Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Paleo Breakfast Recipes - Italian Sausage Skillet

Who isn't a fan of breakfast?  Anyone??  Yeah, I thought so.  We all love breakfast and the heartier the better.  That's especially true if you train in the morning.  Before I'm off to work if I haven't had a substantial breakfast then I'm snacking from 9AM - lunch.

We've sponsored the WNY Winter Challenge this year with events held at CrossFit Rochester, CrossFit Buffalo and CrossFit DeWitt and we met a really amazing company called Effortlessly Healthy.  They run a Paleo Food Truck business.  And when I saw them out in the parking lot I had to give their food a try.  Awesome.

We asked Shaina Sidoti, the owner, if she would share a breakfast recipe with us since I'm always in the mood for morning food.  And she's delivered one of her most popular recipes that all of her customers can't get enough of.  I tried it this morning [I substituted breakfast sausage for Italian] and it was simple to make, tasted great and will keep me going all morning.

Cooking paleo style for breakfast could be a bit intimidating. The average paleo-eaters go-to meal is typically eggs, bacon, and sweet potato. Well, what if we told you that you can make a meal for dinner that is equally delicious, if not better, as a breakfast? I bet you’d want to eat it. We came up with this recipe because it was around Thanksgiving time and we wanted to create something that would act as a stuffing. Turns out, this dish was a meal in itself. We call it our Italian Sausage Skillet, and it is by far one of the most popular items on our Individual Meal Delivery Service menu. People just love it, and when we throw it in the refrigerator as a la carte meals at local boxes, the athletes can’t get enough. Here is the base recipe, and since you will get about six servings out of it, go ahead and add two over-easy eggs on the top for your breakfast meal! If you want to really get wild, sauté up some onions with a little bit of EVOO or even add some bacon on top!Here is the link to us making the dish live on Winging It! Buffalo Style on March 20th, 2014!  

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins

• 1 Large Onion, diced
• 2 Pounds Italian Sausage
• 5 Stalks Celery , chopped
• 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
• 1 Cup Dried Cranberries
• 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
• 4 Apples, diced
• 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
• 3 Sweet Potatoes, diced
• ½ Teaspoon Paprika

1). Dice Sweet Potatoes, should be about 3 cups
2). Dice Onions, should be about 1 cup
3). Dice Apples, you can peel if you’d like, but we like the skin on. Should be about 1 cup
4). Dice Celery, should be about 1 cup
5). Cook Italian Sausage in Skillet on medium heat for 10 minutes or until golden brown; set aside
6). Bake sweet potatoes for 15 minutes at 350 degrees
7). Add sweet potatoes to Italian Sausage
8). Add spices, celery, onion, apples, and cranberries to the skillet; cook on medium for 5 mins while stirring occasionally
9). Pour food into a baking pan and bake on 350 degrees for 15 minutes
10). Enjoy!

Effortlessly Healthy provides Food Truck Services for CrossFit Competitions in Upstate NY and also provides a meal delivery service to many of the local CrossFit gyms.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Choosing the Right Equipment for CrossFit®

What is the most popular and most useful equipment for CrossFit®?  The exercise program nicknamed the Sport of Fitness is taking the country and beyond by storm.  Where does the effectiveness of the program seem to come from?  Intensity and Variation.

Ingenuity and creativity in putting foundational, grass roots equipment to use is what brings variety and interest to your training.  And that variety combined with intensity is proving to be the key to a successful program that keeps us interested and motivated to keep showing up at the gym.

