It is a common myth that eating animal fats will make you fat and cause heart disease. It’s simply not true and it isn’t that simple to explain the causes behind diseases like atherosclerosis. Your body needs cholesterol to survive and be healthy. The cholesterol we eat has little to do with the cholesterol we measure [...]
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.
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.
As I wrote about in “Women and CrossFit – Time to Kill the Weightlifting Myth“, there are many misconceptions and poor role models for women who want to be fit. It isn’t about becoming “skinny” and looking like a supermodel. It is about being healthy, strong, and achieving a level of fitness that is right for you and sustainable for your lifestyle. That is what’s really sexy: Being the strongest you that you can be! So, to prove this point, every week we will feature the strongest and sexiest women as determined by votes from all of you. To participate, you can upload a photo of yourself. Once we approve the photo, it will be available for voting. So, be sure to tell all of your friends about it so that they can come back and vote for you here!
I’m still ramping up my training for the Tough Mudder event in NorCal this September. I’m wearing my Vibram FiveFingers much more regularly and did another 4 mile trail run in a pair of the KSOs. You may recall that I did buy a pair of the KSO Treks earlier and did a trail run in them as well. The fit was a bit too large. They felt fine for walking around, but my smaller toes kept slipping out of their pockets as I started running harder and climbing. So, I bought a size smaller of the KSOs, which are a bit different (better for water, thinner sole). Now my big toe is a bit cramped. Guess I have weird toes.
Dear readers, I would like to hear from you! What do you think are the best bodyweight exercises? In the poll below, select the one bodyweight exercise that you think is the best or write in your own answer. If you could only do one bodyweight exercise, what would it be?
Well, today was the last day of my Paleo Challenge. So we took photos and measurements in CrossFit this morning. We won’t know who the winners are until next week. But, I wanted to do a quick post and share my after photo. The Paleo diet helped me bring out more definition. I lost about 4 pounds that I just couldn’t seem to gain back, but maybe that’s ok.
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.
To continue preparing for the Tough Mudder event, I am still doing CrossFit during the week. But I’ve also added a trail run each weekend to keep improving my endurance and add a bit more cardio work. I ran again in my Vibram FiveFingers to see how they feel on the rocky trail and what it feels like to keep running in cold, wet feet. It was ok. The FiveFingers certainly just let the water come in and your feet are instantly wet and cold. But I found that my feet warmed up as I kept running, so it was tolerable. My feet obviously still need to toughen up more. I felt all of the sharp stones on the trail (it was a really rocky trail). But, the barefoot running style ensures that you are landing lightly on your forefoot and lifting your feet quickly back off the ground again. So, hitting a rock wasn’t nearly as painful as it would be when you stride out and land harder on your heels.
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.