Comment

Are you 'coachable'?

Are you ‘coachable’? Are you ‘capable of being taught easily and trained to do something better’?

If you are coachable it means you are willing to grow, learn, improve and excel in your performance. It means you’re ready to do whatever it takes to adapt and change. People who are coachable are open to listening to feedback, can receive constructive criticism without taking it personally, are willing to take a look at their own performance in order to improve, and are enthusiastic.

You should care about whether or not you’re coachable because you could be holding yourself back from making improvements!

Forbes released an article which looked at the seven signs of being coachable, ask yourself these questions;

1. Are you defensive in feedback situations?

Do you find yourself tuning out when a coach gives you feedback? Thinking to yourself that ‘they don’t know what they are talking about’, or ‘here we go again, what am I doing wrong this time?’ or Do you get emotional and take what they are saying personally?

2. Do you find blame elsewhere?

Are you quick to find excuses? ‘I can’t go that deep in a squat because of a knee injury’, ‘I can’t lift my elbows higher because I have poor mobility’, ‘I was sick last week so I can’t go any harder today’, ‘I don’t usually train at this time’.

3. Are you interested in your own growth?

Do you want to improve your skill level and fitness, or do you just come to the box to get your ‘dose of exercise’? Are you interested in new challenges and growing as an ‘athlete’?

4. Are you willing to be vulnerable?

Can you admit when you have done a movement wrong or used a weight that wasn’t appropriate? Are you willing to have a discussion with a coach about what you need to do to improve? Do you think you know more than the coach?

5. Are you open to new ways of looking at a situation?

Do you always have to be right? Are you able to trust what the coach has to say, or does your belief system sabotage you from listening to what they have to say?

6. Are you willing to experiment with new behaviour?

Does the coach suggest that you should try some new stretches to improve your mobility, but you have been doing it another way and you don’t want to try something new. Do you find comfort in routine and don’t want to change? Are you stuck in your own way of doing things?

7. Are you able to stay with new behaviours?

Do you just nod your head at the coach and say ‘okay’, do a couple of reps the way they suggested and then when they turn around go back to what you were doing? Are you unwilling to try something new and disregard what the coach has said?

You may be more responsive to some coaches; whether it be their gender, their age, their experience, their approach, their personality….regardless, every coach has something to offer....even if it might just be some friendly motivation. If you don’t like how a coach approaches you or gives you feedback you could, as an example, ask them the following;

Tell them you would prefer if:
• They showed you through a demonstration,
• Gave you feedback in private and not in front of everyone,
• Broke the skill down and only gave one cue at a time.

We are fortunate in our box to have an array of coaches with different backgrounds; we have coaches of competitive sports, have been athletes themselves, are teachers, have had to work hard on their own progression and who basically have years of personal experience of being coached themselves. The best thing about being coached by different people is that they all have different styles and ways of giving feedback….. from a personal experience one coach has been telling me forever that I need to lift my elbows higher when I snatch, and they will show me it over and over (‘BUT I DO lift my elbows high’!!), then another coach said to me ‘keep your knuckles facing the floor for longer’….. Arrrhhhhh (‘lightbulb moment’). If I didn’t have the experience of different coaches and I wasn’t open to their feedback I would not have been able to accept this cue.  

Coach coaching coach.png

Who coaches the coaches? Do you think they got where they are without being coached themselves? Just this morning I was at Open gym at 10 am (when many of your coaches train) and saw one of the coaches teaching another coach about making sure they fulling extend their hips during the pull phase of their snatch. These guys know how important it is to be coached!!

Put your arrogance aside, be vulnerable, listen and be open minded…… be coachable!!

People who are coachable are more likely to succeed when it comes to their health, happiness and attitude…. not just in the box.

Tianna Monea

Forbes: Seven signs your employee is not coachable

Comment

Comment

Are you 'SMART' about your goals?

