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Maximal Strength and Power Cycle - Reps and Intensity

The new cycle consists of two 6 week cycles, the first based on 5 reps per set for maximal strength lifts (following on from the 8 reps in the hypertrophy cycle) and the second on 3 reps, with intensity increasing from 70-85% in the first cycle to 75-90% in the second.
 
 
Lifts
 
Each week will contain:
2 Olympic lift days (power clean and power snatch) for power development (plus technique)
2 ‘max effort’ lift days (Squats/Deadlift and Strict Press/Close Grip Bench) for maximal strength development
1 Gymnastics skills day (kipping etc)
 
‘Max effort’ lift days will also include either a supplementary strength movement or a dynamic effort lift.
 
Supplementary lifts: Strict MU( Pull) with Strict Press and Ring Dips with Squats
 
Dynamic effort lift: Front Squat with Bench and Push Jerk with Deadlift. 
 
Each ‘max effort’ lift is programmed once in a 2 week cycle. Supplementary lifts will change in the second 6 week cycle. Dynamic lifts should be completed explosively in the concentric phase, i.e. fast!
 
 
Reps and Intensity
 
Each 6 week cycle will be split into three 2 week phases:
 
High volume
Reduced volume, increase intensity
Peak intensity
 
Basics of the programme are that you perform the given reps in each set for the given intensity (%), but the last set in each phase is a ‘Bonus Set’ done for maximum reps, e.g. Bench 5 x 5reps @ 70% + 1 x AMAP @ 70%. 
 
A bonus set should only be completed if you’re feeling very confident and if your working sets were completed smoothly with sound technique; a bonus set will not necessarily be done each session. 
 
Intensity wise, in the 1st phase you should leave 2-3 reps left in the tank per set, and 1-2 reps during the 2nd, including bonus sets. All reps should therefore be smooth with sound technique in the first 2 phases. Only the bonus set in the 3rd phase could be taken to failure.
 
 
‘Working Max’ 
 
Each lift should be based on a recent heavy rep completed with good form. Initially use the weight assumed during the hypertrophy cycle. If you’re hitting the intensity levels discussed above (reps in the tank) then stick with this weight. If you’re struggling then drop to 90% of your 1rm. Conversely, if you’re feeling stronger and you performed a bonus set at any point throughout the cycle you can readjust based off of that, using the following approximation:  
 
0.0333 x (Weight x Reps Performed) + Weight = Projected 1rm
 
E.g. if you completed 8 reps at 65kg in the bonus set then your new working max is:
 
0.0333 x (65 x 8) + 65 = 82kg  
 
This approximation can also be used to adjust down your working max if you’re struggling with form and reps.
 
 
Lots of detail, let me know if have any questions.

 

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Next Quarters Programming - Hypertrophy

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Next Quarters Programming - Hypertrophy

What is ‘Hypertrophy’?

Hypertrophy is the form of training commonly used by bodybuilders to increase size, using more joint specific movements such as bench press, bicep curls, or 'beach weights'. The focus being on size and shape rather than the usual Crossfit aim of strength and function.

In terms of weights and reps, hypertrophy typically sits between strength training and conditioning, with the range for weights between 60 to 80% of 1RM and 8-12 for reps per set.  Each muscle group is then trained twice a week resulting in 'gainz' or 'swole'.

 

Beach weights

Beach weights

However, there's more to hypertrophy than simply building size.  The benefits to a Crossfitter Include the following:


MAXIMAL STRENGTH

There is a very strong correlation between muscle size and strength.  It is not one to one, but most of the time if you get bigger you will get stronger.  

Generally speaking, there are two types of adaptations that result in strength improvements: functional and structural.  Functional being your skill or control, and structural being muscle size.

Once muscle is built, you are also able to create new functional adaptations, and therefore even more strength!

Building extra muscle obviously requires an increase in calorie intake.

STRENGTH ENDURANCE

As well as improving maximal strength, hypertrophy can also lay the base for improvements in strength endurance (ability to lift lighter weights for longer), a critical component of performance in CrossFit competitions. Although most (not all) events are closer to the endurance side of strength endurance, hypertrophy training can still help to create the foundation to improve the athlete’s fitness with lighter weights.

MOVEMENT

Reducing the intensity of lifts allows for more focus on movement patterns and identification of any flaws.

Movement flaws generally represent a relative lack of strength in a particular muscle or muscle group. More specific hypertrophy training can help to improve in individual muscle group, improving mechanics, thereby raising the ceiling for their strength potential and reducing risk of injury.

For example, focusing on back muscles (e.g. bent over rows) can transfer to more upright torso required in squatting (front/back/OH) as well as the snatch.

HEALTHY VARIATION

Regularly changing exercises and training focus can help delay the onset of plateau and promote new adaptation (growth).

Hypertrophy training is also much less taxing on your ligaments and joints than heavy strength training, which makes up a good portion of your average crossfitter’s training schedule. Regularly cycling in blocks of lower weight, higher rep training can help to alleviate this stress, keeping the athlete healthy for long periods of hard training.

Lastly, muscle is also more metabolically costly to maintain, which has a tendency to decrease body fat levels. 

 

The Plan

Each muscle group will be worked twice a week, once in the hypertrophy section and once in a WOD, on a different day.  This will be programmed Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday each week, with Wednesday and Saturday focusing on Crossfit specific skills (oly and gymnastics) and longer lower intensity WODs.

The hypertrophy section will consist of a main compound movement, generally bilateral (arms or legs working together), and one more isolated, typically unilateral movement  (arms or legs working separately), for example:

  • Chest = Bench press and DB flys
  • Legs = Back squat and bulgarian split squats
  • Shoulders = Strict press and DB lateral raises
  • Back = Deadlift and DB bent over rows

 Whilst each muscle group has a specific 'WOD' day, each will also be covered to a lesser extent in other WODs to get the required volume.

Shoulder and leg 'hypertrophy' days have been programmed for oly class days (Tuesday & Thursday) to reduce duplication.

Weekly Program

Weekly Program

The cycle will consist of three four week cycles. For three weeks the load of the main lift will increases by 5% followed by one deload week (<50%).  Each new cycle will start with the load of the previous cycle's second week.

