Bouncing Back From Time Off

You've just come back from a cold/flu, tough spot in study/work, a holiday or an injury that has interrupted what was a solid routine. Now two or even three weeks later you are facing your first day back at the gym.

What do you feel you want to do do?

You could go back to exactly where you were at before your immune system was shot to pieces and your nervous system copped pressure with being overworked to simply get better. You could try to hit intensity ASAP, cause heck, you neeeeed to blow off those cob webs. Your recovering back/shoulder/knees 'feel' 100% so let's test it under heavy load.

What would this result in?

A reallllly slow recovery of that niggling cough that's still sitting there, an extra 3-6 weeks on your injury recovery or for those coming back from a holiday, this is honestly the most common time I've seen people over do weights and cause damage.

What SHOULD you do?

Ease back in. Take your time getting back into your routine, getting back in touch with the movements, focus back on technique, slowly bring intensity back in and don't be in a rush to 'get back to where you were'. Be ok with doing a different variation or even a specially made workout tailored for you to help get you back into doing the set programming.

We as coaches want to see your fitness journey progress happily and healthily over time and if we know you have had time off we will always give you a progression that is still challenging but appropriate for where you are at on that day. It's a super important part of our jobs in fact!

Overall, this is just a little reminder that training isn't always a 3-5 days a week, 52 weeks a year routine that is unbreakable. In the same way, progress doesn't happen in a linear direction always going up. Things rift your routine from time to time and the smarter you can be about bouncing back and being adaptable, the more solid and consistent your journey will be over time.

Why You Should Warm Up With INTENSITY

By Scott Somerville

Warm ups, we do them every day and there is a reason for it. This part of the class is
critical and should be hit with as much intensity as the WOD.

The warm up is used to increase blood flow to the muscles that will be used for the
session, decrease stiffness from previous sessions and decrease the risk of injury.

Warming up with intensity and making sure your muscles are actually warm will increase
your speed and strength, increase your range of motion and reduce the chance of pulling
or straining muscles. When the coaches write the warm up part of the class it is designed
for that particular WOD and not just something that is thrown up to fill 10 minutes at the
beginning of the class.

When you finish the warm up you should be sweating and ready to go, if you’re not then
you’re most likely not warm enough to hit that class with maximum effort. Nothing good will
come out of not giving it everything.

We start off with a general warm up and then most days we will have a specific warm up
for the class. The specific warm ups we do for our Olympic lifting days or before the
METCON to warm up for the movements should be done with correct technique and with
the same intensity as the general warm up. There is no benefit just going through the
motions. These warm ups are also the perfect time to practice the movements.

Just as important as the warm up is cooling down and stretching. Stretching after a
workout will lengthen and strengthen the muscles, it will help with recovery and prepare
your body for the next session. Another benefit of cooling down is to get rid of lactic acid
that has been building up while you have been smashing out your WOD. Getting rid of
lactic acid will also help with faster recovery.

When you walk through the door you should put in 100% so you are getting 100% out form start to finish! It's only one hour out of the day. 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF STRETCHING YOUR CHEST MUSCLES – PECTORALIS MAJOR

By Jodie Bennett.

If you lift weights, work in an office or simply struggle with bad posture, chest stretches may be an essential activity missing from your daily routine. The pectoralis major muscle fans out from your arm, reaching your clavicle, the ribs and the sternum. Because it is a very thick muscle, it can easily become tight if you hunch forward or overuse the pectoralis muscles during exercise. If you find it hard to sit up straight, your chest muscles may be tight without causing acute pain. 

When the chest muscles are tight it can be quite a damaging muscle to the posture of the shoulder.  It is responsible for the internal rotation of the shoulder and when dysfunctional can cause issues with the opposing muscles in the back of the shoulder. When it is tight the shoulder rolls forward and the muscles at the back stabilising the shoulder are now forced to work from a compromised/stretched position. This can invariably lead to rotator cuff problems due to poor stability.

Catching a snatch in the right position requires good shoulder mobility.  Having tight chest muscles will never allow us to reach our full potential but not only will it effect our weight lifting it can effect us in our day to day life. A tight chest can through our neck forward causing head aches, it can inhibit our breathing and totally restrict our upright standing position putting so much tension on the muscles in the upper back/shoulder area.

If you are working on better shoulder all round stability you must must stretch you chest muscles to facilitate this. Work one muscle but stretch the opposing muscle.

Here are my favourites – you all know what they are if you’ve been to my mat class at The Pilates & Yoga Shed:

- Lye on the long roller.  

With the whole of the spine supported the arms are out at shoulder height. Like you are on a cross. Feel your shoulders blades rap around the roller and feel a stretch across you chest.

  • Roll on the Lacrosse Ball. 

To maximise this you need to externally rotate your shoulder in other words don’t let it roll in. The pec muscle attaches to the sternum so taking deep breaths while doing this trigger point will promote an active release.

Squatting and Why it is Ok to Regress in the Name of Progress

By Jackie Babington

As most of you know our current major focus is the squat, and as with all things in CrossFit, this is where you stronger units feel like vikings in hitting high numbers and others are faced with working on developing this area into more of a strength (through the inspiration of seeing the squat numbers of our Vikings)
However, lifting heavy numbers doesn’t always mean you are squatting in a way that is progressive. If you’re squatting isn’t quite mechanically sound, then this can result in a few different issues, such as:
- Overuse injuries – when we repeatedly put pressure on areas such as our quads, from sitting into our knees and toes or knees collapsing in during a squat, the surrounding tendons and smaller muscles can strain and tear under the pressure. Compared to our glutes, hamstrings and the surrounding supportive structures, these smaller muscles are simply not made for dealing with heavy loads over long periods of time.