It is that time of year again…….we are looking back on the last 12 months and thinking to ourselves, what have we achieved and what would we like to accomplish next? According to the ‘Valens under the Microscope’ survey almost 50% of our members set annual goals in CrossFit. This statistic is consistent with studies as many people, in general, do not make FORMAL goals. I was talking to someone in the box the other day who said ‘I have been doing CrossFit for almost four years now and I haven’t got a Muscle Up’, I replied ‘have you actually been trying to get one?’ Are many of us just aimlessly coming into the box without goals in mind? Just because you have been doing CrossFit for a long time doesn’t mean that you are magically going to be able to do all the movements and skills and be at the same level as someone else with the same years of experience.

I like to think of Goal Setting like ‘planning for a journey’; you wouldn’t go on holiday without some sort of a plan? When we first think about going on a holiday we do our research online and talk to other people who have also travelled there (when we want to make progress in CrossFit we need to think about where we are at already? What skills can I already do, what weights can I lift?), next we would work out a budget (how long do you need to achieve these skills or that level of Fitness?), then you would book your flights and accommodation (lock in your goals and make yourself accountable by writing them down), next we find places to eat and visit (what do you specifically want to achieve that is relevant and meaningful to you?), and then finally with all of this information we make a schedule of what we would like to do each day (what is the deadline that you will give yourself to make this progress and what does the final result look like?). Yeah, you could ‘wing’ your trip without a plan, but you would probably end up spending more money because you have left everything to the last minute and you may run out of time to see everything because you didn’t try and fit it into your schedule. The same can be said about goal setting, or lack thereof.

Setting goals can have so many advantages but most of all they will MOTIVATE you and give you DIRECTION. A good way to make goals powerful is to make ‘SMART’ goals.

Specific- Make your goals clear and well defined. Define your goal without ambiguous language.

Bad: I want to get Fit

Good: I want to be able to deadlift double my own body weight

Measureable - Can you measure ‘I want to get Fit’?, You need to know when your goal is accomplished and be able to measure the outcome.

Bad: I want to go to the box more

Good: I want to go to the box 3 times a week for a year

Achievable - Set goals that are attainable; make your goal challenging and exciting, but also make sure that they are achievable because if they aren’t then this can be de-motivating.

Bad: I want to go to the Games

Good: I want to be able to do RX weights for each WOD

Relevant-  Is the goal you are trying to achieve worthwhile? Make your goals consistent with the ‘bigger picture’.

Bad: I want to be ripped

Good: I want to lose 5kg in the next 6months

Time Phased - You need to give yourself a time frame to work in; ‘a goal is a dream with a deadline’.

Bad: I want to do double unders

Good: I want to be able to do double unders in the next two months


Once you have made a SMART goal/s make yourself accountable and write them down, put them up on a wall or tell someone.

Comment

Comment

CrossFit Bling

Everyone at the box is sporting some CrossFit accessories…....we’ve got straps, knee sleeves, compression socks, gymnastics grips, gloves, weightlifting belts, weightlifting shoes and the list goes on. Have you ever asked yourself why you are wearing them, or did you just buy it because everyone else was? Are you overusing your accessories, misusing them or maybe addicted or dependent on them?

I am certainly no expert on accessories, but I do have some questions about them! Along with some research I thought it would be a good idea to also get the opinion of a Physiotherapist: one who also understands and does CrossFit themselves, so I asked one of our members, Lory De Cillia to give her opinion. Allot of the information that we get about accessories are from the companies who make the products and obviously have an ulterior motive for us buying them.

Wrist Straps/Wraps

If your wrist hurts during overhead squats is it because you need wrist straps or because you have poor mobility in your wrist and shoulder?

Research suggests the purpose of a wrist wrap/strap is to provide support to the wrist joint during heavy or max effort lifts. “During these movements the wrist can be pulled into excessive extension under load and result in compromised mechanics, possible injury and failed lifts” (Sun). According to some sources you don’t need wrist straps to move 60% of your 1RM in movements such as push press or during gymnastics movements. If you wear wrist straps all the time it tends to “limit strength development in your wrist flexors and extensors” (Sun).

Lory: “The wrist straps help to give you more stability in your wrist and definitely gives you more support, therefore I support the above statement and believe you should not use them all the time and for every movement. Movements like overhead squats are unusual movements which are not comparable to movements in our daily life. This is a stressful situation for our wrists and therefore you can support your wrists by wearing the straps while moving heavy weight, but not for an overhead squat with an empty barbell”.

