For the love of CrossFit, don't forget your accessory work.
Post Fran, you are lying on the floor trying to figure out what just happened, gasping for air, exhausted, and feel like you have just died and been resurrected. Before you hit the metcon, you worked up to a heavy set of 3 in the back squat. You are D-O-N-E! All you can think about is that post WOD meal, foam rolling, or hanging out with friends playing Spike Ball.
Your coach yells, "We aren't done yet, we have a buy out of accessory work!"
"Noooo....(eyeroll)" you think to yourself, as you finish the accessory work uninspired, or, sneak out the door like a ninja. Accessory work, sometimes called a “cash out", may seem like a hassle at the end of a tiring WOD or something that you can treat as optional, but understand this: doing accessory work is tremendously beneficial for your overall health and fitness and will improve your CrossFit performance.
Accessory work is the little exercises that contribute to the bigger lifts and movements that we do at CFG. Accessory work is anything that compliments the bilateral and full-body movements that are done in CrossFit. Bilateral movements involve using both sides of the body together. For example, presses, deadlifts, cleans, the list goes on. Accessory work may involve isolation exercises (targeting one muscle or muscle group) or unilateral movements (using one side of the body), with the intended goal of improving overall performance and helping you perform better, or develop your pull-ups or ring dips.
Accessory work should be done for a number of important reasons:
Accessory work is typically programmed at the end of the workout, and can vary. Some examples are
What do you do When Life Gets in the Way of Training?
Tis the Season Right? Daylight Savings is upon us, Holidays, food, family, work, and other commitments. What do you do when life gets in the way of your training? I am there. I am trying to juggle my work, my child’s school activities, homework, afterschool activities, and still try to fit in some time for myself. It has proven to be very challenging. I think most of us have good intentions when we overload ourselves, but what happens when it is too much? Here are some things that have helped me to stay somewhat sane in the business that is life.
1) Plan your workouts. I have a weekly calendar for my daughter’s afterschool activities. I actually write them out each week. On this same calendar I write in my work outs for the week. I put the time, what I am going to focus on, and how much time I have to work out.
2) Some days a little work out is better than nothing. There are days when I don’t get everything that I want to do in that particular session. So, I have to choose. Is it better to get a run in or a squat session. That is going to depend on your goals. As I have been training for races, I have chosen to run more lately. Once race season dies down, that will change more to lifting.
3) Keep some things at home in case you can’t get to the gym. I plan to invest in some home equipment for times such as there. Even if you have no equipment, body weight stuff will get you a quick work out too. Air squats, pushups, hill sprints, and the beloved burpee.
4) Keep your nutrition in check. Easier said than done, but if your work outs are not happening as often as you would like, then make sure you are keeping a handle on what you are eating. Especially if you are trying to cut weight or lean out or you are prepping for an event. Remember that nutrition is the CrossFit foundation to which everything else is built upon.
5) Do not Stress. I need to remember this one myself. If you miss a workout, it is not the end of the world. You WILL NOT lose all your gains in missing a workout here or there. Plus if you stress, that produces cortisol which will make you hold on to weight, which might cause more stress. Just be careful to not let it become a slippery slope. Don’t let one day turn in to five days.
We only get this one beautiful life. Make sure that you are taking care of yourself, but also remember what is important. Missing a workout in order to go watch that Christmas musical your child is in, or to go to that dinner with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, is not the end of the world. It is about balance, health, and making memories. I guarantee that when you look back on your life, you won’t remember the workouts you missed. But you will remember the opportunities that you didn’t take to make memories with friends and family.
Be well my CrossFit friends,
For most of us the CrossFit pyramid has been an image that we are all familiar with, especially for those who have attended the CrossFit Level 1 certification. However, some may be asking “What is it?” For those who may be wondering, The CrossFit pyramid is the theoretical hierarchy of development of an athlete. It is tool that we as athletes and coaches use to get better at our sport, and a tool that we can use to point out or short comings otherwise known as weaknesses.
At the base of this foundation is nutrition, then metabolic conditioning, gymnastics, weightlifting & throwing, and finally at the very top is sport. A pyramid is only as strong as it’s foundation, and in this case the foundation is nutrition. To get better at our sport, or any sport for that matter, we need to build upon this foundation, however, it seems that the pyramid has been flipped upside down where sport is now at the bottom.
People want to get stronger, have a big back squat or deadlift, snatch and clean and jerk big weights, and be able to RX a workout, which is great. But by focusing solely on this puts sport at the bottom and everything else on the side. I get it, CrossFit is awesome, the people are awesome, we all share a common goal, we all love to sweat, suffer, PR together, and the workouts leave us feeling so great that we keep coming back for more. Once we’re hooked on CrossFit there are never ending goals. We set a goal and once it’s achieved then we set another goal, so we’re constantly striving to get better, it’s a good, viscous cycle. But this cycle tends to lead people to believing they need to show up to the gym to do two or three-a-days and hitting multiple WODS in one day. Again, putting sport first, and forgetting all the other important steps: nutrition, metabolic condition, gymnastics, and weightlifting. When all of the other aspects of the pyramid are skipped we start to develop bad habits, ignore our weaknesses, plateau, and may develop nagging aches/pains or injury.
