Wednesday, 16 October 2019

#5 Rest Days, Structure, and a little Sacrifice.

I want to be fitter, I need more!

How much training, is too much training?

I guess this is different for everyone. At CrossFit Teesside, when people first start, our recommendation is to aim for three sessions a week, preferably with a rest day in between.

For a beginner this is perfect, the volume of reps that they are being exposed to in their first few weeks of training won't be too much for them, and they will be able to gradually get used to the intensity of the workouts.

Once things become a little more comfortable, and the body starts to adapt and fitness starts to build, if desired sessions can be increased to 4 or 5 per week.

Now, for the average CrossFit enthusiast, 5 WOD's per week is quite a lot for the body to recover from, there has been a large amount of volume (reps) completed, not just for one particular muscle group, but for the whole body, and I would be confident in saying that for most of our members who attend our classes, the two rest days somewhere in between are definitely needed!

Fitness is building, things are going well, but other people in the Gym can do certain things I can't, and I'd like to be like those beasts from Instagram and The Games, ASAP!!!!

Here's where things begin to wrong...

The athlete who is completing five WOD's a week decides that they would like to get stronger, so they start also, completing two strength sessions from one of the boards every week. Their Strict Gymnastics needs work, I know this because everyone's does! This means that they need to add a session in for Strict Pull Ups each week, possibly another for Strict Handstand Push Ups. Sometimes, once finished with the Class WOD, if this athlete has some spare time, they will also knock out an Engine Board session or two as well. You know what.... I've got the afternoon off work, I might as well go in again and get some "Accessory" work in too!

You can see how this is building up. More training means more time spent in the Box, and more damage to the tissues of the body, which have already been damaged from the workouts we have already completed. This athlete is now visiting the box six, even seven days a week, and some of these days include a second visit.

Everyone thinks, about the extra Training they need or want to do to get better at something, but where is the extra Recovery to balance this out?

Most of the time it isn't happening.... because the more you train, the more time is taken away from recovery...

This athlete, is on a road to Injury, or, they are limiting the progress they could be making, without even realising it. Simply, by not allowing the body the rest it NEEDS, in order to recover, your improvements could be actually slowing down, even though you want them to speed up!

So that's why in this scenario, "More Isn't Better"!

But.... if your smart about it, and, allow for proper rest and recovery, you can do more, and benefit from it, but more shouldn't be Everything!

First Step.... Plan your Rest Days!

Might sound strange to some people this... but the first thing I think about when I sit down every Sunday to plan my week, is when my two Rest Days are going to be. That's right... Two! I put in five hard days of training each week, some of these include two sessions a day, so I'm absolutely going to give my body two days to recover, and when I say rest, I mean it. I don't mean, on these day's I will only come in and do some Strength, or some "Accessories".... that is not resting.

If you are intent on visiting The Box six days a week, make sure you have planned in your one Rest Day, and also, when your "Active Rest Day" is going to be. Once more, lifting heavy weights, swinging around on the rig, or simply going slower during a WOD is not Active Rest. Hitting an Engine Board session at a lower intensity on the other hand, would definitely work in nicely on an Active Rest Day, spend some time in the Mobility Corner rolling or stretching out, this is what we mean by Active Rest.

Maybe, you don't need to get into the Box for the 6th day in a week, but you just need to get moving. Rather than doing nothing at all for two full days, get outdoors for some Active Rest, go walking, go for a light jog, get out on a bike, swim! Anything that's not "For Time" or "AMRAP", and involves being out in the fresh air will work well!

Your rest days are your body's chance to heal and recover from being beaten down during the training you've been doing. If your not taking these, then how can you expect to see the results you would like? Beat it down, then let it Build back up!

Routine is the Enemy!

It is true that we change our workouts every day, so we do not get stuck in a routine. This Constant Variance ensures that the body is always adapting, we are training to be Generally Physically Prepared, ready for the Unknown & Unknowable!

However, in order to stop us from over training, doing too much of a certain thing on one day, or placing too much volume on the body, too soon, a little bit of "Structure" can go a long way.

If you would like to get Stronger, completing two Strength sessions a week should become a very important part of your weekly training.

Plan when you are going to do these sessions before anything else. After your Rest Days, make them the next thing you write in your book!

