3 Areas That Are Essential To Mobilize

“It’s not enough to exercise,“You have got to sleep. You have got to drink enough water. You have got to develop a practice around maintenance of your body. You have got to learn how to move right.” -Kelly Starrett

Let’s face it, there are times when movement prep and cool-down take a back seat to the actual workout. You might be guilty of jumping right into your main lift of the day because you’re short on time. Maybe your post workout cool-down consists of some gasping and sweat angels on the floor before lumbering to the parking lot in search of your protein shake?

Yes, you can make an argument about how kids don’t stretch before taking off at the playground, but with a few rare exceptions all of us need to make time for mobility if we are training hard. Mobility is equal parts injury prevention and performance benefit. If you want to perform at your maximum capability it is well worth the investment of time. I’ll give you a hint, it doesn’t take much! Let’s look at 3 major areas that can make a huge difference in mobility.

1.Ankles
2.Psoas
3.Thoracic spine

1.Ankles
Tight ankles can be a major impediment in your daily training. If you feel like you are hitting a wall in your lifts and want to improve your squats, deadlifts, cleans, and snatches you may want to give some serious attention to your ankles.

Our musculoskeletal system generates movement through the contraction of muscles on a series of levers, our bones. Some positions are more advantageous than others and our goal as athletes is to take advantage of these positions to generate more power in our lifts.

Shortened range of motion in the ankle will make it difficult to maintain powerful positions in the squat because to achieve depth the body must borrow additional range of motion. This compensation is often shown by the individual turning their feet out to the sides. This is often a less favorable position for our muscles to produce optimal force from and can increase risk of injury.

To prep the ankles and increase range of motion practice sitting in the bottom position of a pistol (1-legged) squat. A pistol squat forces the ankle of the working leg to dorsiflex, or shorten the angle created at the ankle joint.

2.Psoas
The psoas is a tricky muscle that often slips under the radar. It runs from the head of the femur in the hip socket and travels up attaching to the lumbar spine. If the psoas tightens it reduces range of motion in the hip socket and simultaneously pulls the lumbar spine down and in. This usually shows up as pain in the low back.

Mobilize the psoas by exploring positions of hip extension. Think about the backswing of the leg before you kick a ball. This means creating space with movements like the couch stretch. Your low back will thank you.

3.Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine or t-spine for short refers to the series of vertebrae the length of your rib cage, from the neck down to mid spine. As you can imagine, this area is profoundly impacted by the activities we perform and the positions we keep it in. Sedentary behavior and poor posture will cause the thoracic region to become immobile and lose its ability to flex and extend. This becomes problematic and dangerous especially when overhead movements are involved.

Just like with our ankles, a lack of mobility causes our body to compensate and search for movement in alternative areas when hitting an end range of motion. This means losing stability in order to allow for additional mobility. When the thoracic spine is tight our body finds extra space in the lumbar spine and/or scapula region. Chronic injuries and inflammation tend to spring up in these areas if we continually force this movement during exercises like the overhead press or kipping on the pull-up bar.

These are just 3 areas where mobility can make a huge difference in your performance and your health. If you want to learn more about ways to improve your mobility stop in to speak with one of our coaches today.

Trust the Prescription

You know that little 5 minute speech that the coach gives at the beginning of class? When they talk about the workout and how it should feel. That’s a pretty important part of planning out your workout for the day and will help you select the weights you use, reps you shoot for, and how to pace yourself in conditioning pieces. If you’ve ever felt a bit lost during this portion of class then this article is for you!

Let’s dive into how to approach some different types of workouts to better understand how the stimulus of each workout should feel so you scale appropriately for you. Of course, our coaches are always available to answer your questions!

One of the simplest ways to look at each workout is based on the energy system involved.

The 3 main energy systems in our body are:

  • Phosphocreatine System
  • Glycolytic System
  • Aerobic System

The differences between these systems are based on the source of energy or “fuel” for the activity. These systems are always functioning in our bodies at all times, but depending on the type of activity we’re doing one energy system may be the predominant fuel source.

