2/12/13 WOD Sorry for the late response. Probably doesn't matt...More... 15.02.13 11:48 By Leon Chang
2/12/13 WOD Good Morning - Just wanted to clarify a couple thi...More... 12.02.13 07:43 By Aaron Pusateri
12/14/12 WOD Front squat @ 160# 2 rnds + 2 double undersMore... 14.12.12 14:55 By William Schneider
12/13/12 WOD C&J to 135#, attempted 140# OTMEM 19 C&J @ 105#More... 13.12.12 10:48 By William Schneider
12/11/12 WOD Just rolled the ankle on Sun playing soccer. All i...More... 11.12.12 22:02 By Leon Chang
Resources and Friends
CrossFit.com is THE mainsite, the place where it all started. Videos of workouts, movements, journal articles- everything is here and the vast majority of it is free. Any serious CrossFitter will find themselves referring to the mainsite over and over again. Icons that link to the mainsite and journal are below.
PsychSanDiego is co- owned by Alessandra Wall Ph.D., wife of Leon Chang and an avid CrossFitter herself. Dr. Wall specializes in anxiety and eating disorders and is available for clients who wish to formulate a comprehensive weight-loss or lifestyle plan and address the psychological component of eating and weight loss. Click on the "coaches" tab to learn more!
We all remember our first CrossFit workout. Whether it was here at Elysium, in a garage, a globo gym or another affiliate, it probably was a terrible experience that involved panting for air, coughing up a lung, trying to stop the world from spinning or trying not to lose your lunch. Most likely if you are reading this you took that horrible experience and thought, “I think I am going to do this some more!”
The journey for everyone in their CrossFit career is different. The one thing that everyone has in common is that no matter who you are, you start as a beginner. While some people pass this phase quickly due to prior athletic experience, most people would be considered beginners for quite some time.
What is it that separates these advanced athletes from the beginners? You could point out some different strength benchmarks, gymnastic skill or benchmark scores that might separate these people, but that isn’t what I am going to talk about today. Today I want to talk about a part of the mental aspect of this program that I find to be very important which most people don't realize.
Understanding that this isn’t your old exercise program is key. We don’t do the same exercises or routine every time you come in. We don’t repeat things over and over until it becomes “easy” or “a routine.” We do different lifts day to day and aim to do them heavier, better and/or faster then we have ever done before. We strive to advance and develop, always looking to make new progress.
Once a new athlete understands this, they can can truly start to climb the ladder to greater strength, faster times and cleaner lifts. They gain the understanding that a new personal record in a squat or deadlift is going to be the heaviest thing you have ever lifted. It is going to feel heavier than the week before, because it is. When you repeat a met-con, whether you get 4 extra rounds or you shave 3 minutes off your time, it was “easier” because you did better, but I guarantee that it is not going to feel that way. Most likely it will feel worse then the last time you did it.
I have seen many members with the same look after a new PR lift or a met-con. Their faces show that inside they are asking themselves, “When is this going to be easier?” This look is typically followed by looking around the room at some of the more advanced people who finished the met-con earlier or are lifting heavier weights and seem so much more poised and calm. Seeing this only serves to frustrate and confuse the person who has been coming in for a month or two, or even out to a year or more (there is no set time frame beyond which you're "past" the beginner phase).
As a beginner, you need to understand that CrossFit isn’t easier for the more advanced people. It is that the advanced people expect things to be difficult and they are ok with that. To borrow a nice phrase from an athlete that I admire, they get comfortable with being uncomfortable. When someone can get here mentally training becomes something totally different. When you are 7 minutes into a 20 minute metcon and the legs start to burn and the lungs feel like they're going to explode, the advanced athlete pushes to see how much more they can deal with before they stop moving. They expect this feeling and work with it. They finish a wod and they shake it off. They don’t sit around and wonder why it was so difficult... because they know why. The fact that they came in and tried their best guarantees that it will be difficult. Put another way, if you ever finish a workout and it didn’t feel terrible, you're probably not pushing yourself enough or doing it WRONG.
