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Archive for the ‘Exercises’ 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!

Minor knee pain? Give your knee a minor break.

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Our knee’s take a pounding!  Between box jumps, running and even burpees sometimes our knees just need a break. If your knee acts up occasionally but the pain is temporary or slight try a few of these alternatives. If your knee is swollen, and there’s significant pain with pressure then it might be time to see a professional.

Movement: Jumping Exercises
Modification: Kettlebell Swings
Here’s why: If one jumping exercise causes you knee pain, then most will until you heal. If you still want an exercise that involves explosive movement and works many of the same muscles, go with kettlebell swings.

Movement: Step-Ups
Modification: Bulgarian Split Squats
Here’s why: Along with your quadriceps split squats work the posterior chain.  Focusing too much on quad exercises without posterior chain workouts can lead to knee issues, so split squats are a great way to balance the upper leg and prevent knee pain. Make sure the weight in your front foot is on your heel, not your toes.
Movement: Squats
Modification: Barbell Box Squats
Here’s why: Box squats could be a good temporary option because it trains your shins to stays vertical and your weight is naturally shifted farther back onto your heels instead of too far forward putting your knees at risk.
Movement: Running
Modification: Sled Push or Sled Pull
Here’s why: Working with a sled slows down all the movements you’d normally employ running, while reducing the shock of pounding pavement.  You’ll activate the same muscles, and sled exercises will give you a great cardio workout. (thanks again Martin!)


Adult Gymnastics - Why We All Should Do It

Friday, September 5th, 2014

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The benefits of gymnastics has been shown time and time again. I have been coaching the sport for over 10 years, in addition to being a collegiate competitive gymnast. I strongly believe in the benefits of doing this sport for all ages, but this article will focus on adult gymnastics.
Most people over 25 believe that they are too old to start gymnastics. Many people believe that 15 is too old to start gymnastics. This is a ridiculous notion. 15, or 25 might be too late to start gymnastics if the intent is to become an Olympic competitor, but it is never too late to gain the benefits from practicing this sport. Gymnastics will improve performance in any other sport, as well as improving overall fitness and functional strength to a level that most people never attain.

Doctors are finally coming to realize and publicly acknowledge the long term benefits to resistance training. Studies have shown that resistance training improves joint health, maintains muscular development and improves cardiovascular fitness. This is true for all ages. Gymnastics is all about resistance training. The conditioning involved in a progressive gymnastics program focuses on functional strength. Elite gymnasts strength to weight ratios are second to none. This is what enables elite gymnasts to perform skills that appear to be humanly impossible. While some of these moves might be out of reach for most people, with a focused gymnastics conditioning program most adults will be stronger than they have ever been. Not only will this conditioning enable anyone to perform moves that will make most 17 year olds gape in amazement, but it will also help prevent injuries.

Stretching and flexibility is an area that is sadly lacking from most fitness programs. The 2 to 3 minutes spent stretching before a class is simply not enough. Being flexible allows for greater joint mobility, improves circulation and helps to prevent joint injury. There is a strong focus on flexibility in gymnastics. Most gymnastics skills are greatly benefited by flexibility and others are simply impossible without the proper flexibility. Gymnastics stretching is also taught by people who really understand how to improve flexibility quickly and safely. Gymnasts are among the most flexible athletes in the world. As people age their flexibility tends to decrease. This is generally due to a lack of stretching and physical activity rather than simply a result of aging. If flexibility is trained throughout ones life a high degree of flexibility can be maintained.

A few points that must be considered when starting gymnastics as an adult. First is that it is difficult. Adults have few if any advantages over a five year old child starting this sport, and many disadvantages. Adults will start out with basic skills, and must be patient in learning new skills. One of the biggest hindrances I’ve seen in coaching adult gymnastics is that many adults are embarrassed watching 9 year old kids that are significantly better than them at the sport. The kids fully understand, because they went through it as well. There is nothing to be hesitant about. Everyone in that gym has been through the basics. Second is an awareness of safe progressions. Adults do have a higher risk of injury then children in the sport. This is due to larger body size. A 180 lb adult will hit the floor with a lot more force than a 60 lb child. Even though the adult has more muscle mass to buffer the impact the possibility for injury is increased. Secondly adults recover slower than children. Proper progressions and a focus on safety is critical. One of my prodigies in my adult class is a fellow who started gymnastics at the young age of 46. He has now been doing gymnastics for 3 years, and has transformed. He is in the best shape of his life, and can perform skills that were not even conceivable 2 years ago. A point to the benefits of his doing gymnastics. About 5 months ago he received a 2 point separation in his shoulder skiing. The doctors tell him that had his shoulder not been as strong as it is the injury would have been far worse. Not only was the injury itself minimized, but his recovery has been tremendous. With gymnastics training focused around the injury he is back to full capacity, and improving again.

