The Granite Games – Join the TwinTown Community

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In 2015 a group of us from TwinTown participated in the online qualifier portion of The Granite Games, a three-day competition taking place in St. Cloud in September that last drew over 1000 participants from everyday CrossFitters to CrossFit Games athletes. It was an amazing experience. With the 2016 online qualifier just around the corner I was reflecting on why it was so cool, and what made us want to compete even though we knew we had no shot of being the best.

For me, it came down to the energy and excitement that simply can’t be replicated in the workouts we do on any given day, and the way we came together as a community to face them together. There was the anticipation and predictions each week as the workouts were about to be released. The nervous excitement as we shared ideas and strategies. Walking into the gym on Sunday morning as we all got together to workout. The motivation to redo a crushing workout because you KNOW you could have done more or gone faster, if for no other reason that to prove to yourself you can. There is the friendly competition between us at TwinTown facing off against each other. The chance to see how we as individuals, and we as a gym, stack up against our peers across the state and even the country.

For 4 weeks in 2016, from June 9th – July 4th an Rx, Scaled and Masters WOD will be released on Thursday. TwinTown will be programming the workouts for classes on Fridays and will have an alternate time to complete (or redo!) on Sunday at Open Gym. For those of us who have competed before, we are eagerly awaiting this years qualifier. Will you join us? Perhaps you will represent TwinTown Fitness at this year’s Granite Games! Also this year, all online qualifier participants are eligible to register for the open registration teams of 3 competition – no qualification necessary.

Sign up for the online qualifier and select the TwinTown Fitness Community during registration. Let’s tackle this challenge together. For all register athletes there are weekly prizes given at way at random – Kill Cliff, jump ropes, gift cards. Plus, if 25 people join our community we have the chance to win amazing upgrades to our gym, such as new rowing machines and Assault Bikes!

Sometimes You Just Need To Go

11807651_1039727836045412_2842831553556510238_oIf you are new here at TwinTown, or if you have been here for years, you know that we place a high value on moving well and moving correctly.

These are paramount to everything we do whether we are squatting, working on pull-ups or perfecting our Olympic lifts.

If you are moving well and executing movements within a safe range of motion, where is the next area to improve?

INTENSITY, BRO!!!

For a lot of us in the gym, we have accomplished good movement patterns and now it’s just time to go!

What does this mean?

I’m glad you asked. If you just came off the pull-up bar or finished up your ring rows and now it’s time to do a set of ten heavy deadlifts, there are many things going through your mind and many different voices trying to pull you in different directions.

Catch your breath. You need a sip of water?  You have been working out for three and a half minutes now, after all. Okay, I’m going to start right after I chalk up and make one little lap to the garage door and back.

I have had everyone of these go through my head and you know what? I still do. But you need to remind yourself what your intention is for the workout.

Maybe your intention is just to survive the workout. Okay, I get it. We do some difficult things in here and you still may be new to them. What if your intention is to increase your stamina or endurance? Sure you can do these by just showing up and doing the programming, but to really excel you need to move past the mental hurdles that stand in your way.

Rest feels good to everyone, but you know what feels better? Improvement!

Personally speaking, I have been experimenting with this approach of eliminating or reducing rest periods in workouts for the past few months. It has gone super well and I feel that it has brought me to a different level than I was at before. Yes, this different level I’m talking about does mean quicker times along with the physical benefits, but what I value most is the power to crush those mental hurdles. I feel like I have taken control of my workouts.

*** Again, very important, this is not an approach that everyone should take just because you are reading this, but one that you should experiment with if you are moving without impingement and with great form.***

I want you to try something crazy now, the next time you feel winded and you want to take a rest, don’t!

What?!      But I…        I need to…       Ugh…

I know. The next time you feel (keyword) like you need to take a rest, don’t. Just go right into the next movement without stopping. I mean what is the worst that can happen? You will eventually take that rest you were going to anyways. But guess what, you have delayed that rest. What if you do it again the very next set? And again? And this keeps happening until you are done with the workout.

Then you come in the next day and do the same thing. And on and on. What have you done? You have increased your cardio capacity, you have increased the intensity and your stamina and endurance are now better than before.

People who excel don’t always have something that others don’t. Well come to think of it, yes they do. They want it more. What is “it” for you?

Remember that form is king, and that increasing your range of motion is vital to your longevity as an athlete, but if you can check these two boxes then the next box that needs to be checked is intensity.

And sometimes you just need to go!!

Start Preparing for “Murph” 2016

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Each Memorial Day, we take on “Murph.”

