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Relative strength: one of many strength perspectives

In this article we visit the basic language of weightlifting and how it relates to the concept of relative intensity.

When it comes to using weight; in simple terms, people think this: lift the heaviest weight you can, that’s your 1 rep max; then based on that you can lift 90% of it 3 times (3reps), 85% of it 5 times, 75% 10 times. If you do 3 rounds of 3 reps, that’s 3 sets.

So weight lifting is a mix of percentages, sets and reps, all based on a one rep max. Simples!

This is a great place to start, but to develop your strength head,  you need to develop your knowledge and insights into the strength game.

Some time ago, Zatsiorsky pointed out there are two types of  one rep maxes you can have: a competition 1 rep max, and a training 1 rep max.

A) A competition max is  where you get hyped up and get a PB  and scream a lot.

B) A training 1 rep max

Marvellous.

However, often people skip the full definition of a 1 rep training max.

A maximum training weight  is the heaviest  weight you can lift  without substantial  emotional stress.

Damn. No screaming.

For athletes, the difference between the two is great. The example Zatsiorsky cites is that for athletes who lift  200 kg during a competition, a 180kg is typically above their maximum training weight. As a possible indicator, if your heart rate increases before your lift, that’s a sign of emotional engagement. Weightlifting is meant to stress your body, not your mind.

That’s the job of your partner and employer.

In short, if you screamed it up – it’s too heavy to use as a basis for regular training.

So, if you are calculating reps and sets using a 1 rep max, please, please use the right one; otherwise you’ll break. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon… If you want to properly test your 1 rep max, book a PT session with one of the training team.

If you have been lifting regularly for a while, you have probably begun to review strength literature and you are probably aware that lifting 80% of your 1 rep max provokes strength gain.

So, when lifting sets of 5, you’d probably like to put 80% of your 1 rep max on the bar. Everyone does that, but think about what it is you’d are actually be doing.

Let’s forget weightlifting for a moment, and talk about bricks. Imagine you are a labourer on a building site. Lets say we run a test to see how many bricks you can move in a day. For argument’s sake, let’s  say you can move 1000.

Normally in training we wouldn’t want to move the 1000, we would do 800 ( 80%) but many people want to set 5 reps of that. So there you are, lifting 5 x 800 =4000.

If you tried to do that in a day, you’d probably die.

Back to the weight room. So you can lift 100kg calmly as your 1 rep max. You’ve been told if you lift 80% and over of this figure, you are strength training. So, to keep the maths easy, if you lift 80kg, you are strength training. But do you lift that 80% five times?

As you see from my poor labourer example, the first 800 was probably easy, but the next 800, isn’t easy, the 3rd 800 is getting you to breaking point.

In short, 80% lifted multiple times, isn’t perceived by the body as 80%. It sees it as much, much heavier because of the volume. The bricklayer, is of course a silly example – but try and get the message rather than be sidetracked in the endurance aspect of the example.

In simple terms, because you are lifting in sets of multiple reps, a load of 67% of your 1 rep max lifted 5 times has a relative intensity of 79%. It feels like 79%, your body thinks it’s 79%. It is 79%

Putting 76% of you 1 rep max on your bar for 5, has the effect of being 88%.

70% feels like  =82%,

73% feels like  =  85%.

80% on the bar for 5, is like lifting 91%.

Relative intensity is the simple observation that volume, load and rest effects how your body feels and adapts to weight.

Remember your muscles are dumb, they don’t know or care about percentages. They just know what feels heavy.

here is a chart to explain

According to Mike Tuchscherer; “The body responds to things like the force of the muscle’s contraction, how long the contraction lasts, and how many contractions there were. A percentage isn’t necessarily a precise way to describe this, as different lifters will perform differently.”

In take-home terms, if today you went to  the gym and during the strength session, you only got to 68% of your (proper) 1 rep Training max for 5; you actually hit the 80% in relative intensity. That’s the 80% you need to nudge your strength along.

For now, in our general programme, we are not obsessing about percentages; but those who do know their lifts, I hope will be grateful for this insight. For the rest of you, simply work to a set of 5 that you can comfortably lift, bearing in mind these RPE (rates of perceived exertion) as guidance.

