to actually be economically vested, working to ensure continuity and the future viability of animal populations.
One of the biggest conflicts raised by this book is how far modern humans are removed from their food sources. Killing a deer to use as food seems bizarre and antiquated when you can simply go to Whole Foods or the farmers market and buy whatever meat / produce you want to consume, year round. With modern technology and the industrialization of our food production, we only see the end product, not the farm or the animal it came from. Whether or not you consume meat, hunting it yourself is purest, most humane means of procurement. Considering the fact that all animals (like humans) are going to die eventually regardless of the practice of hunting, which animal scenario sounds better to you?
• A: being raised in captivity and confinement while being fed a diet of antibiotics and processed food, then slaughtered in a processing plant, assembly line style
• B: living freely in your natural habitat, amongst a healthy population of your species, never being held captive, and then being killed by a predator (human hunter) who planned to use your body with dignity for a food source
The only rational choice is B, in my opinion. The author describes an ethical hunting practice, highlighted by the concept of “fair chase”, which “addresses the balance between the hunter and the hunted. It is a balance that allows hunters to occasionally succeed while animals generally avoid being taken.” This style of hunting utilizes modern technology and knowledge up to a fair point, but then requires skills, patience, determination, and effort on the part of the hunter to find and kill a wild animal who is in their own natural habitat and in the business of self-preservation. Sometimes man wins, sometimes the animal wins, which is realistic.
This quote sums things up nicely – “to abhor hunting is to hate the place from which you came, which is akin to hating yourself in some distant abstract way. “ Hunting is in our DNA; it is both natural and vital. It is also a practice that more people should try at least once to gain a better appreciation for nature, wildlife, where food really comes from, and a sliver of insight into the challenges faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. As someone who considers himself a 1st rate carnivore but has never had much desire to hunt, this book has forced me to both reconsider my views and made me want to go hunting. What better way is there to develop an informed opinion on a subject than by actually doing it?
By: Marcus Taylor
Over the years I have accumulated so many pieces of training equipment. Agility ladders, Speed parachutes, boxes for box jumps, bars, bumper plates, iron plates, kettebells and the list goes on and on. In my profession the days are EARLY and I routinely get home late. So I tried to find a balance of keeping my workout schedule and home schedule synced. I finally compiled my gear into my own backyard gym. I often get home (sometimes after coaching you guys) while my wife is cooking dinner and I’ll go outside to workout. My wife is a talker so when I get home I know she wants to upload all that data on me. I don’t want to just cut our time short with “I’m going to the gym, see you around 9pm”.
So now I take a lot of my workouts to the backyard and while I’m working out I will frequently open the backdoor between sets and ask her about her day, politics, her/our family, bills, reality TV, Bill Mahr, etc. Later she may sit outside to talk, often times joining me in a workout. We even have a mini whiteboard where we’ll write down our WODs. It works but it works for us. We found that this helps our lifestyle. We feel that the addition of our little outdoor gym has been very beneficial for our marriage. As many of you know, its hard to find that balance of building that bond if your schedules are so vastly different. So I made an adjust to foster our relationship.
I remember growing up that my grandfather would walk my grandmother to her car at 6:15am so she could drive to Coolidge High School track to walk/run 4 miles, 5 minutes later he left the house to go to work. When he got home later that day she’d be cooking dinner, occasionally she’d step outside to help him do some light yardwork and also debrief him about to goings on of the day’s events while he trimmed his Bonsai trees (he was a black Mr. Miyagi). They found that balance and turned his “thing” and her “thing” into THEIR “thing”. That worked for them for over 40 years. Training should not be a chore but a part of your weekly routine just like bonding with your significant other should be part of your daily routine. It’s up to you to figure out how it all fits in. Stay classy CFSS!
Sandbagging (verb) – the act of scaling a workout for comfort; deliberately taking the easy road; doing less weight than you know you should or are capable of; avoiding discomfort without a legitimate reason to do so; not giving your best effort; settling for mediocrity or defeat; cutting corners or cutting reps short; moving sloppily/though less than full or ideal ranges of motion; being chronically late to class; etc.
Sandbagger (noun) – someone who is known to habitually sandbag in any of the aforementioned ways listed above. Being labeled a sandbagger is not reputation you want to have, nor does it go away easily. We all sandbag on occasion, however regular sandbagging is a surefire way to draw the ire of your coaches and ridicule of your peers. A sandbagger is a like weed, an unwanted and intrusive species that can threaten your entire garden if left unchecked. The last thing we want is for folks to get the impression that sandbagging is an acceptable behavior.
Remember, sandbagging has nothing to do with talent. In fact, it’s often times the best athletes who sandbag the most, because they can skate by on superior ability. Sandbagging has everything to do with relative effort. The best cure for avoiding the sandbagging virus is by striving to match your effort and ability levels on a daily basis.