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Archive for the ‘Rest & Recovery’ Category

Let’s talk about Rest days.

Friday, November 7th, 2014

rest-daysWhether your training involves running, swimming, biking or weight lifting, chances are the program you’re following specifies one or more ‘rest’ days each week.
Rest days are important to your fitness and training goals. They reduce your risk of injury. They help prevent over-training syndrome. They keep you from getting bored with your program. They can get you through plateaus. But the most important reason to include a day or two of rest in your weekly training schedule is because it is those days between grueling workouts when muscle repair and growth occur.
Rest days make you faster, stronger and better the next time you hit the trail, pool, road or gym.  I’m going to let that sink for a moment, and then say it again. :)
Rest days make you faster, stronger and better the next time you hit the trail, pool, road or gym.
But what does rest mean? Getting more sleep? Maybe, if you’re workouts are fatiguing you. Less activity than on a training day? Possibly. Sitting on the couch watching daytime television? Certainly not (as if any of you have time for that)!
I like to think of the days I purposely don’t go to the gym as ‘active rest‘ days. While I’m ‘resting‘ from my formal exercise routine, I still find some way to be ‘active‘. A walk with my kids,  maybe hike mt tam, or  spend a few minutes on my skateboard. Family skate night is a fun event in my house (in line skating of coarse!) Apple picking and even housework (not my personal favorite, but it does need to be done occasionally…).
You’re still burning calories on the days between your workouts (especially if your program includes metabolic intervals), but you’re not taxing your body in the same way you do when you train.
The trick to successfully incorporating rest days into your training schedule is to plan them. You might choose a ‘three day on-one day off’ schedule or a’ five day on-two day off’ schedule. The key here is that the rest day was planned (as opposed to those days when you get up and skip a workout because you just don’t feel like working out).

My children’s and work schedule often dictates which day of the week I’ll stay away from the gym, However,  I do prefer to take a rest day after a heavy squat day; for some reason, heavy squats exhausts me and makes me less energetic in the gym the following morning.

Amd now I want to fit yoga into my active rest day that will most likely include visits with Stephanie Ring.

Work hard, rest harder!

5 Post CrossFit Yoga for Overhead Squats

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The Overhead Squat, when done properly is a beautiful movement and is a huge component of the Snatch. With so many possible areas of limitation in your Overhead Squat, from hip mobility to core strength to shoulder stability, it is important to start with one or two points of correction and go from there. In this article, we will focus on shoulder flexibility to keep it simple and to the point. These movements take time and practice and if you can be patient and work with the right technique, you will be better off in the long run. Having a really good coach to help you spot areas for improvement is critical in taking your fitness to the next level.

As a society we tend to sit quiet a bit, and with a good amount of sitting comes inevitable slouching, and this lends itself to tightness in the front of the chest. Not only that but many of us before finding CrossFit focused mainly on chest and biceps further shortening those muscles. It is a very common issues for people starting out, especially as it relates to OHS. The exact muscles that need to be open enough to receive the weight in the correct and safest position with the shoulder externally rotated, arms extended and the eye of the elbow facing up towards the bar, are the ones that are in essence shortened by all that slouching.  Think of when you are doing your shoulder roll-throughs, that tightness as you move the PVC pipe behind your head is the area of the chest and shoulders where most people have issues. Now, mobility in the shoulder girdle is not the only factor at play during an OHS with less than ideal form, but it is something to think about as you begin to dial in the areas that need improvement. Beyond the lift itself, have the flexibility to bail safely, with the option to throw the bar behind you, is also a critical aspect of this Olympic lift.

These 5 Post CrossFit Yoga Poses for Overhead Squats are not only great for after the WOD but are really helpful for improving mobility in the entire shoulder girdle as they include auxiliary muscles that aid in shoulder rotation and movement. As you start to move through each of these stretches, you will notice areas you feel more than others. You will want to spend more time focusing on those particular muscles.  Stretch number 5, the Variation of Parsva Danurasana, is the stretch that directly targets the front of the chest and shoulders, just like your shoulder roll-throughs.

Realize that increasing flexibility in the shoulder girdle will take time and regular practice.  These are just some of the ways you can increase your shoulder mobility. As always try different to find what works best for you.

*Tip: If you are not stretching post WOD then make sure to warm up a bit before you do these shoulders stretches. Spend 30-60 seconds or 10 breaths in each pose. Through the breathing, allow the body to relax, and settle into the stretch.

1. Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Dog Pose)

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Start by sitting on the heels with the shins on the ground. Separate the feet, shins and knees about hips distance. Walk the hands forward until the hips are stacked over the knees. Continue to walk the hands forward without moving the hips until you feel a stretch in the chest and the side body/armpit area. With the forehead or chin on the ground (which ever is most comfortable on the neck), press the palms down and allow the chest to descend.

