All Posts By

Mike Lee

Supplementation Pt.1

What should we be looking for in supplementation?
The fitness market is a bit of a mess, if you’re unsure of where to go and what do to then you’ll often find that a simple task like choosing a protein powder often becomes as complex as possible.


I’m going to cover the top three supplements that I have recommended over the years. Now if you’re genuinely serious about your health and fitness, you may want to undertake blood work with an appropriate lab to ensure that you are actually deficient in the things you are taking. Otherwise you’ll be creating extremely expensive urine.

Before we move onto the top five supplements and what they do, we should always start with your diet. Supplements are exactly as they say, supplementation to a healthy diet. For myself, supplements are a convenient way to get micronutrients into my diet when I don’t have time to shop around for the plethora of foods that I would love to include in my everyday eating regime.
Protein Powder

The average population are deficient in protein. I wrote an article a while back on the many roles that protein has outside of simply just muscle repair but as this is being published on a fitness blog let’s concentrate there for now.
Types of protein powder:
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Pea
  • Egg
  • Hemp

These are generally going to be your top found proteins and all have different absorption rates and different amino acid profiles. Whey is our most popular one due to the quick absorption rate of the protein. However, many people may wish to take a different alternative especially if they are vegetarian or vegan or dependent on their heritage. A lot of non-caucasian people will find that they have slight intolerances to lactose and therefore whey protein simply makes them bloated or gassy. A feeling that no one wants.

In the past I drank Branched Chain Amino Acids like they were going out of fashion. The anti catabolic effect of BCAAs appealed to my desire to not lose muscle mass (because the fitness market told me so). However, the fact of the matter is that if you’re eating a complete diet, chances are you are obtaining all your amino acids anyway.
So who should take BCAAs?

BCAAs can often give that spur of energy for those that train in the early morning without eating beforehand. The anti catabolic effect here can be desirable as the person is waking from a fast. They taste delicious and can often be a good addition to those who train fasted!

ZMA and Vitamin D

I’m going to put this one in here from the perspective of men. The below is taken from Examine.com one of my go to sources for supplement information.
  • Extra fat and worse metabolic health → lower testosterone
  • Lower testosterone → less energy to exercise, feeling crappy leads to stress eating
  • Less exercise and worse eating → lower testosterone, and so on and so on…
So clearly you can see from this that testosterone is pretty key. ZMA is one of the only supplements out there that is proven to help boost testosterone levels but again to be 100% sure you should ensure that you are actually deficient before taking any supplement. 
Vitamin D
In sunny old England (except for this Summer) we don’t receive as much Vitamin D as the rest of the world. As a result, the average person is deficient in Vitamin D. There’s a reason people are generally happier in sunnier countries and why rates of depression increase as you get closer to the arctic circle. Vitamin D has a huge effect on both mood and testosterone levels.
The supplement world can go much further than this. It’s worth noting that at the moment of writing this, I currently take 1 scoop of protein powder to boost my overall intake. This is simply taken post workout. I also take a greens powder which I will write more about in the coming blogs. The point being that the vast majority of my nutrition comes from a well managed diet. This saves me a fortune on supplements and makes my food much more enjoyable!
Mike Lee

Training vs. Testing

Topic: Training vs Testing

This topic is close to my heart. It represents a big mindset change for me roughly a year ago and the deeper I go into it the more I see the effects of people not understanding the difference between training and testing.

So let’s start with Testing.


Stage 1: 

At the beginning of your CrossFit career, especially if you were relatively inactive or had no sporting background prior, you will receive the great gift of beginner gains. Effectively this is the concept of moving more and getting better at most skills. There doesn’t need to be too much structure around your training, you simply have to be more active and move well in order to get better. Depending on the person, this can last anywhere between 3-4 months and 2 years. We embrace this concept with open arms and by moving more, 90% of the time we get fitter and stronger. It’s a pretty sweet deal. Therefore, testing frequently gives us a good high, we’re getting better on paper in most disciplines


Stage 2: 

Now depending on the person and how resilient they are to training along with the other factors of stress in their life, they inevitably come to a road where progression seems to be a lot harder to come by. At this point we have to be a little more refined, you can’t simply move anymore just to get results. If fun is what you’re looking for then by all means keep doing what you’re doing. At Stage 2 we have to start looking at the overall stress that is going into the body. Testing frequently will be detrimental to your progress as the stress on the nervous system means that you simply don’t have enough in the tank to operate for the proceeding sessions. This is not muscle soreness, this feeling manifests itself in trouble sleeping, broken sleep, anxiety, having to try harder to get the same results and a slightly more run down feeling.

If you’re feeling like you “should” probably go to the gym rather than I “want” to go to the gym. This could be you.

Testing at this point will be very dependent on “how you feel”. You might PR, but there will be days when everything just feels heavier than it should.