What are the best equipment choices for CrossFit®? Here are the 10 pieces that dominate the programming.  Outfitted even with just a few of these pieces, you can build a highly effective and varied exercise program.  Much of what makes them so successful is the vast number of ways that they can be used. 
  • Barbells -
    Moving weight around is essential.  And the barbell is one of the top pieces in CrossFit® programming.  From the thruster and overhead squat to the deadlift and power clean, this equipment item ranks high on the list.  Because of it's versatility, the barbell can be used differently every day of the week and with that wide variety of movements it brings, the barbell needs all the right characteristics to perform them all well.
    • No Center Knurling - for those long workouts of cleans, front squats, and thrusters, the absence of center knurling in the barbell is a must - especially for ladies wearing scoop neck tops or tanks.  Knurling in the center of the barbell can bite, scuff and scratch.  A barbell absent of center knurling is essential.
    • Strength - to ensure the barbells are up to task, high grade steel [140,000PSI or more] that retains its straight length even when put under heavy loads is mandatory.  Movements like the deadlift and clean can put high stress on the barbell and it needs to be strong.
    • Great Bushings - While performing Olympic movements such as the clean and jerk and snatch, your hand position will change from palms facing your ankles to palms facing the sky.  And your hands need to do all that rotation without releasing your grip on the bar.  That means the barbell sleeves and the shaft need to rotate freely from one another.  That all happens smoothly when the barbell is constructed with bushings in the sleeves.  The higher the quality in the bushings, the more smoothly the shaft will spin.  What does that mean?  With a well constructed bar that spins freely, your wrists are protected from torque 
    • Shaft Diameter - the Hook Grip, essential to those Olympic Lifts mentioned above puts your hand in the best position to rotate as the bar moves from the ground to the shoulders or even overhead.  That hook grip is most comfortable with the right shaft diameters.  28mm-28.5mm has proven to be the most comfortable for Men and 25mm for ladies.
  • Bumper Plates - 
    alongside a great barbell, one of the most important equipment for CrossFit® items is the bumper plate.  Constructed of a mix of virgin or recycled rubber and polymers, the bumper plate looks a lot like the standard steel weight plates we've all come to know but thicker.  The rubber in the plate absorbs impact and allows the barbell to be dropped on the ground without damage to the floor or the equipment.  Since the barbell gets the lion's share of attention in CrossFit® programming, the bumpers, as they are often referred to, need to be built to take the punishment.  The one bumper plate that we've seen outperform most others is the US made Hi Temp Bumper made from recycled rubber.  It's super resilient and works great inside the gym and out in the driveway or parking lot.  Quality always wins over value when choosing which bumper plates are the best for your gym.
  • Pull Up Bar -
    With the pull up coming in at the number one programmed bodyweight exercise, you'll find that a solid pull up bar is a smart investment.  And, a wall mounted pull up bar does double duty for other exercises like toes to bar, knees to elbows and also acts as great place to mount gymnastics rings.  With the popularity of the kipping pull up, you'll want one that stands at least 30" away from the wall to give you room to move and it needs to built tough to withstand all that force.  Here are some tips on how high to mount the pull up bar and different ways you can incorporate it into your training.
  • Gymnastic Rings -
    Not just for ring muscle ups, gymnastics rings have a wide range of uses that can challenge any athlete from the beginner to the very advanced.  Mount them to your pull up bar for Ring Push Ups, Ring Rows and Ring Dips.  Other movements such as the Archer Pushup [from the bottom position of the push up extend the right arm out to the side then return; repeat with the left] work best when the rings are mounted to a separate gymnastic ring hanger.  Rings are portable too so they can travel with you easily.  Think rings are beyond your skill level?  We wrote a quick guide on gymnastics rings exercises for beginners.
  • Medicine Balls -
    The medicine ball is another great tool that is used in CrossFit® programming to get you moving under load.  From the ever popular Wall Ball to Overhead Squats and Lunges, the medicine ball is a tool that you will be reaching for every time you are in the gym.  It's great for intensifying core movements like the sit up, too.  While seated in front of a wall, lower into the bottom of the sit up while holding a medicine ball overhead.  As you lift your body and the medicine ball together throw the ball at the top of the movement and then catch before returning to the starting position. They are also great for warming up movements such as the clean.  For adding weight to movements such as Pull Ups, Knees to elbows or Muscle Ups, grip the medicine ball between your feet.  Here are some great ideas to use medicine balls in your training program.
  • Kettlebells -
    The Kettlebell Swing, Clean and Snatch all find their way into CrossFit® programming regularly and as one of the most versatile tools ever designed, the kettlebells use is only limited by our imagination.  Shoulder Presses, Windmills, the Halo, Figure Eight and many, many more are just some of the ways that the kettlebell can improve your fitness.  We've put together a list of 19 different ways you can use the kettlebell to keep your training varied and effective.  Not sure what sizes right for you.  We've got some tips on how to select the right size kettlebell right here.
  • The Abmat -
    the staple for the sit up, the Abmat is not a seat cushion to make the movement more comfortable but rather extends the range of motion in the core for this exercise and it does it well.  To maximize the effectiveness, make sure the Abmat is placed behind your butt rather than under it.  We also use the abmat when performing Handstand Push Ups.  The impact of your head on the floor can be uncomfortable at best.  Stack them three high for scaling the movement and for adding comfort.  As your strength increases, decrease to two Abmats then one.  From there, add a 10lb bumper plate on each side to increase the deficit.
  • Jump Ropes -
    One of the simplest yet most demanding endurance tools, the Jump Rope holds a strong position in the top ten equipment for CrossFit® list.  One of the most important characteristics of a jump rope is not only in how well the cable spins free of the handles but also in how it is sized to the individual athlete.  And with it's portability, you can take it anywhere.  No more excuses for not being able to tax your lungs due to inclement weather.    With only an 8x8 area you've got enough room to get a great workout.
  • Gym Timer -
    Whether training on your own or with a group, the gym timer is a great motivator, especially when tackling a workout you've done before.  We don't believe in compromising form for time, but the timer keeps our rest periods at a minimum and our body moving.  A timer that is programmable for workouts like Fight Gone Bad and Tabata timing sequences will give you the most flexibility in your training.  Programming the gym timer is easy and our video tutorials make it a snap.
  • Resistance Bands -
    the resistance band is most commonly known for its use in assisting with Pull Ups and while it does an outstanding job at that, it has many more uses.  We like to use it for resisted Push Ups, Shoulder Presses, Overhead Squats and for adding weight to movements like the Ring Dip and Chin Up.  And if you're traveling for business or pleasure, packing a few resistance bands in your duffle doesn't weigh a ton.  Need some help with Ring Muscle Ups?  We'll show you a neat way to use resistance bands and a squat rack to conquer the muscle up once and for all.

