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Archive for the ‘Exercises’ Category

Wheel- The Ultimate in Hip and Shoulder Mobility

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

As CrossFit athletes, hip and shoulder mobility is crucial to performing big lifts and gymnastics movements. Increasing and even maintaining mobility in these joints becomes challenging as we train throughout the week. Especially, if our recovery and stretching protocols are not as regular as our training.

Yoga can provide us with the tools we need to not only recover, but increase our range of motion in these areas. The physical practice of yoga is about increase your range of motion. Though you will see extreme versions of hip and shoulder stretches, most of the postures are basic and accessible to most people.

Using the yoga practice we can begin to mobilize and stretch those places that are tightest. For us as athletes, our hips and our shoulders tend to be the ones that come to mind first. Wheel Pose is the ….. of shoulder and hip mobility. When we are able to move into this posture, we know that our shoulders and hips are moving towards a place of greater mobility.

Warm Up Video

suggested poses:

5x Sun Salutations
Easy Twist
Wide Twisted Triangle
Clasp Hand Forward Fold
High Lunge with Tricep Stretch
Wild Thing
PVC Passes
Extended Low Lunge
Half Split
Twisted Monkey
Seated Forward Fold
Seated Spinal Twist
Start kneeling with the knees hips distance. Placing the hands on your butt (no joke) roll the shoulders back and down and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Lift out of the side body and while keeping the hips moving forward, start to send the chest up and back. You have the option to reach the hands towards the heels but make sure you continue to lift the chest up while keeping the low back long. Breath here for 20 seconds, slowly come up by placing one hand on the butt and lifting yourself back up.

Wheel 1.JPGBridge x2
Start by lying down on your back with your feet planted on the ground, hips distance apart. Walk the heels towards you until you can graze them with the middle fingers. Planting the heels down, begin to lift the hips, extending the tailbone towards the back of the knees. Draw the shoulder blades together coming onto the back of the shoulders. If possible, clasp the hands underneath you. Press down through the upper arm bones and broaden the chest. Breathe here for up to 30 seconds, unclasp the hands and slowly lower the hips down.
Wheel x3
Start by lying down on your back with your feet planted on the ground, hipsWheel 2.JPG distance apart. Walk the heels towards you until you can graze them with the middle fingers. Planting the heels down, begin to lift the hips, extending the tailbone towards the back of the knees. • Place the hands on the ground by the shoulders. Lift up onto the top of the head. Draw the elbows towards one another, shoulder blades in and press through the palms. Begin to straighten the arms. Feel the armpits open up. Draw the belly button in towards the spine and tailbone towards the back of the knees. Press the chest away from the heels. Breathe for up to 20 seconds in this pose. Slowly come down drawing the chin to the chest.

Wheel Modifications

Why I Fear the Oxidative Cycle

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

module-4-mcc-sports-nutrition-credit-course-energy-substrates-used-during-exercise-2-638I often joke that I fear the oxidative cycle. (In fact, I want a t-shirt that quotes me.) So, why might I say this? For two main reasons: I’m a terrible endurance athlete, and more importantly, I believe the most effective fitness gains occur in the anaerobic system.

Our bodies have three metabolic pathways that can be broken down into two cardiovascular systems: Aerobic (oxidative pathway) and anaerobic (phosphagen and glycolytic pathways). Each of these energy systems have their own special characteristics. Aerobic training allows athletes to work at lower intensity levels over extended periods of time, decreasing body fat while also increasing cardiovascular endurance and stamina. Many long-distance runners and ultra-endurance athletes fall into this category of training. Aerobic workouts are commonly referred to as “cardio”. Anaerobic training allows us to exert great effort over short durations. During this intense time period, our bodies improve in power, speed, strength, and muscle mass, while also burning fat.

On the surface, it might appear that the 2 cardiovascular systems are the same, but actually, they differ drastically. For example, aerobic activity has a pronounced tendency to decrease anaerobic capacity. Athletes who train this way extensively experience decreases in muscle mass, strength, speed and power. Conversely, anaerobic conditioning promotes power, speed, muscle mass, strength and fat loss. Moreover, when implemented properly, anaerobic conditioning can be used to develop a very high level of aerobic fitness without the muscle wasting effects.

