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 [...]
I just read this article a couple of days ago and it compelled me to share some thoughts. Why Adding Weight to the Bar Is the Whole Damned Point How was it possible that grown-assed men who have been doing CrossFit for over three years were struggling to squat sets of five reps with a [...]
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 just discovered the “6 Weeks to Superhero” series from T Nation and have really been enjoying them. It features Christian Thibaudeau, who is actually a bodybuilding coach. But, I think some of the lifting tips and training exercises would also work well for someone who just wants to get stronger and better that these 4 critical lifts:
I love the Deadlift, but many fear it and think they will hurt their back. With a tight focus on good form, proper technique through the entire lift (both up and down), and a consistent approach; you really have nothing to fear and a lot to gain. The Deadlift and the Squat are two of the best lifts for activating muscle growth throughout your entire body. Well worth learning how to do them well.
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 can’t tell you how many times I hear or read; “I want his/her body!” or “How do I get that body?”. The focus is entirely on their physical appearance and they just want to hear how to achieve that “look“. Well, I have a shocking revelation for you. You don’t get that body by focusing on how you look or how much you weigh. That body is the byproduct of focusing on something else entirely: Your Performance. Take a look at the people below and tell me what they all have in common.
Wow, I just read a great article on this topic, but it was so NSFW that I may not reshare it. The basic premise is sound and I’ve read other supporting research on the topic. Basically, there are a number of things that elevate testosterone production, help you lift heavier, feel less pain, and grow more muscle (for both men AND women). The simple act of squeezing the barbell really, really hard; angry music; cursing; sexual imagery; violent imagery; etc. all seem to have an effect.
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.).