So whether you are starting your own commercial facility or outfitting your garage gym at home, these ten pieces are not only essential to building a great gym, but their uses are so varied you can keep changing things up to stay varied and intense.

 The Equipment Buyers Guide
Need some more info on how to outfit your facility with the most effective and useful equipment?  We've put together a free Equipment Buyer's Guide that is an easy read and is filled with tips and advice on how to start things off right.  Choosing the right sizes of kettlebells and medicine balls can be a challenge but we've got you covered with some great ideas.

And we recognize that every gym is different, too.  Want to talk to us about getting your gym started?  Let's do this.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Box Jumps - Are There Hidden Benefits?

Is there more to Box Jumps than simple work capacity?  We most commonly see the plyo box used as a method of conditioning the athlete.  And although it's true that jumping and bounding are effective tools at burning lungs, there just might be more benefits to the box jump than what we originally thought.

We sat down a while ago with Adam Cristantello of NOVA Strength and Conditioning here in Rochester, NY and what he had to say really opened up our eyes to how effective box jumps can be in training power in an athlete.

Adam reminded us that when we look at the mechanics of the box jump, it is actually very similar to those same mechanics in olympic lifting movements such as the clean and snatch and even has ties to the bounding movements of the double under.  Here's how Adam broke the movements down for us:

Box Jump Basic Mechanics:

