Don't Be A Dick: Gym Etiquette

Here are some cues to mastering gym etiquette:

  1. Put your weights away when you are done using them. No one likes to clean up after you.
  2. If someone is about to perform an lift (particularly an Olympic/Power lift), do not stand directly in front of them. That eye contact is awkward and it can be distracting to them.
  3. Wipe you sweat off of equipment. Again, no one likes to clean up after you...especially bodily fluids.
  4. Don't leave a pile of chalk on the floor. Unless you want Jake to make you do burpees.
  5. Don't fart in a closed space where others are (ahem Jake). 

6 Benefits of Staying Hydrated That Most People Don’t Know About

There are dozens of benefits that come from drinking plenty of water. Here are the top six:

  1. Backaches. The back of our body rests on the spinal cord. The spinal disk core is made up of a large volume of water and dehydration, which leads to back pain in many individuals.
  2. Improved athletic performance. Since muscle is about 80% water, it’s important to keep your muscles fueled with what it needs. Even slight dehydration can lead to altered body temperature and increase fatigue. Furthermore, during exercise, your body will sweat in an attempt to keep your core temperature low. This can lead to even more dehydration. It’s a vicious cycle
  3. Smoother bowel movements. If you tend to have difficulty pooping, it could be caused by lack of sufficient water intake
  4. Weight loss. Yep! Drinking more water can help you lose weight as it can increase satiety and boost your metabolism.
  5. pH Balance. The human body maintains a pH range of 7.35-7.45 for proper physiological processes. An acidic shift may lead to sickness and an inability of the body to assimilate vitamins and minerals.
  6. Prevents Cardiovascular Disease. In order to maintain the proper viscosity of blood, plasma, and fibrinogen, it is important to drink adequate water to make sure the blood is moving through the pipes properly!

So how much water is enough water? There are a handful of online calculators out there like this one and this one but the general rules are:

  • If you are a sedentary person (low-activity job with little to no exercise) - ~64oz of water each day
  • If you are a moderately active person (low activity job with medium to intense levels of exercise for 30-60 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week) - ~100-150oz of water each day.
  • If you are a very active person (high activity jobs with high intensity exercise for 30-60 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week) - ~120-170oz

Everyone’s body is different so these numbers might not be the most precise for you. Looking at the color of your pee is a good gauge as well. If your pee is more yellow/dark yellow, you need to drink more water. If your pee is a light/very light yellow, you should be good.

Why you need to stop doing CrossFit to get better at CrossFit

There are two types of Crossfitters – the first type, where most people land, is “I do CrossFit to be healthy and/or look good naked.” The second type is a complete different and dark dark universe filled with endless hours of lifting heavy ass weights, ensuring your toes are pointed on your gymnastics training, and training your mind to endure the hard work. If you fall into the first category, then this article does not pertain to you. You keep doing what you are doing and lookin’ good doin’ it! But if you aspire to be the best at exercising then continue reading.

I remember a few years back. At the time, I had already been doing five or so years of Crossfit. My friend and I had the silly notion that we were on the cusp of making it into regionals. We trained our asses off that year, did multiple lifting programs, focused on gymnastics and made sure our cardio was “open ready”. That year my numbers were:

  1. Deadlift: 405
  2. Back squat: 325
  3. Clean and jerk: 275
  4. Snatch: 215
  5. Fran: 3:30
  6. Grace: 2:30
  7. Max pull ups: 45

Looking back, those numbers are still respectable for a the average human. But man, we were wrong about being close to making it to regionals. Those numbers landed me at 6,780th place. Not exactly the results I had hoped for. My buddy didn’t do much better as he had to pull out of the competition due to injury. It was about that time when a study of the statistical analysis came out that broke down athletes that made it to regionals by the numbers, specifically the bottom 3% of athletes. What they found was eye opening and changed they way I and many people approached the sport of Crossfit. These were their numbers to the best of my recollection:

  1. Deadlift: 505
  2. Back squat: 450
  3. Clean and jerk: 335
  4. Snatch:275
  5. Fran: 2:30
  6. Grace: 1:36
  7. Max pull ups: 75

These numbers represented the BOTTOM 3% OF REGIONALS ATHLETES. After this, it became more apparent than ever that it didn’t matter how big your engine was or how much heart you had, if you want to be a competitive CrossFit Athlete, you need to be strong AF and focus on weightlifting and gymnastics and skill. Don’t get me wrong I love a long strenuous chippers or a good team WOD but believe it or not those WODs are hindering your strength gains.