Next time you are wondering to yourself, “when is the lifting, running, rowing, class etc going to get easier?”, remember that it isn’t. Know that this program never gets easier but you get harder. You get stronger and tougher, both physically and mentally. You become ok with trying to lift something you have never lifted before; you will try and move faster then you ever have before. You become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Remember this and know that this is what makes CrossFit so fun, powerful and effective. This is why we do it and why it works so well.
Games Competitors- the second WOD has been announced. We have until Sunday, 5pm to get the WOD done, submitted and validated. DON'T WAIT. Plan on coming in and doing it during a class, and realize we may not be able to judge more than a couple of you per class. Due to the structure of the WOD, no one should DNF (yay!) and we'll all be in the running for next week.
9 deadlifts, 155/100lb; 12 pushups (hands off the ground at the bottom, full plank position- no snaking, no knee ups); 15 box jump, 24/20in. AMRAP 15min.
CrossFit workouts are functional, varied and intense. They're also universally scalable, making it the perfect program for any committed individual regardless of experience. Our members range from elite athletes to 60-year-old grandmothers--so whatever shape you're starting from, you'll be able to jump right in.
Make sure to bring water and comfortable athletic shoes.
Video- Members only Oly competition recap
Monday, 28 March 2011 05:53
Here is a video of the made lifts from the intra-gym Olympic lifting competition on 3/13/11!
In my mind, one of the best things about CrossFit is that we learn to do and accomplish things that we never dreamed possible. I don’t care who you are- if you’ve done CrossFit for any reasonable amount of time there are physical and mental boundaries which you felt were insurmountable before, only to eventually push through and achieve new heights. What was once seemingly impossible eventually becomes routine, and all of you should be immensely proud of your accomplishments. Whether you are someone who couldn’t get a muscle up or pull up when you started, or someone who found a parallel air squat challenging, all of you have made and will continue to make progress throughout your CrossFit journey.
All that is necessary to progress is a willingness to put effort in, and to risk failure. All of you were willing to put the effort to even set foot in the gym, a step 99% of people are too scared or too lazy to take. You put effort in every time you show up. Similarly, you risk failure every time you try something, especially something new. If everything came easy in life there would be no challenges, and nothing would be rewarding. In addition, technically everything you do is a “fail” until you learn to do it right; it’s BECAUSE of failure/mistakes/whatever that we learn, get better, and eventually succeed. Personally, part of me welcomes failure, because if there wasn’t the chance of failing, whatever I was doing wasn’t hard enough to elicit adaptation and growth. If there’s no chance I’ll fail on a lift, it isn’t heavy enough. If a skill is too easy, I’m not learning anything new or developing some new ability by doing it.
The rewards when you put your mind to something, work hard at it, fail on the way there and eventually succeed are huge. In the gym, there’s the obvious physical benefit of learning to do something. Taking pullups as an example, learning how and becoming able to do one implies increased strength, coordination, weight loss, joint mobility, etc. When you eventually achieve one, it is the journey that got you there which is important. The pull up itself is simply the obvious, measurable end result. However, the MENTAL benefits from struggling, and eventually succeeding, outweigh the physical ones. The toughness, determination and fortitude which is both required and enhanced by working hard at something translates over to all aspects of life. I think it is no surprise that people who have learned to struggle through something are generally the most “successful in life”, however you want to measure that.
Irene Mejia, one of our most inspirational members. She's inspiring partly because she just tries SO DAMN HARD and isn't afraid of failure.