Training these energy systems improve our ability to use fuel more efficiently, recover more quickly, and improve our overall health as a side effect. It’s important to know what the result you are trying to achieve is for each workout. This makes sure that you get the most out of your efforts without burning yourself out!

The Phosphocreatine system is associated with short intense efforts, usually lasting 10-12 seconds or less. Most dedicated power and strength pieces fall into this category.

An example of a workout item that targets this energy system could look like:
Build to a 3 Rep Max Back Squat with 2:00-3:00 rest between.

Another example could be:
Every 2:00 for 5 sets perform :10 second max effort assault bike sprint.

Notice how in the second prescription we chose a time domain rather a set number of calories on the bike. If the assignment was 10 calories every 2:00 you might see very different time domains based on the athlete. It might take one person :08 seconds to complete 10 calories and another person :30 seconds. This would change the energy system being trained, the rest interval, and totally change the dose response of the workout.

The glycolytic system is associated with medium to high intensity efforts that can last from :30 – :180 seconds and will taper off drastically based on how well trained an individual is. These usually show up as higher rep weightlifting sets or interval style workouts. Efforts in this energy system rely on glucose (blood sugar) to fuel the effort. They also generate lactate that the body works to clear in order to continue the effort. Adjusting the amount of time you rest.

One example of an interval workout would be:
4 sets of 10-12 reps of Bench Press with a 40X0 tempo followed by :90 seconds of rest.

Another example would be
Every Minute On The Minute for 8 rounds perform :40 seconds of Russian Kettlebell Swings.

Aerobic workouts cover the broad spectrum of workouts remaining. Most efforts lasting longer than 3 minutes will put you in an aerobic state. If you’ve ever “come out too hot” in a workout you have probably approached the workout as a glycolytic piece and when your body could no longer sustain the effort you switched to an aerobic approach.

A classic benchmark workout that require an aerobic effort would be:
Cindy, Complete as many rounds as possible in 20:00 minutes of
-5 Pullup
-10 Pushup
-15 Air Squat

If you are not able to sustain that number of reps or continue completing the movement safely for 20 minutes at a steady pace then you can explore scaling the movements, repetition numbers, or shortening the time domain.

Each day’s class might contain one or more elements of these types of training. There may also be a skill component to a workout that may not be targeting a response from any of these energy systems and is instead geared towards improving movement patterns and transferability of key skills.

Questions about scaling? You know where to find us!

4 Ways to Eat Better Without Going On a Diet

When it comes to improving your diet you might always try to do a complete overhaul. You revamp the foods you eat and the behaviors and rituals you have around eaten. Then you get busy or life gets in the way and you’re right back to square one.

Rather than try to do a full 180 on your diet consider making some changes that are sustainable and easy choices. Here are 4 ways to eat better without going on a diet!

Stop drinking calories
Swap out your condiments
Choose “real” foods over packaged foods
Use Hand measurements for portion control

Stop drinking calories
Liquid calories can add up quickly as they are usually high in sugar. Even beverages like juice can contain 3-4 tablespoons of sugar in a bottle. Not only that, but calories that you drink are not recognized the same way by the body as calories being consumed and people who regularly drink sugary beverages tend to overconsume calories.

If you are looking to clean up your diet aim for non-caloric or low-calorie beverages like green vegetable juices, sparkling waters, and unsweetened coffee or tea. Try to avoid adding sweeteners back in including artificial sweeteners.

Swap out your condiments
Condiments can be an area for quick wins. There are simple trade offs you can make that exchange empty calories like sugar and unhealthy fats for nutrient boosting options that burn fat and boost your health! When it comes to choosing healthy condiments you want to consider the macronutrient value and micronutrient value while also considering the quality of the ingredients.

Macronutrients are the amounts of carbs, fats, and protein in a food. Since condiments are used to add flavor, most of the unhealthy options will create flavors by adding sugar and fat-keep an eye on these numbers when topping your salad. An example of this would be a ranch dressing that is high in sugar and made from soybean oil.

