Just wanted to give a quick ‘Good Luck’ shout-out to Ryan (Scoop), who is in Portugal for the European Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Championships, and Matt D., who is competing in the Grand Canyon State Games Weightlifting competition. I’m proud to claim both of these guys, and wish them success this weekend!
If you’re a computer jockey that just needs to be reminded once in a while to step away from the keyboard, consider downloading this nifty little program. It’s free, simple, and is just an easy reminder to get your buns up out of your chair once in a while!
You will find: grass-fed beef, local veggies, local honey, eggs (chicken, duck, quail, emu, ostrich—although the chicken and duck might be sold out by the time we get there), wild caught salmon, cheese, and lots more.
Just a reminder that our next Ramp Up class begins on Tuesday, January 24th, at 6pm. We will be meeting on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 pm, with an optional Saturday workout at 0930 am. The course runs 4 weeks, and costs $200.
I’ve noticed a few folks mention ‘Retail Therapy’ as a means of dealing with their sugar withdrawals. It got me to thinking: is this an actual phenomenon? Is there something going on, at a physiological or psychological level?
The effects of shopping (even window shopping) on mood is well-established, and researchers have also noted increases in activity in the left prefrontal cortex—the so-called pleasure center of the brain. As well, shopping increases the amount of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which helps control the brain’s pleasure and reward centers*.
Sugar intake also triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. And frequent sugar binges can produce changes in the brain similar to what occurs to someone using cocaine or heroin! So, that old chestnut about ‘sugar addiction’ does have a basis in reality. And there are some interesting implications for other addictions—sugar addicted mice that were denied sugar turned to alcohol.
So, I guess it comes down to choosing how you’re going to go after your buzz: sugar or shopping.
There is hope, however! Exercise has been well established to be associated with improved mood, increased feelings of well-being, decreased anxiety and depression, and increased energy. Among other suggested pathways, this is accomplished through regulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. So the next time you want that chocolate, think about going for a walk instead.
We’re slowly figuring things out with the Forums. Just figured out that I didn’t hit the correct button to enable creating topics within subforums. So, with that being fixed, you are welcome to create your own topics/threads at any point, and in any section.
Just a reminder that we’ll be having a workshop devoted to posture and flexibility on Saturday, 1/21, at 11:30. The workshop will be led by Tina and Nate, and will provide ideas to help improve your posture, body positioning, and performance.
This is in support of the CFSW Clean Living Challenge, but is completely voluntary. I hope that you will choose to take advantage, however. Anyone is welcome to attend, but there will be a $10 fee for non-CFSW members who are not participating with a member in the CLC.
"To sleep, perchance to dream--ay, there's the rub." (updated with new article link)
No, not talking about the metaphorical sleep of death, but actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness, oh-my-lord-that-was-the-most-refreshing-night-ever sleep.
Several people have mentioned that one of their ‘Recovery’ goals for the CLC2012 is to get more/better sleep. Personally, I’m a huge fan of sleep, but we don’t seem to be talking much lately. I’m hoping to make up soon, and maybe establish a relationship again. To support that goal, here are a few selected resources, blogs, and cool stuff for you to check out.
One of the most talked about books when it comes to the sleep and fitness is ‘Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, and Survival' by T.S. Wiley. (eBook, Amazon) Robb Wolf brought this to my attention several years ago, and it’s still talked about regularly on the interwebz. The basic premise goes along with the Evolutionary Fitness idea: Primitive Man didn’t have artificial light so his body was adapted to sleep according to the rhythms of the day. There are some cool ideas in this book, like creating a perfectly black sleeping area, turning off electronics and artificial light earlier, etc. The last part of the book takes a dive down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theory, but the rest of the information seems pretty solid. Might be worth checking out.
This is a pretty cool article I came across along the same lines. Again looking at Primitive Man being attuned to the cycles of night and day. In Winter, there is a shortage of food available (primarily protein and fat), but also fewer hours of daylight. This caused Man to spend more time sleeping, thus conserving energy. There are many more hours of daylight during the summer, as well as abundant sources of carbohydrates (fruits, etc.). This led Man to be more active, as well as gorging on these sweet treats. The resultant insulin spike would create fat stores to help live through the Winter. The problem with Modern Man is that we have created a perpetual summer (lots of light and readily available carbohydrates), which leads to excess body fat.