I’ve saved the best, and most important factor in starting adult gymnastics for last. It is fun. Learning how to tumble, flip, swing, and come as close to self powered flight as is possible is a blast. Gymnastics is anything but boring. There is always another step to learn. It is possible to learn something new every single class or workout that is attended.

If you are an adult and think you are “too old” to start. Think again. Check our schedule,  find some friends and come have some fun!

This Week In The Cave

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

img_78601Welcome!
Fall always brings back familiar faces, but we get to meet new ones too!  The CAVE would like to extend a very warm welcome to all our new families.  We’re excited to have you all as part of our family and we look forward to building deeper community together while having lots of fun!
New Classes
Do you have a middle schooler?  We’ve added 2 new Youth Strength and Conditioning classes, Tuesdays or Thursdays at 3:30pm.  It’s the perfect time of day, right after school, get a workout in before settling into the business of homework!  To sign up, e-mail Dana@inthecave.com or call The CAVE at (415) 927.1630.

CrossFit Day at The Oakland A’s

Come join the fun with The CAVE family at an Oakland A’s game on Sunday, September 7th, 2014!  There’s still time to sign up! Experience the A’s first ever CrossFit Day in our special Field Level seating area. All participants will receive an exclusive A’s CrossFit Day t-shirt and admission to the pre-game WOD where a group of northern California’s top CrossFit® athletes will compete. We also may see one of our own athletes compete in the pre-game WOD!We know now that the pre-game WOD will include Neal Maddox, Wes Piatt, Gabe Subry, Margaux Alvarez, Chyna Cho, Ben Alderman, Miranda Oldroyd and Camille Leblanc. If our gym has one of the top 20 most people attending, we get to pick a person to compete in the WOD with them!

Fitness Goals

Now that the kids are back in school, it’s time to think about YOUR fitness goals and how the staff at The CAVE can help you achieve them. Are you curious about CrossFit? E-mail our CrossFit Director BO@inthecave.com with your questions. Do you want to know more about our Yoga classes? Please e-mail Stephanie at Steph@inthecave.com.  While your kids are in their classes, you can take one too!

The CAVE is Hiring
Do you love working with kids?  The CAVE is hiring new gymnastics and parkour coaches and we’re looking for exceptional people that are great with children! If interested, please see the full job description posted here: http://www.inthecave.com/about/jobs.
Let’s keep in touch!
Have you liked us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram? These two tools are great ways to stay in touch with the latest in what’s happening in the CAVE and some great pictures of what we’re up too!  Check us out!

WOD Recovery Yoga Why You Should Do it

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

As athletes, we are constantly looking for new ways to both improve performance and prevent injuries. We have found unique techniques to keep the muscles loose — utilizing a lacrosse ball to massage out deep knots, or stretch with bands to distract the joint and increase mobility. While all of these tools are necessary parts of a CrossFitter’s daily training plan, simple stretching is often overlooked and certainly underutilized.

WOD Recovery Yoga was developed by our on-staff yoga teacher and avid CrossFitter, Stephanie Ring. Teaching athletes yoga is her passion. This love of teaching yoga combined with her first hand knowledge of CrossFit inspired her to create a specific type of class geared directly toward the post workout needs of these athletes. Her anatomical knowledge of CrossFit movements combined with her in depth knowledge of yoga postures and sequencing, provides the athlete with specific and targeted stretches and sequencing to help unwind, stretch and mobilize those places in the body that need it most.

Still need more convincing? Here are 5 simple reasons to try WOD Recovery Yoga:

1. Involves less thinking, more stretching

2. Targets muscles specifically worked during WOD

3. Stretches muscles multiple times during class to release tension and improve flexibility

4. Increases body awareness

5. Slows down the body and mind to aid in recovery

WOD Recovery Yoga

Monday and Thursday   10:00-11:00am

Can’t make that time? Private instruction and semi-private classes are available.


