Onward and Upward: ‘Fruitsandvegetables is one word?’

When did “Fruits and Vegetables” become 1 word?


Fruits and vegetables seems to have become one word when it comes to giving advice on a healthy diet. Both definitely have a place in a healthy approach to food intake, however these two vary different food groups must be approached with different strategies. When it comes to optimizing health you need to choose the foods that best support your health and training needs.

We must first understand that fruits and vegetables have varying macronutrient and fiber contents. In addition they can also contain different types of vitamins, minerals, and other key micronutrients. They contain different types of carbohydrates that affect their digestion and effect on your blood sugar.


“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” -Michael Pollan


In America most folks are still missing out on many essential nutrients and simply do not consume enough vegetables. In schools we were all encouraged to have either fruits or veggies. Most of realize now that 8oz of orange juice is not going to provide the same nutrients as 1 cup of broccoli. Whole fruits do contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals but when turned into concentrated juices they are not much different than drinking a soda.

Even as an adult you may be guilty of eating 2 or 3 bananas in a day but neglected consuming foods like green vegetables that have true health benefits.

Fruits are higher in sugar and unless you are a high level athlete training multiple times per day you probably do not need to consume that many carbohydrates in your diet. A piece of fruit to fuel your workout and some fast digesting carbs post workout should be the majority of your “carb” intake. Fill the rest of your meals with vegetables that will make you feel full and contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

When you are consuming fruits focus on fresh seasonal fruit that will have a low impact on blood sugar. Dark berries are one of the best fruits in this regard and contain high levels of antioxidants. Post-WOD kiwis and pineapples are a great choice.


In the end, don’t forget or neglect to eat your fruits or your vegetables (2 separate words!). A healthy diet should consist mostly of healthy fats, high quality proteins, and complex carbohydrates from vegetables which are nutrient dense and have a minimal effect on insulin. This approach is a crucial part of you getting the most out of your hard work in the gym.

 

Onward and Upward: ‘3 Exercises to Help Stay Ahead of the Muscle Tightness Storm’

Community, Fitness, Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville

The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak or underdeveloped abs and glutes. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak.


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb


So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.


  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.

  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg. 

  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back. Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches (or any of the numerous stretches, smashes or foam rolling exercises we have showing you in classes) into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it! Key to all of this…..you must incorporate some type of additional body work to help prevent any issues. Think of it as maintenance!

Come see any member of the coaching staff for additional or different options to help stay ahead of any issues. 

Onward & Upward: ‘5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season’

As the weather turns colder, many of us tend to let our health and fitness routines take the back burner for a few months. Whether you are feeling rundown or beat up from two CrossFit Open cycles in one year or just trying to escape the holiday season without eating too much pie. It is important to recognize what the change in season can mean for you in your training and health.

The winter months bring about changes in our training routines, daily habits, and nutrition. Rather than take a hit and accepting that this is a time to let yourself slide (because you’ll make it up and get back on track in January) what if this year you made a plan to do things differently.


“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” – Martin Luther King


Here are 5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season!

    1. Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
    2. Go for a walk during the daytime.
    3. Break a sweat every day (At C2 of course!)
    4. Stay Hydrated
    5. Structure your day for success.

Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
During the summer months, there seems to be an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables around. In the winter we tend to shift towards more comfort foods, foods that are preserved or packaged and are easy to prepare. Focusing on incorporating more vegetables in your diet will help you get the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and micronutrients that you need. Omega-3s found in fish oil can help with skin health, heart health, and has been shown to support


Go for a walk during the daytime.
Getting outside for a walk during daylight hours can be extremely beneficial for your body and mind. Even if we can’t get Vitamin D from the sun during the winter months we can still benefit from its exposure. Walking can help improve metabolism, boost mood, and be a much better pick me up for your energy than coffee. Doing it in sunlight is proven to be one of the best ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that gets people run down in the winter months.


Break a sweat every day.
Prioritizing fitness may actually be more important in the winter than the summer. We naturally find ourselves more active during the summer months, enjoying the weather at the beach or on a hike or a bike ride. In the winter we tend to hole up indoors. Those hours of walking are replaced with hours of Netflix bingeing and lo and behold we start to get soft and complacent.