For all you techno folks out there that can’t bear to unplug and instead spend evenings in front of a monitor, think about downloading F.lux (it’s free!). This is a software program that integrates with your computer’s clock, and changes the color of the monitor to match the time of day (bright and more blue during the day, dimmer and rosier at night). This mimics more closely the biorhythms discussed in the sources above.
And, as a nice general summary of tricks to sleep better, try this article out.
Late addition: This post from Conditioning Research shows the link between sleep disruption and obesity. Still want to stay up late working on the computer?
You asked for it (and asked, and asked, and asked…), so here you go: beginning Monday, January 23, we’ll be offering a 7 pm workout Monday - Thursday. If there is enough genuine interest and attendance, we may extend it to Friday. If no one shows up, we’ll cancel it again.
Our next group Ramp Up introductory class begins on Tuesday, January 24th. It will run for 4 weeks, meeting at 6 pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with an optional workout on Saturdays at 930.
Due to space and coaching constraints, these classes are limited to 10 participants—please prepay and/or preregister to reserve your spot.
If you would prefer not to use the link below, please contact us for other options.
Wow! We had a great turnout at the Kickoff Meeting last night for the Clean Living Challenge! Around 50 folks were in attendance—we went over the Challenge, had some great nutrition information from Andy D., and hopefully everyone got some food for thought. The Challenge begins NOW, and will run for 4 weeks, ending on Monday, February 13th.
Just wanted to provide an overview for everyone that was unable to make the meeting last night:
First and foremost: We have established a new Community Forum, which will be the primary source of information and point-of-contact for the CLC. The forum is accessible to your right under the ‘Resources’ tab, labelled “CrossFit SouthWest Community”. There is also a link at the bottom of the page. It will be a growing and evolving entity for a little while, so if there’s something that you would like to see, please feel free to let me know.
For those of you interested in the Challenge, here are the high points:
In order to participate, you must check in DAILY in the Forum (in the ‘Community’ section, under ‘Clean Living Challenge’ heading).
CFSW Clean Living Challenge 2012 kicks off tonight at 6 pm!
Hope everyone can come by for the kickoff meeting for the Clean Living Challenge! We’ll be going over the requirements, providing helpful instruction, and generally having a good time. Please contact us with any questions!
We had several people run the P.F. Chang’s Half- or Full-. A bunch of folks completed the Tough Mudder. A few ladies had a soccer tournament. And just about everybody else lived it up in preparation for the Clean Living Challenge!
Due to my inability to plan ahead, and complete lack of attention to the calendar, we’ll be having a normal schedule tomorrow in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
All classes will be as usual, with the exception of the 6 pm class, which will be our Kickoff meeting for the CLC. Hope to see you there!
Savor this last, dirty weekend. The CrossFit SouthWest Clean Living Challenge begins on Monday!! What’s going to be your last indulgence? Oreos? Dunkin Donuts? Coors Light?? Maybe you could get with the folks at Epic Meal Time, and order some of this stuff:
Regardless of how you choose to spend your weekend, please feel free to join us Monday night at 6 pm for our kickoff meeting. We’ll be having a brief explanation of the Challenge, outline the rules, and have a Paleo/Primal Nutrition presentation from a Mystery Celebrity Guest!
Please feel free to contact us with any questions. Hope to see you!
And on a ‘Dirty’ note, Best of Luck to all the CFSW Tough Mudder’s this weekend! Have a great time!
Our next Ramp Up class is scheduled to begin the week of January 23. The specific days/times have not been set in stone yet, but we have the option of another evening time slot, or a midday time. If you are interested in attending, and have a particular preference, please let me know if the comments below.
We are excited to formally announce the CFSW Clean Living Challenge! The initial Challenge will run for 4 weeks, from 1/16/12 - 2/13/12.
Specific details will be announced at the Kickoff Meeting, which will be held at 6 pm on Monday, 1/16. Listed below are some general FAQs.