For time:
Run 1 mile
100 pull-ups
200 push-ups
300 squats
Run 1 mile

Seems straightforward, right? Well, there are multiple ways to slay this dragon. You are allowed to break up the 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats however you wish. Usually, people use the strategy of five pull-ups, ten pushups and fifteen squats at a time, to break the workout down into more manageable sets. I’m not saying this is what you have to do, but I wouldn’t recommend doing all of the reps for each movement at once.

This workout is a beast, and we will release all sorts of information about the event as we get closer, but for now we have a few plans of attack to help you prepare for “Murph.” For the running and squatting portions of the workout, just show up to class regularly. As we get closer to Memorial Day, we will ramp up running and squatting in our programming.

We have devised a plan for the pull-ups and pushups to have you peaking when “Murph” comes along eight weeks from now. Follow this link, “Murph” Prep, where we have broken down to the day how many pull-ups and pushups you should do to get yourself ready for May 30.

Before you get started on your weekly regimen, you will see a few “Initial Tests” on the spreadsheet. For pull-ups, if you are using any kind of resistance bands right now, do a set of five at the lowest level of resistance possible and write it down to see how much you improve over the next eight weeks. If you are doing bodyweight pull-ups, then do one max set of strict bodyweight pull-ups and write down your number so you can compare later.

For pushups, you will do something similar. If you are using ab mats for your pushups, start off by doing a set of ten in a row with the least amount of ab mats possible. Record the amount of ab mats you used. If you are not using ab mats, then do a max set of pushups and record your number.

For the weekly programming, most of you will do your pull-ups at the gym, unless you have access to a pull-up bar away from TwinTown. So, follow the “Murph” prep program everyday that you come to the gym. Each Monday, start at Day 1 on the spreadsheet. The next day that same week you come to the gym, do the required sets for Day 2. And so on.

Most of you may only get through Day 3 of the pull-up programming each week. This is fine. For those of you that come more than three times per week, you will get some additional work. All of you could come to open gym at 11:00am on Sundays to get another day of work in each week!

You can do the pushup programming everyday on your own at your home or office. Begin each week on Monday Day 1 of the programming, and end each week on Sunday Day 7 of the programming.

To summarize: do your pull-ups at the gym on days you come in. Do your pushups everyday on your own.

The point is, this is volume work. The more reps you do, the better. But every day you commit to working on your pull-ups and pushups will help you on May 30.

We will have spreadsheets posted around the gym for you to reference, or you could also print them off to keep with you. We will post weekly reminders on the whiteboard at the gym of which week of the programming we are currently on throughout the next eight weeks. If you have any questions, please ask one of us when you see us.

This is your year to crush “Murph!” Let’s prepare to take down this monster together.

2016 CrossFit Games Open Recap

The 2016 CrossFit Games Open comes to a close tomorrow and I am proud of our members.

Whether or not you signed up to participate in the Open, you all worked hard, overcame fears and obstacles, and gave it everything you had.

We saw a lot of great moments this year, both individually and collectively. This picture of Adam getting his first bar muscle-up sums it up. I’m glad Josh P. was there to capture the moment on camera.

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The picture says so much about who we are as a gym and the bonds that our members have formed. Look at the excitement on Adam’s face, and the faces of everyone around him. This is pure elation.

I was fortunate to witness this event in person and it was one of those moments as a coach where you almost have to pinch yourself because it seems unreal that this is what your life’s work is all about.

This was just one of many moments like this that took place at TwinTown Fitness during the Open this year, and I am happy that we were able to share them with you all.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to moving properly and safely. Nobody did anything foolish to get a few extra reps. Nobody sacrificed form or personal safety for a better score.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to reel yourself in and prevent losing form or taking shortcuts to shave time or get more reps when the clock starts. But we all know the consequences are not worth it. Let’s finish this year’s Open doing it the right way with quality movement.

Good luck crushing it tomorrow!

 

What Is The CrossFit Games Open?

23781854622_29116f359e_o The CrossFit Games Open will be upon us at the end of the month! For those who haven’t had the pleasure of taking on the Open before, here are some details that will help you figure out what’s ahead: The Open is a series of five workouts, released one week at a time. Those who enter their scores and place best in their region will move on to the Regional workouts (held later in the spring), which is the qualifier for the full CrossFit Games.

Workouts are announced on Thursday night, then we take on the workout as our daily WOD every Friday and you have until Monday to enter your score. To log your scores and see where you stand, you’ll need to sign up on the Games site. If you are not interested in participating, you can just show up and do class as usual. The workouts are no different from what we do in the gym on a regular basis, so don’t be intimidated!

The competition aspect of the Open is just one part of the five weeks, and in my opinion, not even an important one. What makes me love taking on these five weeks with the gym is the excitement I see in class. This is when our community really shines through. I get to watch people challenge themselves as they push through the difficult portions of each event, and I watch as the others in class are there to cheer them on when they need help.

