Coach’s Corner 180613

Benefits of Competing

The final event of the 2009 Crossfit Games was a chipper that included 10 different movements, one of which was the ring Muscle-up. Annie Thorisdottir entered that event never having done a single muscle up before, yet she managed to get her first ever muscle up in front of a screaming crowd cheering her on.

As coaches we receive a lot of feedback from members when we encourage people to sign up for The Open, competitions, or when we start internal competitions within our own gyms:

“I’ve never done that movement before.”
“Why compete/sign up if I’m not going to win?”
“I don’t want to let my team down.”
“It’s too much pressure.”

When the coaches suggest these things, we do not hate you. We do not want to embarrass you. We are not picking on you.

Although immediately there may not seem like any positives, there are actually a ton of hidden benefits from competing that could make you a better athlete that will also translate to your everyday training.

Competition Spurs Progress

It’s too often that people will muddle through things in life because they don’t have a goal or point where they will be tested. Unfortunately the same can be said about training. Having goals is essential to learning, growing and improving overall. Remember back in school how hard we would study for a test or exam coming up? (Unless you cheated on tests, then shame on you.) The competition is our test. Whether it’s weight we are trying to hit or landing your first of a specific movement, competition gives you a finish line to identify.

Competition Can Help Us Push Beyond Our Limits

When prepping for a competition or practicing on a specific event with your team, you’ll find that because of the concentration you’re putting in you’ll be able to go a little farther and dig a little more than you normally do. The extra time and focus you put into the prep for a competition can lead to some pretty big jumps in your training. Also, because of adrenaline and excitement, it’s very common for athletes to hit new PRs and complete their first movements of something they’ve been struggling with! And who doesn’t love a PR???

Mental Toughness

Adversity has a tendency to bring out who a person really is. I competed earlier this year at the Gladiator Gauntlet and there was a partner deadlift/bar over burpee workout that was straight murder. So bad. About halfway through my portion with my partner I was completely done: exhausted, grip was blown, hamstring and back were dying. In any other normal circumstance I would have stopped, and everything in me wanted to stop. But my team is screaming for me to keep going. So what do you do? Give up or pick up the weight? Do you let the pain take control or do you take control? A large portion of training is what is going on between the ears, and competition can grow your mental toughness and show you what you’re really made of.

Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Think back to times in past Crossfit games competitions where an athlete is cruising along and then completely hits a wall with a movement:

– Annie Thorisdottir with the muscle up
– Rich Froning and the infamous rope climb
– Matt Fraser with the pig flips
– Josh Bridges with the heavy deadlift

Now think of later where they come back after that and completely destroy that same movement.

During a competition your strengths and weaknesses will be highlighted. And this ties into the goal setting mentioned above: these call outs will tell you what you need to work on. Set the goal to improve that movement, and as soon as that is reached, set the next goal.

You Can’t Lose

What will you ultimately lose? If you/your team don’t do well, you won’t be able to stand on the podium and you won’t get the free supplements the winners get. But just by competing you will have experienced all the above mentioned, and will be leaving a better athlete. You may not be able to see it right away because you’re bummed about the outcome, but what you gained is far more valuable.

So the next time there’s a competition or the Open comes around, sign up! You may be surprised with the results: you might find the inner beast within you that you never even knew existed.

Coach’s Corner

Training vs. Competing

Hey Gang!

Stopping by with the first non-programming related blog post to talk about the difference between training and competing during your 1-hour block at the gym in a new segment we’ll be calling “Coach’s Corner”!

Here’s the scenario: You walk in for your regular class a few minutes early and swing by the whiteboard to do your daily check on the peeps from earlier in the day. You notice the gym “body weight ninja” got 26 rounds on “Cindy”! Impressed by the performance you get yourself psyched up and proceed to throw-DOWN! Moving as fast as you can through the reps, you accept that cutting corners with your technique here and there during the 20-minute workout is what the other guy did in order to get such a great score…in order to leave it all out there on the floor, right? By the end, you feel absolutely exhausted and you’re super happy with your score…so it must be good thing, right? Maybe…but maybe not.

The scenario above is one of the most common examples of “competing instead of training” that the coaches see on a day to day basis. Ignoring the fundamentals of the movements (e.g. midline tight in the push up, knees out in the squat, back neutral on the deadlift) in order to improve your “number on the whiteboard” does more harm than good, even though you felt like you got a great workout. Maybe it’s because we sometimes refer to it as a “score” when we should say “result”. The word “score” implies comparison…it naturally makes things more competitive, which brings in ego (which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how it’s used in this scenario).

