Sit Up Straight like your Parents use to tell you

The aims of CrossFit are broad, general and inclusive.  CrossFit looks to improve all components of fitness which include but are not limited to…

  1. Cardiovascular / respiratory endurance – The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  2. Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
  3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
  4. Flexibility – The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
  5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s center of gravity in relation to its support base.
  10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

The goal of training is to improve how a body performs and moves.  However, many athletes jeopardize their training and movement with poor posture which leads to tight muscles that can alter joint motion.  Although there are many examples of poor posture, a common issue that is encountered is forward head posture and rounded shoulders namely from being in a seated position for extended periods of time.

A simple hierarchy of training which athletes should adopt for themselves include…

  1. Flexibility
  2. Stability
  3. Strength
  4. Power
  5. All the others

Each component should precede then build upon the other.  For the above example of poor static posture stretches should be implemented for the pec minor (chest), latissimus dorsi (back), sternocleidomastoid (neck) to address the muscles that are most likely tight and potentially altering joint motion.  Exercises such as the Y-raise, 90/90, Reverse fly, and Straight Arm Pull down are good exercises to begin stabilizing the the shoulder girdle.  The introduction of a Swiss ball to the arsenal of exercises can improve core stability which does help to improve stability at the extremities including the shoulder and could include simple movements like the Glute bridge, Back Extension, and Plank.  Strength and Power exercises should take a backseat to flexibility and stability until joint motion improves and in the meantime alternate movements should be prescribed that reduce range of motion to reduce the risk of shoulder impingements and tears (like Russian swings vs American swings or Landmine Presses vs Overhead presses).

If all the above recommendations are implemented injuries can be reduced, joint motion improved and function gained.  BUT, if an athlete continues to default to a bad static postural position while seated or neglect stretching then it’s hard to see improvements.  CHECK YOUR POSTURE constantly and do what my dad use to tell me, “Sit Up Straight Damnit!”.  It will take a lot of conscious effort at first but eventually may become habit.  Check to make sure your shoulders are down and back yet relaxed, your cheek bones are over your collar bones and your sitting up tall and not rounding your back.  Gently brace your abdomen.  And good luck and happy training!

Patience in a world at your fingertips

World at Your Fingertips

The other day my house ran out of cat food, toilet paper and butter all at the same time.  With everyone being down with a cold it was going to be a hassle to leave the house to get what we needed, especially since we were still in pajamas.  But, to our saving grace, Amazon Prime to the rescue!  With a few extra additions to the shopping cart and within two hours, our package arrived!  Talk about easy!  No getting dressed, driving to the store, shopping, waiting in the check out line, etc.  It’s easy to see how this service caught on.  But the purpose of this post is to make a point that not all the things we want come so easily.  The struggle is that we’ve become conditioned to expect things to come easily.

..we’ve become conditioned to expect things to come easily.

Your Fitness Goals and Reality

It would be nice if we could hop online and order what type of fitness results we wanted then wait as someone delivers it to our doorstep.  Reality, however, shows us quickly that is not how it works.  Achieving fitness goals;  a reduction in body fat, increase in strength, improving your endurance, etc., all take time.  And lots of it.  The pitfall is that we as a society tend to give up on our goals after a few short weeks or months.  Success takes years of hard work, consistency, and commitment. Be patient.  The formula is simple.  The struggle is that we want our results now, not later, and if the results aren’t there fast enough we quit.  Few of the things in life that are worth achieving come quickly.  Part of what distinguishes the people who have succeeded from those who have not is refusing to give up.  I’ve seen members at CFC have huge success, and others give up too soon.  My hope is that we all find the will to succeed.  My advice is to settle in for the long haul.  Remind yourself of your vision.  Set off and work hard.  Work consistently.  Stay focused and be patient.  It’s worth it.

Tempo Training and Benefits

Tempo Training

Tempo training assigns a specific tempo (speed) to a lift to control the time under tension (TUT) ie. the time which a muscle is under load.  The amount of time under tension that a muscle experiences can greatly effect the results you get from training.

Tempo is typically written with 4-digits.  An example would be 4020 where…

  • 4 refers the amount of seconds in the eccentric phase of the lift (lengthening of the muscle under load)
  • 0 refers to the amount of seconds spent “in the bottom” of the rep, in this case zero.
  • 2 refers to the amount of seconds spent in the concentric phase of the lift (shortening of the muscle under load)
  • 0 refers to the amount of seconds spent “in the top” of the rep, in this case zero as well.

In the case of a Back Squat for a set of 5 reps, this would mean that lowering the weight take 4 seconds, no pause at the bottom, standing up takes 2 seconds, and no pause at the top, REPEAT for 5 reps or a total time of 30 seconds TUT for the set.

Benefits

  1. Increases Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) which is energy expenditure after training.  The increase in metabolism increases fat burning which is important to many of us!
  2. Increase Strength especially when the eccentric component of the lift is slowed down.
  3. For beginners allows for more focus on mechanics while minimizing risks associated with heavy lifting.
  4. Can help to reduce the risk of injury in sports (notably reducing hamstring strains by performing tempo deadlifts or single leg deadlifts in sports that involve quick sprints)