The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence but by oft falling. -Lucretius
I like my 40 year old self a LOT better!
Nobody wants to hear it took two years or more to transform my body. Everyone is enamored with the 30 day, 60 day, shrink-wrap it in seconds, take this pill, eat this but not that malarky that abounds in the fitness industry. No one wants to hear, “Keep it up. Stay the course.” Most want you to say, “You’ll be skinny in 4 weeks!”
Many of you guys may have seen these pictures of me I posted a couple of weeks ago. The time frame between the two pics is about 13 years. Did it take me 13 years to get from one to the other? Short answer- no.
The “before” picture was in 2001 shortly after graduating chiropractic school. I was on a quest to get healthy. I began to ride my mountain bike, jog and hit the gym occasionally. When I started CrossFit in 2007, I was actually kind of skinny. I had run a few marathons and was looking for something to supplement my adventure race training. It took time to add weight and gain some muscle.
Coming into CrossFit training as an endurance athlete, I was shocked at how I stacked up against the competition. The CrossFit daily WOD was being completed by the likes of Chris Spealler and James Fitzgerald (OPT). I, like most, was in awe of their scores and would devour anything I could on how to improve. I learned quite a bit and loved geeking out on CrossFit. I’d watch every video posted by HQ, read the CF Journal and try to apply all my new found tech tips when I hit the gym. It was during this time that I began to learn one simple secret to improve at CrossFit.
Want to know that secret? Of course you do.
Here it is…keep moving forward.
I know, earth shattering. But as simple as that sounds, it’s not always easy to do.
In fact, many things can stand in the way of forward progress. Work, a hectic schedule, kids, illness, injury, etc. all can stop your momentum. I’m not saying to leave your kids at home with only the dog and hit the box while you have the flu. What I am trying to tell you is to figure out how to juggle your fitness goals and schedule in an optimum way. Don’t let something as simple as not being able to find matching socks keep you from your WOD. Plan ahead. Look at the week and know when you’re going to work out. Protect that time. Know that the hour spent in sweat is building the better you- drop by drop.
Out of my 3 marathons my best one was my third race at the Dallas White Rock marathon. I had followed a plan from Runners World that had me running only 3 days a week. I ran short intervals, mid distance tempo runs and long runs. I stayed injury free (even though it was the typical build up to a 20 miler 3 weeks out) and had a great run! Four weeks later, I won a 5k here in Waxahachie. Sure it was a small local race, but I was pumped!
A year later, I found CrossFit. The strength training was a challenge for me but I could still run well even though it was no longer my primary focus. Two years into CrossFit with zero extra run training, I ran the Cowtown Half and was only 5 minutes slower than my best! Again, pumped! This time for different reasons. I was enjoying the varied fitness CrossFit was throwing at me and at the same time I could still do well at another fitness endeavors that seemed totally unrelated.
Three years into my CrossFit journey, I really got into CrossFit Endurance. I used it as my training for a few endurance relays- The Texas Independence Relay and The Capital to Coast. I’ve run each of these races twice. This last race C2C5 (2014) I can say I honestly I ran five specific “training runs” for that race.
Nighttime exchange after running just over 7.5 miles.
That’s right. At the event, I ran 24 miles over the course of 31 hours with only 5 specific training runs. Want to know what they were?
1) 200m repeats x10
2) 400m, 600m, 800m x3 (rest was equal to work)
3) 3 mile run
4) 3 mile morning run/ 3 mile evening run
5) 5 mile “long” run
What else did I do? I rowed, squatted, performed muscle ups, did double unders (rope jumps), push weight overhead. I did rounds of running and kettlebell swings with pull ups. In other words, I did CrossFit. It’s my sport. I love it. But what I truly love about it is the preparation it gives me for just about anything.
Deadlifts make runners and cyclists better hill climbers.
The C2C5 was by far my best race. I enjoyed it. I loved running with my teammates. I loved the fact that 10 out of the 11 of my team were CrossFitters who like me scarcely prepared for this race.