So where am I going with this? Well, let’s take the realm of competition. We’ve had a few intra-gym competitions already with a great turnout. We also currently have a 21-member strong team that is competing in the CrossFit Games. In addition, most of you attack each workout as if you win a prize if you come in first, or like you’ll be eaten by a lion if you don’t. And yet…
Some of you shy away from competition. Some of you are afraid of looking bad in front of everyone else, afraid of failing, I don’t know what. That’s ok on some level- I know we’re all different people with varying degrees of competitiveness and self-confidence. But think about what I just wrote above, and think about what brought you in and what has driven your success in the first place. That’s right- you tried, you did something new, you took the risk of failure, and guess what? You ended up a better person for it. So my question is, why not apply that determination to every opportunity that comes up in the gym? I’m not saying that all of you have to enter every competition that crosses your path. What I AM saying is that there’s no reason to only go “so far”. Our gym remains the same supportive, non-judgmental environment that it has been since day one. No one is going to laugh at you or criticize you if you fail, or come in last, or whatever. They will clap and cheer you on regardless. To me, that is the PERFECT environment to grow in- supportive and friendly, but where everyone is trying their hardest.
In practice, these opportunities for growth exist everywhere in the gym. Can’t do a particular move? Spend extra time working on it before or after class. Don’t have the strength to do full pushups for a whole WOD? Challenge yourself to do as many full pushups as you can, and then try and get a little better each day. Be less willing to “get on your knees”. Inflexible and can’t get into a full squat? FORCE yourself to go a little lower each day, and you’ll get there eventually. Scared of competition and performing in front of others? Sign up for a competition, and drive those fear demons out for good. I could go on and on; there’s literally innumerable examples I can think of. The point is, keep pushing and keep working. We only grow at the margins of our ability and experience.
Well, better late than never. CrossFit Elysium will be opting-in for the first WOD, which is-
AMRAP 10min 30 double unders, 15 power snatch, 75/55lbs.
Everyone has until Sunday to complete, submit and have their score validated.
For non-Elysium members-
- we can host and judge you on a limited basis. Call one of the coaches to set up an appointment. We have jump ropes, barbells and bumper plates. The cost will be 15$, first come first serve.
For Elysium members-
- at least this WOD is fairly straightforward. We encourage all of the games competitors to try and get the WOD done/judged by us earlier rather than later. Coach P and I will attempt to judge at least 1-2 of you per class doing the WOD as you come in. Stay in communication with the coaches, and we'll do the same. More to follow.
Today is the LAST DAY to register, and we need EVERYONE interested to sign up for the 2011 CrossFit Games! The unique format of this year promises to be a lot of fun, and requires NO minimum skill level or expertise. Our team literally depends on all of you. Let me explain further. To qualify as a team, we need a minimum of 3 men and 3 women on our team competing every week. The people can be different each week, so long as we have that bare minimum. If we ever don't have that minimum, the team is out of the running. The workouts can be done at CrossFit Elysium- you won't have to travel to get to a special location. The one time sign up fee is 10$ TOTAL. So, if you complete even one workout as Rx'd, you've helped our team. I personally have no illusions that I can qualify as an individual for the Games; I am participating to help our team and to compare myself against the entire global spectrum of people. However, the main reason is to have fun. So for all of you athletes, it doesn't matter how new you are, or which moves you can't do. If you can complete any of the workouts your performance will help us, and even if you can't we can do a scaled version so at least you can join in the fun and compare yourself to others. The specifics of the format and instructions to register are below. Again, there's NO REASON not to participate, whatever your ability level. Come on and support our team! As the workouts get released we'll have more info for you all. Thanks!
Format: - everyone registers as an individual for 10$ total; then, they can join a team as well - 6 weeks long, 1 workout a week that can be done any time that week; you can "try" as many times as you want in that week - submit your results via video or do the workout at Elysium or another affiliate who will validate your performance - people on a team have their performances count for both themselves and their team!
Registration: 1. Go here- http://games.crossfit.com/ 2. Click on "register" 3. Register as an individual 4. After you are done, hit "join a team" 5. Our team is "CrossFit Elysium". Join our team, and when I get your request I will approve it.
