I’m always on the lookout for a new “To Do” type of app that will help me remember to do certain tasks that I’m trying to turn into behaviors. I’ve been successful with a few behavior changes, like working out regularly, but others just don’t seem to stick (like working on my book). The latest […]
I know that statement sounds a bit weird. But, it’s true. Before I began this health journey, I remember a time when I babied my car a helluva lot more than I took care of my own body. I only took my car to hand-washed car washes. I was so careful about the service schedule and […]
I often talk about the knees-to-elbows and toes-to-bar exercises that I do during CrossFit metcons. They are a great way to develop not only your abs, but your entire core. But, they are often hard to perform; either because someone isn’t strong enough to hang off a pull-up bar for that long or because their […]
So, you’ve heard about this CrossFit thing and you’ve decided to give it a shot. But, maybe you are a little worried because you’ve heard about it from friends who do it. Or you’ve watched a few videos of some of the elite (or insane) athletes doing crazy workouts. You don’t think you are that strong, that fast, or that fit yet.
Don’t worry about it.
Seriously. The nice thing about CrossFit is that everything is scaled appropriately for your capabilities and experience. So, everyone starts out light if they aren’t familiar with weight lifting. Heck, for the Overhead Squat I spent weeks using nothing but a wooden dowel until I became more flexible and skilled.
One of the most important things to focus on when you are just starting out is to take the time to get your form and technique perfected before trying to go heavy. Don’t be shy about scaling the lifts and WODs (i.e., workout of the day) by using less weight or scaling the technique (e.g., doing burpees without the push-up component). A good coach will recommend that when you are new and tell how you to scale, because he or she wants you to get the most out of the program and not get injured. So, focus on learning in the first few months (and it does take months) so that you become really good at the lifts and exercises. Then, once you feel comfortable and you’ve worked through the adaptation (you will be sore a lot), you can start adding more weight. Your coach will help you program that.
The L-sit Chin-up is a killer exercise with a movement that is borrowed from gymnastics. It helps strengthen the abdominal muscles, hip flexors, shoulders, back, biceps, and builds up your entire “core”. Your core strength involves all of the muscles of your abdominal region and back, and they are critical for supporting your spine and keeping your body stable and balanced during many different exercises and weightlifting movements. The stronger your core is, the better you will become at lifting weights and body weight exercises; plus you will reduce your risk of injury.
I know a lot of people struggle with push-ups. There are, of course, lots of ways to train your body to perform push-ups. Most people tend to focus on volume: Do more push-ups more frequently. This does work to some degree. I remember when I would just keep doing push-ups all day long, whenever I had a free moment. Just drop and do 10-20 quick push-ups. By the end of the day, I had done anywhere between 150 to 250 push-ups. It certainly helps.
But, my real breakthrough in push-ups came when I started experimenting with isometric push-ups. You’ll find a lot of variations of what people mean by isometric push-ups, but it basically involves doing push-ups very slowly and holding your body at different points in the range of motion. It creates constant tension in the muscles and builds up incredible strength. For mine, I started out with a goal of a 1-minute push-up: Take 30 secs to slowly lower yourself to the bottom of the push-up (do not rest on the floor) and then take 30 secs to push yourself slowly back up to the top of the push-up. Then I worked up to 2-min push-ups. A full minute to slowly lower down and another minute to slowly push back up.
I was reading a good post today that inspired me to say a few words on the subject of fitness and weight loss. I am continually amazed at all of the misconceptions, misinformation, and old-fashioned BS advice that keeps floating around regarding how to lose weight, get fit, and be healthy. There is no magic pill or drink, there is no magical exercise, there is no way to lose weight and be fit while continuing to eat crappy food. Sorry, if you’ve been told that and you believe it, you’ve been lied to (again) and you’re fooling yourself.
On the flip side, if you are already eating healthy, but you refuse to get serious about exercise, you won’t really be fit and healthy either. You may look “skinny”, but you won’t be strong or healthy. And I promise you that your body will eventually pay the price.
Like I said, it isn’t rocket science. If you sat down and had a really deep session of thinking about how our bodies work, why they work the way they do, and were completely honest with yourself; you would come to the same conclusion. To be an optimal physical organism (i.e., fit and healthy), you have to fuel your body with the real food it was built to run on and you need to use that body the way it was meant to be used.
I sometimes use the sports car analogy. If you take the most amazing sports car and put crappy fuel in it, it will run poorly and eventually break down. If you put great fuel in the sports car but you leave it parked in the garage and never drive it, it will eventually break down as well.
It is never too late to start working out and taking care of yourself. The American Senior Fitness Association published some interesting findings from research conducted by a cardiologist named Paul Bhella of the JPS Health Network. The key takeaway was that older adults who exercised regularly were able to maintain their “youthful” hearts and even grow stronger hearts if they exercised even more. As with what I’ve shared in past posts, consistency and intensity of exercise make a huge difference.
I have been doing CrossFit for almost a year and what a journey it has been! For the first 2-3 weeks I was so sore that I seriously couldn’t even walk down stairs. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. I had to find alternative ways to get places. I remember days that I couldn’t lift my arms over my head. I almost quit. I thought I was seriously damaging my body.
I found this article by Lyle McDonald on Bodyrecomposition.com very interesting: How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need? It’s a question that I have been asking myself a lot, since I have been following the Paleo diet and actively do CrossFit every week. I wish there was an easy answer, but there isn’t. The answer is “It Depends“. It depends on who you are, your activity level, and what you want to accomplish (e.g., weight loss, endurance running, muscle building, etc.).