Q: Why “Clean Living”? Why not a Paleo/Weight Loss/New Year’s/Quick Fix Challenge?
A: We’re going to be focusing on more than just ‘Orthodox’ Paleo eating. Personally, I think it would be great if you wanted to do something like the Whole30 concurrently with this Challenge. The focus of of the ‘CLC2012’ will be on overall Lifestyle changes: nutrition, physical activity, recovery and wellness. And, frankly, “The CFSW Nutrition, Physical Activity, Recovery and Wellness Lifestyle Modification Challenge” is just too much.
Q: Do I have to be a member of CFSW to participate?
A: This is a qualified ‘No’. If you are a spouse, friend, sibling, domestic partner, roommate, housemate, teammate or soulmate of a CFSW member, and you’re participating to provide social support and generally become a more kick ass person, you are welcome to participate. If you are a former member of CFSW, we’d love to have you. If you are just generally interested in checking things out, but don’t really know anyone here, give me a call and we’ll set you up.
Q: What does it cost?
A:There will be a $20 buy-in (which you will get back). Beyond that, this challenge will require the most expensive payment of all: your commitment. Your time, energy, and emotional investment. This will require you to do some of the hardest things you’re ever going to do: order the club soda and lime at Happy Hour, give up an hour or two on a weekend to prepare food for the week, drag your butt off of the couch to go for a run when you just want to watch ‘The Bachelor’. Next to that, $20 is nothing.
Q: Will I have to take pictures with my shirt off?
A: No, but you are absolutely encouraged to do so, for your own reference. This is not a ‘weight loss’ challenge. If it were, I can think of several ways to lose a lot of weight lost in a short period of time, none of them long-term solutions. You will be asked to take some simple measurements, but are under no obligation to make the results public unless you wish to do so.
Please ask if you have any other general questions, but I’m going to save the specifics for the 16th. Maybe put your questions in the comments section below, so that everyone else can see them and the answer.
Thank you to all of our CFSW Family and Friends!
After almost 7 years, the community of people that we have developed still amazes me. Thank you for your continued support and friendship.
This time of year, the mind turns to the classics. May I offer up the immortal words of that great Philosopher, Krusty the Clown,
“ So, have a merry Christmas, happy Chanukah, kwazy Kwanza, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan. Now a word from my god: our sponsor”
Or, perhaps this is more your style
Regardless of what you celebrate, may you enjoy the Season!
~ Ken, Meghan & Ben
Looking for that perfect last minute gift? How about something to tell that ‘Special Someone’ that they need to get into shape?? Our next group Ramp Up class will begin on Monday, January 9th, at 6:00 pm. (Seriously, though—don’t buy this as a gift for your S.O. unless they ask you specifically to do so!)
The class runs for 4 weeks. We will be meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 pm, with an optional third day on Saturday mornings at 0930. Saturdays will be a combination make up day and opportunity to practice the skills and exercises that we cover during the week. And a chance to get in another workout, of course.
If you are interested, please contact us for more details, or you can preregister with the link below. Now go out and finish your shopping!
We’re getting ready to make another t-shirt order, and several people have also been asking about hoodies.
Last time, I got stuck with extra hoodies—so here’s the plan: we’re going to be doing pre-orders only for the hoodies—you select your size and color. When they get here, show it off to all of your friends who didn’t get their money turned in on time.
Zip-ups will be $35, Pullovers will be $25.
We’re going to go with the same brand we got last time (Independent), so there are a few running around for you to look at. Seems like they run fairly true to size, although your mileage may vary. The design will have just the updated logo (same as the front of the Tshirts) on the front and back.
Here is a link to check out the different color options for the zip ups. This one is for the pullovers. You may want to stick to the darker colors, relatively, as we’ll have a lighter colored print.
According to this article, research presented recently showed that following a very low-calorie diet essentially cured Type II Diabetes in the patients followed. These patients followed a medically supervised, 500 kcal/day diet. In a similar study, 8 weeks of a 600 kcal/day diet provided very similar effects, and 7 of 11 subjects continued to show no signs of insulin-dependence “months after returning to a normal diet”.