2. Gomukhasana Arms (Cow Face)

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Start by sitting on the heels feet and shins together. Bend the right elbow and grab it with the left hand. Draw the right elbow in towards the midline, making sure that the right tricep is rolling forward. From here, reach the left arm around the back, palm facing out. Walk the left fingertips towards the right and claps them together if possible. If not, use a strap or band to modify. Breathe through the stretch then switch.

3. Criss-Cross Arms

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Start by lying on your belly. Sit up onto your forearms. Thread the right arm through, under the left arm and to the left. Then walk your left arm out to the right until you’ve reached your limit. Allow the chin to fall towards the triceps as you relax the head down. Don’t forget to breathe! Switch sides after a minute or so.

4. Uttanasana with Clasp Hands

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Start standing with the legs hips distance. Clasp the hands by the low back, extending the arms while keeping a soft bend in the elbow. On an exhale fold forward sending the hand up and over the head. Bend the knees if you need to, taking the hamstring out of the equation. *If clasping your hands behind your back is not accessible, use a strap or PVC pipe; widen the grip to a place where you can fold forward.

5. Variation of Parsva Dhanurasana

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Start by lying flat on your belly. Extend your right arm out to the right palm down. Bend the elbow, making a 90-degree angle. Walk the palm forward 2-3 inches so your elbow is now slightly higher than the shoulder. Bend the elbow more so that now the palm is angled slightly towards the head. With the shoulder relaxed down, slowly on an exhale start to roll onto your right side. Use the left palm as leverage and ground it near the chest. Hold and then switch sides.

Sleep Mobility

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Here’s a very good MobilityWOD video that Narendra R. pointed me to a few months ago.  Sleeping like this makes a huge difference.

Good luck!

Sleep Deprivation

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Here’s an article from the BBC News about why sleep is so important.


We’ve known for a long time that all kinds of bad stuff happens when you don’t sleep well.  This article points out some new research that suggests that the detriments are quite profound and are caused by alteration of up to 700 different genes.  One of the main things that happens during sleep is tissue repair.  When you don’t get a good night of sleep, you can’t fully repair your systems which might lead to increased inflammation and degenerative diseases.

In the study, people were allowed less than 6 hours of sleep for a week, and the article points out that many people are already getting less sleep than the people in this study.  I know plenty of people in the gym who don’t get enough sleep.  Sleep is just as important as working out and eating well.

Try cutting out the caffeine and making your sleep schedule a priority!

Sleep and Weight Loss

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Maybe a couple of you remember this image:

Sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise.

Sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise.

Despite the discussion about Venn Diagrams that this image started last time it was on the blog, the information is still important.  Sleep is just as important to your health as nutrition and exercise.

For those of you looking to lose weight, sleep is extra important.  This is nothing new, my grandparents knew how important sleeping was, though they probably had no idea why.  More recently, though still a few years back, Stanford did a study on weight loss and sleep, and linked some cases of obesity to hormonal changes caused by lack of sleep.

More recently, another study out of Laval University in Quebec showed that individuals on calorie restricted diets lost more weight when they got a good night’s sleep when compared to people who only got 5.5 hours of sleep.  Another study showed that sleeping can actually change the influence of our genes on our metabolism, meaning that you can make diet and exercise more easily overcome a genetic predisposition to being fat.  And all by doing something that we all want to do anyway: sleeping.

Here’s a short article on the subject, from the Huffington Post.

Turn off the TV and go to bed!

“Power Poses”

Friday, January 4th, 2013

When Narendra Rocherolle sent this to me, I figured it was some hippy stuff about yoga.  But there’s actually some pretty good research about “power poses” and the effect they have on hormones.  TED talks are always good, so I encourage you to watch this one.

As interesting as this is, you might not immediately see the relevance to fitness.  Well, testosterone and cortosol are two hormones that greatly effect the quality and speed of recovery.  Cortosol is one of the major stress hormones and actually suppresses your immune system, increases inflammation, and decreases your ability to rebuild damage and make new tissue.  Testosterone is partly responsible for maintaining and building muscles, boosting the immune system and provides other useful benefits such as preventing osteoporosis.  Having a little more testosterone and a little less cortosol would probably be good for all of us.

Why Your Excuse Sucks

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

I’m going to talk about excuses for a few minutes.  Some people are going to be offended.  Sometimes the truth hurts.  Your excuse sucks.  That’s the truth.  Whatever excuse you have, it just sucks.  An excuse is a lie that you tell yourself to make you feel better about limiting yourself.  I’m not talking about a legitimate reason for not doing something, that’s a different thing.

No excuses in here.