Full Cycle

Full Cycle

As with any training plan, nutrition and recovery are very important, both are required to make any progress. However, if increased size is your aim then you’re going to need a calorie surplus. There are lots of apps out there like MyFitness which can estimate this for you and a recommended macronutrient split.

Remember if increasing size is your goal, as well as increasing your food intake you need to be hitting the required volume and training each muscle group twice a week. If you miss a session try and make up in open gym, or if you have limited session then pick a muscle group to focus on and hit those sessions.

Catch me in the gym or drop me a line if you have any questions.

Good luck and enjoy, its nearly summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Open and Programming for the Q1 2017

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The Open and Programming for the Q1 2017

Hope you all had a good break and are ready to start preparing for the Open!

The Open 2017

For those who don't live and breathe ‘The sport of fitness', The Open is a yearly global online Crossfit competition run by Crossfit HQ over a 5 week period, usually around late Feb to end of March. The top performers progress to The Regionals and then on to The Crossfit Games over in the USA (where some even get guns!).

Back in the day, Crossfit Bold founder Tom Bold made the European Regionals in 2012.

For 5 consecutive weeks workouts are released early on a Friday morning and have to be completed by the following Monday evening.  As well as the ‘Individual’ division there are also ‘age group’ and ‘scaled’, all of which require a judge and a verified score. 

And he did it in Converse! 

And he did it in Converse! 

The Open WODs will be programmed on a Saturday morning, those wanting to enter online and require their scores to be validated must complete each workout during these sessions.  It’s not only a good way to check your progress and gain a taste of competitive Crossfit, but also provides a training focus and another reason for a social!


Q1 2017 Programming

The next quarter’s programming will be split into pre Open (8 wks) and Open periods (5 wks). During The Open things will be scaled down mid week so that you’re fresh for saturday morning. 

Pre Open there will be two main focuses; developing power and consistency. 

Power is the ability to move loads quickly and requires a combination of strength and speed. Any workout scored by reps or time generally require power, pure strength tests are rarely programmed. To develop power we will be following a 6 week power cycle, plus a testing/intro week, and a re-test and deload week prior to the first Open WOD. The cycle will contain both strength (squats & press) plus plyometrics (jumps and hops) for speed. 

Most strength and power programmes assumes each lift is completed 2 or 3 times a week, with 2 to 3 days recovery between, not 2 to 3 days of Crossfit! In the program we will be following, each lift is completed twice a week, one heavy day and one medium to light day. So as not to over train and allow recovery but also complete each lift, the medium/light lift day will be incorporated into a metcon (conditioning) rather than a strength piece, for example, week 1’s programming includes heavy squats monday with medium/light squats in the metcon on Thursday. 

Consistency is the key to performing well in Crossfit; consistently moving efficiently and maintaining a consistent pace. Moving efficiently is about applying the skills you’ve learnt to prolong output, and pacing is about not going into the ‘red’ and having to stop to recover. To develop consistency we will be hitting individual gymnastic movements and lifts under moderate intensity so that movements can be drilled in, and a variety of metcons to hone your pacing tactics.

As usual, attend consistently, focus on quality, rest, then go for it in the Open!

Good luck.

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Progressing Mobility

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Progressing Mobility

The purpose of this blog is to help each member be more proactive with their own mobility requirements. Included are five simple ‘rule of thumb’ assessments for the joints commonly restricting movement and mobility drill suggestions for each.

 

In simple terms ‘good mobility’ allows us to move efficiently without compromise, in Crossfit this can translate to heavier lifts, less energy expenditure and a reduction in the likelihood of injury, as long as this is achieved with adequate stability.

Developing good mobility takes time and work, repetitive stretching and movement.  We’re all different and require work in one or more of the following joints: hips, shoulders, ankles and thoracic. Wall slides for shoulder mobility is a great example, some people find it the hardest thing ever whilst others assume they're doing the wrong thing as its so easy!  It’s hard to identify and address these in the time allocated to stretching in class. 

Athletes in sports with similar demands would go through a full movement screening prior to starting any strength and conditioning program. This would generally be completed along with other assessments such as body composition (as per Lifestyle Challenge) and sport specific performance tests (e.g. speed, power, endurance metrics). 

Given the limited time and resources a compromise to full movement screening is needed if we’re to progress. We need to be more focused and proactive. As a starting point I have put together a set of simple self screening tests that can be used to identify which joints you need to work on. The tests are based on rules of thumb that flag common and major mobility issues, it is not intended to be a comprehensive screening. 

I’ve included some mobility recommendations for each joint, these are drills that we regularly do at the end of each session so I haven't gone into too much detail.  Should you ‘fail’ any of the ‘rules of thumb’ then you now have the option to either work your own specific mobility or that programmed in the class.

There are five tests, one for ankles (calf), two for hips (hamstrings and glutes/quads), one for thoracic (upper torso), and one for shoulders (lats and pecs) listed below.  Let me know if you have any questions.

 

Ankles - Calf Test

  • Face the wall in a lunge with toe and knee touching the wall with front foot heel on the ground
  • Gradually increase the distance of toe from wall keeping knee against the wall
  • Stop once heel unable to stay flat to floor.

Pass = greater than fist distance between toe and wall with heel down
Fail = distance less than fist width

Ankle Test

Ankle Test

Mobility drills:

  • Banded ankle stretch
  • Ball in calf
  • Squat with weight over knee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hips - Hamstring Test

  • Lying on your back flat on the floor place a PVC pipe vertical from the floor at the side of your knee cap, 
  • Raise each leg individually as far as possible towards your torso whilst keeping hips neutral on the floor (all movement from leg)
  • Stop at end range prior to any hip rotation.

