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CrossFit London workouts

Remembrance weekend 7th/8th November 2020

It is a Crossfit London tradition to stage a special workout on Remembrance day ( this year 8th November)

This year we will be doing something slightly different. Whilst the arrangements are not set in stone, the challenge for that weekend will be to workout every hour, on the hour for 24 hours.

This is inspired by the run 1 mile every hour on the hour for 24 hours challenge.

Whilst there will be lots of detailed arrangements, we thought you’d like an advanced warning of this challenge so you can have some thinking time of how you will do it.

At its most basic level, you can simply, from home, run (walk) one mile (1k, 400m?) every hour, on the hour starting at either 9, 10 or 11 am on Saturday 7th November. This means you will have either 1 or 2 hours after the challenge ends to get breakfast, shower, and get to a memorial near you for the 11 am silence.

If running isn’t for you You may fancy 100 burpees every hour on the hour., or 20 squats, of 10 minutes of cindy, Whatever. Obviously, please don’t disturb your neighbours and make sure its Covid safe!!

In our original plan, we had hoped to open the gym, but with the 2nd lockdown, you’ll do this as a personal thing!

You may fancy 100 burpees every hour on the hour.  Obviously, where ever you do this, don’t disturb your neighbours and make sure its Covid safe!!

 

For now, that’s a date for your diary!

 

How often should you train to get the best results?

The amount of Crossfit training to produce fantastic results was recently studied by Cavedon et al., in the  recent report:

“Different amount of training affects body composition and performance in High-Intensity Functional Training participants”. Click here for the full report

 It concluded ” that, in CF participants, a higher amount of weekly training improves most notably lean body mass and increases performance in association with increased skeletal muscle mass. CF participation is especially effective in reducing fat mass vs. age- and BMI-matched physically active controls”

The real thought provoker was the amount of time you probably need to invest in becoming super Crossfit  gorgeous. Our coaches will tell you that people who come 2-3 times a week, do really well.  Crossfit, at Crossfit London tramples over anything you can do in a park pretending to be a soldier, and certainly puts jogging to shame.  To get fit, you need a skill set, you need to use weights, you need disgusting cardiovascular stimulus and you need our insane programming.

This report looked at less than 10 hours a week as “low training”and more than 10 “High training”. In other words if you want to be a GREAT Crossfitter, you need to spend about 18 hours a week:

EIGHTEEN HOURS A WEEK.

The participants were chosen from people doing 6-18 hours a week. The maths works like this.  If you followed the Crossfit pattern of 3 on 1 off ,  that means 5-6 wod classes a week PLUS supporting classes, such as olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, powerlifting and mobility.

Probably 3 hours a day!

I hate to break it to you, but the super performers are above you because they put the work in. The good thing is, if you come just once or twice a week, the results can be magical. It’s just that at 18 hours a week, it’s more magical.

Make sure you talk to the training team about building in those extra classes if you want more magic, but be delighted with your skill set and fitness if you only come once or twice a week.

Never before has the need to be fit been more obvious! Get fit, get healthy.

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Should you tape up your mouth?

Getting super fit requires lots of mini changes, nudges and tweaks. One of the do anywhere changes you can make  is  playing with your breathing. Y0u cannot always do 10 burpees in a tube train, but you can certainly review and train your breathing pattern from behind your mask.

I’ve written a lot about breathing here and I’d suggest everyone learns a few of the basic breathing techniques Ive detailed. Most of them have been around for years. For those of you too lazy to follow links, a classic breath technique is “the square”.  Breath in for a count of 5, hold for 5, out for 5, hold for 5, repeat. well done, you are now a breathing expert.

One of the interesting things about breathing is the use of your nose, rather than your mouth. Many breath commentators would prefer it that you breath through your nose at it cleans the air, and injects Nitric oxide into the breath taken in, (and this enlarges the “air tube”). Breathing through your nose drives air into your lungs  and maintains pressure in your lungs too. Your nose acts also warms and humidifies the air you are breathing in as well as trapping airborne particles and bacteria!

But I know the question you all want to ask.

Can you do a Crossfit wod with your mouth closed. Actually, let’s make it more  fun and aggressive. Can you do a Crossfit wod with your gob taped shut.