So what should you do then to get better at CrossFit? Throughout the year you need to be practicing cleans, jerks, snatches and all the accessory lifts. Learn and master the fundamentals of gymnastics – do hollow holds, hand stand holds, push ups, pull ups, dips and all that other good stuff. Keep your WODs and interval training between three and five minutes. As the CrossFit Open approaches, you can increase the length of your WODs and begin the necessary cardio training needed to keep you moving in those long Open workouts (this can typically be done 6 to 8 weeks out from the Open). So when the Open rolls around, you will approach it much like a fighter getting ready for a fight. If you followed the plan throughout the year, you will be stronger than ever with much improved gymnastic abilities at this point. I guarantee if you take this approach you will greatly improve your score and set yourself up to compete with the best.

So, remember if you want to get better at Crossfit, stop doing Crossfit!

How To Do Better in the CrossFit Open

Every year we get together for 5 weeks and put the past year's training to the test. There will be no faking it here - the bro reps wont be counted and only if you’ve put in the sweat, tears, and sometimes blood, do you even stand a chance to compete with the best. Even then your chances are bleak unless you are strong AF, your gymnastics is on point, and you’re a fucking machine.

            In order to get better in the Open, your focus should be on getting stronger in the Squat, Deadlift and Press for the majority of the year. You will also want to pay close attention to the Snatch and Clean & Jerk. This is tricky though, Olympic lifting for technique and Olympic lifting for Crossfit is much different but you need to practice both. Olympic lifting with technique makes you better at Crossfit, but Crossfit doesn’t make you better at Olympic lifting.

            Simultaneously you should be working on your gymnastics skills. Everyone will have a different focus here but a good place to start, as with everything, is with the fundamentals. Do hollow holds, handstand holds, strict pull ups, push ups, dips and arch to hollow swings. For a more detailed program check this one out.

            Now, we can’t forget about your cardiovascular endurance. To get the most out of the years lifting and protect your precious gainz, keep metabolic conditioning workouts to under 10 minutes. Start ramping up around November-ish by adding in some longer and more frequent MetCons. The Open starts at the end of February and you will want be have world class conditioning by then. You should follow a program that consists of running, rowing, swimming and all sorts of others sucky shit.

            So to recap: lift heavy and often, work on your gymnastics, film yourself, analyze, make adjustments, watch all the videos (of the experts) and work your ass off. And remember -this is supposed to be fun, so loosen up and enjoy the ride.

Top 3 Reasons Why You Can’t Overhead Squat and How to Fix Them

The overhead squat requires just the right combination of flexibility, strength, power and coordination. If you have ever attempted one, you know all too well.  Performed correctly it can be a powerful tool in the development of an athlete’s ability. When done wrong it is not only dangerous, but very frustrating. While all lifters tend to be a little different and require a slightly different approach, there are a few simple things to take a look at when trying to improve the overhead squat.

  1. Your air squat sucks! Many lifters skip mastering the fundamentals on the basic lifts, which make the more complex, such as the overhead squat, snatch clean, lifts possible. Go back to the basics and perfect your technique from the ground up.
  2. You don’t do it enough. Unless you were one of the lucky few that came to the party flexible, this move requires many hours of practice, evaluation and hard work to master. To become proficient at anything 10,000+ hours are needed. So, get to work!
  3. Your core is weak! Do you fold in half when you squat? This is a problem. Developing a strong core that can keep your back vertical is essential to safely progressing in the overhead squat. Do supplemental core exercises. Everyday.  
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Why Your Squat Sucks

The squat is the essential movement of any true and tested fitness program. While all lifters were not created equally there are some simple rules to abide by. So let’s start from the ground up (literally) and look at a few of the most common faults seen in the squat and how to fix them. 

  1. Your feet are all wrong. Your feet should be as narrow as hip-width apart and as wide as shoulder-width apart. If you pick a stance that is to narrow it requires an extreme amount of hip mobility. Too wide and you start wasting energy. Play around and find what is comfortable for you, just be mindful of how wide you go.
  2. Your weight is not distributed through your foot correctly. This one is huge and probably one of the most common faults. The foot is the base of the squat and having a solid foundation here is paramount. If the base of the squat is off then chances are the rest of the squat is suspect as well. Your weight should be on the outside of the foot and in the custom heal. Arches are up and NOT collapsed.
  3. Not using your butt to squat. If your knees start to come towards each other at any point during your squat, then you aren’t using your butt to it’s fullest. Everybody squats for a better butt so get those knees out!
  4. Your knees come forward. Not only is this a surefire way to hurt your knees, but it is also very inefficient way to squat. Stick that butt back and get those hamstrings to do some of the work for you.
  5. Your chest collapses when you squat. This is what we call an immature squat. Fixing it is essential to improve not only your squats but also your olympic lifting. To rectify this, try to engage your thoracic spine (which is the area of your mid and upper back) to keep your chest up. One exercise that might help increase the strength and flexibility in that area is holding a 10 pound plate outstretched in your hands when you squat. Not only will this engage those muscles, but it will also increase your stability during this movement.
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