WARNING! ARE YOU SABOTAGING YOUR STRENGTH?

Warning! Are You Sabotaging Your Strength?

I think many of our athletes, and CrossFitters in general, are sabotaging their strength by not working the eccentric phase of movements. Think about it, we drop everything. From the deadlift to the push-up, to the pull-up, and all moves in between, we never work the eccentric phase of a movement because we are dropping the weight.

What is the eccentric phase and why is it important for strength training? 

Well, there are three types, or phases of muscle contraction, concentric, eccentric, and isometric. The concentric phase is muscle-shortening, think pulling your chin over the bar in a pull-up. In the eccentric phase, there is a lengthening of the muscle, think letting yourself down in the pull-up. In the isometric phase, there is no change in the muscle, think holding your chin statically over the bar in a pull-up or another example would be a plank hold.

During the eccentric phase, also known as the negative phase, the muscle is being lengthened under tension, which leads to tiny tears in the muscle and thus muscle soreness. If any of you have ever done a few sets of slow negative pull-ups then you likely know how sore they make you. This is due to the “damage” caused to the muscle tissue. The cool thing about this though is that is how the muscle becomes stronger. You see, the muscle has to be “torn down” to be built up. So, as those tiny tears heal your strength increases.

I used the pull-up as an example but where I have seen a huge increase in my own personal strength is in the deadlift. I developed a habit of, especially on multiple reps, dropping my deadlift at the top of the lift. (End range of the concentric phase) Then, when we began one of our strength cycles I made it a point, even on the last rep, to focus on not only the concentric phase, but also the eccentric phase of the lift. I almost immediately felt the effects. (Hamstring were sore like crazy the next few days) If you think logically about it, what you are doing is spending more time under tension. More time under tension leads to…. Increased strength!

So, how do you implement eccentric/negative training into our CrossFit workouts? There are numerous ways but one example would be…. Let us say we are doing five rounds of 10 pull-ups and your coach has you scaling to jumping pull-ups. You could do three negatives on each round and the remainder would be jumping pull-ups. What we want, again, is time under tension to illicit change and increase strength. NOTE: you do not want to do high-rep negatives because of the damage they cause. This is why I suggested a few reps per round. It would also apply to a workout that included dips, push-ups, handstand push-ups, ring rows, etc.

I realize that most everything we do in CrossFit is for time and we are taught how to be most efficient. However, to become better, especially strength wise we have to work on our weakness. What I suggest is to stop worrying about the clock until you have developed the requisite strength to do the movement properly. (Consistency before intensity)

Change Your Mindset

Again, we are challenged daily to go fast and be most efficient but that also requires moving well and moving safely. By building strength in the ALL phases of movement, we will in-turn be better, more well rounded, athletes.

Fit for life inside and outside the box!

This Is Our Why

Our PASSION for helping others to become truly healthy began over 20 years ago with the, slap in the face, realization that if we wanted to be around, and be healthy enough, to play with our kids we HAD to change our lifestyle’s.

That started our journey towards being healthy and eventually led us to starting Loudhouse CrossFit, so that we can take what we have learned through 20+ years of experience in fitness, nutrition, and mindset, and HELP others truly change their lives.

Our MISSION at Loudhouse is to impact the lives of our community in a positive manner by inspiring, teaching, and leading them towards overall health and happiness.

Our VISION is to become a FORCE in our community for positive change towards overall health and wellness

Come check us out, see for yourself.

Let us HELP you!

3 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT CROSSFIT

1. I have to be in shape to start

We have heard this one consistently over the years, and it is just not true. First, unless you are doing something very similar to what we do at CrossFit, you will never really understand it. What I mean by that is there is a lot of misinformation out there about CrossFit. Yes, we do high-intensity workouts but we do them based on your ability. CrossFit is universally scalable. In other words, I can have my top athlete and my 86-year-old grandma in the same class, doing the same workout; we just scale the work based on their ability.

2. (Ladies) I do not want to get bulky.