Deadlifts, anatomy and injuries
Tuesday, 08 March 2011 21:45
In this post, I’d like to address the deadlift and injuries. I’ve discussed some of these concepts with Coach Ian McHugh of CrossFit Mission Gorge and wanted to share them with you. The deadlift has a (mostly) unwarranted reputation as a great way to injure your back. The media at large, the misinformed public and idiots in the fitness industry (meaning: almost everyone) are the chief perpetrators of this notion.
Clearly, we here at CrossFit Elysium do not feel this way, otherwise we’d never have our athletes deadlift. Instead, we ascribe to the belief that the way to prevent injury is to get the area you want to be injury-free STRONG. Experience and common sense bears this out; who is more likely to hurt themselves picking up a box- the person who can’t deadlift 100lbs without rounding their back, or the person who can deadlift 400lbs without issue? Furthermore, there are tremendous benefits to be gained from deadlifting properly. Chief among these is learning to “set the back” or put the lumbar spine into rigid extension. Learning how to do this, which is critical to being able to deadlift properly, translates over to any activity you might do in life where you might injure your back. Think about how you’d pick something up off the ground now, after learning how to deadlift, as opposed to how you might have picked it up in the past. At this point I’m sure most of you would lock your backs into rigid extension and drive with your legs/hips without even thinking about it. The safest, most biomechanically efficient movement has been so ingrained in you that you’d do it reflexively. In this respect, we can say with real confidence that learning to deadlift has made you safer and protected your back.
While this is possible from deadlifts, it's not the sort of injury we're worried about.
All this being said, it is possible to hurt yourself, and quite badly, deadlifting improperly. To begin, I’ll address what I refer to as an “overuse” injury. An overuse injury is simply when you fatigue your muscles (in this case, the lumbar erectors, hips, glutes, etc) by exposing them to a stress they’re not used to. Think of the burning any of us would get in our legs if we ran past a certain distance, the pain in our forearms after a max set of pull ups, or the soreness in your shoulders and triceps after doing a ton of push ups. This is the same thing most people feel the first few times they do many reps of deadlifts, such as in a typical CrossFit metcon. The difference is, most of us never “overuse” our back like this, and thus have no basis for comparison. We then equate this soreness to injury, especially bony, joint, or ligamentous injury. This is not the case- it’s simply the same muscle soreness your arms would feel after many pushups, just we’re not used to that in the back and interpret it as an injury. This kind of overuse is benign and goes away with time and experience. If you start feeling this in a workout you may want to scale down the weight or reps (it’s definitely not pleasant) but the chance of real injury is minimal.
The second item is in my mind actually more dangerous, and more likely to result in real injury. This is doing repeated, heavy deadlifts unbroken, tapping or bouncing off the ground between each rep. Let’s talk about this a little more. “Heavy”, of course, is a relative term. I will arbitrarily define heavy as anything over 80% of your 1 rep max. Now let’s examine the deadlift more closely.
Coach Stacie with her 275lb PR deadlift.
The deadlift is a completely concentric movement, meaning the movement starts from a dead stop (hence the name) and there is no loading or stretching of the musculature in the opposite direction before the lift begins. You can move around and bounce up and down as much as you want before you pull, but the fact of the matter is the bar is NOT MOVING down at the start of the lift- it is static on the ground, and first thing that happens is the bar moves in one direction- UP. Contrast this with the back squat- you FIRST descend with the bar, and your leg musculature gets tighter and tighter as the bar goes down, THEN you explode back up. This is referred to as an eccentric movement. Thus, a properly-performed deadlift is concentric, while a properly-performed squat is eccentric. When you squat, you’re SUPPOSED to use the eccentric portion to aid the lift.
It turns out the spine does not like eccentric loading very much. This would equate to the lowering portion of the deadlift when you set the bar back down. You can and should put the bar down much faster than when it comes up (still with proper form and the same bar path, of course). Trying to slowly lower the bar, all the while holding the back in rigid extension is precisely what you DON’T want to do. However, learning how to set the bar down quickly, yet under control is not easy.
