Author Archives: Alycia← Older posts Newer posts → October 15, 2012
Mind over matter. There are times when our mind tells us ‘nah’ and our bodies listen. Other times, our inner monologue is a bit more optimistic, and we end up doing things that we didn’t think we could do. What do experienced lifters do when consistent training, real-food eating, and sleep/stress management aren’t enough to cause PR’s in the gym? We get them anyway. Here’s how:
1. Train with someone stronger.
When we head to the racks to lift, consider jumping in with a group of people who normally lift (a little) more than you. Yes, you’ll have to do a few more weight plate changes, but you’ll soon see the magic of observing how stronger people lift. You’ll notice how hard the last few reps look for them, and you might realize that your last few reps don’t ever look as difficult. Could you go up an extra five pounds and still make your lifts? Lifting with stronger people usually means that you are lifting with people who have been coming to the gym for longer than you have. They have probably seen the same plateaus that you are seeing, they also started out lifting less than they are now, and they will most likely be more than willing to give you some pieces of advice for how to make progress over time.
When we are lifting, make sure you check Wodify BEFORE going over to the rack. Know your goal weight for the day, know how much time you have, how many minutes one set + rest takes, and do the math from there. Use that info to determine your starting weight, your ending weight, and fill in the appropriate amount of gaps in between with numbers that make sense. If you normally find yourself lifting a moderate, but not-too-heavy weight as we move onto the metcon, consider doing fewer sets, and making bigger jumps in weight each time. If you are someone who fails a lift at almost every class, consider doing the opposite. Get stronger by getting in a higher volume of work at a lower percentage of your max.
When doing a metcon, make sure that you listen to the coaching points that are given at the beginning of the class. If the coach says” this should be a sprint” then you know that you have no business resting between burpees. Start fast and hang on for dear life. On the other hand, if the workout is 20 minutes long, and you are using 70% of your max weight for a lift that you don’t love to do, you will want to pace yourself to get more rounds done overall. It’s also important to know your personal style. Some people like to work in short bursts and take frequent, very short breaks. Others get through long stretches of work, followed by long stretches of time spent resting. Find your personal workout style and commit to getting 5-10% more work done in every metcon.
3. Don’t count.
This is the opposite of the last tip, and it’s for those who tend to use the numbers to their detriment. These people sometimes choose too few poker chips when counting rounds. They know their max numbers, and frequently won’t let themselves lift more than that because they aren’t sure that they can. For this group, it pays to listen to your body, and stop concentrating so much on the numbers. You may have noticed the 15lb rubber bumper plates that we now have in the gym. The first few times you use them, it’ll probably take an extra few seconds to do the math to figure out how much is on your bar. Why not skip those few seconds and continue to increase your weight in manageable increments until you can’t lift any more? If you keep saying that you ‘can only lift X amount of weight’, you’ll end up lifting only that amount of weight. If you lift those constraints and recognize the sky’s the limit, you might end up making faster progress.
In metcons, try to spend less time staring at the clock “We still have a whole ten minutes left?!” and start spending more time concentrating on your movements, your speed and minimizing rest taken between movements. You might just surprise yourself.
4. Pick someone to beat.
CrossFit is your own sport. It’s you versus the clock. You versus the weights. You versus yourself. BUT you have a room full of people who are also trying to do the same thing. Use that to your advantage! First, get used to using the Wodify whiteboard to find a person who consistently lifts a little more than you, and another person who consistently goes a little faster than you (and uses the same weight) in metcons. These are you point people. For the next few weeks, use these people as gauges for your own progress. You might notice that your point people all of the sudden make some big improvements to their game. Once the bar is raised, your own goals and aspirations may also get bigger. After all, someone just proved that it can be done. If he can do it, so can I.
Similarly, when you are in class, choose to set your bar up next to someone who consistently goes a little faster than you, and try to keep up with them. You might not finish as fast as that person in the end, but you probably moved a bit faster than you normally would, thus making personal improvements to your own performance. SIDE NOTE: You never know who is using you as their point person. Most of us in this gym who are naturally strong, fast or who have been training here for more than 8 months are someone else’s point person. Someone out there is stalking your numbers on the Wodify whiteboard, or peering over at you during metcons. Use that knowledge to help raise the bar for yourself, and for everyone in the gym.