On a scale from 1 to 10:

9: Heavy Effort. Could have done one more rep.
8: Could have done two or three more reps, but glad you didn’t have to.
7: Bar speed is “snappy” if maximal force is applied
6: Bar speed is “snappy” with moderate effort

After a while, I suspect a “five” you can do in class will be at an RPE between 7 and 8.

Once you bedded this concept of relative intensity into your head, you can look forward to many years of safe, effective lifting.

From an Original article on Andrewstemler.com

Intensity Versus Volume

It’s something that’s not always recognised, but, Crossfit thrives on intensity, not volume. The secret is “ keep workouts  short and intense” and  “be impressed with intensity, not volume”.

There are those who passionately believe that the core method, and indeed most classes should be just 60 minutes that include a warm up and cool down and one workout.

Crossfit staff seminar trainer James Hobart  discussed his views in the Crossfit Journal,  on the volume v intensity  debate. It’s  an issue often raised on the Crossfit level 1 and 2 trainer course. Clearly volume has a siren call. To be an elite crossfitter you need to be able to do multiple workouts, therefore, so the argument goes, the more the better.

Before you accept this at face value, there are some factors you need to consider:

If an elite athlete adds more volume to their regime, it’s built on rock solid mechanics and ability.  So the argument goes, if you are scaling your workouts, extra workouts are not the answer.  Specific strength  and skill building  solves that. “Increased rehearsal of poor movement patterns and shoddy mechanics is a losers gambit”. The winners get to those extra  skill/strength classes,  : the ones that  fix your issues. Volume is not the cure. Effective coaching and teaching is!

Volume isn’t necessary if the goal is simply getting fitter. On a long term, athletes will  continue to build work capacity across broad times and modal domains with a single  daily dose of “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity”

Never the less, many effective athletes do add volume. Here are their secrets: No matter what extra work or volume you add, you still go “balls to the wall “ in your core Crossfit workout. You  must  still end up on the floor having a physical and mental break down at the end of that  5-20 minute workout. HOWEVER  If you you are doing your workout of the day, and you are reigning back (only say working at 60% intensity)  because you know you have 3 more workouts, a bicep session, some Zumba and a 5k run planned, that’s where it goes wrong.

You don’t need harder workouts, you need to go harder in your workouts,” Games veteran Tommy Hackenbruck quipped on Instagram.

If you really want to boost your performance, here are some  clues. Work your mobility until you move like a supple leopard.  Fix your injuries. Learn how to  eat well.  Get enough sleep, and work with our strength and gymnastic  expert coaches  to get the  skills and strength you need.

Above all, hit the workout hard!

This said, every body at Crossfit London recognises that our met-con classes  fill a need. London life can be super stressful, so for some its great to loose your self among friends in an hours sweat festival. It just happens, thank god,  that our hour sweat festivals are really, really good!

 

Physical Adaptations from Crossfit London

Much of the magic of our Crossfit regime is understanding how the human body, well, your body to be exact, adapts to exercise to make you fitter

Else where we will discuss in painful detail, what being fit means, for now, I hope its ok if we use one of those cute Crossfit definitions. We want you to be able to move large loads, quickly over distance. Obviously we then want you to have the body that looks like what you can do

To do this we set your body challenges to make it adapt. Adaption really isn’t a new concept. Nietzche’s famous quote  “that what does not kill us, makes us stronger” . comes to mind. We have known for quite a long time  that “sub lethal” doses of physical exercise prepares the body to  handle and cope with  more of the same. If you get your door kicked in most nights, eventually, you break down and get a better door (and maybe a pick axe handle).

This general  adaption observation was eventually packaged up by endocrinologist Selye in the late 1930’s into the catchy title of “general adaption syndrome”. In 1936 Selye published ” A syndrome produced by Diverse nocuous agents” where he reviewed the structural and physical changes to organisms brought on by Stresses.

