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You know feeling you get 24 to 48 hours after a hard workout, for instance needing to use some extra assistance to sit down after a heavy leg workout, is more commonly referred to as having a case of the DOMS. If any of you are like me, you know that feeling all too well.  That brings up an interesting questions now. . . . .

Does Muscle Soreness Equal a Good Workout?

By: William Imbo – Box Life Magazine

The infamous saying, “no pain, no gain” has been thrown around in the fitness community for years, convincing people that in order to see physical and athletic progress, they need to feel muscular pain at the end of a workout; Otherwise, they weren’t working hard enough or lifting heavy enough. Or so the theory goes. But is that truly the case? Must you always feel sore and as stiff as a board after every workout for it to be a success?

Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness and workout effectiveness.
That post-workout soreness you feel in your body that can last for days is called delayed onset of muscle soreness—or DOMS for short. While muscle pain may be the most obvious indicator that you’re suffering from DOMS, other common symptoms can include:
– Swelling of the affected limbs
– Stiffness of the joint accompanied by temporary reduction in a joint’s range of motion
– Tenderness to the touch
– Temporary reduction in strength of the affected muscles (lasting days)
– In rare and severe cases, muscle breakdown to the extent that the kidneys may be placed at risk. This is more commonly known as rhabdomyolsis, or simply ‘Rhabdo’, which warrants it’s own article.
– Elevated creatine kinase (CK) enzyme in the blood, signaling muscle tissue damage.

The jury is still out as to what the exact mechanism(s) of DOMS are, with a 2003 paper in Sports Medicine proposing that there are up to six hypothesized theories. However, there is the widely held belief that DOMS  “appears to be a product of inflammation caused by microscopic tears in the connective tissue elements that sensitize nociceptors and thereby heighten the sensations of pain,” as is stated in a 2013 study from the Strength & Conditioning Journal. Simply put, DOMS appears to occur due to connective tissue microtrauma. The main culprit for said trauma is believed to be due to eccentric muscle contraction—the lengthening or stretching phase—which is known to damage both the individual muscle fibers and connective tissues that surround the muscle fibers. After this microscopic muscle injury, immune cells go to the site of injury to repair the damage—which results in the inflammation and pain, but which also means that muscle fibers will become stronger through the healing process, resulting in a stronger muscle in general. This process can result from any eccentric exercise—not just weightlifting. That includes things like running and yoga, as well as exercises that you simply aren’t used to.

But does this mean that one must always experience DOMS to become stronger and develop as an athlete?
The short answer is no. The long answer is a little more complex. Yes, DOMS is a sign that there is some level of muscular hypertrophy going on in the body, and it’s usually present when you present your body with a new challenge (i.e. heavier loads, new movements, coming back after a long break, etc.). But with time, your body becomes more adept at adjusting to new stimuli, so the effects of DOMS may not be as pronounced. Furthermore, there is great variability in how individual athletes experience DOMS—some people may continually be sore after each and every workout, while other athletes feel fine. Combined, this makes DOMS an unreliable gauge of how effective a workout is. Muscle damage is a contributing factor to muscle hypertrophy (an increase in muscle size through an increase in the size of its component cells), but it’s not absolutely essential. Hypertrophy can occur from mechanical tension and/or metabolic stress, both of which can come about without muscle soreness. Therefore, though DOMS can provide a general indication that some degree of muscle tissue damage has taken place, it is not a definitive measure for it.

Other ways a workout can be a success without muscle soreness
You’ve also got to consider that the way you measure a ‘successful’ workout doesn’t always need to be tied to how sore your muscles feel afterwards. For example, a fast sprint-style workout will tax your anaerobic system, and if you push yourself to the limit then you’ll probably end up on the ground, gasping for air. But after 10 minutes have passed, you’re able to gather yourself and get on with your day, and your muscles won’t be screaming at you the next day. But does that mean you could have gone faster? Of course not! You only need to think back to the image of you convulsing on the ground to realize that.