- Lack of Progress – If you are always squatting in and out of weaker muscles or moving in a way that doesn’t allow for the best use of your stronger posterior chain of muscles, this will cause you to hit a bit of a slow or even a brick wall in your strength potential. Often you will notice you will develop a ‘sticking point’ in your squat or even, as mentioned above, hampered by a niggle.

- Issues with your squat in your Olympic lifting – You bet, Poor mechanics in your squat (let’s call it a shitty squat, for a less technical term), lack of progress in squat numbers and injuries will certainly cause for a less than ideal squat position and/or progress in your snatch and clean.

Solution….

This is where regressing and re-developing your squat comes in, with the following things to focus on:

Slow down your descend – This is particularly for those of you that, as I say, ‘drop it like it’s hot’ and like to use the momentum of bouncing to get in and out of the squat. As you all may have seen with the tempo squat and previous pause squats, a lot of you were challenged with having to slow down your descend into the squat and even stay active in the bottom of your squat. Practice slowing down and really keeping the body tight when going into and out of your squat.

Box-squat – or sit your hips back and drive your knees out in the exact same way. This is for the more quad dominant folk (aka, your quads always hurt and your butt NEVER gets sore after squatting). Sitting into the hips and forcing the hamstrings to take the load will really allow you to take the load off your knees

Tightening Your Upper body – If you pick the bar up with hesitation or don’t keep your upper back rock-solid before going into your squat, you are bound for a shaky squat. Bring the arms in close-ish on the bar, elbows back and shoulder blades tight. Your core should be rock solid no matter what and all these will help your nervous system switch on and get more muscle fibres (let’s call it strength potential) kicking in to help you have a better squat position overall.

As I always say, quiz the coaches, ask them to watch your squat closely if it doesn’t feel right and we can then give you something to work on to get you becoming a mechanically sound squat Viking. (aka, a squat Viking without a shitty squat)

The Importance of Unilateral Training.

By Chris Roccisano

Unilateral training is training limbs individually, rather than engaging both sides of the body together. Training this way is highly beneficial in many ways.  Let us start with a quick little study that was published 2004 in the Journal of Applied Physiology. In 1984, Miss Emily M. Brown squeezed a rubber bulb 10 times as hard as possible with her left hand.  She then spent the next thirteen days training her right hand, performing ten maximal contractions each day. When the strength of her left hand was retested thirteen days later, the strength had increased by 43%. Seeing as Miss Brown had only trained her right hand, the authors of the report could only conclude that somehow the training of the right hand had created strength gains in the left. (Carroll, Herbert, Munn, Lee, & Gandevia, 2006) we now know a lot more about this though the study of motor control. (No more studies for now…)

When it comes to strength, the whole is usually less than the sum of its parts. In most cases the total strength of both of your limbs used together is actually less than the sum of the strength of the individual limbs. (Kuslikis, n.d.) This is how unique our bodies are, normally we would think that if two things were working as one they would be stronger but unfortunately, this is not true and is known as “bilateral deficit.” Which mean we need to work individual limbs through unilateral exercise. Everyone has a weak side and by performing only bilateral exercise, your dominant side keeps compensate for your weaker side and furthering the imbalances that could potentially cause injury later in time.

So what can we do? - Unilateral exercises will allow you to train away the deficiency in the weaker side.  When doing these exercises start with the weaker side, after working that side to fatigue do the same number of reps on the stronger side. While you will not be working to fatigue on the stronger side, you will be bringing the weaker side up to meet it, enabling you to strengthen both sides equally as you go forward. (Kuslikis, n.d.)

The good news when doing this type of training is there is no strength loss as the stronger side keeps getting the benefit in the same way Miss Emily M. Brown did, squeezing that rubber bulb. On top of getting the strength more even across the body doing unilateral exercise, it also improves core strength and stability this is because when performing anything with one limb or side you are automatically throw you off balance, and whether you know it or not your body has to recruit muscles that help support you in keeping your centre. Developing these core muscles is important for developing balance and stability, protecting your spine, and cultivating integrated, functional strength. (Kuslikis, n.d.)

Day-to- day activities rarely require bilateral movement. Kicking a footy to carrying groceries is some examples of unilateral movement. Even walking and running are, at their core, unilateral movements. (Kuslikis, n.d.) In conclusion, if you start picking up the slack on your weaker side, you will help your overall strength in perform all elements of CrossFit. Like always if you would like to know more and find out about some different types of exercises please come see one of the coaches for information as there are many great things you can do in the gym before and after class.

Like always have a great rest of the week
Ciao For Now
Be Awesome
Coach Chris

Active Recovery Drill Examples

By Jackie Babington

To round off the topic of active recovery that I touched base on in the last post, here are some handy ways to structure your sessions depending on what you are wanting to work on.

Core development

A great way you can structure this is by:

1. Choosing 3 key movements -
- hollow rock progression (extended, legs up and arms forward, knees bent and arms forward)
- plank variation ( forearms + toes, marching up onto hands + back to elbows, taking one hand or foot off the ground at a time)
- something dynamic like sit ups, GHD's or V-ups
2. Then pick a format -
- AMRAP
- rounds for time
- 30secs work : 30secs rest
- EMOM
3. Make sure it is always varied and focus on quality as a priority.

Develop stability/ gymnastics movements

There are a tonne of these movements you can chip away at but to narrow down some key ones and structures:

1. Pick 1 movement -
- handstands
- pistol squats
- kipping or butterfly pull ups (if you are hitting the standards for these)
- transitions for muscle ups
- L-sit hang or hold on rings or bar.