People usually wear wrist straps because they can feel pain in their wrists, but the pain could actually be a result from poor mobility particularly in the front rack position. Wrist straps aren’t going to make you more flexible, mobility exercises and pre workout preparation will. There are different types of wraps/straps; do you know the difference and when you should wear which?

Knee Sleeves

If your knees hurt after squatting is it because you have done a strenuous workout or because you have bad form and your knees are caving in? Do you need to wear them when you do air squats?

Research suggests that knee sleeves protect the knee from future injury or risk of damage. It is believed that this type of protection is especially important when you place the knees under continued pressure each day. Providing valuable compression, knee sleeves “increase blood flow and reduce pain” (Chasey). Compression is vitally important as it facilitates blood flow through the knee aiding better recovery. “Your knees are warmer quickly, and with this blood flow it assists to reduce pain and swelling during and after your workout” (WODlife). However, Lory believes this is incorrect, “even if you buy the thickest knee sleeves they don't have the same effect like a compression sock”.

“Knee sleeves also assist the mechanics of your body, with knee sleeves assisting in the support of your patella positioning throughout training. Knee sleeves also ensure your joints and central nervous system are supported throughout your vigorous movement. Joints and muscles need oxygen to recover, which means that blood flow has to be efficient” (WODlife). This is a common statement I have seen on many of the websites selling knee sleeves, however, I can't help but think that our bodies were made with ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscles which support the positioning of the patella, and that with knee sleeves we are just saying it is okay to not be in a 'good position' all the time. 

What I was interested in was; are there any disadvantages to wearing them? A couple of sources have said that if you are new to CF then you should avoid wearing knee sleeves, this way you can become accustomed to the movements without an aid. YOU need to be in control of the positioning of your own joints, not your knee sleeves. There are many cases where the pain comes from poor posture and execution.

Lory: “Often people think because they wear knee sleeves that the position of their knee (patella) is correct because they feel supported but this is not good. You should learn squatting without sleeves, also with heavy weight to see how the knees react. After practicing a lot it is recommended to put on sleeves by doing, for example a 1RM back squat to give your knees additionally support”.

The knee sleeves that people are wearing around the box are made out of neoprene. Knee sleeves come in different sizes, you can get 7mm, 3.5mm and 5mm, different materials, lengths and widths, do you know the difference? If you don’t it may be worth doing some research before you buy a pair.

Weight Belt

If your back is hurting from heavy squats or deadlifts is it because you need a weight lifting belt for support or have you not been keeping your back in the right position?

According to the National Strength and Conditioning association, the best reason to use a weightlifting belt is to increase intra-abdominal pressure, or pressure in your abdomen, during heavy or strenuous weight lifting. This pressure creates a rigid core, stabilizing your spine and helping increase your maximum power. This pressure also keeps your spine from collapsing under heavy weight. A weight belt gives your stomach something to push against, increasing your pressure.

Lory: “Pressure on the spine is always good, because if you feel tired, loose the pressure, what happens…? You get injured…..a weight belt really supports your vertebral column and HELPS to avoid the intervertebral disc from slipping out. People take a deep breath while doing heavy movements….. so why do they do this, to create extra pressure in their abdominals which support them to get a tight core, this in addition to the weight belt gives you maximum pressure and support for your spine”.

Is it beneficial to not use a weight belt if you don’t need it? You can create your own intra-abdominal pressure by breathing in, holding your breath, and pushing out your stomach muscles. If you use a weight belt too often or improperly, you discourage the use of your own core and abdominal muscles, muscles that are necessary to build and help protect your spine. “When they are used as a ‘crutch’, they can actually weaken your abdominal muscles” (Livestrong). What do you think?

So, when and why should you use them? From different sources it seems agreed upon that you should only use a weight belt during heavy lifting at or above 80% of your 1RM. As your strength improves, discontinue use of the belt unless you are lifting over 80% of your 1RM, movements to use them in would be squats, cleans (and jerks), or shoulder to overhead.

