Categorized as: Nutrition

Clean up your back act. For free!

It’s been a hard back week at CrossFit London. Most of you use your backs well, moderate your loads and maintain a tight core when lifting, meaning deadlifting isn’t an issue.

If deadlifting is an issue, it’s normally traced down to a lack of what Stuart McGill calls ” back hygiene”.  Poor back hygiene means you use your back when lifting, all the time! You also abuse your back every day, by slumping and slouching ( or overextending). I t could also mean you are ok, but you cannot control yourself in a WOD. You’ll pile through in a workout no matter what your body is telling you ( it’s ok, I did this too, but,  it’s tough being an asshole isn’t it!)

I’m an expert in this area because, for years, this is what I did.  Zero back hygiene. My back took everything I  threw at it. Until it broke.

If you have back pain, there are 5 key mistakes you probably make. I made them all

1) Having a slumping place. That’s the place where you mold furniture to the worst position for your back, and you slump there for hours.

for the record, here is my slumping place

2) I went searching for physio’s,  therapists and experts to fix my back. The reality is that they all fixed it.  I just went right on home and screwed it up again

3) I failed to take responsibility: I blamed CrossFit for setting the deadlift, furniture manufacturers for making soft sofa’s, girlfriends for buying soft sofa’s, the door of our flat being wide enough to allow a soft sofa into my life. I also loaded stress, poor diet and worry into the mix, to get top quality pain, I certainly didn’t moderate my exercise: anger drove my deadlift up to levels that would guarantee to destroy it.

4) A refusal to do the “guaranteed to work” boring therapy exercises

5) A refusal to realise that I was a “backaholic”. That I loved slumping and  I liked that sickly sweet pain that comes with 8 hours of hanging in your back. I think I also liked the sympathy I got, but that’s awful to confess (in fact, I’m going to edit that confession out).

The good news is this: unless you have back plague, or a demon has possessed your spine,  you can fix your back. Back plague, demonic possession otherwise known as  Red Flags are here: if you have these symptoms, you do have a medical condition (or a demon)  and you need help fast.

But, unless you are in the tiny minority who has something really wrong with their back , your pain is down to you, and you can fix it if you want or can be bothered to.

If any of our members are remotely interested, we will  go through the skills and drills  you need to fix your back on Sunday 16th July at 10.30am in the back room at 9 Malcolm Place E2, for free. The class “back hygeine” is on the booking schedule. You should be able to book in and the system won’t charge you!

Don’t worry about me!  If no one shows, I’ll drink coffee! After all, I’ve decided to manage my back. I’m so over needing it to hurt

 

 

So, how was Fran?

fran

If you are reading this after the 19th of June, well done. You completed Fran. Either it’s your 1st time, or you had a previous benchmark which hopefully you beat.

Either way, you have something far more valuable than a PB. You have information. Crucially you have information that will inform your future training. Let’s look at what you just did: 21/15/9 thrusters and pull ups.

Question 1) It was a test, did you take it seriously, or did you coast?

Question 2) What felt hard, what felt easy? There are 2, arguably  3 moves in this workout, the squat, the push press, Some would say the thruster is simply unique sick move, all of its own, others

There are 2, arguably  3 moves in this workout. Some would say the thruster is a unique sick move all of its own, others that it’s just a front squat and push press stuck together. Then there’s the pull-up? Which felt hard, which felt easy.

Which felt hard, which felt easy?

The reality is that your Fran time will get better by a bigger front squat and a stronger performance overhead or simply a better thruster.

You’ll notice that our program constantly targets the front squat, the back squat, the deadlift. We combine this regular stimulus with one-legged variation’s designed to make sure your legs and glutes are totally engaged. This will also transform your sad little ass into a booty! Basically having strong legs is one aspect of nailing Fran. Look at those regular days and get yourself booked in.

Overhead strength is a must, so make sure you hit ” no squat day” where we work your strict and dynamic arm strength.

As for your pull-ups, you’ll notice a constant drip of weighted pull ups and dips in the program. The stronger your arms, the better. Obviously, it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that you’ll get a world beating Fran time with strict pull ups, so the question is, do you need to learn how to kip? If so, watch out for the tap swing /kipping opportunities in the “all element day” warm up, check out the skill classes and see if there is a “1.9” scheduled soon. 

Take home message, learn how to kip. If there isn’t a skill class or a 1.9 you can get to, grab a trainer and book a PT session!

However, these elements are not in themselves guaranteed to work. They must be pulled together by an unstoppable metabolic engine, so work hard in the metabolic conditioning part of the Crossfit level 2 classes, and hit those Metcon classes.

Once again, a good metabolic engine isn’t quite enough! Eventually, you need to be able to cope with thrusters and pull ups in a metabolic context. Remember the Tabata thrusters and pull ups!!

Balance this by dealing with your mobility, food, and mental health issues!