5. Practice at 80%.
This tip is not just for the mental game – it’s a physical tactic for making real gains. At CrossFit Aspire, we are more concerned with creating strength than testing it. We spend more time doing sets of 5 reps than sets of 1. Because you don’t get strong doing single reps. You get strong doing 5’s, and occasionally you test your strength to see what you can do for one. Using that thinking, you can apply this to your lifting by picking a month to train at sub maximal weights, knowing that you will have perfect form on all reps, and will never drop the weights. Forcing yourself to concentrate on form and consistency over the number of pounds on the bar, will get you stronger and will give you the confidence you need to try more in the future. If you drop the bar in almost every class, then you are telling yourself that you are someone who fails every day. That’s not a good place to be. Drop your weight down a bit, hit your lifts (all of them) for a month or so, and then try to lift more. We guarantee that you will be stronger.
The same principle applies to conditioning workouts. If you take a few days each month to ignore the clock and concentrate on efficiency of movement (doing perfect, fast, short-dip push presses, rather than back-bending, pressing-out quasi push presses), getting all reps done in one big set (which would require slowing down) or not resting at all between movements (ie: picking up your jump rope less than 2 seconds after putting down your kettlebell), you’ll be improving your chances of going faster and getting more work done in the future.
To reiterate, these are useful tactics for getting yourself out of a strength or conditioning slump. They are not long-term solutions, but rather short-term bright spots in your training that will help you get to your next mini-goal along the road to fitness. Consistent training, clean eating, extra sleep and stress management will do a lot more to cause actual fitness level improvements. But when all else fails, or if you’re just having a bad day, turn it around in the gym using these simple, but effective mind games.
Posted in News & Events | Leave a comment September 14, 2012
I heard a story on the radio last night about a journalist who had the unique opportunity to follow around the president from the moment he woke up to the minute he went to bed. During his time, he had the chance to sit in on a few basketball games that the President played with local guys. He learned that Mr. Obama was a shrewd player, he demanded to be treated no different than any of the other players, and he took calculated risks on the court – all traits that he had shown in his job and life as well.
At the end of this story, the journalist make an excellent point – you can learn a lot more about a person by doing something with them, than just by asking them questions. I’d say that is spot on. Actions (and reactions) speak louder than words.
You might not have realized it until now, but the people around you have learned A LOT about your personality from the way you conduct yourself in the gym.
Some of the best CrossFit athletes in our gym will tell you their profession or their accomplishments if you ask them, but they never, ever carry and air of authority about them. They also never act like a ‘know-it-all’ even if they do, in fact, know every nuance of every lift we do.
The best CrossFit athletes are humble students while they are in the gym. Regardless of their profession, their outside expertise, or their former accomplishments, they treat themselves as the new student that they are.
It’s obvious that these people are genuinely interested in learning , and aren’t here to show off. They respect the authority of the coach, and understand that they are there to learn a new skill. Until they have mastered that skill, they will remain a model student.
One unique trait among some of the smartest and most successful people in our gym is that they have also managed to make incredible progress in a short amount of time. While some people thoughtlessly lift weights until the timer beeps, these people are asking questions. “hows my form?” “Why do you teach the lift that way?” “What’s the purpose of this?”
They are closer to mastering the lifts than others because they are ALWAYS asking for tips, form corrections, and are genuinely concerned with making improvements to their performance.
It’s no wonder that these are some of the most successful people outside of the gym. You won’t get very far without asking a bunch of questions along the way.
CONSIDERATE HUMAN BEINGS.
The help with putting away weights, the high fives, the pats on the back, the words of encouragement – these are things that we see over and over again from a large group of our members.
These are the same people who are first in line to sign up to do volunteer work, to help clean up the gym, to donate their time to help make a difference. They bring a little something extra with them to class – the human touch, and they leave a mark when they leave. Their presence makes our gym a better place to be.
Being a natural introvert, I realize that being the loud cheerleader for other people isn’t always possible. Raising your hand to ask a question or ask for a correction on form isn’t always something that everyone feels comfortable doing. But some of our most active participants aren’t the ones that yell the loudest at all.
The active participants are the ones that make the most of their time here at the gym. If they can get here early or stay late, they are working on their weaknesses. Everyone has a choice to sit on a chair or practice their double unders. These are the same people who attend our BBQs, sign up for competitions, or show up to events to support our other athletes.
These people are also the ones that tend to have the fullest and most satisfying lives. They manage to balance work and family, while making sure to have fun along the way. They are also the same people who are never satisfied with the status quo. They are always looking to do more.
So, in closing. WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE. We can spot you a mile away. We see you there…achieving, learning, trying, focusing, and making the most of your time in the gym. You are humble, you are positive, and you care about other people. We caught you red-handed. Your actions in our gym speak louder than any words. And for that, THANK YOU.