Let’s flip this pyramid back over and build upon each and every step. Work on our nutrition and start eating right. When we are eating right we feel better, move better, sleep better, recover better. Then let’s hit those metcons hard and all out. Putting our food to use and using it as fuel to push us through those metcons. Next, focus on gymnastics where we can create even more body awareness, and build upper body pulling and pushing strength, which will transfer over into the next tier, weightlifting. Here we can now focus on the snatch, clean & jerk, & being explosive in our lower body. Finally leading us to the top of the pyramid of sport, which in our case is CrossFit. Now we have built on our foundation and can put all of these practices to use at once!
There are several defining characteristics that stand out about CrossFit. Each affiliate is unique and has it’s own personality. However, one common thing that stands out to me most is the Community.
A CrossFit workout is mentally and physically hard. You sweat, suffer, moan, and groan. So what keeps you coming back for more? The Community. Who do you sweat, suffer, moan, and groan with? The Community. You do it together and it is this Community and togetherness that keeps you coming back for more. They are the ones who keep you motivated to be your best and push harder. For me personally, the community of our gym is a huge reason that I continue to come back day after day, even when I’m sore and tired and the WOD looks like a terribly painful one!
Friendships that have started out by bonding over the dread of sets of wallballs (and the inevitable subsequent soreness) have formed into some of the best friendships and relationships that I have ever had both in and out of the gym. My family has even been able to bond and grow closer through the unique community of CrossFit.
What is unique to CrossFit is that you can find this Community no matter where you go! If you ever drop in at another box on vacation, you are immediately welcomed into the Community. If you ever encounter another Crossfitter, you immediately bond over this favt and are no longer strangers. What other fitness program regularly brings people together to raise huge sums of money for charitable purposes and to directly support those in the community? It’s an awesome thing!
You come to get fit, you stay for the Community.
Do you ever feel like you go through a day to day cycle? Go to work- work your ass off training- go home and eat dinner- scroll through Facebook so you can see what everyone else is doing with their lives- go to bed- repeat. Repeating this vicious cycle day after day, week after week, eventually you will become tired, feel burnt-out, lack confidence, etc. Does this sound like you?
Sometimes we need to take a step back and recharge our mental batteries. Do things that will improve your well-being and make you become less stressed or tense. It is the idea of giving your mind a break in the intensity, so you can have the new PR’s and feel stronger and better!
Ideas for Mental Rejuvenation for this type of Athlete:
-Work on breathing
-Take a bath
There is much value in doing activities that are for pleasure and not to win, perfect or improve it. Try to incorporate a couple of minutes a day in order to relax your mind and get out of your crazy schedule. Your brain is a muscle too; it needs its rest days just like the other groups of muscles in your body. Mentality is important to training.
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
So I am sure a lot of people of the same goals in mind. Whether its losing weight, getting stronger, or just trying to learn new skills. I am one to notice myself going through a plateau last year for about a month and a half and just could not figure out why it was happening or what was going on with my body. Some of you may be asking yourself what is a fitness plateau? How do I know if I've experienced one? So simply over a period of time you are putting your body through a lot of change and bodily stress over time that stress builds up and eventually your body is telling you to "slow down" or "stop". A majority of the time you will not feel like going to the gym, meal prepping the day before your week starts because it just feels like to much work, or even wanting to go to work. So below is a link to a blog about ways that you can work your way out of plateau and get back to the way you were feeling, moving, and losing weight before. It is a bit long, but it goes over what a plateau is and goes more in depth on explaining it as well as ways to fight through it.
One of the most common questions we get as coaches is “What weight should I use?" Going into a new week, I want to help you understand why and how we can scale workouts to get the best results for YOU.
Whether you are fresh off our "On Ramp" program or have been doing CrossFit for years, there are still days you will need to scale a WOD. Most of us know when we have to scale a WOD, but the question is usually HOW? As coaches, it is our job to help you get the best results, maintain the stimulus, and honor the integrity of the movements (whether it is scaled or RX). Just because a coach encourages you to scale does not mean they think less of your fitness level or abilities.
"So, how do I scale?"
The first thing you need to look at it is the goal of the workout.
1) Movement. This includes scaling from handstand pushups, to pike pushups on the box, to strict dumbbell presses
2) Weight/Load. Using a lighter weight or load to be able to complete a WOD and move safely and efficiently. This would also include using bands for ring dips.
3) Number of reps. This scaling option will usually apply to our WODS with high reps of gymnastic movements such as T2B and double unders. If you are able to complete small sets of these, it is beneficial to do some in the WOD and building the capacity. Best way to learn these movements is to just do them! Just remember, during a workout is not the time to "practice" these movements because your focus should be on maintaining the stimulus!
4) Range of motion. Does the front rack or overhead position seem impossible? Then this one applies to you! ROM scaling options include power snatches instead of squat snatches and back squats instead of overhead or front squats.