Pass = heel passing PVC pipe
Fail = heel does not pass PVC pipe

Mobility drills:

  • Straddle stretch, left/right (hamstrings), forward (adductors)
  • Lying raised leg stretch, banded or supported (rig upright)
Hamstring Test

Hamstring Test

 

Hips - Hip Flexors and Quads Test

  • Lying on your back on a box, legs hanging off the end bum on the box.
  • Grab one leg to your chest relaxing the other, keeping lower back pressed onto box (no lumbar curve)
  • Observe straight leg

Hip Flexor
Pass hip = resting thigh flat or knee lower than box
Fail = thigh raised/knee above level of box

Quad
Pass = shin vertical from knee (<90 deg knee to hip angle)
Fail = shin sub parallel to thigh (>90 deg)

Mobility drills:

  • Couch Stretch
  • Banded hip opener (especially if fail quad stretch)
Hip Flexor Test

Hip Flexor Test

Quad Test

Quad Test

Thoracic Test

  • Lie on a roller across lowest ribs, with bum and feet on the floor and knees bent
  • Raise arms perpendicular to chest
  • Keeping arms perpendicular to chest rotate them towards the floor with head following hands (do not simply bend at the neck)

Pass  = head touches the floor without bum lifting and minimal neck bend
Fail = head does not reach the floor

Mobility drill:

Thoracic mobility drill (Test = looking at hands, without ball)

Thoracic mobility drill (Test = looking at hands, without ball)

  • Weighted thoracic test, holding med ball

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shoulder Test

  • Stand with back flat to wall (no lumber curve), knees slightly bent and shoulders against the wall
  • Hold PVC pipe above head in press position so that elbows at 90 degrees
  • Press pipe over head keeping hands, arms, and back (chest down) in contact with the ball 

Pass = easily press above head
Fail = unable to or uncomfortable to keep arms, hands, or back (chest breaks) in contact with the wall


Mobility drills:

  • Roll lats & ball into chest
  • Banded Lat and Pec/delt stretches
  • Wall slides
Shoulder Test

Shoulder Test

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Anniversary Games Round Up

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Anniversary Games Round Up

Hey all, hows the arms, legs and heads this morning? ;)

Thank you to everyone that came down on Saturday and made the 2016 Anniversary Games such an awesome event. 

Congratulations to everyone that competed, you are all winners. After the final, this is how the top 3 stood:

  1. Less Twerking, More Jerking
  2. Kipping it Real
  3. (B)old

Final standings and event scores can be found here: Anniversary Games Scoreboard

Photos

Thanks to Brad for taking photos through out the day. Here is a selection of them (head over to Brad's FaceBook page for a lot more):

 

Thank you

Thanks to those that came down and helped out, cut rolls, cooked food (thanks JK), tided up, cheered, took photos and played music like a boss (cheers Carl).

 

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Why Sitting Down Destroys You

Fitness Model, Roger Frampton delivers a great Tedx talk about proper posture and how most of the fitness industry has got it wrong.

Worth a watch if you've got 13 minutes to spare this week...

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Anniversary games 2016

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Anniversary games 2016

Anniversary Games 2016 is fast approaching. Below are all the details you need to know about the games which is going down on the 2nd July 2016, at Bold. 

The heat schedules (i.e. who is on which heat and who will be judging etc will be available on the day along with score cards).

The Schedule

WOD 3:

13:30 - Heat 1

14:00 - Heat 2

14:30 - Heat 3

15:00 - Heat 4

Final WOD: 

16:00 - Top 4 teams

16:15 - BBQ and Beers

10:00 - Arrive

10:30 - Welcome, WODs, Standards etc

WOD 1:

11:00 - Heat 1

11.22 - Heat 2

11:50 - Heat 3

12:12 - Heat 4

WOD 2:

12:30 - Heat 1

12:42 - Heat 2

12:54 - Heat 3

13:06 - Heat 4

 

The Workouts

 

WOD 2:

8 Mins to get as many points as possible (1 person on the barbell and 1 on the gymnastic bar at a time)

45kg Barbell

Deadlift = 1 point
Clean = 3 points
Snatch = 5 points

Gymnastic Bar

Pull Up = 1 point
Chest to bar = 3 point
Muscle up = 5 points

Score: total points across both sections.

 

Final WOD:

The top 4 teams after the first 3 WODs will progress to the final WOD. Which will be announced on the day.

 

WOD 1:

Is split in to two parts...

16 Min:

AMRAP: 
100 Double Unders
100 Burpee Box Jump Overs 20'
100 Goblet Squats (20kg Dumbbell)
100 Shoulder to Overhead (30kg)

(Movements to be performed in order. 1 person working at a time)

At the same time: Max Distance Row

Score: There will be two scores for this WOD. a) total reps completed & b) total distance rowed.

 

 

WOD 3:

Complete for time (1 person working at a time, to be performed in order)

Jackie: 1k Row, 50 Thrusters (20kg), 30 Pull Ups

Karen: 150 Wall Balls (14lb to 10ft)

Fran: 21-15-9 Thrusters (30kg) and Pull Ups

Score: time taken to complete all 3 girls

 

The Teams

Team 7
Silvia Szabo
Matthew Farlow
Brad Slade
Ash Palmer

Team 8
Darryn Bosch
Davide Dippolito
Rebecca Hook
Nic D P

Team 9
Jim
Mike Wood
Travis Logan
Jana Nortje

Team 10
Dan Spring
Rich Hayward
Ilaria Nizzoli
Emma Cookson

Team 11
Marlo
Shaun Dale
Sue
Tom Squire

Team 12
Sophie Ussher
Robin Hutchinson
Jessel
MJ

Team 1
Chris Spring
Matt Hogg
Bria Mundy
Aska Lazarek

Team 2
Pedro Ramos
Talia Galati
Rob Heeley
Suzannah deM

Team 3
Gary Reason
Iain Spooner
Lidia Oosthuizen
Danie Nortje

Team 4
JSP
Ali Roy
Claire Walker
Ben Cramant

Team 5
Helen Stevenson
Sofronis Loizides
Olly DM
David Foley

Team 6
Liam McArdle
Danny Smart
Laura E
Andi Ttofa

 

 

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Next Quarters Programming - CROSSFIT

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Next Quarters Programming - CROSSFIT

Constantly Varied, Functional Movements, Performed at High Intensity…

Thats how to sum up CrossFit in 8 words.

If we take a deeper look into the CrossFit (for health and fitness, not CrossFit the Sport) programme, CrossFit.com sums it up be saying that the Programme “delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Our specialty is not specialising. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.” 

The concept of needing a base of fitness, a non specialised training program, is often referred to General Physical Preparedness (GPP).

The goal of a GPP programme is to prepare you for a task. What Task? Any task. Its about building competency in all aspects of  fitness so that you are prepared to handle whatever task life throws at you.

