Friday, December 19, 2014

'Tis The Season ... For Foam Rolling.

Well I'm pretty much off work for the rest of the year.  And you know what that means ... time for asinine posts about anything that pops into my mind.  Today we're going to talk about foam rolling.  You know that basket by the front door with all the weird cylinders in it?  They're not just there so you can leave them in strange places throughout the gym and cause Ed to spaz out, they actually have (another) purpose.  I want to go through 4 of what I view as the most important areas to hit when foam rolling.  Before I begin, you'll notice that I decided to go with my own artwork today rather than stealing from the internet.  Big thanks to the BARx'ers who "volunteered" for this project today.

#1 - Thoracic Spine (Mid/Upper back area)

This is a big one, which I recommend to pretty much anybody that will listen.  I personally hit this one twice a day, and if I didn't have a job I would do it 40 or 50 times a day.  Of course, if I didn't have a job I probably wouldn't NEED to do it quite that much.  Anyway, here's how it's done:

Lie back-down with the roller positioned horizontally beneath your shoulder blades.  Simply roll back and forth with your hands crossed in front of your chest or extended overhead.  A good goal is to try to get flexible enough to have the hips and the back of the hands touch the ground at the same time.  Note the pain face:  this is key to making sure the proper muscles are firing and for safety in all theses movements.

#2 - Quads

This is another area that tends to get very tight and sore with all of the squatting, running, and jumping that you do.  You can't hit this area enough ... especially if you're experiencing any type of knee pain or tightness in the area.

Lie face down with the roller positioned anywhere between your knee and your hip.  Roll up and down and side-to-side.  Spend time in the areas that hurt the most ... if your face doesn't look like Roger's then you're doing it wrong.

# 3 - Hips and Booty

Once again, these are spots that take a lot of abuse with all of the violent hip extension, pulling from the floor, and squatting that we do in our programs.  And remember, using a foam roller for this is way smarter than using the edge of a counter-top at work ... and you'll get less strange looks.

For this one, sit on the foam roller with the leg/hip you are working crossed over the other.  Lean towards the side you are working on, again moving up and down and side to side.  Stick on any areas that feel especially rough, and try not to cry.

#4 - Calves

Unfortunately for me, this movement does not add any size to your calf muscles.  However, it's a great way to keep everything feeling good after a lot of double unders, box jumps, or olympic lifts.

Simply place the meat of your lower leg on the roller and get after it.  Up and down hurts like hell.  Side to side .... I can't even think of an adjective for the pain.  Good luck.

Those are the big 4 to hit in my opinion.  Obviously there are other ways to use the roller, but if you only have 5-10 minutes after your workout these are a good way to get some bang for your buck.  As for when to do it, half of the world will tell you it's great before a workout and the other half will tell you to do it after.  This is something you'll have to play with yourself.   Just find time to do it, and enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Out With The Old ... And In With The Super Old

I had an epiphany the other day when talking to Stoobs about programming.  I think I naively believed when we opened this gym that someday I would find or create the perfect program, and it would be glorious and I'd never have to worry about programming again.  As it turns out, that's not how it works.  Whether it's a program that you've come up with for yourself, or one that you're creating for others, it is a never-ending process.  It's like a living, breathing being that has to be constantly tweaked and managed.  As your needs change and as you grow, the program has to grow with you.  It's much like a lot of things in life ....

Sorry, I tend to get all philosophical when I'm drinking.  Bear with me.  I also strip down and pose like this.  It's very ... strange.

This is why, as you may notice, the program at BARx seems to be constantly changing.  Some movements are added in and emphasized at certain timess, some movements go away entirely, WOD lengths are adjusted, rep schemes are modified ... on and on with this stuff.  However, the nuts and bolts always remain:  Press, Pull, and Squat.  Hard and heavy.  Basically we tend to keep 80% of the program, and toss out the other 20% for reworking.  This is the key:  To find a balance between being a complete stubborn jackass and being a person who changes everything all the time for no reason.

It's a fine line that we walk.  This is also my unceremonious way of announcing that we're adding Tight-Rope Walking as a secondary skill on Thursdays.

Sometimes, you have to take a look at something that you long believed to be true - and then smash it to pieces.  This can be the difficult part, as human beings (yes, I'm talking about you all as if you're a group that I'm not part of) tend to have a difficult time making adjustments to a long-held belief.  Perhaps you believed for years that high-volume squatting 8 days a week would make you a superstar, and here we are years down the road with destroyed hips and knees and no weight on the bar to show for it.

Pardon me as I limp up to the squat rack.