5. Injury. If you are recovering from an injury, let your coach know so they can help structure the workout to keep you safe but also make you sweat :)
Just remember, don't scale to make the workout "easier", scale based on ability. Don't be afraid to get uncomfortable, that is where the magic happens.
What a full weekend for CrossFit Gastonia! Between the annual Beers and Burpees Charity event at CrossFit Charlotte and The Reignited Games in Wilimington, it was awesome to see so much involvement from our box family.
2017 Beers and Burpees
Thank You to all 11 teams who came out to support the CrossFit community during the annual Beers and Burpees. It truly was an unbelievable day (and surprisingly noone threw up...barely) and we appreciate everyone's time, effort and contributions to the cause. 700+ people, $45K+ raised (exact # tbd), four dream kids sponsored and lots of great memories made.
For more information about Dream on 3, check out their website here.
The annual Reignited Games took place over the weekend in Wilmington, NC. Hunter and Will traveled four hours to compete against some of the top athletes from over North and South Carolina.The events spanned across the whole weekend and each of our athletes brought 100% heart and effort. From sandbags, to clean ladders, hybrid rope climbs, and even the beloved dumbbell thrusters, they faced challenging brutal workouts that tested their fitness levels and the hours of training leading up to the events.
Will finished 6th in the RX men's division and Hunter ended up bringing home the gold for Men's Scaled. Awesome work guys!
CrossFit is defined as – “constantly varied, functional movements, executed at high intensity.” Constantly varied can refer to all kind of modalities and the workout type – for time, AMRAP, for max load and it can refer to the exercises – back squats, snatches, chest to bar pull-ups, wallballs, rowing, and handstand walks. We get a little bit of it all at CrossFit Gastonia.
One area that we often overlook in the constantly varied realm is environmental factors such as time of day, temperature, and even the clothes we wear, who knows you make have to deadlift a tree trunk in loafers one day. These too should be considered when adhering to a constantly varied program.
We all have our perfect scenarios in which we like to workout. It's 6:15 pm and 65 degrees, and you show up to class in our new Reebook outfit, you just had your preworkout and are ready to take on the Metcon. But life doesn’t always throw us perfect scenarios and in CrossFit we train to be ready for the unknown and unknowable (did you see The Games this year-hello, obstacle course and Cyclocross) and we do this by training a broad range of exercises, workouts, and environmental factors.
So, why are you telling me this Sara? Do you want me to show up in jeans and loafers to the 5 am class? No. It means that the next time an environmental curve ball is thrown your way- and it will, step up to the challenge and know that you are improving your fitness by conditioning your body. In addition, you’ll find fewer excuses why not to go to a workout! "I forgot socks!" get it done. "It is way too hot!" yeah, well so are the deserts in Afghanistan.
If you are a 5:00am class goer only because you don't like the heat, I challenge you to try a lunch or evening class if you can. On the flipside, if evening classes are all you do because you "aren't a morning person" and 5 AM is for the birds, I challenge you to wake up and go train. I am not saying completely change your schedule, but every now and then switch it up- and you will also be able to see new faces and coaches! If you’re kind of hungry but you forgot your afternoon Quest bar or meal, get to class and then go home and eat dinner – you will not starve.
I think you get the point.
Switch it up, your training will thank you!
Disclaimer: By writing this post I am not saying that I have never overtrained- oh, I have and still do. However, I paid the consequences fully. We all need to be reminded about the downfalls of overtraining as it’s something that constantly tempts athletes, including me.
Why do we overtrain and continue to be stubborn about taking rest days? We all know how important rest is to our performance, but why is it so dang hard to do it?
1. The "oh, that looks fun" workout. Let me give you a scenario: Athlete knows he/she needs rest, opens up SugarWOD to see tomorrow's post- see how attractive the workout is-bam, shows up on rest day. The temptation of the "fun" workout is great, we all know. Thoughts such as “I missed this last time so I HAVE to go today”, or “ he/she beat me last time, it ain't happening this time- I am WAY more fit!" flash through our head. We know CrossFit is addictive and fun. It is challenging to discipline yourself NOT to come to the box and hangout with your buddies and sweat through a grindfest. Remember that not resting enough will leave you burned out and dragging through sub-optimal workouts over and over.
Rest is cool too.
2. Burning Calories- "If I don't workout today, then I won't burn the calories that I need to eat ice cream tonight!" "If I don't go squat today, I will surely get fat" STOP connecting diet and exercise in a toxic way, yes they are both imperative but are separate pieces of a healthy athlete profile. Eat and rest to preform! Did you know that people actually gain weight when they over train or don't get enough sleep? Take the rest
3. More is Better Syndrome- "I must get stronger, and improve my gymnastics. Oh, and I need to work on my balance and endurance!" Don't try to conquer the world on five different continents. Pick your battles and make them small, challenging, yet attainable, and then move on to the next!
CrossFit is "constantly varied" and provides us with a wonderful array of skills, lifts, and movements to learn and strive to perfect- but it can also lead us down a crazy path where an athlete tries to do it all at once. Learn that overtraining will eventually catch up with you and performing at your 100% is impossible without recovery.