And what about those workouts where you finally achieve a new movement for the first time, or feel ecstatic about your technique? Does that not constitute success? How about simply pushing through a brutal workout to finish under the time cap? In short, while DOMS can be an indication that you are experiencing muscular development after a workout, there are many more factors that should go into your thinking when considering how a good workout really was.

crossfit-games

The CrossFit opens registration is now OPEN!  And along with this excitement, I found this awesome article by Eric Williams about advancing in CrossFit as a recreation and as a sport.  Boxlife is a great site full of useful information on Training, the Community, and Nutrition.

Happy Reading!

“As CrossFit continues to evolve as a sport, pastime and recreational activity (beyond the domain of simply being a fitness program), many participants will want to know how to become better at it.  Let’s be clear, the sport and the program are two distinct things.  One can become fitter without including movement X or workout Y, because the objectives are distinctly different.  Divorcing the routine from the sport is crucial to this topic.  When we talk about “pulling a workout from the hopper” or the Games Open, we are no longer talking about fitness for its own sake – we are talking about competitive athletics. With that being said, if you don’t have a muscle-up or a body weight snatch or whatever your box or peers hold in esteem AND you don’t care, that’s OK!  You can be fit, have fun, and enjoy yourself without ever doing these things.

If, however, you want to dig a little deeper and attempt to achieve mastery in this sport (if one can ever truly ‘master’ CrossFit), let’s go for a ride.  Outlined within this article are five crucial concepts to overcoming your performance plateaus and transforming from a casual participant to a competitive CrossFitter.

Full disclosure, I am not a high-caliber athlete, I am not perfect and I have improvements of my own to make.  My tone is not of condescension, but of earnest and honest feedback as to where people need to go – myself included.  There is also the caveat of health.  If you are not healthy, this isn’t going to work.  If you have no knee cartilage left, two torn labrums and a gangrenous diabetic foot, there is a whole different conversation you ought to be having about plateaus.  Let’s begin!

1. Fix your squat
Your squat is the key to this sport.  Without an excellent squat, you will be forever limited.  If your first reaction is, “sure, once I get about X weight on the bar, it really shapes up!”, then you have already started off on the wrong foot.  Your body weight squat ought to be perfect.  What do I mean?  Have someone film you and make a checklist of the following:

-Heels make constant contact with the ground?

-Knees track outwards on ascent/decent?

-Weight distribution on outsides of feet?

-Neutral and primarily vertical thoracic spine?

Why so harsh on the squat?  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of all movements you will be required to do in CrossFit will involve a squat of some kind.  Let’s look at the 2014 Open:

14.1 – Snatches will require squat mechanics as they increase in load or you fatigue

14.2 – Overhead squats

14.3 – Box jumps will require squat mechanics at higher volumes and greater heights

14.4 – Wall balls and cleans follow the same rules as Snatches

14.5 – Thrusters

If your squat looks bad when it’s unloaded, why should you think that it will serve you well when loaded?  You have to remember that just because the bar is light it doesn’t mean form is irrelevant.  Repetitive stress injuries can easily occur if you have poor attention to form over a high volume of repetitions.


2. Get with the program
H O M E W O R K: Mobilize, lots of pause squats (loaded and unloaded), tape your lifts, find a role model (mine is Lu Xiaojun) and attack it.  Even if you think you have a decent squat, do yourself a favor and assume it’s terrible and start from there.

On that note, at our box, we have a program for everything.  We have a muscle-up program, a mobility program, a pull-up program and all kinds of supplementary activities.  Let’s create an analogy – if you work 9-5 and do the same thing every day, what are your odds of career advancement and promotion?  Without diving into the great debate of work-life balance, we have already established that we are looking to break plateaus and move on to the next step.  Your approach at the gym should be no different.

To reiterate: merrily WODing away each and every day will get you generally fitter but it won’t necessarily make you better at CrossFit on a macro level, no matter how talented your coach is at programming.  Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and you need to address them.