He produced this model

  1. You survive the first exposure, and your poor shocked astonished , horrified body mounts an acute response  to try and survive the experience.
  2. It then designs a  chronic adaptation. This allows  you to survive a more intense exposure, on the simple principle that, if its happened once, its bound to happen again

Stage 1 or the alarm stage is where the body is treated to  a new stress You have a  massive selection to choose from: a change in movement, a change in weight, and change in length of time. This stress is enough to disrupt the internal equilibrium of the cell. A cascade of physiological events it unleashed . The effected cell puts the call out  and gets the body to divert all resources to help it survive. Normal biological house work is put on hold while stress proteins are created to stabilise your cells and the inflammatory response gets to work. Its utter panic!

During stage 2,  some call this the resistance or adaptation phase,  the stressor has gone: maybe your workout is over or the person trying to kill you is on their lunch break. This heralds the cell trying to get back to normal, to restore homeostasis. But it returns to a new normal, which means it’s now trying to prepare for a repeat stressful event. In recovering and adapting , the  cell has  made a fitness adaptation.

To drive this adaptation, the stressor must  continually increase. Otherwise there is no alarm  stage and no  adaptive phase.

Progressive overload has been built into mythology by Milo, the  greek chap who missed out on getting a kitten, but was given a  lazy pet bull instead. Every day, allegedly,  he lovingly carried it around and as it got bigger,  Milo got stronger.

It should be said though that the adaptations this system brings are quite specific. Most would agree that Milo was good at bull carrying  and by implication  he could carry other large animals or heavy house hold objects well  especially if he put the bull down first) No one, I think,  would argue that  simply carrying a heavy bull would  mean you could run distance.

There is a rule of specificity.

There would be, wouldn’t there!

Running 10 miles wont  improve your or deadlift ability or your pull ups  to any decent extent because running wont make the cell change that way, and vice versa.

The name of the game is finding those stressors that  will disrupt the homeostasis of the cell . We need to effect our body on a molecular level. We need to influence our genes, those bits of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) . There is a cute  molecular  flow that goes “DNA makes RNA ( ribonucleic acid) that makes protein that makes function” This need a tune then we could sing it.

So you get to Crossfit london  and we set you a novel exercise , (stressor). Your cells  “down regulate” their housekeeping activity and “up regulate” their survival gene ( Selye stage 1). After your session, your cells probably stay in survival mode for a while, but over the next few days, the normally active genes will become unrepressed  and probably make more copies driving an increased efficiency and function.This process also wakes up other lazy genes that have, presumably, been chilling out and watching telly.

The changes this provokes can be seen in  new protein structure such as extra  actin and myosin (they produce muscular contraction) and  metabolic proteins such as enzymes that control energy production. The reality is that each exposure produces very small adaptations, so an ongoing regime of  stress/adaptation opportunities is what will drive visible fitness gains.

There are of course, temporary draw backs to be faced. Each time you confront a stressor like exercise, you’ll feel tired.. It is often this  sensation that tell us we have  disrupted homeostasis. Put another way we will  have become fatigued. It’s by managing this fatigue that programmes like those at Crossfit London, progressively build your fitness.

You can expect a drop in function while your cells recover , then they “bound back” and come back stronger in a condition called super compensation. Week, by week we build on your super compensation to raise your baseline capacity

If you’d like some more information on how to build the ideal you,  we will be delighted to chat to you. Click here and lets get moving

Restart a Heart day at Crossfit London UK

 

Each year the Resuscitation Council runs  “Restart a Heart” day in October. Crossfit London, with help from the St John Ambulance ( Leytonstone Branch), will be running an evening of free CPR training at its Bethnal Green venue from 5.30pm on Thursday 17th October.

Every 30 minutes we will have room to teach 8 people how to do CPR and use a defibrillator. Unlike a lot of London Gyms, we actually have our own defibrillator onsite. You might as well know how to use it.

So just rock up at 5.30/6/6.30/7/7.30/8pm and head for reception.

