Thursday Night Barbell WOD

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We are excited to announce that we will soon be offering a new class on Thursday nights! Beginning Thursday June 25th, we will be offering a 75 minute Barbell WOD class at 7:30.

These classes will be focused on building strength, technical expertise, and confidence in the Olympic lifts. They will run in 6 week cycles, and each cycle will have an emphasis on either the Snatch or Clean & Jerk. Individual weeks will have specific elements of focus to break down the lifts into more easily manageable parts (pulling, hip extension, etc.) so planning to attend a cycle from start to finish is not mandatory, but will yield the best result.

Whether you are someone just looking to become more comfortable with these technical lifts, or if you have years of experience and are looking for some fine-tuning to keep pushing your potential, this class will provide the time and coaching that you need.

For those of you who feel that you need a metcon to feel like you earned a workout for the day: give this a try! Hop on for a 6 week cycle and see how far you’ve come when you’re done.

Coach Keela will be at the helm for this one. She has many years of experience under her belt, really knows her stuff, and will be a great leader for any/all interested in participating.

Sign-up will be available on Zen Planner starting next week!

There Are No Shortcuts To Success

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One thing I noticed during this year’s CrossFit Open is that it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and try to take on more than you can handle.

I get it, you’re competitive and you want to post a good score. But if you don’t check yourself and do it the right way you won’t be posting any scores because you’ll be on the sideline with an injury.

Believe me, I learned this lesson the hard way. When I began CrossFit I let my ego, pumped up from past athletic success, take the lead and it got me into trouble. Bad form and a big ego are a recipe for disaster. Just ask my shoulder.

Maybe you were a stud athlete in high school, or maybe you just want to challenge yourself. Either way, take caution. High school was probably a long time ago, and I bet you didn’t walk out there with the varsity in whatever sport you excelled at and dominate on your first day. No, you put in time honing your skills and working on fundamentals. You need to take this same approach at the gym.

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If you have bad form, or you’re not confident in your technique, back off on the weight you’re using and slow your roll. There is no sense in personal heroics; you’re only going to injure yourself or reinforce bad habits.

Master the fundamentals. Without solid fundamentals you have little hope of succeeding. Accept the challenge to get better and attack it with everything you have, but don’t try to take shortcuts. This way, when you’re ready, you will be able to reach your full potential.

Are your ankles affecting your squat?

1891244_880767821941415_6467677369343282556_n-2Tight ankles change the mechanics of your squat position. Tight calves, achilles or plantar fasciitis can also negatively affect your squat, but we are going to focus on ankles today.

Lack of dorsiflexion can make you weaker and more injury prone. Having tight ankles forces you to use your quads more and your glutes less.

A quick and easy way to increase ankle mobility, and give your heels a stable surface to push off of when squatting, is to put your heels onto a five pound plate. Or you can get off your wallet and go get some oly lifting shoes.

There are literally a thousand ways to mobilize your ankles, but most of our immobilities are centered between our ears. “Huh… what is he talking about?”

I’m saying that most of us choose to take the lazy route and not do anything to improve no matter how much we need it. Let’s assume that we have moved past obstacle one, our lazy nature, here are a few great videos that you can follow along with and see what is holding you up.

I would start with Dorsiflexion Test to see where you are at. This is just a snip-it, but start with your toe five to six inches from the wall. While keeping your heel completely on the ground, see if you can touch your knee to the wall.

If you cannot touch your knee to the wall, try the exercises in Ankle Dorsiflexion to start to mobilize. This video has you put a PVC or dowel on the inside of your big toe and then bring the outside of your knee around the PVC. But you can get a lot of the same benefit by placing the PVC on the outside of your pinky toe and bringing the inside of your knee around the PVC. Do each of these ten times, on each leg and retest.

Kelly Starett has a few great videos that tie everything together in your lower leg, and show you how to improve mobility for squatting. Check out Heel Cords of a Cheetah and Heel Cord Love’n.

There are also a few great exercises in Dorsiflexion for Improved Squat Performance and How to Improve Ankle Dorsiflexion & Plantar Flexion for Sprinting to work through.

If you do not know where your immobilities lie exactly, but know that there is something going on, get with one of your coaches and we can help you properly diagnose where your problem areas are and point you in the right direction for improvement.

We can all be as mobile as we want, but how badly do we want it?

Testing Your Max

Testing what you are maximally capable of on a given lift is important for a number of reasons: you can clearly see the progress you’ve made by watching your max go up over time, a coach can easily assign you a weight that is both safe and challenging in a workout if they know what your max on that movement is, and pushing your body to perform with a maximal weight forces it to adapt to your training in ways that other stimuli do not.

Despite the value in testing a max, there are also some common pitfalls. Let’s talk about them so you can be sure to steer clear!

Performing any lift should never be done “at all costs”. Instead of focusing on the absolute amount you can lift, think of max attempts as what you can do without your form breaking. If a coach ever tells you that something is wrong with your lift or offers a modification, it is only because we want you to practice perfection. Allowing for anything else is not doing you any services!

There are many factors that can influence your ability to either set a new personal record or leave you shy of a previous best. While training on a regular basis is great, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will automatically set a new record every time you test. Being tired or sore from a previous workout, suffering from a bad nights sleep, or just having a sub-par day can all influence your performance. Think of your max attempts as what you are capable for the day. If circumstances are right, you might just set a new best. But it certainly can’t be expected on every attempt (and that’s alright!).

If you picture a graph with all your numbers for a specific lift on it, it is only important that the line slowly rises over time. There will always be ups and downs, but as long as the overall trend is heading in a positive direction the peaks and valleys should be of no concern.

Dip & Drive

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The last three days in our all levels classes we have had a variation of the push press. I’m no psychic by any stretch, but I assume we will see them again soon.

This seems like such an easy movement, however many things can go wrong in a hurry.

If you have been in any of these classes you have definitely heard to send your hips back and drive through your heels. This feels very awkward, and if you have followed these cues, I’m sure we are in agreement.

It feels more natural to bend into our knees and push through our toes extending our calves to get the weight up. And we can probably get quicker results this way.

However, you are putting your body in a vulnerable position. You will undoubtedly feel it more in your knees, ankles, calfs and lower back.

Personally, I have struggled for a long time with the correct sequencing. I know what it is supposed to look like, I know how to cue others to do it, but when it comes to execution I don’t follow through.

Until now!!! My good friend and workout partner, Keela had me practice reps against the wall, while maintaining a vertical torso, then stepping away and pretending myback was still against that wall while going through the push press motion.

After my first training session with these cues in mind, I am already moving a lot better throughout the movement. There is still much room for improvement, but I feel this is the biggest step I have taken on conquering the push press.

The next time you are in class working on the push press, remember these cues!

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!