NUTRITION - A Common Sense Look

Start with a good base - Nutrition!

“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.” Greg Glassman.

Macronutrients – The big stuff – Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats
Micronutrients – They may be small but really important – Vitamins & Minerals

Just a quick note…

Nothing that I am writing here is new. I have sourced most of my information from the resources I have accessed over the years since starting my own health and CrossFit journey as well as from my own general life experience as a Nurse and being involved in the Fitness Industry in more recent times. I am not an expert in the area of nutrition but I believe that everybody can learn the basics of nutrition and then apply it to their own situation in life and build a happy, sustainable and realistic relationship with food & improve their overall health. I have referenced my resources and encourage everyone to continue to ask questions and learn as much as you can to help improve your knowledge when it comes to nutrition. There is no one size fits all simple solution as far as I have seen – just a dedication to improve your health for the long term. I believe it’s a journey for us all which requires your own trial and error – which is why I won’t be recommending a specific “diet”.

One thing I will say is that as much as you can – eat fresh whole food produce and get in the kitchen – if you do that you are already winning!!

IMPORTANT -  If you have complex health issues or needs you should always seek advice with qualified practitioners.
Cheers - Eve 😊.

This week we are getting straight into the big stuff and focusing on the good old Carbs!!

Carbohydrates

What are they?

Carbohydrates are the most common source of energy used by the body. At it’s most basic, the body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose which the body then uses for energy.

Why do we need them?

Carbohydrates are used by the body for energy production especially for the brain, muscles and other body organs and tissues. The body can also get energy from protein and fats BUT it is a more readily available source of energy which is especially important when we need it to fuel activity such as exercise – especially higher intensity exercise such as CrossFit. Any excess glucose that we have that the body doesn’t need gets stored in the liver or muscles as glycogen or converted to and stored as fat in our bodies.

How much should I have?

Haha – the million dollar question!! There is SOOOOOO much conjecture about how much carbohydrate should be consumed in a person’s diet – I really don’t want to go there so I will answer this question with another question…. “Where are you relative to where you want to be?”

So in other words – are you fit & lean and healthy – or are you carrying extra weight and have some health issues?

Where you are at will really determine the amount of carbohydrates you need to consume. If you are an athlete who trains at a high volume you would probably need to consume a lot more carbohydrate than someone who is relatively sedentary and is carrying a few or a fair few extra kilos.

In my reading (YES - I actually googled this one) the “advice” of how much carbohydrate a person should eat is somewhere between 35-60% of your daily calories in carbohydrate – this is extremely broad in my opinion which I’m sure is why people get so confused.

Within CrossFit circles a lot of athletes follow the “Zone” diet and more recently “Flexible Nutrition”. These are both methods of weighing and measuring macronutrients to ensure all bases are covered and that you get your individual requirements based on your needs – the general prescription of carbohydrate in these methods is around 40% of daily caloric intake. I won’t go into these here but in my video I will be weighing and measuring carbohydrates to give you a visual picture. I’m not going to recommend a diet/lifestyle/plan to suit everybody - This is where the assistance of a Dietician can help you with specific individual needs.

What is a Carbohydrate?

Examples – I am going to split them into two groups:

1 - Whole Food Carbohydrates – In their natural state
Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Green leafy vegetables (Spinach, Kale, Lettuce etc.), Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots, Cucumber, Capsicum – pretty much every vegetable, legumes, whole grains/seeds etc.

2 - Processed Carbohydrates – have been through some form of processing
Pasta, Rice, Bread, Flours, Sugars, Cereals, Cakes, Pastries etc.

These are just examples not an exhaustive list. What I want you to think about when looking at these foods is – what can I eat that will give me the best value for my health? As E.C Synkowski say’s in her excellent series of lectures on simple nutrition is “Bang for your Buck.”

What she means is what foods can I eat that will give my body the best fuel it needs – so giving me macronutrients – in this case Carbohydrate AS WELL AS the best amount of micronutrients I can get. I want to go for nutrient dense foods such as whole foods as they still have all the micronutrients in them – the processed foods not so much because as soon as they are processed they have nutrient loss. Check out my video on our Facebook page and the private group for some examples of carbohydrates where I will also talk about how much carbohydrate you get from certain foods as well as other micronutrients.

If you have any questions - please post a message in the private Facebook group or send me an email - adamandeve@bluelakecrossfit.com.au and I will get back to you asap.


Protein

What is Protein?

Proteins are amino acids that are essential for many functions in our bodies. They are the building blocks of our body tissue and can also be used as a fuel source.

Why do we need it?

Protein is most commonly known for helping us build and repair our muscles. They are also used for biochemical reactions, cell function & structure, fixing and replicating DNA and a multitude of other things.

How much should I have?

As for Carbohydrates – the required amount of protein that an individual needs is still a subject of debate. From the sources I have read the "advice" is to consume somewhere between 1 to 2 g/kg of body weight for an active person. Individual requirements differ for each person due to the following factors: Body weight, physical activity levels, the presence of illness or injury, pregnancy & breastfeeding, childhood growth and development and the list goes on. One thing that can be agreed on if you don’t consume enough energy through your diet – the body will use protein from muscle mass to get it’s energy which leads to muscle wasting. If you don’t consume enough protein to serve your body’s needs muscles will also waste as it breaks down the muscle proteins for more vital cell processes.

On the other side of the coin you can also consume too much protein which starts to get a bit more complicated. Just think that like Carbohydrate – Protein has 4 Calories for every gram consumed so at the end of the day we just want to be consuming what our body requires.