Now check the Website and see what coming up tomorrow. If you know that Monday's Class WOD is going to be tough on the legs, don't plan your Heavy Squats in for Tuesday, because you'll feel terrible for them. Even worse is if you also intend on doing Wednesday's Class WOD, that could potentially be another assault on the Legs, your training the same Muscle Groups three days in a row, you will need more than two Rest Days to get over this!

Instead, do your Heavy Squats on Monday, followed by Monday's WOD. Keep all your Leg work on the same day. It is most likely that Tuesday's WOD, will not focus on that same area of the body, so your good to go, and on Wednesday, if you have some spare time to complete your second Strength Session of the week ahead of schedule, your legs will be ready for action, so go for it!

It is true, that you won't be at your absolute best for the Class WOD that follows, but havn't you expressed your desire to get Stronger? I'd rather lose a few reps in the WOD than not be able to lift the desired weights in the lifting section after thrashing myself in an intense workout. If you decide to complete "Extra Training", to focus in on a certain area of your Fitness, or to build towards a Goal you've set yourself, make it a priority and commit to it! Now, the Class WOD is your "Extra Training"!

This stuff is not rocket science, its just sensible training. Listen to your body, and learn how it feels at certain times of the week, after doing certain movements or workouts, then structure your training accordingly.

Remember, that if what's on the Whiteboard, or the extra session you want to get in doesn't suit how your body is feeling, but you'd just like to do more... there's always the Engine Board! Hit this stuff as much as you like, its always Intense, but it doesn't place as much stress on the body as anything else we do. A hard Engine Board session does only good things for your Fitness, and can be the perfect way to loosen off. This is the only "Extra Training" we offer in the box, that I wouldn't limit the amount than someone does!


If time doesn't allow for multiple sessions in a day, and adding another day of training in the week would eat into your Rest Days, then a little bit of Sacrifice, is a necessity.

If you need to Sacrifice one or two of your Daily WOD's, to allow space to complete your Strength Training, then do it, the WOD's will always be there for you once your Strength is where you want it!

However, the need for sacrificing WOD's shouldn't only be dependant upon the time you have, but what about how you body is handling things?

If your already feeling banged up by the end of the week from three or four Class WOD's, is adding in two extra Heavy Strength sessions and a Gymnastics session next week really a good idea?

Some people's bodies can handle the extra volume, but for others, there is a fine line. It doesn't mean the Extra Training is off limits, for this athlete, it may just turn out that at least to start off with, a Strength session should not be completed as an "Extra", it should be done "Instead of".

For example, if you have decided to start following the Strength Board twice per week, it might be a good idea to begin with, to do these on their own days, with nothing else included.

Think of it as, not neglecting your WOD's, but instead, prioritising this certain aspect of your Fitness you've decided to focus on. See how your body reacts to this new stimulus, before you make it an addition, to everything else you already doing.

After a few weeks, if the body feels fine, your recovering from it well, then, it might be ok to hit a Strength session, as well as the Class WOD in the same day. Just gradually build up the volume, don't increase it all at once!

I think sometimes, we have to be honest about what our own bodies can handle. We would all love to be able to train like a Games athlete, and complete WOD after WOD without any problems. But if the goal is to actually get fitter, and little niggling injuries keep stopping us from doing the things we would like to, or, if progress seems to actually be slowing down, from adding more training to our schedule, then its pointless.

Quality, over Quantity, in the long run, is a recipe for success!

Listen to your body, the whole point of this stuff we are doing is to make it last for a long time, and allow you to complete the physical tasks throughout life that you need too, whatever they may be.

If in five years its broken, and some of these tasks have become impossible to take on, then what will have been the point in it?

Keep training Hard everyone.... but also train Smart!

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

#4 Making Health & Fitness a Priority, and Setting Goals to stay Motivated

Is getting to the Box, a priority for you?

One of the best things to see as a Coach in a CrossFit Box, is how much of a priority, getting in on a regular basis becomes for our members! We love that, deciding when your are able to train the following day, is high one the list of important decisions that need to be made, and what a fantastic decision it is to make!

I can often see, that when people are struggling to make it into the Box as much as they would like, they get frustrated, and rightly so! Because every time you come to the Box you are investing time in not just your Fitness, but your Health.

We totally understand that sometimes, things get in the way. We know that our members have jobs to go to, families to look after, and strangely enough, they do actually spend time with other human beings who don't want to talk about CrossFit!

