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Rest Day

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.

Here’s a great video of the LA Galaxy warming up, which combines body temperature increase, DROMs, lateral movement, and other elements.

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.

The Calm Conversation—How To Deal With Pain The Science of Running
Squat Mechanics: A Deep Analysis T Nation

Reader Comments (32)

Wednesday's Programming

Box Squats
Work up to a 3RM Box Squat on a box that allows you to sit at full depth. Use your regular stance and squat style and maintain tension throughout the pause. Aim for around 70% of a 1RM (or 80% of your best 3x5) and go up from there as appropriate.

Post loads to comments.

Tabata Russian Kettlebell Swings, as heavy as possible

Post loads to comments.

January 19, 2015 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Thanks for the blog love yesterday. I miss you guys already.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBen Whitney

Oly class #3


January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

6am with McDowell and Jess Fox

Box squats were fun. After a warmup I did 3 reps at 135#, 185#, 225#, then finished with 3 at 245#.

For the kettlebell piece is used "The Honda" (the 40kg big white kettlebell). Best round was 10 reps, worst was 8 reps. Grip strength definitely went down precipitously.


Makeup post from Monday

I stayed out at my parents' house on Long Island on Sunday night, so I hit up Crossfit 516 on Monday morning. Cool workout:

4 rounds of 1-1-1-1 snatch, rest :10 between each rep, rest 1:30 between each round, increase weight each time. I worked up to 145# on the last one and it got a little wobbly. Made me realize how much I depend on my lifting shoes for stability (since I was just rockin' my Nanos), which I'm not sure is a good thing.

3 rounds of:
:30 max pull ups
:30 rest
:30 max double-unders
:30 rest
:30 max burpees to 6" target

Rest 5min, then repeat for another 3 rounds.

This started out feeling doable, then quickly became a gasping mess towards the end. I got 465 total reps and had the biggest gains in double-unders per round. Everything else I tried to stay consistent so my forearms didn't fall off.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Affronti

Noah's articles are always so funny. But..... I see he clearly dodged why we don't program pirouettes into CFSBK programming.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJenny M

I've been out in Ohio for a few days, so I missed out on Isabel. OH DARN. Came back this morning to bench (and, especially, to practice obeying the "rack" command, since that will come up at Iron Maidens and has tripped me up at past meets). I got to 140 for a single, although that was a bit iffy on whether or not I tried to rack the bar before I was told to. Okay, I tried, then I stopped myself, then I listened. Probably that would be a red card at a meet, but I guess that's what practicing is for.

I'm pleasantly surprised with the 140 number, and it gives me something solid to aim at for Iron Maidens.

230 calories on the row. Jess noted that I was "taking back off week very seriously" with my highly consistent 20-22 s/m rating. Damn skippy!

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStella


I seem to be having the same problem Amanda Mc encountered yesterday. My regular membership is on hold until next month, but I have a punch card until then. When I go to RSVP for a class, no blue button appears on my screen to register--just a screen showing that my membership is on hold. Help?

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Came in at 7am to do some Oly Lifting. Felt TERRIBLE! Doing all the lifts yesterday and then not really eating until three hours later probably had something to do with this. I felt really weak and out of it.

Kept everything at about 75% of my 1rms.

8x1 high hang snatch at 35kg. Fox pointed out that I was getting my shoulders forward a bit from the high hang position, then jumping forward quite a bit. Things definitely got better once I started focusing on this.

8x1 high hang clean+ jerk @ 52kgs. Trying to focus on bending the back knee and not getting my weight too far forward. I definitely have to drill this at a lighter weight regularly--I get past 120lbs and everything seems to change!

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLil JB


Pause back squats: 135x5, 165x3, 185x3, 195x3
Probably should have jump to 205/215 but it is back off week.

Metcon @ 32kg: max:11, min:11.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBK

Right there with you Michelle.

