Proper Pacing

We have all been there…. 3 minutes into a 15 minute workout you look up at the clock and realize that you still have a long time to go and a lot of work still to get done. You stand there with your hands on your knees trying to breathe, contemplating if you should throw in the towel.  You have nothing left in the tank. You are done physically and mentally.

If you have CrossFit experience, or any sport experience for that matter, you have probably made the mistake of going out too hard or fast in a workout or game.

Most often it is your overall fitness that determines whether or not you crush a workout, but have you ever considered how much your pacing strategy comes into play?  Pacing or lack of, can turn a completely doable workout into a soul crushing struggle fest, no matter how fit you are.

Knowing how to properly pace yourself comes from experience. It is not a skill you are born with, it is something you need to work at over and over again. Below are a few of the strategies I have used to find my ideal pace for individual movements and/or benchmark workouts.

Timed Run Comparison
CrossFit workouts can be extra tough to properly pace because they are usually made up of two or 3 different movements, each requiring their own pacing strategy. To make it simpler think about how you would pace yourself for a timed run the same length.  For example if workout is a 15-minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) think about what pace you would try to maintain if you were going to run for 15 minutes straight.

Find Your Limits
Sometimes you just need to throw caution to the wind and find your limits.  Every once in a while sacrifice your overall workout, by picking one movement in the workout (preferably a lower skill movement like running, rowing, burpees or wallballs) and just go for it.  Go harder and faster than you have done in the past (obviously only if you can do it safely).  If or when you blow up, you will have a better idea on pace for next time.

Negative split
It might sound simple but shoot to complete the second half of the workout faster than the first.  This means you need to go out slower than you think so you have something left in the tank later in the workout to finish stronger and faster.

-Matt Kirkendall, Owner / Head Coach

Realistic Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, as we get close to the New Year, many people start to think about their New Year’s resolutions or some might roll their eyes at even thinking about resolutions.  This year some might even think they need to go bigger as it’s the start of a new decade. What I find interesting is that many people never share their goals with anyone, which usually means that their goals are never reached.  I’m one that believes that you truly need to put things out into the universe because it holds yourself accountable. 

Did you know that each January, roughly one in three Americans resolve to better themselves in some way.  A much smaller percentage of people actually make good on those resolutions. To many times we set goals that aren’t realistic.  Too big from the beginning that we can’t keep up with them. Only about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a WEEK, and only about 46% are still on target six months later! Unrealistic goals = stress = giving up before you even get started.

As you start to think of 2020, I encourage you put down on paper obtainable goals and share them with someone.  Not all goals have to be heath related. Maybe it’s reading for 15 minutes a day or maybe it’s giving yourself an extra 15 minutes of pure quietness to reflect on your biggest blessings from the day.  Since so many of us pick goals that are heath related here are a few to ponder.  

  • If you currently workout twice a week, shoot for three times a week. 
  • If you have an unhealthy relationship with pop/soda (figure I better not confuse anyone with my Midwest lingo and add both meanings), work on slowly decreasing the amount you drink and replacing it with water.  
  • Pick that one thing in the gym that you see on a workout and promise yourself that you won’t cancel to face your weakness.   
  • Sign up for that bucket list race and find a training buddy.  Having someone to train with will hold you accountable and keep it fun.  

As you sit down to reflect on 2019 and what you want to adjust moving into 2020, PLEASE STOP and celebrate all things BIG and SMALL that you accomplished this past year.  It might be getting your first pull up in the gym, liking burpees (not sure that if really possible), reading a book month, or spending more time with the ones you love. Be proud of ALL your accomplishments and remember that going into 2020, you have 12 Chapters and 365 Chances.  Are you going to let them slip away?!

-Erica Erickson, CrossFit Coach

3 Common Struggles Among My Athletes (And Most CrossFitters)

Quality over quantity
There is a misconception that the more you workout the fitter you will become. This might be true in the short term, but it will not last long.  There is no doubt, that if you want to get stronger and faster you need to put in a lot of time and effort, but that doesn’t mean 7 days a week for weeks on end.

The quality for your workouts is more beneficial than how much you workout.  Quality over quantity! So what does this “quality” training plan look like?