Micronutrients are the non-caloric compounds in foods like vitamins and minerals that are important for your health. Look for condiments and toppings that are high in vitamins and minerals. You could look at topping your tacos with fresh guacamole rather than sour cream and cheese.

Choose “real” foods over packaged foods
Real foods like meats, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits are a great way to improve your health. Simply put, choosing these foods over packaged and processed options is going to be your best option for the majority of the time.

When you eat real foods you avoid foods with a high glycemic index and will spike blood sugar. Real foods also contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help your digestion and energy levels.

Use Hand measurements for portion control
If you don’t want to follow a specific diet then using some simple hand measurements to monitor the amounts of foods you eat can be a great option. You can always learn more and improve your food choices, but learning how to moderate the amount of food you eat can get you on the right track.

Women should aim for a protein serving the size of their palm with each meal 1 fist of vegetables with each meal, 1 cupped hand of carb dense foods with most meals, and
1 entire thumb-sized portion of fat dense foods with most meals.

Men can shoot for 2 palms of protein dense foods with each meal, 2 fists of vegetables, 2 cupped hands of carb dense foods with most meals, and 2 entire thumbs of fat dense foods with most meals.

There you have it. 4 ways to eat better without going on a diet. If you need help making healthy choices in your diet just let us know!

The Top 5 Functional Foods

If you’re more couch potato than health nut you want to take advantage of all the tips and tricks that you can. If you forget to take your vitamins or would rather skip the extra burpees then there is a great way to improve your health with 0 extra effort!

Functional foods are foods that have a health benefit beyond just their basic macronutrient content. Since eating is something you have to do, it makes sense to eat foods that give you the most bang for your buck.

Here are the five most important functional foods you can start adding to your diet today:

1. Green Tea
2. Sauerkraut
3. Blueberries
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
5. Turmeric

1.Green Tea
Rather than reaching for that second coffee try having a cup of green tea instead! Green tea contains many polyphenols like EGCG, a catechin containing antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other benefits. Green tea can give you a mental with the potent combination of theanine and a low amount of caffeine. This helps you stay alert and focused without getting the jitters and an eventual crash. Try brewing a cup of green tea when you need a pick-me-up.

2. Sauerkraut
This sour fermented cabbage dish ranks high on the list of functional foods. High in vitamins A, C, K, and folate, sauerkraut can boost your immune system and support brain health. It’s also high in fiber which can help support your gut bacteria and improve digestive health. Sauerkraut also contains glucosinolates and ascorbigen, compounds that are known for their anti-carcinogenic properties. Add sauerkraut to sandwiches, salads, or have it on it’s own!

3. Blueberries
Blueberries are a powerhouse fruit that make for a great snack at any time. They are low glycemic so they won’t have a big impact on blood sugar and have numerous health benefits as well. Blueberries get their rich dark blue color from their abundance of anthocyanin which explains their high antioxidant content. Anthocyanins reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and cancer. Add frozen blueberries to your favorite smoothie and keep fresh blueberries around for snacking.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is often considered to be an old wives tale, a home grown remedy that will fix any ailment. It may not be a cure-all but Apple cider vinegar is certainly a functional food you can benefit from. Produced through fermentation a combination of yeast and beneficial bacteria called the “mother” float in the beverage containing B-vitamins, probiotics, and polyphenols. Research has also found that taking 20 grams of apple cider vinegar significantly lowered post meal blood glucose levels. If you need a little help with digestion try adding some apple cider vinegar to a glass or water or mix it with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing.

5. Turmeric
Turmeric has been a staple in Indian cooking for thousands of years. It contains a compound called curcumin which has been shown to have numerous health benefits. Curcumin is a potent anti-Inflammatory, that may also help with chronic disease, depression, and possesses anti-carcinogenic properties. It has also been shown to boost brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a type of growth hormone that functions in your brain. Don’t be afraid to get your curry on!

There you have it, the top 5 functional foods you should add to your diet today!

Conquer COVID-19 with Vitamin D

Facemasks have become the new normal, but are you doing everything you can to stay healthy? Now that the world is starting to open back up, you may have some anxiety about what you can do to help protect you and your family from contracting the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus.