2. The best formats for this are -
- Accumulating time in the movement (like working up to 5mins in a handstand or L-sit with minimal breaks)
- EMOM ( eg, 8 x kipping/butterfly pull ups on the minute, keeping quality your focus)
- Note : You're not trying to get a work out here, you are improving the 'art', timing and/or stability of these movements.

Working on Mobility

Getting feedback from the coaches to figure out you're 'red flag' mobility issues is a great start, then:

1. Pick 3-5 Stretches or mobility movements focused on improving key issues
2. Aim to stay in the stretch, foam roll or use a mobility ball for 2-5mins
3. Mobilise for 20-30mins in total

These structures should give you a good place to start from and as always, if you need any extra ideas or help with things to work on, grab a coach and we can set you in the right direction.

You are only as strong as your weakest muscle.

By Chris Roaccisano.

This sentence can sometimes be hard to hear especially when everything is going well and you are seemingly getting stronger…but the truth of the matter is that if you continually keep growing when you have not addressed the weaker muscles in your movement pattern, you will end up with more regressions, plateaus and frustration down the track, not to mention muscle imbalances that can have a higher potential for injury.

When I found out that I my glutes were not activating through certain movements I shrugged it off at the start. I thought to myself that this could not be the case as I have a decent back squat and deadlift, not realising that just because those two movements are somewhat strong, and what looks to be proficient, are actually results from restricted and non-firing muscles. Which in this instance has made different muscles take the load of the glutes.

The body doest work in isolation, but it does have favourite patterns of movement.  The body is super-efficient and will find the shortest possible way to get from point A to point B using as little energy as possible and because of this we can run into problems.

Firstly, make sure that everything is firing correctly is a major part of becoming the best version of you. You may have heard that we are a system of systems, this is also true for muscles. All the muscles need to work in unison, contracting and relaxing to provide the best output for the movement. So if we have something that is not working, for example glutes in a squat then how are we going to get stronger when that muscle doesn’t know it is working?

Secondly we need to make sure that the non-dominant muscles are being work in the same way as the dominant ones. If you always do more reps on your “good side” then how is the weaker side ever going to catch up? The short answer is it’s not, and in fact the disparity between them is going to keep growing making it harder to fix.

So what can we do? I’m going to give you all a few things to think about when you next train and see if you can apply any of these tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your training.

1. Always start on the weaker side when you are doing unilateral (single sided) exercises.

2. Don’t train to failure – It is not needed and can lead to over use issues in correcting the problem. Also it can stop you from training efficiency and effectively, and maybe even all together for a while.

3. Do an extra few reps on the weaker side – this is always a favourite of mine, give yourself the permission to have a bit of OCD and make sure you copy what you have done on one side across to the other no matter what.

4. Start thinking about how you pick items up and put items away…try using the other hand when picking up the barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, box, rower, anything really.

5. Focus on extra work after class that is an auxiliary to WOD - do it with dumbbells or kettlebells (single sided work), it’s a great way to get extra reps out.

One thing I found helpful was looking at the work that needed to be done as a second chance to perform things correctly and build some new muscle. After all that is what you are doing when correcting a problem in the body, and new muscle is awesome…don’t you agree?

In conclusion, it might not seem like it needs to be done today, but one day it will catch up and the plateaus will be real and lasting. So instead of waiting for it to happen, be on the front foot (non-dominant first:) and workout all the weaker muscle just as much, if not a little more for now to help them become just as strong.

Have a great rest of the week and see you in class.

Ciao for now
Be awesome
Coach Chris

What is Active Recovery?

By Jackie Babington.

Active recovery is basically, using low-intensity movement to help promote blood flow through the body and re-fill the areas we have forced fluid out of during exercise. This can, if done properly, assist in the improved recovery of sore muscles and a smoked nervous system.

What are some specific things I can do?

- Work on some of your core development drills (which I will specify in my video blog)
- Do mobility (ROMWOD is very handy for this with videos you just follow along with)
- Try a low-intensity yoga class (this is the perfect time to use your free session at the Pilates and Yoga Shed*)
- You can also work on stability movements like holding a handstand or practicing your pistol squats
- If you feel you are injury prone or need to pre-hab your shoulders, knees or back (this is basically strengthening smaller weak muscles that can often be a contributor to you getting niggles/injuries ), asking one of the coaches for ideas of things to work on can make a big difference in staying on top of these.
- Massage is also a really lovely way to actively recover from an intense few days of training.
- Try a sport you’ve never tried, go kick a football, practice cartwheels in a park somewhere or just go for a gentle long walk.

Remember, you are always welcome to come into the gym on your rest day to hang out and do some low intensity work. If you need help, we are always around to lend a hand and give you things to work on. In addition to this we have some really handy posters pinned up around the gym with ideas you can do on your rest day.

Although Listen to your body when it comes to choosing your rest days as some weeks you may need one or two extra days for whatever reason, so do what you know is best for your body.

Overtraining (as mentioned in my first rest and recovery video) has a wide range of issues that come with it, so be kind to your body as, although its strong, it’s not indestructible.

The dangers of self-diagnosis or Google/ YouTube-diagnosis

As a budding young trainer with the want to give my clients every answer as quickly as possible (and look super knowledgeable) I am very guilty of having done this in my early years as a PT. When I have a client in front of me worried they can't achieve their goals because of an existing knee injury or health issue they have never had looked at, I wanted to be the person to solve their problems. However, having gone through issues personally that affected my training, overtime I truly understood the importance of getting a true professional/coach to help me work on my injury or training sticking point.