If you would like some further reading on this have a look at this article by Stuart McGill, a professor in Spine Biomechanics 'On the use weight belts', he made the statement "I do not recommend them (weight belts) for healthy individuals in exercise participation", my interpretation of his findings were that if you have poor form and technique then you will also have poor form and technique while wearing a belt, and if you have good form and technique then you don't need a belt (it would just be a precautionary measure if you become fatigued during the lift and as a consequence had poor form). 

Weightlifting Shoes

Do you need weightlifting shoes for pistol squats and wallballs; or do you need to do some ankle mobility?

Research suggests the reason why weightlifting shoes are used is because they increase hip and ankle flexibility which help you get lower in a squat. The hard flat sole is to allow as much force off the ground as you can; for example when you do squats, snatch, clean and jerk. The elevated heel allows you to get deeper in your squat, for the knees to stay out, and to increase ankle flexibility. People who have tight ankles and hips will see an improvement in their ability to squat. Weightlifting shoes also have a strap which help give the snug fit which means the foot won’t be slipping inside the shoes, and this allows a stable position.

If you can’t comfortably get into a squat position then this is a cry from your hips and ankles to do some mobility work. You can hide some of that immobility with weightlifting shoes, however, the underlying issue will always be there. For example; if you have a WOD which has running and pistols, you shouldn't be asking yourself the question 'can I run in my lifters?'

There are hundreds of weightlifting shoes available, however all of them serve the same purpose, it is just about finding a pair that is comfortable for you, or a colour that you like ;)

So in summary.............

1. Have good mobility

2. Make sure we are doing the correct movement patterns and mechanics

3. Use accessories for max lifts (80% 1RM +) or when form may be compromised due to fatigue. 

Did you get the same impression, or are you still going to wear your knee sleeves for air squats? 

Tianna Monea

Knee sleeve sceptic

N.B

Lory De Cillia studied Physiotherapy in Germany and graduated in 2013. She has worked since in the industry and now owns her own practice in Steinsel Luxembourg. She has been doing CrossFit since Jan 2013, attending 3-4 classes a week. Her philosophy; “if I see or feel that I force too much on my spine, wrist or back then I reduce the weight and/or try to break down what the problem may be and change my technique”.

Invictus Blog: 5 Tips for Using Wrist Wraps

Breaking Muscle: The Advantages of Knee Sleeves: What they are and when to wear them.

The WodLife: The Down Low on Knee Sleeves

Livestrong: Advantages and Disadvantages of a weightlifting belt

Comment

Comment

Valens under the Microscope

Here are the results from the Valens survey! Over two weeks there were 152 enthusiastic members who responded to the questions; the results can give you a glimpse into the members and community at Valens.

So, what does the average CrossFitter at Valens look like? They have been doing CF between 2-4 years, training 3 times a week, they mostly do classes with the occasional open gym session, they sometimes do RX standards and their favourite workout is a long and gruelling chipper.

Overall Attendance

Majority of the members at Valens have been training at the box between 1-4 years and attend 3-4 times a week. Only 3.9% of the members said they do more than one session in a day. Majority of our members participate only in classes and may do the occasional open gym session.

Working Out

Only 17.8% of members consistently do RX standards in workouts; majority ‘never’ or ‘occasionally’ do. The category of workout that members enjoy was almost perfectly spread out between AMRAPS, Rounds, Chippers and EMOM’s. Although long and gruelling workouts had a slight edge on short and intense.

Most members have stated that their favourite exercise is either Squats, Snatch or Cleans and their least favourite is Thrusters, Overhead Squats and Burpees (surprise surprise). Of the movements which have been the most difficult to master are Double Unders, Pull Ups and Snatch (there seems to be a love hate relationship with Snatch). Almost half (46%) of members have said they have had steady progress since they started at the box.

Diet

Only 9% of our members are on a strict diet, mostly paleo. However, 60% of members have a cheat day, and most of them are eating pizza! Two-thirds of our members drink protein shakes.

Outside of the Box

A number of members participate in activities outside of the box, mostly running and swimming (funny how when we have ‘running’ WOD’s class attendance drops significantly ;). 79% of members said they did stretching and a number of members do accessory work.

Goal Setters 

Almost half of our members are setting annual goals in CrossFit and recording their workouts (51%) and personal bests (51%). I wonder if this is why so many of our members are reporting that they have had steady progress since starting at Valens!?