So this comes back to “Where are you relative to where you want to be?
Are you a highly active person training for a specific sporting goal? Are you a relatively sedentary person just looking to improve overall health? Are you trying to lose weight? Are you recovering from illness or injury? No matter what your goal is – it is really important that you are consuming enough protein to suit your requirements otherwise your body won’t be functioning at it’s best.

What foods do I get it from?

The most well known protein sources are from animal based food products such as meat, eggs & fish as well as products made from milk, and soy. Other sources of protein include legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits as well as whole grains and cereals although these tend to be limited in some amino acids compared to other protein sources so aren’t considered a complete protein source.

What is a complete protein source? This is a source that gives you all the nine essential amino acids that the body needs. Well known complete protein sources are meat, fish, eggs, milk products, quinoa or soybean as well as some other plant products. I am not going to get into the Animal protein VS Plant Protein debate here as I don’t want hate mail – let’s just say that if you consume enough variety of either animal proteins or plant proteins or a mix of both – you should be able to get the protein requirements your body needs – when in doubt you can always refer to a dietician who can give you more specific individual advice.

Check out my video for some examples of proteins where I will also talk about how much protein you get from certain protein sources as well as other macro & micronutrients.

If you have any questions - please post a message in the private Facebook group or send me an email - adamandeve@bluelakecrossfit.com.au and I will get back to you asap.

References:
Simple Nutrition Part 1 to 5 by E.C. Synkowski – CrossFit Journal – Videos, Level 1 Certificate Course – Supporting Content, Nutrition

Body Works - Physics & Chemistry for Nurses by Paul Strube

CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide

Internet Source: Wikipedia – Protein (nutrient)


Rest and recovery – yep, they’re also legit things…

Let’s be honest, exercise, and the benefits that come along with exercising, are pretty addictive. When you’re pumping out some heavy lifting sets, or grinding through a long metcon, and the endorphins have kicked in, you feel pretty damn good about life. If there was ever a habit to become a junkie of, exercising would have to be one of the best.

But what’s the ultimate aim of regular training/exercise?...to get fitter right! And when I say fitter this could mean better strength, stamina, endurance, speed, power, increased muscle, bony density, etc.

But what happens when you exercise? You are essentially applying an external source of stress on your body, to take things close to your limit, or even beyond, with the target being that when you do this to your body, you will get more and more used to being able to shift more weight more often, or run that bit faster, or able to go for longer distances a bit more easier, and so on. In other words, your body will evolve to make it easier for you to complete the tasks you give it (i.e. deadlifting, pull ups, running, etc., etc.), and you will get “fitter”.

Doing this though takes effort. In fact, it’s quite tiring. If you’ve ever done a “big day” of training/exercising, you may have felt pretty wrecked afterwards, even for a couple of days. Your muscles will be weary and, especially when you undertake high intensity training, your central nervous system will be fatigued. This is nothing to be scared of; it just means you’ve pushed yourself beyond what your steady-state environment is.

Hence you NEED REST. This gives your body time to recover. I used to train 7 days a week, seeing improvements initially but quickly found that I was unable to uphold this regime with any sort of intensity because I was tired and I wasn’t giving my body time to recover. I’ve now dropped this back to 5 days a week, ranging from 20mins to approx. 1 hour for each session, looking for quality over quantity and allowing my body to rest and recover.

…And it works! Not only am I still improving across a broad range of lifts, I’m getting fitter and stronger in general, and with a lot less of those niggly injuries. Along with a healthy amount of stretching and mobilisation, rest and recovery will help repair your body and reduce the risk of injury, allowing you to continue to exercise and increase your health.

Don’t get me wrong, if you are training for something specifically, especially at an elite level, there are times when you will need to get a lot of training volume under your belt. In this case you would need to surround yourself with advice from your coach and other health professionals to keep you in peak condition.

However, if you are exercising/training simply to stay healthy (as most of us are), factoring regular rest and recovery into your regime is a must.

So, be savvy with your training, exercise with your overall health in mind, and take a long term view. For me, I’m training to be as strong and healthy as I can in 50, or even 100 years’ time, with a big part of that plan including rest and recovery!

-Adam

Adding a little gymnastics to your training – wait, hang on…what???

If you’ve done CrossFit before you would have done gymnastics in one form or another. Whether it was a pull up, a sit up or a plank hold, through to a handstand push up or muscle up, these all (and many more) come under the banner of gymnastics. So why gymnastics?

Let’s start with a few definitions of gymnastics (sourced from a simple Google search):
Gymnastics: “physical exercises designed to develop strength and coordination” – Merriam-Webster.
Gymnastics: “of or relating to physical exercises that develop and demonstrate strength, balance, and agility…” – Dictionary.com
Further, according to Livestrong.com, literally translated in Greek gymnastics means “to exercise naked”, although we’re not advocating this!

Anywho, the key take-away points are that gymnastics can help you development your strength, coordination, balance and agility, all of which are portions of the 10 general physical skills that form the basis of CrossFit training (development of cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, speed, power, coordination, agility, accuracy and balance).

And if you’ve had a go at even basic gymnastics you can see why it can help develop these attributes…It’s hard! Holding your body in prone positions (static holds, planks, core hollows, L-sits, etc.) to moving your body through space in an extremely coordinated manner (pull ups, muscle ups, dips, handstand push ups), relying heavily on body control and strength, whilst difficult, is great for your athletic development…and it cannot be denied that the sculptured look of gymnasts is unparalleled.

Further to this though is the transferability of the movement patterns to many other modes of training, including Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting and sprinting. All of these forms of training recruit an explosive hip angle opening from flexion to extension (i.e. closed hip to open hip) in order to perform various movements – for example snatch, clean, jerk, deadlifts, sprinting, etc.