Stay Hydrated.
In the winter months, you may never feel the need to quench your thirst as you do on a hot summer day. Most folks tend to stay on the dehydrated side. Sweat also evaporates in the cold dry air, so many people are less likely to replenish fluids after exercise. Be sure to set daily hydration goals for yourself. Setting alarms on your phone to get up and grab a drink of water is a great way to accomplish this.


Structure your day for success.
One of the best ways to take charge of your health during the winter months (and al year round!) is to plan out your day. Set yourself up for success by incorporating healthy habits and avoiding the detractors is key. Reserve your classes early, food prep for the week, pick our your clothes the night before…set yourself up for success each and every day!


“A good routine is a platform that which stimulative and fulfilling work is possible” – Ryan Holiday


Happy Holidays C2 Family!

 

Onward and Upward: ‘King of all Lifts: Squat vs Deadlift’

Which lower body movement is “King of the Lifts”?

Both!!!


The squat and deadlift are the two staple movements of a lower body training program. The squat and hip hinge are also two fundamental human movement patterns and are important for normal daily function. They also require a large percentage of muscle recruitment making them essential for developing muscle mass as well as increasing neurological capacity and hormonal output.

The squat and deadlift are also both elegantly simple in theory yet technically complex in application which can make them intimidating for new and experiences lifters alike. The human body is capable of moving tremendous loads with these movements and to stay safe you must master the basics.


“Do the common, uncommonly well” – Greg Glassman

 


When it comes to strength training many athletes tend to prefer one lift over the other. There are many reasons for this. Comfort. Body type. Skill level. To name a few. Some people may have stayed away from performing either the squat or the deadlift from a negative past experience or injury.


Let’s take a look at:

  • Who should be training squats and/or deadlifts and…
  • The benefits and muscle groups worked

Group Class Athletes versus Athletes for Sport Specifics

If you are utilizing strength training to stay healthy and fit then it is essential that you learn the basics of squatting and deadlifting. After all the ability to squat and hinge are components of everyday life. The human body is an adaptation machine and responds to the demands that are placed upon it. When we spend a lot of time sitting in chairs instead of moving We begin to lose these human movement standards. Don’t worry, the gym is the perfect place to bring them back.

Athletes also need to hinge and squat to develop explosive power, muscle stiffness, and joint stability for their sport. They may prioritize either the squat, deadlift, or a derivative like the trap bar deadlift based on the demands of the sport on their muscles.


Benefits and Muscle Groups Worked

The ability to perform a basic body weight squat should be the first goal of a training program. The squat requires mobility of the ankles, knees, hips, and spine as well as the motor recruitment patterns to properly extend at the knee hip and ankle simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Depending on the squat variation being used as well as the depth and other variables you can increase or decrease specific muscle activation. Low bar back squats and box squats achieve greater posterior chain activation. Front squats and overhead squats require a more upright torso and are quad dominant.

The deadlift is the most effective exercise for working the posterior chain. The posterior chain is essential for developing strength and power as an athlete. Powerful hamstrings and glutes will make you run faster, jump higher, and lift more weight. The muscles of the back also benefit from deadlifting due to the powerful isometric contraction required to maintain a neutral spine during heavy pulls. The rear delts, lats, and erector spinae all will grow as a result of deadlifting.


Volume versus Intensity

As a general rule of thumb strength training programs should have an inverse relationship between volume and intensity. Since squats and deadlifts are both total body lifts that require intense focus and neural activation it is important to vary loading patterns, volume, and intensity. This is why we continually challenge you in new ways (tempo, different variations, etc) each and every cycle here at C2.


There you have it. A quick breakdown of the squat and deadlift as well as the reasons you should train them. Functional movements, give you the most bang for your buck and will help you lead and healthy life!

#OnwardandUpward

Onward & Upward: ‘Top 3 Reasons To Train With Kettlebells’

Hey C2 family!

