What Are We Trying To Do Here?

11878919_1050844324933763_6988515572939100698_oWhich one of these examples best fits the direction you want to go in the gym?

Example A:

- New PR’s/Faster Times

- Getting Stronger/Going Faster/Working Harder

- Becoming a “Better Mover”

Example B:

- Becoming a “Better Mover”

- Getting Stronger/Going Faster/Working Harder

- New PR’s/Faster Times

One is sexier than the other and, for the world of instant gratification we live in, is much more attractive. One is a little more vanilla and, for a lot of us, takes some time before we even notice a difference.

I’m sure you see where this is going, but guess which example we support?

One of these paths leads to longevity and the other leads to destruction. We choose to play the long game and we hope you do as well.

Along with making your safety at the gym paramount, we strive to make everyone who comes through our doors better movers.

We believe in quality over quantity. We would rather have you finish a workout last, if it means you execute the movements with perfect form, than finish first with bad form.

Just because your body has been able to “take it” up to this point doesn’t mean that will always be the case.

Look at the approach you take in other areas of your life: doctor/dentist appointments, changing the oil in your car, taking out a life insurance policy.

You can justify why taking precautionary measures in these area’s is the smart thing to do. Then why do you decide to take a different approach when it comes to your fitness?

The beautiful thing about mobility is that you can start anytime and you can do it anywhere. For many mobility exercises you don’t even need any equipment other than what God gave you.

“Okay, I want to improve my mobility but I don’t know the next steps to take?”

You don’t need to be a doctor to know what areas of your body don’t move the best. If you can’t touch your toes, start with some hamstring work. If you can’t support an empty bar overhead, work on your shoulder mobility. If you can’t keep your chest vertical throughout a squat, maybe you should work on making your hips more mobile.

Of course if you have had any type of injury in the past, or are dealing with one now, the first place to look is to professional advice from a doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor.

As coaches, we try to give you some of the more common mobilization techniques, hitting the areas where most of us need more range of motion. In  doing these, you might not always “feel the burn,” which you then might interpret as, “I’m not working.” Feeling like you’re not working doesn’t mean that the exercise is not working. It may just mean that you are mobile in that specific area of your body, so your joints and muscles aren’t under a lot of tension. Don’t get pissed because you can’t feel anything, rather, look for ways to keep your mobility in that area what it currently is or improve your mobility in that area by looking for a different variation of the movement.

We often talk about how well children move. For example, watch any child under the age of five squat. It is immaculate. But over the years the “use it or lose it” approach definitely applies to the way we move.

This does not mean that you are destined to remain how you are right now, forever. You can reclaim your mobility, but it might take more dedication and time than it did ten years ago.

We can only push you guys to work on mobility so much, the desire to improve must come from you, too. We have many areas we can help you in your endeavor to become a better mover, but you need to want it.

At What Age Do We Develop Movement Dysfunction?

23428703034_0aa9eae278_oThe next time you’re around a toddler, watch them move. They squat with perfect mechanics and can hang out in the bottom position all day. When they pick toys off the floor their backs are flat and their hamstrings and glutes are loaded. Their movement is effortless and graceful.

My ninth graders on the other hand, move inefficiently with poor mechanics and a lack of body awareness. These guys are athletes; they’re more active than most kids their age, but they still have trouble performing basic functional movements like squatting and deadlifting.

I figure there are many contributing factors to their poor movement, the three biggest being puberty, sitting all day at school and at home, and today’s technology putting their bodies is awful positions for prolonged periods of time.

This lack of quality in movement at such a young age puzzled me. I was curious about when a child’s pure mobility begins to break down. As an experiment last week, I asked my eight-year-old super-athlete of a nephew to squat and pick up a shoe box for me. His squat was flawless, but his lumbar spine was curled when he picked up the box.

I was surprised by this. I know it’s just one kid, but let’s just say for arguments sake that this is the norm: kid’s movement begins to break down at the age of eight. Then what will their movement look like at 18, 30, or 45? Not good.

I mean, I didn’t stare at a computer or phone all day when I was a kid. I learned how to type on typewriter for crying out loud. I was highly active and played sports and games outside all the time. Yet, because I didn’t properly care for myself as a youth, my adult life has been plagued by poor mobility in the most crucial areas for functional movement.

The thought of this is disturbing. I picture a population of Quasimodo-like hunchbacks snap chatting and roasting each other (ask a high schooler about the app) on their phones who can’t perform fundamental movements.

Not all hope is lost though. This scary future is preventable, and some damage is reversible. It will take good old fashioned hard work, but this makes the victory even sweeter. I stress to my young athletes that mobilizing now is crucial, and I give them mobility work to do on their own.

Here are some ideas you can use yourself or share with the kids in your life:

Get up every 20 minutes and move.
Hold your phone or tablet at eye level with a neutral neck position.
Use a standup desk for at least part of your day.
Sit in the bottom of your squat for a few minutes every day.
When moving, be aware of whether or not you are using your core for its sole purpose: to support your spine.
Be physically active, move often.

Movement dysfunction is a snowballing SOB. Stop it before it’s too late.

 

 

 

What is CrossFit Really About?

Cert

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.