Injuries

A number of members in our box have suffered from an injury due to CrossFit, however reported that with rest and physiotherapy the injury improved. Most of the members (55%) said that the injury was due to bad form or training too hard with inadequate rest.

There is a lot more that can be read into these graphs, and of course we have to keep in mind it is only a small representation of Valens. 

Where do YOU 'fit' into the Valens community. Have you, at times, lost focus on why you do CrossFit in the first place? Do you get annoyed or frustrated because you can't get that 100kg clean or can't link your pull ups; have you forgotten how far you have come since you started and what positive progress you have made to your health? Use these results as a way to see where you 'fit' into the community, are you the average CrossFitter at the box, can you be motivated by how far other people have come, can you be proud of how much you have achieved?

Most people had fun doing the survey, I apologise to the 8 people who didn't ;p

Thank you to those who participated in the survey and for reading the blog.

Tianna Monea

'Your Average CrossFitter'

Comment

Comment

The Good and Bad News about Detraining

While on vacation or a business trip do you have a little voice in your head that says ‘you need to be working out, you’re going to get weak, person x is going to beat you in the WOD’s when you get back, just look at yourself you big fatty’. It's no surprise as we work so hard in the box to see improvements and often after a vacation the first workout back is the workout from hell. This blog is hopefully going to put that little voice at ease.

When we train (depending on the type of training) our bodies make adaptations/changes; if training is regular and over a long period of time these changes are called ‘chronic adaptations’ and they will remain permanent as long as you continue. Some of the amazing changes that occur include the walls of the heart becoming thicker and stronger and one of the chambers becoming larger (which means we can pump more blood and therefore oxygen around the body), we can increase blood volume by up to 1L….1L, and we have hypertrophy of the muscles (which means an increase in muscle fibres and therefore strength and power). There are so many adaptations which occur and a whole blog could be dedicate to it, however, what I want to focus on is, ‘what happens when we stop training?’, ‘how quickly do we lose these adaptations?’ and ‘how long does it take to get them back?’.

The term that is used when we ‘lose our gainz’ is called ‘reversibility or detraining’, there are a number of reasons that people stop training, it could just be for a few weeks holidays over the summer, an injury, ill health or a break from training, which many elite athletes do.

There is good news and bad news….. everyone wants the bad first…..

The bad news is; adaptations are reversed a lot quicker than it takes to accumulate them!!!

The good news; there is usually a rapid return to pre-training levels once you start training again.

To give you an example of how quickly adaptations are reversed I’ll use a long distance runner; if a marathon runner was to stop training altogether in less than three weeks they would decrease their VO2max by 8% and a further 10% between 3-12 weeks. VO2max refers to our bodies ability to use and transport oxygen. This is a significant decrease.

When you stop training the body starts to make physiological changes; your heart doesn’t beat as efficiently, your muscles don’t process oxygen as quickly and your body doesn’t use carbohydrates as a fuel as well. More significantly, if you are exercising for health reasons and not just to be ‘fitter’, you can also lose the improvements you had in blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Obviously the amount at which the body experiences detraining depends on a number of factors; age, how ‘fit’ you are, how long you have been exercising and what type of exercise you were doing are just a few. For example, young athletes who have been training intensely and for a long period of time will experience a more gradual decline. There was a study that showed when elite cyclists, runners and swimmers stopped all exercise they lost on average only half of their aerobic gains in three months, compared to sedentary (usually do nothing) people who did a two month cycling and running programme lost all of their gains in two months.

So, is there a difference between endurance adaptations and strength adaptations?

As mentioned earlier, just two weeks of no training can decrease any endurance gains which you have made, some studies have even shown that 8 weeks of no training can lead to virtually all gains lost. This is however different to strength adaptations as they do not decline as rapidly. In the first 2 weeks of detraining there are very limited effects; in one study done with weightlifters they showed non-significant reductions in bench press and back squats after a two week break. One study even showed that 4 weeks away from training had little effect on strength. However, some research shows that after 4 weeks of no training you could lose 10% of your strength.