This explosive hip angle opening is also extremely important in many gymnastics movements, e.g. pull ups, ring dips, burpees, sit-ups, muscle ups, rope climbs, parallettes, box jumps, handstand push ups, and many others.  

Taking this another step, gymnastic movements are also completely transferrable as movement pattern developers for many mainstream sports that rely on running, jumping, sprinting, coordination, balance, agility, accuracy speed, power, strength, etc.

So, the take home message is that adding some gymnastics to your training will not only help you become a better, all-round athlete, you will also look better naked!

- Adam

Stretching - Yep, It's A Thing

If you’ve trained, exercised, or played a sport before I’m sure you can think of a time you didn’t stretch properly (or didn’t stretch at all)…and I’m sure you’ll agree that you felt like a piece of old leather that’s been left in a freezer for a couple of years. Pretty stiff.

Moving quickly (i.e. sprinting) or lifting weight without stretching can result in muscle and joint soreness, or even injury. This is because inactivity can result in muscles and tendons ‘shortening’, reducing range of motion and a feeling of muscle stiffness and/or weakness.

Stretching before you exercise or train has a number of benefits:

  • Reduced muscle tension
  • Increased range of movement in the joints
  • Enhanced muscle coordination
  • Increased circulation of the blood flow to various parts of the body (especially those being stretched)

Stretching effectively lengthens your muscles, with the increased blood flow warming the target area and carrying more oxygen to the muscle cells, enabling muscles to work more efficiently. In turn, this increases flexibility, decreases the risk of injury with the resulting improvement in joint range of motion, all aiming to help improve performance.

Even with a busy life, or only a short time to train, you should always stretch. Here’s a few of my standard stretches that I always do before I start training, regardless of how long I work out for. These will take you 5 minutes tops, but leave you feeling much more mobile.

 

Banded Hip Flexor Stretch
Hook a band around a pole about 30cm off the ground, then slide the band up under your butt.
Slide the leg with the band around it out behind you as far as comfortable, resting the knee on the ground, with the other foot out in front of you with the foot squarely on the ground.
Keeping the upper torso as upright as possible, slide the hip forward and push down on the band with your hand.
Hang out on each leg for about 45-60 seconds.

 

Rack Position Stretch
Hook a band around a pole above shoulder height, and loop the other end just above the elbow. Relax the shoulder with the arm that has the band around it, and walk out away from the band, letting the band rotate your elbow up above your head. Hold this for about 45-60 seconds.

 

Banded Shoulder Stretch
Hook a band around a pole above shoulder height, and loop the other end around your wrist, and grip the band tight. Walk out away from the band, getting tension on the band, and crouch down below the level of where the band is hooked onto the pole. Rotate your shoulder away from your body (i.e. rotate outwards from your body) and floss in and around the shoulder to find your “sweet” spot. Hang out there for 45-60 seconds.

There is a plethora of options and combinations for stretching. I’ve only mentioned 3 stretches that work well for me, but there are many ways to stretch the same muscles with or without bands, or indeed with or without assistance of any sort full stop.

Want some more stretches for something in particular? Ask a coach or head onto YouTube and check out literally millions of stretch demo videos.

Good luck getting stretchy flexy!

- Adam

The Importance of the First Pull

For those not familiar with Olympic weightlifting you’re about to be educated. The first pull is the distance a bar travels from resting on the ground to the centre of the knee.

While the first pull is only a short distance (generally 30cm or even less), it has the ability to make or break a lift from the get-go.

Let’s have a look at the mechanics of the why this is. The most efficient way to pick up a weight is to keep it as close to the invisible line that is your centre of gravity as possible (roughly somewhere over your heels/mid-foot). Unfortunately being human we (in general) all have knees, and when a lifter sets up to lift a barbell off the ground, their knees must come forward over the bar (i.e. forward of their centre of gravity) in the "Lift-off" position:

As the lifter tenses and begins driving through their heels and lifting the bar off the ground, in order to keep the bar as close to this efficient centre of gravity line, they need to move/pull their knees backwards out of the way as they rise upwards.

The first pull is completed once the bar reaches the knee or just above, with the hamstrings very much engaged, the knees pulled back, the shins as vertical as possible, and the traps engaged to "pull" the bar back towards their thigh. At this stage the largest hinge point in the body (at the base of the spine/at the hips) is the furthest away from the centre of gravity, with the lifters torso cantilevered, or leaning over the bar.

This leaning over the bar is what I call the weakest link in the whole lifting chain, as it puts the most pressure on the lower back (as the weighted bar is being acted on by gravity and trying to pull the lifter down and forward) This is common for any Olympic lift (Snatch and Clean), and for power lifts such as deadlifts. If the lifter didn’t do this, they would need to drag the bar out and around their knees on the way up, increasing the distance from their centre of gravity and result in a much less efficient bar path.

 

Pulling the knees back in the first pull makes or breaks a lift because it sets up the bar path for the transition into the second pull, or the explosive power phase, by keeping the bar nice and close to your body (and hence centre of gravity).