This is, by far, the number one thing I hear from women starting out. Again, this stems from a whole lot of misconceptions out there about CrossFit. This misconception is fed from the internet entirely. You see all these pictures on the web of all these super fit people and, some do look big and bulky. However, the VAST majority of people in CrossFit gyms around the globe DO NOT look like that. Now, I am going to defend those athletes a little here. First off, the pics that you see are normally taken during or immediately after a workout when they are sweaty and “pumped up”. This makes them look bulky. I have seen a whole lot of the top CrossFit athletes in person; they are NOT bulky. They are lean and muscular but not bulky at all. Again though, these are top athletes. Most of us could not look like that if we tried. We just do not have the genetics or time to put the effort in to get to that level of fitness.

3. (Men) I do not want to lose my gainz.

This one is actually somewhat funny to me. Only because, it is almost the exact opposite fear that women have about CrossFit. Once again, this is based on misconceptions of what CrossFit actually is. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program first and foremost. What we do is train functional movement at high-intensity but that intensity does not mean that we are always doing metabolic conditioning (cardio). Some days are purely strength days, and on those days, we focus on building muscle and strength. Now, are we going shape you into a pro bodybuilder? Nope. Let us be honest here though, most of us are not built for that and do not want to be that big. Most of us want to look lean, muscular, and be healthy. That is what we do at CrossFit; we help you achieve overall fitness.

Most of our CrossFit athletes at Loudhouse just want to be healthy. They want to feel better about themselves and look better naked. Absolute beginners are welcome, in fact, I love coaching beginners because it is fun to see how quickly they improve. Therefore, you do not have to be fit to start, just start. Ladies, you are not going to turn into the incredible hulk. Men, you will not lose your swollenness. Just try it! You will love it!

ARE YOU MAKING THESE 5 COMMON FITNESS MISTAKES?

Showing up consistently at the gym? Awesome! You are giant leaps ahead of most people when it comes to your overall health. However, are you using your time as efficiently as you could be? Don’t make these common mistakes when you hit the gym.

1. You Don’t Track Anything

Routinely showing up to the gym is great. Seriously. A few questions to ask yourself though… Are your lifts going up? Is your mile time getting faster? Do you find yourself setting the treadmill on the same setting week in and week out? Exercise, in it’s most basic form, is stimulus, recovery, and adaption. In other words, you are putting in work, letting your body recover, and the body over time adapts to the stimulus. This is where improvement stops, when the body has adapted. If you find that you are stuck in adaption, try mixing it up some. Vary the stimulus from week to week.

2. You’re Asking too Much of Exercise

Exercise is GREAT for you. The benefits are almost too numerous to mention. (Blood glucose regulation, bone density improvements, cardiovascular and respiratory improvements) Exercise, however, can only take you so far. Exercise alone will NOT help you look good in a bathing suit or get those 6-pack abs you’ve been hunting. Regardless of what the magazine headlines or your Facebook feed tells you, there is no magic bullet. In order to see the visible effects of exercise you need a solid NUTRITION PLAN.

3. You’re Ignoring One or More Aspects of Fitness

Your workout routine should consist of each of these elements in equal parts 2-3 times/week:

  • Cardiorespiratory Endurance – Consistent, moderate breathing for at least 20 minutes
  • Resistance Training – Lifting weights with a consistent increase in total volume (increasing weight lifted or increasing repetitions)
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – Very heavy breathing in intermittent bursts followed by equal amounts of rest
  • Mobility – Some type of recovery practice; foam rolling, yoga, stretching, and metered breathing

Too much “cardio” and your metabolism will slow waaay down. Too much resistance training – your heart and lungs will be neglected. Too much mobility work and your core will be weak. Too much HIIT and your cardio, strength, and mobility will suffer. Begin to think of a well-rounded fitness that includes each of these in equal doses.

4. You’re Still Weighing Yourself

I think we all know that the scale is not at all an accurate measurement of what’s going on with your body. Chances are, if I ask 100 women what they think they should weigh, they’re going to say 120-135 regardless of height, build, etc…. Not sure where they were taught this number, perhaps in a magazine, but, it is obviously meaningless. Want to know what’s up with your body fat? Have it measured accurately somewhere.