A recent discovery made it clear that supplementing Vitamin D could help stave off this unwanted virus. How do you know if you need to supplement this essential vitamin? Let’s dive into the function of Vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that your body needs to function optimally. It’s generated in skin by UVB rays that come from the sun hitting your skin.

The catch is that you have to absorb the right amount of sun and have it actually penetrate the skin to have this vitamin do it’s thing in your body. Vitamin D has many other important functions, but most importantly for covid-19, is how it acts on your immune system.

Here’s an excerpt from the renowned Dr. Rhonda Patrick investigating and involved in the research during this pandemic:

“Since vitamin D insufficiency is widespread (and perhaps exacerbated in quarantine conditions, due to limited sunlight exposure), supplemental vitamin D might be a viable means to increase vitamin D to sufficient levels.
Maintaining a healthy vitamin D status, an imminently solvable but often ignored problem, may turn out to be an important factor in protecting against susceptibility to lung injury in COVID-19.” (FoundMyFitness, Dr. Rhonda Patrick https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes/vitamin-d-covid-19)

Most people have insufficient levels because we wear clothes, work inside all day and wear sunscreen to protect our skin. This will block your absorption of UVB rays making you susceptible to Vitamin D insufficiency. In fact, 70% in the US have this insufficiency, and 29% of the US are actually deficient. Not to mention if you live in the Northern latitude states, above the 37th parallel, the risk of deficiency increases causing a myriad of other health issues aside from immune function.

So what can you do? Daily supplements of Vitamin D for you and your family have been shown to greatly reduce the risk for acute respiratory tract infections.

If increasing your immune defense system doesn’t turn you on, did you know that Vitamin D wards off depression? Depression rates have increased an astounding 65% since the beginning of the pandemic. With most of us quarantining and forced to stay inside, I’m sure you can see how easily this can happen. If you’re not into supplements, think about adding salmon in your diet a few times a week, a food extremely rich in Vitamin D. Stay healthy and happy, folks!

Finding YOUR Workout of the Day

Most basketball players always end their practice by making a shot. Some great players will even commit to making 10 shots in a row before hitting the showers. This helps them develop a winning mindset and lets them leave on a good note.

Oftentimes when it comes to fitness however we take the opposite approach. We either grind ourselves into a fine powder. Doing more and more until we leave exhausted. Or on the other end of the spectrum…leave feeling like we didn’t accomplish that much and had more in the tank.

Finding the right balance of volume and intensity is an ongoing battle. Sleep, nutrition, and a whole host of other factors affecting recovery must be taken into consideration. A workout that crushes you on one day may feel like a walk in the park on another. Many folks are now utilizing devices like Whoop or an Oura Ring to track their “daily readiness” for training. Any information and tangible data is great feedback from your body but then you have to know how to use it. Your best option is always going to be working with a coach who has experience training athletes with a similar training age and goals as you have. They might even know better than you what your body is capable of. They will also know the right scales and adjustments to make on the fly to make sure you are getting the most out of your training.

“At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.”
― Lao Tzu

So how do you leave the gym with confidence in your performance? Make sure that every action you take aligns with your goals. If you know you’ll feel better by cranking up the intensity then end your session with a quick sprint on the air bike or rower. Choose modalities that won’t beat up your body or take away from the next day’s training session. If the workout is kicking your butt and you will feel guilty if you don’t finish it then see what scales or adjustments you can make that will make you better without crushing you. Back off the weight to focus on a slow controlled tempo with perfect form.

If you need help getting the most out of your training try connecting with one of our coaches to see what recommendations they have!

Why now is the best time to start a new fitness routine

6 months ago the thought of a worldwide quarantine would have seemed laughable.

No travel, dining out, or social interaction…it’s an interesting thought, but that will NEVER happen. There’s just no way.

And then it did.

And maybe you responded well. You took advantage of the free time. You took on home projects you’ve been talking about doing forever. Maybe you actually started to read more books, learned to cook, or actually called your relatives.