Competing can be awesome – it can push us to our limits and provide us with the intensity we seek in hopes of improving our fitness! Unfortunately, cutting corners with our technique and mechanics in the name of higher intensity has adverse effects on our bodies ability to change in a positive manner. You can even train yourself OUT of shape! In the Crossfit Level 1 Seminar we’re taught, “Mechanics, Consistency, THEN Intensity.” If you have intensity without the first 2 prerequisites you’re more likely to compete yourself right into injury or poor movement patterns, as very little positive adaptation comes from training this way.

In summary, focus on TRAINING while you’re in the gym: perform every movement from the time the warm up starts to the final rep of the metcon with purpose and the intent of perfect mechanics and you’ll avoid having your intensity stunted by your technique. You’ll be less prone to injury, develop a more balanced body, and make more long-term progress!

Post any questions, comments, or concerns in the comments and have a great night!

5 Reasons to get STRONG

Fitness trends come and go and most fall to the wayside for good reason.

Most programs fail to produce consistent results. It’s a wonder why so many folks stray away from what is tried and true when it comes to exercise programs?

“The rule is: the basics are the basic, and you can’t beat the basics.” -Charles Poliquin

Despite what your goals may be, every individual can benefit from physical resistance training. Not only that, but the health benefits extend far beyond your short term fitness goals. Regardless of why you train, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen.

1. Training for strength produces results.

Whatever your goals, muscle will help you get there. Some companies in the fitness industry has made a fortune around buzzwords like “tone”, “lift”, and “sculpt.” The problem is there’s no way to measure those loose terms. If you want to change your body composition there is only the ability to gain or lose muscle while simultaneously gaining or losing fat. If you are looking for the most efficient way to do make a change then strength training is your best option.

Strength training, or physical resistance training, can be defined as a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. When you gain muscle you increase your bodies basal metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day before factoring in physical activity). It’s kind of like putting a bigger engine in a car. The car is capable of moving faster or pulling a heavier load (more muscle), but it also uses more fuel (fat) whether it’s cruising down the freeway or idling in the driveway. Strength training helps us “tone” through this muscle gain/fat loss trade.

2. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” -Peter Drucker

Training for strength provides a clear path for success. You can set training goals that are specific, measurable, and produce desired outcomes. A good coach will help you design a plan towards these goals with checkpoints along the way. Your strength training program is a road map to success with clear directions. Sets, reps, and weights lifted safely through the full range of motion are the signals that you’re on track. Many people find that a more detailed plan helps them stay motivated as they experience progress.

3. Age gracefully with more muscle mass.

As we get older strength training is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Physical independence is a key factor in a great quality of life.

A comprehensive study of strength training has been proven to:

  • Improve motor function
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Increase stamina
  • Prevent sarcopenia (age related muscle loss)
  • Improve bone mineral density
  • Prevent and help rehab injuries

Functional strength training will be an asset in daily life too. From picking up grandchildren or bags of groceries to climbing stairs with confidence.

4. You’ll experience epic brain gains.

Did you know that lifting weights can strengthen your brain just as much as it does your body?
Dr. Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney has found that high‐intensity physical resistance training (PRT) results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Adults who followed a resistance training routine in addition to cognitive training performed significantly better than control groups on a series of mental tests. A couple key factors to note:

The participants exercised 2x/ week working to at least 80% of their peak strength.
The benefits lasted one year after the exercise prescription had ended.

What does that mean? According to Yorgi, “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” Let that sink in for a minute. You actually grow your brain by training to become stronger! It makes me wonder if Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in between heavy sets of back squats…

5. Strong moms have healthy babies.

During pregnancy, the question always arises of what does fitness look like for this stage of life? With so much on the line, it’s important to consult with a doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Luckily, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by incorporating a strength training routine under normal circumstances. Resistance training can help alleviate symptoms and improve health outcomes for the mother and child. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who follow a consistent strength training routine during pregnancy can experience:

  • Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boosted mood and energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Maintain levels of muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced incidence of gestational diabetes

Not only that but women who train during pregnancy report enhanced body image and better psychological well-being!

We would love to help you live a healthy strong life. Schedule a Free Consult to learn more.