Racks and Sacks 19.1 athlete spotlight goes to Chris D. !!! This guy is awesome!! Not only is he the nicest guy, he worked after class with the team (they love after class team skill building ) to practice wall balls and every single rep for 19.1 was to full depth!!! Awesome job Chris!!!!!
Spotlight athlete of the week is Gabby. Gabby is battling a shoulder injury and still showed up to work. Zero excuses and always wants to do her very best. She pushes herself harder each and every class. Watching her grow exponentially lately is so inspirational. She shows up to dominate and always has a smile on her face doing it. I am beyond proud of her this week! So happy she’s on the <<cough cough>> number 1 Team! #snatchmeifyoucan
The Aggressively Average team member spotlight for this week is Mike Swider! This is his first Open, and he is a stellar athlete who absolutely CRUSHED the 19.1 WOD at FNL the other night, racking up 247 reps! Beyond that, he has such a great energy and attitude about him, and really pushes himself. We are so glad he is on our team and a member of CFSTC!
The truth about some of your favorite indulgences
When you’ve gotten into a consistent fitness routine and finally started to feel good about the healthy choices you are making you tend to adopt a few new favorite foods along the way. At the top of the list for many folks are coffee, wine, and bacon. These foods are dietary staples in the fitness community and seem to fall somewhere in the category of “not bad enough to worry about and maybe even good for you.”Obviously with this kind of grey area it’s worth taking a deeper dive into the health benefits and potential pitfalls that can occur when eating these favorite foods.
More than 450 million cups of coffee are consumed everyday in the united states alone. Coffee also happens to be the world’s number one source of antioxidants due to widespread consumption and high levels of polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. Despite its amazing capacity to fight free radicals in our body most people reach for a “cup of joe” each morning for one reason only. That energizing boost of energy from it’s high caffeine content.
Caffeine has become a huge catalyst for many of us to have a productive start to our day. For some of us taking one day without it and WHOA, watch out! Caffeine is also a popular beverage choice before a workout due to the increase in focus, energy, and alertness that make us feel ready to perform. Caffeine has even been shown to reduce pain associated with exercise making it a truly powerful training partner. Caffeine may also create a more favorable environment in the cells of muscle tissue that facilitate force production.
It also turns out that a cup of coffee can be beneficial post workout as well. When we exercise our bodies utilize glycogen, a form of glucose stored in our muscles, as a fuel source. In one study it was observed that athletes who consumed caffeine with carbohydrates after exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles 4 hours later. This significant boost in glycogen storage means you have set the tone for success in your next workout in terms of available energy.
Challenges arise when the quantity and timing of caffeine consumption begin to interfere with rest and recovery. Caffeine has been shown to interrupt sleep even when consumed 6 hours before bed time. Individual caffeine sensitivity can vary from person to person so you need to really listen to your body.
Red wine has long been touted as “heart healthy” and the best choice if you do wish to drink. However if you are a competitive athlete, trying to build muscle, or on a mission to lose fat there really isn’t much of a place for alcohol in your diet. After all, alcohol is merely empty calories (it will only contribute to fat gain, not lean muscle growth) and interferes with sleep, testosterone production, and puts extra wear and tear on your already busy liver. If you do find yourself in a situation where a drink is fitting, red wine tends to be a better than cocktails and heavy beers when it comes to calories and sugar.
What about the heart health benefits and antioxidants in red wine, don’t those make a glass worth it a few times a week?
Yes and No. And mostly no…
The link between red wine and heart health is still unclear and a positive correlation between the two has not been found. Red wine also doesn’t seem to perform better than other alcohols in its effect on cholesterol and heart health. Some of the hype around red wine comes from its resveratrol content. Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in the skins of grapes. It is possible that resveratrol reduces LDL levels and prevents blood clots. Unfortunately to consume high levels of this nutrient means drinking more alcohol and creating other potential health problems. Resveratrol supplements may not be absorbed that well so look for other good sources in foods like blueberries, peanuts, and plain old unfermented grapes!