The idea is not to be a superstar and compete with the elites in this thing. The idea is to measure the progress you have made throughout the course of the last year (workouts are often repeated from year to year) and to set some benchmarks that you can improve upon the next time you do them.

First, last, or somewhere in the middle, it does not matter where you finish. What is important is how you put to use all you’ve been working on in class and that you open yourself up to the vulnerability of the challenge.

Join us!

It’s Okay To Dial Down The Intensity, Bro

blog Are you one of those people who comes to the gym to crush yourself and redline every single time? If so, you should know it’s okay to turn down the intensity dial a notch from time to time.

In fact, it’s a good idea. Backing off the intensity mitigates fatigue and helps prevent burnout and injury.

Last week I was beaten down. I was getting over a cold and I was tired and lethargic. I wanted to work out, but I just couldn’t get the engines firing for our 8:00AM workouts. On Thursday, I expressed how I felt to Peter who suggested I do the WOD at an easy pace instead of backing out of it entirely. An easy pace; what the hell is that!

I took his advice and turned down the intensity a bit. Not surprisingly, Peter was right. I got in a good workout and, afterwards, I felt fresher than I had in days. I also went to yoga later that day, which I highly recommend any time, but especially when you feel your body needs a break from high intensity workouts.This combination was exactly what I needed to stay in the gym without burning out or injuring myself.

Now, for you sandbaggers out there looking for an easy out, I’m not saying don’t push yourself and go through the motions; this is not an invitation to be mediocre. I’m saying pay attention to when your body needs a break and dial it down for a minute. Think of it as active rest and come back fresh the next time you hit the gym.

What’s your approach when you feel burnt out or fatigued?

What is CrossFit Really About?

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This November marks five years since attending my first CrossFit Level 1 seminar. Where does the time go?! The two-day seminar is a chance to learn the basic movements that we use in training, and to get an understanding for what the CrossFit methodology is all about.

CrossFit’s model is simple: constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement. This seems pretty straight forward, but there are many ways that this simple definition could be interpreted. I thought I would share what I find interesting about the definition, and how we put it to use at TwinTown.

Constantly Varied – The more wide-ranging your training, the greater variety of applications you will be able to use it in. Continuing to work on only what you’re already good at will certainly keep you progressing there, but your overall results and abilities would be more favorable if you were to spend some of your training time on what you are not good at.

CrossFit has been around for roughly 15 years now. That’s not an eternity, but it is enough time to gather data and analyze the results. What they (and we) have seen is that specializing in one area is only beneficial for so long.

Want to be able to move well, handle heavy weight with finesse, move quickly when needed, and be the most confident you can be? Well then, trust your programming, vary your training, and don’t hide. Cherry picking your workouts is only holding you back.

High Intensity – Remember your first CrossFit workout? I know I do. When you are first starting out, intensity is not hard to find. Most of us come from a background where workouts were well within our comfort zones, so pushing ourselves even a little bit changed the stimulus a lot.

A common pitfall in progressing is not adjusting your drive as your abilities increase. This looks different from person to person, but the idea that you need to challenge your capacity is a constant. As you’re starting out, just showing up to class will lead to improvements. Not getting too comfortable with where you’re at is what will keep that progress coming.

Functional Movement – I was devastated to learn that the skull crusher does not fall into this category. It’s cool though, I will get over it. Functional movements are the ways we get through our day-to-day lives. We might not be very good at them, but we do use them!

When you sit down you squat; when you pick something up you deadlift; when you put a heavy box on a shelf you push press, and when you pick up your child you snatch (just kidding – please don’t snatch your child!). We train these movements in the gym so you can perform them well in life, stay strong as you age, and avoid injury.

If you want to get get strong in ways that will allow you to function well, practice them. Your hour at the gym is not just an opportunity for you to get sweaty, but a chance for you to chip away at making yourself a more capable person. Dig in and embrace it.

What is “As Prescribed,” and why do we use it?

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Doing a workout as prescribed, or Rx, is completing the WOD as written, with no scaling or modifications, with full range of motion on each movement.

Rx is not flying through a workout with bad form just to post a good time and see your name on the leaderboard.

For example, if you fail to get your chin over the bar on a pull-up, you have not completed the movement as prescribed. If you don’t pick your shoulders off the ground and get your hands to your toes on a v-up, the prescribed standard has not been met.

I know it’s tempting to fudge this sometimes, and give yourself credit for a rep when the movement standard was not met, but this is not the way to go. I know it isn’t fun to do another push-up because your legs collapsed to the ground, but for me, giving myself credit for a bad rep like this would feel worse.