Last night. Olympic lifting. My snatch has been thoroughly broken down now. I'm reduced to doing hang power snatches with a buy-in of 2 rocking motions from the knees to the power position before the snatch. Everything feels awkward. The power position feels weak. I am clumsy and uncoordinated. I've gone through such technique rebuilds in other sports (tennis, golf). I know I just have to keep working at it. Take it slow. Ignore the weight (or lack thereof). The strength will still be there once the technique is grooved.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Nice article Noah. Who wrote it for you?

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJay-Star

As someone who loves soulcycle and other strictly- cardio workouts, reading the crossfit article regarding metabolic conditioning was a little bit scary! The chart that shows aerobic activity as *burning muscle* and the look of sprinters vs. long-distance runners were particularly disconcerting. Hm... definitely something to think about next time I want to go pump pedals to EDM and sweat for sweat's sake.

I was scared away from playing group sports as a kid and haven't really tried since. Playing sports might be a great solution for the aerobic/anaerobic balancing act, though. Also something to consider!

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAllie B

Yesterday's WOD:

Worked up to 255 (barely), which was a nice surprise. I haven't done a paused bench before, so I didn't know what to expect, but my old max for a regular bench was 265, so I imagine I'm above that now.

354 calories rowing. I had trouble smoothing out the power curve, but made a little progress over the course of the 20 minutes. Kept a reasonable pace of around 1050 calories per hour throughout and didn't feel horrible at the end.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDan L

@jj, was it a specific class that you were trying to register for or did you try a few different classes? I can't see why this wouldn't be working so I'll have to follow-up with ZP. Is anyone else with a punch card having this problem as well?

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterlady fox

@lady fox, I'm also not seeing a blue "reserve" button. My regular membership is on hold during the oly cycle and on the class reservation screen it says "on hold" with no button to use the 2x per week group class add-on.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

Loved Noah's article but wished it had more info on the all-important topic of matching stylin' outfits to the proper activity. I know that definitely enhances my "Soul journeys" when I embark upon them.

OMG, last night I found out how crappy I felt trying to Oly lift at 9PM. Hopefully it was a fluke that can be rectified with napping. I am so sore. I got a new workout assignment from Frankie, which is to pause at hang, then snatch, then pull from floor and snatch, then overhead squat. It was difficult to master this combo but I liked trying the hang snatch tho my from-floor snatch afterward was a hot mess in general. The OHS is definitely going to address some deficiencies in my ability to stand heavier weight up so I'm excited about making some gainz there. Finally learned how to properly snatch pull, feels like a little square dance step, do-si-do.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Mc

Jess, when I click around, the only classes it gives me a blue register button are the 6am classes. I mean that is nice, that the system wants to gently encourage me to get my lazy ass out of bed and get back to my roots with the 6am crew, but since that ship has already sailed for today, I'd like to come to the 6:30 class tonight instead. Maybe tomorrow I'll revisit my goal of becoming a morning person again. Or maybe the next day or the next day after that.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Noah: Is masters swimming a sport?! Or a league?

Does anyone here swim often at Brooklyn Carroll, or at Team New York Aquatics at Long Island University?

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterManu

Noah is quite the wordsmith. I always enjoy your articles.

6am. Box squat: 135x3 / 185x3 / 215x3 / 225x3. The 215 set wasn't that pretty. Jess pointed out that I was gripping the bar and letting my elbows fall back, leading to my chest coming down. After that cue I was a bit better at 225.

WOD with 36kg KB: 12 / 12 / 11 / 11 / 11 / 11 / 11 / 11. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to keep going in the last 2 rounds. That thing was heavy.

January 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterElliott

Great article Noah. I found the part about endurance sports particularly interesting.

I've never been a runner but after enjoying the Brooklyn Half with friends I decided to do the NYC Marathon, having admired it as a spectacle. My training consisted of CrossFit, 5 times a week as usual through the year; then in the 6 weeks leading up to the marathon did a 12, 15 and 18 mile run to prepare mentally (at least I think that's what I was doing). Did the race in a leisurely 4:17 and generally annoyed people whose training had mostly involved racking up miles.

I'm not necessarily saying that this was the best training approach but it certainly illustrates the efficacy of CrossFit in preparing you for general endurance sports. Would be interested to hear anyone's suggestions for modifying the approach for this year!