This is mainly for our members but all are welcome but  the address is railway Arch 30, 150 Buckhurst St E1 5QT

Here is are some fun facts about Cardiac arrest

  • A cardiac arrest is when the heart’s electrical supply is interrupted resulting in the heart stopping pumping blood around the body.
  • The heart is a pump, which supplies oxygenated blood to all of the body, which is vital for bodily function.
  • If someone’s had a cardiac arrest, they’ll be unconscious, not breathing or not breathing normally.
  • Call 999 immediately.
  • All the cells in your body require oxygen to survive. They also require a good supply of nutrients and the rapid removal of waste products. Oxygen and nutrients are carried
around the body in your blood, which is pumped by your heart. In your lungs, oxygen enters your blood stream and carbon dioxide (a waste product) is removed in a process known as gas exchange. A cardiac arrest is when your heart stops beating. This is not the same as a heart attack, although a heart attack may lead to a cardiac arrest.
  • There are numerous causes of cardiac arrests, including:
    • –  A disturbance in the heart rhythm
    • –  Drugs/poisoning
    • –  Heart disease/a heart attack
    • –  Traumatic injury/blood loss
    • –  Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction)
  • If a cardiac arrest occurs, blood will stop circulating around the body. Breathing will also cease as well though it may not stop completely for several minutes. Without a supply of oxygen, the cells in the body start to die. Brain cells are incredibly sensitive. After about three to four minutes of no oxygen, brain cells will begin dying, leading to brain damage and death.
  • The purpose of CPR is to keep oxygenated blood owing around the body to keep the vital organs alive. CPR itself will not restart someone’s heart; it just keeps them alive until a defibrillator arrives. A defibrillator is a device that delivers an electrical shock to the heart to restart it.
  • Over 30,000 people suffer cardiac arrests outside of hospital in the UK every year. If this happens in front of a bystander who starts CPR immediately before the arrival of the ambulance, the victim’s chances of survival double or triple.
  • Today, if you suffer a cardiac arrest out of hospital in the UK, you have less than a one in ten chance of surviving.
  • Chain of Survival – Early Recognition, Early CPR, Early Call for Help, Early Defibrillation. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Bystander intervention is vital to improve outcomes.
  • Compressions should be at the rate 100-120 per minute, 5-6cm compressing the chest and a ratio of 30 compressions to two breaths pressing on the centre of the chest between the nipples.
  • Chest compressions and ventilations slow down the rate of deterioration of the brain and heart.
  • If a bystander is unwilling to do mouth-to-mouth, hands-only CPR is fine, with the simple message ‘hard and fast’ in the centre of the chest to the beat of ‘Staying Alive’. It is most likely that the students we are teaching will see one of their family members in cardiac arrest so they will be more inclined to deliver rescue breaths if it is a family member.
  • With each minute’s delay of delivering a defibrillation shock to a shockable cardiac arrest, the chances of survival decrease by 10-12%. Public Access Defibrillators are very easy to use and widely available.
  • Some people are afraid of performing CPR for fear of worsening the situation but if the victim does not receive CPR there is a good chance that they will die. On occasion, when performing chest compressions it is possible that ribs may be heard to crack, this is normal and not something to worry about.

Squat clean problems? Its just like pulling people at parties!

Crossfit london In Bethnal Green E2 is famous for many, many things. The 1st ever British Crossfit affiliate, the 9th affiliate in the world, amazing olympic weightlifting classes, the best Crossfit beginner introduction process, its amazing clients, its fantastic coaches ( blah, blah, ). Its also famous for its  drill by drill instructional system and its use of allegory and metaphor to help people learn stuff!

The reality is that experiences in one part of your life, can often help elsewhere!

In other words, it’s possible to argue that the Olympic Lifts are wholly informed by your romantic, and for that matter, your pick up ability at parties.

The job of the  squat clean is to lift the bar to the correct height, no more and no less, then get underneath it.

Which is exactly like picking people up at parties

Have you ever met someone at a party and absolutely nailed it in the first few sentences?  Have you had one of those moments when you could literally have said “get your coat, you’ve pulled”, and got away with it?

Well done, but be honest,  you probably continued talking and  screwed it up.

Who hasn’t successfully hit on someone in a party  then proceeded to talk their way out of  what would have been a perfectly decent shag?

We’ve all been there.

And its the same with the  squat clean..