Stage 3:

“I’ve got a hip/back/elbow/knee issue”
“How long have you had this?”
“Two years+”
“What now? You’ve had a niggle for two years?”

Time to start thinking about whether this is a niggle or whether this is something more chronic.

Testing now is definitely detrimental to your progression and you should be minimising the amount of load going through your body. Simply put, stop smashing yourself.


If we take a moment to stop and think about where we are in our fitness journey, analyse what really needs improving, we can then start to draw a road map.

We will take a strict pull up as an example. A big benchmark for a lot of people.

What strength is needed?

Lats, rhomboids, elbow flexors (Biceps).

What movement skips the use of a lot of these?

The kipping pull up.

It is to that end that the kipping pull up is one of the worst exercises to facilitate the growth of a strict pull up.

Most of us know by now that this is the case for pull ups, but this applies to other gymnastic movements and weightlifting movements however the idea of testing is exciting so we sometimes over indulge in it and that’s when niggles and injuries start to creep in.

So how does this apply to class?

Instead of building to the heaviest possible lift, challenge yourself to not increase the weight unless your footwork was perfect. Challenge yourself to not miss a lift. Remember your body learns from the lifts you make and don’t make. So if you make 60% of your lifts and are able to snatch 70kg 60% of the time, you’re limiting your growth potential within that movement.

In training we take the results from testing and build on those. Testing too frequently means you never end up training. Your results then drop down due to over stimulating your nervous system and when testing does eventually come around you’ve got nothing in the tank.

Testing is dependent on the person. I like to use the guideline below:

Beginner to CrossFit (>6 months):
Test frequently. You can’t easily burn yourself out through fitness so you can test frequently and likely see good results. (Be careful as you can still burn out through overload of work/lack of sleep/poor nutrition).

Intermediate to CrossFit (6Mo-5 years): Depending on what you are testing, we can test every 8-12 weeks. Management of nutrition/sleep/lifestyle is now important to keep linear results.

Advanced CrossFitter (5-15 years +): You now don’t need to be testing theoretically. It might be nice to test now and then but essentially you will get the most results from being consistent with your training. At this point you should have learnt your body by now. I often say to people in this category, you go by feel. 90% of your 1RM might feel like 110% one day so bring it down or consider not doing the session at all. Your body is telling you something. Intensity is not as important here, but more a structural foundation and a game plan as to where you want to go. Intensity is easy, being smart is not.

The 2018 CrossFit Open at CrossFit London

You can’t have helped but notice that the 2018 CrossFit Open is just around the corner. Here’s what you need to know about the 2018 Open at CrossFit London.
The CrossFit Open runs for 5 weeks from Feb 22nd to Mar 26th. The WODs are released very early on Friday mornings and you have the weekend to complete them.
As previous years, Friday evenings will play host to the main event Open WODs. There are two slots to book into, an early and a late, but as per usual timings are at the mercy of Dave Castro and whatever he programmes. Don’t worry, we can be flexible if you need to arrive early or leave late.
Can’t do Friday? Not to worry, this year, we will have coached Open Gym slots throughout the weekend, which will be able to book into any of those to complete the workouts (or just use as you normally would if you don’t want to do the Open). At CFL, the Open Gym slots are all in 10 MP so lines on the floor won’t be an issue. The coach on duty will see to it that everyone is properly judged.
As there is no Open Gym slot on Friday morning (and we know a lot of you like to get it done out of the way and away from the big Friday night crowd), Kyle’s Fri 7:30am WOD class in 10 MP will be the only other Open WOD class on the schedule.
If you can’t make Friday nights or the Open Gym slots, the coaches will be available to book for special 1-2-1 PT sessions for £20 per workout. They will take you through your own mobilisation, warm-up, strategy, and coach you through the workout as they judge at a time which is convenient to you.
(NB: Friday’s Heavy Metal Club has been moved to Wednesdays at 19:30, so you can continue to follow the HMC programming and do the Open)
Final Friday and Social
As ever, the final Friday on 23rd March will finish with a social, awards and probably beer-pong, This year’s (totally optional) theme is ‘Drag Queens’ – or ‘Cross-dressing-Fit’.
We’re currently looking for a venue to move onto afterwards. More on this later.
Last year, you were sorted into teams. This year, your coaches will head up their own Tribes (sorted at random when you sign up).
If you sign up for CrossFit London, Mike, Joe, Kyle and Carolyn will lead teams (team names at coach discretion). To be part of a team you will need to be signed up for the Open on the Games Website, but you do not need to be signed up on the Games website to participate (you just need to book into the workouts).
Or if you sign up for SE11, Nick, Juan and Tim will lead teams.
Prepping for the Open
Between now and the 23rd February keep an eye on the blog and the Facebook group for news, updates, tips, and special events.
Email support@crossfitlondonuk.com if you have any concerns or questions.