Let’s play desert island. If you could only bing one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training when stranded on a desert island….what would you bring? What exactly can you use to build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should welcome into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle.They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. So pay attention when C2 coaches are giving you cues to be more efficient and safe with the kettlebell! 🙂


Here’s the top 3 reasons we like train with kettlebells:

    • Carry Over To Sport and Life
    • Add Variety To Your Training
    • Quick And Effective Way To Train

      1. Carry Over To Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health. 

Swings will also improve your performance with the olympic lifts (Clean/Jerk & Snatch), power lifts (Back Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press) and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of most athletes. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.


2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout. 

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover. 

Wednesdays workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time. 

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.


3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and younger athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swings is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer. It’s also great for folks whose goal is not to lift maximal weight overhead.


Don’t be afraid to add more kettlebell to your life! We all need more kettlebell!!!

#OnwardandUpward

Onward and Upward: ‘How To Optimize Your Warmup And Cooldown Routines’

Warmups and ‘cooldowns’ (we call it mobility post-wod) are an essential part of training and should be given as much thought and effort as the workout itself. In fact if you’re short on time you are better off going through a proper warmup, mobilization, and stretching session than to try to get a quick workout in while skipping those other components. Let’s take a look at why these parts of training and see why each one is so important and how you can optimize it.


Warmup

Your warmup prepares your body and mind for that day’s training. Not every day is the same and the warmup we program is specific to that days intended stimulus. When we plan and execute the warmup we consider which energy system our bodies will be utilizing. A max rep back squat requires very different preparation than a conditioning session with double unders and wall balls. The warmup helps to elevate heart rate, stimulate the nervous system, and optimize the function of the tissues and motor patterns you will be training that day. This will reduce your injury risk and optimize your ability to perform. 

If you are someone who enjoys chatting during the warmup or never quite breaks a sweat then I want to challenge you to dial it up a notch. Give your warmup 100% of your effort next class and see what I mean. If you are giving your best effort in the general and specific warm-up drills you will notice a huge difference in your ability to recruit and activate muscles. This will allow you to move with better form. The efficiency of moving with better form allows to lift more weight and improve your fitness. Isn’t that why we’re all here in the first place… 🙂


Mobilization

Our movement patterns can be broken down into a few broad and overarching groups like squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotate and walk. When you mobilize before a workout you should always be addressing the specific movement patterns you will be utilizing that day.

Sometimes we accomplish mobilization through a dynamic warm-up. Taking your joints through an increasing range of motion in order to prepare them for the rigors of the workout.

Sometimes you will slow down and target specific tissues through foam rolling, flossing, or distraction techniques with a band. This may look like the ‘perfect-stretch’ sequence.

Let’s say the day’s workout is to build up to a heavy single deadlift. The first step is to consider what movement patterns will be involved. In this case, the deadlift involves a hinge as the primary movement pattern. You want to make sure that your back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings are well oiled and firing before you start touching a barbell with load. This is why we take you through a dynamic warm up, a stretch sequence and then an empty barbell warm up. This will allow us to progressively warm your system up to be able to handle load.


Cooldown (Mobility)

The cooldown or post-wod mobility can and should involve more than making sweat angels on the floor. The goal is to ensure continuous blood flow to remove the toxins and metabolites that have built up during your training session. By continuing to move after a workout you are actually improving your recovery and setting the tone for your next training session. The most ideal situation would be to hop on a bike or rower for 10 minutes and continue moving at an easy conversational pace. It can be a total game-changer in the way you feel the next day. This habit can be hard to do at first. Instead of laying on the floor until you crush your protein shake and head out the door you will develop mental toughness by challenging your body to keep moving. There are huge dividends to this and you will notice improvements in your recovery each day and reduced soreness.

Stretching

If you aren’t able to spend 10 minutes on a bike we always ask you to go for a 100m walk after the WOD at bare minimum. Then, incorporating stretching and additional mobilization techniques (lax ball or foam rolling) into your routine is essential to optimize recovery and performance in your next workout. When you perform a workout your body is in “fight or flight” mode. There is a huge shift that occurs during your stretching and rolling session where your body switches back into a parasympathetic or “rest and digest” state. Stretching muscles has been shown to temporarily improved range of motion and will help you when you go to tie your shoes the next morning (Harvard Special Report).  By focusing on breathing and moving your tight and sore muscles you are helping to establish homeostasis and you will feel much better for the rest of the day. This is a great practice to repeat again later in the day before bed, especially if you are someone who has trouble shutting off at night and unwinding this will help as part of your nightly routine.