The high intensity is where all the work is done and where if performed correctly, all of the “benefits” are made, while the lower intensity is there to stimulate recovery and have you catch your breath.

As CrossFitters, our ultimate fitness goal is general physical preparedness (GPP). This desired outcome combines power, strength, speed, and muscle mass along with a strong cardiovascular capacity to quickly move large loads over long distances. In order to reach this ultimate goal, we must train the two metabolic pathways that most effectively support the growth of GPP. These pathways, the phosphagen and glycolytic, support sprint and mid-distance activities lasting 10-30 seconds and 30-120 seconds, respectively. Many of us are familiar with some well-known CrossFit benchmarks (think “Murph’) that take most athletes more than 40 minutes to complete and are grueling endurance WODs. However, constantly training these long endurance WODs that target only the oxidative pathway does little to benefit our overall goal of GPP.
Targeting the phosphagen and glycolytic pathways (anaerobic) enables athletes to increase not only power and speed while burning fat, but also overall endurance. So, rather than having our athletes complete “Murph” every week, we primarily target these two pathways with shorter, more intense workouts in order to get the “most bang for our buck” in terms of training time and improved work capacity.

By constantly varying functional movements of the three main fitness activities of CrossFit (gymnastics, weightlifting, metabolic conditioning) and performing these movements at high intensity, we effectively target these pathways and build both our anaerobic AND aerobic capacities – forging better CrossFitters in the process.

If anyone wants an “I fear the oxidative cycle.” t-shirt, let me know.

Injuries are not the enemy…they are our challenge

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

another-injury-whyRecently, while coaching on the CrossFit floor, an athlete suggested creating a blog post titled “Injury Is the Enemy” with the focus teaching that it isn’t worth getting injured for that extra weight or additional repetition. Although he’s absolutely correct about it not being worth it, referring to injury as the enemy caused me to ponder the subject. The more I thought about this, I realized that injuries are NOT our enemy, rather they are our challenge. Injuries are not only our challenge to avoid, but our challenge to overcome. This post, Part 1, will focus on the challenge to avoid injury. Part 2 will focus on the challenge of overcoming our injuries.

Cave community, I throw down this challenge! I challenge you to daily remember these 5 tips, both in and out of the gym, to avoid the “enemy” known as injury:

1. Intensity (not INSANITY) in a WOD.
You’ve heard this before… now its time to take it seriously! Stop throwing insane weights around before you are ready! Think about your longevity not only as an athlete, but for your overall fitness. It is extremely important for you to learn how to recognize when to say when and seek out your coach for assistance. We love to help (its our job!), and we can assist you by substituting another movement that can achieve the same stimulus of the intense and effective workout you desire, all while keeping you safe.

We know you signed the waiver, but as your coaches, we are responsible for your safety and we need to be sure you can move weight correctly over the course of an entire workout; or have the baseline strength to do the movements to proper standards. Make no mistake, WE WILL STOP YOU! If you are in danger of hurting yourself, it is our job to make sure that you don’t strain or tear your labrum, or herniate a disk, or something even worse. I’ve seen it.
As an athlete, know when to say when. It is a challenge to do so, but imperative as well.

2. Warm Up
What you do directly before beginning your workout can have a big impact on what you are able to accomplish during your workout. I know we all run late sometimes, choosing to skip the class warm up exercises. However, it’s important to remember that warm up exercises prepare the body to move quickly and efficiently, while giving a valuable boost to your performance and help keep you injury free.

Warm up exercises should (and in our case do) include static (non-moving) and dynamic (moving at lower intensity) exercises, preparing your body for the higher intensity movements that make up the main part of our workouts. Static stretching exercises (holding a single position) are used to simply elongate a particular muscle or group of muscles. These stretches help ensure your movements go through the full range of motion for the upcoming workout. Dynamic mobility exercises and drills help stimulate your nervous system, muscles, tendons and joints in a very dynamic manner.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Foods
I could go on for years about this, but I’ll get straight to the point. Processed food and drink contain substances that inflame our tissues, which slows the process of healing those microscopic muscle tears created during our intense workouts. Consuming food items with anti-inflammatory properties promotes faster recovery from hard workouts! Try including these 10 foods in your diet to help reduce inflammation and help your body heal faster.