However, we would like to go back to a target that we usually set people when they first join, and what we speak about in the taster sessions, which is that you should aim for a minimum of three sessions a week.

That's an hour of your day, three times a week.

Three hours from one hundred and sixty eight each week.

One hundred and fifty six hours, from eight thousand seven hundred and thirty six in the year!

If you make time for these hours, and dedicate them to your own Health and Fitness, they will no doubt in our minds, be some of the most important hours you are spending in your life!

Make time for you!

Taking part in regular Constantly Varied, Functional Movement performed at High Intensity, is such a simple but effective way, of increasing your ability to fight off potentially life threatening diseases and stay functional (be able to carry out all physical daily tasks without issue), throughout the whole of your life.

The three hours a week you can set aside for yourself and get into the Box, are the three hours a week that will keep you out of a nursing home, and make you live longer!

A few hours now, could literally add years!

What is your motivation, do you have a specific Goal?

CrossFit is a training methodology, which improves your General Physical Preparedness, it increases your ability to cope with any physical tasks which you may be faced with in your life, and as already discussed, in general, makes you Harder to Kill!

All you have to do to take advantage of this is continue to turn up, and get stuck into the daily WOD's from the Whiteboard!

But, is there anything Specific, that you would like to achieve from doing CrossFit? Everyone has there own reasons for joining in the first place.

A common goal is to change the body physically, whether to "Lose Weight" or to "Build Muscle", this is perhaps the reason we hear most, when people first decide to get involved.

Some people play a Sport, which they would like to perform better at, or they used to play Sports and would like something "Competitive" to replace it with.

For others, their might not be a "Goal" to start with, but once they get into it, something very specific such as, be able to do a Pull Up, or be able to Deadlift a certain amount of Weight might turn into their motivation!

Whatever it is, having a Goal to work towards can be that extra thing you need to motivate you and keep you coming back to the Box.

What's even better, is constantly measuring your progress, seeing the results happening, and the motivation grows stronger. There really is no better feeling than walking out of the box, and not only feeling better, but knowing the improvements are happening!

What Goal should I set myself?

If your thinking Movements or Weights, or even Running for example, it is important to make a goal Realistic.

If you would one day like to be able to do a Bar Muscle Up, but you've only just managed to do a Pull Up, lets start with a Chest to Bar Pull Up first.

Remember also, that this is a journey to be enjoyed, and hopefully one that will last a long time, so don't be in a rush, set goals for in say, 6 months time, or by the end of next year, rather then by the end of next week. The great thing about this is, your not putting too much pressure on yourself, and, you'll most likely hit your goal before you expect to, which means the bar can then be raised higher!

If a body goal is set, such as to lose weight, or gain weight, lets make it a little more specific. Maybe, lets aim to get to a certain body fat percentage, fit into a certain pair of jeans that are little tight, or if its the other way, gain a certain amount of kilograms. For these types of Goals it is definitely not just the training that's important, nutrition will play a huge part and if your not already clued up on the subject, its a chance to learn about a whole new aspect of Health & Fitness!

Is there a challenge that you'd love to be able to take on, a Half Marathon, a 10km Run, or even a 5km Run, having something like this in your sights can keep you super focussed, and is very easy for a Coach to plan for if a date has been set.

We would love to play as much of a part in your Journey as possible, so don't hesitate to ask for our advice let us guide you through it.

Everything we have set in place at the Box is already set up to help you get the results you want. All of the extra Programming that is provided on a weekly basis (extra Whiteboards in the Box, and tab on the Website) is there for this very reason. Pick the tools you need to build your Health and Fitness how you want, if the Goal changes, put down that tool and pick up the one you need!

The mistake that people make, is trying to do too much, they pick up more tools than they can keep hold of, and they either end up moving further away from their Goals or, set off on a Journey towards Over Training and Injury, more on this later though...

Final Thoughts...

Whatever you reasons were in the first place for starting CrossFit and beginning your journey in Health & Fitness. Whether your super focussed and motivated, craving the pain of training, gagging to get back in the Box each day. Or if you've hit a little plateau, your struggling to find motivation and possibly looking for a reason not to go to the box tomorrow. Try to think of the bigger picture. Even if it doesn't seem that important right now, every time you decide to come into the box, your bettering your health, and not only are you improving the Quality of Life you have right now, and potentially adding years to your life!

