Are you familiar with the concept of the “redline“? It refers to the maximum engine speed, usually measured by the RPM (revolutions per minute), at which an engine can be operated without causing damage. Human beings have that redline too, but it varies from individual to individual, and it has a lot to do with […]
About 6 weeks ago, I tore a muscle in my leg. Not fun. I do CrossFit 4-5 times a week and I do trail running on the weekend. So, you can imagine how unhappy I was to be injured and forced to do some rest and recovery. I got back into my CrossFit box pretty soon and just focused on upper-body lifts and workouts. But, I couldn’t run or jump. After about 2 weeks, I started adding back leg work again (Squats, OHS) and full-body work (Deadlifts). But, I still can’t run or jump (no box jumps for me). I’ve been doing modified metcons and rowing to keep up my cardio, but it’s nothing like 5 mile runs, of course.
I’ve been using a really firm J Fit foam roller for quite some time now. As I wrote about in this post, using a foam roller is a critical useful tool for increasing blood flow and circulation to your muscles and tissues to promote healing. They can also provide “myofascial release”, which is a technique that results in softening and lengthening of the fascia over your muscles. By focusing the roller on places where you are stiff, sore, or are experiencing reduced flexibility; you can break down unwanted adhesions between the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue. At first the foam roller was pretty painful. But after using it for awhile, I’m used to it and it takes a lot more pressure to work on the knots in my muscles.
Today in CrossFit we did a Conditioning WOD that included the Overhead Squat. The Overhead Squat (OHS) is as much about shoulder flexibility and core strength as it is about leg strength, perhaps even more about flexibility and balance. I’ll be honest; I’ve struggled with the OHS. It isn’t about the weight or my ability to squat it. It’s about my shoulder flexibility more than anything else. As you get down into the deep squat position, you should be able to shrug your shoulders, lock your arms out straight overhead, and actually have those arms somewhat behind your head (i.e., someone should be able to see your ears from the side). When I started doing the OHS, I couldn’t even put my arms that straight overhead with NO WEIGHT! My shoulder flexibility held me back. But, I’ve been working on stretches and using a lacrosse ball to open up the muscles around my scapula and shoulders. It is helping and I can do a better OHS now, but I have a lot more room for improvement before I can add significant weight to this lift.
Sorry, I feel the need to rant a bit today. I just keep seeing too many tweets on Twitter about how proud some CrossFit folks are of their blistered and bleeding hands from doing pull-ups. They are usually referring to high reps of kipping pull-ups. Bleeding hands from pull-ups aren’t some CrossFit “badge of honor”. It’s actually an indicator that you aren’t gripping the pull-up bar correctly. Now, before you get your hackles up and puff out your chest, I had the same problem. When I started CrossFit last year and began doing a high volume of pull-ups, I built up calluses and blisters. I noticed that it kept hurting more and more as that new callused area was getting pinched between the top of my palm and the bar. So, I did some research before it became a bleeding issue and I’ll share what I found below in some photos and a video. You really can avoid it! It’s all about your grip style and it builds up your grip strength and toughens up your hands more evenly.
After many months of researching, shopping, and trial and error; I have finally found a solid pre-workout and post-workout protein recovery drink that works with the Paleo Challenge! You have no idea how hard it is to find a paleo-friendly powdered protein source that doesn’t add sugars (real or fake), soy, dairy products, artificial flavors, etc. But, I finally found a source of pure powdered egg whites with nothing else added. Nothing! I mentioned my new protein powder source yesterday. It has a pretty neutral, blah taste. So, I add it to coconut water to give it a better, sweeter taste and get the health benefits too. Coconut is a great food source when you’re on Paleo!
I actually like all of the exercises that we did for our CrossFit workout of the day today (WOD): Push-ups, Chin-ups, and Dips. I’ve been practicing the kipping pull-up and chin-up, so it was a good day to put it to the test. This WOD is a great way to work on your chest, triceps, and biceps. The chin-ups, in particular, also help you perform better on rope climbing.
Strength training using Olympic-style weightlifting was something I avoided until just a few months ago. For the last 30 years, I have primarily done bodyweight training (e.g., push-ups) and some lighter lifting with dumbbells (e.g., bicep curls). That’s about it. But, when I joined my CrossFit gym a little over 5 months ago, weightlifting was a core component of the training. I dreaded it at first. But, now I have come to realize how much the increases in strength have improved my overall fitness, my cardio performance (e.g., long trail runs), and the muscle tone of my body. It is worth the investment of your time and energy.
We really worked the legs and abs today in CrossFit. The strength training was the Front Squat and the conditioning was a combination of Squat Cleans, Stiff Legged Dead Lifts (SLDL), and Knees-to-Elbows (K2E). I’m really happy with my ab strength progress (been practicing every week), since I was able to knock out 15 K2E with proper form very quickly today. Practice, practice, practice to overcome exercises that challenge you!