Yoga is coming to the Cave!

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

steph_ring-591.jpgThe Cave is excited to announce 2 new Yoga classes expertly instructed by Stephanie Ring.

Wednesday 12-1pm Athletic Vinyasa Flow:

Athletic Vinyasa Flow is a fast paced yoga class designed to challenge athletes and yogis physically and mentally. Each class will focus on strength, core stability, flexibility and postures to help improve overall athletic performance.

Monday and Thursday 10am-11amWOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga):

WOD Recovery Yoga (Post CrossFit Yoga)introduces athletes to another form of movement designed to improve their WOD performance and overall fitness. Each class will include poses and transitions to improve performance in 5 of the 10 general physical skills crucial to overall fitness: Flexibility, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy. Classes will be sequenced to improve mobility in foundational movements like squats and designed to help unwind the body from previous workouts.

Private and Semi Privates

Available for private instruction Monday through Saturday. Email steph@inthecave.com to set up appointment for private or semi private yoga classes.

Stephanie Ring, creator of Endure Yoga, is an athlete who absolutely loves yoga.

She created Endure Yoga to help athletes improve their athletic performance. This is a specialized yoga system in which yoga classes are specifically designed around the athlete and their specific goals and the type of physical activity that they are pursuing. Classes help to maintain flexibility and fitness and mirror the builds, recovery and taper periods in a training season.

The sumo deadlift high pull (SDHP)

Friday, August 1st, 2014

photo-8You may remember my article “For the love of all things heavy Deadlift” describing the deadlift in detail and explaining what an efficient lift it is. This article builds on that information and adds another element to that movement, with a high pull.

The sumo deadlift high pull (SDHP) is an explosive compound movement that develops tremendous power in the posterior chain. It primarily strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, lower back and upper traps. The SDHP is a great movement to also help improve your pull during the clean, in addition to full-body coordination and explosive power.
The SDHP is similar to the traditional deadlift but has a wider stance. The SDHP stance, called the sumo stance, (clever, huh?), is wider than shoulder stance with your toes pointed out about 30 degrees. Stability is extremely important, so make sure your stance isn’t so wide that your knees are pointing or caving in.
The SDHP also uses a narrower grip as compared to the traditional deadlift. The hands are placed near the middle of the bar, which allows more flexibility to pull the bar all the way up to the chin. A good way to figure out where to place your hands is to center them on the bar with approximately two thumb distances between them (touch the tips of your thumbs together and then grip the bar with an overhand grip).
Otherwise, everything else is the same as in the deadlift – the hips are above the knees, weight is in the heels, the bar is in close to the shins, the shins are vertical or near-vertical, and the shoulders are slightly in front of the bar, placing it directly underneath the scapular spines (under the tops of your shoulder blades). Finally, the shoulder blades are retracted and the back is held tightly with the chest up, maintaining the lumbar arch.
Before lifting the bar, take a deep breath and hold it to help support the torso. The abs, glutes, hamstrings and shoulder blades should be contracted tightly. The body should be tense against the bar to prevent jerking the bar off the floor and to pre-activate the muscles.
The lift begins by driving the heels into the ground and explosively opening the hips. The hips must reach full extension before anything else happens. This means that you reach a full standing position. Thinking of making yourself tall can help. The arms must stay absolutely straight, without any pull. Bending the arms early will decrease your ability to transfer force to the bar.
Once the hips are fully extended, the shrug begins. The shoulders need to begin shrugging up fluidly with the end of the hip extension, so there is no decrease in bar speed. Try to think about including the shrug to make sure you don’t forget it and to help make it more automatic. The arms must stay absolutely straight, without any pull.
After the shoulders shrug, the arms can now begin to bend.  The goal is to let the bar float, so you should think about trying to toss the bar to the ceiling. Of course, this won’t happen because of the weight on the bar.
During the lift, the feet should maintain contact with the ground the entire time. At the top of the pull you should be at triple extension – the hips, knees and ankles should all be straight.
The weight should just fall back down to the ground, rather than trying to slowly lower it. However, keep your grip on the bar in order to control it and prevent it from bouncing away dangerously. Be aware to not round your back on the way down.
Please remember to check and reset your form between reps, and always remember form under fatigue.
Train hard.