One of the major benefits of training in a CrossFit Box is that you are not on your own, advice and support is always available to you, make the most of the membership you pay, don't be afraid to ask for some extra help. If you've got a goal, or need help setting one, your Coaches are eager to get you to where you want to be.

If its to be Generally Fitter and Healthier, to simply enjoy working out with friends, and soak up the atmosphere, we'll keep the Class WOD's coming, you keep turning up and working hard. This is all you need to guarantee a lifetime of being fit and able, and to keep you in better condition than the rest of the population who do not exercise (the ones that are easy to kill)!

If you've got something specific in mind, lets work together and tailor your training, specifically towards it! All you have to do is ask if you need us to help with this, tell us when you can make it in to the Box, and we'll tell you what to do when your in, it is really that simple.

Be realistic with your Goals, take pleasure in seeing the small improvements, and then every so often, look back to see how far you've come. Sometimes you need to remind yourself of the progress you've made, and confirm that the effort your putting in is worth it.

If you get injured, because your trying to do too much, or because your ego says that "Scaling IS Failing" (read the sign outside the front door), then your goals will move further away from you, and coming to the Box will become a negative experience, rather than a positive one.

Part of our job is to be honest, and if this means telling you to go take a rest day, or to take some Weight of your Barbell, don't get upset, take it on board, we are always looking at the big picture, the long journey ahead and how to not only make it an enjoyable one, but a safe one that will last a long time!

Have Fun, but stay Safe. Set Goals but be Realistic. If you have a choice to come to the Box, or not, always come to the Box! Look back, only to see how far you've come, then focus on what lies ahead.

Until next time, keep working hard! DYL.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

#3 Strict before Kip!

Following on from last weeks Blog post about Hand Tears, why it happens and how to prevent it, the focus this week is on the importance of not neglecting movements like Strict Pull Ups.

There is no doubt in my mind that basic Strict Gymnastic movements such as Pull Ups & Press Ups, which in my opinion are the most important exercises to practice for developing upper body Strength, for Injury Prevention, and to also improve your "Kipping" exercises.

As previously discussed, somebody who can not pull themselves up to a bar without the use of a swing or a hip drive, will be more likely to tear their hands than someone who can. This is because the force that's being put through their Kip, and the amount of pressure and friction on the hands is very high.

However, this is not the only reason to get better at Strict Gymnastics, and its certainly not the main one. You need to improve your Strict Gymnastic strength so that you don't get injured!

So many people find, that even though they can't do a Strict Pull Up (or not many), with a bit of practice on the Rig, they can still manage to knock out a Kipping Pull Up, or even string a few together. This is a great feeling, all of a sudden you can do this movement that you've watched other people do, and now you have a new skill that you can make use of in your WOD's. Because your making use of the whole body now, rather than just your upper body, you will feel like you don't burn out as fast, so you can complete more reps in less time. You've cracked it!

This is a great skill to be able to do, and in the long run it will benefit you by adding more Intensity to your work outs and therefore improving your Work Capacity (your ability to do work, also know as your Fitness).

But... if not backed up with a Strict Pull Up, or several, eventually, little niggles will start to bother you. It might not happen at first, your feeling great, but all that pressure that's getting put through your Shoulder Joints over and over again, and because of a lack of Strength and Control through the movement, it will start to take its toll. A bit of Shoulder pain may stop you from working as hard as you would like to, if this develops further you may have to spend some time away from the Rig, or anything that uses this body part at all until it gets better. In worst case scenarios, combined with a lack of flexibility, meaning the range of motion required for getting into certain positions just simply isn't there, it has resulted in a much more serious Injury and even the need for Surgery.

Not great if your a professional athlete who does this to make a living.... and even worse if like 99.9% of us we actually are not professional athletes, which means an injury like this is stopping us from doing our job, anything we enjoy doing outside the box for fun, or the general things we are required to do on a daily basis to support out life in general!!!

Ok, so now we've established that Kipping is the Devil (not really, when its done safely its class), we'd better move on to telling you how to actually improve your Strict Gymnastics, which will make it all good again!

Just do the bloody things!

It's not as easy as that though... or is it?