5. Your Focus is Off

Short term it is very easy to be motivated like crazy to exercise. We look in the mirror and see that we need to do something so; we show up to the gym and get after it. Then in a few weeks, back to our old habits of not exercising. The key here is to find something that is FUN! If you are having fun, you are going to consistently show up.

If you have found a routine that is delivering results that you enjoy, keep up the great work! If you’ve found you’re beginning to stall out, check yourself against this list and see if you can’t make a slight course correction. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to REACH OUT! 

3 REASONS WHY YOU’RE NOT GETTING STRONGER

There are numerous reasons why you may not be getting stronger at the gym. Below are a few of the most common:

Not consistent

Consistency is probably the number one reason why people fail to see improvements from their routine. Be that strength, cardio, nutrition, etc. If you do not show up consistently, and in the case of strength, lift heavy objects, you will not get stronger. You have to consistently overload the muscles or they will not grow.

Not eating right

The next two reasons are related to one another to a certain point. If you are not eating enough food and the right foods, it will hinder your strength gains. Your body has to get adequate protein, carbohydrates, and fat to rebuild the muscle that you are breaking down via strength training. Aim for .75 to 1gram of protein, 1 to 2 grams of carbohydrates, and .3-.5 grams of fat per pound of body weight. (NOTE: you’ll have to find what works best for your goals; this is just a basic recommendation)

Not recovering

Another key reason that you are not getting stronger is that you aren’t recovering properly. Two things must occur for muscle growth to happen. One, you have to tear down the muscles by overloading them. Two, you have to have proper recovery from the strength session. That recovery involves multiple factors like nutrition, rest/sleep, and mobility work. The muscles have to have time to rebuild after they have been torn down. Tips: Try to get 8 hours of sleep per night and make sure you rest a couple days before overloading the same muscle group.

Hope this helps understand a few basic tenets of strength training. To summarize, in order to get stronger you have to train consistently, eat the right foods in the right amounts, and give your body time to recover.

Feel free to reach out to me if you would like more details.

Stop eating Carbs! They are killing you!

Got your attention?

Good.

Now, let’s talk about all nonsense in the diet industry.

Daily I am asked about diet fads… “Hey coach, what do you think about the Keto Diet?” Or the macro diet, low-carb, high-carb, paleo…. Whatever. I get asked about all of them and what my opinion is.

My opinion is the same for all of them.

They are all just tools and depending on your goals any of them may or may not work for you. As an example, if your goal is to be as fast and strong as you possibly can then the Keto diet is a terrible choice. However, if your goal is weight loss then it may work for you.

One problem with a lot of these ‘diets’ is this…. Someone will have great success with one diet or the other and then they become dogmatic about how their diet is the best.

A few things you should ask yourself:

What is your goal?

How committed are you to that goal?

If you want to be a fitness model, your commitment and what you eat will be VASTLY different than someone that just wants to eat healthy and feel better.

There are two common misperceptions about getting lean:

Myth #1:
With just a few small, easy, hopefully imperceptible changes to one’s diet and exercise routine, you too can have shredded abs, big biceps, and tight glutes, just like a magazine cover model.

Myth #2:
“Getting into shape” or “losing weight” involves painful, intolerable sacrifice, restriction, and deprivation.

*neither of these are true.

Reality #1:
The process that helps you lose “the first 10 pounds” isn’t the same one that’ll help you lose “the last 10 pounds”. Indeed, it usually takes a lot more work as you get leaner.

Reality #2:
If you do aspire to “fitness model” or “elite athlete” lean, you might be surprised. Images are photoshopped for effect. Bodybuilders only look like that for competition. And achieving that look comes at a high cost; one most people aren’t willing to pay.