All you need to do is  A) pull the bar B) tell it  to “get your coat””  then  C) get under it . You have to ( and I mean , “HAVE TO” ) bring your hips all the way in. But, do you need to continue to pull? Do your arms  really need to tug it up further? Do you need that big  upward shoulder shrug… does the bar need to go sailing up past your chin to the moon before you decide you need to be going down the other way, and fast.

Once the bar is up by your chin in the pull, it’s too late. By this time the bar has thought better of it, it needs to think about things a bit.  Now it needs to check with a friend or wash its hair, or get a taxi home, and voila, there you are left all alone.

No PB for you tonight.

I mean that dents your pride and your ego.

I’ll forgo the shag, but to miss a clean . Ow!

Take home message, don’t overpull

Who’s doing what at CFLDN – management arrangements from 1 August 2019

By Luke Webster

We’re one team at CFLDN but the folks below have particular roles and responsibilities on top of coaching.

Luke Brumer takes up the role of General Manager leading the management team and taking charge of
making the box a roaring success, something he takes literally by regularly pretending to be a lion. Luke’s
background is in business set-up and turn-around in South Africa’s bar and restaurant sector. As if being a
beast of an athlete (i) wasn’t enough, he’s also had some success as a model (though we try not to hold it
against him). His BBQ (or ‘braai’, for the culturally sensitive) skills are not too shabby either. Famously
friendly, it’s likely he’ll have already greeted you, and he should be your first port of call for help or giving
feedback on how we’re doing. He’s here to make sure being at CFLDN is the best part of your day.

Steve Hennessey is promoted to Head Coach. Steve brings immense experience as a trainer (ii) backed up
by a solid academic background in Chiropractic and Functional Nutrition. Steve leads the coaching team
and is responsible for our programme, teaching standards and athlete membership. As 9th oldest box in
the world, we’ve seen a lot of CrossFit programming at CFLDN, and this man’s output is world-class,
optimising efficacy and sustainability. We’re proud to have him. Steve also runs our nutrition courses and
is available for personal training. Steve is happy to handle any training or membership queries and can
arrange individual consultations with his team for those who want to appraise their progress or take it to
the next level.

Catarina Sa-Dantas is our Customer Service Manager and Luke’s deputy. Hailing from Portugal, Cat
studied Hospitality Management at University. You’re likely to have met her in person or by email if you’ve
contacted support. An administrative ninja, Cat keeps communication flowing, can always find an answer
and has even managed to tame the temperamental booking-system-we-do-not-name. Her duties include
keeping the box’s finances in order and coordinating meetings. In an example of nominative determinism,
she’s also very good with cats, and is often to be found in the company of our magnificent ginger tom (not
you, Harrison!), Box-cat Bob. Contact Cat if you need any help with practical matters, advice on who to
speak to and for bookings of all kinds.

Carolyn Logan, a veteran coach from our early days takes on further duties as a Senior Coach. In
additional to her successful CrossFit and MetCon classes, she presides over the festival of sweat, tears
and heroism that is Friday Night Lights and takes the lead organising social and community events.
Having achieved an early ambition of amassing the finest key-ring collection in all South Yorkshire,
Carolyn became a professional dancer before discovering CrossFit and retraining as a Sports Therapist. In
the latter capacity, she manages our treatment room, so contact her if you need fixing or if you’re
interested in hiring the space yourself.

Alex Miller is another Senior Coach our and Head of Strength. Legendary for his powerlifting classes, Alex
is our undisputed expert in all matters Strength and Conditioning and a popular PT, with encyclopaedic
knowledge and teaching skill we all aspire to. Alex’s background includes high level sport including Judo
and Rugby. Talk to him about any training matter, it’s likely he’ll have the answer.
Rhys Morgan joins as our Senior Gymnastics Coach. An experienced trainer but relative latecomer to the
sport, Rhys knows about the challenges faced by adult learners but is living proof of the standard
obtainable. Rhys focusses on the coaching our Gymnastics Strength classes and will be happy to help you
obtain a range of skills, be that to improve your CrossFit or just for the love of being able to do
extraordinary things.