For the Love of All Things Heavy, Deadlift.

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Some will argue that a squat is the king of all lifts, but I respectfully disagree.  I believe deadlifts to reign supreme for reasons ranging from improving overall strength and body composition, to building a backside and improving posture.
There is no other exercise that requires much of the body to work extremely hard in unison in order to get the job done. High energy output plus external resistance is a dream come true for fat loss and physique change!
The deadlift absolutely torches the posterior chain, making it the perfect exercise to strengthen and develop both the glutes and hamstrings.   Furthermore, deadlifting will strengthen the entire back and its surrounding muscles, making this lift great for rehabilitative, and preventative, purposes. In fact, the deadlift is the most effective exercise for building the core strength that supports all other major muscle groups.
Core strength (core pertaining to the central muscles of the body, i.e. lower back, glutes and the abdominal region) is a very important health component, in that it supports the body in almost every movement and position, and the deadlift is the key core strength building movement.
I’m a big fan of conventional pulls using the barbell, however, the beauty of the deadlift is that there are plenty of variations of it for you to try! Sumo deadlifts, Snatch grip deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, single leg Romanian deadlifts, and trap bar deadlifts, are all at your disposal.
The self-assurance that deadlifting (and really, any heavy lifting) gives a person is significant, because there is no grey area when it comes to getting stronger. You either are, or you aren’t, and unlike the scale or other subjective ways of measuring things, the weights don’t lie. When lifting a weight that you couldn’t 6+ months ago, you can’t help but feel good about yourself, and that ego boost carries over into our day-to-day life as well.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION
I pick things up and set them down — functional fitness at it’s best!  Lifting objects from the ground, from a variety of angles, is enhanced through regular deadlifting. We pick stuff up off the floor all of the time in real life — our kids, boxes, groceries, you name it!  Deadlifts help train our muscles to lift practically outside of the gym minimizing injury in real life too. Deadlifts actually have a real life application.

CARDIO-RESPIRATORY FITNESS

Deadlifts help to develop cardio-respiratory fitness. Like the squat, deadlifts will severely tax the cardio-respiratory system if done with enough intensity. This obviously has positive ramifications for cardiovascular health. In fact, high intensity deadlifts aerobically tax the body big time.
The benefits of consistent deadlifting with substantial weight are numerous, and you’ll notice improvements in both your physique and in your self-confidence.

HOW TO PERFORM THE DEADLIFT

The deadlift is a tricky exercise to master due to the high level of balance and coordination needed, and the injury risk if incorrectly performed.  Therefore, the deadlift requires an intricate series of steps that need to be followed. A step by step guide to the standard deadlift follows:

FIRST STEP: Achieve the right stance

Assume a shoulder width stance, and grip the barbell so that the inner forearms touch the outside of thighs, and shins lightly touch the bar. Either an overhand or an under/overhand (one hand over, one hand under) grip can be used. The under/overhand grip is preferable in most instances.

SECOND STEP: Adjust posture

Fix spine in a neutral position (neither up nor down, but looking straight ahead), and place the hips down. Pulling in the lower abs will ensure a neutral pelvic position. Shoulders should be held back, squeezed tightly, and positioned over the bar - they should never be rounded.
Chest should be forward, not down. Before lifting the weight, tighten the shoulders and squeeze the glutes together to help generate power during the initial part of the movement.

THIRD STEP: Lift the weight

Grip hold of the bar tightly, and push with the feet. The legs must power the weight up. Hips and shoulders should ascend at the same time, while the hands are holding the weight in place. Toward the top of the movement, lock out by employing more upper body strength until the weight is at about the midway position of the upper thigh.
During the ascent phase, there should be an initial push with the balls of the feet followed by a transference of weight to the heels, as the bar passes the knees into the lock out position. Remember to keep the bar in contact with the body throughout the movement.

FOURTH STEP: Lower the weight

Reverse step three until the bar touches the floor, pause, and repeat until completion of set. Bear in mind that the weight should not forcefully hit the floor - it should be lowered in a controlled manner while tightness is maintained throughout the body. Do not rely on momentum to power the weight up on the second rep, as this will cause a jarring effect, which might contribute to spinal damage.

For the love of all things heavy, deadlift.