It is more beneficial for you to take the steps necessary to meet the standard correctly. Whether this means working on mobility or building strength, you will gain from going about it the right way. Plus, marking the workout Rx is extra sweet when it involves a movement you have struggled with, and you have worked hard to achieve.

Trust me, I get it. We all want to click that as prescribed button in Beyond The Whiteboard. When I first began CrossFit, my desire to be atop the leaderboard and Rx all the movements, won. My competitiveness and ego got the best of me, which led to a few frustrating years of injury and hindered my athletic development.

This experience taught me a valuable lesson: Being on the sideline with injury because of the need to feed my ego is lame.

Who cares about Rx. The point is to move correctly and safely. Don’t cheat yourself, or those around you, by claiming Rx when you didn’t do the workout as prescribed. It cheapens everyone’s experience and stunts your development as an athlete.

What movement have you had to work hardest on to complete as prescribed? Which one is next on your list?

Do You Even Work On Mobility, Bro?

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How often do you work on flexibility and mobility outside class?

A lot of us attempt movements in the gym that we really shouldn’t because our bodies don’t move well enough to perform them safely.

Here’s a simple rule we all should follow: until you move well enough to complete the range of motion of a movement correctly and safely, you should not perform that movement.

Take overhead movements for example. If you cannot stand with your arms raised overhead, thumbs back, elbows locked out, maintaining a neutral spine with your ears visible, then you cannot safely perform overhead exercises. Including kipping pull-ups!

We gut through these difficult movements with with terrible form and pain faces to feel the false sense of accomplishment that comes with grinding it out. Doing something the wrong way is not an accomplishment; it is a shortcut and a recipe for injury in the gym.

I’m willing to bet you have not made flexibility and mobility work a priority in your training. I don’t mean doing four minutes of mobility work before or after class, I’m talking about making it the priority.

Flexibility is how far your joints and the soft tissues influencing joint movement will stretch. Mobility is the ability for the joints to move freely and easily.

A lack of mobility can be the result of deficiencies in flexibility, neural movement patterns, stability and strength. Since human movement is dependent upon flexibility and mobility, it is in your best interest as a CrossFit athlete and a human being to have a flexibility and mobility program specific to your needs.

After a few years of frustrating injuries, I made mobility and flexibility a priority. Since doing so, I have not sustained an injury. But I have also backed off movements that I cannot complete with good form until I have the range of motion to perform them safely.

If you want to make gains in the gym, or simply want to move well and age gracefully, you must approach your flexibility and mobility training with the same intensity and enthusiasm you have for your strength training and metabolic conditioning.

No more excuses. Make mobility work your priority.

Protect Your Spine

11828564_1039727416045454_1548512201806256283_nWithin the first five minutes of every yoga class that I have ever been in, the teacher will either mention or set an intention around focusing on your breath throughout the day’s practice.

It has been a struggle for me to be able to focus on my breathing for an entire yoga class, but I have managed to make it through, getting in and out of postures while focusing on my breathing.

In yoga, there are a multitude of reasons why focusing on your breath is important. I feel the biggest is that it prevents you from constantly drifting off in thought about what you’re going to have for dinner, or some issue that is going on with a family member, or what is going on at work.

Those thoughts are paralyzing to your practice, and if they overwhelm you, before you know it the class is over and you feel no different than when you walked in there in the first place. This defeats the purpose, since yoga is supposed to be relaxing and rejuvenating.

Similarly, in our daily CrossFit workouts, you might have trouble focusing on staying tight through your midline.

How many times in class have you heard a coach say, “stay tight,” or, “squeeze your belly,” or “engage your core”?

Just like coming back to your breath during yoga, you should constantly check in during CrossFit and ask yourself if you’re staying tight, if you’re squeezing your belly, and if your core is engaged.

We don’t give these cues to slow you down during a workout. We want you to stay tight because, in the most general sense, staying tight through your midline protects your spine.

If you are staying tight in your squat, you are probably not butt winking and your chest will be more vertical than if you weren’t. Where do you think all of the pressure goes when your spine looks like a “slinky” when you back squat?

If you squeeze your belly while dead lifting, odds are your back is not rounding and your not dumping all that weight into your lumbar spine.

When you engage your core while snatching or cleaning, you land more solidly because you are under tension, which allows you to push explosively and get out of the bottom of the hole.

Wall balls, thrusters, rowing, push press, jerks, push-ups, ring rows, pull-ups, pistols . . . midline stability is key to almost every move you encounter in our daily workouts.

In your next workout, I challenge you to continue going back to anything that reminds you to engage your core. Your spine will thank you for years to come.