1. Dark, leafy greens are packed with flavonoids, which may reduce inflammation. Good sources include spinach and kale, while soybeans, berries and tea are helpful as well.
2. Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain, which can help treat muscle injuries like sprains and strains. Add pineapple to a smoothie or salad.
3. Flaxseed is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation. Grind up flaxseed to release the oils, then add a spoonful to your salad, oatmeal, or yogurt.
4. Carrots are rich in carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals that help protect cells from free radicals, boost immunity, and help regulate inflammation. Other carotenoid rich foods include apricots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin.
5. Cinnamon not only reduces inflammation, but also fights bacteria, assists with blood sugar control, and enhances brain function.
6. Ginger contains several anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, which may relieve joint pain, prevent free radical damage, and increase immunity. Steep a couple of slices of ginger in hot water for ginger tea.
7. Onions can be used as a base for soups, sauces, and stir-fries. Similar foods with anti-inflammatory benefits include garlic, leeks, and chives.
8. Tart cherries are one of the richest known sources of antioxidants, while also being anti-inflammatory powerhouses. Research suggests that tart cherries offer pain relief from gout and arthritis, reduce exercise induced joint and muscle pain, and improve inflammatory markers. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice or combine dried tart cherries with nuts for a snack.
9. Walnuts are loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Top a salad with a handful of walnuts or eat raw walnuts as a snack.
10. Turmeric, a mustard yellow spice from Asia, gets its coloring from a compound called curcumin. Research shows that curcumin can improve chronic pain by suppressing inflammatory chemicals in the body. Make a homemade curry with turmeric or mix it into other recipes once or twice a week.

4. Mobilize
Do I really need to say more? Our very own Stephanie R. provides us with daily WOD recovery yoga poses that make all the difference in injury prevention. Please don’t rush out after your workout…take the time to allow your body to recover. Grab a lacrosse ball and roll around on a sore spot; grab a band or a foam roller. We provide you these programs and make available these tools in the gym to keep you safe. We’re not looking to make life more difficult for Russ by cluttering the floor.

5. Take a Rest Day, or 2
Resting allows your body time to physiologically repair itself from the pounding you give it on a daily basis. Rest days make you stronger by allowing your body to repair the microscopic tears in your muscles and by replenishing glycogen stores. This process then improves your performance when you are in the gym, helping you feel stronger and fitter. Taking a rest day is NOT defined by sitting on the couch and doing nothing. Check out my previous post about active recovery which describes what you should do on your rest day(s).

There you have it! I challenge each of you to utilize these 5 tips to help you stay injury free.
Stay tuned for Part 2!

Care for Your Quads

Monday, March 9th, 2015

quadriceps-musclesOur sport demands a colossal amount from our quadriceps. We are constantly running, jumping or squatting and wow those muscles get worked! Our quadriceps are one of the largest muscle groups in the body. Maintaining length in these muscles is imperative for the health and longevity of surrounding joints: our knees and hips.
We have four quadricep muscles. These are the Rectus Femoris, Vastus Medialis, Vastus Intermedius and Vastus Lateralis (as shown in the above image).
In order for our patella to track properly, we must keep all connecting muscles and tendons healthy and strong. If our quads are tight and stuck together, our patella can be pulled in some uncomfortable directions and the shift can cause clicking or discomfort in the knees. In addition, tight muscles can cause lack of movement in the kneecap, not allowing the patella to slide; this will occasionally cause pain and a limited range of motion when we do things such as going into a deep squat.
Here are a few tips to maintain healthy quads and save yourself from some discomfort in your knees and hips!
Get a buddy to smash your muscles
Have your friend take off their shoe and apply some pressure to all angles of your quads. This will take a bit of tough love. Have them work up and down your quads and make sure to take big deep breaths as they do so. If you find an extra tender spot,  hold pressure over that area as you breath through the experience.
Here is a great video demo by Kelly Starrett via Mobility WOD:
You can mash your own quads and achieve the same release by using a lacrosse ball or foam roller. Simply take your mobility object of choice and place it on the floor. Next, you will lay your tight quads over the foam roller or lacrosse ball, making small passes up and down your quads while applying pressure on the object.

Stop running out after class and follow the WOD recovery yoga Stephanie has provided us.  Your body will thank you.