The next time you are working out in the gym, ask yourself – What type of person am I being right now? The answer might surprise you.Posted in WOD | Leave a comment September 5, 2012
September is BENCHMARK month at CrossFit Aspire! Almost all of September’s workouts will be CrossFit Benchmark workouts.
What is a benchmark workout and how is it different than what we normally do?
On any given week, Justin will put together a series of workouts that he feels would best benefit the general population of our gym. The workouts can be modified for new people, and everyone uses a weight that is a % of the weight they lifted in the strength part of class. Essentially, you are doing your own version of the workout, in a group setting.
A benchmark workout is one that CrossFit Headquarters devised, and is done by the hundreds of thousands of CrossFit athletes around the world. Some of these are named after the original women of CrossFit, back when it was just a single gym out in California. Some are named after fallen soldiers and the workout is CrossFit’s way of honoring their service.
Just like regular workouts, some are long, some are short, some are heavy, some are light, etc. They differ in that instead of using a % of your strength weight, the weights are usually ‘prescribed’. Again, just as in any workout, you are encouraged to scale the weights down to accommodate your strength levels. If you are unsure of what weight to use, please ask your coach!
Why are we doing this?
TO MARK PROGRESS: Benchmark workouts are great for doing just what their name says – for benchmarking your progress. As fun as it is to do random workouts all of the time, it makes sense to repeat the same ones to see how much progress you’ve made.
We will be repeating these workouts in January to see your progress. Over the winter months, you’ll be making progress, getting stronger, doing a 30day nutrition challenge, sticking with CrossFit over the holidays, and we’ll use the re-test to see how far you’ve come!
TO COMPARE: You can also use these workouts to compare yourself to CrossFit athletes around the world. A simple Google search will tell you the top scores for just about all of the CrossFit benchmark workouts.
Since these workouts have been done by other CrossFit athletes before, feel free to look up videos of other people doing the workouts. You’ll be amazed at the human potential to move heavy weight quickly!
TO ASSESS: These workouts will give us an idea of where the weaknesses and strengths of the entire gym lie. This month will give us an opportunity to see if we can make bigger efforts towards working on a few specific skills or movements over the next few months.
TO HAVE FUN & LEARN CROSSFIT: After this month, you’ll be able to carry on conversations with CrossFit athletes around the world, as you’ll all be speaking the same language. If someone comes up to you and asks you what your “Grace” time is, or what weight you do “Jeremy” with, you’ll know how to answer them! This will deepen your knowledge of traditional CrossFit workouts and you’ll have fun doing them!
We hope you enjoy Benchmark September!!
Other Upcoming Awesomeness:
Oct, Nov & December 2013: Assess and improve upon gym-wide weaknesses. Get stronger. Continue to make progress on all CrossFit skills.
January 2013: Benchmark Re-Test month. See how you’ve improved since September.
February 2013: Next SUPERHERO SUNDAY event at the gym! Exact date TBA.
Jan/Feb 2013: Post-holiday diet assessment and clean up.
February/March 2013: CrossFit Games Open. (The first round of competition that leads to the CrossFit Games in July. You’ll be competing in our gym and posting your scores online to see how you stack up against CrossFit athletes worldwide!)Posted in News & Events | Leave a comment September 3, 2012
In addition to recently adding 5:30am classes and 12 noon classes to our weekly schedule, we have some GREAT, BIG news!!
The ink is barely dry on the lease, but we couldn’t wait any longer to OFFICIALLY announce that we will be taking over the space next door (currently rented by Daddis MMA) by the end of this year. They, like us, got a little too big for their space, so they are moving into a larger space as we expand our own gym.
Here is a sneak preview of some of the new things that we are planning for the ‘new side’:
On-Ramp classes for Beginners: Beginners will be able to take a multiple-class introduction into CrossFit. These classes will address all of the basic barbell movements, accessory movements, and common conditioning workouts. After this intro period, beginners will be integrated into regular classes. This will ensure a smoother experience in normal CrossFit classes, as our entire CrossFit member community will know the basics. Beginners (those who started within the few months of us opening the new side) will also be encouraged to take the On-Ramp classes as a refresher.
More Facilities: The new side will include two more bathrooms and another shower. That means more opportunities to change and shower directly after class.
No more sharing the space: The kids are really cute to look at, but we want both the adults and kids to be able to use all of the space they need, without worrying about their safety and without having to limit their time on the equipment.
Run club will also start meeting on the new side, to give the entire room to Open Gym athletes on Sundays.