Bacon. Crispy. Crunchy. Delicious.
Is there any dish that can’t be improved by its presence?
Bacon may be the most controversial and beloved food in existence. In the wake of the paleo dietary movement and a shift in the way our country views dietary fat intake bacon has become the “little cheat food that could” for folks in the fitness community.
Bacon is made from pork belly and contains high levels of both monounsaturated and saturated fats. Bacon contains the monounsaturated fat oleic acid which is found in other healthy fats like olive oil. Saturated fat, long considered a culprit of heart disease actually plays an important role in our body’s signaling mechanisms. The ratio of different fats in the diet, genetics, and lifestyle choices all contribute to how much saturated fat we can consume for our optimal health.
So it turns out that bacon may not be so bad for you after all, but you have to be choosy. You have to consider the quality of the pork and the processing it undergoes during the curing that transforms bacon into the product we all know and love. The process generally involves curing the cuts of pork belly with salt and sugar and then the application of heat through a smoking process. There is also generally the application of some form of nitrates or nitrites to help preserve quality and appearance of the bacon.
For starters when you select your bacon product focus on where the pork came from and how it was raised. The tops brands will be pasture raised or humanely raised and organic is definitely an appropriate choice for this food. Next you will want the ingredients list to be short and not too sweet. That means pork, water, sea salt, and a small amount of sugar in the form of brown sugar or maple syrup. If you see a long list of preservatives and words you don’t recognize steer clear.
Finally some brands will use different sources of nitrates, even if the brand claims to be nitrate free it will often contain an ingredient like celery powder which has naturally occurring nitrates. Nitrates can convert to a carcinogenic compound known as “nitrosamines” under high temperatures. If you like your bacon crispy and brittle then you increase the chance of consuming these compounds. No fear, our body blocks the effects of these carcinogens in the presence of Vitamin C so grab a slice of orange or grapefruit with your bacon to play it safe!
Follow these guidelines and you’ll be sure to enjoy your “healthy” vices in the most appropriate ways possible. If you have questions about nutrition and how other dietary and lifestyle choices are affecting your training it can help to discuss them with a qualified coach who is experienced with nutrition as well.
Have you ever started a workout and not quite felt ready?
Like your body should be able to perform the exercise but it feels extra heavy or a step behind? Maybe you’re watching others moving around you at lightning speed and you wonder “what am I doing wrong?!”
Knowing how to prepare your body for exercise is a skill in itself. A great coach will instruct you on how to warm up in a way that physically and mentally prepares you for the day. Having a deeper understanding of how your body works will be hugely beneficial for taking initiative yourself and getting the most out of your hard efforts. You will be able to ask the right questions and know if you are really working up to your potential.
Today we will explore how to prepare for strength based workouts as well as high intensity intervals or cardio sessions. Understanding these principles will help you prepare your body and take your fitness to the next level!
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln
Preparing For Strength And Power Workouts
To prepare for a strength workout you can utilize a rep scheme called a “wave load” to prepare for big lifts. Wave loading lets your body tap into its ability to activate high threshold motor units, the signaling mechanism telling your muscles to contract. The more motor units you activate the more muscles fibers you utilize to produce movement. Understanding how to recruit as many motor units as possible is essential for moving heavy weights or to move moderate loads at high velocity such as in an olympic lift.
Say you are trying to find a 5 rep max back squat. If your current max is 300 you might start out performing sets of 5 starting at 135 pounds, adding 20-30 pounds each set and resting a minute or two in between. By the time you get to 225 though, the weight is already feeling heavy and a feeling of dread creeps in. Most people use a linear progression like this to build up to their heavy weight. The load feels heavier and heavier.
The problem with this approach is that your body is an efficiency machine. It doesn’t want to work any harder than it has to lift the load. It will only recruit the minimum number of motor units required to lift the weight in front of you. Every weight feels heavy because it actually is heavy relative to the muscles you’re using to lift it! Meanwhile however you are using up precious energy trying to slowly build up to your goal weight for the day.