My teammates ROCK!
Am I the “best” runner I could be? No. I’m not a specialist. I’m just a guy who enjoys doing unconventional things and preparing for them in a different way than most.
Could you benefit from some strength training? Will something like this work for you? Most likely.
Would you like to try it? Shoot me an email and get signed up for an Elements Class- Chris@CrossFitWaxahachie.com
Holes in your game make you sad.
If you’ve got a “hole in your game” it’s going to bite you. As a recreational CrossFitter it might not be a big deal. It may just mean you’ll suffer a little bit more in a WOD or that you have to scale quite a bit. Again, no big deal. But if you want to compete in CF, holes matter.
We saw a gymnastic hole (handstand walk for distance) keep the 2013 Games champ on the women’s side out of a return trip to Carson in 2014. As fit as she is, Sam Briggs couldn’t make up for her poor performance in the HSW to catch up.
What’s your hole? Gymnastics? Strength? Flexibility? Skills like double unders? All of the above?
A team prowler push requires no skill but double unders post push…that’s a different story.
The good news is that there is a fix. It’s called practice. You have a chance to practice 3-5 days a week as you come in and warm up or cool down. The extra credit pieces we’ve been doing can go a long way to shore up your holes.
If you have a mobility or flexibility issue, no amount of working out is going to fix it. You have to spend time on a roller, with a band, at yoga (every Saturday) or stretching.
If the issue is strength there may be times that you can scale up and go slower in a metcon. This week has been a good example of using heavy weights in a conditioning wod where we’re more focused on effort than time. The “heavy Fran” allowed you to chip away at heavy thrusters and the max rep bench with no time component had you focus on effort each set. Turning off the clock in your head (and on the wall) let’s you focus on quality reps without getting sloppy. Strength work should never be done with compromised form. Set up, keep it tight and do work.
Gymnastics is another area that can slow down your WOD and hold you back. I remember when I was first working on handstand push ups. I could get one and then all of zero more without resting a minute or so. That meant the 21-15-9 in Diane were not going to happen quickly. So instead of working the full HSPU, I did negatives. I set up on the wall and did the lowering portion of the HSPU. Over time, I got stronger and stronger at this movement. Yes, it took time. All worthwhile things do.
So how do you get better at gymnastics movements? First, dial in your core. Movements like dead bugs and hollow rocks transfer essential midline stability necessary for good body control. Secondly, break it into pieces. A muscle up is a daunting task. Work on ring pull ups and ring dips combined with plenty of “walk thru” transitions or jumping transitions. Show your body where you want it to go and do it over and over. If you want to get good at handstand walks, you’ve got to have a decent amount of overhead strength and body awareness. But first things first, can you kick up against a wall and not crumble? Can you hold a handstand on the wall and lift a hand even for a moment? Can you hold and touch your shoulder? These would be good starting points. After that, working on freestanding balance is going to benefit you. How long can you hold it? Break it up and then put it all together.
I don’t want you guys to suffer (ok maybe just a little). I want your game to be solid. I want you to move well, be strong and have fun in your fitness endeavor. And if you go to compete, I want you to kick some tail and CRUSH IT!
Team heavy rope double unders? Better get to practice!
The “test” of 14.5.
I started CrossFit training in September of 2007. It seemed like every workout crushed me for that first year. Even so, there I was every night hitting “refresh” on the CrossFit.com page waiting for the workout to pop up.
I was hooked and was “going hard.” Every WOD was another chance to try and “burn it down.”
Fast forward to 2014 and I’m still going hard. At least as hard as I can in my 40 year old body. I’m still improving but that “burn it down” mentality has given way to something else. Not every WOD needs a suicide pace. In fact, as we found out during the CF Games Open, pacing is everything. Go too hard to early in an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) and you might go to a dark place you can’t recover from.
Brian might be going dark.