  • Triple Flexion -
    The beginning of the box jump movement puts the body into it's best position to generate power much like a coiled spring ready to release.  The hips, knees and ankles are 'loaded' by flexing them, while the chest and head remain upright and forward.  The butt is sent backward rather than downward to keep the knees from being forward of the toes.  From here it looks a lot like the start position for a power clean and power snatch, doesn't it?  To begin the box jump, the arms are swung behind the hips and are used to start the movement.  From this coiled position we can generate the power to move the body upward by releasing the 'spring' and moving the body from triple flexion to triple extension.
  • Triple Extension -
    The arms now move from behind the hip to extended over the head and the hips, knees and even the ankles are releasing into triple extension.  The release of that coiled spring now propels the body upward and forward.  The flexion of these joints created the potential while extending the joints releases the energy.  The more explosive and faster the movement, Adam tells us, the more power is generated.  If, from that coiled position we slowly move to triple extension, the amount of power generated is vastly different than if we explode upward quickly.  And as we move upward to a height just above the level of the plyo box, we need to keep the body in the best position possible to prepare for the landing on top of the box.

  • The Landing on the Top of the Box -
    High repetition box jumps are known to bring about injury to the achilles tendon and the knees in some cases.  It's not so much the jump that causes the issue as much as it is the landings.  The first landing is the one on top of the box.  To reduce the chance of injury and this stress to our joints, Adam pointed out that the landing or 'catch' needs to be in that same triple flexion state.  When we land on the top of the box fully flexed [knees, hips and ankles bent], our joints are in the best position to absorb the impact.  When our knees and hips are open or extended, the force of impact is much more direct and much more harmful on our joints.  We should rather try to maintain a soft landing by keeping a bend in the hips and knees and 'catch' the landings with these joints flexed to absorb the impact the best.

  • Jumping off the Box -
    Much like the position that we were in when we started the box jump from the ground, so is the position we need to be in to make the bound down. For many, stepping down off the box is a smart choice to keep impact to your joints reduced.  However, with some technique, the stress on the joints can be greatly reduced and the overall speed at which you can 'recycle' and move to the next box jump increases dramatically.  To start the movement off the box we begin in that triple flexed state and again the arms are used to initiate the movement but this time instead of moving the arms forward over the head, instead we swing them behind us.

  • The Catch on the Bottom -
    Clearly the part of the movement in which our joints are subjected to the largest forces is the landing on the bottom of the movement.  The catch on the top of the box is not nearly as impactful and the higher the box jump, the more force our joints will see on the bottom landing.  To help our body absorb that impact, Adam reminds us to get our bodies in that triple flexed state and 'catch' the landing softly.  Not only will the bend in the hips, knees and ankles absorb the impact, but the proper catch position gets us in just the right position for the next bound upward.  All that remains is to swing the arms behind the hips and start the movement all over again.

Thanks again to Adam Cristantello of NOVA Strength and Conditioning here in Rochester, NY for spending the afternoon with us to bring some great information on the benefits of box jumps.

So the next time you get ready for box jumps, remember that not only are you increasing your overall work capacity, but you're also training the triple flexion and extension which can translate into better movement for olympic lifting.  Keep the landings in that triple flexion state to save your joints.

Our three sided and stackable plyo boxes are lightweight strong and ship flat with all the hardware you need to assemble.  And their puzzle like design makes them a snap to put together.

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Hammerhead Strength Equipment is a fitness equipment manufacturer outfitting Garage Gyms and Commercial Facilites throughout the US.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Quick Guide to Installing a Pull Up Rack

Functional fitness training is on the rise in the US and that's a good thing.  Moving our bodies quickly and efficiently is a must have for some but certainly reaps benefits for all.

A pull up rack can really dominate in this type of programming.  In a gym outfitted with either a wall mounted or free standing unit, athletes can perform strength movements such as the back squat, front squat and shoulder press as well as pull ups, muscle ups, dips, knees to elbows and more.  If you are thinking that a pull up rack might be in your future no doubt it's because of the multitude of exercises that it can be used for.  It is a very useful tool that all levels of athlete can benefit from.

Although not intended to be an installation manual or a selection guide for the pull up rack, we rather wanted to disarm anyone who may feel installation is beyond them.  With a little pre-planning and with the help of a few friends, anyone can install one of our pull up racks.  There are just a few tools that you'll want to be prepared with before you order.  Some of them you may already own, and the others can be [and should be] rented from the local hardware store as they are a bit uncommon and probably aren't worth the investment to own.