Specialized strength-based programs: CrossFit is an amazingly well-rounded program that creates elite level athletes. Once a person’s conditioning is up to par (which happens through 3x/week CrossFit + sprinting practice), they may choose to focus on getting stronger. Strength happens slowly over time, whereas conditioning can be re-gained in just a few weeks. Throughout the year, we will be offering 8-week strength programs to help athletes focus on their strength to ultimately make them better CrossFit athletes. This strength program is meant to be done instead of regular CrossFit classes. At the end of the program, athletes will return to CrossFit a better, stronger athlete. More info on these to follow!
More classes: As our membership grows, we want the small group training environment and the personalized coaching to remain intact. The extra room will allow us to grow without disturbing the flow or size of classes. Additionally, these other classes might be offered on the hour instead of the half hour, making it even easier to choose a class that best fits your schedule.
Thank you! It is through your dedicated support to our gym that we have been able to make such grand improvements to our gym over the past 2 1/2 years. Working out in the old garage gym seems like forever ago! We appreciate and value your commitment to our gym, and we are thankful that you continue to bring out new people to experience the benefits of CrossFit at CrossFit Aspire.
Here’s to another great school year, and an even better 2013!
-Alycia & JustinPosted in News & Events | Leave a comment August 7, 2012
Superhero Sunday is almost here! Below is all of the info that you’ll need to know.
What is it? Superhero Sunday is our first annual in-house competition. You will complete 3 workouts throughout the event. In addition to competing against the clock and against yourself, you will also be in the running to win “Best” in your gender and level category.
When is it? Sunday, August 26th, 10am. The workout portion of the day will take 2-3 hours, depending on how many people register. More specific timeline will be explained as the event gets closer. Stick around for a post-workout BBQ!
Winner categories are as follows:
Best Female and Best Male, BEGINNER
Best Female and Best Male, INTERMEDIATE
Best Female and Best Male, ADVANCED
How do I register? Write your name on the Sign Up sheets at the gym, hanging on the whiteboards. Please be sure to put yourself in the category that best fits your abilities. You should be able to safely move the weight with good form, and you should challenge yourself. If you are undecided about which category you fit into, please notify Alycia or Justin for suggestions.If you put yourself into a category that we do not think will challenge your abilities, or conversely, is too challenging for you, we will contact you to choose a different category.
I can’t compete, but I’d like to help out. We need judges! If you cannot compete due to an injury, but want to be present and help, please contact Alycia ASAP. We need 1 judge per athlete, and we will run heats of about 8-10 athletes, so the more help,the better!
I’m afraid to compete. I don’t think I can do it. Yes, yes you can.
In 5 minutes…
AMRAP Push Press
Row 750 meters, then complete as many push presses as possible with a barbell. The barbell will be on the ground (not in the rack) to start.
Push press standard: Full lockout of arms overhead with ears visible in front of the biceps (hands over shoulder blades). The knees only bend once, to start the movement. The legs stay straight for the rest of the movement.
Score = Push Press reps
Advanced weights: 135 (male) / 95 (female)
Intermediate weights: 95 / 65
Beginner weights: 65 / 45
Advanced: 4 Rounds KB weight: 55 / 35
Intermediate: 4 Rounds KB weight: 45 / 25
Beginner: 3 Rounds KB weight: 35 / 20
Score = Time taken to complete all work
KB swing standard: Kettlebell must swing overhead (above eye level) each time.
Wallball standards: Full depth squat a the bottom, ball hits the target every time, catch the ball at the chest.
Burpee standards: Chest hits the ground at the bottom, body is upright at the top, both feet leave the ground and the clap is overhead.
In 6 minutes…
establish a 1 Rep Max Clean
Clean standard: Weight starts from the ground and is caught at any point of a squat. The weight can be caught high (‘power clean’) or low (‘clean’). The athlete must stand up straight with the weight at shoulder height.
All of these exercises are ones that we practice often at CrossFit Aspire, and that will definitely come up in class before this event.
Looking to fix your clean technique? Join us on Thursday nights at 7:30 for Olympic Lifting class. Spend over an hour each week working on drills and lifts to improve your clean, jerk and snatch.$20/month.
Want to practice the movements? Open gym is Sundays, 10am-12pm. Come in for up to 2 hours to work on any of the movements listed above.
NOTE: Because the movements are simple, your job is to choose a weight level that is challenging, and push yourself as hard as you can. You know these movements. Now is your chance to show what you can do with them.
Sign up ASAP, please!
Posted in News & Events | Leave a comment July 28, 2012
Front Squat 3
AMRAP in 12
5 Toes to Bar
5 Front Squats
Every minute on the minute for 15 minutes
AMRAP in 10
10 KB Swing L
10 KB Swing R
30 Evil Wheels
Just like a calorie is not a calorie, a cheat is not a cheat.