With injuries/ niggles, Google can't look into the issues below the surface or screen you for potential problems. A visit to Dr Google for 'knee pain exercises' may result in you exacerbating an injury through the exercises spat out in a search engine. Don't waste time and effort making it worst and get it seen to by someone who can tailor the treatment to an issue they are trained for years to find.

The same goes for training related issues, and commonly Olympic lifting. I've often seen members video taping their lifts, only to look at them with their untrained eye in an effort to try and find a problem they can fix. Don't get me wrong, I love it when you guys take a keen interest in your training and doing personal research. Although YouTube videos can be handy in getting additional training tips with gymnastics (even these can be limited to higher ability levels) , it isn't the best for self-diagnosing an issue in YOUR Olympic lift. Every class in the CrossFit VSC timetable has at least 2-4 coaches on to help you with these exact issues. Heck, that's what we live and breathe and many of us have years of experience under our belt closely watching clients movements and troubleshooting issues to help them progress. This is a massively valuable resource and, if used properly and advice taken on board, you can get a huge benefit from.

We love seeing you guys do well and getting the solutions you need quickly, so give us a heads up on injuries or training sticking points and we will always do our best to point you in the right direction (Google and YouTube don't care like we do...lol)

The Deadlift, Why it is Important from a CrossFit View.

By Chris Roccisano

The deadlift is called the ‘King of Mass-Builders’ in some fitness circles. Understanding why it is important might sway your reasoning mind to do them more often. At a face-value point of view, the deadlift is an easy movement, all you have to do is pick the weight off the ground. But the way you do that is a little more complex and making sure that all muscles are firing together can seem hard when you are first learning this lift. In this lift we can see amazing growth throughout the whole body from the core, back, glutes, hamstring, grip and so many other muscle groups. Engagement of all these muscles in a unified way is where the magic exists, so let’s have a look at why more muscle utilization is best for us.

When it comes to building muscle and becoming stronger we need to understand that we can do this in a few ways, we want to work the muscle we are aiming to grow and we also want to provide intensity (the amount of weight) and volume (the amount of reps and set) so that together we can stress the muscle in a way that will then help it grow. So instead of focusing on one muscle at a time we can perform the deadlift and hit nearly every muscles in the body in one go, it is the biggest bang for buck exercise going around, it even utilizes more muscles at once than the squat does. This can save you time per session which allows for more session per week to happen and that’s how a stronger ‘you’ is made in the long run.

Adaptation, in reality the deadlift should be your biggest lift, putting that much stress on your body due to the heavy weights will allow your body to adapt and normalise that load, which means that everything you do in CrossFit will feel a lot lighter, including your WODs. Let’s do a little example. Let’s say you have a 1 Rep Max (1RM) of 250kg in the deadlift. If we work backwards from these numbers we can see that doing a WOD like 17.4 which was 16.4 which had 55 deadlifts at 102kg in it. At a 1RM of 250kg, the percentage of the WODs weight is roughly 40% of your 1RM which means that 102kg is your warmup and that’s the weight that you would put on the bar for the WOD. Imagine that, imagine that every time the coaches showed you a WOD all you ever had to put on the bar was your warmup amount, how easy would the WOD be? How many extra round would you get out?

So I invite you over this next two-month period at VSC to really enjoy the focused element which is the deadlift. Have fun with it, there is no better feeling than lifting some heavy weights off the ground and learn as much as you can about it, so you can use the new techniques (and new strength too) in your next WOD. Like always, please feel free to come see me or any of the other coaches in class for a more in depth look at the deadlift because you will soon see the changes in your strength and understand why it is one of the coaches’ favourite movements to prescribe.

But for now, stay strong have a great week, a very happy and safe Easter, and I will see you all in class, 

Ciao for now, be awesome, Coach Chris.

 

References

"55 Reasons Why The Deadlift Exercise Is The Best Of All Time". The PTDC. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

"Deadlifts: The King Of Mass-Builders?". Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

Johnson, Jake. "The Vast Importance Of Deadlifting - I'm Jake". I'm Jake. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

The Open and Reassessing intensity

By Jackie Babington

What REALLY is intensity?

'Exercise intensity refers to how much energy is expended when exercising. Perceived intensity varies with each person. It has been found that intensity has an effect on what fuel the body uses and what kind of adaptations the body makes after exercise. Intensity is the amount of physical power (expressed as a percentage of the maximal oxygen consumption) that the body uses when performing an activity'  ( Thanks Wikipedia )

So the Open is over. The cheers of your team to pump you up and the handful of others in your heat is over. The 'got nothing to lose', 'I'll give it everything I've got, cause heck, it's the Open' and 'I'm gonna hit this one hard, cause this is my jam!' headspaces are over. I know everyone will have learnt something valuable in this years workouts (eg, time to work on muscle ups) and found new movements they can start to conquer after their first time hitting them in the Open. 

But one thing a lot of us can tend to forget once it's all finished is, the intensity of these workouts helped us achieve. There were so many members I heard say 'I don't think I've ever pushed that hard in a normal workout'. Well, what I want to know is, why not? Now I'm not saying you should hit Open-like intensities in every single workout of the week. Of course, as everyday Crossfitters with things we still need to function for like kids, work, being able to walk down stairs and sit on the toilet effectively this doesn't work out awesome on a daily basis.

Intensity = Progress

As mentioned in the description of intensity, it is really important for progress as the higher the intensity the better chance you have of taking bigger steps forward with your training results. When we force our body more out of it's intensity comfort zone, then we are essentially forcing it to adapt to a new level of what we perceive to be challenging, both physically and mentally. Intensity, just like our our many other skills in CrossFit, is something we need to continually practice.