Here are a few others:

Lay on your belly, reach behind you and grab your foot, while trying to get your heel to your butt. Hold this stretch for a good 60- 90 seconds. Practice taking big deep breaths and slowly releasing them. As you hold this stretch, try to pull your heel closer and closer to your behind.

Another great stretch that we often use is the couch stretch. Find a stable surface that you can prop your leg on; try to get your knee close to the base of your stretching spot, in this case, the wall. Your opposite leg should be propped up in front of you with weight on your heel. Get your knee to a 90 degree angle and prop your chest up as high as you can get it. The goal would be to get your heel to your butt. Hold this stretch for at least 90 seconds and again, practice taking big deep breaths as you do so. If you have super tight quads, this will not be comfortable, but in the end it will be worth the discomfort.

These are just a few ways you can mobilize your quads and clean up some sticky muscles. Keep on top of these suggestions especially if this is a common problem area for you! These could help alleviate any discomfort that might be caused by such tightness.

Speaking of Shin Splints

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

shinsplintsWhat are Shin Splints?
Shin splints symptoms can include pain over the inside lower half of the leg. There can be pain at the start of running which often eases as it continues. This pain often returns after activity and may be at its worse the next morning. (TRUE!!) Sometimes you may get some swelling or lumps and may be felt when feeling the inside of the shin bone. Pain when the toes or foot are bent downwards can also be a symptom and although not common, a redness over the inside of the shin may occur.
Common Causes:
Understanding what causes shin splints can help you treat and prevent them from happening in the future. One of the most common causes is inflammation of the periosteum of the tibia– a dense connective tissue covering the shin bone or tibia. Traction forces on the periosteum from the muscles of the lower leg cause shin pain and inflammation.
Too much impact to the lower legs: If you are a the “heal strike ” type of runner ( a midfoot-strike style gait and then running on your forefoot)
the repetitive shock of your heels hitting the ground will irritate the fascia(tissue) in the muscles of your lower legs, especially your shins. When the fascia becomes irritated or inflamed you’ll feel discomfort in your shins that could worsen over time if no correction is made.
Here are some of the most common causes of shin splints:

  • Overpronation of the feet
  • Improper worn out footwear
  • Increasing training too fast
  • Running on hard surfaces
  • Decreased flexibility at the ankle
  • Heavy heal striking
  • Extended downhill running

R.I.C.E! (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Resting is an important part in all aspects of training because you are allowing your muscles time to recover. Keeping your shins compressed enhances blood flow through your legs and to your muscles to help restore the damage.
Shin stretches is an excellent way to strengthen and treat shin splints. Here are a few good one:
1. Toe walks are a great help. Try to get on the tips of your toes and walk around for 30 seconds at a time, walk normal for 30 seconds and get back on your tips of your toes.
2. Walking on your heels. This one is a little tougher to do but the more your legs get used to it, then it will ease the shin pain.
3. Spelling out the alphabet with your toes is an excellent exercise to do.

3 metabolic pathways

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

energy-systemsI was chatting w/ an athlete on the crossfit floor yesterday and casually mentioned which metabolic pathway today’s WOD was targeting.  Rightfully, she looked at me as if I had 3 heads and then I realized I was time for a little science lesson.

There are 3 metabolic pathways that provide energy for all human action. There is the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.

The phosphagen pathway provides fuel for the highest powered activities, those that last less than 10 seconds.  An example would be performing a power clean.  The glycolytic pathway takes over for moderate-powered activities, those that last up to around 2 minutes.  Think 400 meter sprint.  Finally, the oxidative (aerobic) pathway is used for activities that last longer than a few minutes.   Running a mile would greatly utilize this pathway.

CrossFit training combines and develops all 3 metabolic pathways.   A common fault in training is to focus your efforts on just 1 or 2 of these metabolic pathways.   This is usually due to personal preference or comfort level, but by doing so your fitness is greatly diminished.

So there you have it, CrossFit’s 3 Standards of Fitness, as outlined in the Article “What is Fitness?” by Greg Glassman.  If you are currently doing CrossFit , congratulations, you are getting more fit by the day.  If you are NOT think about how your fitness level would benefit greatly from adjusting your training and/or activities to be in line with these standards.

Let’s talk Tabata

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

tabata-2-300x174“So what exactly is Tabata and why is it called that?”