Behind the scenes

Keeping a small business alive in London is a tough challenge without compromising community. Behind
the scenes, these guys offer their skills, experience and financial backing to keep the show on the road.

Andrew Stemler, is our Founder and the first CrossFit affiliate holder outside the USA, bringing CrossFit to
Europe in 2005. A CrossFit legend, he is a tireless lifelong learner in a bewildering array of disciplines.
Andrew’s extensive teaching experience has helped hundreds of clients transform their lives. He is
renowned for his inventiveness and client focus and can find drills and progressions to help anyone,
regardless of age, ability or challenges, move towards their goals. His eclectic background includes
property management and 3 years as an East End doorman. Andrew is our lead on Health and Safety and
is an accredited first aid trainer. He coaches across the full range of our classes and is a sought-after PT.

Kate Pankhurst is an early client of CFLDN and a long-time coach, now a Director. Kate works with Luke
and Cat in administering the business, in particular keeping us on the right side of regulation, but her
background as an artist means she takes the lead on much of the design work around the box and the
look and feel of our social media. Originally trained at the Central School of Art & Design, she more
recently studied at the Royal School of Needlework – check out her astounding work at
https://www.artofstitch.com

Like Andrew, Kate is also a talented and experienced massage therapist.

The Co-Chairmen are Naim Rahman and Luke Webster. Both long standing clients, they joined the board
in 2016 and helped invest in and deliver the move to the new premises. They ultimately control the
business and are always happy to hear your views, in the box or over a drink.

Naim is a lawyer when not at the gym and focusses on Olympic Lifting (don’t tell him, but pound for
pound, he’s probably one of our best [iii]). His tireless efforts behind the scenes are responsible for much of
the progress of the project to develop the new box. A young family means that he’s generally to be found
training during the day, but he joins our socials whenever he can.

Originally a mathematician and wine merchant, Luke (iv) accidentally moved into finance and somehow now
holds a range of senior positions in both the private and public sector. He tries to make himself interesting
again by learning and coaching gymnastics, and when time permits, can be found in the kitchen or running
the bar at socials as our resident licensee. He has extremely dubious taste in neckwear.

 

i Luke B’s imposing physique actually stems from high-level competition in the demanding sport of tiddly winks. Such
was his early renown, he was presented with the coveted ‘Silver Wink’ by Prince Phillip in 2001. Interestingly, this is
not the Prince Consort’s only connection with CFLDN. In 2017 (our only Royal visit to date) he attended a
Fundamentals class, allegedly in consequence of drunken bet, but left discretely on finding that his off-colour
remarks failed to scandalise an audience already reeling from Andrew’s unique analogies.

ii Steve is also a pretty nifty athlete, renowned for the beauty of his form. But don’t be fooled by this wiry antipodean
grace: his childhood sport was Emu wrestling and he is not to be trifled with.

iii Naim is, in his own estimation at least, also our best dancer, although rarely demonstrates for fear of making the
rest of us look bad. What is less well-known is that his skills derive from membership of a banned, underground
Morris Dancing Side in Bridgend, Wales, infamous for their solvent abuse and unorthodox handkerchief technique.

iv Duplicate names can cause confusion, but the reader should note carefully that the use of differentiators such as
‘tall’ or ‘fit’ to indicate which one is being talked about may have unexpected and drastic consequences. The last
offender was found strangled with a bowtie… just saying.

If you don’t get a pull up, no one will marry you

Once you have a few pull ups, it’s ‘easy’ to keep adding to them. The real hard one is getting that 1st pull up. After too many years hanging around and teaching in gyms, here is my ” how to do it” guide based on an original article  here

I hope it helps.