So the next time you hit a workout, part-way through, mentally touch base and see if you've got another gear you can kick up to and 9 times out of 10, I'm pretty confident to say there is always a little more you can push. If all else fails, refer back to how hard you pushed in the Open workouts to give you perspective on if you are giving the majority of workouts in your week, your all. You've got nothing to lose and lots to gain. Enjoy!

Three ways you can be a little more awesome...

By Jackie Babington

Fuel with Fire: (more of a rehash for food challenge participants and a reminder for everyone else) Clean, simple and close to the source food is made to give us so many good nutrients in a way it was presented to us in nature. Well fuelled machines always work best, so fuel your body like a formula one car!! Quantities that enable us to train effectively but don't stifle our fire. If you overfuel the engine, our bodies like storing it for later (aka increase body fat) or simply work slower when we have too much in our tank. Learn to develop ways to find moderation in your food intake (simply eating clean, healthy food with plenty of fibrous green vegetables helps naturally moderate your satiety and minimise overeating) Drinking plenty of water (even when it's cold), as our strength potential is really affected by hydration. Our muscles are made up of 50-60% of water so even a 10% drop in hydration can affect your lifts dramatically. Dehydration + no gains = an unhappy Crossfitter!!

Get more Flexy: If your tight, when was the last time you worked on it outside of the stretching in class? Ask one of the coaches for some awesome stretches you can do outside of class to help improve areas you know suck for you and are hampering your ability to move well. Not sure what to work on? Ask yourself.... are your able to move weight overhead without restriction or do your elbows stay bent? Can you consistently hit full depth in squats without the coaches giving a little reminder to go deeper? Are there any of the stretches in class you struggle to do? If there are issues in any of the above flexibility areas then it's super important that you put in extra time to work on these to even out some of the creases in your foundations.

Training Tracking, Visions and goals: if you never measure, then how can you see progress? Many (I'm pretty confident) come into CrossFit wanting to see improvements, but so many never pop their scores into Zenplanner at the end of the workout. This little app is super handy for helping you see how big your gains have been over the year and also for helping you workout percentages that almost always come up in strength pieces. In addition to tracking your progress, having solid, locked in goals gives you direction to steer your efforts. Both having a combination of awesome goals and visions (see Adam or Tan for more structure with this) and keeping a track of your performance makes your time in CrossFit move faster in a forward direction and prevent you from feeling like you're stuck in a training rut. Just making small improvements in the above areas can help move you in a more kick butt direction, not only in CrossFit but in the way you move, feel and function in the rest of your day.

Enjoy chipping away ❤️❤️

The Importance of Progressions 

By Scott Somerville

One of the most rewarding parts of being a Coach is seeing an athlete establish the fundamentals, get consistency in their workout and then build off them overtime to reach their goals. All of VSC’s programs utilise progressions so we can work with an individual to help build strength, muscle memory and to reduce the chance of an injury by teaching the correct technique.

The gymnastics movements in CrossFit can be challenging. Most of us will find these movements difficult and sometimes frustrating - thankfully this is where progressions help. Progressions are the base for all gymnastic movements. Skipping past progressions and trying to achieve the end result quickly rarely works. Coaches take on the responsibility for the safety of the athletes and will ensure that the progressions are safe for each individual whilst still making sure it is challenging and that they are progressing with the movements.  

There are so many different levels of fitness and skill levels at every box, taking some time to assess where you are with your movements and where you want to be is a great way to set goals. Progression, hard work and determination are what will get you there. Always keep in mind when aspiring to reach a goal, “What are the progressions I need to learn and practice to get to where I want to be?”

Some progressions to kipping pull ups include hollow rocks and Superman, banned pull ups, negative pull ups, strict pull ups and C’s & D’s. These will all help with engaging and building the muscles to safely achieve pull ups whilst also teaching the athlete the correct technique. Even when the kipping pull up has become a handy tool in slashing time off your WODs, it’s important to remember that the progressions are always there to help build technique and strength.

Coaches will also use progressions or scaled movements to keep the athletes moving safely through the workout at a high intensity, this will make you better at CrossFit and will move you forward in learning how to correctly execute the movement.

Learning and practicing progressions are so important to an athlete’s growth and achieving performance goals. Put in the hard work and you will reap the benefits! If it’s good enough for CrossFit Game athletes to continue practicing and developing through the help of progressions, then it’s good enough for all of us. 

Remember you can’t run until you learn to walk! 

 

 

 

 

The Open 2017

By Chris Roccisano

In 2016, 324,307 was the number of registered athletes from 175 different countries. 58% male and 42% female with a mix between teens, open and master divisions all in the running to be the fittest on earth. For some of athlete this statement rings true, a lot of people out of that 300 plus thousand want to be the ‘Fittest male or female on Earth’ and that is amazing, awesome and truly aspiring but what about the rest of us, why should we be interested in it?

When I first started CrossFit, I was really excited about the “Games”, “Regionals” and the “Open” and to be honest nothing has really changed. I just love being in the gym, pushing myself, learning something new and being part of a community that is so supportive, we have a very special and unique community that is like no other and it is this time of year that always puts a massive smile on my face because it reminds me of my first open experience…let’s go back to 2014.

