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.
It has been a couple of months since I finished the Tough Mudder NorCal 2011 event in Squaw Valley, CA near Lake Tahoe. I’ve had some time to think about that day, the obstacles that I faced, and the overall experience. All in all, it went very well. I had a great time and, to be honest, it wasn’t that hard for me. That’s a good thing. That means that my training worked and preparation paid off. That doesn’t mean that it was easy. By no means was it easy! It was definitely a test of your strength, endurance, teamwork, and your willpower to continue despite fatigue, hunger, pain, and extreme discomfort. For example, I don’t think there is any way to really be ready to enjoy the icy cold water of the Chernobyl Jacuzzi and the Underwater Tunnels obstacles, unless you’re a member of the Polar Bear Club and get off on that type of thing. I hate being cold, so I was careful about the gear I chose to wear that day (Read more about my Head-to-Toe Gear here).
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.).
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!
We’ve come to the end of the week, March 26, 2011. The “Strong is Sexy” weekly event had its first male participant. Thank you Martin! His photo is featured at the end of this blog post. Martin is very busy with his family and little kids, but continues his focus on a health and fitness regimen of Crossfit with Zone/Paleo.
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!