It’s the little things that add up to help improve your lifting (in the case of the first pull, only the distance from your mid-shin to your knee!). To help strengthen this phase of a lift, grab some time during open gym time and have a go at these exercises:

  • Pause snatch or clean first pulls (pause at the knee for 3-5 secs)
  • Pause full snatch or cleans (pause at the knee for 3-5 secs)
  • Bent-over rows
  • Weighted good-mornings
  • Tempo deadlifts (a slow draw up from the ground past the knees)

Happy lifting :)

- Adam

How To Push Your Envelope Just That Little Bit More Than You Like…

When you first start any type of training, you find that you generally see improvements pretty quickly, and CrossFit is no different. For example, for me when I first started I found that I moved on from an empty bar to adding 5kg – 10kg in most of my lifts within about 1-2 months. I found that I was able to swing a 20kg kettlebell rather than a 16kg kettlebell during a workout after about the same time. These are only a few examples, but suffice it to say that many of these little improvements came fairly fast, simply because I was consistently applying an external stimulus that my body previously wasn’t used to.

However as anyone who has been in any type of training regime will know, you eventually reach a levelling point, a plateau if you will…and it is at this point, that in order to improve you need to push your envelope just that little bit more than you like. So here’s a few ways I’ve found useful in helping me to overcome the dreaded “sticking point”:

Set little aims for yourself during a workout. (i.e. “I am not going to put down the bar, or drop the wall ball, etc. until I have got over half the reps required done”). This is a really good way to keep yourself accountable, and not rest too much. You’ll find that 10 reps will quickly turn into 15 reps, which will turn into 20 reps… and what’s more you will feel like you can do the reps easier as you get more used to them.

Have an overall aim for your workout. For example, tell yourself that “I will do everything I can to complete 6 rounds of this workout in the time given”, and plan out in your mind how you will be able to achieve this. It could involve using the above step (i.e. setting little aims), keeping track of the clock, as well as scaling weight and movement options appropriately so that you can still reach a high intensity as well as a safe range of motion while still moving quickly.

Apply a bit of extra stimulus – but only a little. If you’re used to working out with 40kg on your bar, how about next time you try 42.5kg, and continue working at this weight at every workout opportunity? This will allow you to keep the intensity up (i.e. in the zone where the magic happens) and “push your envelope” just a bit more, while not hindering you too much.  There’s no point going straight to 60kg when you’re used to working at 40kg for a particular movement, as it will inevitably decrease your ability to reach a good level of intensity and/or may result in a break-down of form and technique (i.e. risking injury). Small steps will still get you to the same destination – who cares if it takes a little longer? – and you’ll be better off for it as you will have a solid foundation from which to build from.

 

Minimise your rest. Obviously the more you rest, the longer a WOD will take, or the less rounds you will get out, depending on how the WOD is set up. Commit to little things, such as when you do rest, you will take 3-5 deep breaths, or rest for only 5-10 seconds, before you get back on it. This is a very simple, yet powerful tool to keep you accountable for your rest, and keep you moving through the workout quickly.

Apply good technique principles – listen to your coach, they can help you with this. Applying good technique, especially when lifting or doing gymnastics movements, has a number of benefits when you start to push your boundaries. Not only will it help promote safe movement patterns, but applying sound technique will also make you more efficient and allow you to move at a higher intensity for longer. Also, there is nothing better than watching someone glide through a movement with finesse – channel your inner powerful ballerina.

If you find yourself in a time of plateauing, don’t stress too much. View this time as a time to build and hone technique, and with a bit of effort and consistency you will be moving onto bigger and better things in no time, and pushing your boundaries yet again!

- Adam

Strengthening the Lower Back Muscles

Lower back issues are an extremely common ailment, primarily due to weak lower back muscles. So here’s 4 exercises that can help to strengthen your lower back.

1)      Deadlifts

The good old faithful deadlift. Nothing comes close to getting you a super-strong lower back like training deadlifts regularly. When done correctly the requirement to tense and brace the lower back in order to keep a rigid, prone and neutral position while pulling weight off the ground develops solid muscle strength at the base of the spine. This is primarily due to the first pull (ground to knees) requiring the lifter to be cantilevered over the bar to maintain their shoulders forward of the bar, while pulling from the ground to the knees. To do this, the lifter must be extremely tense to maintain a neutral spine while squeezing the glutes and loading the hamstrings as the bar is lifted off the ground, culminating in the lifters torso being angled over the bar at a maximum distance as the bar passes the knee. In order to do this at ever increasing weights, the muscles at the base of the spine (erector spinae, or spinal erectors) must be strengthened.
There are many different types of deadlifts resulting in various stimuli, depending on what you want to strengthen, but all deadlifts in general will result in a stronger lower back.

2)      Front Squats

Fronts squats demand that a lifter have a very upright torso in order to maintain the bar in the rack position over the lifters heels (essentially over the lifters centre of gravity). This is basically to resist the effects of gravity, which wants to take the weight away from you. In order to descend to the bottom of your squat, and the drive back up in an efficient manner (i.e. to keep the bar over your heels and not let gravity steal the bar away from you), the hip flexors must be mobile enough to allow you to keep your torso upright, but the lower back does a lot of the work in actually holding you upright. The lower back muscles need to tense to stop you from rocking too far forward or backwards past the line of your centre of gravity, and as you increase weight over time, the lower back muscles must become stronger to help hold you upright while descending and standing up out of the squat.

3)      Good Mornings

Good mornings can be done as a stretch (i.e. with broomstick to warm up the lower back) or as a strength exercise for the lower back muscles (i.e. with a weighted bar). Placing the broomstick/weighted bar behind the head on the shoulders, the lifter unlocks the knees slightly, before hinging at the hips and bending forward, pushing the hips backwards until a back angle is reached which is roughly the same angle as the initial phase of the snatch (i.e. at the transition between the first and second pull at the knee), before standing back up quickly, even explosively. In order to do this the lower back muscles must be rigid and tense as the lifter cantilevers further out away from the base of the spine, providing a solid lower back muscle developer.

