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?

Master the Basics

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While getting started with a new hobby or interest doesn’t seem like it should be a big deal, taking the plunge into something new can be a scary process. It requires humility, true dedication, and most importantly, an understanding that temporary imperfections are just a part of the process of mastering the fundamentals. Working on fundamentals might not come with the glory that high level achievement does, but it is surely the way to advance your abilities.

For this reason, we are offering a free Intro to Yoga Clinic this weekend. Saturday morning, Jessie is going to take you (yes, you) through the fundamentals of yoga for a full ninety minutes. Jessie will focus on the basics, but this clinic is open to everyone; even the experienced yogis among us.

If you’ve ever been curious to see what yoga is all about, or if you have been told that you need to work on your mobility to improve your performance in the gym, then I cannot recommend spending ninety minutes of your Saturday in this clinic enough.

In my line of work, I don’t commonly come across people who are unwilling to work hard. Pushing yourself is deeply engrained in the CrossFit culture. Pushing hard has proven wildly successful, and people are good at it! But pushing yourself to go hard is only a piece of the puzzle. Sometimes, what we really need is to not push at all. So come in and learn not only that yoga really is for anyone, but learn how to let yourself relax!

Step outside your comfort zone and join us this Saturday! Sign up is free!

Reserve your spot here.

Why meatheads need yoga

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Can you deadlift 400 pounds, but not touch your toes? Are you able to do dozens of pull-ups, but unable to reach your back in the shower? Are pistols and handstands out of the question because it is uncomfortable or impossible due to range of motion deficiencies?

How are your overhead squats? Are you able to keep your heals on the ground, getting full depth on your squat, all while keeping the weight centered over your head?

Some, or should I say a lot of us laugh or snicker when asked how often we do mobility or yoga. But we will puff our chests out and brag about the countless hours of lifting that we have done in the past week.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. The difference between those who can consistently snatch 200+ pounds isn’t strength, but flexibility.

I would bet on someone with mediocre strength and good mobility, over someone with great strength and poor mobility any day. Why? Because a high-powered athlete with poor range-of-motion is going to be nursing injuries on the sideline.

What does the Eat Well challenge have to do with my mobility?

For those of us that participated in the Eat Well challenge, not only did we improve our diet and overall health, but more importantly we learned the power of discipline. We saw the effect of our channeled energy towards one main goal. We now know what foods our bodies can tolerate, and which ones we cannot.

The Eat Well challenge had no shortcuts. There wasn’t instant gratification in the sense of that quick fix, like you get from that slice of cherry cheesecake.

You had to put in your time, punching the clock day in and day out, as you marched towards day 45 where your goal would be complete.

I dare you to do the same with your mobility!

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My best recommendation would be to go to a yoga class. This takes the guess work out of trying to figure out what to do, for us meatheads out there.

One or two yoga classes will not give you a bodyweight snatch. But over time an active yoga practice will give you quicker recovery, better focus, increased balance and fewer injuries that keep you from WOD’ing. The list of benefits goes on.

Just know that you have to put your time in. Yes, you will feel amazing when you walk out of yoga each and every time, but the gains pay for themselves.

Make Mobilizing Part of Your Daily Routine

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If you’re like me when it comes to the gym, you’d rather show up, lace up your shoes, and get down to business. Who wants to spend time warming up when there are weights to throw around?

Unfortunately, this is only a fantasy. We all need to put in the work mobilizing to stave off injuries and ensure that we preform at our best.

This is why it’s important to make working on your mobility part of your daily routine.

Whether this means subscribing to Kelly Starrett’s Daily Rx, signing up for yoga three times a week, or using bands and lacrosse balls while you watch the Wild game, you should pick what works for you and stick to it.

Here are some mobility exercises you can do on your own at home or in the gym:

Shoulder mobility.

Hamstring mobility.

Hip mobility. 

Posterior chain mobility.

Hamstrings Like Steel Cables

If you’re like me, and you have hamstrings like steel cables, then you want mobility exercises that work and are easy to do.

First, make yoga part of your routine. Find a class or an instructor that you like, and commit to attending regularly.

Here are three of my go-to dynamic exercises for working my tight, stubborn hamstrings that I do on my own time between yoga classes:

Dynamic hamstring:
This is a fantastic dynamic exercise that works two areas we see time and again: hamstrings and the hip hinge.

Lie on your back with your legs bent. Using both hands, pull your left knee towards your chest until your leg is at ninety degrees. Straighten your left leg. Do a set of twenty then switch sides. Repeat twice on both side.