When it comes down to it, the CrossFit method of training is one of the best GPP programmes there is, hence its success.

Next Quarters Programming

With that said, the next quarters programming will be going back to basics and will be more of a classic CrossFit style approach. The goal of CrossFit is to improve all areas of your “fitness”. You are only as 'fit" as you are competent in each of these 10 skills:

speed 

stamina

strength

power

Cardiovascular endurance

flexibility

agility

accuracy

balance 

coordination

Ultimately what this means is that there will be no fixed day for squats or percentages to work from. Its going to be Constantly Varied… functional movements performed at high intensity. 

Over the past 12 months I’ve split your training in to 4 main cycles of programming. First we focused on core/midline stability and training the basic gymnastic skills (as a result more people are doing muscle ups, kipping correctly and HSPU’s). We then looked at improving your Lactic Threshold which focused on allowing you to go harder for longer, giving you better Fran times. The 1st Quarter this year brought more focused training to the Open along with tempo strength training and finally, as you are aware, we are finishing up on our 12 week squat/deadlift cycle for our strength focused quarter. 

Within the 4 main cycles of programming I have added in smaller cycles of programming, such as specific snatch work at the end of last year and more recently stamina work (so many thrusters) and a heavy focus on double unders the last few weeks. 

Whilst this method of programming brings you results, its often at the sacrifice of other areas of your fitness. i.e. a strength focused approach means conditioning may need to take a back seat for a while. 

Over the next 12 weeks the focus is to address any imbalances and get you fit in all areas of your fitness. i.e. CrossFit.

Constantly varied though does not mean random. There is a required structure to any programming and classic CrossFit programming is no different. Whilst the programming to you may appear to be random (which is good, life is random and we need to be ready for that), how I programme is anything but random. The spreadsheet I’ve created for my programming allows me to tell you exactly how many times you place your hands over your head each week, month or year. Or how many times you do a squat each week, month or year etc. 

Classic CrossFit examples

The best example of what GPP programming looks like is over at Crossfit.com who have been putting up daily workouts, following a constantly varied approach, for over 10 years. 

It is probably the most followed programme in the world and top athletes are still known to follow it. Kara Webb is apparently a huge fan of the programming and uses it quiet often (whilst also adding in her Sport Specific Preparedness (SSP) stuff too).

"Anyone that doesn’t keep an eye on CrossFit.com workouts is an idiot” - Lindsey Valenzuela, 2nd fitness women in the world in 2013. 

Scheduling and Class Structure

As mentioned above, the days in which certain movements are scheduled will vary. No longer will Monday and Friday be a squat day. Any day could have squats in. 

Class structure will generally be the same. If there is strength piece planned there will be a MetCon at the end (I don’t want an army of people with pitch forks chasing me down the street if i took out MetCons on certain days;)) However if the WOD is a 20-30 minute workout, the remainder of the time of the class will be spent doing what the coach taking the class feels is best for the class.

An example may be:

30 minute AMRAP:

100 Double unders

400m Run

20 Pull Ups

Due to the large number of Double Unders in the workout, the coach may feel its beneficial to spend some time before the workout to work on Double Under tekkers and skills. Or if the class is sufficient in double unders, the coach may bust out a 15 min workshop on kipping pull ups.

The benefit to you is that you will experience the different methods of coaching and knowledge of each of the coaches we have at Bold. Allowing you to take more from each session. 

What GPP may look like for a week

6 days example of GPP Programming (taken from a random week from CrossFit.com, except I’ve removed the rest days):

Monday

“Eva” 

5 rounds for time: 800m Run, 30 KB swings, 30 pull ups

Tuesday

Back Squat: 5-5-5-5-5

Wednesday

"Angie"

For time: 100 pull ups, 100 push ups, 100 sit ups, 100 squats

Thursday

20 min AMRAP: 5 Thrusters, 7 Hang Power Cleans, 10 sumo deadlift high pulls (42.5/30kg) 

Friday

“Michael”

3 rounds for time: 800m run, 50 back extensions, 50 sit ups

Saturday

Shoulder press: 1-1-1-1-1

Push press: 3-3-3-3-3

Push Jerk: 5-5-5-5-5

Ultimately if your goal is to be healthier, leaner, stronger, faster.. “fitter".. then GPP training is for you and my mantra of “just do CrossFit” swings right in to play.

As always, if you have any questions, queries or concerns about the programme, drop me a line. Lets chat. 

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When and what to mobilise

Mobility Mobility Mobility... another article on Mobility.

This one is about when you should be doing certain mobility drills and then you shouldn't.

Pre Workout

If you have time, get to the gym around 10-20 mins before your class and grap an area to mobilise. 

What you should be focusing on is general movement patterns of what you will be doing in the session.

The key word here is MOVEMENT. Get off your arse and move. Sitting on the boxes or laying down on a foam roller is not the best way to prep your body for whats about to go down in class.

If the session involves squats, do some kind of squatting, air squats, with a band, against a wall... the options are endless.

If its a shoulder movement and you have stiff shoulders, grab a PVC pipe and do 100 muscle snatches snatching or some active hanging etc.

Use banded distraction Mobs to reset the joints. You can also you voodoo floss band on joints too, ensure you are continuously moving with the mob and not staying static.

If needed, jump on a ball for a couple minutes, but this isn't really the best time for it.

Post Workout

Post workout is a good time to hit up some static stretches to help introduce some new end range positions to your muscles. 

If you have a floss band, using this post workout is cool and using sliding surface techniques post workout will have good benefits.

 

Away from the workout window

This is a really good time to go after the soft tissue work with the lacrosse ball, foam roller, someone's foot, kitchen roller, tin of paint.. etc and really work on any issues you have with range of motion in any area or soreness. 

 

 

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Girl Power

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Girl Power

When it comes to CrossFit the sport, Men and Women compete evenly. Its possibly one of the only sports when this happens.

When it comes to Football, Rugby, Baseball, Basketball, whatever whatever, we are all familiar with the mens teams and leagues. They are on TV all the time, in the papers and get paid a lot of money. 

With CrossFit, if you watch the regionals or go to the Games, its usually the women that get more coverage or the biggest cheers from the crowds. The women in CrossFit are truly inspiring. They show that gender is no excuse and no limiting factor in a beings ability. Anything is possible to those that work hard.