It all reminds me of a very tense scene from the movie No Country For Old Men.  Let me set this up for you, Foreman style:  two of the characters are sitting in armchairs in a hotel room facing each other and having a conversation.  On one side, wielding a massive shotgun, is the psychopathic murderer played by Javier Bardem.  On the other side, a terrified drug dealer begging for his life, played by Woody Harrelson.  At one point during the conversation, Bardem's character calmly asks a question:  "If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?"

I won't tell you how the scene ends for those that haven't seen the movie, but it's pretty much what you'd expect.

Of what use was the rule ... Sure, the stakes are a little higher in the scene because he's staring down the barrel of a shotgun.  With working out, we're simply talking about stalled progress or injury.  It's not really a life or death situation .... Or is it??

I know she looks all sweet and innocent, but Rachel once told me if she didn't PR her snatch soon she would murder me.

Friday 12/19/2014 - WOD

A): Deadlift (1x10 @ 55%)
A) : Deadlift (1x8 @ 60%)
A): Deadlift (1x6 @ 65%)
B1): Ring Rows (3xMax)
B2): Floor Glute Ham Raises (3 x 8)
B3): Pullup Challenge
Perform reps depending on what day of the challenge you are on

Metcon (Calories)
10 Rounds for Calories
1 Min on
1 Min off

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Programming: Strength First.

If you've ever traveled around and been to other CrossFit gyms, you may have noticed that there are many different ways of doing things.  Some gyms opt not to put together a structured strength program for their regular daily classes.  You might come in, warm up, do a long conditioning workout, and go home.  At BARx, we will always program strength and skill movements and give you plenty of time to complete them properly.  I'm not saying our way of doing things is better, I'm just pointing out that there are different ways of going about putting together a program for each gym.

Although I'd be willing to bet ours will get you a strict pull up just a little bit faster.  Ironically, this is the only photo you'll find without some sort of nudity if you Google "girl pull up."  (Do it!)

One of the most important concepts we had in mind when we opened BARx was that we wanted our program to be focused on strength first.  There are several reasons for this, and this thinking dictated the structure of our classes.  Have you ever wondered why we do the strength movements BEFORE the conditioning portion during each class?  It's because in our view, strength is the foundation and should be prioritized first in a solid training program.  Nine times out of ten, when the question is "why I am struggling with this?"  ... The answer is STRENGTH.

I mean, which one is more important - Snatching or Running?  God help you if you answer wrong.

Like I said, there are many reasons we believe this to be true.  One of the most important to me is that strength is what keeps you functional as you age.  And everybody likes living, right?  Do you think when you're older and you fall and break your hip, the doctors will blame the fact that you didn't do enough running and burpee WODs?  HELL NO .... actually, quite the opposite.  Another reason that we are Strength First is that strength will actually improve your conditioning in the CrossFit world.  Do you think a conditioning workout that involves a heavy barbell would be easier if that barbell were lighter?  Yes?  Then get stronger, and it will be.  And finally, bragging about your strength looks way cooler on Facebook.  Period.

Let me break it down for you, Metcon Sally:  when you post up and brag about your time on a conditioning workout, people think you're a jackass ... because you are.  When you post up a 300 lb Olympic lift, people think you're a jackass ... because they're jealous.

In closing, I guess the point is that having the strength portion of the class in front of the conditioning is a very deliberate part of the programming.  We have structured it this way for many specific reasons.  As you'll find out, all major aspects of the programming are thought out in such a way.  Hey, I'm not necessarily saying it's 100% right, but at least it's done with good intentions ....

What's that old saying about the path to hell?

12/16/2014 - Tuesday

A) : Behind The Neck Jerk (3x5 @ 40%)
B1): Handstand Push Up Skill Work 
B2): Pullup Challenge 
Perform reps depending on what day of the challenge you are on

Metcon (Time)
Snatch (95/65)
Toes to Bar

12/17/2014 - Wednesday

A): Front Squat (1x10 @ 55%)
A): Front Squat (1x8 @ 60%)
A): Front Squat (1x6 @ 65%)
B1): Barbell Row (4x8)
B2): Pullup Challenge 
Perform reps depending on what day of the challenge you are on.

Metcon (AMRAP - Reps)

Round 1
Partner A: run 400m
Partner B: amrap power cleans (135/95)
when partner A returns, partner B runs 400m while partner A does Power Clean amrap

Round 2
Partner A: run 400m
Partner B: amrap Hang Power Clean (135/95)
when partner A returns, partner B runs 400m while partner A does HPC amrap

Once both rounds completed start again with Round 1

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Book Review - Olympic Weightlifting For Masters

Every once in a great while, a book comes along that just may change your entire life.  For me, that book was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  But in the weightlifting realm, that book is Olympic Weightlifting for Masters, by Matt Foreman.