If you are not already, you ought to be doing the following:

-DAILY targeted mobility before and after class (and not just chilling out on a foam roller)

-DAILY supplementary movements (i.e. pull-up progressions)

This is akin to taking on additional responsibility at the office or buckling down and getting that credential you have been putting off.  Our program, in general, is targeted towards the average Joes who just want to come get a great workout, feel good, hang out with some nice people and be on their merry way.  This is a great way to lose weight, get stronger and feel better.  But, it is not specifically designed to get you better at the sport of CrossFit.

Approach your coach and say something very simple and targeted:

“Hey Coach, I really want to improve my pulling power and am willing to put in the time and effort to stick to a program to realize results.  Is there something I could do, or some type of program I could follow to do that?”

“Just come to class” is not an acceptable answer just like “just keep churning out those TPS reports” is not an acceptable answer.  This is assuming you don’t already have a “Level II” or a “Competitor’s Class” built into your box’s schedule.

Any coach worth their salt LIVES for that conversation.  They love nothing more than to have someone share the passion they have.

H O M E W O R K: Identify what specific goals you have and get on a program to address them head on.

3. Progression of skills
Ok, now we approach some true structure.  How does this all fit together?  Below is my progression for what to address in what order.

First, let’s break it down by discipline.  CrossFit can be broken down into four big buckets:

A. Mobility – The ability to take your body through a range of motion.

B. Skill – The ability to complete dexterous movements such as pistols and snatches.

C. Strength – The ability to move objects of varying weights over varying distances.  For the purpose of this definition, strength, speed, power and other mass/distance type equations all fit into here.

D. Go – The push, the effort, the endurance, the suck, the zone, the ‘go’.

A. Get mobile
If you are as strong as a Greek God (dead 500lb+, back squat 400lb+, press 200lb+) but can only snatch 185 because you simply can’t catch a low overhead squat (or OH squat at all, for that matter…), then you are fantastically limited.  CrossFit is range of motion (ROM) specific.  All competitions are EXCLUSIVELY judged on ROM in one form or another and you will get nowhere if you fail to acknowledge that.

Unfortunately, you cannot coach mobility to the extent that someone can improve over a short period of time with merely tips and advice.  This requires HOURS of pre-class/post-class mobilization and homework to get your body to slowly open up and restore its proper function.

A quick test of mobility:  you should be able to back squat, front squat, front rack and OH squat through a full range of motion easily with a PVC pipe only.  If you cannot achieve these positions without the assistance of weight, you have some work to do on mobility.

B. Get Skills
Immediately after you are mobile enough to do so, you should gather your technique up and really put it through the wringer.  I have seen many a strong athlete muscle-up a 195lb clean, basically reverse curling it, and fail at 205 because their arms simply cannot come to bat any more.  If you cannot do the movements WELL, you will be limited forever.

Fortunately, this can be coached.  If you come to class, pay attention, do the reps and practice, practice, practice, this WILL come.  Actually, when it is all said and done, getting the technique is probably the easiest part, as it’s the most fun and among the most rewarding elements of the sport.

It doesn’t come without its own Catch-22’s however.  Strength seems to be at odds with the acquisition of a number of skills (kipping, double-unders, Olympic lifting), if only because these folks have relied so long on being strong to avoid having to train, train, train and retrain great technique.  This is why I have also prioritized technique before strength.

A quick test of skills – the following should be easy:

100 consecutive double-unders

10 consecutive pistols each leg

5 consecutive muscle-ups, bar and ring

15 kipping pull-ups

15 toes to bar

5 kipping touch and go HSPUs

There are others, but these are the critical ones.  If you cannot get through these with ease, there is a small chance you lack some baseline strength.  We are also assuming at this point that you have completed the mobility requirements from the previous section.  But, in all likelihood, any struggles can be attributed to a lack of technique!