To make the installation go as smoothly as possible, it is best to be prepared with all the tools and know how before your equipment arrives.  Having everything you need ready to go before you begin will save you from unnecessary frustration and wasted time.  When properly planned, installation can actually be a really fun time when you invite your closest friends and as a reward for helping you, maybe throw them a little after party.

Wrenches:  A pair of adjustable wrenches, and a socket / ratchet set are first on the list.  With these, you can assemble the parts of the pull up rack with all of the nuts and bolts provided with the kit.  You will need at least two wrenches but the more you have, the more hands that can help in the install.  Wrenches you probably own.  If not, these are a fairly standard household tool and investing in a set is a good idea.

Hammer Drill: Quite a bit different from the conventional drill that you might be used to or maybe even own, the hammer drill is specially designed to drill into concrete and it is much heavier duty that a conventional drill.  Your best bet at success is to rent one rather than buying and be sure to rent an industrial drill.  You will be installing 1/2" diameter concrete anchors that are 3" to 4" in length.  Having an undersized or underpowered drill is a huge time waster and will take you much longer than necessary.  Tip:  When you drill the holes for your anchors, drill down at least 2" deeper than the length of your anchor.  If you ever have need to move the rig, that extra deep hole you drilled will allow you to fully recess the anchors into the concrete floor.  If you don't drill deep enough then you will be forced to use a hacksaw to cut them flush with the floor.  That will take you much longer than just drilling those 2" deeper.

Concrete Drill Bits:  When you rent the drill, ask for a few of these to be included in the rental.  We suggest three 1/2" bits for the job.  If they don't come with the hammer drill as part of the rental then you will have to purchase them.  Note:  An undersized drill won't drill into concrete with the very best bit.  Get the right drill and chances are you will be returning the third drill bit unused for credit back.

Anchors:  We recommend 1/2" x 3" long concrete wedge anchors for attaching the rack poles to the floor and 1/2" x 2" long concrete sleeve anchors for attaching the pull up bars for a wall mounted unit into a concrete block wall.  Each Pole gets three anchors as does each pull up bracket.  If you are mounting a wall mounted rack into a stud wall you will first need to install a ledger board at least 17" wide along the wall at the same height as your pull up bars.  The ledger board should be attached to the wall studs with 3/8" x 4-1/2" long lag screws at each stud.  And the pull up bars should attach to the ledger board with 1/2" x 3" long lag bolts.

Leveling Tools:  Rent one of these if you don't already own one.  If you have plans to build your own deck in the near future then it will come in handy but if not, renting is the way to go.  You will want to get one that is at least 24" long.  The 'torpedo' level is a hand held level that will do in a pinch but it's better to have one a bit longer.  You will use the level to make sure the rig poles are installed perfectly plumb.  That's a fancy way of saying that the pole is straight up and down from the front and from the side.  When installing a wall mounted unit, you will also use the level to be sure that the pull up bars attaching to the wall are level.  For those interested in the free standing rig, it is not necessary to check any of the pull up bars.  As long as you have them installed in parallel holes on the poles, they will be level.

Step Ladders:  This tool is probably a smart investment for the gym anyway from painting the walls to changing lights, the step ladder will come in handy in more ways than one.  And having at least one is essential for installing any of our pull up racks.  We suggest at least two but our plyo boxes and bumpers will also work in a pinch.

To prepare the space before the equipment arrives, make sure the area is clean and free of any obstacles.  If you are purchasing, for instance, a 4 pole wall mounted pull up rack, ideally you will have a free area of 24 feet long x 16 feet wide right in the area where it will be mounted.  If you are installing a rubber floor, it is best to install the flooring before any other equipment arrives.  We do get asked if we suggest having the rubber floor under the rig and yes, we most definitely do.  Having a continuous floor under the rack makes it much easier to keep your floor clean and for athletes to move from inside to outside the rack.  And it is much easier to anchor through the floor mats than to cut the mats around the posts after it is installed.  If you decide to move the rack, a few small bolt holes left in the floor mats by the drill are much better than having floor plate holes cut out in the mats.