Sam Briggs Murph time at the games last year would have placed her 2nd in the mens standings. The same distance was run, the same reps of the same movements were completed. 

CrossFit as a whole does a great job in allowing females to unleash their potential and do things that perhaps society has always told them they shouldn't or couldn't.

Toughness knows no gender

In “Potential,” Patrick Cummings presents his poetic meditations on how women in CrossFit are transforming the definitions of strength and femininity, opening up new possibilities for women in general.

As women push their limits during workouts, he suggests, they become role models for other women seeking to discover what they can do.

“We can discover evidence of our own potential inside the actions of another,” he says.

He further underscores the intertwining of femininity and strength as he explains that the barbell “stands for everything a boy is taught to chase—power and bravery—but … in thousands of chalk-filled gyms, women are killing the preconceived conception of their own frailty.”

In the poem’s refrain, Cummings makes an assertion proven daily in CrossFit gyms around the world: “Toughness knows not gender.”

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Being Safe in the Pull Up

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Being Safe in the Pull Up

Its always great to see people work so hard on their pull ups and then getting their first one. Its like watching the birth of a butterfly. 

However, what you'll often see when people struggle through that first pull up is, to put it bluntly, a pretty ugly attempt and a horrible body position and movement mechanic - Overarching, breaking through the spine and some horrible kip style movement.

Whilst this is quickly forgotten about after the cheers and bell ringing, its something that needs to be thought about long after your first or even 20th pull up.

The key to getting injured is moving with poor mechanics. Losing the tight hollow position will ensure your body is unable to create strong stable positions in other areas like the shoulder.

Staying tight in your movement is key, if this isn't achieved your body will begin to move very inefficiently and look for stability in unstable positions (i.e knees collapsing in on your squat is your body looking for stability in an internally rotated position - however a more stable, stronger position is the external rotation of the femur - cue.. knees out!)

If theres one good thing you do today, besides drinking great coffee, its to watch this video and start thinking about how you move when you do your pull ups.

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Better Thoracic Mobility

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Better Thoracic Mobility

As i mentioned in Fridays blog, having poor thoracic spinal mobility is going to make things difficult, not only for your front squat, but for any movement where flexion through the shoulder is required (front rack position and overhead work).

One of the techniques I used in last weeks mobility class was the double lacrosse ball and bumper plate drill. This is great for clearing up the thoracic. 

This sort of work can be done before a class, so if you get in early, grab some equipment and use the upstairs area to role things out. Ideally though, soft tissue work like this should be done away from your training window. i.e of a night when watching tv or during the day (cos you all have time for that, right?) 

Spend some time focuses on this area for a week or two and notice how a lot of your shoulder work gets much much easier. 

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Do you even mobilise bro?

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Do you even mobilise bro?

Mobility, the unsexy side of CrossFit, or fitness in general. But yet its such a vital component in your overall health and wellbeing. 

Mobilization... is a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance including short and tight muscles, soft tissue restriction, joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range of motion dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In short, mobilization is a tool to globally address movement and performance problems.
— http://www.mobilitywod.com/

Its great being strong and all, but as we get older, the importance of being able to move properly should be prioritised over putting on an extra 5kg on your squat, especially if you show clear signs in poor mechanics of your body (knees caving in, ankles collapsing, lack of depth etc).

In my opinion our new Wednesday night mobility class should be one of the most popular classes on the schedule, as its the one thats going to offer you more long term.

CrossFit Mobility king, Kelly Starrett  (I may have referenced him once or twice before) found that after treating thousands of athletes in his clinic that; "that 98% of orthopedic injuries are preventable and that athletes simply lacked an understanding of simple mechanics and the tools to improve those mechanics."

Its in our new Mobility class that we will spend time utilising the methods Kelly has used to help aid better movement mechanics to keep you injury free and aid in your recovery. 

During these sessions we will look at the various different ways of getting after the muscles and joints and clear up any problems that may be restricting your movement. 

Active Recovery

During our Wednesday class we will also be spending a portion of the hour doing a "Active Recovery" Workout, to get the blood flowing to the muscles and letting all the good stuff happen to aid recovery..

More on this can be read here: What does Active Recovery Mean...

Complementing the Squat Cycle

As we approach the half way point of the squat cycle, shit is getting real. You have no doubt noticed that those percentages keep going up and that is taking a toll on your body. 

Therefore its vital to ensure you are complementing your strength training (or general CrossFit Training) with regular mobility work. 

If you're squatting heavy on the Monday and Thursday, and if you are doing a class on a Tuesday, Wednesday is the perfect time to take an hour away from lifting more weights and focus more on movement and recovering, to get you ready for the heavy front squats that Thursdays offer up.

 

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Levels

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Levels

As you may be aware, we have a Levels system in the gym, with 3 levels in place. These levels are intended as a guide for evaluating your fitness and setting intelligent goals. This is not intended as the end-all of fitness, but a measuring stick to determine your strengths and weaknesses. 

Level 1: This is the entry level standard for fitness, all members upon completing their elements/fundamentals courses will become a Level 1 Athlete. 

Level 2: This represents a healthy level of flexibility, stamina, work capacity, speed and strength/bodyweight ratio, as well as a good understanding of the basic movements used in a CrossFit program. Upon completing 21 of the 23 level 1 movements and 1 of the MetCons you will now be a Level 2 Athlete. 

Level 3: This represents a significant level of fitness that few people possess (though any healthy person can achieve it).

Don’t beat yourself up if you are not at the level you desire. A strong commitment, healthy diet, and consistent focused training will get you there soon enough.

All members begin at a Level 1, and will level up once they have demonstrated the ability to completed the movement standards associated with each level. 

To allow you to easily track and progress through the Levels we have created a Level Tick sheet for you to use.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B--urfyzyeoZYkdVR29wSGwxNUU/view?usp=sharing

Intentions of the Levels sheet

The intention of the sheet is to provide you with goals to meet and progress towards, giving you guided focus in your training and allowing you to set measurable and achievable goals.

It will also provide you with a basis of your current level of “fitness” and your abilities.