My only disappointment is that I didn't get asked to hand model for the cover.  I guess the world just isn't ready for a hook grip that can get all 4 fingers over the thumb.

As the cover does a phenomenal job getting across, this book is about Olympic Weightlifting for Masters, more specifically anyone over the age of 30.  That's right - 30.  This book finally proves what I've been trying to tell you bastards for years:  I'm actually quite old.  Rather than rehash something I've already written, I'll just share with you my actual 5-star review from the Amazon website:

So far nobody has found my review helpful.  But I'm confident they'll come around.  They always do.

I guess the key takeaway for me is that being a "masters" athlete isn't solely about how old you are.  It's also about how much time you have to dedicate to your training and recovery, because of things like jobs and kids and other stuff that's not as fun and rewarding as lifting weights (that was a joke about the kids - maybe).  Part of training is striving to find that balance and not drive yourself into the ground or run in circles of endless frustration.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone over 30 that wants to learn more about training successfully for the rest of their life while avoiding injury and maintaining balance ....

Yeah.  That would be you.

12/15/2014 - WOD

A): Shoulder Press (10x1 @ 55%)
A): Shoulder Press (1 X 8 @ 60%)
A): Shoulder Press (1x6 @ 65%)
B1: Ring Dips (3 x Max)
B2): Pullup Challenge
Perform reps depending on what day of the challenge you are on:

Metcon (Time)
KBS (70/53)
10 Burpees BETWEEN each round

Thursday, December 11, 2014

St. Nick Visits BARx ...

And he left some sweet gifts.  I'm still trying to wrap my head around this, because it really is like magic.  As far as I understand the situation, St. Nick Canatsey swept into BARx unannounced on Wednesday with two giant speakers and a receiver in his sleigh.  He installed all of this equipment, expecting nothing in return, and then flew off silently into the night.

He did however ding the crap out of a blue Honda trying to land that thing.

In all seriousness, a huge thanks to Nick for what he did.  While we are appreciative beyond words for this gesture, it also got us thinking ... are we just incredibly lucky to have such great members that they continue to do these kind and thoughtful things for us?  Or are we just so damn lazy and inept that people continually have to take matters into their own hands?  Well either way I'm okay with it, because now we can crank up the Katy Perry to a whole new level of obnoxiousness.

Ironically, just the other day we were talking about how nice it would be if we had just one more reason to make the neighbors hate us.  Funny how things work out!

12/12/2014 - Friday

A): Deadlift (1x5 @ 75%)
A): Deadlift (1x3 @ 80%)
A): Deadlift (1x AMRAP@ 85%)
B): Ring Rows (4 x MAX)

Metcon (AMRAP - Rounds and Reps)
11 Min AMRAP
8 Pushups
10 Med Ball Cleans (20/14)
20 Double Unders

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Programming Variety and Frequency

Okay, I apologize for the small hiatus.  This week has been .... annoying.  If you recall in the last programming post, I talked about the cycle of damage-rest-repeat as a key to making improvements.  I thought today I would use my time to talk about the most popular question that everyone asks when they start coming into the gym:  how often should I come?  The 2nd most popular question is "which days should I come?"

The 3rd most popular question is asked exclusively by women and D.J. - will I get too bulky? I'm not going to address this question today (or ever), but I think this picture of Steph's arm 30 minutes after her first CrossFit workout should help.

As for the first question of how often one should come to the gym, I always advise someone new to try coming 2-3 days per week and then assess how their body feels.  This is a good starting point for most, and many people end up sticking with that schedule for the long haul.  That's perfect.  The tough part of this question is that the answer is going to be different for everyone.  There are two primary issues to consider when deciding how many days per week you should train:  #1 How much lifting can your body take without feeling like it's been put through a food processor each week? And #2: How much time do you have?

You also might want to ask yourself if you have enough Rx Bars to survive the week.

The good news is that both of these questions should be fairly easy for you to answer.  If your joints are constantly achy to a point where you walk funny, if you need your significant other to assist you brushing your teeth in the morning, or if the thought of going up or down a flight of stairs is just too much to handle ... you might be training too frequently.  Note:  that is not an exclusive list of ailments.  Also, there's a general rule that if you have more surgery scars than you have children then you are definitely over-doing it .... this is why Brian keeps having kids.

Nope, still healthy!

For the second question of how much time you have during the week to train, I have no way to help you answer this - you really should know the answer.  I've generally found that our membership consists of people who make training a priority, and therefore finding a minimum of 3 hours a week to workout is really not an issue.  Most of you need quite the opposite:  to be talked out of coming 7 days a week.