Armed with these few simple tips, installation will go much quicker and with much less frustration.  We are always happy to talk through any questions you might have not only on any of our pull up systems, but any other equipment necessary to outfit your gym.

Need more tips on equipment, selection guides and advice on starting or expanding your gym?  Just subscribe to our blog, follow us on Facebook or get in touch with us.  We are always happy to help.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Garage Gym Ideas for the Budget Minded Athlete

Ok...admittedly, before starting today's post I was staring at this picture for a while.  This certainly is an inspiring home gym location isn't it?  There isn't much equipment wise that I'd keep that's in here but that view and the huge glass overhead door would be amazing, no?

So, for the rest of us that can only dream big, what exactly are the best garage gym equipment items that we won't have to take a second mortgage for.  If you've got the budget, go for it, but even if I had the resources that this gym owner had, I would have invested differently.

For the budget minded athlete like most of us, here's our take on Garage Gym ideas that will keep you picking up and using your investment every time you are in the gym rather than letting it collect dust.

  • Versatility - we're always up on that soap box about how if you can't use a piece of equipment 5 ways then it had better be low priced or stellar at what it does.  See?  There we are.  At it again.  But, it holds muster.   When we look at items like kettlebells and gymnastics rings versus items like a treadmill, it becomes apparent to budget minded athletes like us that we can outfit our gym with a bunch of versatile, useful equipment for the cost of even one treadmill.
    • Kettlebells -
      we wrote an article a while back on 19 different kettlebell exercises.  How's that for versatility?  Two to three different sizes is all you need to be well equipped.  And one of the greatest aspects of kettlebell training is that the movements can mimic that of barbell training.  The clean, the snatch, the jerk all can performed with the kettlebell.  And the single arm movements of kettlebell training can develop your shoulder strength in different ways than the barbell.
    • Gymnastics Rings -
      If it were up to me, I'd put a set of gymnastics rings in the hands of every aspiring home gym athlete in the US.  Why?  We haven't found another equipment item that is so versatile, so portable and this affordable that has such a wide range of uses that it can challenge the beginning athlete to the olympic level athlete.  Think you're just not ready for them?  Have a look at the gymnastic ring exercises we listed here for beginners.  One of the outstanding characteristics about rings is that you can vary the intensity of the exercise by varying your body position relative to the rings.  If standard plank ring push ups are becoming too easy just raise your feet.  Too hard?  Raise the rings.
    • Sandbags -
      add them to most any bodyweight movement - squats, lunges, running, push ups and more.  The sandbag is a versatile tool to add intensity.  And you can fill it with a bunch of different stuff - pea gravel, wood pellets, sand, or rice.  And as your strength increases, add more to the sandbag.  Equally weighted filler bags make adjusting weight in the sandbag fast and easy, too.  And as far as filling it goes we like wood pellets - they are inexpensive and environment friendly.  And dropping the sandbag won't hurt you, the floor or the sandbag.  Everyone wins.
    • Resistance Bands -
      Yep.  Resistance bands add a ton of versatility whether they are used to attach a kettlebell around your waist for weighted pull ups or dips or if you use them for resisted push ups.  They are also great for helping you get a good stretch before and after your training.  And resistance bands are great for assistance with the pull up or bar muscle up and dips, too.
  • Portability - Something else I like to keep in mind when outfitting a home gym is having equipment that is portable.  For those of us in the northern states, winter can bite hard and since my garage isn't heated, I am forced to retreat to my basement over the winter.  That means I move equipment every spring and fall up and down stairs and around corners.  By having portable equipment I can get the move done easily and quickly.  The other great thing about having portable equipment is that I can take it with me on family vacations.  Throwing a set of gymnastics rings and a few kettlebells or a sandbag in the car for the week is easy.
See what other equipment is on the top of our list for outfitting your Garage Gym here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gymnastic Ring Exercises for Beginners

By far one of the most lightweight, portable and versatile pieces of strength equipment on the market is gymnastic rings.