Well, the story starts with the Japanese Olympic Speed Skating Team. In 1996 team trainer and scientist Izumi Tabata conducted a study analyzing the effectiveness of a specific High Intensity Training program that the head coach had developed specifically for his athletes. The team was divided into different groups. The first group trained on ergonomic cycles at moderate intensity for one hour, five days per week, for a total of six weeks. The second group completed four-minute, high-intensity workouts on ergonomic cycles four days per week for a total of six weeks. The program that group two followed is what has come to be known as Tabata training:

Eight rounds

One round: 20 seconds of ‘all-out’ work, followed by 10 seconds of rest

Tabata describes the desired intensity of work at around 170% of an athlete’s VO2 max—their maximum rate of oxygen consumption. At the conclusion of the six weeks of training, Tabata found that group two had experienced a 28% increase in their anaerobic capacity, as well as a 14% increase in their VO2 max. When summarizing the effect of the study and the HIIT program, Tabata writes that

“moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems”.

This was a significant finding, as most authorities had regarded the two pathways—and training for them—as compartmentalized. Aerobic training was largely long slow distance (LSD) work, and anaerobic training was typically regarded as some hard-to-measure dark component left to the explosion sports.

Dr. Tabata examined several different protocols but settled on eight sets of twenty-second work intervals alternating with ten-second rest intervals as the most effective interval times for improving VO2 max. In the original study the intervals were performed at a quantifiable 170 percent of VO2 max. (Just think max effort.) In the field, where measurements are more subjective, the effort should be such that on the eighth set the trainee is nearing exhaustion. In the original study, the test subjects doing 4-minute “Tabata” intervals saw greater VO2 max improvement than the control group that did 60-minute sessions of moderate-intensity exercise.

Dr. Tabata’s research tested subjects on stationary bikes, but in the CrossFit world his protocol is applied to all variety of functional movements. The Tabata protocol is applied to exercises including squats, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, rowing, and, in my practice, dumbbell moves. We generally score Tabata intervals based on the lowest number of reps completed in any one of the eight twenty -second work intervals.


Tabata training increases the metabolism and heart rate immediately, the ability to produce work will lower as you go through the sessions.  The body will burn fat for up to 24 hours, because the metabolism will stay at the high levels after the workout.  Tabata training will increase cardiovascular fitness as well as core and strength gains depending on the workout.  It is a fast paced exercise routine that is very time efficient, all you need is 4 minutes.

Also, these high-intensity efforts produce this dramatic aerobic benefit without the muscle wasting brought about by endurance training.


  • The Tabata routine is not for beginners, it is easy for the intensity to become overwhelming for beginners.
  • There is a greater risk of injuries since it is high impact exercise.
  • Muscles fatigue quickly, that could lead to mental fatigue and depleted motivation.

Typical Tabata workouts (try a new one):

  • Push up (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Body Weight Squats (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Medicine Ball throw downs (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Jumping rope (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Mountain Climbers (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Sit ups (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Sprints (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Stairs (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Bench press (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)
  • Calf raisers (20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes)