Or maybe you struggled. Isolation got the best of you. You fell off the wagon. Working from home became the bulk of your day. Maybe your health and fitness took a hit.

The question is…what are you going to do about it?

You have a tremendous opportunity in front of you. The world is opening back up and you have a chance to become the person you want to be. You know, the cool stylish YOU that always knows what to say, has it all together, and looks dayyumn good naked.

“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” -Seth Godin

This is an opportunity, because the world is different than the one that was locked up months ago. Whether you were successful or struggling before COVID hit the globe doesn’t really matter. A lot of successful people fell off their high horse. A lot of new companies have grown and thrived. There are new opportunities emerging everyday. They might not look like the plans you had before this began. Your New Year’s resolutions or goals from January may have to be tossed out the window.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” -Lao Tzu

This may be the single best chance to reinvent yourself that shows up in your lifetime. It’s time to start doing all the things you have been dreaming about doing.

Now you have the chance to step into the life you’ve always wanted. If any part of you values your health and wants to feel energy and confidence then a weekly training regimen and successful strategy for eating, sleeping, and managing stress are essential.

You might have some ideas of what to do. Maybe you have tried diets in the past or dropped into exercise classes that you enjoyed or had a routine that you stuck with for a few months. The point is if you are not doing it right now then it’s time to look in the mirror.

Address what you see and decide if you’re happy with what you see?

Compassion and self-love is important. So is self-care and wanting better for yourself. It’s okay to not be happy where you are at. You have an opportunity in front of you to change. To grow. To become a version of yourself that you love and is the best person to provide for your family, help your friends, and be a leader in your career.

You know what you should do. Now put the building blocks of success in place. Commit to the outcomes you want. Create an environment that facilitates you achieving your goals.

“On one level, wisdom is nothing more profound than an ability to follow one’s own advice.” – Sam Harris

Will it be easy? Nope. The struggle is guaranteed, but the success is not. But if you are willing to keep showing up. To put in the work. To go through the motions even when you don’t want to. Then you might not even recognize the person you become by the end of this extraordinary year.

“Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.” – J. J. Watt

If you have questions about how to begin a life changing routine then we want to know. Our team is here to help and answer the questions you have about fitness, nutrition, and what steps to take to become strong and healthy.

Becoming Better, In Quarantine and In Life

So you may be working from home in your pajamas, or maybe your job has even been affected by the global pandemic (and you’re still in your pajamas) everyday. Let’s talk about why you need to set some standards for you and your household if you want to come out of this pandemic better than ever. 

“The challenge is to always improve, to always get better, even when you are the best. Especially when you are the best.”

James Kerr

Behind closed doors many of us let it all hang out. Stains on our clothes, unbuttoned pants, and messy hair. We say this is our “home” time and we deserve some relaxation. What if I told you this is lowering your standards in other areas of your life? What you do when no one is watching is what shows up in public. 

The New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks, takes this message very seriously. They know that they are only as good on the field as the way they operate off the field. So how does this apply to you? 

When you’re at home, keep your standards high. Especially when you’re under a Stay at Home order from the government. This isn’t happening to you. It’s happening for you, so take advantage of it. Get dressed for work in the morning and notice how much better you feel. This will impact your decisions all day long.

Leaving clothes lying around? Not combing your hair? Do the little things to make yourself just 1% better in everything you do. If cleanliness is important to you, make sure you’re taking care of your home and yourself as you go about your day. I recommend picking even just one thing a day that you focus on. If you wouldn’t do it in public, don’t do it at home is a good philosophy to inhabit.

“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road; long before I dance under those lights.”

-Muhammad Ali

This can be hard when we’re locked in our homes in a national quarantine, but it will be worth it in the end. You will be better for it. Make yourself better when no one is looking. This is the champion’s mindset: Going the extra mile. 

What are you going to do today to make yourself 1% better? To show up a bit more in your life today. For you, for your family, for your world?

Today, choose to get better.