This was the challenge given to 10 Crossfitters back in 2015. They were given some tasks including the wod  “Helen” which is run 400m 21 kettlebell swings, 12 pull ups x 3.  Anyone who knows anything about workouts knows, FOR CERTAIN, that you need at some stage to pant and most of the time breath through your mouth! If you keep your mouth closed and breathed through your nose,  you’d probably die.

The results, almost no difference ( and bear in mind these were people who just had tape whacked over their mouths, many for the first time).  So it’s a bit of a disappointment, no one died, no one had to walk slowly.

The take home proposition is, if breathing through your nose doesn’t reduce performance (that much),  but has a health advantage, maybe you should play with it.

Activity Normal breathing Taped mouth Difference
Push-ups 35,3 38,3 +8%
Box jump 23,7 22,8 -4%
The Plank 2 min 50 sec 2 min 50 sec +-0
Dips 28,5 32,4 +12%
Skipping Rope 140,1 132,5 -6%
“Helen” 11,27 11,40 -13 sec (-2%)

I should say, its probably a better idea to practice the breathing drills that are linked above, first, and I’d play with breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth,  especially if you go for a run outside, otherwise people will think you are really weird!

If you want to chat about breathing,  most of the coaches have an insight!

Muted Hip Function

Effective exercise can generate powerful  huge forces  if they are initiated controlled and dominated by the hip. Many untrained athletes  have a muted hip which  creates postures and mechanics that reduce power output, promotes postures and mechanics that are considered by  many  to be unsound. In simple terms the Muted Hip Function (MHF) results from the legs  compensating for the failed of the hip, in effect using leg extension  to compensate for non existent hip extension. According to the Crossfit Journal the causes and consequences of MHF include but are not limited to: • structurally disadvantaged spinal posture • low glute recruitment • low hamstring recruitment • pelvis abandoning the spine and chasing the legs • centre of gravity shifting dramatically backward • centre of balance shifting toward toes • knee experiencing unsound shear force • leg extension being the only productive effort • hip extension not being possible with low hip angle • pelvis rotating the wrong way The cure is deliberate and focused training.  Thats what Crossfit London is for!

Add 10,000 steps a day

“10000 steps a day. Yep, that’s 10 thousand steps every day . Go and buy a cheap pedometer or look up if its already on your phone, and record how many steps you take each day, outside of your training.  This is your baseline of daily activity. Any gym work or running  is training and is extra . This is the minimum amount of movement you do to keep ticking over.

Frequently I see people work quite hard in the gym for an hour, but are totally sedentary for the rest of the time. The gym session barely compensates for their lack of day today movement.

I also see many sports people, who apart from the weekly football match, are to all intents and purposes, sedentary.  So,  put that pedometer on, check your phone and review your daily count.

Lifestyle Index Sedentary Low Active Somewhat Active Highly Active
Steps/day* <5000 5000 – 7500 7500 – 10,000 >10,000

But don’t worry! slowly build up your activity level if you find yourself in the sedentary box! Get active at work

for some science, look at

Effects of a 10,000 steps per day goal in overweight adults” by Schneider et al (Am J Health Promot. 2006 Nov-Dec;21(2):85-9.)

Some points need to be made

1) the 10,000 steps is a fantastic way to assess basic activity. Ive helped people who could  only manage 3000 steps in a day and the effect was remarkable.

2) 10,000 steps a day is the very least you should be doing.

However,  if you present 10,000 step Versus almost anything else, anything else is probably better: Brisk walking is better, a  fast 400m  run or a Crossfit Workout is better, indeed a  life and death brawl at your local pub really gets the blood pumping. The issue is this: you have to really be sedentary to do less than 10,000 steps a day, so its  a great baseline and target and you should always do more.

3) the message is “do both”.

So, its 10,000 steps each day, plus a workout at Crossfit london

Thanks to an original article on Andrewstemler.com

Stress your Oxygen system!

Lon Kilgore wrote in ‘The Paradox of the Aerobic Fitness Prescription” (Crossfit journal) that improvements in oxygen management could be driven by dropping Oxygen saturation during/after exercise. The logic of the General Adaption Syndrome (Seyle) requires an alarm phase to provoke adaptations.