 Source: Catalyst Athletics

Source: Catalyst Athletics

4)      Hyperextensions

You’ll need a GHD machine for this one, but it’s a great way to develop flexibility and strength in the lower back muscles. Facing forward over the lifting pads with the feet locked in, the athlete bends from the waist, angling their body down till their head is facing the ground. The athlete can then either explode up to an upright position to develop explosive power, or they can slowly raise their torso back to parallel or just above by tensing their lower back muscles and raising themselves up. Experienced athletes can also do this weighted, with a weight plate or bar behind their head for added strength gains in the lower back muscles.

Training any and/or all of these movements will give you a super solid and strong lower back. They’re great for assisting with Olympic lifts, other power lifts and gymnastics movements. Grab some time during open gym and have a crack!

- Adam

Getting started in CrossFit - what to expect

“CrossFit’s too extreme”.
“I don’t want to get bulky”.
“I don’t want to lose my gains”.
“My body type isn’t right for CrossFit”.
“CrossFit causes injuries, it’s too dangerous”.
“I need to get a bit more fit before I start CrossFit”.

These are all various things I’ve heard over the years regarding CrossFit, and generally is what stops people from giving it a go…and believe me, I can see why. Plastered all over the internet, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. are extremely fit people doing lots of funky, hard-looking movements that are in general fairly foreign in traditional gym environments.

So in an attempt to dispel some misconceptions of CrossFit I thought I’d give you a snapshot of what to expect when getting started in CrossFit.

No required fitness expectations
CrossFit is an all-encompassing fitness, aiming to give a general physical preparedness for whatever your life/sport can throw at you. Thus by definition it must be able to encompass all fitness levels and body types – and it does! We only expect you to commit to giving your best and being awesome!

You will get stronger
We use weights… a lot. We firmly believe that resistance/strength training should form a very large part of your fitness base. There is a whole lot of benefits in your body when you do regular strength training (increased bone density, increased muscle tone, enhanced performance of everyday tasks, improved mobility and balance, increased stamina…more here).
Whatever your goals are, strength training can be used very effectively to tone or bulk up muscle, depending on your goals (high reps with lower weight vs. low reps higher weight, etc.). Regardless of what your goals are though, either way you will get stronger. Just check out Jo here, I don’t think picking up her shopping or clothes basket will be a problem (that’s a 90kg deadlift)!

People will say “Hello _____, how are you?” and mean it when you walk into the gym
Yep, we know all of our member’s names, and our members know each other’s names. We high-five them when they finish a workout, when they PB, when they get their first pull up, etc. We even have the occasional social gathering and party! CrossFit is based on the community of members. We often hear from our members that coming to CrossFit feels like coming to their second home, or their happy place. They come in to catch up with friends, get a good workout, and above all have a fun time with like-minded people. We value our community of members above all else – essentially CrossFit is the community.

You will be coached through each session, and each session can be tailored to everyone and anyone’s needs
We want you to move as best you can, and we love to see great movement patterns, whether that is during a workout or in any other facet of your life. To achieve this we coach every single session, so that we can help tweak your mechanics to move safely and efficiently. Further to this, essentially every single movement can be broken down/scaled to any individual needs but still provide the same stimulus. Every single person is unique and individual, and hence we coach you to your unique and individual needs.

These are just a few of the things you will notice when you first start at a CrossFit gym…and maybe a few other fairly normal people achieving some pretty awesome things! :)

- Adam

5 Tips to Enhance Your Training, Fitness and Nutrition

The following are 5 tips that have helped me with my training, fitness and nutrition (by no means an exhaustive list, they’ve just helped me along the way):

1.        Consistency
This goes without saying. Change can take a long time in the body, and without a consistent stimulus, things will remain the same. This can be applied to training, fitness and nutrition. If you consistently work at getting stronger, you will get stronger. If you consistently work at losing weight, you will lose weight. If you consistently work at improving your nutrition, refraining from choosing unhealthy food options will become a habit.

2.       Crawl, walk, run…
Have patience, and dig in for the long haul. It took me 6 months of working pull ups for 10-15mins outside of class times on bands before I could start doing bodyweight pull ups. It took me over a year working on bands before I could do unassisted ring dips. It took me over 1.5 years before I could front squat my body weight. It took me well over 2 years to clean and jerk my body weight, and well over 3 years to snatch my body weight. It took me over 6 months to change my diet from predominantly highly processed foods to a more clean-eating, well rounded diet that I’ve found I thrive on. Change takes time, and honestly cannot be rushed. Consistently working good, solid technique/habits and allowing yourself to develop the necessary strength, endurance, stamina, etc. in all facets of your training, fitness or nutrition will pay off. Remember, you must crawl before you can walk, and you must walk before you can run. Yes you will have setbacks, hold-ups and plateau’s, but it’s only a matter of time before you’ll improve (i.e. get stronger/faster, eat cleaner – you’re only one meal away from getting back on track, etc., etc.). Be patient, work hard and stay consistent. “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”.

3.       Recognise your weaknesses…and work them
There’s a lot to be said for the saying “practice makes perfect”. Consistently working on things that you struggle with will turn your weakness into a strength. Acknowledge that you struggle with something – could be anything: snatch, pull ups, wall balls, healthy/clean diet choices, etc. – and work out a strategy to better your ability to perform the task. Enough said.

4.       Set goals
Want to do something, but can’t yet? Sweet. Set a goal.
You are incredibly adaptable, both physically and mentally. If you set a goal, and devise a strategy to achieve that goal, you will find yourself changing and evolving to counter any current challenges you have. For example, a few years ago I was still trying to get a muscle up. I decided I would practice all I’d been taught to get a muscle up at least once a week…and eventually I got a muscle up. As mentioned above: be patient, work hard and stay consistent. “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”.