C. Get Strong
Strength is very formulaic (though dependent on genes).  If you put in the time, the reps and the dedication, you will get stronger.  Strength, however, is tricky because it is relative.  A 405lb deadlift is not the same feat for two athletes of varying size and build.  There are also fairly standard bench mark weights based on the convenient stacking of plates (i.e. 225, 275, 315 deadlift, 135, 185, 225 squat, etc.).  But, in general if you want some figures to shoot for:

By Movement, Gender and Bodyweight%

D. Get Going…and don’t stop
The ‘go’, in my opinion, is both the easiest and hardest skill to achieve.  Easiest, because all it requires is not stopping – hardest, because it requires not stopping.  The recipe is simple but the taste is bitter.

Acquisition of the go is only achieved when your brain actively starts yelling, “No, no, NO. STOP. Stop NOW. STOP IT. REST, DAMNIT!” And who are you but to oblige and take a breather?  It is, after all, your BRAIN, the central command center and it knows best!

Well, it might, it might not.  But one thing is for sure, if you want to get better at CrossFit, the final step is to never give up, push it to the limit, get ONE MORE REP. This is the factor that separates the naturally gifted athlete from the workhorse, the casual CrossFitter from the fire-breather and the Games competitor from the dreamer.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.  This is what makes CrossFit, CrossFit.  We have all been there, seen the purple spots, been so tired that sentences won’t come, shuffle around, hunched and withered, like newly turned zombies in some bizarre workout apocalypse.  We have all gathered a taste of this and some of us brag that we like to drink the drink, savor the flavor and endure “the suck.”  But, in order to be great, one must make it their sustenance, their survival and be unsatisfied until they reach that brink of oblivion where you CANNOT throw up one more wall ball because your legs will simply not respond to the command that your brain is giving them.

This is an uncoachable trait, but if you get there, you will have what it takes to crash through plateaus that others will never venture towards.  Be warned, however, because if you cannot demonstrate competency in the previous 3 domains, then you will limit your go.  If your technique is so poor that you cannot perform movements under high intensity safely and effectively, if wall balls get no-repped because your beefcake legs can’t get down far enough, if you stop at the 275lb deadlift and think, “oh, shit, this is my 2rm” then you have undermined your go.  It shouldn’t matter what’s on the board – all is fair game.

A quick test of go: Do you stop during the WOD? Keep. Going.

4. Fix your attitude
Plain and simple – suck it up.  Hate rowing? Hard to wake up on Mondays? Shins scabbed from deadlifts?  Suck it up. Don’t like thrusters because you have poor hip and shoulder mobility? Suck it up and do mobility every day.

Here is my favorite example:

“You are so good at burpees (I can be very fast), how do you do that?”

Step 1: do one burpee.

Step 2: add additional burpees until they are done – as fast as YOU can.

You will get faster, but you have to employ the “get going” from the skill progression in order to break on through.  There is no secret – you just have to suck it up and work harder.

Here are some final attitude rules:

-Never skip reps

-Never count a no rep

-Never give less than 100%

-Never let the clock or the person next to you define how you perform.  The clock and the reps are measuring sticks, not ends themselves.  If you cheat, skip reps, display sloppy technique or do anything for any reason other than self-improvement, you have lost the forest in the trees.”

Believe it or not it’s already here. Starting tomorrow (Thursday, January 12th) registration for the 2017 Crossfit Open will be live! Check the Crossfit Games website Thursday for your opportunity to register. For all those new to the box, below is your crash course to The Opens. . . . .

Register for the Open

The CrossFit Games Open is the world’s premier test of fitness. Since 2011, the five-week five-workout online competition has accurately ranked the fitness of hundreds of thousands of competitors.

Held mostly in CrossFit affiliates and garage gyms—or wherever you happen to be—the Open is designed to be accessible to all athletes while rigorous enough to challenge the world’s fittest. Fourteen-year-old high school freshmen compete in the Open, as well as their 77-year-old grandparents and everyone in between.