"It is striking to see how a relatively simple intervention of a very low-calorie diet effectively cures Type 2 diabetes," said lead researcher Sebastian Hammer in a statement. "Moreover, these effects are long term, illustrating the potential of this method. Lifestyle interventions may have more powerful beneficial cardiac effects than medication in these patients.” (bolding mine)
Damn, it’s almost like what you eat has an effect on your health…
(*please return to your Christmas cookies now)
For anyone interested in giving the gift of fitness/general badassery, we do have a limited number of Gift Certificates available for the (introductory) Jump Start program. And by limited number, I mean I only have 5 or 6 printed up—but I can always order more if needed.
The Jump Start consists of five 1-on-1 sessions, followed by your first month of Unlimited group training. For most people who are reasonably fit or have had some sort of training background, it works well to bring them up to speed and introduce them into the group classes.
We are also offering 6-month and 12-month prepaid memberships. If you are already coming in (or plan to), and want to save a little green, you’ll get 10% off normal pricing for the 6-month membership, or 2 months free (roughly 20% off) on a 12-month membership.
Perfect as a stocking stuffer, or as a little somethin’ for yourself.
Just wanted to belatedly post this video of Chip getting his first few muscle ups. After a little bit of work, he popped out two on his first attempt. We decided to record it for posterity, and he pulled three reps on only his second attempt! No wild kipping, no huge swing, just good technique and strength. Great work!
Congrats as well to Moses, who also got his first muscle up (unfortunately not on camera).
Keep up the good work everyone! We’ll be working on muscle up skills over the next few weeks, and I’ll try to keep the camera on hand to catch a few more milestones.
As a trainer/gym owner, I feel that my primary responsibility is to ensure that you achieve the results that you are looking for, and that you get there in the safest, quickest, and most effective way possible. To accomplish this, I have certain standards and philosophies that I enforce. Sometimes they may not make sense, but I assure you that there is a method to my madness.
In response to several conversations that I have had over the last weeks, I’d like to take the time to make a few remarks outlining my thinking about different topics. I hope this serves to explain in more detail why we do (and don’t do) certain things. Please keep in mind, this is only my opinion, and I absolutely reserve the right to change my mind if presented with better evidence.
So, the first of several topics to be discussed: Kipping pull ups
Even a cursory glance at any of thousands of YouTube videos will show that kipping pull ups are clearly superior to any and every form of pulling, right? And hey, kipping isn’t just for pull ups anymore!
Now, all humor aside, here are some things to consider:
Q: What exactly do we mean by a strict pull up?
A: Let’s turn for a moment to Ido’s explanation of the ideal strict pull up (see link below):
The real pull up is very difficult to master:1. Start in a slightly wider than shoulder width grip. From a complete hang with shoulder blades elevated, while maintaining locked elbows, depress shoulder blades down and retract them together. Your head should elevate between your shoulders as the lats and scap retractors will ‘engage’.2. From the position achieved in stage 1 start to pull up by thinking of bringing elbows to your sides. Do not concentrate on the upper arms. You should also avoid concentrating on the load - as research shows one should concentrate on the working muscles in order to achieve optimal activation, even if you are not interested in body building - this is an essential cue for you: concentrate on your lats.3. Pull all the way up until your lower chest hits the bar with shoulder blades retracted backwards and shoulder rolled behind. The triceps of both arms should make contact with the lats and there should be a slight pause at this position for 1-3 sec. The come down will reverse the process, going down at least in 4 sec to complete hang. 4. Repeat for the required amount of reps.
The kipping pull up, on the other hand, uses a sharp snap of the hips to generate upward momentum, allowing the upper body to do significantly less work while distributing the load throughout the rest of the body.
Q: Why would you want to do pull ups in the first place?
A: Because a properly executed pull up will strengthen many of the muscles in your upper body, and wikipedia says they’re good for you. Or you could just read about them here or here or here. Heck, Google it. Point is, they’re essentially concentrated upper body awesomeness in exercise form.
Q: Given all that, why would you want to kip?
A: Because, relative to strict pull ups:
it allows for a greater volume of work to be done in a given time
it allows people who aren’t able to do a lot of (or a single) strict pullups to enjoy some of the benefits of pullups.
it is a large-scale, total body movement which requires coordination, power and timing.