“In the intermediate trainee and beyond, it is the depression of oxygen saturation as a result of interval training that forces the muscle to adapt to improve its ability to extract and consume oxygen to power exercise. Oxygen saturation is a marker of the specific driving force of VO2max gain*. If a beginner does long-slow-distance work and blood oxygen saturations drop 1% or less to 97%, this is enough to drive adaptation. But intermediate, advanced, and elite trainees need more. They need a drop in oxygen saturation to as low as 91%, maybe even lower for an elite athlete”

This observation was supported by David Lin et al who wrote “Oxygen saturations and heart rate during exercise performance” There is a fascinating write up here This basically showed that at a certain level of work, you can see a  drop in O2 saturations

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“SpO2% desaturations during maximal performance levels with power bursts into the clusters as revealed in this test could lead to measures of intense interval training providing an important augmentation to sports conditioning. “

This mornings workout was a 15 minute AMRAP of 20 kettlebell swings, 15 double unders,  150m sprint . I decided today, I’d take my pulse oximeter down. About half way through, straight after my double unders and during the run I managed to get my pulse ox on and this reading came up.

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After a quick  recovery our workouts always end with a disgusting stair climb to our flat ( to get home and haul the kettlebells back up) At the top it always feels as if you are going to die. As I reached the top I managed to get my pulse ox back on and whilst my heart rate was 160, my O2 saturations were 97. It took me a while to get my phone out so I only got a photo after my heart rate had dropped to 152

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My take home conclusion  is that the variation in a Crossfit workout combined with power (in his case jumping in the double unders) really stresses the oxygen system. The requirement to rapidly change from one exercise to another takes the body by surprise and has it scrabbling around for oxygen like a pandemic government trying to buy PPE. BY comparison the rhythmic stair climb, which felt disgusting, and produced a high heart rate, didn’t disturb my normal reading of 97%.

So that combo of intensity and variation does have a certain magic

Obviously this is an old Pulse oxmimeter, this wasn’t a clinical environment ( no lab rats, no one had a clip board), but it was an in treating bit of citizen science!)

*If you have never heard of it according to wikipedia “Oxygen saturation is the fraction of oxygen-saturated hemoglobin relative to total hemoglobin (unsaturated + saturated) in the blood. The human body requires and regulates a very precise and specific balance of oxygen in the blood. Normal arterial blood oxygen saturation levels in humans are 95–100 percent”

Thanks to Andrewstemler.com for this article

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

The week that will be : the Crossfit London overview

It looks to be an exciting week at Crossfit London UK in Bethnal Green E2. In this quick overview, we hope to give you an insight into the Crossfit programme over the next weeks along with a heads up about events and  other forth coming nice things.
CFLDN Partner Comp 2.0 is on Saturday, Sept 21 at 12pm. Mark this is your calendar as it promises to be THE event for the year!
And please invite friends, family, foes etc.
Crossfit Open rolls around again, with 19.1 dropping in on October 11.  Check out The Games Website and think about registering. We will expand our arrangements over the coming months
Programming
Last week saw the completion of the 531 strength cycle that we were working through for the past four months. We’ve seen terrific results from this cycle, with the PR bell ringing hot in the last two weeks. With these added strength gains, you’ll notice that your efficiency in WODs will improve (particularly when there’s a barbell involved), as strength is a key determiner in our ability to produce repeatable efforts.
Conditioning wise you may have noticed that we’re doing shorter, more intense workouts with dedicated rest intervals inserted. Reason being is that we’re working on an energy system called the lactic/anaerobic system, where we look to develop our ability to produce short bursts of energy and recover well. With this added intensity, we’re taking a break from strength BUILDING work, and will work more with strength MAINTENANCE – less sets and reps but high %’s. For example, we’re going from AMREP sets of back squats to 3×3 @85% This is designed to give your body a rest from the progressive strength work you’ve been doing, while still having the ability to move heavy weight around (without the cost of high reps).
We’re also adding in more skill work… This work is to be done at a lower heart rate, where we can work through their progressions. While working skill, it’s important that you master your progression for each movement here before taking the next step. For example, when we’re doing handstand walking, it’s important that we master the wall walk before moving onto the free standing walk.
We’ll continue with this cycle right up until the Crossfit Open in mid October, before moving on to another strength cycle and aerobic base building in December/January.
In the meantime, why not brush up your rowing technique. You should look like a noble viking, not a demented chimpanzee on speed. Here are some pointers. Its easy, but requires you to be relentless!