The deadlift is picking something up and putting it down. You do it a million times over the course of your life, so it’s important to learn how to do so properly. Even if you don’t have any desire to compete in powerlifting or to set a new gym record, you still need to be strong enough to lift things up off the floor without hurting yourself. It’s basically necessary for life. I’m sure this, in some roundabout way, means that deadlifts are imperative for living.

Whole Life Challenge

Friday, April 25th, 2014

A lot goes into health and fitness: Exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress, etc. We talk about these things all the time at The Cave. Sometimes keeping on track is daunting. A few years back to help with this task my friends at CrossFit LA run by Andy Petranek started The Whole Life Challenge. It is a game/contest to help people with the accountability of health. We have decided to get involved this cycle to help our students keep on track. To sign up for the challenge go to our team page at:
http://www.whole.lc/wlcsummer14/pt/thecave

If you sign up today you will receive a $10 discount on the sign up. We have had Cavers do the WLC before with great success. Share this with your friends as well. They do not have to be Cavers to participate, nor do they have to be crazy into fitness. There are varying levels of participation. It may be a good way to get some friends to start thinking about their health and fitness without the full level of commitment that joining The Cave can be.

How Does Exercise Make Us Happier?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

ropesFor many years, physical exercise has been touted to be a cure for nearly any ailment, from depression to Alzheimer’s disease to Parkinson’s and more.  What would you think if I told you it may even be possible to exercise to happiness?!  Physically active people recover from mild depression more quickly, and physical activity is strongly correlated with good mental health as people age ¹. You have probably heard this before, but in order to truly understand, I felt it was time to get specific and even a little scientific about how exercise affects our brains.

It’s fairly simple to recognize how exercise affects our bodies.  As we exercise, we build more muscle and/or stamina, two elements that are measurable and obvious.  Better fitting pants and heavier weights are clear indicators to understand how effective exercise is for a body.  But, recognizing the benefits of exercise to our brains is not as clear to identify.

What triggers happiness in our brains when we exercise? The short answer is based on the release of endorphins.  But what exactly does that mean?  First, a shallow dive into the science pool…

When we begin exercising, our brains recognize it as stress.  As the heart pressure increases, our brains think we are either fighting an enemy or fleeing from it, commonly identified as the fight-or-flight response.  To protect ourselves and our brains from stress, a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) is released.  BDNF is both protective and reparative to our memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. This is why after exercising, we often think more clearly and feel so at ease, even yes, happy.  This experience is by far my favorite part about working out.  That moment when the weight of the world has lifted off my shoulders and I know I can get through anything — even whatever crazy WOD Bo had programmed that day.  Endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, is also released in our brains at this time.  The endorphins’ job is to minimize the discomfort of exercise, blocking any sensations of pain that are even associated with a feeling of euphoria. Overall, during physical activity, our brains are considerably more active than when we are just sitting down or even concentrating mentally.

The important piece to understand is  how we can trigger these processes in an optimal and longer lasting way. Now this is where it all gets very interesting. A recent study from Penn State University found that the level of productivity and happiness on a given work day is based more on if you exercise regularly, and not just on that particular day.

“Those who had exercised during the preceding month but not on the day of testing generally did better on the memory test than those who had been sedentary, but did not perform nearly as well as those who had worked out that morning.”

To get the highest level of happiness and benefits for health, the key is not to become a professional athlete. On the contrary, a much smaller amount of daily exercise is needed to reach the level where happiness and productivity for every day life can peak. New York Times best-selling author Gretchen Reynolds has written a whole book about this subject matter, titled The First 20 Minutes. In the book she states, “The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20-40 minutes of being active.”  So really, you can relax and don’t have to be on the look-out for the next killer work-out.  (Although I do love them.)  All you have to do is get focused and get moving to gain the full happiness boost every day!

“On exercise days, people’s moods significantly improved after exercising.  Mood stayed about the same on days they didn’t, with the exception of people’s sense of calm which deteriorated.” (University of Bristol)

As a quick last fact, exercise and the subsequent increase of the BDNF proteins in our brains act as a mood enhancer.  So, at the beginning of exercise, the feeling of euphoria is the highest. This means that if you have never exercised before, or not for a long time, your happiness gains will be the highest if you start now.

Exercise and happiness are 2 immensely important things to me.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions too.