Categorized as: Programming

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

 

 

Programming reflections

Developing our programming at CrossFit London is about merging the best of consistency with the benefits of variation; all topped off with obvious short and long term objectives.

It’s also about creating establish structures that deliver training gains.

Currently, we have a 3-day structure

Day 1) is titled All Elements and features the full squat version of the clean or the snatch. In the workout any elements can appear. As a regular skill we include some kipping practice

Day 2) is No Shoulder day where we alternate between the front squat and the Bulgarian split, and the back squat cycling with the deadlift plus the 1 legged Romanian deadlift.  The workout is limited to moves that do not include the shoulder. A shoulder rest day our skill focuses on the double under and the pistol.

Day 3) is No Squat day, currently upper-body orientated. We work through weighted pull ups/dips and cycle through the press, push press push jerk. The workout will not include a squat element- it needs a rest. Our regular skill is handstand based. It can be a 45 degree wall walk hold as your first step in getting upside down, to your first handstand push up, to handstand walking.

If you are following this programme, Day 4 is a rest day. However, as a gym with a big community, Day 4 is entitled Off Programme day.  We still schedule a great WOD, skill and strength for those who want to work 5 days straight through,  or it’s the only day they can make.

We are currently testing July’s  draft programme (about 2 weeks ahead of where you are) and are deep in designing the August/September programme. Interestingly, the 2 targets nudging our thought processes are Cindy and Isabelle. This has thrown up 2 issues

Issue 1 . Push-up homework

To achieve 20 rounds of Cindy, you need 200 push ups. It’s that simple and stark. We will prepare you by having push ups scattered throughout our preparatory workouts, but the reality is that you probably need more push-ups that we can ethically put in our sessions.

By ethically, I mean we cannot drag you, our beloved members, across London- often in rush hour- to charge you to do push-ups that you can do at home. Our dips, presses etc support this work. We set them, as in our mind you go to the gym to play with stuff you cannot reasonably have at home.

I have a plea. Over the next few week, please do push-ups at home. I’m hoping this week do 75 push-ups a day, the week after 100, 150, then 200. I need you to own 200.

This can be done as a hardcore task: three sets of 66! But it’s better to think about creating an easy habit. Five before you get in the bath, five in the  Starbucks queue, 10 while waiting for the bus, five before you brush your teeth. Why not post a clip of you  pushing up 9n public on the facebook group. Its now a thing.

When you come to do Cindy, I need you to know, know you can do 200 push ups.

Issue 2 Power snatch/power clean on day 3 WOD

The next issue is the power snatch versus squat snatch. I want to create 2  distinct pathways for these moves.  I want us to consistently pursue the squat snatch as a  thing of beauty, but develop the power/split snatching as the go- to workout move.

Day 1 will alternate (as it has done) between the squat snatch and squat clean. The focus will be on enough reps to develop the best form possible within the  20-30ish minutes allocated. For most, this is enough time to make substantial improvements (self-training and our Olympic lifting classes accommodate those who need more). Sometimes this will be delivered instructionally, other times as reflective individual feedback while you practice.  Often I suspect you’ll be sharing a bar and feeding back to fellow members as you watch them move. Peer coaching, under coaching supervision, can be very very useful as is using your phone’s camera to analyse and check form and spot weird habits in your classmates.

However, in the weeks  leading up to our Isabel test,  on day 3 in the workout, I  will often include a power snatch or a  power clean.

Yesterday we tested Isabel (30 snatches for time) as a day 3 WOD, therefore two days after the squat snatch element on day 1. It worked.  The next experiment will be to have squat cleans on day 1 followed by power clean in the WOD on day 3.  So over the next few months, note the pattern

Day 1  Squat Snatch dedicated session / Day 3 Power snatch in the workout

followed by

Day 1 Squat clean dedicated session / Day 3 power clean in the workout.

Obviously, we will vary the stimulus; different weights, different time domains, dumbbell versions.

Enjoy!

Programming objectives: July /August/ Sept 2017

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All CrossFit London classes are designed to improve you, whether you are pushing the boundaries of your aerobic capacity in our Metcon classes, getting your first back flick in our gymnastic classes, deadlifting that unimaginable weight in powerlifting or finally dealing with that dodgy shoulder (whatever) in our mobility sessions; training with us will deliver you results.

We do however have a very focused Level 2 classes that has a series of block periodized objectives as well as GPP and the CrossFit Games Open targets.

Our global objectives are very much geared towards the CrossFit Open. This is an annual event that our clients love. It’s where we benchmark our members against other Crossfitters in the world. From previous experience, we pretty much know we want strong legs, strong arms, and a great core as well as skill in kipping, double unders, being upside down,  the Olympic lifts and an amazing metabolic engine. You’ll notice the first 30 minutes of each Level 2 class devotes itself to most of those objectives.

We have a relentless love for nudging your front squat, deadlift and back squat along. We dream of you having a better overhead position. We lust after you having a better clean and snatch. We are weird like that. We want you to double-under, pistol, handstand walk/push up. We know arm strength will give you the muscle up.

Our colleagues in the worldwide training community tell us to prioritize your l-leg training. You will get sick of 1-legged RDLs pistols and Bulgarian splits, but one day you will thank us for having the courage to relentlessly set these moves.

Todays, isn’t that day.

However, we know that CrossFit gives us benchmark workouts, Fran, Elizabeth, Fight Gone Bad, CrossFit Total, to mention a few. We use these to structure our monthly training and our block objectives

In our forthcoming “block”, the objectives are an improved performance in:

1) Elizabeth (21-15-9 Squat cleans, dips) scheduled 13/7

2) CrossFit Total  1 rep max back squat, press, deadlift) scheduled 25/7

3) 30 kneeling muscle up for time (more of a sub-target, but kipping muscle ups for the team, or pull up /dip subs if need be. 2/8

4) Fight Gone Bad: 10/8

5) Cindy: 28/8

6) 30 power snatches for time: 16/9

7)  100 burpees for time: 30/9

These will guide, but not be the sole determiner, of the second 30 minutes of our Level 2 classes (we still need to weave GPP and the Open criterias in)

You’ll notice an escalating abdominal section at the end of most workout sessions slowly creeping in. We all need good looking abs. It helps with career prospects.

However, there is an underpinning objective: and that’s to make you effective, independent, skilled, and knowledgeable trainees. Which means we will support your in-class work with blog posts, video’s and do at home routines.

It’s going to be an exciting year  and as trainers, we look forward to seeing your success. All you have to do is to get to class,  read the blog ( I actually mean, “do your home work”) and have an inquisitive mind.

Enjoy