Well, it actually is when you first get started, like when beginning anything new, the body will adapt quickly, there's no need to follow a structured program, just do some reps. If this is you, then try doing three - five sets of as many as you can do, with roughly a 3 - 5 minute rest in between sets, twice a week. If you can already do some Un-Assisted reps, then just stick with those, if not you can scale it down. In the case of Pull Ups, find the band that gives you the assistance to do at least 10 Reps, this is the version you want to stick to in your WOD's for now, the next one down (offers less assistance) is the one you should practice with outside of the WOD.

Once the above method stops producing the goods, which it will, remember that to begin with your body adapts quickly but this will slow down, its time to jump on a proper structured programme.

Now, what we are about to talk about, is something that is available for anyone to follow, its extremely simple (a structured programme does not mean complicated), and effective for all abilities. If fact, whenever I feel like I'm lacking in the Strict department, I will make sure I jump straight back into into, and it never disappoints, even after doing CrossFit for almost 9 years!

You can find it on the "Extra Training" tab on our website, scroll down to the second section called "Strict Gymnastics", and it is the first part (1).

It is a 14 Week cycle, which can automatically restart at the end if you want it to, and should do if your still improving (one of the most annoying things I come across is, someone stopping doing something that's making them better, I can never get my head around this, if it ain't broke, don't fix it).

Basically, it begins by finding out how many unbroken reps you can do (that means until you hit failure and have to drop off), obviously these should be good quality reps, full range of motion (don't give yourself a Rep if its poor). It works from a percentage of this number of Reps.

If you can do 4 or more Un-Assisted reps, follow the percentages as they are written and do not deviate, even if it doesn't sound like your doing much (you should spend most of this programme stood waiting for the next set). If you can do 1 - 3 Un-Assisted Unbroken reps, come see me in the Box, ill take a look, and tell you whether to stick with these, or if you need to add a little Assistance to begin with.

If your not yet able to do 1 Un-Assisted rep of a certain movement, then we need to Scale it so that your doing an appropriate amount of Reps. I'd like you to introduce enough assistance so that you are able to do 4 good quality reps. This is the version of the movement you will stick with for the first 8 weeks of the cycle (do not change the amount of assistance in this 8 Weeks, even if it starts to feel easy, patience is a key to following this programme).

Once you have your unbroken number, as previously mentioned it works off a percentage, and to begin with, you complete this every minute, for so many minutes. For example, on Week 2, you would perform a set, Every Minute On The Minute (EMOTM) for 6 Minutes.

Each week, the minutes so up slightly, and then after a few weeks you go back on yourself, but the reps increase. At certain times in the programme, you may be doing it every 30 seconds, or even 20.

The whole idea, is that you are gradually, week by week, adding a little bit more work for the body to do, which it will adapt to nicely.

You only do it once a week, you wont get anything from doing it every day of the week, just ONCE a week is enough. By the time it comes around the following week, hopefully you will have recovered enough to be ready for the next session (my advice is to do it at a time when you know you are fresh, the day after a rest day, before you do your Daily WOD is ideal, it wont feel the same if your too tired, and you wont improve at the same rate).

It can be done with not just Pull Ups, but with Handstand Push Ups, Ring Dips, Ring Rows, even Press Ups, or any other Strict Gymnastic exercise you can think of pretty much!

As we are coming into a new month, and seems though its the topic of discussion, it will be restarting from fresh. So from the 30th October, it will be on the website. Follow these guidelines and you'll do great!

Stay CONSISTENT (don't miss a session), be honest about the QUALITY of your reps (if your doing half reps, using some extra power from the hips, and so on, its not going to work, and when it comes to testing your max again, you'll be disappointed), and finally allow you body to RECOVER (complete the weekly session from fresh if you can, prioritise it over other parts of your training, take at least one rest day per week, and eat enough protein).

If you need more details about any of the above, send me a message or ask about it in the Box!

But I just want to do MORE!!!

Honestly, to begin with, just stick with the programme and see what happens! You really don't have to spend hours in the Box doing as much as you can cram in!

But further down the line, a few extra accessory movements that compliment the exercise you are working on, and target the specific muscles used can be implemented. Things like doing Negative (slow, controlled, downward portions of the movements) reps can be added, as well as many other little additions.

To begin with though, all of this extra stuff, is just more for the body to handle and recover from, and if its too much for you at this stage in your training, it may be holding you back from improving (more Volume, doesn't always mean more Results!).

Touchy subject incoming again...