Reality #3:
However, if you’re okay not being on the next magazine cover and aspire to be “lean and healthy” even small adjustments can — over time — add up to noticeable improvements. Sometimes these improvements can change, perhaps even save, lives. *(From a Precision Nutrition article HTTP://WWW.PRECISIONNUTRITION.COM/COST-OF-GETTING-LEAN)

With all that being said, here are some tips to help you achieve your body composition goals.

Unless you are a genetic freak, you CANNOT eat donuts and drink alcohol and expect 6 pack abs. If anyone tells you different they are lying to you. Those Instagram models that are plowing through the crappy food saying it “fits their macros” and you too can look like them… Yeah, what they aren’t telling you are the “supplements” they are taking to help them look like that. (Clen, Test, etc…) Don’t believe me, talk to any respectable nutrition coach.
If you aren’t willing to be that dedicated to getting lean, that’s perfectly fine. You can still be healthy and enjoy those treats you love occasionally. They key here is to be consistent. Make more food choices that benefit your health and wellbeing and less that do not. Consistency over time will lead to healthy long term.
Need some help being awesome? Reach out to me. I LOVE helping folks with their nutrition goals. Whether you want to be a fitness model or rock that dad bod, I can help you out! (JK, no dad bods!)

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

For our entire lives we’ve heard that practice makes perfect. There’s a whole lot of truth to that but, I’d like to add perfect to it. Perfect practice makes perfect.

As CrossFit athletes we are strongly pushed to compete. We are pushed to compete with other as well as ourselves.

What I’d like to ask you to do though is this:

Step back for a moment and ask yourself why you started CrossFit.

What is your why?

For most of us, our why is to avoid the nursing home as long as we possible and to be able to run around and chase our kids or grand kids. To be the healthiest version of ourselves. To move without pain. To be strong and fast and agile.

What I’ve seen in my years of being a CrossFit coach and athlete is that we all get caught up in the competition side of CrossFit and forget that we are training to be better at life and not to be the fastest and strongest at all cost.

Sometimes, most times, we need to slow down a little and focus. Focus on perfect movement. Whether that movement is running, rowing, gymnastics, weightlifting, we need to focus on being the best at whatever movement we are doing.

I’ll give some examples of how I’ve used the “take a step back” approach in my own CrossFit journey. A couple of these were because of an injury that forced me to adapt but, the process is the same none-the-less.

A shoulder injury forced me to go lighter on my press movements and stop kipping my regular pull-ups. What it made me was better at both movements. I became stronger in my strict pull-ups which in turn led to better kipping pull-ups when I could once again kip. I became faster in my push press and push-jerk which in turn made me better at both of those when I could add heavier weights.

A second injury was a back injury. This injury forced me to take my deadlift down by ½ and essentially start over. With that though, I was able to really focus on form as well as the eccentric, or down, phase of the lift. Now my deadlift is the strongest it’s EVER been.

Another example, no injury involved here, was my knees to elbow and toes to bar. I began practicing my kip and finally got to where I could do a few. So in the workouts I would force myself to string a couple together vs. just going to strict when I was tired. Of course this required more rest and slowed me down but, it greatly improved my movement. Now, I can string about 15 together on a good day. I started with 2-3! I’d say the practice worked. Did it cost me some time? Sure but, it made me better.

My point with all of this is, take a moment and consider your why? Then, train that way. Train with perfect practice. Focus on improving every time you walk into the box. In the long run you’ll be better for it.

Training vs. Competing

3…2…1… GO! The clock has started and you are going all out! “I’m gonna crush this WOD today!” you tell yourself in your head. You hop up on the pull-up bar and flail yourself over the bar then you hop down grab the bar and proceed, back rounded, to “clean” the bar off the floor, legs splaying open you land the bar on your shoulders. You manage to make it through the WOD RXd…. Congratulations!

But… did you gain anything from that workout or were you just competing? Either with the clock, yourself, or someone else?

There is a time for both training and competing but, 90% of the time you should be WAY more concerned with training.

Training is doing the workout with purpose and an intention to become better. Better, at the movements as well as more fit for the next time you do that workout or those moves.

Competing is doing the workout anyway you can grind through it to have a competitive time.

So, which do you choose?