“Chris are you doing the open 14.1?”
“Al…of course I am, it looks pretty simple and I was hoping for more.”
“Yeah I know, it starts in 2 weeks and the first event is ONLY a 10 minute AMRAP of 30 double-unders and 15 power snatches”
“I know its only two exercise, and now that I have my double-unders its going to be awesome”

I looked at this workout and I thought; Yeah pretty easy, I should get though at least one round per minute. I just got my double-unders last week in practice and snatches are easy as, (mind you my 1RM was 45kg at this point in time) I reckon I should do well. So here I am, 7 seconds before the ‘beep’ focused, ready. I looking at my rope, then at my bar and thinking to myself I just have to keep moving the rest will happen…and boy did it, you should have seen me move, it was something else…no really it was something else I must have looked ridiculous because at the end of it I had whip marks up and down my arms, my shoulders felt like they were on fire and I only completed 2 rounds and 13 reps. After falling to the ground and yelling at the whiteboard for lying to me, I remember getting a helping hand up off the ground, a pat on my back, a hi-five and one of the boys saying good job. Even know I knew I did the least amount of rounds and reps in the box I still had the biggest smile on my face because I felt that I was a part of the something bigger and after 14.1 finished everything seemed to click into place. I started to see the why in CrossFit. The open helped me to understand myself differently and in a much better way.

I wanted to learn more, get better at my weaknesses and to push myself, which then led me to see a small glimpse of my potential but more importantly I started noticing how much happiness it brought me and how much fun I was having.

So I am here today to hopefully help you with a decision. I am not saying that you will get the same experience out of the open as I did or that you will feel the same way but what I am saying is that I hope you take up the opportunity to share in something that could change your life, to find out more about yourself, to be a part of the greater community, to show yourself you can do it and most importantly to have fun. I have seen you work out, the progress you have made, the commitment to your training, all the hard work you have put in and with that said it is time to reward yourself with fun and excitement that the open brings.

As it stands the CrossFit 2017 Open is around the corner. I will be one of the thousands in it this year, a bit wiser and with a different goal in mind but the main priority is always to have as much fun as I can. I really hope that you will join me and the rest of us in creating and sharing this amazing experience too because I can just about guarantee that you will love every minute of every WOD and you will be kicking yourself for a year if you miss out.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week and I will see you at the Friday Night Lights

 

Know Your Coaches at CrossFit VSC

'Being able to help people hit mini wins and work on crushing their weaknesses is one of the biggest reasons I love Coaching’ - Jackie Babington

“I love helping people believe in themselves, getting them to do things they thought they couldn’t.” - Chris Roccisano.

“Seeing people's enjoyment after the WOD is done and camaraderie it brings is what Coaching is all about, I love it” - Jodie Bennett

“I love Coaching and seeing the look on the athlete's face when they achieve their goals!” - Scott Sommerville

“I Coach to influence change, change in mind set, change in lifestyle, change to increase people potential.”- Tania Winter

“Being able to share the happiness I feel when I CrossFit with others is why I do what I do.”- Adam Winter

 

At CrossFit VSC we are a general population, fitness for life gym.  
What does this mean, it means we train your everyday person to become stronger, fitter and better than they have ever been.  We can take a member with no prior experience in training, and over time and with careful direction, we can turn them into a fantastic advanced athlete.  

At CrossFit VSC we are super lucky to have Coaches that have a genuine interest in the people they are Coaching.  The Coaches at VSC are very motivated and educated and seek no greater high than that which comes from getting an athlete to become the best they can be.  This is a Coaches income, this is what makes Coaching rewarding, this is what energises a coach at 6am and keeps them going with the same enthusiasm to 8pm.  

The above can all be summed up in one word- Passion. 
Passion cant be learned - you either have it or you don't.

The Coaches at VSC are driven by passion and it is this quality that makes them outstanding Coaches.  Coupled with passion the Coaches at VSC have countless hours of experience working with all different types of people and a number of qualifications ranging from Nutrition to gymnastics to weightlifting.  
The calibre of our Coaching staff is well equiped to take you from whiteboard warrior to top 1000 in the Australian Open. All that you need to do as an athlete is listen to what they are saying and trust in their guidance.

The Athlete:Coach Relationship

“A Coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, 
who has you see what you don't want to see, 
so you can be who you have always known you could be” - Tom Landry

Make no mistake, if you Crossfit, your an athlete.

It is the Coaches job to help you achieve what you want to achieve as an athlete, however to get to this end result there are many steps that as an athlete you may not realise you have to take.  To reach the maximum off your potential, you need to have the patience, ability and above all integrity to take direction from those that know how to get you to your peak performance. 

It is important to know that your Coaches not only have studied countless hours of literature about exercise physiology, they have also trained thousands of people over the space of their careers.  This gives them a unique insight into improving movement patterns of the human body and how to fix incorrect movement patterns that have been created.  It allows them to analyse what you are doing as an athlete, and build a plan on how they can make you better.  

Understanding that your Coaches are here to help you is vital for your success and will allow you to break through your barriers.  If you do not understand how something works or want to know more about something we are doing, simply ask the Coaches and they can further explain and get you closer to your goals.

Ability vs Knowledge.

There is a belief that exists in some people that every CrossFit Coach needs to be the greatest athlete in the world before they can Coach others.  As you are now all aware, CrossFit is bloody hard and to be awesome at everything takes time.  Your Coaches are actively working on becoming the best they can be and are much further along on their CrossFit journey than the athletes they coach.  This gives them an insight that must be trusted.

If you look across many sports, some of the best athletes in the world don't make the best Coaches, and some of the best Coaches in the world are not the best athletes.  There are many reasons for this and every reason is very individual in their nature.  
Most Coaches just simply make better Coaches than athletes.

Take a look at Usain Bolts Coach Glen Mills OD for example:

Coach Glen Mills OD and Usain Bolt

Coach Glen Mills OD and Usain Bolt

Although extremely knowledgeable in his field, Coach Glen Mills was not much of a runner himself however had the passion and the knowledge to help people become the best they can be.  With Coach Glen Mills knowledge and Bolts relentless drive he has helped make the phenomenon that is Usain Bolt.

