Category

Mobility

Coach Nico: Easing out of lockdown

Hey guys, Coach Nico here.

First and foremost, I wanted to congratulate and thank everyone who was involved in the Open this year. You guys smashed it and even though it was a weird year, a lot of members took part in it, with or without equipment, and showed up every Saturday for our big Zoom class alongside our friends The Wick and P10 Fitness.

So thank you guys, you made this 2021 CrossFit Open edition even more special!

Also, I hope you enjoyed the 3 weeks and 4 workouts because we might meet them again soon… 😉

As I am writing this it is the 4th of April, and the gyms will reopen officially in one week (12th). CFLDN was running outdoor classes in the alleyway for the last two weeks and every single class was fully booked in a few seconds. This makes me believe that you guys are hungry and super excited to get back in the gym, and this is great!

Now, it is my role to tell you to be careful when you restart, especially with something like CrossFit (high skill movements, external loads, and intensity). If you haven’t done anything in the last 3-4 months, please take it easy, 2-3 days max per week, with 2 rest days between each session would be recommended. And if you have moved and played with some DBS or bodyweight exercises, be careful with high-skill Gymnastics movements, especially the vertical pulling ones (Kipping Pull up, T2B, Muscle-ups, etc…). Indeed, your joints (and your body) will need a readaptation phase to be able to work at their full potential.

Be gentle, follow the programming, or work on tempo strict movement in Open gym first, before jumping on the rig for a set of 15 Kipping pull-ups.

Programming-wise, like last year after the first lockdown, we will be entering a Re-build period. The goal will be to gradually increase the load, movement skill, and intensity in order to prevent injuries, get that self-confidence back, and (re)build solid foundations before attacking some higher skill stuff later on!

For our members, the schedule is already up on the WodBoard app, and there are plenty of classes! 🙂

So get ready, I can’t wait to see you there very soon!

Nico.

Nico Salton
Head Coach
CrossFit London

Stuck at your desk? Try these stretches!

Try these 4 stretches if you find yourself stuck at your desk for hours at a time, hunched over? Try these 4 stretches to open up the chest and relieve some of your upper back pain.

Thoracic stretch against the wall:

Place your hands on a flat wall, move back and bend your knees slightly. Gently push your head through your hands until you feel a stretch. Repeat 5-10 times, slow and controlled movements.

Pec Minor stretch:

Raise your arm forward against the wall above your head. Turn the body away in the opposite direction to feel the stretch.

You can do this dynamically and hold it for 10 seconds at a time, or you can hold it for 60 seconds and then switch sides.

Pec Major stretch (2x insertions)

1: Stand in front of the wall, with your arm horizontal. Turn the body away in the opposite direction to feel the stretch.
Hold the position for the prescribed time of around 45-60 seconds.

2: Stand with the arm raised to the side of a door or wall at an angle of 90 degrees, with the elbow bent.
Step forward and turn away from the wall to stretch the chest and front of the shoulder.
Hold the position for a prescribed time of 45-60 seconds.

To book some therapy time with Carolyn  click here

The muscle up: because its good to have a standard

Pretty well anyone, who isn’t quite ill, can jog a bit!

It’s actually, not that difficult with a bit of basic training to get almost anyone into a simplistic exercise class. I was forced to teach basic circuit classes in 1998 as part of my initial introduction into the world of fitness teaching, and its theory was to keep it really simple and really basic “as long as their heart is elevated it’s a great workout”.

It is quite correct that basic aerobic fitness is a useful thing and that it helps bring down some of the crippling costs of the NHS. However, to make fitness “walk off the street”accessible the powers that be decided to trash the moves. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t squat, or a push-up. If you could do a ‘half jack” and elevate your heart rate you were fit!

Trashing fitness standards leaves you weak and vulnerable in what is after all a very harsh world.

Jogging and spinning on a bike does not train you to pull your family from a burning house, or pick up your children and run with them to the hospital. An emphasis on specialism produces awesome endurance runners who cannot haul their luggage and superbly strong strongmen who would collapse after jogging a mile.  At Crossfit London we look for the middle road; unfortunately, it’s a hard road.

Many people embark on fitness regimes that consist of a muddled mix of sports-specific rehabilitation and bodybuilding drills. If you are injured – you need rehabilitation drills If you are developing your golf putt – you need sports-specific drills. If you like posing on a stage wearing fake tan and teeny weenie panties – body-building drills are for you.

Of course, all training should have an aesthetic output: your body should express what it can do. Is there any point in having a Cadillac chassis with a lawnmower engine? (Actually, some people think there is: and they are so very, very special)

We think it’s second-rate to embark on a core conditioning and training regime without a clear idea of what you are going to achieve. Immature goals such as ‘reducing my 10k time by four minutes’, or ‘upping my deadlift by 8%’, – while seemingly precise and accurate – are distractingly narrow for the fundamental ‘underpinning’ training that most people need (that said, we can easily get you those targets too).

We simply aim to generally prepare you for all types of challenges, by measuring and designing training against three standards.

Crossfit fitness standard 1

There are ten recognised general physical skills. They are:

■ Endurance (cardio/respiratory) ■ Stamina (the ability to effectively use energy) ■ Strength ■ Flexibility ■ Power ■ Speed ■ Coordination ■ Agility ■ Balance ■ Accuracy

You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills. A regime only develops fitness if it improves each of these skills.