5.       Strive for virtuosity
Virtuosity is performing the common uncommonly well. This pertains especially to movement patterns. Practice the mechanics of a movement, consistently perform those mechanics, and then strive to perform those mechanics as well as you can. Not only will striving for virtuosity help protect against injury, there is nothing better than seeing a perfectly executed movement.

 

- Adam

Dial in for the Doggies - Focus on Good Nutrition and Raise much needed Funds for SEAWL!!

Month of May

Dial in Nutrition and involve your family whilst raising money for a great cause.

1 – Choose a Nutrition Goal for the month of May and write it down at the Box for all to see!
2 – Hit up your friends and family to support your positive lifestyle change by donating money towards the SEAWL.
3 – Participate in our different social fun events during May.
4 – Add up your fundraising efforts and as a Box we will pool our resources and donate our monies to the SEAWL.
5 – Our top fundraiser + member that has stuck to their goal and participated in the month’s activities will win a prize valued at nearly $400!!

Events
Saturday April 30th 10am - Launch of “Dial in for the Doggies”

  • Guest from South East Animal Welfare League
  • Guidelines for the month
  • Announcement of Prize

Nutrition Info Session (TBC Week 2nd–8th May) – Megan Watt – Dietician extraordinaire!!

Recipe Week (9th-15th May) – post your favourite recipe +/- picture & also your dog/cats favourite place on social media/website/down at the Box

Million Paws Walk + Good Food High Tea @ Box - Sunday May 15th – RSPCA – A group event + Good Food High Tea afterwards @ Box

King & Queen of The Crater – Saturday May 28th & Sunday May 29th – In house Box Competition – Open & Scaled Categories – More Info to come.

Post Saturday morning WOD BBQ & Wrap up of “Dial in for the Doggies” - Saturday 4th June.

Guidelines for the Month
EAT:
Carbohydrates:
Vegetables, Starchy vegetables – sweet potato, potato
+/- Rice and other whole food sources

Protein:
Meat, Fish, Eggs, Nuts, Seeds & other whole food protein sources

Natural Fats:
Avocadoes, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Butter

AVOID
Processed foods (pasta/bread/desserts/biscuits etc)
Soft drinks/alcohol
Added sugars
Industrial Seed Oils & Processed Fats

Eat sensible portion sizes too!!

Prize to the person that:

1.       Raises the most money
2.       Sticks to their goal & records it!
3.       Is involved in some/all of the months planned events

Diet, Lifestyle and Nutrition - what is good for you?

I have done my fair share of “diets.”

Being always short & stocky with “massive” thighs I had always tried to slim down. I’ve always been the frump, the fat friend, the tom boy.

Replacement shake diets, Low Carb diets thenwhen I started CrossFit - Strict Paleo, Zone & Macro counting just to name a few. Now I won’t say that there isn’t one that you don’t lose weight on… but then I eventually realised sure I hit my short term goal – but what is my long term goal here? Am I seriously going to be having a meal replacement shake when I am 75 years old?

So yeah – I lost weight but as my fitness & health journey evolved – I realised I didn’t want to be thin like I previously thought… I wanted to be strong & healthy and I no longer cared what the scales said except for when I’m trying to hit a bodyweight snatch…

So after having experimented with my fair share of quick fixes/gimics & elimination diets I came to one specific conclusion for myself, my body & it’s needs. Eat good food… in good amounts for what I need to sustain my lifestyle. I exercise a lot and keep pretty active outside of that. I love food even the so-called “bad stuff” so I baulk at completely cutting that stuff out…. I mean who wants to be the asshole at your nephews birthday going “I’m sorry – I can’t eat that if it’s not Paleo.” Don’t get me wrong – you can’t just eat that stuff everyday but you can at least have it for your special occasions… I mean we are all human beings here right?

I guess the biggest adjustment came for me in regards to nutrition when I became pregnant. I soon realised that some days you were just happy to get anything into your body when you felt awful – my body craved every processed food on the planet… and if there is one thing you learn about pregnant women you don’t get in the way of them and food. I’m not going to tell you that I put on 5 kilos, still had abs & could pump out muscle ups the day before I delivered… I had my issues for sure! I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes despite my fairly controlled nutrition, I put on 15kgs and I had a large baby & ended a long labour with a Caesarian birth. Far from text book perfect. All this aside – I know that my focus on good nutrition and keeping active during pregnancy is helping me right now as I battle new motherhood… I have a beautifully healthy baby boy, my recovery from my C-Section is going well and with the help of breastfeeding I am already trimming up though to be honest… I don’t really give a shit about that right now!!

My long term focus is to continue my health & fitness journey – I would love to get back to training & hitting the numbers that I was at before I became pregnant. I want to lead by example to my family – to show that good whole foods are awesome – especially when you prepare/grow it yourself and share it with friends & family. Creating a positive relationship with food – feed your body well and you get the good stuff back out! It doesn’t have to be complicated or take up your whole life – just use your common sense and the sensible resources & people around you and you can get where you need to go.

Things that are worth doing are worth taking the time to do it! I know for so many the journey seems just too long and out of reach but just take one step and a time and believe in yourself and you will get there! It just takes patience, perseverance & a good sense of humour!

XX Eve.

Overall Health – A Function of Fitness

No matter what your goals with your fitness, whether it is to compete in a sport at an international level, or simply just to lose some weight and feel better, the ultimate aim of becoming “fit” is to improve your health.