Well it is different for everyone and depends on things like lifestyle, goals, and age.  For most of our athletes (who are between the age of 30-60 years old, just looking to hit the ski slopes, hike a 14er, keep up with their kids and live a long healthy life) I recommend hitting the gym 3-4 days per week.  These days in the gym I ask them to give a good hard effort and push themselves (obviously, only if they can do this safely with proper form) based on how they are feeling on that day.  Ideally these gym days are spread out throughout the week with a rest day in between.  This way their bodies have time to recover before the next hard workout (which is even more important as we get older because our bodies don’t bounce back as fast as they used too).

From there if they are itching to get up and do something else, I tell them to add in a day or two outside the gym doing some physical activity they enjoy, while keeping the intensity/effort lower.  If they think this other activity is going to be tough (like hiking a 14er or playing a soccer game), consider substituting it for a “hard” gym day. 

Finding a balance between intensity, volume and rest will maximum results, feed motivation, and keep you injury free.

 

To Scale Or Not Too Scale
One reason why CrossFit has proven to be such an effective strength and conditioning program, is its scaleability (or adaptability) to meet the needs and limitations of any person.  Your 60 year old grandma can do the same workout as you but with less weight, fewer reps, or shorter range of motion.  You both are going to get a hell of a workout, just at your own individual fitness level.

Knowing when and how to scale a movement and/or workout definitely takes some trial and error.  This is why your coach is there.  Your coach is there to instruct you on the desired stimulus of the workout (aspects like intensity level, duration, and proper loading), and offer up possible scaling options that will allow you to preserve this stimulus while keeping you safe.

No matter your experience level, there will be workouts where you will face the decision to scale or not.  This could be due to many factors but most often this is due to ability or injury.

Reminder intensity breeds results. If you have a goal of improving your all round fitness, maintaining intensity in your workouts is most important. If you can’t complete a workout as prescribed with intensity, scale it. 

With an injury, keep in mind we are training muscles not movements (unless your goal is to go to the CrossFit Games).  We can train the same or similar muscle groups with a whole list of different movements.  So if one movement is causing you discomfort, scale it.   

No one wants to lower their weight or modify the movements but scaling is not a bad thing.  It is what allows you to be consistent with your fitness routine and see improvement in your fitness all while staying safe and pain free.

 

Keep Sight Of Your Goals
Most CrossFitters have a little bit of a competitive side, no matter how much they don’t want to admit it.  This competitive drive can be with themselves and/or others. Even if you don’t consider yourself super competitive, the group environment has a way of pushing you a little bit harder than you would push yourself when working out alone. This is a great thing and a reason why we believe CrossFit is such a successful exercise program.

This competitive environment can also lead you to loose sight of your long term goal by focusing more on what others in class are doing and/or the score board.  When you start comparing yourself to others or always reaching for that daily PR (personal record) you could end up pushing beyond your limits. Sometimes pushing into that unsafe zone.

The goal for most of our athletes is simply to become a fitter and healthier version of themselves.

Remember to keep your overall goal in mind when you walk into the gym and hear that clock count down to 3-2-1 GO.  We encourage you to push yourself outside of our comfort zones, but that doesn’t mean pushing beyond what you can do safely. 

-Matt Kirkendall, Owner / Head Coach

Take Aways From CrossFit Level 1 Certification

From the moment I hit the “submit” button to finalize my registration for the Level 1 Certification Course, my nerves increased thinking about the class. As the class drew closer, and the morning of my nerves increased. I’m not sure if it was the idea of having to take a test at the end of day two, questioning if a 42-year old mom with two sets of twins with only one-year of CrossFit experience would stick out in a crowd of 20 somethings or perhaps it was the instructors telling us to get changed as we were going to start the class off with doing FRAN. I looked the lady next to me, wait did they just say we are doing FRAN? My mind was racing as I was pretty confident, I had never completed Fran. I quickly opened Wodify and there it was, blank performance. I thought to myself, now I’m really going to stick out! Well thank goodness they were joking with us about completing Fran, and I quickly learned our class was filled with men and women of all ages and experience. Each one of us came into the class with
difference backgrounds, CrossFit experience, and all looking for different takeaways from the class. Looking back, this class was more than just learning how to properly do squats, presses, deadlifts, snatches and pull-ups. As I look back on my two-days of lecture, here are my top takeaways:

  • So, what really is CrossFit? It is constantly varied, high-intensity functional movement. CrossFit is simple, a Sport of Fitness. Our individual power defines our intensity in workouts. However, we ALL need to scale at times to get our near limits to reach HIGH intensity. Why…..to reach RESULTS!
  • There are 10 General Physical Skills and complete fitness trains in ALL 10. Hence, why we row, bike, run, jump, do burpees, mountain climbers, sled pulls and pushes, and lift using dumbbells, the barbell, and our bodyweight. So, the next time you look at a workout and get frustrated with a movement, if you’re like me, it’s because it’s our weakness looking us in the face. The fittest athletes have a good balance of ALL 10 skills. Our workouts are designed to help us improve on these 10 skills. Four of these skills (strength, stamina, flexibility and endurance) come through training. To improve we must show up to see measurable organic changing in the body. Another four (coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance) come about through practice. A great example, double unders, in order to perform them we need to practice them. The final two (speed and power) both improve with both training and practice. So I encourage you, the next time you see sleds, running or the bike on a workout, don’t hit the cancel button, save it for a day when you REALLY need a rest day.
  • We all have those days where we feel like our name is being called out a lot in a work out due to technique. It comes in all forms, squat lower, hook grip, fast elbows, etc. Well imagine being the one picked to be the “squat” example for everyone to watch and learn during the training class. With a bright red face, I squatted away, concentrating hard and praying I didn’t have a hole on the backside of my pants. Technique is so IMPORTANT! It’s the reason we all were required to take the important On Ramp classes. Proper technique not only protects you, but you need it to reach your full potential in fitness. Therefore, when you hear your name called out, remember nobody else really hears it and that technique is an intimate part of Safety, Efficacy, and Efficiency
  • This next one I’m sure will make you all sit up and listen. Ok, I hope it doesn’t as it’s the foundation in all of our fitness journey. Nutrition plays such a critical role in our fitness. NO, Kari didn’t ask me to make this into my article, but having worked with her, I can share that everything she shares with us, was covered in our lecture. It’s so important that when you look at the Theoretical Hierarchy of the Development of an Athlete, it’s the first thing on the pyramid. I’m not going to tell you to make huge changes before the holidays, however, consider making small changes now to help feel good throughout the holidays. You aren’t going to get anywhere in terms of optimizing your performance on a bad diet. The right food and amounts will increase your energy, sense of well-being, decrease fat and increase muscle.

Overall this class was so was amazing and I’m excited to attend the Level 2 course down the road. While I didn’t have to get my first time in a group of strangers, I walked out with a better squat, my first kipping pull up, and knowing that we get to learn and be pushed by the best owners. So, the next time you want to complain about a workout, or get frustrated for being yelled at because you aren’t using hook grip, please remember it’s because you have coaches who care about you. In closing, each one of us needs to stop and look back at how far we have come in our fitness journey. While somedays you might feel frustrated for not being able to go faster or hit a PR, what you don’t realized is you are more than likely motivating another athlete in class without even knowing it. So show up on those days that you don’t feel like showing up, as you just might help some else get out of their comfort zone.

-Erica Erickson, CrossFit Coach

Cherry Picking Workouts

We have all done it. Checked the workout and hit “cancel” to our class reservation. Maybe you don’t like running, maybe you don’t like a lot of barbell work, or maybe wall balls challenge you in a way that hurts the soul…we have all been there!
We want to challenge you to say that quite possibly the thing you hate the most (running, barbell, wall balls etc) might just be the thing you NEED the most of in your fitness routine! We would bet that if you enjoy running, it’s a strength of yours and something you do often. If that’s the case a little bit of strength work with a barbell will not only work on a weakness to make you a better all-around athlete, but will actually also strength muscles used for your running! Making you a more efficient runner and probably help you prevent injuries from the repetitive movement of running.
The same goes for barbells! If you really despise running and really just enjoy having a barbell in your hands, we would bet that a little more aerobic capacity could benefit you greatly, making you a better athlete all around (yes even more efficient with that barbell you never want to put down!).
The truth of fitness is that we need ALL of it! Yes ALL of it! You need to lift, you need to run, you should try a yoga class (WSCF Members just a reminder that we have a partnership with CorePower Yoga!). There are benefits to every form of fitness out there and challenging yourself will not only keep you more fit but will also keep things constantly interesting. That’s one of the beautiful things about CrossFit. It’s constantly varied, but not if we “cherry-pick” our workouts.
So don’t look at the workout, come prepared for anything, and have some fun! Even if it’s not in your comfort zone or wheelhouse!
-Kari Kirkendall, Nutrition Coach / Youth Program Director / Media & Event Director

Eat The Internet

Ever heard the saying “eat the rainbow”? It basically means that – to get a variety of nutrients and vitamins – you should eat foods of all sorts and colors.  That’s hard, right??!