Improvements in endurance, stamina, strength, and flexibility come about through training. Training improves performance through physical changes.

Improvements in coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy come about through practice – which improves the nervous system.

Power and speed are adaptations of both training and practice.

Use this standard the next time you go for a spin class ( how strong, flexible, powerful and coordinated does sitting on your ass on a bike really make you?)

Crossfit fitness standard 2

We think your training should prepare you for real life. The implication here is that fitness requires an ability to perform well at all tasks (even unfamiliar ones) combined in infinitely varying combinations. In practice, this encourages you to put aside any prior notions of sets, rest periods, reps, exercises, order of exercises, routines, etc. Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to ‘mix stuff up’.

In practice you turn up to training a bit nervous, not knowing what to expect.

It helps build will and bravery.

Crossfit fitness standard 3

Whoever invented the human body was a bit of a ‘worry puss’– they felt that one energy system just wasn’t safe enough. Rather like the householder who has a real fireplace, electric storage heaters, and gas central heating. Some would call that greedy, but a cautious person would call it prudent.

The human body has three energy systems. One for fast reactive movement (diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler), a slower, more extended, but still, a pretty snappy system (for running 350 metres, then diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler). Finally, there is the long term ‘trickle’ energy system (the one you use while shoe shopping, running 5k, miles away from any toddlers).

For people who have little experience of toddlers, these ‘metabolic engines’ are known

as: the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway.

■ The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities (100 metre sprint), those that last less than about ten seconds.

■ The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes (400-800 metre run).

■ The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes (5k run, walking, shopping).

Total fitness – the fitness that Crossfit promotes and develops – requires competency and training in each of these three pathways or engines. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning (or ‘cardio’) that we do at Crossfit. Favoring one or two to the exclusion of the others, and not recognising the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway, are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training.

As an overriding principle, Crossfit views the needs of an Olympic athlete and that of our grandparents as differing by degree not kind. One is looking for functional dominance the other for functional competence. Competence and dominance manifest through identical physiological mechanisms.

At CrossFit London we scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.

In objective terms, this could mean trying and failing to master  skills like the muscle up

The muscle-up is simply a visible test. Do you really have strong arms and a  tight core? Do you have the will power to train for a move that’s genuinely hard? The advantage of a bicep curl* is that on day 1 you can do it, albeit empty-handed. All you have to do is add weight. Day 1 there’s no chance that most people can muscle up. But here is the thing. We are basically a school for adults. We teach you the functional physical literacy that you were deprived of. We have drills galore to help you learn, like this one, and expert trainers to support you.(* BTW, it’s ok, you get to do some bicep curls too!!)

We have some training drills on our facebook group if you fancy checking it out. If you want to come and train, drop us a line

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For vanity or mental resilience, its yes to handstands!

Even if you cannot get into your beloved gym at CrossFit London, you should always be building regular handstand practice into your life.

Whether it’s a free-standing handstand, a headstand, or a dish shape, you can be working towards inverted cool, effective moves!

We have drills and skills units in our facebook group and our trainers publish lots of handy technique videos like this one

To be utterly truthful, we don’t actually care if you get a free-standing handstand. If you do it’s because you have listend to our expert coaching and have put in loads of daily work. Not everyone can.

However, for us, the simple act of getting you comfortable with being upside down, or partially inverted can have remarkable physical and mental health benefits! It strengthens your core, makes you work on your shoulder mobility, and builds your wrists.

The training itself is the secret!

From a mental health point of you, if you are frightened by inversion, our progressive drills will help you manage that fear. This can really help with your general stress inoculation. If you’ve beaten this fear, maybe stressors at work won’t be as bad. If you can lead your body, by progressive drills and practice, to get upside down, maybe you can effectively lead your team at work to do a bit better!

It sounds weird but the pillars of mental resilience are

  • SELF-BELIEF – confidence in your own abilities and judgment
  • POSITIVE AFFECT – the ability to interact with life in a positive way
  • EMOTIONAL CONTROL – the ability to understand and express your emotions
  • MENTAL CONTROL – the ability to control thinking, attention, concentration, focus, self-awareness, reflexivity, problem-solving
  • SENSE OF PURPOSE – the motivation that drives you forward
  • COPING – adaptability, natural coping strategies you have learned through coping in a previously stressful situation
  • SOCIAL SUPPORT – the social network you have and the ways you use it

This mirrors exactly the process by which you nail the handstand and the way at which Crossfit Londons training makes you a more effective operator in the competitive London jobs market.  When learning a handstand, a wandering mind, emotional tantrums, no sense of purpose, negative thinking stop you from learning. By learning with progressive drills  you lever in social support and start developing coping skills.

Nothing builds coping skills like handstand practice.

 

If you want help releasing the better you,  get in contact!

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Square breathing

Breathing and its potential effect on athletic performance is one of those evergreen topics! The effect that breathing has on those with lung dysfunction or hyperventilation issues goes without challenge. If you have something wrong, breathing drills really work.

But, what if you are utterly healthy? Should you be biting into your training time to practice breathingdrills Continue Reading

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!

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!