This is important as it allows you to appropriately scale the workouts based on your abilities and not opening yourself to possible injury. This is why there are usually 3 standards of weights for the MetCons on the white board. The options given are their to provide you with the best weight for you to use in a workout to gain the most benefit from the session, based on your Level.

Whilst going RX may sound cool, attempting RX weights when you don’t have the abilities is dangerous and will also impinge your ability to improve your fitness.

By having members who haven't displayed the ability to "level up" take on the RX MetCons (designed for level 3 athletes) means that they aren't getting the best out of the workout for them as an individual. I.e someone might attempt RX Grace at 60kg and do it in 10 minutes. However a workout like Grace should take 3-5 mins to get the proper effect of the workout. So whilst the athlete completed at RX, they didn't truly achieve the intended stimulus of the workout.

Therefore, selecting weights designed for your current Level will provide you with better results in your training.

Coaches Guidance

Going forward, coaches will ensure that each athlete in class is attempting the weights that their level dictates. As mentioned above this will give you more out of your training and provide a safer environment for you to train in. 

To “RX” the level 3 weights, you must become level 3 by ticking off the level 2 standard, thus proving you have the abilities to safely perform the workouts that are designed for level 3 athletes. 

Please remember that the purpose of the MetCons is to work your metabolic conditioning, you don’t NEED to go heavy for these. We deal with your strength by focused strength sessions, the MetCon isn’t the place to attempt heavier weights to increase strength. 

Hitting Standards

Going forward we now have 3 tick sheets, one for each level. These will be kept downstair in the gym in a neat filing system and will be on hand for you to have the sheets ticked by a coach once you have completed a standard in class. i.e. its back squat day and you hit the desired weight, reps and FORM on the sheet, let the coach see and they will tick off your sheet. 

Once you have completed 21 of the 23 movements and completed one of the MetCons in the desired time, you will achieve the next level and have a new sheet to work on. 

Advanced Class

Going forward, our Saturday competitors class will now be an “Advanced Class” open to our Level 3 athletes (those that have ticked off 21 of the 23 level 2 movements). This coached class will be focused on the more advanced movements we see in CrossFit, along with team WODs and higher skilled MetCons.

If you are interested in attending these sessions, please contact Chris or Marlo. 

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Blog Recap

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Blog Recap

I thought i would do a another blog recap, so if you've missed anything i've previously posted, you can catch up, or if you are new to Bold this year, some of these articles may answer some of your questions...

2016 Blogs:

Rope Climb Progressions - How to climb a rope...

Training vs Practise - To get good at CrossFit, you have to practise, you cant just hit WODs up and expect movements to come. Read here for more info...

Intensity, not Volume - Perhaps going harder in a workout is more beneficial that doing more workouts...

Set your position, protect your spine - get tight! How you should approach your squat set up and avoid injury. VERY IMPORTANT

The Way you do anything, is the way you do everything - Lift with great form... ALWAYS. 

Navigating the Tunnel -  If you start a movement bad, its unlikely it will end any better. Get to know the tunnel concept, and apply it.

 

Last years Blogs...

Scaling - When to scale, why you SHOULD scale, how to scale, what to scale... everything you need to know about scaling and why everyone should be doing it.

Pre Class Gainz - What you should be doing before a class. Get off your arse and do something, anything! Make some friends, practise a skill or mobilise (article includes links to mobilising videos)

Train Smart, Recover Smarter - Being injured is no fun. So being able to recover better is key to staying healthy. Read on for tips on how to do this.

The Whiteboard - Why am I such whiteboard hore? Here are my reasons. Also my fav part from this blog post is "dont be a dick about it". The whiteboard has its disadvantages, but the advantages can be very beneficial to you and your training. 

The Lacrosse Ball - "Use a lacrosse ball" is another common answer I give to any mobility question. The ball is great, cheap and easy to use. Great for soft tissue work to get you more supple and moving better in workouts. Blog includes videos on what you should be doing with one.

Look Better Naked - Don't forget why you started CrossFit, its easy to lose site, but by cheating reps and sacrificing form over speed means that you're body is just going to miss out on the gainz and the better looking naked body. Ultimately getting a fast time or the most reps means jack sh*t if you aren't doing things properly. 

Athlete Levels 1,2 and 3 - As we move in to the new year, the programming will be more focused on your ability based on your current athlete level. Ensure you are at the right level so you are following the programming best suited to you. Print off the sheet and start working your way through the standards. Its also a great way to create goals and spot weaknesses in your training.

Getting Stronger With Volume - Wanna get stronger, then increase your volume. 

Oly Lift Terminology - "Right guys today we are looking at the Power Clean"... "Coach, do we have to squat all the way down?" **face palm**. Know your power, hang and squat variations. 

Progressions - The best way to master a movement is by breaking it down and looking at each part individually. Master the progressions, master the movement.

Being More Awesome - Recap on what you can do to make training at Bold even better.

If theres any topic you want me to write about in the this year, to provide clarification on something or more depth, then give me a shout with some ideas.

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The Rope Climb - Progressions

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The Rope Climb - Progressions

The Rope Climb is an awesome fun movement and a great skill to be able complete. 

Due to the lack of ropes in the box, its hard to spend a lot of time teaching the movement, but you may have noticed that the rope climb is creeping its way in to our Gymnastic sessions and Cave sessions. Its also something to play around with in open gym as its a great way to build upper body strength which has great carry over to pull ups and muscle ups. 

There are a couple different ways you can attempt a rope climb. Whilst the legless rope climb comes down to purely upper body strength, using your legs (via the various different wrap techniques) makes the rope climb pretty simple, assuming you can get to grips with the methods.

Check out Carl Paolis progression videos for some tips and apply these to the ropes when you're next in the box.

He starts of with the Spanish wrap method (the one i'm pretty partial to using and coaching) and then he goes through the other method you see people use and then covers the legless method (its a 6 part series, 1-3 are below)

Good luck 

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Training Vs Practice

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Training Vs Practice

Knowing the difference between "Training" and "Practice" can have a great effect on your fitness and what you get out of CrossFit.