Then there’s the fact that 90% of our training is just that- training. Training needs to be differentiated from testing. Training sessions should help you improve for the “test” but every training session itself is not a test. Testing would be benchmark WODs- Fran and Annie are two that you’ve run into this week. Helen was last week. When those come up you have one goal- BURN IT DOWN!
Knowing this and sticking to that plan as you approach each day of work will keep you focused and improving. It will also have you coming back day after day to continue working toward your goals.
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
Dr. Chris Biles, DC is the head trainer and owner of CrossFit Waxahachie. Established in 2010, CFW is a premier strength and conditioning facility for athletes of all levels- beginner to advanced.
“The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone. The ankle bone’s connected to the leg bone…”
You are a miraculous, magnificent creation. Your body is an intricate web of functioning parts. Each member relies on the others to work together in harmony. Shouldn’t your training reflect that?
As Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit says- the training needs of myself and my grandmother differ in degree not kind. We should basically be doing the same movements, hers just won’t be as heavy.
What I love about CrossFit is that along with being infinitely scalable, it’s also functional. That term has been thrown around a bunch lately so let’s just dive in and take a look at what functional is and isn’t, shall we?
Functional movements are:
1) Natural- movements you do in every day life.
2) Compound- this means they are multi-joint movements.
3) Irreducible- they shouldn’t be broken down into individual parts. Take the letter A for instance:
Functional movements are not:
1) Contrived- movements that I have to force to happen or that don’t occur in my normal daily activities. I don’t live on a trampoline or in a state of constant imbalance. Therefore, swiss ball or balance training is not functional movement.
2) Isolated- tasks performed in daily life require compound joint movement. Try to sit to the potty without bending your knees.
The takeaway is this:
Tricep kickbacks, calf raises, and the like are a great way to “feel the burn” but they’re not likely to help you when you have to lift a heavy box down from the top of the closet. A push press with dumbbells or a barbell on the otherhand…
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do believe there is a time and place for isolated movements, instability training and/or contrived positions. These would be included in rehab, pre-hab or as accessory work to combat imbalances you may have. The Crossover Symmetry system is designed to strengthen the rotator cuff, which is a much maligned body part. The extra attention here is not a workout per se but an adjunctive therapy.
Work your body as the whole, functioning organism it is and I have no doubt you’ll see results that will make you smile!
The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 1 Corinthians 12:21
About the Author
Dr. Chris Biles, DC is the head trainer and owner of CrossFit Waxahachie. He is a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer and is passionate about all things fitness. He has competed for many years in adventure racing, mountain and road bike racing, and marathons. His main sport now is the Sport of Fitness- CrossFit.
I was going to write a little article about the issue of hand tears from high rep pull up or barbell workouts. But with a little (very little) digging I came up with a nicely written piece to help us out. Don’t re-invent the wheel, right? So check this out from FITBOMB:
CrossFit Hand Care
Want the highlights?
Don’t be too soft. If your hands have the suppleness of a newborn, you’re gonna get shredded.
Don’t be too hard. You will need to do some maintenance on your calluses if you want to keep your skin. Read the article already.
Grip the bar correctly. Pinching and bunching of skin with the added torque of movement is going to bite you. Learn the correct grip here.
It’ll heal faster if you do this… oh for crying out loud, click on the article already. I’m not going to spoon feed this to you.
Gloves, tape and grips can help. But are you always going to have them? I find that I rarely need them unless I’ve got a ton of pulling volume or a spot that’s close to ripping. Your best bet is to get them on before you have a problem. In many cases, taping over a tear that has started just makes it worse during the remainder of the workout.
Cut your losses. This little nugget is just from me. If you’re shredded at 50 pull ups in Angie, maybe you should move on. What do you think the next 50 will do to you? How will your training be affected by the devastation you’re rendering to your manos? This is after all just that- training. Live to fight another day. If you’re in a competition, that may be a different story…
Here’s to keeping all your skin! Happy WODding!