Look, if you tend to get in a rut and eat the same stuff, I have another suggestion: EAT THE INTERNET!!! One great way to eat a balanced and varied diet is to cook new things!! Fortunately, there are so many wonderful cooking blogs out there that you can pull recipes and ideas from. Here are some of my favorites, along with some go to recipes (but it was really hard to pick only one from each): 

Salads

COOKIE + kate (TRYHearty Sweet Potato, Arugula & Wild Rice Salad with Ginger Dressing)

Ambitious Kitchen (TRYVegan Curried Broccoli Chickpea Salad)** (Lots of paleo options!)

What’s Gaby Cooking (TRYChopped Thai Salad)

Alaska from Scratch (TRYKale Salad with Goat Cheese, Orange & Pomegranate)

Epicurious (TRYBlack and Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Squash)

Main/Meat/Grilling

Another Pint Please (TRYAngry Orchard Cider Can Chicken)

Feasting at Home (TRYLamb Meatballs with Indian Curry Sauce)

David Lebovitz (TRYKofta with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce)

Epicurious (TRYSeared Tuna with Olive-Tapenade Vinaigrette and Arugula)

Tastes Better from Scratch (TRYGrilled Chicken Street Tacos) **

A Cozy Kitchen (TRYBlistered Sungold Tomato Shrimp Scampi)

Soups & Stews

Cooking on the Ranch (TRYHatch Green Chili, Colorado Style) ** (Local!)

From a Chef’s Kitchen (TRYKorean Braised Short Ribs)

Spoon Fork Bacon (TRYTortellini, Turkey Sausage, Sweet Potato and Kale Soup)

-Amy Poshusta, CrossFit Coach

Working Out In Heat

Many of us struggle in our workouts as the temperature raise. The good news is there are things you can do before, during and after your workouts to battle the summer heat.

1) Hydrate & Rehydrate

Maintaining adequate levels of hydration, with water or sports drinks, is probably the easiest and best way to avoid over heating during your workout  If we are hydrated our body will be able to do its thing (ie sweat) to keep us cool. 

2) Adjust Your Workout Timing

We all have a limited window when we can workout but adjusting your schedule to hit the gym during early morning and/or evening hours, when it is a tad bit cooler, could make a difference in you getting that PR or not.

3) Wear Appropriate Clothing

Choosing light colored breathable clothing will help keep you feeling cooler as the workout heats up.  Some fabrics are actually designed to pull sweat away from your skin during exercise which help to speed up evaporation.  A hat and sunglasses are great fashion accessories to shade you from the hot sun. 

4) Get Wet

Throw some cold water on your head! We see kids doing it all the time after games or practice but this is actually an efficient way to regulation your skin’s temperature mid-workout.  Areas of the body that are very receptive to this cooling strategy are the head, neck, and armpits.

4) Heat Acclamation

The body is good at adapting to our surroundings.   Have you have noticed how much better you feel working out at the end of summer versus the beginning? This is because after continuous exposure to hot conditions your body learns how to deal with the heat better.  So get out there, break a sweat and kick some ass.

– Matthew Kirkendall, Owner / Head Coach

Get Out Of That Chair

Let’s face it, exercise is important! It improves lipemia, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, all of which acutely improve cardio metabolic heath and reduce the risk of disease.  But did you know that new data suggest that getting exercise isn’t enough if we are sitting too much?

Yes, sitting “is” the new smoking.

Research is now showing that being sedentary (e.g., sitting at a desk all day or walking less than 4,000 steps/day) creates a condition whereby people become “resistant” to the metabolic benefits of exercise.  Eek!  You want that workout to really count towards your health, right?!

With a little bit of attention and ingenuity, you can reduce the amount of time you spend sitting—and improve your health and extend your lifespan in the process.

Try some of these ways to integrate more standing and walking into your day:

  • Get a standing or treadmill desk.
  • Take walking meetings.
  • Park further away from your destination and walk a little extra.
  • Take the stairs, rather than the elevator or escalator.
  • Take breaks during your workday to do a “mini workout” (e.g. air squats, lunges, jumping jacks, etc.)