Another problem with “tap and go’s” is the eccentric portion actually aids the next rep. Everyone who has deadlifted knows that the first rep of the ground in a heavy unbroken set is actually the hardest. Each subsequent rep is helped not only by a small bounce off the ground, but also the eccentric stretching of the hamstrings, glutes and lumbar erectors. This stretching elicits a “stretch-cycle reflex” which actually makes those muscles CONTRACT HARDER. It is a physiologic fact that muscles stretched to a certain point can contract more forcefully. The classic example of this is a two-footed jump. Think what you would do if you were going to try and jump two-footed as high as possible. You’d bend your knees and ankles a bit, then explode upwards. This bending of the knees and ankles is your body CREATING a stretch reflex. Imagine trying to jump upwards WITHOUT any knee bend; better yet, try it right now. It’s almost impossible to do. Your body instinctively wants to engage this reflex since your brain is saying, “jump as high as you can”.
What the bounce and the stretch reflex do, in practical terms, is enable you to lift more weight than you would be able to if every rep is concentric. A set of 3 reps strung together is MUCH easier than a set of 3 singles. By “artificially” being able to move more weight, all the while eccentrically stressing the back, the potential for injury goes up.
I have injured my back doing repeated heavy deadlifts exactly as I explained above, and now in my strength training I do all my heavy deadlifts as singles, each with a dead stop from the ground. So what’s the problem? The quandary for us as CrossFitters is that many of our workouts are for time, or for max reps, etc. The goal of the workout (do as many deadlifts as fast as possible) ENCOURAGES repeated, unbroken, bounced reps. Put another way, if you want to do well in a workout, you almost have to do it in a less safe way.
So, what’s my approach, and what do I recommend for you?
For strength training (in other words, with near maximal weights), I would do mostly singles, with no tap and go. Full reset between each rep. Lower the weight quickly, almost dropping it each time. If a weight is “too heavy” for you, you just won’t be able to lift it, and you won’t injure yourself this way.
For workouts/metcons- it depends. If you are quite experienced you’ll have a better idea which weights you can throw around without fear, and which may mess you up if you do too many repeated reps. In addition, with more experience comes more strength, more endurance and thus less likelihood you’ll hurt yourself. Don’t be ashamed of scaling down a weight if it means you’ll be able to knock out reps (which is the goal of a metcon).
Don’t eliminate repeated reps or tap and go’s entirely. As I stated before, there is a skill involved in being able to set the weight down quickly, yet under control. Learning and practicing this will make you better and less likely to injure yourself on future attempts. In addition, it will help you in the metcons as stated above. I can’t give you an exact ratio, but in general I’d say reserve tap and go’s for metcons, light weights and warm up sets during strength days. If you’re going for heavy weight, NOT for time, then don’t use tap and go’s. It is still worth it to learn how to do them properly and to get good at them.
This is doing it WRONG.
Finally, I’d like to say a bit about the anatomy of the back, pelvis and hips. When people get back pain (one of the most common medical diagnoses BTW), a lot of the time the problem isn’t the back per se but one of any other number of structures. The hamstrings, glutes, lumbar erectors, and spine all attach in some way to the pelvis. Tightness in any of these structures causes the pelvis to shift and the other muscle groups to get stretched and take up the load. Over time, abnormal loading can cause previously uninjured structures to become injured themselves. In addition, you often don’t feel pain in the specific area of injury, but rather in non-specific fashion “somewhere in the back”. What this means is- back pain doesn’t mean your back is injured. It could be due to any number of issues- injury or tightness to any of the other muscles that attach to the pelvis, joint injury, ligament injury, etc. In point of fact, I’d have to say most people I’ve seen with “back problems” actually have tight hamstrings and glutes (a consequence of our modern, seated, desk-bound society). This is actually a good thing if you think about it. It means those “back problems” can actually be addressed by becoming more flexible. There may not be an injury that needs to be rehab’d. Ask one of the coaches for some good hamstring/glute stretches if you’re interested.