Today we looked at why it is so important to optimize the warmup, mobilization, cooldown, and stretching. We all love to go hard in the workout, but by focusing on improving in these areas is really how you will start to see results!

#OnwardandUpward

Onward and Upward: ‘What’s Keeping You From Achieving Your Goals?’

If you currently want something in your life that you don’t have then there is a 100% chance that you are human. How you define yourself is by the action you take towards bringing those into your life. Some people make declarations about how they are finally going to make the big change
Generally, if you have a goal you haven’t achieved yet you fall into one of these three camps. 

  • You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
  • You don’t think you deserve it.
  • You haven’t put in the work.

So what’s really keeping you from achieving your goals? Let’s find out…


1. You don’t know what to do and you don’t know how to do it.
This is generally the first challenge you encounter when you have a new goal. Luckily it is also the easiest barrier to address when it comes to making positive changes in your life. Whether you seek to earn more money, improve your health, or find your soulmate there are websites, coaches, books, podcasts, and more resources than you know what to do with. Success leaves clues and in the information age we live in you have access to the tools and resources you need to get started on the path to your goal.


“When action is our priority, vanity falls away.”  – Ryan Holiday


Let’s say your goal is to lose 10 pounds and keep it off. Like forever keep it off. Many adults find themselves at a weight they don’t feel comfortable and confident at. The problem is that if you have only ever gained weight since you were a kid and never seen the scale go (and stay) in the opposite direction then you are a total novice. Being a professional weight gainer is easy for you, you’ve done it your whole life. If you want to lose weight then you have to start fresh. It’s time to throw out what you think is true about nutrition and exercise because all of the information you have is through the lens of a person who has only ever gained weight. Let go of ego. Let go of pride. If you want to make the change then you have to start with fresh eyes.


2. You don’t think you deserve it.
This could be thought of as self-sabotage. Maybe since you were a child you have been conditioned to think a certain way. Many of the long-standing beliefs humans hold are instilled by parents, environments, or traumatic experiences. Long ago the brain accepted as fact that “this is the way it is”. If you have a long-held belief that is clashing with one of your current goals then your first order of business is to remove that roadblock. No amount of will power or strategy can overcome a fixed mindset. You are an adult and you are responsible for your own life. You have the power to change any condition that you don’t want.


“How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” -Jerry Colonna


Executive coach and author Jerry Colonna asks a powerful question to himself and his clients. “How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” Ask yourself this question in the context of your current goal. If you are struggling to lose weight, what are the things that you have been “okay with” lately? If it’s the food in the fridge that you snack on, skipping your workout, or surrounding yourself with people who have unhealthy habits then that is entirely on YOU to change. That starts by demanding more of yourself. You have to consider yourself worthy of the goal you claim to want. When you are mentally ready to be the person who achieves this goal you will be able to receive it.


3. You haven’t put in the work.
This can be the most frustrating camp to fall into when it comes to not achieving your goals. You may be doing everything right. You hired the coach, you have a strategy, and you’re executing on it every day. So why haven’t you accomplished your goal yet?!


“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi


Whether growing a business or growing your biceps it can be tough when the results haven’t shown up yet. So what should you do?

KEEP GOING! 

Constantly ask yourself: What else could I be doing? Continually revisit camps one and two in this post. Are there any additional resources or tools that could be getting you to your goals faster? Could you work with someone who has proven results in the exact area you are trying to grow? Are there any roadblocks you are creating for yourself? Is there an area where your behavior is inconsistent with the outcome that you seek?

Frustration or anger can itself be a powerful tool. If you are fed up with your lack of progress then you should use that as fuel for your fire. If you have the bandwidth to be upset about your situation then you most likely have the bandwidth to work harder (or smarter 😉 )

If you still don’t know why the results won’t come then you should consider working with a mentor or coach who can help you get there. A great coach will help you set up a framework for success. They will help you develop a SMART goal that aligns with your mission and current state. Understanding the time frame and order of steps necessary to achieve a goal can dramatically improve your mindset and the way you tackle each day. You can break your goal down into manageable chunks and as you check them off you will build momentum towards your big goal. The best coaches will be clear and neutral in their feedback about what it takes to get to you to your goal. 