Every Coach worth their salt, is always on the pursuit of more information, new knowledge, constantly learning new things that will help them teach others.  Your VSC Coaches are relentless in this pursuit! If they cant answer something on the spot, you can bet they will have the answer next time they see you.  

Utilise your Coaches to become the best that you can be, and always know all the Coaches at VSC are here to help, support and guide you in any and all fitness endeavours you have.

 

Slow Is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is fast

What this relates to is our ability to stay consistent with our movements and move through each workout safely, effectively and relentlessly.  

We have all been there, continually missing reps in a WOD, getting frustrated and recording a dismal result.  This can be in relation to Olympic lifts or any gymnastic movements.  

There are many reasons that can cause this, some of which maybe because we are trying heavier weights in a met-con, or trying new movements that we haven't done before or simply because we are just having a bad day.  Couple the above with the pressure created when the timer starts and when people you usually beat in WODs start to overtake you and you have a recipe for a shit time!
When this happens in a WOD, if not addressed will lead to spiral of swearing, frustration and usually end with questions of “why am I doing this?” or “Am I getting worse at CrossFit?”

How to combat a Shit time:
As soon as you realise your having one of those days, step back for a second, take a deep breath and slow down.  This where the title of this at blog comes into play. When you slow down- 
-You are able to focus on the movement at hand,
-You remember the movement and how it works,
-You can catch your breath, and
-You are able to hear the Coaches cues.  

Slowing down allows the movement to become smooth and constant.  You will spend less time resting between reps and will move from one exercise to another without hesitation.

To be clear, slowing down doesn't not mean dropping your intensity, it means slow down so you can achieve the movements you are attempting and work consistently thought out the WOD.

The more you practice slow is smooth, smooth is fast, the overall speed in which you complete WODs will increase.  

The best example of Smooth is fast, fast is smooth is the awesome Rich Froning.  In every workout that you see Froning compete in you will see that his first reps look exactly like his last reps.  Although he looks like he is moving slowly he rarely stops to rest other than to take a deep breath in and then continues destroying every WOD.  His ability to stay composed throughout a workout allows him to stay consistent and leave his competitors in his wake. 

Check out the video belowof Froning completing a Snatch Ladder with increasing weights. Notice that Fronings first reps and last reps are almost identical and his composure is constant throughout the entire WOD.

 

So next time you find your WOD going pear shaped, step back and slow down- I promise you will be surprised at how much more efficient you can be.

For more information on this topic or any other, please don't hesitate to ask the Coaches at VSC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consistency, Challenge and Rest.

By Jackie Babington.

Three really important elements I have found in your approach to CrossFit that give the BEST bang for buck are:

Being consistent - not only in your training frequency but consistent with standards, nutrition, hydration, with being coachable, with your flexibility, working on weaknesses and with challenging your mindset. Which brings me into....

Challenge - consistently challenging yourself on your weakness is a sure fire way to get good at CrossFit.... FAST. This is something that's just so easy to stray away from cause simply, hanging outside our comfort zone is just a yucky place to be. However, we've all had those workouts that started as 'oh not snatches/I hate running/yuck Burpees/I suck at wallballs'..... got through a workout and ended on ' that was horrible but I'm glad I did it/ yay my snatches feel better/ wallballs still suck but I got through them easier'. It's these moments we progress from both mentally and physically but it just takes one or two steps outside that comfort zone to reach it.

Rest rest rest - To balance these out nicely rest needs to also be consistent and a really a priority, especially for those of you looking to increase training frequency or compete. CrossFit is intense, that's what we love about it and this also challenges our nervous system (sometimes our soul on certain workouts!). This is why it is super important that we are kind and give it a rest day on a consistent basis and plenty of solid sleep.

Training 3 days on and 1 day off, then 1-2 days on 1 day off can be a good approach to make sure you get 2 consistent rest days in a week. 

If we don't get an effective sleep cycle and fail to drop into R.E.M. Stage of our sleep cycle (this is the stage where our body best repairs muscle tissue and recharges our nervous system) then our progress can be hampered.

Overall everyone has a different journey they're on with their CrossFit. Some of you love the competitiveness and shooting for the elite level, some are just happy to be able to make it 3 x a week, some use it as therapy and others have CrossFit as an awesome hobby that happens to keep them healthy. Whatever level your at, make sure you are always looking for ways to move outside your comfort zone, have fun in your workouts and be kind to your body along the way.

 

 

4 Easy Holiday Workout Ideas

By Scott Somerville

It’s that time of year again - holidays! You have worked your butt off and you well and truly deserve a holiday away... but don't forget the hours of hard work you have put in at the box.

Holidays are a great time for you to unwind and celebrate everything you have achieved throughout the year. A time to catch up with family and friends, indulge in food you wouldn’t normally eat every day, and booze you definitely wouldn’t drink every day. Keeping up with your exercise will mean you don’t return from your holidays feeling sluggish. It will keep you motivated, and give your body that extra energy to enjoy the festive season and help you get back at the box in 2017.

We all know how hard that first session back at the box is after the holiday season, especially if you don't keep up with a little bit of fitness. So, let’s make this easy! All you need to take with you is your rope, the hotel, resort or holiday house will provide the rest. 

Here are 4 quick and easy workouts you can do while you’re away from the box:
Remember to always spend about 10 minutes doing a good warm up!

Day 1 - 3 rounds, 30 Double unders, 15 push ups, 30 air squats
Day 2 - 150 air squats for time
Day 3 - 5 rounds, 30 second hand stand hold, 20 sit ups, 20 lunges
Day 4 - 7 minutes of burpees

You get the idea on how simple it can be – keep it going and make up your own workouts and get stuck into it. Be creative, you really can do a heap of workouts without ever leaving your hotel room or house. 