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Passive leg lowering:
This exercise also targets both your hamstrings and your hip hinge.

Lie flat on your back next to a pole or in a doorway. Place your right leg on the pole. Now, slowly raise and lower your left leg, keeping your left knee locked out. Again, do a set of twenty then switch sides, and repeat twice on both side.

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Waiter’s bow:
Do this exercise and you’ll deadlift like a boss.

Start with your feet hip-width apart, or slightly wider, and your knees bent. Then send your butt back, hinging at the hips until you feel your hamstrings light up. Go as far as you can without compromising your spinal position. Hold for two or three breaths, return to the starting position, and reset. Repeat for three minutes trying to go deeper in the stretch each rep.

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Down and Out

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Lower back pain is nothing to mess with. If you experience any pain in that area you should immediately treat it. You may also want to see a physical therapist or chiropractor if the pain is chronic.

You can also work on those nagging pains yourself at home, at yoga, or after class using equipment we have at the gym. Whatever it takes; you need to get the strained or spasming tissue moving again.

One reason why you could experience lower back pain is because your pelvis is out of position. You can self diagnose this by looking into a mirror and putting your thumbs where the two bones that stick out (interior superior iliac spine) on top of your pelvis are. If one thumb is higher than the other, something is out of whack.

This can also be done with a partner on the backside, above your butt, where the other two bones are sticking out (posterior superior iliac spine).

If you find that you are out of alignment, or if you’re experiencing general lower back pain, check out the videos below. All three of these videos are from MobilityWOD. If you have not joined MobilityWOD yet you should. A one month trial is $8.99. There is a daily video showing how to mobilize all parts of your body. It’s well worth it!

Mobility Exercises

The HyperMobile Athlete and Low Back Pain
You will need a band for this one. Fold the band in half, put both legs through and position the band right above your knees. First, squeeze your butt. Then, brace your abs as if someone were going to punch you in the stomach. Now, to create pelvic torsion, screw your feet into the ground by externally rotating. Once you have done this, with the band around your legs, start to sit down into your squat forcing your knees out.

The Pelvic Fault and Low Back Pain
Lie on your back with your knees pointing up at the ceiling. Bring your feet off the ground creating a ninety-degree angle at your knees. Place one hand above your kneecap, pushing your knee away from you. Place your other hand on your upper shin on the opposite leg, right below your kneecap, pulling towards you. Try to resist both movements by pushing your lower back into the ground. Remain under tension for five seconds, then switch sides. Repeat ten times on each side. I’m no mathematician but I believe this will take an entire two hundred seconds, or three minutes and twenty seconds. About the same time as a commercial on TV.

Help, My Low Back Is Smoked From Jumping
If you are experiencing pain or tightness from jumping, squatting, or long runs, this is a great exercise to loosen up the psoas (muscle that connects your spine to your pelvis), and quadratus lumborum (your obliques of your lower back). Grab a lacrosse ball and place it on the top of your glute, pinning it against the wall, then roll out that area. You can also swing your leg through as if you were jumping while still keeping the lacrosse ball connected to the wall. After ten swings, internally rotate your hip as you swing through. Make sure you do this on both sides so you don’t walk around in circles all day.

Using the same lacrosse ball lie on your back with your feet on the couch or a box. Place the lacrosse ball under your lower back. Start at the spine with the ball and shift your weight from side to side.

If you are having a tough time self motivating, come to one of our yoga classes. You will get ample time to work on problem areas. See you there!

Add power to your game

In golf, hockey, lacrosse, baseball, and pretty much any sport involving a stick, rotation in your thoracic spine is crucial to creating power.

Here are two simple stretches from the Titleist Performance Institute that will help you gain the flexibility you need to get more distance off the tee or increase the velocity of your slap shot. If you don’t play a sport, but you’d like to add to your mobility routine, throw these into the mix.

A-Frame Stretch:
This stretch targets your thoracic spine, shoulders, and chest.

  1. Start in your deadlift position: shoulders back, bend at the knee, hinge at the hip.
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  2. Place your elbow inside one knee.IMG_0678
  3. Reach your other hand behind you and rotate until it’s pointing vertically.
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  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Open Books:
This stretch helps you gain flexibility in your thoracic spine, chest, shoulders, and rib cage.

  1. Lie on your side with your knees bent and pinned together, and your arms out in front of you – place the hand of the shoulder connected to the ground on your knee.IMG_0713
  2. Rotate your top arm all the way across your body, keeping your knees connected to the ground.
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  3. The goal is to touch your knuckles to the ground, keeping your arm at chest level.
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  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.