What about skills? We have spent months and even years learning how to do double unders and kipping pull ups, do they get ‘lost’?

The answer is no… yay, some good news! The concept of reversibility does not apply to skill development, as once a skill is learned it is never forgotten. As mentioned in an earlier blog, the brain makes ‘motor programmes’ which store the execution of skills. Coordination appears to remain stored in the long term memory and remains there for decades.

So, now the most important question, if I have to stop CrossFit because I am going away to Africa and it is near impossible to find a box, is there anything I can do to stop a rapid decline in losing my gainz??

Many elite athletes have an ‘off season’ block in their training; I guarantee the majority of the olympic athletes will now be having a ‘break’ from training as they have been working their ‘asses’ off for months. You could even see on Instagram and Facebook that many of the CrossFit athletes after the Games took a week or two off and went on a holiday. During these ‘blocks’ athletes will usually undergo what is called a ‘maintenance’ routine where they train with a reduced load two or three times per week in an effort to avoid detraining and loss of fitness.

The key is INTENSITY, studies have shown that if you were to do one or two sessions a week of high intensity exercise you would maintain your fitness level. So, when in Africa you could do a 12min AMRAP of 10 Push Ups, 10 Sit Ups and 10 Burpees with a high intensity and keep those gainz. Yeah, you might feel a little rusty picking up a bar or jumping onto the rig after two or three weeks away, but the chronic adaptations which you worked so hard for would not be lost.

One study showed that if intensity of training is unchanged that VO2max is maintained for almost 4months when frequency and duration of training were reduced by as much as ⅔, however, on the flip side when frequency and duration were kept the same but intensity was reduced there was a significant decrease in VO2max.

So, in summary, when you have to stop training do one to two sessions of high intensity exercise a week to keep your well earned chronic adaptations. Therefore, don’t stress about finding a box and training everyday when on holiday, lie back and relax and we will see you in the box soon :)

Tianna Monea

.....but I probably should've eaten all that ice-cream. 

Comment

Comment

Patience is a Virtue

In 2010 Arnar Sigurdsson had a deadlift PR of 200kg, although at the time, early in his CrossFit career it was a decent number, his form, as quoted by him ‘was absolutely horrible!’, ‘even though it was a good competition weight, it was shit’. When he looks back at a video of himself doing the deadlift he finds it hard to watch. Back in 2011 he decided to work on strengthening his core and fix the position of his back during the lift. For three years he didn’t get a new PR, in fact, in a good position he was struggling to get 150kg.

After three years he built back up to 200kg, and this number has been increasing ever since. He said that if he had of kept his old form he would not have been able to improve his numbers and would of injured himself, and is surprised he didn’t at the time.

If you had a snatch PR of 100kg (which according to most of the males in the box is a respectful number, even though Brooke Wells’ has a PR of 100kg ;), would you sacrifice that number, work on your form for three years, and then be able to beat that girl in CrossFit……..of course you would…... so why is form so often neglected, and why are most people in a rush to increase their weights and move on to more complex skills without the foundations?

In Arnar’s case if he hadn’t of worked on his form he would have experienced what is called a ‘negative learning curve’, which many people experience. This is where there is increase in performance at the start of learning a skill, followed by a plateau (leveling off), and in some cases a decline in performance, due to injury or over working.  

A negative learning curve is often seen in the snatch as it is the more complex weightlifting movement. When first learning the snatch you may be able to increase the weights to a certain point with poor form if, for example, you have good upper body strength. It will however get to a point where you can not see any more improvement, no matter how many times you come to open gym and practice. This is because the snatch requires the combination of good technique, timing, and strength, which can only be executed with ‘good’ form.


There are four basic learning curves; a positive learning curve is when we see at the beginning of learning a new skill poor performance (depicted by lots of errors and fails) and then followed by progressive improvement. A positive learning curve is what we want to see!! There are two other curves which you can see in the diagram.