GENERAL PHYSICAL SKILLS
If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general physical skills must be considered:
1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance - The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
2. Stamina - The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilise energy.
3. Strength - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
4. Flexibility - the ability to maximise the range of motion at a given joint.
5. Power - The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed - The ability to minimise the time cycle of a repeated movement.
7. Coordination - The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
8. Agility - The ability to minimise transition time from one movement pattern to another.
9. Balance - The ability to control the placement of the bodies centre of gravity in relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy - The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity

As part of CrossFits definition of fitness, they identified 10 general physical skills, stating that "You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills".

In order to achieve competence in each of these areas some need to be address differently to others.

Training

High intensity. Traditional metabolic-conditioning and strength training

In the "What is Fitness?" article by the CrossFit Journal (great read if you want to know more about the ins and outs of your CrossFit training), it is stated that "Training refers to activity that improves performance through a measurable organic change in the body".

Of the 10 physical skills, we can expect to see improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training.

How? 

The way we do this in class is via the strength sessions (squatting, pulling and pushing) of the class, our olympic lifts, gymnastic movements and our MetCons at the end of each class.

Practise 

Low intensity. Positional work, mobility, and everything in between.

CrossFit state in the Journal that "Practice refers to activity that improves performance through changes in the nervous system" and improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice.

How?

Our method in targeting these areas in class are done with our Gymnastic sessions and the EMOM sessions we have for the Olympic Lifts, by focusing on quality movement vs speed for reps, we can focus more time on positional work and skills. 

**Note:  Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice. **

The secret sauce

So to achieve "Fitness", i.e. competence in all 10 physical skills, you have to ensure you are obtaining the right mix of training and practise. How much though?

Ben Bergeron (coach of worlds fittest female Katrin Davidsdottir) states that:

If we come to the gym to train and practice, we are halfway there. The second half is understanding the relationship between training and practice, and recognizing that as we age, we need less training, and more practice.
More time on skills, mobility, and positional work. When we combine quality practice with focused training, we produce the response we need for adaptation – we become a better athlete.
— http://competitorstraining.com/comptrain-masters/

Ben also believes that "More Training is not better... Better training is better". And its often advice I feed back to people when we are looking at skills, such as the kip.

Proceeding to complete poorly executed (i.e breaking through the hips) kips isn't great training. Sure it may get your a faster time in a Metcon buts its a good way to injure yourself. Spending more time in practising your kipping technique (working on the agility aspect - being able to go from flexion (hollow hold) to extension (arch hold)) or working on shoulder mobility and then applying a better technique to your training will yield much greater, long term results. 

Movements like the Double Under is also a great example of a movement that needs to be practised and cant just be trained in a MetCon. The Co-ordination and accuracy needs to be "practised" before the movement can be used in "training".

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Intensity, not volume

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Intensity, not volume

Due to an awesome article in the CrossFit Journal last week by James Hobart, theres been a lot of talk in the community about Intensity training (good) and increasing volume (bad). 

CrossFit was built upon short, intense workouts. Its what gets us the results we love and its what makes CrossFit stand out and so different in a field flooded with gimmicky hour long classes that may get you sweaty, but don't actually provide the long term results you desire.

However, like any good thing, people want more, they think if they do MORE volume, the results will be better, or come faster. When in fact, increasing volume isnt the always way to go, its possibly the opposite to what gets us the results in the first place.

In the article James explains that; volume isn’t necessary if the goal is simply getting fitter. In fact, it can be counterproductive or, worse, harmful when misapplied. This can’t be said enough. Over the long term, every athlete would continue to improve work capacity across broad time and modal domains with a single daily dose of constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity (exactly what we do in a CrossFit Class).

Volume is alluring for many reasons. Some athletes who are trying to break into the upper echelons of Open and regional performance look to tack on extra volume in order to try and close the gap, and affiliates sometimes attempt to squeeze more and more into the relatively brief CrossFit class in order to follow suit. But don’t mistake volume for intensity and end up training for 90 minutes at 60 percent when 60 minutes at 90 percent might have been more valuable
— James Hobart, CrossFit Journal

JUST DO CROSSFIT

I often get asked, "what more can I do?" or "what else should I be doing?" and my answer always remains the same "Just do CrossFit!". Turn up, follow the program, rest, recover and watch the results come in. 

There are now over 13,000 CrossFit affiliates world wide, with gawd knows how many people attending classes each day, and what you will see time and time again is that those athletes who stick in the group setting and give their best effort every training session always out-perform those who choose to train by themselves, outside of classes and with the extra volume.

Attacking Weaknesses

Whilst working a weakness may be seen as extra training, or increasing volume outside of classes, in reality working a weakness should come down to working on your skills and movement mechanics. Using open gym for these purposes (or for mobility work) is a great idea. 

If you are attending classes on a regular basis you shouldn't need to be doing conditioning style metcons in open gym. We do this each day in class, adding more volume that will tire you in to the ground isn't going to speed up your results. It will hinder them.

Addressing poor movement

"Similarly, if you struggle with mechanics, then once again volume isn't the answer for you. Increased rehearsal of poor movement patterns and shoddy mechanics—more for more's sake—is a loser's gambit. You will just ingrain bad habits more frequently."

James hits the nail on the head. The best way you can speed up your progress is to work on your movement and ensure the way you move is sound. 

Working on your kipping technique will be the best way to spend your time if you are looking to improve on WODs like Fran and Helen where pull up efficiency is so key. Simply doing lots and lots of Metcons with poor movement mechanics is a recipe for disaster, and injury.  

He also goes on to explain that if you are frequently scaling movements and loads etc, then the answer isn't to do extra workouts, the way to improve faster is to manage your volume levels and ensure you are pushing yourself on each workout.

Have a good week, train smart.

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Competition Season and Comp Group: Come join!

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Competition Season and Comp Group: Come join!

As the Open ends, it sparks the start of the CrossFit Competition season. The comp scene in the UK is forever growing, there are now 30+ comps planned in the UK for the Spring/Summer season:

2016 CrossFit UK Comps Calendar

With so many comps, there is an opportunity for everyone to get involved and have fun at one of the competitions. Last year at the Colosseum games was a great day out with Bold having 5 teams entered (ok lets not speak about that comp ever again).

COMPS FOR ALL ABILITIES

The Colosseum Games last summer was a great example of a competition for all abilities, as was Tribal Clash (Bold have 2 teams for this year so will need some of you machines to represent for us again). These are great days/weekends out and bring the UK CrossFit community together. 