3 Reasons why you should NOT stress about the gym being closed

So the gym is closed and you don’t have weights. Most of us can’t do our normal routine and may be getting frustrated or stressed that our progress will come to a halt.

If you’re stressed because you don’t want your training to go to waste but you also can’t do anything about your current circumstances what do you do?

Keep training you silly goose!

We’re about to uncover the most important things to remember about taking time away from weights and what you can do to make sure you keep those gains you’ve worked so hard to attain* (*it rhymes so it must be true).

Here’s 3 reason why you should not be stressed about the gym being closed:

1.Your strength is not going away overnight.
It takes several weeks for your body to lose strength and muscle mass. Muscles are constantly undergoing cycles of stress (exercise) and recovery. They don’t have to be constantly under stress in order to be maintained, in fact constant stress without adequate recovery will actually hurt in the long run.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

-Marcus Aurelius

2.You have so much opportunity to attack weaknesses

Whether it’s taking time to focus on bodyweight exercises to keep strength, jumping rope and running for your conditioning, or stretching and mobilizing there is so much opportunity to attack your weaknesses! Not only that but you also have more time to dial in your nutrition and eat in a way that supports your goals. You can even practice your exercise technique without moving a muscle. Studies of athletes have shown that mental rehearsal, running through a movement, lift or routine has been shown to cause electrical activity in the muscles involved in the movement. Close your eyes and practice your technique. You might be surprised at what you can do when you get back to it!

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

-Abraham Lincoln

3.Focus on what you want, not what you don’t
The most important piece when you’re unable to go to a gym is to remain calm. Nothing widdles away those hard earned muscles like cortisol. Stress levels are probably high enough with our jobs and daily routines being flipped on their head so do your best to stay calm and persevere.
If you focus on all the things you fear or worry about your brain will only find more fuel for that fire. If your internal dialogue is “I’m going to get fat or weak” then you will probably act in a manner that supports that story. If your story to yourself is “I’m going to say health no matter what” then you will most likely act accordingly.

“For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

-William Shakespeare

Times can be hard, but we will stick together as a community and come out on top. If there is anything we can do to help please let us know!

Choose an Environment that Supports You

The environment you place yourself in is arguably the most important decision you can make at any given moment. The actions the environment supports will shape your life and the decisions that you make. Sounds like a big statement but let’s think about it for a minute. Compare a few different potential options of environments you could spend your day in.

On one hand, you could spend your day throwing around heavy weights and being bold, focused and confident in an activity like weightlifting or CrossFit. Think about how you feel after lifting a barbell, or doing pull-ups. How do you feel? Maybe strong, determined, more powerful?

Now let’s consider another way your day’s activity could go. You go to a yoga class where you focus on your breath. Stillness and peace is a common feeling people get. You’re stretching, creating space. Think about how different that feels from the weightlifting you would do at the gym. The feelings you experience from doing yoga may be uplifting, and open. The gestures your and stretches you take your body through in a slowed down type of activity like yoga impacts the way your brain perceives your life.

Let’s analyze a third option. You go to an old friend’s house. You end up sitting on the couch having a few drinks and snacking. You watch a mindless TV show while your friends complains about work and how unhappy they are at their job.

Which experience do you think will make you grow? Which environment will contribute to the person you want to be?

Ding. Ding. Ding. It’s an easy choice right?!

“Surround yourself with people who remind you more of your future than your past.”
-Dan Sullivan

Put simply, you become what you do. Your body communicates who you are to your brain. If you spend your time doing hard work and lifting heavy weights, you start to think how strong you are and how you can do hard things. This will translate into your life. You become the type of person who is strong and can do hard things. In a place like yoga, or maybe running outside, you may experience those feelings of freedom, space and peace. You become a person who experiences these things.

It’s incredible how much how body influences how we think. Activity is so important to everyday life. The next time you’re working out, whatever activity it is that you choose, notice the messages your body sends your mind. Feeling weak in your life, like you can’t do anything right? Get under a barbell and do some hard shit. Feeling like you need more space in your life? Try some yoga or running. With your body as a tool you can create the environment you most need in your life.