Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back to school, back to a routine!

All across the country it has been back to school time!  For some areas, it was weeks ago already.  For the rest of us, it is only the first full week of classes.  Now, don't get me wrong, we had a great summer!  Traveling, camping, boating and all of the other fun things that go along with summer vacation.  I am not even sure if we were home for one entire weekend from July to Labor Day....

But, that is all behind us until next year.

I don't know about you, but I know that the hectic summer schedule really played havoc with my training and time at the gym.  Sadly, I realized that I had taken a whopping two months off, with minimal exercise (unless swimming in the ocean and dragging a cooler across the beach counts).

So, now what.  Time to get back on schedule.  That is really the key.  Trying to "fit in" a workout is not nearly effective as writing it down and committing to it on a schedule.  It is all about setting GOALS

Consider Your Goal - sometimes even the simplest of things can set us on the path to a desired goal.  It might be a magazine article or an overheard conversation or it might be that we've witnessed someone else achieving their goal and now we're inspired.  But before we jump in headfirst, it's important to take some time to consider what we really want and what it will take to get there.  I like to think about what's involved first.  It's important to count the cost.  Every goal we set has a price.  It might be paid in time spent, or perhaps you will need to make food sacrifices.  Your goal might require other expenditures in equipment, workout gear, or gadgets, too.  Consider all of that fully before making the commitment.

Make Sure the Goal is Specific - if a goal is too general, then it's easy to get off track or change direction.  Instead, make it super specific.  Which of the following goals is more specific?
  • I am going to spend more time at the gym this week
  • I will go to the gym 4 days this week
  • I am going to go to the gym Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday.
Make Sure the Goal is Measurable - the more defined you make the goal, the easier it is to know when you have met it.  Without some gauge as to what it takes to meet the goal, the more apt you are to fall off the path.
  • Instead of "Butterfly Pullups"
  • Try "5 Butterfly Pullups"
Write the Goal Down - A written goal represents a real commitment.  And one that is written for others to see sets it even deeper.  And having those that know your abilities seeing your commitment can be there to motivate, inspire and celebrate with you once you've achieved what you set out to do.

Work with a Coach to Develop a Plan - the desire alone for a Ring Muscle Up is not as effective as that desire mixed with a definite road map to that goal.  Working with a trainer is the best way to success.  If you are already working under their supervision, they know your current limitations as well as your strengths.  Grab them after class, ask them for their guidance on how to achieve your goal then follow that plan.

Work Outside the Gym - if you attend group instruction classes, it is not always feasible to get class time to work on your goals.  If getting that Ring Muscle Up is on your goal board but not on the whiteboard this week, it might be time to grab some equipment for home use.  Some gyms have open gym time one day a week or more.  If you can take advantage of that, do it.

Remember that there is absolutely no shame in scaling back fitness goals to meet your current ability.  Very few athletes will see a professional team locker room yet that shouldn't stop us from keeping after it.  At the end of the day you want to set goals that are reachable and realistic.  And as you meet them, keep setting the bar higher.  Keep within yourself and your abilities and celebrate your smaller victories one at a time.

Look Back on Your Progress - my last word of advice on setting fitness goals is to record goals and progress where you can look back on it.  Go buy that $2 notebook and take just a few minutes out of each day to record some specifics about what you've done.  It does not have to be elaborate or lengthy.  Just write something down.  Take a photo.  And please put a date next to it.  Or better yet, jump on to Google Blogger and start your own fitness blog.  No one has to see it but you.  But write 10-15 sentences on what you did.  Then after you've met your goal, go back to the beginning to see where you started from.  It's a serious motivator.

Thanks to +CrossFit Lawless in Estero, FL for setting a great example with their Goal Board!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Keep it Varied

Having a variety of styles of equipment in your home gym or box is valuable for many reasons.  Primarily for scaling workouts, or varying technique in the workouts.

     We all know the CrossFit standards.  Box jumps are 24" or 30" for the guys, and 20" or 14" for the ladies.  Kettlebells are 35lb and 55lb and 70lb.  I certainly do not need to go through the whole list.  If you work out in your garage, or own a box, my guess is that you are well versed on all of the Rx weights and movements.   

     Most athletes do not start out performing movements as Rx.  Unless they are a high level athlete when they walk through the door, it is unreasonable to think that they would go Rx.  Even high level athletes need to learn the standards.  Any good coach or experienced athlete will know when to scale the weight or movement to prevent injury, and to maximize the effectiveness of the workout.  It may not be beneficial to do Grace Rx if it takes 25 minutes (though you have to start some where).

     Now, in addition to the decision / need to scale or not to scale, it is great to change out equipment to vary your standard workouts.  Changing your grip, adding variable resistance, and many other techniques can add variety to your workouts.

Let's start with the Rx discussion.

Mini Plyo Box 16x20x24     Plyo boxes.  The 20x24x30 is the standard.  But look around next time a 30" box jump is programmed in a WOD.  What percentage of athletes will go Rx at 30"?  There will always be a few, but typically not the majority.  That got us thinking, is there possibly a more useful configuration of the box?  We have developed a 16x20x24 three sided box.  It still has the 20" and 24" standard heights, but also a 16" height for newer athletes, or ones who are building confidence to get to the 20" height.  Additionally, stackable boxes are a great alternative.  Start with a 12" box, and add 4" with each subsequent box.

     Kettlebells.  These may be too obvious to mention.  Most boxes have kettle bells from 20lb to 55lb in 5lb increments.  Then jump right to 70lb.  15lb is a big jump, even if they are proficient at the 55lb weight.  Adding a 60lb and / or 65lb bell will help your athletes transition to the higher weight.

         Pull Up Bars:  You will have athletes performing toes to bar, bar muscle ups, and of course kipping, strict, and jumping pull ups.  What height it proper?  Now, there is no "correct" answer here.  I have had a couple of conversations about Pull Up Rack bar height with quite a few box owners, like Daniel Davidson at CrossFit Mainline in Ardmore, PA.  Here is what it boils down to....  We typically recommend two basic heights.  (and with our offset bars standard, you really get four heights).  As a gym owner, you can set half of the bars to a height that works for you, and one for someone who is not quite as tall as you.  You will probably not want to put them in the lowest height (you may knock your head if you forget to duck) or at the max 9' height (unless you have a few 6'9" athletes).  But, here is what we recommend.  Put the bars at "reasonable" heights.  As the athlete base grows, you will of course get a wider range of heights needed.  It is very simple to change the height of the bars as your needs change.  Multiple heights can alleviate the need for bumpers or boxes to get your athletes on the bar.  Nobody wants to worry about tripping on a bumper during Fran.  There is enough to worry about.

Non Standard Exercises;

The use of resistance bands with barbell exercises have become more and more popular.  In the previous post on incorporating resistance bands in training we covered the concepts used to get the most out of our band training.  For fun, the first person to send me an e-mail at matt@hammerheadfitness.com with "band" in the subject line with their shipping address and a quick note to say hello will get a free blue band.  Many people are using heavy chains on the ends of the barbell it change the resistance over the exercises range of motion.

Many of us have been watching American Ninja Warrior.  Grip strength is one of the main components of the competition.  Peg boards, Door Knobs mounted on the wall, and the salmon ladder are great variations on developing upper body pulling strength.

We would love to hear your alternative exercises, and non standard gear that gives you a change up in your workout.


Hammerhead Strength Equipment