You can even find exercise that will seamlessly fit into your day. While you’re out and about enjoying the sunshine, and exploring new surroundings, go for a run or find a walking trail or practice your double unders in the open air. If you’re in a hotel or resort check out the gym, hit up the rower on one of the days and then cool off with a swim in the hotel pool or the beach.

Exercising while you’re away will create a moment for you to switch off and focus on you to recharge. Keeping it short and impactful, will make you feel so much better about what you’re eating and drinking.

Don't make these workouts stressful, make them fun and work on some weaknesses to help you hit the ground running when you get back to the box. Remember the CrossFit Open is in February!

If you need any other ideas or help with workouts while you’re away feel free to hit up any of the coaches at VSC.

Enjoy your well-earned holidays and Merry Christmas!

 

Considerations For Goal Settings

By Chris Roccisano

So you are six months to a year or two into CrossFit and everything is going well. You have stepped up the consistency of your training from “I can’t walk the next day”  to “why are my hands always sore?”.  Rarely missing a day of training, unless it’s a “rest-day” and furthermore, training is the only thing you look forward to at the end of your work day…so what’s next in your fitness journey?

You always hear about goal setting. Simply write down a goal, put some steps in to help you achieve that goal and BINGO you will achieve it.  Unfortunately, it is not that simple and can be detrimental to think it is that easy.  Without proper planning or consideration of ALL factors you are likely to miss your targets more often than you hit them. So what is proper goal setting and why should you care about it.

Firstly, let’s look at the process in a more holistic view and you will see that an individuals goal is the result of many systems that make up the overall picture that is goal setting. The list below are some factors to consider when thinking about your individual goals, designed to integrate with each other to help achieve the best possible outcome for you.

1. Personality Inventory- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
2. Motivation- What are your motivations?
3. What do you want to achieve?
4. Self-Talk- Do you respond to positive or negative cues?
5. Psychology - What type of person are you- driven? Self motivated? Optimistic? Do you have integrity?
6. Discipline- can you stay on track? are you focused and committed? 
7.Stress & Anxiety Management- How do you cope with pressure?
8. Imagery- Can you visualise what you want?

So what does this all mean:

  1. From a Coaches’ eye, If we know more about you we can better understand:
    -why you are training.
    -What approach yields the best response from you.
    -What you need to focus on.
    -Help priorities the important stuff.
    -Keep you on track, and
    - Keep you focused and motivated.

        2. From Your eyes:
            -Understanding the real steps and time frame to achieve your goal.
            -Whether or not it is the right goal for you at this point in time.
            -Seeing where you are at the present time.
            -Understanding how to optimise your approach
           - Understand the unknowns that might be limiting you at the moment.

So whether you are a Rx athlete, sports focused person or someone who just wants to be fit for life, having an understanding of, 

  • where your are now, 
  • where you want to be and 
  • how your going to get there,
    Will increase your ability in training and maximise your potential for success.

Like always, it’s a pleasure and if you have any questions please feel free to ask me next time we are in the gym.  Keep your eyes forward for some more information regarding this topic and have a great rest of the day.

Ciao for now • Be Awesome • Coach Chris 

As I always say ‘You train how you eat’

By Jackie Babington.

Simply, if you eat junk you’ll train like junk, but on the flipside if your eating great, your training will feel awesome.

I just wanted to touch base on some of the essentials of pre-training fuel and the issues I’ve seen a few members having recently:

Not eating enough throughout the day and coming into a session feeling flat and light headed. 

Our muscles need a certain amount of glycogen and overall good clean nutrition to get through high intensity exercise like we do in CrossFit, and if your running on empty or eating poor quality nutrition, your strength and overall capacity will be really affected. It’s essential that you get a good balance of food through out the day so your muscles have enough fuel and you can get the most out of your training sessions. Not having enough fuel can also affect your ability to maintain good technique throughout the session which can put you at risk of hurting yourself.

Solution – Try having a piece of fruit and some nuts or a small snack around 1-1 ½ hrs before training. If you are pushed for time, grabbing a small protein bar (although not super ideal) from a petrol station is better than running on empty. But most important thing is to be organised.

Eating too much or the wrong thing prior to the session. This can make you generally feel unwell and that can be really off putting in a session. Having too much food in your stomach causes fluid to pool around your stomach as our body prioritises blood flow to this area during digestion of food (and more so in large meals). This, just like not eating enough, can cause you to feel light headed and flat. It’s a similar mechanism to a fire, whereby if you put too much fuel on the fire, it goes out.

Solution – Keeping pre-training food (again without being obsessive) in the 2-3hrs prior to the session relatively light and making sure you have a loose plan with what you’re going to have. If you’re going out for a ‘big’ lunch at work make sure you keep it scaled down and your training will be much more enjoyable.

Not having enough water is another big issue I’m seeing.

Just like over and under eating this can cause lightheadedness, an overall feeling of low energy, and poor strength performance. Studies have shown that even a 2-3% drop in overall body hydration can have an impact on strength output!! Now add in a hot day, 2 coffees and a crossfit session… That’s a lot of awesome performance your missing out on from not being on top of your water intake. In addition to this our bodys ability to recover from training can be really affected by poor hydration.

Solution – Make sure you are aiming for 2-3litres of water throughout the day. The best way is to get a big water bottle that you won’t forget about or that wont easily get lost in your car or bag. Another method is having a goal for how much water your going to get in before a certain time in your day (everyone loves a little challenge ☺ )

Overall good balanced nutrition and optimal hydration will make your Crossfit journey a much more enjoyable and progressive one, because, lets face it, we all love crushing workouts on a regular basis.