The instability that they provide recruits more stabilizer muscles.  Like many exercises with the kettlebell, movements with gymnastics rings require that both sides of your body work equally with no one side compensating for the other.

The gymnastic ring holds a stigma that it is a training tool for only the very elite, yet we've found that to be quite the contrary.  Not only is the instability of the gymnastic ring one of its golden attributes, but the fact that through proper application of leverage, the level of difficulty can be increased or decreased dramatically and everyone can take advantage of the amazing strength levels it can bring.

So, for those that are wary of this fabulous training tool we'll show you seven exercises that you can do today.

  1. Ring Rows - with your body weight supported below the gymnastic rings, the instability is greatly lessened.  And that's not a bad thing, especially when you are first starting out.  For the ring row, start by hanging the gymnastics rings so that the bottom of the ring is level with your waist.  Grab the rings with both hands and lower your body to a supported position underneath.  Keep your core tight and your body position flat.  Raise your chest to the rings as high as possible and lower again to the starting position.  Work in sets of 3-5 with a continuously running clock, beginning work at the top of each minute.  Rest more if needed.  Gear Tip:  The natural position of the hands during the movement is palms facing each other.  To increase difficulty and to vary the muscles worked, rotate the palms to either facing your feet or facing your head.
  2. Supported Position - working the supported position above the rings is another great beginning exercise that anyone can do.  With a continuously running clock and the gymnastics rings hung from waist high position, grab the rings and jump up into a fully supported position with arms straight and close to your hips.  Hold the position for 5-10 seconds then lower yourself to the floor.  At the top of each minute jump into position.  Work on this movement for sets of 3-5.  When you've got this movement mastered, increase the difficulty by turning the rings out so that your wrists are facing front.
    The Supported Position
  3. Plank Hold - Position the gymnastics rings so that they are 2-3 inches from the floor.  Get into a good plank position with a straight back and tight core then grab a ring with each hand.  Like the supported position above, work on holding the plank for 5-10 seconds each minute for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Inverted Tuck Hangs - For those that are a bit more adventurous, hang the gymnastics rings just above waist level, grab each ring and move your body into an inverted tuck hang position.  If you are just starting out with this movement, first move your body into the ring row position then bring both of your knees to your chest.  This collapsed body position is called the 'tuck'.  Hold the tuck for 5-10 seconds each minute for 3-5 minutes.  Tip:  Once this supported position becomes comfortable at 10 or more seconds, work on extending your feet up to the ceiling for the fully inverted hang.
  5. Ring Dip Negative - with the rings at waist level and starting from a supported position above the rings, lower your body slowly keeping your arms in close.  Hold at the bottom for 3-5 seconds then jump up to a fully supported position above the rings.  Repeat for 3-5 reps every minute for 3-5 minutes.
    Negative Ring Dips are a great precursor to the Dip
  6. Leg Raises - With the gymnastics rings positioned overhead, grab the rings so that your body is fully extended from your arms to your toes.  Optimally, you should have to jump just a few inches to be able to grab the rings.  From this hang position bring the knees up as high as possible, curling the lower back as the knees approach the chest.  Variation:  Once this exercise is mastered, work towards getting the toes to touch the rings.
  7. Ring Rotations - absolutely stellar at building shoulder stability and strength is the gymnastic ring rotation.  It sounds simple but it is challenging to do at first.  From any of the above supported positions, work on rotating the wrists from pointing toward the hips [most natural position when first learning] to pointing away from the body.  You may find that your mobility and strength only allow you to turn the rings only slightly [especially when your body is supported above the rings] but keep at it and as your strength improves your ability to rotate the rings will too.  Even if you are turning the rings slightly at first, keep at it.  To make the movement easier, rotate the rings while in the ring pushup position.  Once your strength improves, rotate the rings from a fully supported position [top of the ring dip].  Advanced: Once this movement becomes fluid and strong, add it to the top position of every gymnastics ring dip.
Ready to add one of the most versatile and effective strength training tools to your gym?  Here's a great set of gymnastics rings that are easy to install.