If you have no pull ups, here are some essential things you must do:

      1. Get a pull up bar at home. I’d say this won’t guarantee success, but not having one at home will guarantee failure. Do not rely on getting to the gym, or to us for that matter. Also it’s a private matter between you and the bar: basically you have bar “issues” and sometimes its best to deal with “issues” in private. This  pull up bar is often recommended  JML Iron Total Gym Upper Body Workout Bar
      2. Understand that a pull up is not a rubbishy exercise like all those silly pilates wiggles and squirms that you do. Pull-ups are a predictive happiness test. If you have no pulls ups  no-one of quality will want to marry you. If you refuse to get that first pull up, stop reading this and go and get some cats. That’s all you will be good for. If you say ” I don’t have a pull up, but Im married” my answer is stark. “You could have done better”!
      3. . Look honestly at your weight. Pull-ups will be harder to get if you are over-weight. That does not mean you wait until you are the “right weight”. Get going now. It will be harder, but as I often say: “you ate it, now hump it”.

(If you are overweight don’t set yourself the task of losing a few pounds before you do anything; start living your life now. If you are overweight, and are miserable because you are lonely and boyfriendless/girlfriendless/ loverless, put your details up on the raunchiest BBW site that your morality can stand, and hold on to your hat! Big girls and boys are always in demand. You can only lose weight if you are happy. Fending off would-be lovers with a stick is a very practical and measurable marker of happiness. Sitting at home feeling fat and ugly, makes you fat and ugly. Sorry, that not really about pull ups is it.)

Let us begin…

  • Objective 1: can you hang from the bar with your palms facing towards you (for those in the know, this is the ‘chin-up’ grip that’s a bit easier to begin with)?
  • Objective 2: can you hang a bit longer?
  • Objective 3: can you hang a bit longer than objective 2? (can you see where this is going?)

To save a lot of time, can you get to hang on your bar for 10 seconds? When you can, shout “woohoo” (loudly so as to annoy your neighbours) and start on working out how to do your first negative.

You’re first what?

Well in highly technical terms, right, there’s the pulling up bit (right?) and then there’s the lowering bit.

Innit?

At the moment you are not strong enough to do the pulling up bit, like, but if you were kind of already up there, maybe you could, er, lower yourself down a bit?

Alright!

Does sort of rather beg the question of “how do i get up there?”…

Well here is the Andrew Stemler “Getting it up guide” (apparently this is a good title that always sells):

      1. Jumping. Grab the pull up bar but instead of trying to pull yourself up, jump up so that your chin is above the bar. This can be easier said than done
      2. By standing on something. Just stand on something that is high enough for you to start out in that already-pulled-up position. A bench, a chair, whatever. Anything you can use as a mini-ladder would be perfect. Perhaps even a mini-ladder?
      3. Stand on something “version 2”.  Grab the bar and make your loser boy- or girlfriend  (perhaps the one you got from the BBW site) grab your ass and push you up

Now, once you’re in that top position, you’re ready to do the negative part of the pull-up. So, lower yourself down as slow and controlled as you possibly can. Focus on keeping really tight. I don’t mean “refuse to lend people money or get drunk”, I mean “have lots of tension in your body”. Squeeze (your own) bottom together. Brace your abs, squeeze your legs together.

Your first lower (we will call it negatives from now on) will either be agonisingly slow and hurt like hell, or you will fall straight through as you discover you have no strength at all.

Once you have lowered yourself, pop off the bar and reflect. Negatives are very taxing. You need rest between each one and you should never do more than 6 to 8 in a session.

So here is you beginner “CHIN-UPS FOR HAPPINESS” programme

Day  1: neg, neg, neg, neg, neg ( 120 secs rest between each negative)

Rest a day ( drink, eat cake, take all sorts of drugs. Smoking is especially good for you these days as it gets you out in the fresh air

Day 2: neg, neg, neg, neg, neg (90secs rest between each negative) It’s the same but with less rest!

Rest a day (put your own joke in!)

Day 3: neg, neg, neg, neg, neg (120 secs between each negative)

Rest one day

Day 4: The next workout needs you to get that loser boyfriend/girlfriend again. Basically they are going to try and help you pull yourself up and down. They get behind you, grab you…somewhere….(experiment) then they assist you to do….three sets of as many reps  as you can with 120 seconds between. So they grab you, and haul you up and down as many times as you can. Could be 1, you could do 2 or 6. The set is over when they cannot push you anymore, not when you feel like it. You will want to stop early as it feels as it you are not doing the work: in fact it’s mainly you.