Why you need to get an assessment?

As you guys and girls may or may not know I’ll be running assessments for the people who want them. But this raises a very pertinent question:

Why should you want an assessment?

Which is perfectly valid. You should really question everything and know why you’re doing stuff. What will the assessment tell you that is worth knowing? The easy answer is it tells you your strengths and weaknesses. At least relative to yourself if not in absolute terms.

Alas, easy answers are, as per usual, not good enough.

Knowing your why your goal is your goal and Key Performance Indicators

To get to understanding the reason to get an assessment we need to start with or figure out your “why” (not really related to Simon Sinek but also if you haven’t read “Start with why” you really should).

Why are you at CFLDN? What are you trying to get from your membership?
This can be anything, it’s your prerogative. Anything from just wanting to enjoy the community to competing at the games is a legit goal but have wildly different applications in terms of assessment. If you already know why you’re here congratulations for being ahead of the curve. If not, take a couple of days to have a proper think about it.

A goal comes with Key Performance Indicators (KPI), those things that are crucial to achieving the desired outcome. Then we have Secondary Performance Indicators (2KPI), those things central to the KPI’s. Tertiary Performance Indicators (3KPI), at which point you understand the concept.

This is where we come to the need, or not, of an assessment once you have unearthed what your goal is. Is your goal at all performance related? I’d define pretty much anything that includes the term “improve” as performance:

  • Improving body composition (losing fat and retaining/building muscle)
  • Improving Fran times
  • Improving strength
  • Improving mobility
  • etc. it’s not an exhaustive list.

If your goals are ANYTHING like this then you need to get an assessment to find out where you are. When you know where you are you then can see what KPI, 2KPI, and 3 KPI’s  you’re weak in and therefore where your training and programming needs to be focussed.

What the assessment involves:

This is what the assessment process will test so you can see that once that’s done we have a VERY complete picture of where you are.

Energy Systems: The ways in which the body produces the energy to work.
Aerobic System: The recovery system for higher output work. Also used for lower output and longer duration work. Primarily fat and oxygen as fuel source.

Glycolytic System: The short-term energy that’s used to fuel near maximal intensity work for upto 3 minutes-ish. Sugar is it’s primary fuel source but it’s also worth noting when Hydrogren + ions are produced as a by-product it inhibits muscle activity. So too much time in this energy system range and without a sufficient aerobic capacity to clear the H+ results in a very quick and significant decrease in performance

Phosphor-Creatine System: The MAX energy system. When your body needs to produce the highest output possible it needs the the potential energy that comes from the PCr uncoupling to provide immediate fuel. The reformation of PCr needs energy produced by the aerobic system. This means that if you want to consistently produce maximal effort outputs you need both a highly developed PCr system AND and highly developed Aerobic System

Strength:
Strength Endurance: A muscle or group of muscles ability to repeatedly produce non-maximal force

Maximal Strength: A muscle or group of muscles ability to produce the most force

Power: The ability to produce high force rapidly
Movement:

Low Threshold Non-Fatigued: Unloaded, slow, low skill movements without fatigue

Low Threshold Fatigued: The same movements under a state of fatigue

High Threshold: Movement which is fast, heavy, complex or a combination of any 2 or all.

(Potentially) Mobility/Stability/Flexibility:
Joint-by-Joint
Muscles
Static Posture

Tying it all together

This is the important part. Once the assessment is done we can create a visual representation of where your strengths and weakness are, we can compare that to your KPI stream and then build an individual program for you that’ll address the KPI’s and build where needs it. Which brings us back round to the programming 101 and how to write programming by adaptation.

If you want to come book in for your assessment all you need to do is email me ( alex@crossfitlondonuk.com )