This is a good video of Coach Burgener doing some active mobility exercises with various lifters. Everyone's issues will be different, but this video is a good example of how poor mobility can inhibit your ability to perform. Pay attention to where your range-of-motion limits you from getting into good positions. Focus on targeting your tight or immobile areas, both before and after class. You can also check out Active Recovery tonight at 6:30pm!
- Happy belated birthday, Tim G.!
Taking your Gainz Outside the Box
By Noah Abbott
Way back in the dinosaur days of CrossFit, Chuck Taylors were the “it” shoe, the mascot was a creepy/disgusting clown, and the CrossFit Games were held in some dude’s backyard. In a CrossFit Journal article called “What is CrossFit,” Greg Glassman used 100 well-chosen words to define a world-class fitness program:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.
It’s been a number of years since Glassman penned those words. Now everyone covets the hot new Reebok Nano 36.5.0, the mascot is... Chris Spealler (?), and the CrossFit Games is held in not one, but two honest-to-gawd sporting arenas AT THE SAME TIME. Astute readers will realize some other change—starchy carbs have enjoyed something of a renaissance and creativity is (thankfully) no longer the most prized element of your strength program. The absence of gymnastics in day-to-day CrossFit could be the subject of its own article (I’ll write it if people are interested!) but today I want to examine the last sentence of the credo:
Regularly learn and play new sports.
While the primacy of the CrossFit Games has turned CrossFit into a sport for a select few, for many, CrossFit is a fitness program used to complement and enhance other activities. While these certainly can be mundane (picking up your kids, climbing the stairs to your 17th floor walkup studio, etc.) testing your increased strength, stamina, and force production through the lens of sport can be a great way to see your progress made real. Also, they are fun, a great way to meet others, and often lead to mass taco consumption (buyer beware!).
Some care needs to be taken when incorporating sports into your weekly routine. First, ease into it. Treat your (re)introduction into a sport the same way you did your first few weeks out of Foundations, and make sure everything feels easy and sustainable before testing your capacity.
Next you’re (relatively) old! You will likely need to warm up more comprehensively and intensely than you did when you were the 3rd string JV point guard on your high school basketball team. Make sure that your warm-up is dynamic, and include some lateral movement prep. If CrossFit has a major hole in its “game,” it is in a lack of lateral movement training. The most common injury on this year’s (ahem, world champion) CFSBK Soccer Team was the lowly, but debilitating and lingering groin pull—a lateral movement strain. Remember, the dynamic and non-predictable nature of a sport, while great fun, brings with it heightened potential for injury. Warming up will shrink the window of opportunity for injury, but the risk remains, and its up to you to weigh the cost and benefit.
Lastly, organization is your friend—an organized, competitive, officiated league will be more beneficial from a skill development and injury risk perspective than occasional pickup games. Regularly scheduled exposures to the same stimulus (sound familiar) is more beneficial than random bouts of intense activity with unregulated opponents and little to no officiating or supervision. CFSBK has organized (world champion, ahem) soccer, softball, and football teams, with a new basketball team. Keep your eyes on the blog for these opportunities, and we always encourage people to start their own gym-based team if they have a sport they’d like to play.
Running and Other Monostructural/Endurance Pursuits
Many people find their way to CrossFit by way of endurance sports. Some find CrossFit scratches a very similar itch to endurance training—dedication to consistent training and steady progress towards a goal. For some, CrossFit totally replaces their endurance training, but for others, the meditative qualities of endurance work or the thrill and camaraderie of racing keeps them “serving two masters.” As with ball or team sports, we love to see members challenging themselves and pursuing diverse fitness goals. That said, endurance training is potent medicine, prone to overdose.
Think of your workout in terms of reps. Even a high-volume CrossFit workout will top out at around 500 or so total reps. Now, I challenge you to think of a 10 mile “training” run, and consider each step a rep. An ACSM Sports Journal study using a pedometer found average participants took roughly 1,000 steps per mile. Using that as a baseline, a 10-mile run breaks down to roughly 10,000 distinct repetitions. The sheer volume of repetitive movement translates to a wider window of opportunity for motor pattern dysfunction, training induced overtension, and subsequent injury.
I am by no means suggesting that you discontinue your endurance training (although I’ll be sitting over here on this lawn chair sipping a margarita while you do so). Instead, I’d hope you take two things into account:
1) Reduce total training volume. Think of your CrossFit workouts and endurance work as complementary. Believe it or not, you are getting a solid metabolic stimulus during CrossFit workouts, and increased strength allows you to more easily move your body over distance. Despite the relatively short timeframe, your training is much more efficient than long, slow distance training. This classic CrossFit Journal article, more than any other, totally changed the way I thought about “cardio” as I transitioned from a “traditional” training mentality. CrossFit Endurance has some good templates for training for endurance sports like a CrossFitter, but in reality its simpler than that. Run less, prioritize sprints and intervals, and take it easy on your body!
2) Double Down on Mobility. Most running injuries are not traumatic by nature. Instead, they are insidious, creeping, overuse injuries that result in compromised ability to achieve some of the vital positions necessary for safe and effective CrossFit training. Most often, this manifests itself as severely reduced ability to dorsiflex the ankle, leading to ruinous squat positions. Here’s how you should look. If you run or cycle a lot, here’s how you probably look. Spend some time working on your ankles, and likely on your soft tissue as well, as your hip flexors, piriformis, and calves will all be brutally tight from the constant pounding.
Other Fitness Modalities (?!?!?!)
Indeed, there are other ways to feeeeeeel the burrrrrrrn than CrossFit training. Try them! This holds especially true for disciplines that bias mobility, proprioceptive, and meditative practice, like Yoga, Pilates or Gymnastics training, which will only make you a better, stronger, stretchier CrossFitter. Other pursuits vary widely in their usefulness, but always look for programs that quantify your output and give you something to build on, as opposed to just getting you sweaty. For example, while I find being sitting on a fake bicycle and listening to really loud EDM inherently silly, I’d much rather go to a Flywheel class than a SoulCycle class, because the former includes performance metrics like “RPM's, Torq, Speed, Power, Distance, and Estimated Calories,” while the latter offers better curated playlists. If you’re gonna sweat, make it count.
In conclusion, play sports, don’t run yourself into the ground, and prioritize quantifiable fitness pursuits that enhance, rather than destroy your ability to “perform constantly varied functional movements at high intensity.” Or, just do Prancercise.