Rest 120 seconds. Do it again 2 more times.

It’s my way of getting your body to see what the actual task is. No, a lat pull down machine is not a good substitution.

But, what if you cannot get anyone to help you? Well thats beyond this article: but ideas could be to go next door and bug your neighbour, call up your ex-wife. Perhaps the guy selling the Big Issue fancies a couple of quid extra. Get creative, and find someone. Join a religious group and offer to host a scripture reading and slip your set in before you start as “movement prayer”

Rest 2 days.

Day 5: neg, neg, neg,neg, neg (90 secs rest)

Rest 2 days.

Now it’s the big test. Get someone to help you do 1-2 easy, supported reps. Rest for 2 minutes. Then do your 1 chin-up (woohoo!) or hang there trying for a full 7 seconds. Then with 120 seconds rest neg, neg, neg.

If you get that pull up come and talk to us about getting more. If not return to the beginning and start again. If you are very weak it could take many passes through to get your first pull up. But this regime works.

Feel free to suggest improvements or funnier/ruder quips to comments.

My Name is Andrew Stemler and I’m a personal trainer  at CFLDN in Bethnal Green E2

Crossfit London: finding a great community.

If you have come to London, and are living near Bethnal Green E2, and you are feeling lonely, that means only one thing.

You haven’t joined Crossfit London yet.

For over a decade, Crossfit London in Bethnal Green E2 has been using community to drive the performance of its athletes. There is something about sharing your training time with motivated and committed athletes that drives your own performance.

You can jog on your own, and do yoga in your lonely bedroom. You can find a dirt cheap gym and have a relationship with a bicep curling machine, or you can decide to let your awesomeness show by training with us.

We will teach you lots and lots of cool stuff. We will  show you how to lift loads safely and effectively while boosting your metabolic capacity (your ability to run, row, bike). We will kick open the doorway to basic gymnastics and teach you how to push up, pull up, dip and handstand. There is a world of cool things in our syllabus that will engage and support you.

We will make you stronger faster and more skilled than you have ever been. You’ll also meet the nicest group of people in the world, who will support and clap and cheer and high five you as you improve. But, there is no such thing as a free lunch: you’ll have to support and cheer and high five others to help them along too.

Unfortunately, at the end of  some of our classes, you may be forced to hold a silly pose.

Oh well!

Crossfit london: The pursuit of physical excellence within a supportive community

Olympic lifting with grunts

Little did Aryna Sabalenka realise that her controversial grunting in the 2018 Australian Tennis Open could assist Olympic weightlifters in Bethnal Green E1. A short yell or kiai has always been part of martial arts, and exertion is sometimes accompanied with a bit of a grunt. But, is it a technique or tactic you should use to improve your snatch and clean and jerk?

Damian Farrow (2018) in  ‘All the Racquet: What science tells us about the pros and cons of grunting in tennis’, put the advantages of a grunt in simple terms.

Ball velocity increases with a grunt.

In fact if you check out  “The effects of grunting on serve and forehand velocities in collegiate tennis players”. You’ll see two impressive figures.

If you grunt, you get: a 3.8% increase in groundstroke-hitting velocity and a 4.9% enhancement in velocity.

According to that report “The velocity, force, and peak muscle activity during tennis serves and forehand strokes are significantly enhanced when athletes are allowed to grunt.”

And, significantly,

“Grunt history, gender, perceived advantages, and disadvantages of grunting, years of experience, highest level of competition, and order of testing did not significantly alter any of these results”

I must confess that the exact science behind this phenomenon slightly eludes me, but  allegedly, increased force on impact lies within the concept of kinetic energy. KE is the energy of motion which is transferred on impact. KE is calculated as one half of the product of mass and velocity squared.

Grunting, so brainy people say, tightens the body core which increases the mass behind the tennis strike, thereby increasing the force on impact resulting in the increased velocity of the tennis ball.

The carry over to Olympic weightlifting at CrossFit London is obvious. If you lift quietly, the chances are you are missing out on some free energy that could move the bar to where you want it.

Try grunting  when you snatch.

by Andrew Stemler