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CrossFit Fundamentals

The L-sit will calm you down!

Whilst everyone likes a rippling physique, there  are exercises that are simply good for you, sometimes, for reasons that are not immediately obvious.

The L sit can have an impact on your stress levels. It was recently established that there is a connection between your core, your brain, your adrenal glands and thus the release of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s only been tested on Monkeys, but it’s very interesting.

Classically it was thought that most of the body systems worked top down. You think it, and the brain sends out the memo.

Basically, the primary cortex portion of your brain (or M1 for short) contains a map of your entire body including regions like your legs, arms, face, and your core. 

To everybody’s surprise, boffins have discovered a large number of neurons in the M1 that controlled the adrenal medulla. Plus, most of these neurons were located in the axial muscle region of the M1. Stated plainly: “Well, lo and behold, core muscles have an impact on stress,” says Peter Strick, PhD, a professor and chair of the department of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. 

“One clear implication of this organization is that the sympathetic responses which occur during activities such as exercise, the performance of demanding cognitive tasks, and the experience of emotions are generated by neural activity from the same cortical areas that are responsible for these behaviors.” (The mind–body problem: Circuits that link the cerebral cortex to the adrenal medulla)

This isn’t that much of a surprise although as the mind body connection has been fairly known, or boringly worked to death, depending on your perspective. What we are beginning to see is the pathways for a body mind connection.

How you treat  your body has a direct impact on your emotions .

The psychologists, hippies and new age weirdos had always talked about this connection. I went to a charity fire walk in Liverpool Street, London several years ago, and we were made to power pose (stand there, legs astride, “being powerful”) to prepare us for the  rigours of the fire walk to come. Without such preparations, we would clearly have died.

Whilst power posing per se isn’t at all guaranteed (other studies found it to be utter tosh), its enough to understand  that:

  “specific multisynaptic circuits exist to link movement, cognition, and affect to the function of the adrenal medulla. This circuitry may mediate the effects of internal states like chronic stress and depression on organ function and, thus, provide a concrete neural substrate for some psychosomatic illness”.

All of which is a long winded rambling way of saying, do the L sit! ‘Cause your core sort of chats to your stress bits. Like”.

It’s OK.  I hang around with some really trashy people and have picked up some filthy phrasing habits.

To own the L sit, here are the stages! It’s vaguely abusive in places 

Stage 1. Notice the burger you are scoffing

Stage 2 put the burger down

The abusive thought behind stage 1 & 2 really is unnecessary. You can get good strong abs and still eat crap, you probably won’t be able to see them though. Although eating crap per se is bad for you.

Stage 3 grab the edge of the health and safety checked chair and push your ass off the seat, Notice how your bum is behind your hands. Find a balance. Practice for a few weeks (less if its easy)

Stage 4  Build on stage 3 , then stick one of your legs in front of you.Yikes. It’s hard for some, not so for others. You are lucky or you are not. Practice this and stage 5 together. One leg, then the other. Feel free to cry. Everyone likes people who can express emotional  weakness

Stage 5, is the other leg!

Stage 6. Hurrah, both legs out “purleez”

Stage 1-6  can be almost instant or its 6 weeks worth of work.

Then you can do it on the floor with paralletts

Then you start your disgusting journey to 2 minutes!

You’ll love the abs you get, the core control, and of course you’ll be calm and stress free!

Bug your Crossfit london  trainer and they will get you L sitting, like you were born to it. It will soon become easy ( this is a lie: it will always suck. If you have Abs of steel, we will  just put weight on your feet to me it awful again)

Thanks to  the PDF  The L Sit on Andrewstemler.com

The sketches are from is.tatsuo@gmail.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

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 )

CrossFit: the gift that keeps on giving!

We all know CrossFit is the best. If you’ve stumbled onto this blog post, odds are you’ve already drank the cool-aid and are neck deep in your function fitness journey with CrossFit London. But we all know someone who would love it, if only we could force encourage them to give it a go.
In January 2018 CrossFit London are launching our all new CrossFit Fundamentals course at a special January price, so there’s been no better time to kick-start your journey into better health and a join an amazing cult community of supportive, like-minded friends.
The new beginner’s programme consists of four sessions sessions led by our team of dedicated trainers. You can read all about the revamped course and what is consists of here.
If you know someone who’d like to give CrossFit a go, for January 2018 only there are two pricing options specifically to cover all the Fundamentals classes.
CrossFit Fundamentals: January Special £40 (usually £120) 
CrossFit Fundamentals + CFL tee/tank: January Special £60 
Either of those options purchase 4 sessions which will cover all 4 Fundamentals classes. If you’d like to sweeten the deal, the £60 option also gives the new member with a CFL t-shirt or tank on their first visit.
Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 23.21.52Please note, the CrossFit Fundamentals options cannot be used to book any other class type.
You could obviously just give your chosen recruit cash, but nothing says “you can buy whatever you like, so long as it’s this specific thing I want you to have” quite like a Gift Card.
If you follow that last link it will take you to the Mindbody Online website, where you can load a gift card with the amount needed to cover the Fundamentals classes. From there you can either print it off, or email it to the recipient to arrive on a specific day. Once your friend has opened it, all they need do is open an account, email in their gift card number to have it credited to their profile and then start their CrossFit journey.
And just like that, you have one more person who willingly wants to listen to you talk about your snatch.
If you have any questions, or would like to know more about gift cards or the CrossFit Fundamentals classes please email support@crossfitlondonuk.com.

Crossfit Beginner Fun

Another batch of noble beginners,  decided to kick their training up to another level by starting their level 1 classes, where, uniquely in a group format, Crossfit London teaches you all those “difficult moves” that leisure centres avoid, using a step by step method mixed with lots of kindness .
Often, difficult to master ground based moves, are limited not by flexibility but by balance. In our classes we get our clients to start working on the balance problems with safe, effective, supportive drills , that work. In 1.1  we look at the air squat, the front squat and overhead squat, along with a bit of hanging work such as basket hangs  and  toes to bar . Along the way we start to  discuss some of  our abbreviations like  WOD ( Work Out of the Day) and AMRAP ( As Many Rounds as Possible)  and start introducing you to moving around the gym  ( actually called a Box) safely.
Here is a useful drill  that fixes your squat

 
Most sessions end with a mini WOD, but its not  set to be challenging, merely a light rehearsal of newly learned principles. In our sessions we focus on teaching skill, so whilst a flexibility drill may feature we don’t waste 15 minutes of your time on aerobic warm ups and endless stretching . We use the skill progression to warm you up for the  full range of motion skill you are about to do. Jogging around is a great warm up if you intend to run. Squat drills are the best warm up for squatting. Long term , for those serious about flexibility, we have some fantastic flexibility classes that really push your range of motion along.
So get some serious skills and join our beginner  classes now