Whilst some of us train purely for fun and fitness, some have that natural competitive instinct and want to be tested. Comps like the ones i've mentioned, as well as the Box Battle series, are great for you guys to get your fix and sample the competitive world of CrossFit, and allows for all abilities to get involved (with that said... go get yourself signed up for the Box Battle in April at Bold)

COMP SQUAD

As the season kicks off, we are looking for additional athletes to join our Comp Squad and represent CrossFit Bold at the various competitions throughout the year. 

Each Saturday at 12, Noon, the comp squad get together and work on their skills and throwdown with each other to help prep them for competition.

Requirements

Due to the movements that are usually seen in the more advanced competitions (Muscle ups, pistols, heavy snatches/C&J etc), our standards for our Comp athletes are that they must be to a Level 3 standard on the Athlete Level test (i.e. you would have completed 90% of the Level 2 standards and 1 of the Metcons) - View the List Here.

If you are interested in getting involved in the competition side of things that CrossFit offers, and have been completing the Level 2 movements in open gym or when programmed in class (like Helen and Fran in recent weeks) and you've been getting these signed off by a coach, come chat to me and we can get you involved and ready for combat! 

 

 

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Programming Update

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Programming Update

It's that time of the year, a new quarter and a new emphasis on your training. 

This will be the 4th Quarter I have programmed for since taking on the head coach role and it'll cap off my first full years cycle of programming. 

We started back in the summer with a focus on improving core stability and gymnastic skills (read about that here).

As Autumn came around we progressed on to looking at your conditioning aspect of your fitness and focused on lactic threshold training (here's why).

And the previous 3 months has seen an increase in strength volume with the inclusion of super sets and also added tempo work. The last 3 months was also used to prep the Open, having a weekly Open Throwback and using movements and time domains that were heavily focused on in each year of the Open. 

During these quarterly cycles we also see smaller weekly or monthly cycles to focus on other areas of your training that may have needed addressing at the time i.e the 4 week snatch cycle we saw at the end of last year. 

The next wave of programming is to focus more on increasing strength. Whilst this obviously hasn't been ignored over the last 9 months, it's time to put more focus on this area of your fitness. 

SQUAT CYCLE

To do this, we will be focusing heavily on the daddy of strength (and life) movements... The squat. 

Getting strong in this Movement will have serious crossover in to all your strength movements. Whilst the squat may look like a simple leg exercise its not. It's a movement that taxes and tests all muscles in your body. 

Benefits of squatting, include (but aren't restricted too):

  • Building muscles throughout your body
  • Develops your connective tissues, especially those in your stabilising areas
  • Improves mobility and provides you with better movement
  • Builds a Beyonce Ass
  • Burns more fat - Squatting adds more muscles, having more muscles burns fat. Do IT
  • Keeps you moving functionally

For the next 13 weeks (one week to establish your 1rms in the back squat and front squat and then a 12 week squat cycle) we will be squatting twice a week. 1 day will be Back Squat and the 2nd day will be the Front Squat.  

2 SQUAT Programmes 

To ensure that you are being adequately catered for, there will be 2 different squat programmes. 

The Squat Queen

The Squat Queen

1 will be aimed at Level 1 athletes and those that are new to CrossFit/Training and the other is aimed for our Level 2 and Level 3 athletes. Either way, you'll all be squatting twice a week.

As always, leave the ego at the door and ensure you are lifting weights and following a program that is best suited for you, this will keep you injury free and lead to the best gainz. Not sure which one? Come chat to me.

WHY 2 programmes?

Level 1 athletes – Progressive Volume Cycle

A person new to training has unbelievable abilities to make amazing strength increases early on in their training. A lot of this is down to building new neuromuscular connections (the ability of your brain to recruit muscle fibres), this requires lots of reps as opposed to really heavy loads. So over the course of the cycle, our level 1 athletes will begin with light load and low volume and build to moderate/heavy loads with moderate/heavy volume.

Don't be thinking this is gonna be easy. It will get testing, quickly.

Level 2 and Level 3 athletes – Burgner Squat Cycle
For the more advanced lifters out there, you need a little more intensity and volume to keep those strength gainz coming.

Now your neuromuscular connections are becoming better established, gainz in your strength will come via lifting heavy.

10 sets of 3, anyone?

WHAT ABOUT OUR PREVIOUS GAINZ?

As I have done over the last 3 quarterly cycles, there will be certain aspects that are carried over from the previous cycles. Skill days are still as important as ever, these are a great way to practise and learn the gymnastic skills which still get your body moving, but acts as a sort of active recovery session for your body. Which you will certainly need during a strength cycle. 

Further more, the use of supersets will continued to be used to ensure volume is being built in your strict gymnastic movements. 

All information on previous programming cycles can be found here, here and here. I encourage you to read them if you want to understand why we do what we do. 

Along with the twice a week squatting, we will also see a day for pulling and pushing. Ie your deadlifts, cleans and overhead movements. 

To allow for maximum time to be spent on your strength gainz and due to the increased time spent under the barbell, metcons on your lifting days will be kept short and focused on your gymnastic gainz along with accessory movements for your squat (OH HELLO LUNGES) . With slightly longer metcons being done on none strength days. A similar approach as we have seen over the last 9 months.

REST AND RECOVERY

Be smart please. When lifting heavy loads, your body becomes seriously stressed and needs time to recover.

Whilst I reflect this in my programming (by having a skill day after a strength day etc), you need to be smart and listen to your body. Rest when you need to and go light on the metcons. Just because a RX weight is 60kg, you don't NEED to do 60kg each time. Leave your ego at the door. Going lighter will often lead to better results in the long term, and that is why you should train, for long term benefit.  

Also, if you are squatting twice a week with the main programming, be smart on which speciality classes you choose. A bad idea would be to do weightlifting twice a week, cave on a Saturday and then squat twice a week in main class. That'll be a good way to mess up your CNS (central nervous system). 

When it comes to CrossFit and training in general, more ISNT better. But more on this in Monday's blog next week.

As always, if you have any questions on the programming or feedback, please let me know. 

Or, and this is something I highly encourage, if you need guidance on your training, which specialty classes to do etc to get the best out of YOUR goals, please arrange some time with me and we can discuss and go through your training plan.

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