Once we've nailed down the frequency, the next question is always which days are best.  Everyone is concerned about balancing out the program and making sure they are hitting everything at all times.  The good news is that we build this variety into the programming.  The days of the week are varied and broken up in terms of the major types of lifts we do:  Squatting (Front and Back), Pulling (Olympic lifts and Deadlifts), and Pushing (Bench and overhead).  We also try to vary the assistance work and conditioning enough so that you will hit a lot of these movement patterns on different days as well.

This is why we never put burpees as a primary skill.  Also because nobody would show up that day.

So I guess the bottom line is to make sure you spread your training days throughout the week and try to hit a variety of movements as your schedule allows.  Inevitably, people start to become concerned with the fact that they are always X, and never Y.  What if you always hit the Back Squat day but never seem to make it on Front Squat day?  Listen:  it's going to be okay.  As a telling example, there is great debate even among seasoned Olympic weightlifters about whether you should front squat or back squat more.  Some of them do Back Squats or Front Squats almost exclusively for a variety of reasons.  Some of them pull heavy deadlifts from the floor, some of them never do.  Some of them make heavy pressing movements (bench, overhead) a priority, and some leave them out altogether.  My point is, these are high level athletes and the only thing they agree on is that they don't need to put every single movement in their programs at all times.  If you can't work a Bench Press day into your schedule for a month or two, you're going to be okay.  I promise.

Don't get me wrong:  balance is important.  Don't be that guy/gal just coming on Bench and Press days.  Unless you naturally look like this (as I do, minus the tan) then all is forgiven.

12/10/2014 - Wednesday

A): Front Squat (1x5 @ 75%)
A): Front Squat (1x3 @ 80%)
A): Front Squat (1x AMRAP@ 85%)
B): Ring Planks (Weighted) (3 x MAX)

Metcon (AMRAP - Reps)
For 6 Minutes Perform:
3 Renegade Rows (35/20) at the top of each minute
Power Clean AMRAP (115/75) with remaining time

Rest 3 Minutes

For 6 Minutes Perform:
3 Renegade Rows (35/20) at the top of EACH minute
Barbell Burpees with remaining time

Score=total power clean and burpee reps

12/11/2014 - Thursday

A): Bench Press (1x5 @ 75%)
A): Bench Press (1x3 @ 80%)
A): Bench Press (1x AMRAP@ 85%)
B): Toes-To-Bar (Skill work / 4 sets)

Metcon (Time)
4 Rounds
250m Row
10 Unbroken Wallballs (20/14) (if you drop ball start back over at 1)

5 DB Burpee Cleans (35/25)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Announcements

A few reminders to interrupt my programming tirades ....

Adopt a Family
I know, the title makes it sound like a bunch of work.  You don't actually have to adopt anyone, just grab a piece of paper off the wall in the gym, buy and wrap the gift that's on that piece of paper, and bring it back in.  Donations are going to be taken to the Salvation Army Wednesday this week.  Doing this will go a long way towards making up for some of the terrible things you did this year and NOT ruining Christmas ...

The Grinch doesn't have a muscle up.  You know why?  Because he's an ass.

BARx Holiday Party
Excuses I've heard so far have ranged from "I'll be in Las Vegas" to "I can't find a cat-sitter."  All of them bull honky!  Come by and hang out with us this Friday at the gym and spread some holiday cheer.  Rumor has it that Ed's got an even more drawn out and boring box-top speech planned for this year.  You won't want to miss it.

Pull Up Challenge
The board met this past weekend, and besides running up a giant bar tab (I didn't know people over 30 did Jagerbombs) they came up with an idea for immediate implementation.  You'll notice I didn't say new idea, because it's not:  they decided to bring back the old pull up challenge.  Apparently people liked it so much the first time around that it's time for another go.  Upon hearing of this, I did hours of research and combined all of my knowledge about pull up programming to create a succinct daily program for all to use.  It was immediately shot down.  Instead I'm going to tell you to "work on pull ups" each day after the WOD.  For now.  Eventually I will re-vamp the program and get it into your hands, I promise.  Sometime this week.  Maybe.

If you don't like the idea, drink some of this and you'll soon think it's great.  Isn't it amazing how just the image of the bottle can make you smell it and gag?

12/08/2014 - Monday

A): Shoulder Press (1x5 @ 75%)
A): Shoulder Press (1x3 @ 80%)
A): Shoulder Press (1x AMRAP@ 85%)
B1): Pull-ups (4 x Max)
B2): Dumbbell Bench Press (4 x 8)

Metcon (Time)
4 Rounds
200m Run
10 Push Press (95/65)
15 Box Jumps (24/20)