Need workout inspiration and tips on using your strength equipment to the max?  Follow us on Google+ and Facebook for all things Hammerhead. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

The 6 Digit Programmable Timer - Video User Manual

One of our best selling timers for the Garage Gym and Commercial CrossFit Affiliate is our Six Digit Programmable  Gym Timer.  What makes is so popular is the flexibility that it provides in being able to program most any timing sequence you can think of to keep your workouts varied and effective.

This Timer is capable for running the following programs:
  • Count Up from Zero to a preset time
  • Count Down to Zero from a preset time
  • Stopwatch with Tenths and Hundreths that can count to 99 minutes
  • The Tabata Interval [20 secs work, 10 secs rest x 8 rounds]
  • The Fight Gone Bad program [17 - 1 minute intervals]
  • Custom Interval Program - program any sequence of work-rest-work-rest, etc with durations from as little as 1 second to over 99 minutes.

Additionally, our six digit programmable timer can count rounds with the touch of a button!  When you are in the middle of an AMRAP [As Many Rounds As Possible] and want to keep track of your rounds other than writing with chalk on the floor, the blue digits act as round counters with just a button press.  At each button press, the counter increases by one, ex 00, 01, 02, 03...  And at the conclusion of the workout time, the rounds counted stays visible on the timer until you hit the reset button.

Athough we do have a digital manual to guide you through the operation of the gym timer, we also recognize that a video walk through can take a lot of the mystery out of programming the timer so as was requested by a few of our customers, here's a rundown of our timer's features:

Count Up from Zero - One of the most commonly used programming sequences, it's name says it all.  Turn the timer on and go.  The twist with this sequence is that the timer ends when you tell it to.  You can set it to shut off at 8:00 minutes, 20:00 minutes or anywhere you want.  The great feature about this sequence is that it is also compatible with the Round Counter.  So, when you are cranking out an AMRAP, hit the up arrow for each round completed and our timer keeps score.  Kinda cool.


Count Down to Zero - The cousin of the Count Up from Zero Mode, counting down from a preset number is just a different mind game.  Both modes count off exactly the same amount of time.  This Mode starts at the preset number and counts down to zero.  And like the Count Up Mode, the Count Down feature is also compatible with the Round Counter.


The Stopwatch Mode - Simple, yet not without usefulness, the Stopwatch mode is a quick way to get the timer in counting mode without having to use a program.  Just hit the Up Arrow and you're off.  It will continue to count until you tell it not to.  Just what you need for those Hero WODs.  This could get ugly.


The Tabata Interval Mode - The ever popular High Intensity Interval Training Tool, Professor Tabata became a household name in CrossFit for his research on this timing sequence adopted by the coach of the Japanese Speed Skating Olympic Team.  20 Seconds of Work followed by 10 seconds of rest - 8 Rounds.  This program humbles even the highest level of athlete.  It's all about the intensity.


Custom Interval Programming - Have your own special torture, I mean, timing sequence?  No fear.  Our Programmable Timer is up to the task.  In our Custom Interval Mode, your imagination meets reality.  In this mode you can program up to 99 work periods and 99 rest periods before the final beep.  This one is gonna hurt.


Counting Rounds with The 6 Digit Programmable Gym Timer - One feature we're super proud of is the Round Counter.  Admittedly, this works best when working solo, but keeping track of your rounds while working out by pushing a button on the remote is cool.  And if all you have handy is chalk to keep track then hey, we just saved you from having to get out the mop to clean up.  You can thank us later.


The timer makes a serious bid for one of the more useful tools in your Garage Gym or Affiliate and even though you can't squat with it or swing it, it might very well be the key to achieving some serious levels of fitness.  You demanded more out of the timer and we've delivered.  Get the Programmable 6 Digit Timer right here.