What’s not to love, right?
Here’s where things get interesting. Properly executed, kipping pull ups aren’t necessarily evil. There, I said it. It might surprise some of you to know that I’m not completely anti-kipping. In fact, I want everyone in my gym to be able to do kipping pull ups whenever they choose to. Whaaaaa??? (I know, right?). Why would I write that when I tell people not to kip?
Because if everyone could kip, that would mean that everyone had achieved the requisite strength, flexibility, and coordination to safely and effectively utilize the kip when needed. In other words, we have chosen to enforce a rule requiring a certain level of strength and mechanical efficiency before allowing the kipping pull up to be used.
In the end, it comes down to a cost/benefit analysis. On the plus side is the massively increased speed (and higher repetitions) which kipping allows. Let’s face it, if you are at all interested in competing in CrossFit events, you are going to have to be able to kip.
On the negative side is the increased potential for injury and the huge potential for just plain crappy movement to occur. Let’s examine each of these in turn.
Kipping pull ups have been blamed for (or at least associated with) shoulder injuries for a while now, particularly SLAP tears (Superior Labral tear, Anterior to Posterior). Don’t take my word for it, check for yourself (Google has a nice selection). This type of injury is common with overhead throwing athletes (e.g., Baseball or Volleyball), or from a fall onto an outstretched arm. If you look at the position of the shoulder/arm at the front of a kip, it’s similar to a throwing position.
[caption id=”attachment_4168” align=”alignnone” width=”250” caption=”via CrossFit Kinetics”]
Now, imagine someone severely lacking in shoulder/thoracic mobility (aka Average Guy) trying to get into that position. Someone who struggles to lockout an overhead press or hold a handstand. As the body starts to swing through, the shoulder girdle hits it’s flexibility limit and his forward momentum stops as violently as if he had crashed into a wall.
So, one theory is that, just as with repetitive overhead throwing, repetitive kipping creates microtrauma on the joint, eventually leading to injury.
Another potential mechanism for injury has more to do with lack of strength or technique (or both). This is often seen as the athlete becomes fatigued, and they start to lose the ability to control their body weight. They’ll manage to heave and grunt themselves up (near) the bar, and then fall to arms’ length, with no attempt made to slow their descent, coming to a violent, jerking stop,and then into the next kip. Every one of these falls puts stress on the shoulder, and has the potential to create an acute or chronic injury.
Finally, there’s always the potential for this type of kipping injury:
You’ll notice that I like to throw out words like “properly executed” when talking about the kipping pull up. It’s like the old Dan John joke, “Squats aren’t bad for your knees. Whatever the hell you’re doing, that’s bad for your knees.” At their best, kipping pull ups are ballet. At their worst, it’s an uncontrolled flailing, with eyebrows almost getting to bar level and the head about 2 feet away from the bar with approximately a 10degree elbow bend at the top, followed by a free fall back down. I would post a video, but my eyes are already bleeding from watching the ones that I have. You’ll have to venture into the YouTube kipping abyss on your own time.
The Wrap Up
So, do I think kipping is inherently bad, and no one should ever do it? Not at all. Given a solid base of strength and proper mobility, I believe anyone is capable of pulling off the movement. But that’s the key—there must be a base level of strength*, and the ability to safely move through the range of motion necessary, with control and joint integrity, in order to minimize the risk of injury (to you and to my soul, which bleeds a little every time I see some of these things people count as pullups).
*For what it’s worth, the strength standard we’re going with is the ability to perform 10 strict, chest/collarbone-to-bar pull ups (6 for ladies), prior to being able to use a full kip during a workout. Once you achieve that strength standard, whether you choose to use kipping pull ups or not is up to you (unless we have a workout which denotes strict pull ups). Weight the pros and cons, decide which version is better suited to your goals, and go with it.
I hope that clears up any confusion about where I stand vis-a-vis the use of the kipping pull up. Please feel free to take sides and fire away.
There are actually several barefoot resources on this site, might be worthwhile to browse if you’re interested in that stuff. There are also plans on the site to make your own huaraches, if you’re feeling cobblerish.