One effective strategy to build up to the goal weight effectively and bust out new personal records is using a wave load technique. Rather than use straight sets of 5 reps all the way up to your working weight you can use single reps at a higher load than you would want to use for a set of 5. This helps your body recruit more muscle fibers because of the demands of a heavy single rep.
Every training session is kind of like blowing up a balloon. Blowing up a heavy duty party balloon fresh out of the package can require some serious lung strength. It’s a challenge right? This is similar to building up to a new weight in your workout. It’s hard to do and physically demanding. What happens once you’ve blown the balloon up all the way? It’s stretched to a new dimension that if you let all the air out, would make it easier to blow up the next time. This is what performing a heavy single is like before performing your set of 5.
Instead of progressing in a linear fashion such as:
- 5x New Max Effort Attempt
Total reps = 35 Total load = 7,825 lb.
Instead try an undulating periodization:
- 5x New Max Effort Attempt
Total reps = 22 Total load = 4,855
If your goal is to conserve energy for a new max it is clear to see how a wave load can still prime your body for a heavy lift without wasting unnecessary energy!
Preparing For WODs
CrossFit workouts can be brutal. Sometimes you find yourself gasping for air and wide eyed in the first two minutes. Wondering how you’ll last until the time cap or complete the prescribed number of rounds or reps.
If this is an experience you have had it means that you were either not properly warmed up for the workout or you didn’t properly scale the weights and movements. Warming up for a workout requires several key components. Increasing respiration so your heart is prepared for greater cardiac output, movement progressions that warm up your muscles and reinforce the movement patterns, and mobility work to improve performance and reduce injury risk.
As a general rule of thumb, the shorter and more intense the workout is, the more warm up and preparation it requires. You need to be prepared to give an intense effort and that will look different every day depending on the workout.
Warming up the heart and lungs is as important as warming up the muscles. You’ve got to rev the engine before the race. You don’t want the first round to the your warm up because you lose intensity. Intensity is where the magic happens.
Approaching each WOD , whether long or short, should include a progression of movement and a progression of intensity.
- Pull ups
- Chest to bar pull ups
- Bar muscle ups
- Moderate pace row
- Fast pace row
Regardless of the goal of a given workout, the warm up should be done with intention. If offers an athlete the chance to be aware of their form and to work on breathing and movement skills. It is an integral part of performance.
Challenge yourself to be present and thoughtful during your warm up. Are you giving it enough effort. Your warm up shouldn’t be a workout but it should leave you sweating and prepared. Figure out what works best for you.
We are pleased to announce that Jennifer Hopper is officially a CFSTC coach!
A sports enthusiast at heart, reinforced by a purist competitive spirit, Crossfit is the perfect fit for Jennifer to fulfill her drive of continued growth in mind, body and spirit. She has a focused passion for helping others and seeing them be the best they can be; she is blessed to be able to share her talents with the members of Crossfit St. Charles. She was a competitive basketball player and collegiate softball player turned running enthusiast and can now help others build upon the foundational fitness Crossfit provides from youth sports to everyday adult functional fitness. Outside of the gym, Jennifer is an IT professional and a proud mom of two.
Hopper will be pushing athletes through the Wednesday at 6p class and subbing whenever available. Give her a huge congratulations and check out her class!
Group fitness training is a highly effective way to train.
Two popular methods of group training are CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness. If you have been trying to find a fitness program to help you get stronger, lose weight, or improve your health and energy you may have had some questions about the program for you. Let’s take a look at some of the facts about CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness to help you make an informed decision on these training options.
A key difference
One of the key differences to know between CrossFit and Orangetheory is that CrossFit gyms are affiliated and Orangetheory is a franchise. CrossFit affiliation means that the location and it’s coaches are certified in the CrossFit Methodology, the workouts, class structure, and equipment used is dictated by the individual owner. Orangetheory Fitness is a franchise so workouts, equipment, and class structure will be standardized amongst locations.