Crossfit? What the fuss? Get super strong, super skilled and build an unstoppable metabolic engine and apply it to tasks.  Fix mobility problems, eat well, and be super, super happy!

 

 

Five Nutrition Tricks from Elite Sport for the CrossFit Open

Here are 5 tips from the world of elite sport that improve performance and recovery to help you through the Open season and beyond.

1) Carb up, but not excessively

CrossFit workouts are several minutes or more of high power output, meaning they chew through your body’s carbohydrate stores.

Maximising the body muscle glycogen stores via ‘carb-loading’ has been used for years in other carb dependant sports, but consuming too much carbohydrate can lead to bloating and excess weight.

Athletes load carbs with their specific event in mind; don’t make the all too common mistake of using a template designed around a marathon for a WOD lasting ten or twenty minutes.

What to do: On the three non training (or recovery) days leading up to the WOD add in one more serving of starchy carbs per day.

 

2) Go easy on caffeine

Caffeine is an amazing tool for improving physical performance, but it has its downsides.

Caffeine exerts effects on many different tissues and organs. It improves muscular and nervous system performance, but it also jacks up heart rate and blood pressure. When you’re hammering through a WOD then your heart rate will be sky high and exacerbating this isn’t useful.

The second issue is that regular consumption of caffeine causes the body to adapt. This ‘caffeine tolerance’ means you don’t get the same benefits without increasing the dose, which in turn increases the adaptation further. As the intake creeps up you experience less benefits and more drawbacks like gastric ‘disturbance’, jitters, galloping heart, anxiety and dizziness.

What to do:

  • Minimise the dose: Older studies on caffeine used doses around 9mg per kilo of body weights, more recent ones show that lower doses are effective around 3 to 5 mg/kg. (1)

That works out at around

80kg person 240 to 400mg or about two to three cups of coffee, or one ‘Grande’ Starbucks

60kg person 180 to 300mg or about one to two cups of coffee, or one ‘Tall’ Starbucks

  • Use it in a best bang for buck manner: Athletes are encouraged to reserve caffeine for when it will be most useful, in other words before training and competition only.

 

3) Hydrate …

For the athlete hydration starts at least five hours out from competition. Being properly hydrated for performance means two things: getting the water into the body and then keeping it there, and electrolytes can help you with both of these.

It’s well understood that electrolytes – salts like sodium and potassium salts – help speed hydration during competition, what less people realise is that they can maximise hydration before the work starts, and keep you hydrated for longer by minimising loss through urine.

 

4) … But don’t over hydrate.

This seems counter intuitive, we all know hydration is vital for performance, but overhydration can be bad for health and mean carrying useless extra weight. In a WOD lasting typically between ten minutes to a half hour most don’t need a lot of extra hydration. Add to this that the environment at CFL is going to be cool with still air and the rate of fluid loss slow then the need is even less critical.

What to do:
Consume 500ml water in the two hours preceding the WOD in conjunction with one serving of a product like SaltStick chews (http://saltstick.com/product/saltstick-fastchews/).

If at any time you do need to stop and have a dry mouth using a trick of mouth washing with a sweet drink has been shown to improve performance in a number of different disciplines. (2, 3)

 

5) Post Match Breakfast

Whilst most of us diligently consume a post training recovery meal, and maybe even a recovery shake as well, few think about the bigger picture of the ‘post workout window’. Athletes are encouraged to beef up their breakfast the day after competition as this is another opportunity to fully reset muscle glycogen levels at a time when the body may be most receptive to it, meaning you can safeguard against stores slowly running down, and get back to normal training sooner.

What to do: Think of this meal in terms of ‘post workout’. Add more in the way of starchy carbs. A rule of thumb is 50% or more carbohydrate for longer tougher sessions, and less for lower workout sessions like technical days

 

Last but not least: Test the things out BEFORE the event

No list like this would be complete without the following words: no matter what sport you play or what tips and tricks you’re looking at, the day of competition (i.e an Open workout) is the wrong time to be testing new strategies out.

These techniques like the ones above should be tested in more routine sessions to gauge how you respond to them.

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Drew Price BSc MSc 

Registered Nutritionist / Author of The DODO Diet

drew@drewprice.co.uk 

 

 

REFERENCES & FURTHER READING

1) Goldstein, Erica R., et al. “International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7.1 (2010): 5.

2) Jeukendrup, Asker E. “Oral carbohydrate rinse: placebo or beneficial?.” Current sports medicine reports 12.4 (2013): 222-227.

3) Sinclair, Jonathan, et al. “The effect of different durations of carbohydrate mouth rinse on cycling performance.” European Journal of Sport Science 14.3 (2014): 259-264.>>

Beck, Kathryn L., et al. “Role of nutrition in performance enhancement and postexercise recovery.” Open access journal of sports medicine 6 (2015): 259.

Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness ACSM