Simple… if you struggle with a move and you are just coming to your normal, daily, CrossFit class. Then take the opportunity to work on that move.

Let’s use yesterday’s WOD as an example. The moves were rowing, front squats, rope climbs and toes to bar. You come in knowing that you can RX all of it but, you struggle with your kipping toes 2 bar. You can do them strict and one at a time and totally RX that WOD with a slower time.

Two things happen if you do that. First, you are not improving your toes to bar and second, you are changing the intensity of the workout by doing strict toes to bar.

Another great example, let’s say we are doing the workout Grace, 30 clean and jerks for time and 135/95. The intent of this workout is to fit in the time domain of 3-5 minutes. You come in and “know” that you can RX that weight but, it’s going to take you 11 minutes to do it. You’ve just changed the entire purpose of that workout. You’ve taken a barbell conditioning WOD, METCON, and turned it into a strength workout. So, in this scenario you are not “training” your metabolic conditioning you are just “competing” to be RXd.

You guys know, we always talk about scaling. SCALING IS NOT CHEATING! Scaling is training! Which is the entire purpose of why we are at the gym in the first place. We are training our bodies to be strong, fit, and healthy.

Need help deciding how to train better for each wod? Ask your coach! That is what we are here for. We can help you decide proper weight and the appropriate scale to help you become better.

CHANGE YOUR THINKING

Ever notice that sometimes one little thought of something leads to it being all you can think about? No?

Try this. For the next 30 seconds I want you to NOT think about polar bears. Block all thoughts of them out of your mind. Don’t think about where they live. Don’t think about how they look or what they eat. Don’t think about them at all.

Ready? Go….

So, how’d it go?

My guess is, you just thought more about polar bears than you’ve thought about them in the last week, month, or maybe years!

Why?

Because that is how our brain thinks.

Now, let’s discuss how this applies to your nutrition choices. When we go on a “diet” we typically are eliminating foods from our normal diet. Then we obsess, at times, about those foods. “OMG… I want a cupcake SO bad!” That is because that is how our brains work. What we think about becomes what we think about.

So… Let’s try this. Focus on the foods that you can have! I can have thousands of delicious foods. I am not depriving myself of anything.

I’m guessing your brain will follow you in your thoughts and it will make your healthy choices much easier.

Try it!

WHY MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER

If you keep up with what’s happening in the fitness industry at all, you know that we are inundated with a “more = more” message. More cardio. More squats. More calorie restriction. However, if you aren’t careful, the “more=more” approach can lead to overtraining, injury, and illness. So let’s discuss for a moment what is too much when it comes to exercise.

In our coaching we often see people come in and approach their workouts and diet with full on intensity. They are amazed by the initial results and, of course, want more. They throw everything – energy, time, resources – at their weight loss, strength gain, or health goals. They can’t stop talking about how great the workouts are, how much better they feel. It’s like a new drug to them.

This, all out, full throttle approach works great!

Until…. It doesn’t.

One day you wake up and find that your knees are achy or shoulder hurts. Or perhaps, you just feel run down and you have developed a bit of a cough.

Couple weeks go by and your lifts that were easy begin to feel heavy. Or maybe you tweak your back on a weight that is not heavy.

The next week you are calling the doctor or chiro to make an appointment.

So… What happened? What went wrong?

The issue here is not balancing the stress of life, physical, emotional, etc.., with rest and recovery.

Exercise is a stressor.

Typically a good one but, a stressor none-the-less.

If you are exercising intensely and/or frequently you certainly can add more stress to an already stressed body. Let’s face it, we all deal with LIFE. (Relationships, work, travel, late nights, etc…)

Exercise and intensity is not a bad thing. In fact, exercise is proven to reduce stress. In terms of physical demand though we have to listen to our bodies and help our bodies recover from ALL the stress we experience.

How much recovery you need is based on a whole bunch of different factors. Namely, how much TOTAL stress you are under at any given time.

For instance, if you are up all night with a sick child, then you are late for work, you spill coffee on your pants— then you hit the gym. Chances are you will not hit a PR that day!

