Use Your Fitness

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Accomplishments in the gym are amazing. Whether it’s the first time you RX a workout, the first time you run a mile, your first pull-up (with or without assistance) or just a new PR for the records, making progress feels great. The truth of the matter though, is that if you’re only enjoying these milestones inside the gym, you’re missing out!

You work really hard to be a fit person, but what’s the point if that means you’re only able to put your capabilities to work when you’re trapped inside the gym?

Nicer weather will soon be upon us (please, please, please, now please) and with that comes countless opportunities to get out and try some new activities that might previously might have seemed out of reach to you. Maybe there’s a sport that you used to play but “got too old”, or maybe there’s an activity that you’ve always wanted to try but have never felt like it was within reach. Are you going to keep telling yourself that “one day” you’ll try it or are you going to take advantage of your advances and make it happen? Start planning now what the summer will hold for you and use your fitness to do the things you love to do!

You Better Recognize

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I had a brief conversation with an athlete after class recently that left me frustrated. She had just finished working out and was disappointed that she “sucks at push-ups” and wasn’t able to get the quantity that she would have liked. After she left, I added up her rounds and realized that despite her frustration, in less than 15 minutes, she had accumulated around 100 push-ups – at RX. If I were to bring up this accomplishment to someone outside the gym, most people would be in awe of what this athlete was able to accomplish without even knowing that there was a lot more to that 15 minutes than just those 100 push-ups. The high level of capacity in the CrossFit world can sometimes make us blind to the smaller successes, just like this, that are very worthy of recognition.

I absolutely understand the feeling of always wanting to push your potential – that is exactly what CrossFit asks you to do. But it is all too common that I see talented, strong, driven athletes fail to recognize the success that they’re achieving as they progress. Whether it’s comparing yourself to other CrossFitters, or constantly setting the bar too high, if you are not noticing the small steps that you take towards success, you’re never going to be able to enjoy the great feeling of celebrating your accomplishments.

Take notice of how far you’ve come on your journey and applaud your triumphs. Whether it’s a huge PR on Murph, or your first RX push-up, you’ve earned some damn credit. Take some time, right now, to notice and appreciate how far you’ve come, and what you are now capable of!

Make Your Training Yours

CFGFrom the second I heard about CrossFit, I was drawn to it. I loved the fact that it wasn’t widely known and that most of the gyms (if you could find one) were very bare-bones. They were devoid of the bells and whistles that most fitness facilities have, and the only commonality from one to the next was the participant’s desire to work hard and succeed.

Some of that remains a constant in the CrossFit world. However, as things grow, they also change. Think of your favorite band, your favorite neighborhood, think of you. The growth that CrossFit has seen is undoubtedly good for the business, but it hasn’t always been a fun one to watch happen. It’s growth (and subsequent changes) became readily apparent to me during the airing of the Games Open workout announcement last week.

Had I flipped past the opening scene on TV, I would have bet that I had passed a WWE wrestling event. There was a large lighting scaffold surrounding the ring… er, stage, and a big, raspy-voiced announcer belting out the names of the athletes. One of the hosts even looked more the part of a Sons of Anarchy extra than someone representing the community that I’m immersed in.

To me, CrossFit has always been rooted in health, the pursuit of excellence in your fitness, and a high level of athleticism. This step towards a gaudy presentation, however, seems to be more focused on a bro’d-out appearance and less on what it was founded in. More than anything though, this identity crisis has caused me to take a step back and look at what I consider the “CrossFit community”, and what is really important in that community. I’ve always thought of CrossFit as one big entity, but as the community continues to grow, it’s important to realize that the differences in appearance aren’t all-encompassing, and that we as CrossFitters help mold the image of what CrossFit is just as much as anyone else does.

So, what is really important in the community that we are a part of? What do we really need to further ourselves as athletes?

We need CrossFit to continue to push the boundaries of what athletes are capable of. We need it to continue to come up with new challenges to overcome, and new ways of helping to create better, happier, healthier and more capable people. We need it to continue to provide a community for us to feel at home with – even if that is not the same community that others are embracing. We need it to be what we need it to be for us.

Bettering ourselves is really all that matters. Are we doing that? Yep.  Does the image that someone else creates really effect us? Nope. The frills and publicity stunts will continue to come and go; keep your eyes on what you need out of your training and pay any petty distractions no mind.

MDUSA Seminar in Review

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This past weekend, Andy, Kayser and I spent two full days at a weightlifting seminar put on by Coach Don McCauley and Travis Cooper of Team MDUSA. This was two days of nothing but specifics on the Olympic Lifts and we all walked away with a wealth of knowledge on how to further fine-tune these ever challenging movements. Much of the seminar consisted of time working on our lifting under the eye and guidance of the coaches. I’ll spare you the wordy descriptions of tweaks in lifting mechanics that we learned (until you’re in one of our classes!) and instead share some of the more universal pieces that I walked away with.

First, there is no magic programming that is going to get you results without you putting in the work. You can browse online forums and blogs looking for that special program to get you as strong as you’d like to be, but nothing breeds success like hard work. Find something that works for you, and stick to it. If you’re too quick to discount the program that you’re using without allowing an appropriate amount of time to see the results you are looking for, you’re never going to find something that will work. Make a plan, and stick to it!

The basic idea behind both the clean & jerk, and the snatch (the bar goes up, you go down) are going to be the same from athlete to athlete, but the way the mechanics might look can vary greatly. Depending on your mobility, experience, and how you are built (long arms, short arms, longs legs, etc.), your setup, and even catching position might not look exactly like the person’s next to you. Listen to what your coach says about how you look during the lift, and don’t sweat it if it’s not exactly what someone else is doing.

Sometimes you’re not going to make your lifts. It happens and it’s not the end of the world, but see the experience as an opportunity to examine your flaws and work on them. You’ll only be stronger for it.

Use drilling to practice, so you can just go to your happy place and lift when you’re testing your maxes. There is a difference between time training and time competing, and it’s important not to confuse the two. You are not competing every time you work on a skill in class. That is your time identify problems and improve your weaknesses. Get the kinks ironed out during training, so when it counts, everything is smooove like buttah.

Olympic lifting obviously requires strength, but much more than that, it requires finesse, patience and practice. The staff at the seminar were quick to point out that working on these lifts is more similar to gymnastics that to any other form of lifting.

Ok, now a fun one. At the end of day 1, Travis was kind enough to demo some of his lifting skills and I got a couple of his lifts on video. Here he is snatching 315# like it ain’t no thang. Enjoy!