You want to surround yourself with people who will be supportive and honest your path to success. Avoid the detractors. That includes anyone who tells you they support you, but that you can’t achieve what you want and to “get real”. This life is yours to choose and you can’t waste time with the people that will only hold you back. 

#OnwardandUpward

Onward and Upward: ‘The Importance Of Stress For Your Health’

Did you know that a little bit of stress can actually maximize your performance?

IF you’ve ever been in a flow state and totally lost track of time immersed in the task at hand you know know how astounding it can be to snap out of it. You were so focused that you couldn’t worry about your bills, external relationships, and the little worries in life.

It turns out that time spent in a flow state is one of the highest corollaries to a fulfilling life. The more time you spend in flow the happier you are. It also turns out that flow is the best way to get good at a particular skill- assuming the activity meets some key criteria. 

The Yerkes Dodson Law examines how as arousal increases so does performance. Being pushed slightly beyond your comfort zone you get hooked. Locked in flow you will continue to push yourself, just barely keeping up with the challenge that is inches from your grasp. They even assigned a specific value to the degree of difficulty. If the level of the challenge is approximately 4% greater than your current skill you will be most likely to get into a flow state.

If you think about great athletes, musicians, artists and other high performing individuals you will see countless examples of them rising to the occasion. Completing the game winning drive as they march their team down the field and scoring with just seconds left on the clock. Playing a guitar lick faster and faster immersed in sweat and the roar of the crowd. These folks are locked into what they are doing to a place that is beyond what conscious mind and ego can interfere with. They are fully present and immersed in the task at hand.

It is important to find the thresholds in your life where you can push yourself and grow. If you feel like a task is too easy you will quickly lose interest and find yourself bored. If it is too difficult, you will feel like it’s hopeless and not actually give your best effort. Find the challenge that is engaging and challenging yet attainable if you truly want to get the most out of yourself!

#OnwardandUpward

Onward and Upward: ‘Virtuosity’ by Greg Glassman

Fundamentals, Virtuosity, and Mastery An Open Letter to CrossFit Trainers

(Originally posted to the CrossFit Journal August 2005 by Greg Glassman)


In gymnastics, completing a routine without error will not get you a perfect score, the 10.0—only a 9.7. To get the last three tenths of a point, you must demonstrate “risk, originality, and virtuosity” as well as make no mistakes in execution of the routine.

Risk is simply executing a movement that is likely to be missed or botched; originality is a movement or combination of movements unique to the athlete—a move or sequence not seen before. Understandably, novice gymnasts love to demonstrate risk and originality, for both are dramatic, fun, and awe inspiring— especially among the athletes themselves, although audiences are less likely to be aware when either is demonstrated.

Virtuosity, though, is a different beast altogether. Virtuosity is defined in gymnastics as “performing the common uncommonly well.” Unlike risk and originality, virtuosity is elusive, supremely elusive. It is, however, readily recognized by audience as well as coach and athlete. But more importantly, more to my point, virtuosity is more than the requirement for that last tenth of a point; it is always the mark of true mastery (and of genius and beauty).

There is a compelling tendency among novices developing any skill or art, whether learning to play the violin, write poetry, or compete in gymnastics, to quickly move past the fundamentals and on to more elaborate, more sophisticated movements, skills, or techniques. This compulsion is the novice’s curse—the rush to originality and risk.

The novice’s curse is manifested as excessive adornment, silly creativity, weak fundamentals and, ultimately, a marked lack of virtuosity and delayed mastery. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to be taught by the very best in any field you’ve likely been surprised at how simple, how fundamental, how basic the instruction was. The novice’s curse afflicts learner and teacher alike. Physical training is no different.