No excuses in here.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Kyle Maynard, go look him up.  I don’t reference him to try to make you feel guilty, I reference him to show you an example of a guy who doesn’t have excuses.  Kyle might have thought, when he was younger, that he had a legitimate reason to avoid physical activity; what could he actually accomplish without arms and legs?  But he realized that his disability was just an excuse to avoid hard work, and that his disability didn’t mean he got a free ride.  It meant he had to work harder than everybody else just to keep up.

The same is true for you and me, whatever our excuses are, and I’ve heard tons of them.  Here are some of the most common:

  • My back/ knee/ foot/ shoulder/ etc. is messed up, or my body just doesn’t move that way.
  • I’m too old.
  • I just don’t have the time because I have work/ pets/ kids/ obligations.

These are excuses that you use to limit yourself.  Let’s talk about them one at a time.

Injuries.  If you have an acute or chronic injury, you have to work harder to keep up with everybody else.  That does not mean that you need to run on your busted foot, or do heavy lifts with the herniated discs in your back.  What it does mean is that you have to put in the work to rehabilitate yourself.  It might mean seeking out doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists.  It might mean doing rehab and mobility work multiple times every day.  It might mean changing your diet and sleeping patterns, or changing how you do basic activities.  It might mean that you have to do things that are harder than the thing you need to avoid.  Just because you’re injured or immobile doesn’t mean you get a free ride, it means you have to work harder to keep up.

Age.  If your excuse is that you’re too old, then you might as well just give up and die.  Getting older is normal, it’s how you know you’re still winning at life: the difficulty setting increases.  There is or there will be a time when you feel like you’re not as good as you used to be.  That’s okay.  But it’s not okay to use it as an excuse for not doing something or for not trying as hard as somebody younger than you.  If you’re old and stiff and messed up, then you need to put in more work to maintain yourself.  Fix your diet, do your stretches, break your bad habits.  Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you get a free ride, it means you have to work harder to keep up.

Obligations.  If you’re using your kids as an excuse for not taking care of yourself, maybe you should consider how your kids would do without you, or with a you that is constantly tired, injured and sick.  Your family should be the reason that you take care of yourself, not your excuse to slack off.  (Ask Bill Berry about that).  Work is a bad excuse too.  Guys, this isn’t 1890 and none of you are mining coal or laying railroad.  Whatever you’re doing isn’t that bad.  You just have to change your habits and learn to stand up from your desk and stretch 3-4 times per day, do a workout at home or in the hotel while you’re traveling, pack your lunch, go to bed early, take an actual rest day, or whatever it is that you need to do.  It isn’t easy, but you don’t get a free ride just because you have kids, a hard job, or other obligations.  You have to work harder to keep up.

Now that you know why your excuse sucks, go do hard work.  See you in the gym.

Gloves Better Than Steroids?

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

A few years back I read about a cooling glove that had been developed by some researchers at Stanford. This glove uses the fact that our bodies radiate heat through our hands to help regulate core temperature. It seals around your wrists and draws a partial vacuum to prevent vascular constriction, then it circulates water to draw heat out of your body. This helps rapidly lower your core temperature.

There was a surprising recent result that the recovery effects of doing this are profound. Possibly on par or better than steroids. We may have to look into getting a few of these. Increase training volume, improve recovery, dramatically increase rate of improvement. No negative side effects?


Little Info Graphic About Sleep

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

We all know we need sleep, but most of us don’t get enough or our sleep patterns are so messed up that we do not efficiently sleep. We work really hard to make sure our training is efficient, that our work is done well and effectively but often neglect our sleep. Even if you get enough sleep, if your sleep schedule is sporadic you will be sleeping inefficiently. Make sure your sleep schedule is as regular as it can be. Take a look at the info graphic below and you may find some ways to improve your sleep.

How often do you “Test” yourself, and how often do you just go for a good workout?

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

How often do you “test” yourself and how often do you go at a percentage of your full all-out effort?  Here, testing can be thought of as your absolute, nerve-wrecking hardest attempt. (You’re going as if your life, family and posterity depended on your 100% performance. )  Do you think it’s optimal to give it that much effort with every workout?  Does it have to do with how much stress you’ve been experiencing in  you life,  or how much rest you’ve had?  Perhaps younger athletes can give 100% more often than older ones?   Do you go all out periodically and  for a “good workout” more often?  Have you ever experienced a difference in your injury rate?  Or do you think that CrossFit wouldn’t be crossfit if you held back at all?  Does it partly have to do with age or youth?  Maybe you can test your absolute limits more often when you’re younger but you have to be more careful as you age?  Testing is certainly important at times to see where you’re at as well as for the workout.  I personally don’t find myself going “all out” as often, but it may have to do more with being absorbed by a myriad of training mechanisms that have kept me from specializing on any one and therefore it’s harder to get PR’s in what I previously used to specialize in.  (I’m referring to a variety of training mechanisms even when compared to CrossFit.)  Please post thoughts to comments.