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRick Y

Distance running and I have broken up and we are not getting back together. It was good for a while, but then it became an abusive relationship. :P

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStella

So happy the AM Oly Cycle has started again!
Day 1 today. Lots of little things to focus on in the upcoming weeks.

Iron Maidens Prep.

45 x 5
55 x 4
65 x 3
75 x 1
80 x 3 x 3 ( PR for reps)

Felt good. Used my belt.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

@Manu: I have swum (swam?) Masters with both groups. I am hesitant to say this, because I feel like it's a really precious secret, but the TNYA Masters group at LIU is awesome. Please don't tell anyone that; I don't want it to blow up. The facilities are really nice and the practices are LEGIT. There is definitely room in the slow lane for the less skilled among us, but the other four lanes are NOT messing around. Masters with John Stewart at BC is much more relaxed and low key but still well organized and challenging, and more specifically geared towards triathletes even though all strokes are incorporated. However, the BC pool sucks and is really small and can get very crowded.

Ugh, cat's out.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

@JJ - Thanks! I was debating whether to switch to my own lap swim schedule at Berkeley Carroll or the YMCA Armory, but you've convinced me to stick with TNYA. Their 2015 Sunday schedule starts again this Sunday; maybe I'll see you there.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterManu

My friend is trying to get me to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I've never done a marathon (half or otherwise) before but really enjoy running, although mostly of the soccer variety. Anyone else doing it, and if so, how much training do you need to do?

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichael A.

The President is delivering the State of the Union tonight, which is usually accompanied by a drinking game. Just came across this, particularly good for those doing LFPBC:

State of The Union workout:
"CYBER"= 5 burpees
"MILITARY"= 5 push ups
"TAX or TAXES"= 5 air squats
"ECONOMY"= 5 sit-ups
"COLLEGE"= 5 mountain climbers

Any other ideas? Anyone else watching?


January 20, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjonathan

Noah, great article – thanks. Although I enjoy CFSBK, I also like training for an event at least once a year to stay motivated and spend time outdoors (beyond sprinting btw 3rd and 4th avenues). This year I’m actually considering doing the Trans Rockies Run in August, it requires running 58 miles in 3 days. I’m attending an info session about the event on Thursday evening to learn how / if I can prepare by focusing on interval training and strength and not only long runs (because I hate long runs). If anyone’s interested in attending the TRR session, let me know and I’ll post the info for the meeting.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJude

How does RSVPing to AR work for nonmembers? (ie, my husband)

He's not the best planner-aheader, so I worry about signing him up with my account only to find, less than an hour before class, that he doesn't plan on going. Then, unlike me, since he's not a member, wouldn't I or he incur a charge?

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterStella

@jonathan, I'm watching, and am inordinately excited. I might play along with that game! I hope college doesn't come up.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKate R.

4:30 "Private" Class w/ Coaches Whitney & Jeremy

Pause Bench:
185x5 (no pause), 195, 205
Felt good. The weirdest adjustment is holding your breath longer before pressing.

20min Row:
Totally sandbagged this while discussing strategies on how to beat Jeremy's Taco Record with Matt Katz.

Oy, my tailbone!

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChris Yun

Didn't get to make it to class yesterday at my normal time since I was working on some other stuff mid day so I came to the Tuesday 7:30pm class with "Joah"... "Noess"? I can't think of a clever combination or pun to use on Jess and Noah. Anyway..

3 Rounds NFT
8 CTB Strict Chin-Ups
12 Push-Ups
20 Lunges

Pause Bench Press
(45x5, 115x5, 135x3, 155x2)

That pause really does not help. :)

20 Min Row
4,592 Meters
Avg S/R 17
Avg Pace 2:10

I forgot my calories and looked in the memory just now but it only displayed meters. Kept this relatively steady and I dare say I enjoyed it.

Noah's a good writer and I don't really play sports because I'm scared of getting hurt. Except beach volley ball which is amazing.

January 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

@David...you're on the basketball team...our first game is next Monday.

January 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrad

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