Again, just like in the last post...Weight.

The more Weight you have to Pull Up, or Press Up, the harder it is to complete and improve at these movements. Some people are naturally heavier obviously, so they will find that Strict Gymnastics is a bit more of a struggle than lifting a Barbell, just like a lighter person will find lifting their own Body Weight, is much easier, than lifting Heavy Weight, 50/70kg Thrusters for example!

This will always be the case, but everybody is capable of improving what their own body can do, so remember to think about your own progress and how your improving, don't compare to other people.

The bottom line on this subject is, the higher your Body Fat to Lean Muscle Mass ratio is, the harder its going to be to do these Strict movements, so if you know your Body Fat percentage is higher than it should be, this is something that may need to be addressed as well, or before.

If its something your not particularly bothered about, and have no interest in thinking about right now, that's absolutely fine, we all know what we would like to get out of our own training.

But, if your getting a little disheartened at not being comfortable with movements such as Pull Ups, please take this into consideration.

Hopefully the advice provided, and the programme mentioned (which starts from fresh next week!) will help to you to improve at your Strict Gymnastics. Consistency is the big thing here (as with everything), stick with it and you'll see some good results, just be patient, it wont get better over night!

If you need any more info about anything discussed in this weeks Blog, you know where I am!

Until next time, enjoy your training, keep putting in the hard work!

Thursday, 19 September 2019

#2 Why do I keep Tearing my Hands?

Firstly lets begin by making it clear that there is nothing cool about tearing your hands! Your none CrossFit friends wont be impressed by pictures of them on Instagram, they will just think your a lunatic. Personally, every time I feel my hand tear in the middle of a WOD I am gutted, not just because its spoilt that particular workout, but now for at least a few days after, I wont be able to grip the Pull Up bar or a Barbell properly, and if I do ill probably end up making it worse, and be off it for even longer!

Hand Tears definitely put a dampener on your Training for the rest of the week, so as well as tell you some tricks to reduce the likelihood of this happening, id like to discuss how in the long run this can be prevented.

What can I do Right Now, for This WOD, to reduce my chances of Tearing?

Lets begin with Barbells. If you keep getting little tears on your thumbs and fingers when performing certain movements like Hang Power Cleans & Snatches, to be honest this happens every now and again when the Reps are high, there's always going to be some friction happening, even if your using the Hook Grip (ask a Coach to show you this if you've not heard of it, your missing out). Simple fix though, get online and buy yourself some Kinesiology Tape, or even get yourself to somewhere like Aldi or TK Max where you can sometimes find it. I got a box of 12 Rolls from Amazon for about £25 ages ago and i'm not even half way through it, it will keep me going easily for over a year. Cut some little strips of when you come in, and if you know you tear in certain areas when performing certain movements, just stick some on before you start the WOD to prevent it.

When it comes to exercises involving the Rig, the short term method of preventing Hand Tears is to wear some Gymnastics Grips (again which can be bought online, at the minute certain brands such as Jaw Grips or Picsil Grips seem to be popular), or gloves, however, if the reps are high, and your using a "Kip" (the likelihood of a tear when performing movements "Strict" is very low) there is still a chance of the hands getting roughed up even when wearing these. 

Do you Shave your Hands though?

Bit of a strange question to be asked when you come to the Gym, but its one that I regularly ask people (followed my a funny look), not related to how hairy your hands are!

It is actually referring to the Calluses on the Palms of your Hands and sometimes Fingers, this is the hard skin that can build up over time, which is definitely needed, but if you leave them to grow too big, they can bunch up, and once that hand slips a little off the Rig when your forearms start to get tired, away that Callus goes and your left with a lovely looking flap of skin covering an open wound. The only good thing about that is an excuse not to wash up that night!

It sounds a bit gross but its honestly not a big deal, get a pack of cheap razors (or a fancy callus shaver if you want to splash out), and the night before you take a rest day (its nice to leave the freshly shaved hands a day to toughen up), at the end of your shower when your hands are nice and soft, those calluses will be easy to gently scrape off (gently is a key word here, don't slice your hands to bits)!

Hand maintenance, not the most glamourous thing in CrossFit, but essential if you ask me!

So you don't use Gymnastic Grips, then how come you don't Tear your hands?

This is what my training looks like at the moment. Monday = Hero WOD. Tuesday = Hero WOD. Wednesday = Hero WOD...etc. 