Want better lifts? Here are 5 muscle groups stretches that can help

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

1. Gastrocs
Power lifts can suffer is your calves are tight.  Often people have difficulty squatting all the way down while keeping their heels on the ground.  Try to catch a max clean or snatch with your weight on your toes, you’ll fall forward.  Tight calves ulitamely limit your ankles natural ability to dorsiflex.  When this happens, your knee often is forced to thrust over the foot to put the ankle in a dorsiflexed-like position.  Whether it’s lifting or running, having your knees over your toes isn’t a good thing for the knee.
The Stretch: It’s as simple as putting your toes and ball of your foot against a wall or curb with your heel on the ground.  Lean forward and feel the stretch in the calf.  You can also get a lacrosse ball for pressure point work on the calf.  While sitting on the ground, put the ball on a block and put your calf on top of the ball.  It’s good to use a block in order to elevate the ball off the ground or else your heel will hit the ground and prevent you from getting good pressure on the ball.
2. Quads
When lowering towards the ground during a squat or lunge, the quadricep muscles are lengthening.  When they are tight you might feel  discomfort in the front of the knee.  This can affect your ability to get low enough for Rx squats, thrusters, wall balls, etc.  It could also cause you to alter your motion in an effort to compensate for the tightness or discomfort that you might be feeling in the knee.  In the long term, the compensatory movements can cause injuries to other body parts due to the improper biomechanics.
One of the quadriceps, rectus femoris, attaches to the front of your pelvic bone.  Tightness in the rectus femoris can cause a forward tilt of the pelvis to occur.  This increases the arch in the low back.  If the pelvis is tilted forward, then everything above it (ie. your entire upper body) will also have a slight forward lean when you squat.  How many people have difficulty keeping their weight back and chest up when doing squats?
The Stretch:  The simple way is to stand up while holding onto something for balance, then pull the heel of one foot to your butt cheek.  We’ve all done this at some point in our lives.  The better way to attack the quads is to roll them on a foam roller or if you really don’t mind pain, a lacrosse ball.  You will be surprised at some of the spots that you find.  Work through them.
3. Iliopsoas (hip flexors)
Tight hip flexors can create a slew of issues in the body.   The iliopsoas is actually two muscles (iliacus and psoas) that come together as one and attach to the top of the femur, the inside of the pelvis, and to the vertebrae in the lower mid-back region.  The muscle is shortened when the hip is in a flexed position, which can be anything from doing toes to bar or just sitting in a chair.  Ever feel low back pain or tightness while standing up after sitting for a period of time?  Then it’s time  to stretch the hip flexors.
Stretching the hip flexors will benefit your power lifts and Olympic lifts.  When you clean, deadlift, or snatch your hips are starting in a totally flexed position.  Then you need to quickly, especially in the case of the clean and snatch, extend the low back and hips in order to generate momentum while lifting the bar off the ground.  You already have enough working against you in the weight on the bar and gravity.  You don’t need tightness in the hip flexors slowing down your ability to extend the hips as fast as possible.  Neurologically speaking, stretching the hip flexors may be even more important than just the shear anatomical effect.  Briefly stretch the hip flexors, right before a max deadlift causes reciprocal inhibition of the hip extensors.  In other words, if I stretch the hip flexors, then I’m better enabling the hip extensors to do their job.  I’m making sure that my glutes are ready to work as efficiently as they can for this one heavy rep.
The Stretch: Place one knee on the ground, place the opposite foot pretty far in front of you with that knee bent.  Have something next to you to hold onto for balance.  If you have to use your muscles to balance, then you won’t be able to get the best stretch possible.  This isn’t meant to be a yoga pose.  Lean your weight forward onto your front leg.  KEEP YOUR CHEST UP!  Don’t bend forward.  You’re trying to stretch the hip flexor so bending forward will not allow full extension of the hip flexor.  You should feel the stretch in the front of the hip of the leg that is on the ground.  When all else fails, grab the trusty lacrosse ball.  Lay on your stomach with the ball under you, just inside the pelvic bone.  Move around a little until you find the spot.
4. Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings can really affect hip mobility.  Lack of hip mobility can prevent athletes successfully completing their lifts. Tight hamstrings can also make it difficult to do other exercises like toes to bar, as well as affect your running.  Hamstrings are also important when it comes to hip extension so you might as well have them working optimally when trying to use them with the deadlift, snatch, and clean.
The Stretch:  There You can do it sitting or standing.  One leg at a time or both.  You can even lay on your back.  When laying on your back, it’s beneficial to  use a band to help get the most out of it.  Wrap a band around the ball of the foot and pull your leg up with the band try to keep your knee straight.  This will make sure that the hamstring is fully lengthened and with time the range will improve.
5. Pecs
Let’s take a look at your overhead squat.  Are you having trouble keeping your chest up?  When the pecs are tight, the shoulders can round forward, the mid back can have difficulty extending, and the upper back muscles can be weakened.  All of this leads to it being almost impossible to do an overhead or even a decent front squat.

The Stretch:  1. Lacrosse ball of course.  Lay on the stomach, arm out to your side, ball under the pec, and well OUCH!

2. Stretch on the wall or with a band.   It’s not the best angle for the shoulder joint to have your arm going straight back, parallel to the ground..  Instead, raise the arm at a 45 degree angle.  Place your hand against the wall or grab the band and then turn away.  The more you turn or the closer you stand to the wall, the better the stretch.  A 45 degree angle also allows the muscle fibers of the pec to travel in one continuous path as they go from the sternum up to the humerus, rather than making a last second turn.  Just try both and you’ll see what I mean.

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!)