Furthering this example it will also take much longer to recover from the workout after all that stress vs. if you had slept well, made it to work on time, had a great breakfast and a great day overall.

With the right amount of exercise and intensity we get healthier and stronger. With too much exercise at too high of intensity we strain, stress, shut down, and BREAK DOWN!

Look guys, I’ve been in the fitness industry long enough to see this pattern repeated over and over again. Regardless of age, body type, sex, or how great of shape you are in. At some point your body says… Enough is enough and it shuts down. Most of the time that manifests itself in the form of an injury. BUT, 100% of the time there were signs and signals that the body sent out BEFORE the injury occurred. (Note: I’m not talking about some freak box jump injury, I’m talking about back aches, knees, shoulders, etc..)

The following is an excerpt from an article from the folks at Precision Nutrition:

Mission Control: Our bodies.

Overtraining isn’t a failure of willpower or the fate of weak-minded wimps. Our bodies have complex feedback loops and elegant shutdown systems that actively prevent us from over-reaching or pushing ourselves too hard.

Two systems are at play:

Our central nervous system (CNS) acts like a car engine regulator. If the engine on a car revs too high for too long, it shuts down. Similarly, if we exercise too much, our brain tries to protect our muscles by reducing the rate of nerve impulses so we can’t (or don’t want to) move as much. And we certainly can’t work as hard.
Local fatigue, the result of energy system depletion and/or metabolic byproduct accumulation, makes your muscles feel really tired, lethargic, and weak. Using our car analogy, this is sort of like running out of gas.
Training too frequently and intensely — again, without prioritizing recovery — means that stress never subsides.

We never get a chance to put gas in the tank or change the oil. We just drive and drive and drive, mashing the pedals harder and harder.

If we “lift the hood” we might see:

Poor lubrication: Our connective tissues are creaky and frayed.
Radiator overheating: More inflammation.
Battery drained: Feel-good brain chemicals and anabolic (building-up) hormones have gone down.
Rust: Catabolic (breaking-down) hormones such as cortisol have gone up.
As a result, you might experience:

Blood sugar ups and downs.
Depression, anxiety, and/or racing thoughts.
Trouble sleeping or early wakeups.
Food cravings, maybe even trouble controlling your eating.
Lower metabolism due to decreased thyroid hormone output.
Disrupted sex hormones (which means less mojo overall, and in women, irregular or missing menstrual cycles).
Here’s the thing.

You don’t get to decide if you need recovery or not.

Your body will decide for you.

If you don’t build recovery into your plan, your body will eventually force it.

The more extreme your overtraining, the more you’ll “pay” via illness, injury, or exhaustion. The more severe the payback, the more “time off” you’ll need from exercise.

That’s a bummer. Now your car has stalled, or worse — gone backwards. Argh.

So what are we to do?

Well… Sometimes, most of the time actually, less is more. The problem is not really that you are over training, the problem is that you are under-recovering.

I recently read an article from doctor that works with our elite military guys. While these guys are America’s true bad asses, the majority of these guys are suffering from chronic issues caused by under-recovery. Namely in the form of lack of sleep. It is causing, in particular, hormonal disruption. Testosterone levels of 11 year old girls vs. those of young bad ass warriors.

What they are finding is, they take these guys off of the “sleeping” pills and put them on a diet rich in whole foods and their hormone levels return to normal.

So what does this mean for the average gym goer? It means that ALL the stressors in your daily lives have an impact on your recovery and in turn your performance and in turn your overall health and well-being.

It’s OK to take a break! Chill out!

Go for a walk

Practice some meditation

Take a yoga class.

Schedule time for recovery

Sleep. Aim for 8 hours per night. If you can’t do that just aim for more than you are currently getting. Perhaps instead of a workout you could take a nap?

Get a massage

The point being in all of this is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It knows when you need to rest and it WILL send you signals telling you. And you know what? It is perfectly acceptable to take a day off from your workout. You will be better for it.

*Source Precision Nutrition