Currently 170 hero's into our challenge to complete all 197 published Hero WODs on by the end of the year, its a wonder why I havn't constantly ripped my hands to pieces, as A LOT of these workouts contain A LOT of Pull Ups and other movements performed on the Rig. Ive had the odd little scratch here and there, but touch wood, nothing that would stop me from gripping a Barbell the next day. Here are my thoughts as to why this is...

When you first start CrossFit (or anything in life which requires regular use of the hands), for most people the hands are pretty soft. The more of it you do, the more they toughen up. After almost 9 years of swinging from a Rig or grabbing hold of a Barbell (amongst other implements), my hands are pretty much two big calluses. I shave my hands twice a week though so the calluses are not raised.

I used to always tear my hands when I first started, on Kipping movements that I had just mastered, that still took a lot of effort and power to complete. In the middle of a WOD mixed with things like Kettlebells (tough on the grip), it was usually game over.

Sometimes they would only go right at the end of the WOD, when I was desperately clinging onto the bar to shave off those valuable few seconds or squeeze a few extra reps in. Nowadays, while I always push myself during workouts, if I know my hands are ready to go, I wont hand on for as long, ill let me forearms recover for a bit longer between sets, its a small sacrifice to make, im still getting an intense workout, but by being sensible and not pushing the hands to hard, ill be able to carry on hitting intense workouts all week long!

The big thing though, which really was what made a huge difference, was when I became much stronger at the Strict versions of these movements completed on the Rig.

Imagine how much effort, someone who cannot do one Strict Pull Up needs to put in during the WOD "Fran", to get through it doing Kipping Pull Ups in singles, while their grip is battered from Thrusters. That's 45 Reps of a Kipping Pull Up, while frantically fighting against the clock, I can tell you from experience that most of those Pull Ups are all swing about the swing, and the more tired you get, the more pressure is being put through the hands, the more they are moving around on the Rig, creating a lot of friction, and you know what comes next.

Now imagine you are someone, who can do 10 - 15 Strict Pull Ups in a row, if they have practiced their technique and have built up their Muscular Endurance enough, this individual can probably knock out more than 30 unbroken Kipping Pull Ups without dropping off. Our very own Coach TC can easily do 20+ Strict Pull Ups, and can do 50+ Kipping Pull Ups without dropping off the bar! There is not a chance that Tom would tear his hands in a WOD like "Fran". 

Because he has the Strength to knock out so many Strict Pull Ups, he does not need to swing a lot, or put a lot of pressure through the bar in order to complete successful Reps. There is not a lot of movement by his hands when performing big sets, only an adjustment he makes himself to keep the right part of his hand on the Rig so he can keep going.

Now obviously, TC is an exceptionally well developed machine of a Human Being, through hard work of course (but mostly inherited from the "Big Dawg"), but by using him as an example is taking it to the extreme.

However, you get the idea, the less "Swing" and effort it takes you to complete your Kipping movements successfully, the less hand tears you will incur!

One more thing... i'll get straight to the point on this one!

The heavier you are, the harder it is to do movements like Pull Ups & Toes to Bar, which once more leads to a higher likelihood of tearing your hands.

Sometimes, it is really this simple, and we see it all the time. When someone who has a higher body fat percentage loses weight, now their muscles have less Weight to pull up to bar, and what a difference it makes. 

Again, purely from experience, the difference losing a few kilos makes when it comes to Gymnastic movements is massive. You might take a hit when it comes to throwing weight around on a Barbell, but the overall effects in all other areas (running, jumping on boxes, fitness and health in general) is definitely worth it! 

Remember everyone, that if any of the topics covered in these posts is of particular interest to you, and you would like us to go into it in further detail with you personally, just grab one of us in the Box, and we would be happy to help. Also, if there are any topics you would specifically like us to cover in a future post, let us know!

Keep an eye out for another Blog post coming very soon, explaining a very simple but effective Strict & Kipping Gymnastic programme which we include on the "Extra Training" tab on the website. Adaptable for all abilities, one session per week, target specific weaknesses, you'd be silly to not give it a try!

Thanks for reading.... i'll leave you with a secret from "The Howitzer" himself, another little gem to help prevent those hand tears, "Always wash your hands in hot soapy water, and regularly apply a good Hand Cream"

Thursday, 12 September 2019

#1 Stuck in our ways!