Exercising is one step we can take to prevent and reverse disease but getting moving during the day is also a must!

-Amy Poshusta, CrossFit Coach

How We Use Fasting

Fasting is becoming a tool we are seeing used more and more often, for long-term health benefits, which is great!

We wanted to shed a little light into how we use fasting, the benefits of fasting and why we don’t necessarily fast on a daily basis (intermittent fasting).

Fasting has many long-term health benefits. Some of which include lower risk of cancer, lower blood pressure, better cholesterol and blood sugar levels, fat loss, lowered inflammation throughout the body and increased brain cell growth.

All of that being said, we do think intermittent fasting could be wrong for some people. For someone with known hormonal issues, someone who doesn’t necessarily have healthy habits around food consumption, or even for someone who is considered quite obese, there is a large chance there is a damaged metabolism (or damage of some sort) at play. Going long periods of time without eating will only promote further damage and intermittent fasting shouldn’t be at the top of the priority list for this person.

What should be at the top of the list for this person? Great question! The same thing that should be a top priority for all! Which is getting into a consistent exercise routine, eating whole foods (NOTHING PACKAGED) and nutrient dense fruits and vegetables at least 80% of the time, trying to have a healthy relationship with foods (no bingeing and purging, no “punishment” after eating, etc. etc.) and maintaining a good sleep schedule and routine.

We also want to be clear that being prepared with healthy food throughout the week is a huge key to success when it comes to reaching your nutrition goals. We find that a lot of times people fall into almost “accidentally” intermittent fasting because they found themselves lacking food to eat for breakfast, so they just skip it and go straight to lunch. Having food prepped and available for quick and easy breakfasts could help with this problem that we see a lot of.

We still see the huge benefits of fasting! Maybe not daily intermittent fasting, but long fasts done every 1-2 months can have so many health benefits. If you are a healthy adult, participating in a long 24-48 hour fast every month-2months is something we think is extremely beneficial to your long term health! We also want to be clear that we see fasting as a long-term health benefit. NOT a short term weight loss strategy. Does it work for a short term weight loss strategy? Of course it does! You are consuming half a day’s less calories! BUT we don’t see it as something that can be sustained in the long term. What happens when you stop intermittent fasting and start incorporating double the amount of calories you once were? See the picture we are painting here?

So our take = fasting is extremely beneficial and is a tool that can and should be used for long-term health in healthy adults. Intermittent fasting can work for the right individual, but should be used with caution because we don’t see is as a practice that can be sustained long term and it can also cause some issues if the individual isn’t in a healthy place in their journey to start intermittent fasting.
-Kari Kirkendall, Nutrition Coach / Youth Program Director / Media & Event Director

Benefits Of Exercise and Strength Training For Youth

It is no secret that physical activity is important at all ages, but more and more studies are coming out showing just how important exercise is for our younger generations specifically. 

Physical activity promotes positive mental health and brain function. Being able to work both sides of our brain, like exercise does, benefits the younger generations greatly! It improves their  ability to concentrate, their memory and overall attention span. Not only that but it boosts their mood and fights symptoms of depression! 

With so many digital distractions in today’s world, we are seeing more and more concentration issues in our youth. It has been showing that movement, blood flow and an elevated heart rate can help decrease these issues substantially. 

Exercise also provides better sleep quality. Sleep is the time for our brain to “detox” itself and reset for another day. The importance of sleep is becoming more and more prevalent and this fact alone should be a motivating factor to keep your children moving and shaking throughout the day! 

Strength training specifically provides so many health benefits for children, as well! Not only does it help strengthen their muscles, but also their bones, ligaments and tendons which can not only help prevent injury and keep them balanced in their movement, but if they do get injured it also helps them heal faster and more efficiently. 

Strength training also shows them that persistence and hard work are valuable qualities to have. Strength training is one of those things that requires practice, determination and hard work. It’s also something that you can directly see benefits from. If they strength train, they will see their strength increase and their muscle’s build along with so many other benefits. 

There are so many endless benefits to physical activity and strength training for kids. In today’s world, making practices around fitness is something we truly believe in and support whether it’s school sports or any other kind of fitness routine! 

-Kari Kirkendall, Nutrition Coach / Youth Program Director / Media & Event Director