Sign up for $20, do the workouts, enter your scores, and you will be ranked in relation to your peers in your age division, competition region, state and country.

Workouts are released online each Thursday and athletes have until the following Monday to submit their scores.

Learn More

The CrossFit Games stand alone as the ultimate test of fitness. No test, regardless of its lofty claims, can grant legitimate title to the best without first providing access to all.

Anyone with $20 and access to equipment commonly found in CrossFit affiliated gyms, such as a barbell and bumper plates, pull-up bar, jump rope and rowing machine, can sign up and compete in the five-week, five-workout competition. More than 324,000 athletes from around the globe competed in 2016, ranging in age from 14 to 83 years old.

As the largest CrossFit community event of the season, the Open ties together athletes from within the same gym to those in their broader city, country and world. For five weeks, you—and the hundreds of thousands of other people who signed up—are at the whim of the Director of the Games Dave Castro, taking on workouts that may push you to learn a new skill, improve the skills you already have, or go into a darker place than you’ve ever been before.

The week’s workout is released each Thursday at 5 p.m. PT. Each time a workout is released, athletes will be given two versions: Rx’d and Scaled. With reduced loading or less challenging movements, the Scaled option will be designed to be accessible to the vast majority of athletes who train in CrossFit affiliates. Rx’d will challenge the world’s elite.

The workout write-up, movement standards, explanation video, and scorecards will all be published on Games.CrossFit.com. Review the standards before you start.

You can complete the workouts at a participating CrossFit affiliate in front of a judge, or film your performance from anywhere you want and submit a link as proof.

Make sure to submit your score before score submissions close each Monday at 5 p.m. PT. Late submissions will not be accepted.

There are many ways to excel in the Open. The Open will determine the fittest man and woman in each U.S. state, Canadian province, Australian territory and country worldwide. CrossFit will also use the Open to find the fittest in the military, emergency medical services, firefighting and law enforcement.

The Open is also the first stage of a three-stage season that culminates in the CrossFit Games. The world’s fittest men, women, teams, teenagers (14-17) and masters (35+) will compete for the chance to advance in the season, with the ultimate goal of making it on the world stage.

However, for most people the Open is not about trying to earn a title or qualify for the next stage of the CrossFit Games season. It’s about joining the global CrossFit community in a celebration of fitness for a few weeks each year. To connect to others in your box as well as those a world apart through the experience of suffering through the same workout at the same time. It lets you revel at the strength and skills you’ve developed over the past year, and learn what you need to improve.

Registration: January 12 – March 27, 2017

The Open begins February 23, 2017.
17.1: Feb. 23 – 27
17.2: March 2 – 6
17.3: March 9 – 13
17.4: March 16 – 20
17.5: March 23 – 27

img_1903Crossfit Doesn’t Hurt You, YOU Hurt YOU!

A common misconception many people have of the crossfit sport is that it hurts people. This statement could not be further from the truth and would be like saying “sleeping hurts people” or “eating hurts people.” If you sleep on a very soft mattress, on your stomach, or with a non-supportive neck pillow, then yes, sleeping hurts you. If you eat inflammatory foods and gluten-bomb your body for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then yes, eating hurts you.
The problem is not sleeping or eating; the problem is how we sleep and how we eat.
We live in a society that focuses on effects and never looks at causes. For instance, there is an acid reflux commercial where Larry the Cable Guy is in front of a Colossal Corn Dog stand promoting Prilosec. The problem is not the acid reflux but what Larry is ingesting into his body that is creating the reflux response. We have to change our mentality in this society if we want to be healthy and rank as a healthy country.

Where does the myth stem from?