CrossFit places an emphasis on functional movement and work capacity. Functional means movements that transfer over to everyday life, using your body to perform the movement it is capable of. Work capacity means being able to perform a certain body of work in a given amount of time. This requires you to standardize movement and lets you measure where progress. If you used to be able to perform 15 pushups in one minute and now you can perform 22 pushups in a minute you improved your work capacity.
CrossFit combines gymnastics, weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, monostructural (run/row/bike), and calisthenics movements in a variety of combinations. The program will generally reflect the style and background of what the gym owner is most comfortable teaching and believes will achieve the best results. For this reason you can witness unique fitness programming at each gym that you attend. You will learn the foundational movements CrossFit teaches like squatting and pressing. The great thing about CrossFit is that each movement and workout can be tailored to fit your unique needs. If a movement is outside your comfort zone then your coach can provide you with an alternative movement that replicates the movement pattern, but may be lighter weight or less technically demanding. Each individual in the class will get a similar result from the workout even though they have a wide range of strength and ability levels. Everyone moves forward together.
“Typically the world’s best athletes are minimalists when it comes to their training. They work hard and fast with few exercises. They master the fundamentals and work with them for years. This is the secret that no one wants to hear.”
-Greg Glassman, Founder of CrossFit
Orangetheory Fitness incorporates a combination of movements into their classes as well. Participants will run, row, and perform some light resistance training or calisthenics in a high intensity circuit style. You will generally not lift heavy weights and more emphasis is placed on the cardio component in these classes.
“We have a walker category, jogger category, and runner category. With this language I eliminated that fear people have when they walk in like, “oh no I’m not going to fit in.”
-Ellen Latham, Founder of Orangetheory Fitness
A CrossFit class generally consists of a discussion of the days workout and group introduction, a group warm-up, a strength or skill component, a metabolic training component known as the “workout of the day” or “WOD”, and a cool down or stretching session. These sessions are usually an hour long and are always lead by a coach who is certified by CrossFit.
Often times the gym will utilize specific programs designed to improve your strength in a particular lift or muscle group. Improving strength in compound lifts like the squat and deadlift recruits more high threshold motor units and is the most effective way to get stronger. This is a huge area where CrossFit differs from many other popular fitness programs. To truly perform at high intensity the workout must be designed for you to maintain intense effort in a single bout or multiple efforts with rest in between. The longer the duration of the exercise the less intensity you will be able to maintain.
Many programs just keep you moving for long lengths of time that merely grind you down. You might get sore or sweaty but you don’t improve in any measurable way. Learning how to safely and effectively lift heavy loads is a great way to improve muscle mass, burn fat, and build strong bones and joints. You should leave your workout feeling empowered to take on other tasks in your life.
Orangetheory utilizes heart rate monitors to keep you aware of your metabolic output. Your heart rate corresponding with an intensity zone is displayed for you to view. Each class will have you spend time exercising in different zones. Measuring your exertion allows you to improve your fitness if you are able to manage your heart rate in set zones for set durations of time. Similar to CrossFit you will spend time performing a warm-up, both strength training and cardio elements, and a cooldown. More emphasis is placed on the heart rate to achieve a cardiovascular response.
When it comes to your health the cost of a fitness program is always a great investment. CrossFit is usually purchased as a monthly membership with common options being unlimited classes or 3x per week. The cost typically ranges between $100-$250 with the biggest factors being what the gym offers balanced with cost of living in the area. You can usually begin with a free trial or consult to see how well you like it. The coaches will want to meet you to learn about your goals and any concerns you may have before you begin so they can set you up for success.
Orangetheory Fitness is a more informal process. You can purchase memberships for 4 times, 8 times, or unlimited classes each month with prices ranges from $59-$159.
Both CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness are popular ways to train. In CrossFit you can expect more specific programming, a tighter community, and a great focus on strength development and functional training. Orangetheory Fitness is a bit more of a generic way to train and you can expect an upbeat cardio training session with less focus on weight training. Finding a gym that meets your specific needs is the key. A great coach is going to ask you about your goals, injuries, and experience levels. It’s all about finding a program that fits into your budget and lifestyle and most importantly delivers the results you want!