What will inevitably doom a physical training program and dilute a coach’s efficacy is a lack of commitment to fundamentals. We see this increasingly in both programming and supervising execution. Rarely now do we see prescribed the short, intense couplets or triplets that epitomize CrossFit programming. Rarely do trainers really nitpick the mechanics of fundamental movements.

I understand how this occurs. It is natural to want to teach people advanced and fancy movements. The urge to quickly move away from the basics and toward advanced movements arises out of the natural desire to entertain your client and impress him with your skills and knowledge. But make no mistake: it is a sucker’s move. Teaching a snatch where there is not yet an overhead squat, teaching an overhead squat where there is not yet an air squat, is a colossal mistake. This rush to advancement increases the chance of injury, delays advancement and progress, and blunts the client’s rate of return on his efforts. In short, it retards his fitness.

If you insist on basics, really insist on them, your clients will immediately recognize that you are a master trainer. They will not be bored; they will be awed. I promise this. They will quickly come to recognize the potency of fundamentals. They will also advance in every measurable way past those not blessed to have a teacher so grounded and committed to basics.

Training will improve, clients will advance faster, and you will appear more experienced and professional and garner more respect, if you simply recommit to the basics.

There is plenty of time within an hour session to warm up, practice a basic movement or skill or pursue a new PR or max lift, discuss and critique the athletes’ efforts, and then pound out a tight little couplet or triplet utilizing these skills or just play. Play is important. Tire flipping, basketball, relay races, tag, Hooverball, and the like are essential to good programming, but they are seasoning—like salt, pepper, and oregano. They are not main courses.

CrossFit trainers have the tools to be the best trainers on earth. I really believe that. But good enough never is, and we want that last tenth of a point, the whole 10.0.

We want virtuosity!!

Onward and Upward: ‘Isometric training 101’

Have you ever failed a rep in the same position over and over again? Like why won’t my body just work for me here?!

Getting stuck in a lift is no fun. Especially when it’s the limiting factor from you hitting a PR in the lift. There are many potential reasons for missing a lift, but if your technique is pretty dialed in then it is most likely a strength issue in that particular range of motion. 

Luckily there are many training techniques to eliminate specific weaknesses like this and one of the best ways is by incorporating isometric protocols into your training. 

Isometric, as the name implies means “relating to or denoting muscular action in which tension is developed without contraction of the muscle.”

Boom. Science.

That means you train the muscle without moving it. If you have a weakness. It means holding the muscle in an isometric contraction at (or around) the range of motion you want to improve.

Seem pretty simple right? It is!

You can use isometrics in the middle of your movement as well. You can incorporate a pause during the eccentric (lowering) of the weight, at the end range of motion to eliminate the stretch reflex, or during the concentric (raising) to increase muscle fiber recruitment.

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act.”

Bob Dylan

From there you can apply all different kinds of techniques depending on if your goal is to improve strength, hypertrophy, or activation. 

Isometrics can really help you build maximal strength. Target the position that you want to improve, your “sticking point”. Perform a ten second isometric hold at this position with a moderate to heavy load. The goal is to stay locked in this position to increase motor unit recruitment and stimulate muscle fiber growth. The body adapts to the stressors placed on it. By stressing a weak point the body goes to work to make it stronger.

You could apply this to a sticking point on your squat or bench press. It could be performing a deficit deadlift and hover the bar at ground level to develop pulling strength from the floor.

If you are trying to build muscle isometrics can work for you. That includes the booty muscles too ladies! (and guys?)  When performing a lift you want to pick rep scheme that you know that you can hit while perform an isometric contraction at the top of each rep. This works great for movements like chinups, dips, or glute bridges. Perform a 3-5 second contraction at the top of each rep where you contract your muscles as hard as you can before lowering down for the next rep.

Let’s say you have weak glutes or have difficulty activating them for a lift. Increasing time under tension with longer duration isometric holds is one of the best ways to improve recruitment. A good example of this would be a single leg glute bridge isometric hold. Hold the lockout position at the top of the hold for :30-60 seconds focusing on maintaining full hip extension. You will find your backside burning and shaking real fast! This can be a great warmup protocol for movements that you have trouble getting warm for.

Now that you have learned a little bit about isometric training think about how or where you could apply them to address an area you’ve been wanting to improve!