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.
I’ve been watching a series of 5 Squat videos from Matt Wenning over at Elite FTS. Oh, and by the way, Matt can squat 1100 lbs. I’m glad that I ran into these today, because tomorrow is our Squat day at my CrossFit box. There are some really great tips on how to maintain proper, powerful, and safe form while doing the squat. He shows a guy adding 40-50 lbs to his max Squat in just one session, thanks to improvements in form. Pretty impressive! Then he wraps up the series talking about how to address your weaknesses through assistance exercises that will help you strengthen the muscles that you need to have work together in more powerful harmony during the Squat. I’ve put the full series of 5 videos together for you below. Enjoy!
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.
My CrossFit workout this morning really hit my overall body with a variety of exercises that worked the core, arms, and legs. I felt it all over! Made me also realize that my forearms were more sore than I anticipated from the 32 Kg kettleball farmers walk and hammers yesterday. I really felt it on the pull-ups and performed a bit weaker than I had hoped. Oh well. Every day can’t be the best day for a given exercise. We did this same workout back in November 2010, so I was able to compare my performance. This is so critical for your motivation!). I took 17 seconds off my time and did much better on my pull-ups this time. Now my goal for the next time I do this WOD is to do everything unbroken. No breaks!
Today’s CrossFit workout was kind of fun! In addition to the usual strength training, we did some conditioning work that included pushing a Jeep. I don’t think I’ve pushed a car or truck since high school, when we either got stuck in the mud or ran out of gas. Who would think that I would do that again someday as a workout that I pay for? Life is funny…
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.
There are very few things that have the motivational impact of progress. Today in my CrossFit workout I felt stronger and faster than I have in awhile and boy does that feel good! A nice affirmation for choosing this new fitness lifestyle. Pace yourself, stay committed, be consistent, and you will see progress. That progress will drive you on and keep you going! It is probably too early to really attribute this to the Paleo diet that I’ve been following, since I only started it this week. But, I do think that cutting out sugars and simple carbohydrates (e.g., bread) has already made me feel better and improved my energy levels. Simple carbs give you a spike of energy, but it drops off fast and you crash.
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!
Ah, the first CrossFit workout of the year today and it was a good one! It was the first time that we’ve introduced L-Pull-ups into the workout and they are not easy to do. I was able to do a pretty good number of them, but not the full number in the WOD (had to fall back to regular pull-ups). So, I have some work to do!