Crossfit training is very similar to how professional athletes train. If you look at the curriculums for most athletes, they implement a lot of crossfit trainings and are very intense.
What many people do not realize is if you want to train at an elite level, then you also have to take care of your body at an elite level.
Some people expect to sit in front of computers for 8-10 hours a day, have no self-care regimen, then go to the gym to work out and not get hurt.
On the contrary, professional athletes have teams of people that care for their bodies before and after their workouts. These athletes also sleep a certain way, eat a certain way, and take care of their bodies a certain way.
The bottom line is that if you want to train at an elite level, then you need to take care of yourself at an elite level.  Even if you don’t want to train like an “elite” athlete, then you should want to take care of yourself at an elite level.  Remember…you have only one earth suit. Crossfit does not cause people to be injured but, not taking care of oneself and being reckless does.

Not a competition!

In the beginning of crossfit training, most people will see the board that says RX and try to get to that level as fast as possible. They will see girls and guys with shredded bodies and expect the same thing to happen to their bodies overnight. They see the board that shows the top times for hero workouts and heaviest lifts and want their names on there, too.  So do I!
However, all processes require time, and crossfit is no different. The reality though, is that you cannot expect to train for a marathon and on day one of training run 15 miles. When it comes to crossfit, remind yourself that progress takes time. Similar to anything in life, commit to the sport, and results will happen.
As a chiropractor I see this every day! People come to my office with 5, 10, or 20 years of damage to the spine and expect me to fix it overnight. Use this example as a life lesson, and take inventory of your life from all areas: relationships, finances, physical, spiritual, professional. To grow any of them and be truly successful and happy, understand it will take time. Remember that the only things you should use as a comparison are your results from the previous year.
If someone asks me about how to be successful at crossfit, I suggest committing to at least 6-12 months of training.

What self-care should be done?

When it comes to life decisions, many people are reactive and only like to take care of themselves when they are injured or hurt; reactive action is a product of our culture. However, this mindset does not lead to positive results at an elite level.
Chiropractic: As a chiropractor, I walk my talk and get checked twice per week. There are numerous reasons I do this, and a big one is making sure my body is in a peak performance state and is functioning at high levels. The brain and spine control every cell, tissue, organ, and organ system, and from the physical activity of work and other stresses, the spine can misalign and put pressure on nerves. Sometimes I feel the misalignments and sometimes I do not, but no matter what, I am going to be proactive to maximize my life potential. Also, I would never want to work out or lift weights on a misaligned spine because doing so would create more wear and tear on the joints, as well as pressure on your nerves. Even the best trainers and staff cannot prevent the negative loading on your joints unless your spine is biomechanically in alignment.
Massage:  Muscle work is imperative for healthy living and healthy healing. Common overuse injuries involving tendons and muscles are torn rotator cuffs, achilles, pecs, and many others. Therefore, massage therapists perform their specialty massage and promote healing and prevention of soft tissue injuries.
Acupuncture:  What most people do not realize is that stress happens chemically, physically, and emotionally, and it accumulates. Seeing an acupuncturist monthly balances the body, which inevitably helps to prevent injury. A great way to measure stress levels is with an HRV (heart rate variability) test. It shows the days you should work out and days you should rest based on your stress levels.
Home Care: Beyond the professionals, utilize home care therapies.  Stretching, strengthening, foam rolling, nutrition, diet, meditation, yoga, etc.
Take care of yourself and live life to the fullest!  Have a great week!
Dr. Meghan

 

1. Make it nonnegotiable- Don’t tell yourself that you can cop out.

2. Make it actionable- Be clear about what you’re going to do to reach your goal. For example, “I’ll go to sleep 30 minutes earlier so I can wake up and exercise in the morning”.

3. Set a deadline- Mark it on your calendar.

4. Schedule it in- Write workouts or other healthy actions in your planner and treat them like appointments.

5. Find solutions for your usual excuses- Write down your most common reasons for not doing something healthy and brainstorm strategies to deal with them.

6. Do it daily- The more something is part of your daily life, the less you’ll have to think about it. 21 days to make a habit!

7. Change your focus- Look at what you’ve accomplished as opposed to what you still have to do. Pat yourself on the back!

8. Set small goals- having a big goal is great, but create little goals along the way that build up to your final desired result.

smart

 

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