The definition of a ‘cheat’, when it comes to food, can vary from a weekend long bender of beer, pizza and cookies to an extra few handfuls of nuts throughout the course of a day.
-If you are newer to CrossFit Aspire, or the Spring 2012 30-Day Challenge was your first experience with eating only real foods, your cheats might include weekly beer nights, and anything that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of ‘paleo’ or ‘primal’, ranging from the white rice on a sushi roll to the sugar bomb that is a 3-bowls-of-cereal-and-a-pastry breakfast. To you, anything that isn’t ‘real food’ is a cheat.
-The next tier of people draw a line in the sand, and frequently re-evaluate where that line is. They move it a little farther back every few months, tightening things up as they go. First, it might be ‘nothing that comes in the box or bag’, then it might be “no beer’, then ‘no gluten’, and so on.
-Those with more experience or who are trying to lose some fat might consider overindulging on paleo-friendly foods a cheat. Three bananas in one day? Cheat. 3 servings of almonds? Woah now. A whole container of dates? Sugar overload.
-And finally, the strictest group, which is usually reserved for those with autoimmune conditions, those who are serious about gym performance, and/or who have no cravings for ‘bad food’ or alcohol. These people never (or very, very rarely) eat meals that include more than meat, veggies, nuts and fruit. Their intake of food is mostly protein and fat, with post-workout carbs mixed in to keep energy and recovery levels in check. Yes, this includes holiday, birthdays, weekends, happy hours, etc. All the time means all the time.
Choose the category of people above that best describes your current habits.
Spend the next month (which is an easy, veggie-friendly, grill-friendly, relaxed month) getting used to living in the next strictest tier of eating. This won’t be easy at first, but it certainly isn’t that hard. Push yourself. Make that change. Stick with it.
* NOTE: If you are very new here and you are looking to make a dietary change, but you have not yet changed your eating habits at all, don’t worry. We’ll be hosting a Nutrition Discussion very soon, where you’ll have a chance to learn more about how and why we eat only natural, real foods. For now, just be sure to read the CrossFit Aspire Nutrition Guide that was emailed to you after you joined!
NOW, onto the real reason I wrote this article. A ‘cheat’ is called such because you are cheating yourself out of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. As you know, diet isn’t the ONLY factor in crafting a sustainably healthy life.
Pick one or two things from this list that you do so commonly that you consider them ‘habits’.
Going forward, consider these ‘cheats’. Every time you do them, you are cheating. Add up these ‘life cheats’ and your food cheats and the sum isn’t pretty. I’ll bet your ‘90% healthy’ lifestyle just got downgraded to a 60%.
I skip workouts regularly.
I do a CrossFit style workout at 90%+ intensity every day of the week.
I’ve been annoyed at someone all week, but I haven’t addressed it yet.
I slept less than 7 hours.
I took a nap or had a cup of coffee after 12pm to keep me going throughout the night.
I have had a nagging pain/ache for more than a few days and I haven’t done anything about it. Foam rolling doesn’t help.
I felt a sharp pain during today’s workout, but I kept going because otherwise my score on the board would look too low.
I worry about things as I fall to sleep at night.
I didn’t cook one meal at home in the past 5 days. I’m ‘doing the best I can’ by making healthy choices at restaurants.
I ate lunch (and dinner) at my desk this week.
I cheated on my reps during the workout to finish sooner.
I said or thought something negative about my body today.
Just like the food cheats, some lifestyle cheats are more serious than others, but surely we can all find TWO things on this list that we consider a habit.
Write these two things down, and keep them in your wallet, your pocketbook, your gym bag, stick it to your computer screen, or fridge. The note will serve as a reminder that you’ll need to make a change during your day to avoid that bad habit. In the beginning, just like when you start a diet, you’ll have to concentrate on not doing these things. You’ll have to break old patterns and start new ones. But over time, you will see that it wasn’t so hard to stop those things from happening, and you can start to easily live a healthier life.
As the owners of your gym, we are here to help you get healthy, and we realize that our job does not stop the moment we yell ‘Stop” and the music shuts off. We are here to help you become better, healthier, and happier people, in and out of the gym.
Hopefully this list of habits and soon-to-be ‘cheats’ helped you realize that you can do even better. There is always room for improvement. You’ve got to start somewhere!Posted in Nutrition Articles | Leave a comment July 26, 2012
Push Press 5
Weighted Pull-ups 5
7 Push Presses @ 50%
7 Box Jumps
500m Row Time Trial
Back Squat 5
20 Goblet Squats
- rest 90 seconds