For example, a person training to compete in the 100m sprint at the Olympics needs to be very “fit” and be in good health to ensure they can perform. They are improving their overall health in order to improve their overall fitness (optimal weight, improving their cardiovascular capacity to complete tasks, improving their strength, improving their ability to fight of viruses, etc.).

A person who just wants to lose some weight, feel a bit better and improve their fitness are also doing essentially the same thing as the elite athlete – striving to improve their health (i.e. maintain a healthy weight, improve their cardiovascular capacity to complete tasks, improve their strength, improve their ability to fight of viruses, etc.). There have been many studies conducted over the years concluding that, in general, the more “fit” you are the more healthy you (a good summary article can be found here from the Scientific American journal: “Does Exercise Really Make You Healthier?”).

Consider the following model, showing that your health is directly related to your level of “fitness”.

Basically, this model shows that if every measureable factor of health can be placed on this continuum (i.e. blood pressure, body fat, bone density, triglycerides, cholesterol, flexibility, muscle mass, insulin levels, resting heart rate, diet, etc.), the more “fit” you are the healthier you are. Conversely the less “fit” you are, the less “well” you are, and the more likely you will become “sick”.

Further to this, in general if you improve your fitness, moving further away from the “sickness” side of the continuum through “wellness” towards “fitness”, your degree of health will also improve.

A fitness regime should support health, and done right, fitness provides a great margin of protection against the ravages of time and disease (Greg Glassman). CrossFit is very good at this as it provides a very broad and well-rounded fitness, targeting improvements in both physical as well as mental health.

I have seen this in myself. Before starting CrossFit I had lost a lot of weight (about 30kg, mostly the wrong way, basically through starvation), and through this I had developed a few conditions including stomach cramps, stomach ulcers and a borderline eating disorder, requiring occasional medication to treat these. CrossFit gave me back my confidence in myself, and as my fitness increased I felt stronger and healthier than at any other time in my life. Now, 5 years down the track, I very rarely even get a cold (touch wood)! While I can’t put this solely down to CrossFit (i.e. there are other factors such as diet, sleep, lifestyle, etc.), I know I have a much better level of health than I once did, or would have now, without CrossFit!

- Adam

More about Quality, Less about Quantity

It has been a traditional belief in exercising circles that the more time you train, the more fit you will become. This is true to an extent. If you run for 1 hour, seven days a week, you will be expending energy sourced from stores within your body, and as the second law of thermodynamics ensures, if your energy output is greater than your input the net equilibrium of the system will shift to compensate the overall loss, you will store less energy, and inevitably lose weight and increase your level of fitness. Sweet, done deal.

But, is there a more efficient way to achieve the same results, especially for time poor people? A recent study undertaken by researchers from the Department of Human Sciences, Ohio State University, examining the effects of CrossFit-based high intensity power training (HIPT) over a 10 week period on aerobic fitness and body composition found some interesting things in this space. The 10 week program consisted of testing healthy subjects of both genders (23 males, 20 females) spanning all levels of aerobic fitness and body composition utilising lifts such as the squat, deadlift, clean, snatch and overhead press (Olympic and power lifts) and basic gymnastic skills (handstands, rings and bar exercises), performed as quickly as possible at a high intensity in varying time domains ranging from 10 to 20 minutes long per workout (Smith et al).

The study found that by following the CrossFit training program, a significant increase in relative VO2max (amount of O2 that an individual can use) and decrease in body fat percentage were observed directly from HIPT in the subjects tested (Smith et al). The collated results are represented as follows, with VO2max on the left-hand axis and body fat percentage on the right-hand axis.

 Source: Smith et al.

Source: Smith et al.

The results are pretty clear – using a CrossFit-based high intensity power training program produced quite dramatic improvements in commonly used measures of fitness…and what’s more it was achieved in only a 10 week period and utilising only 10 – 20min workouts per day! Sure beats a 1 – 2 hour workout at a low or even steady-state intensity to achieve the same outcomes, especially for busy and/or time poor people.

As a reference, below is a sample of a few weeks of the program used in the study, all movements commonly seen in a typical CrossFit gym, mixing up Olympic lifting movements, powerlifting movements, basic gymnastics movements and metabolic conditioning (cardio).

 Source: Smith et al.

Source: Smith et al.

- Adam

 

 

 

References:

Smith, M.M., Allan, J.S., Staroff, B.E., Devor, S.T., Crossfit-based high intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition, The Ohio State University, Department of Human Sciences – Kinesiology Program, Columbus, Ohio, viewed 3 April 2016, <http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Devor_CrossFit_Publication_1.pdf>

But I Already Play Sport, So Why Would I Need CrossFit?

Sports come in all forms, shapes and sizes, requiring many and varied movement patterns to accomplish specific tasks. In general, the majority of sports include some form of running, jumping, throwing, pushing, pulling and/or twisting and turning. It would therefore make sense to train the movement patterns that reflect the requirements of your sport – and most sporting teams would do this with at least 1-2 training sessions a week during their season. Further, there may be some sort of strength and conditioning training programmed by the coach that athletes can do outside of their normal training sessions to add some extra volume (i.e. weights session, 5km run, etc.).

So, how does CrossFit fit into all of this? At it’s core, CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program designed to increase your capacity to do “work” across a broad range of time domains (i.e. from 1sec to 1hour, etc.) and modes of activity. It is a mix of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and cardio conditioning programmed in many and varied combinations, aiming to improve skills such as endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, speed, power, co-ordination, accuracy, agility and balance. The majority of the movements and exercises that CrossFit trumps involve some form of running, jumping, throwing, pushing, pulling and/or twisting and turning. Sounding familiar?