Welcome to our new Blog! 

This is a new addition to what we have on offer, a resource which our members can use to find out about things which are happening in the Box. It is also a place where we will discuss different topics that are related to CrossFit in general, and specifically for our members, add another layer to the Coaching and Information we already provide within CrossFit Teesside.

That's not to say only CrossFit Teesside members can benefit from this Blog, anyone who trains in a traditional CrossFit Box will be able to relate to most of the content published, so feel free to share, the more people this benefits the better!

What do we do at CrossFit Teesside?

On February 10th, 2001, CrossFit began posting a daily workout on its website for anyone who wanted to follow it. For Owner Lee Howe and Head Coach David Butterfield this was how we got our daily workout! In August 2011, CrossFit Teesside began writing up its daily WOD (Workout Of the Day) on the Whiteboard, and offering its Coaching to anyone in the area who wanted to try this fairly new way of getting fit! As the 37th CrossFit Box to open in the UK (there are now over 500), we were part of something that was gradually increasing in popularity, but still fairly unknown to people.

Nowadays, with CrossFit rapidly increasing in popularity, not only in the UK but all over the world, it is easily accessible to anyone who wishes to take part, and most people who don't do it have at least heard of it. However, not everyone chooses to run their CrossFit Box in a traditional way. 

We have visited some fantastic CrossFit Box's, but at some of the boxes we have been to over the years, a membership is limited to only 2-3 sessions per week, and if you want to take part you need to "Book In" in advance. If you want to find out what the daily WOD is, you need to "Login" on the Website using a password, or join a members only group on social media which nobody else has access to. If you would like some extra Coaching, or need some further guidance, maybe with your Technique or advice with what Strength Programme to follow, you have to book in with a "Personal Trainer" and pay extra for it. It seems strange to us that you would need to pay a membership, but then are required to obtain these "Extras" as if they are special additions that don't come included.

While this is going on, is still posting its daily WOD for anyone to follow, for free, which is in our opinion has always been and still is some of the best CrossFit Programming available. 

At CrossFit Teesside, we continue to make sure the daily WOD is also our main attraction, written on the Whiteboard and posted on our website available for anyone to sink their teeth into. For anyone who wishes to take part, we will guide you through this WOD, discussing Scaling Options before making sure you are Warm. You will be Coached through the Mechanics of the Movements, and given advice about how to remain Consistent during your WOD. Once set-up is over and all checks have been made, you will tackle the WOD with Intensity, alongside other people in the Class who while working hard themselves and concentrating on their own workout, will also provide that extra motivation, guaranteeing that you give full effort to the tasks in front of you. Coaching will continue during the WOD, we want to push you hard, and also keep you safe, so if adjustments are need, we will be on hand!

Optional Extra's do exist, such as the Engine Board (a whiteboard containing an Interval Session for each piece of Cardio equipment we have, this gets updated weekly), two different Strength Board's (containing structured Programmes updated weekly) and further extra's such as a Strict Gymnastic Programme and Olympic Weightlifting workouts. These can all be found either in the Box or on our "Extra Training" tab on the website, once again, available to anyone who wishes to include them.

However, by no means are these "Extras" essential to our programme or needed in order to increase ones Work Capacity (fitness)!

We firmly believe and are confident that by completing 3 - 5 class WODs a week you will receive more than enough Intensity, and Instruction to see a gradual improvement in your overall Fitness. All you need to do is put in the effort! 

This is what we fell in love with, and what we began, and continue to share with our Community at CrossFit Teesside. The aim of CrossFit and the methodology behind it have not changed over the years, because they do not need to. As long as people continue to improve their Fitness and Health, and also manage to stay Fit and Healthy through CrossFit Training, its Efficacy cannot be questioned. This translates straight over to what we do at the Box. We are passionate about Fitness & Health, and our love for CrossFit only grows the older we get as a Box! We will remain dedicated to Coaching people, and as our Community continues to grow, we will only attempt to provide more! 

So on that note, thank you to our dedicated members! Keep up the hard work, do not go in search of the none existent magic programme (for those who have, we can only hope you come back to the light one day), keep doing CrossFit (that stuff that's on the Whiteboard), and if you need some extra help, just ask! 

For now, we are happy to remain "Stuck in our ways"...