Figure: Types of Performance (Learning) Curves, a. positive, b. negative, c. linear, d. plateau

Figure: Types of Performance (Learning) Curves, a. positive, b. negative, c. linear, d. plateau

When we are learning a new skill, for example; the snatch or double unders we develop motor programs which is a set of muscle commands allowing movement performance. Some people refer to it as muscle memory. When the muscle movement patterns are constantly repeated this is when we see success and the PR’s start rolling in. The amount of repetitions it takes to create muscle memory is up for discussion. While some say it can be as low as 300-500 repetitions, Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote the book ‘Outliers’, states that 10,000 is the number of hours we need to practice to be considered an ‘expert’ in that skill.

You can however develop motor programs for the incorrect technique of a movement!!

The good news is that the brain is flexible and malleable, so we can change our movement patterns. This means retraining your motor programs and developing new ones.

How can you avoid developing motor programs for bad form? Think about all those hours spent working on your snatch and all you have been doing is ingraining a motor program which will not end with good results.

CrossFit thrives on quality coaching and efficiency through movement which you should get in every class you attend. Open gym is a great resource which should be taken full advantage of, it is a great time to work on your muscular strength and your weaknesses, however, it’s worth considering, is there someone there who is helping you with your form, watching that you don’t pull too early in the clean, or jump forward in your snatch? Do you have a workout partner who can pick up on technique or do you video your own performance and watch it back? Even the most elite athletes in the world have coaches who look at every aspect of their performance. Even Rich!

To see results, to progress, you have to be patient, you have to put in the time and the effort, there is no short cut. Very few people will be able to do butterfly pull ups after a month of CrossFit, walk across the floor on their hands, or get that 100kg Snatch, it will only come with patience.

There is said to be three stages of learning; let’s use double unders for example. The first stage of learning is called the Cognitive Stage (beginners stage), you pick up your rope, many failed attempts are made, lots of effort goes into them, you have to be constantly thinking about jumping off the toes, keeping the hands in close, flicking the wrists etc. After 10 minutes of practicing your exhausted, your body is covered in red marks, and you have thrown your rope and sworn 20 times. You can spend weeks and months in this stage until finally you reach the next stage called the Associative Stage (intermediate stage), in this stage it is about ‘practice’, putting the time into practising the skill, some days the double unders will come easy and others you will ask yourself if you ever had them in the first place. If you persists you will eventually move into the Autonomous stage (advanced stage), where the skill is automatic. You don’t have to ‘think’ about the skill anymore, you could be doing double unders and at the same time thinking about what you are going to eat after your workout.  

How much time it takes to move into each of the stages depends on a number of factors, including motivation, physical fitness, past experience, body composition, and in the case of double unders, pain threshold ;) Also, let’s not forget ability; which is basically what we are genetically born with. This last factor can be frustrating as some people will move through the stages a lot quicker and easier than you may, which is why we should never compare our progress to anyone else's.

The path of being patient may be frustrating, but the results will pay off in the long run.

Tianna Monea

Patiently awaiting that snatch PR

Comment

Comment

Different Shapes and Sizes

If you were a ‘CrossFit GOD’ and you could create the ideal CrossFitter, how would you make them; how tall would they be, how much would they weigh, would they be lean, bulky……... ?

An athlete who is too tall will be at a disadvantage for gymnastics movements as their center of gravity is much higher, an athlete who is too short will be at a disadvantage for movements such as wallballs, rowing and rope climbs, an athlete who is too lean will find it difficult to move heavy loads and an athlete who is too heavy will find it challenging to move their own load when doing endurance movements. So, then what is the ‘ideal’ body type for CrossFit?

I am sure most of you are familiar with the different body types; somatotyping (which was developed in the 40’s) is a way to describe build, it looks at how fat, how muscular and how linear you are, in that order. There are three main body types and they are defined by a rating out of 7 for each category. An Endomorph is characterised as ‘pear shaped’ with wide hips and narrow shoulders and has a lot of fat on their body. An extreme endomorph would have a rating of 7, 1, 1 (7- Fat, 1- Muscle and 1- Linear). An Ectomorph is quite the opposite with narrow hips and shoulders, narrow chest and abdomen and has little muscle and fat (extreme ectomorph 1, 1, 7). The last body type is the Mesomorph with broad shoulders and narrow hips, they have a muscular body with little fat (extreme mesomorph 1, 7, 1).