CrossFit is based on a constantly varied format, performing functional (i.e. everyday) movements at high intensity. By it’s nature, CrossFit helps develop a general physical preparedness, giving a sense of being ready for any situation that life (or sport) throws at you. Examples of improvements you can expect to see in your fitness from training in CrossFit methods include, but in no way are limited to, the following:

  • Olympic weightlifting:
    • Quick-fire force application in your muscles (if you want to jump higher, or sprint faster, train Olympic weightlifting)
    • Speed and power development
    • Improved fast-twitch muscle fibre development
    • Efficient muscle strength and co-ordination application via the central nervous system
    • Increase in bone density
  • Powerlifting:
    • Increased raw strength, power and stamina
    • Increased power output in your muscles
    • Increase in bone density
  • Gymnastics:
    • Improved awareness of how to move your body through space efficiently
    • Increased static strength
    • Improved flexibility, speed, power, co-ordination, accuracy, agility and balance
  • Cardio conditioning:
    • Increased cardiovascular and respiratory endurance
    • Improved ability to just keep “grinding” away
    • More “go” and an increased “engine”

Further to this, every CrossFit session are generally done in groups and follow the format of a warm up, skills and tech, strength, conditioning (workout), and a cool down. Most sporting team training sessions follow much the same layout.

So the question shouldn’t be why CrossFit? The question should be why not CrossFit?

- Adam

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The Benefits of CrossFit for Strength Training – it’s just physics

“CrossFit makes you lose your gains”.

“I’ll lose all my strength by doing CrossFit”.

“CrossFit will make you weak”.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard these statements, or some variation thereof, I’d be a rich man. I want to preface this upfront by saying that I have never been stronger in my life, both physically and mentally, and I owe it all to CrossFit.

I think it’s best to start by defining what the aim of CrossFit is: To increased work capacity across broad time and model domains. 

In general, CrossFit is a mix of Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning. We program movements from these four facets in many and varied ways, with the ultimate aim of becoming proficient at all of them. Among other things, strength is major part of our member’s development. Firstly they need to learn the mechanics, then get strong and consistent in those mechanics, before being able in increase the intensity. Sounds all pretty average and normal in any established fitness program.

But CrossFit makes you lose all your gains right? Well, let’s have a look…

So, CrossFit seeks to increase your work output ability. In this instance, work is defined as force multiplied by distance. Further to this, by definition strength is the capacity to utilise muscular activity initiated by the nervous system to generate force against an external force or load. So in a nut shell, take the example of lifting a weight from the ground say to overhead in one motion (i.e. a snatch), you are using your strength (nervous system generating force against an external load) to not only initiate movement of the weight but also to keep it going upwards, and hence you are undertaking work (force x distance … the distance being the length from the ground to your overhead catch position).

Now, stay with me guys, your physics lesson is nearly over. By definition, force is mass multiplied by acceleration, and as work done is directly proportional to the force exerted, the greater the mass (i.e. the heavier the load – say a barbell in the case of a snatch), the greater the work done. There, school is now out.

So, summing up, by developing the necessary ability for your central nervous system to utilise your muscles more (i.e. increasing your strength), you will increase your capacity to do “work”.

This is at the core of CrossFit. We train “strength” in one form or another every day. Accompany this with a well-planned training regime, and with solid goals in place, through progressive overload and appropriate sets, I guarantee you will increase your ability to move ever greater loads, increasing your work capacity. Do this across a broad range of modes (Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning) and you’re not only getting stronger, you’re also proving the aim of CrossFit.

So, will CrossFit cause you to lose gains? No. It won’t.

In fact, quite the opposite is true. I have seen it in myself, and continue to see it in myself.

But I’m biased – the only way you will know is to try it yourself. What have you got to lose? It won’t be your gainz…

- Adam

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"I don’t have to the time to exercise – I don’t have time to plan it"…. Said All Women EVERYWHERE!!

When I first got into CrossFit I was a full time shift-worker – Nursing – night shifts, double shifts, late-earlies… I was just permanently buggered. I had no energy – couldn’t be bothered thinking about what I wanted for tea let alone where/when/what to do in regards to an exercise program. I was working out on the machines at the hospital gym – aimlessly trudging on the treadmill or stationary bike… leg presses and lat pull downs with no idea what I was doing, getting bored and certainly not getting any noticeable results.

Looking back now I didn’t really know what I needed – Now I know – Something that was time efficient, got me results & pushed me and something I didn’t have to plan myself.

That was what I first loved about CrossFit – All I had to do was make sure I could get to class on time (I didn’t want late burpees!) and just show up. Our coach took us through what we were doing, I learnt new skills, I got a hard workout and I barely even had to think. Plus I got to socialise & have a laugh with my fellow CrossFitters – everyone at different levels but all of us giving everything. Then – head home, eat some food and then off to night shift!

Being a woman (sorry fella’s!) we have to make decisions all day every day… what’s for tea, what to buy grandma for her birthday next week, organise the kids birthday party etc etc… the list is never ending!! It is such a pleasure to go for that one hour per day where  someone else helped me and told me what to do for a change. I only had to focus on what I was doing right then and there and I could switch my brain off from the rest of the world for that one hour. Bliss – it almost made the workout part easier – almost ;)!

Sure – it was hard work – everyday was different… I would roll up and it was like… today we are rowing 5km!! Oh oh… I have never rowed that far… oh well – let’s have a go… sure enough – 30 minutes later I had rowed my first ever 5km’s! Sure – no records were broken but I had achieved something that I would have never have done by myself and with my fellow CrossFitter’s suffering along with me – I actually had fun doing it!!

 

So Problem 1:

I don’t have time….