What most people don’t always consider is that you are a combination of two body types and few people in the world are an extreme body type. Inherited genes play a large part in the development of your body shape. There are calculators and quizzes you can use to find out what body type you are, there are special diet plans and exercise regimes for each combination, however, I am pretty sure if you just looked in the mirror that you would be able to work out what combination of body types you are.

In elite sports there are very specific body types; the average basketball player is 6’7” (201cm), the average sumo wrestler weighs 148kg, the average male marathon runner is 56kg and 5’5” (165cm) tall and the average female gymnasts is 4’11” (150cm) tall. None of these measurements however are ‘average’ for the population, that being males 5”10 (178cm) and 80kg and females 5”4 (163cm) and 67kg.

There are organisations around the world that conduct talent identification, which is the process of finding young talent to accelerate them through a sport. In the 90’s when I was in high school the Australian Institute of Sport were looking for female rowers. My physical education teacher collected data on my class; they were looking for two things, leg and arm span and weight. The average female rower is 180cm tall, needless to say I never became a rower, however, little did I know that being ‘average’ would be an advantage later on when doing CrossFit.

What about elite CrossFitters, do they have a specific body type? These are some of the athletes who placed in the top 10 last year at the CrossFit Games.

Males

2nd- Mathew Fraser 5’6” (168cm) and 84kg

3rd- Björgvin Gudmundsson 5’8” (173cm) and 84kg

5th- Spencer Hendel 6’2” (188cm) and 97kg

Females

3rd- Sara Sigmundsdóttir 5’6 (168cm) and 152lb (69kg)

5th- Kara Webb 5’3 (160cm) and 154lb (70kg)

6th- Chyna Cho 5’8 (173cm) and 144lb (65kg)

When you look at these athletes they don’t seem to fit a specific height and weight and their body types are vastly different, just look at the difference between Kara and Chyna’s legs. These athletes are in fact closer to the ‘average’ population in height and weight than any other sport. So is being average actually an advantage?

That all being said I read an article which looked at the average height and weight of athletes who had qualified for the 2015 Regionals. And these were the results found….

Interestingly enough they are almost the exact measurements of the winners of the CrossFit games in 2015.

Ben Smith at 5’11” (180cm) and 88kg (194lb)

Katrín Davídsdóttir at 5’5” (165cm) and 69kg (154lbs)

However, not so much for the previous year:

Rich Froning 5’9” (175cm) and 90kg (198lb)

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet 5’2” (157cm) and 59kg (130lb)

Is the CrossFit body starting to morph into a specific body as well. In years to come will all the CrossFitters start to look the same? Or will we always have a 6’2” Spencer Hendel and 5’5” Josh Bridges?

How can the average CrossFitter who comes to the box identify with body types, seeing as though we are all built completely different. If you are an ecto-mesomorph combination then you may find endurance and gymnastics movements easier, and if you are an endo-mesomorph you may have an advantage on weight lifting and bodyweight movements.  

In every box in the world CrossFitters are found in all shapes and sizes. There may be some who are taller, leaner, or have more muscle than you, but does that make them a better crossfitter? Most people who go to the ‘gym’ are physique conscious, they go to get bigger biceps, get a six pack, or lose weight around the hips and many may even be trying to change their predispositioned body type. However, as a CrossFitter we are goal orientated, we want to IMPROVE our body, as opposed to CHANGE it. We are more concerned with getting a muscle up then bulging biceps, a stronger core than a six pack and adding weight to our squat then losing it around the hips. And, as a result of this your body naturally develops. We are living proof that any combination of body types can excel doing CrossFit.

You have a genetic blue print, your own specific body type; use CrossFit as a tool to get the best version of it. Embrace the qualities that you have and the way you are ‘built’.

Tianna Monea                                                                                                        

As the power ranges would say ‘it’s morphing time’!

 

Reference: games.crossfit.com and games.crossfit.com/article/evolution-regional-athlete

 

 

 

Comment

1 Comment

Blog about a Blog

Did you know that it takes 200 muscles to take one step?.....Did you know that your middle fingernail grows quicker than any other fingernail?..... Did you know that every seven years there is not one single cell that is the same in your entire body? ...
Read More

1 Comment