Category

Mobility

Programming 201

In the previous instalment we went over how to create the starting point to build your own gym program. Today we’re going to look at how you can use the data you collect to inform decisions about how to adjust the program going forward.

If you can take 10 minutes go back and read through the Programming 101 article to understand this in context. If you’ve already read it, well done, I’ll quickly remind you what the key points are so your memory is refreshed

  • Get assessed – hire someone or do it yourself. Figure out where and what your problems are
  • Know what adaption it is that you want to make – Have A, that is 1, clear goal.
  • Volume and Intensity – Make sure the total number of repetitions you do fall in the right zones (to start with) and the weight on the bar is in the right area to achieve the adaption you want.
  • Pick exercises that appropriately fulfil your desired adaptation goals, sets, reps and intensity. – simply put, pick exercises which fit the above criteria.
  • Keep going until it stops working.

Because you guys are manifold there is no way I can guess what your program looks like so instead I’m going to talk about the next step in terms of principles.
Let’s make a few assumptions:

  • You followed the structure I laid out for creating a program
  • You kept track of the data in a spreadsheet
  • You kept going until you stopped seeing your numbers increasing at the same Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)

Which puts you at the point where you’ve kind of stalled. You’re not seeing an increase in the weights you’re using whilst maintaining the same RPE. We’ll work from this point.

Step 1: Take a transition block.

You’ve probably heard about this importance of “deload” weeks. That is regularly planned blocks of time where you back off from higher intensity work in an effort to manage fatigue. If you’re fatigued, you aren’t recovered, and you won’t recover as well workout to workout.

A transition block is a similar method of managing fatigue but instead of being at an arbitrary time, an arbitrary length, and an arbitrary decrease in volume/intensity you’ll look at refining it just as much as you do the developmental blocks.
Let’s take a step back and address how we control the block lengths.

In Programming 101 Step 5 was to stick with it until you stopped progressing. In other words, keep going until you find out how many weeks it takes you to stop seeing results from a certain training stimulus.
For example if we use an arbitrary 6 week developmental block where you train using the same stimulus (program) for 6 weeks it will work for some people. But what happens if you stop seeing improvements after 3 weeks, you adapt really quickly? The last 3 weeks are wasted time where you could have transitioned and almost completed another development block. What about if you would of kept seeing progress if you’d stuck to the program for 9 weeks? If you stopped after 6 weeks you’re missing out upon 3 weeks of potential gains.

Neither scenario is great.

That’s why I’m asking you to track the data and have an actual time frame which is personal to you. For the sake of argument lets just say we hit it on the head with the 6 weeks.

You have a 6 week window to peak adaptation. So you can work about 6 weeks before you plateau.

We then take approximately 30% of the your window to peak adaption time as a transition block, 2 weeks in this case. If you took 9 weeks you would have a 3-week transition block etc. etc.

In terms of what happens on the transition block, the goal isn’t just to reduce fatigue. The key is to re-sensitise to the desired training stimulus. If you’re been working hard to create a strong signal to your body to grow muscle, then the stop in adaption means you are desensitised to that stimulus.

Whilst then we can manage fatigue through dropping the volume and intensity there is a call to change the stimulus as well. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, just something that allows the body to recover a little. For example, if you’ve been working purely on strength in the transition window you might look a little more at explosive power work or being more athletic overall, if you were looking purely at increasing size then your transition might be some kind of strength work?

Transition Protocol:
Length: 30% of window to peak adaptation length

For Strength goals reduce the average training intensity by 30%, the volume by 10%, and change training stimulus to a non-competitive yet different adaptation (power, hypertrophy, speed)

For Size goals reduce the average training intensity by 10%, the volume by 30%, and change training stimulus to a non-competitive yet different adaptation (power, strength, capacity).

Once you’ve completed the allotted time for the transition block you can go back into a development cycle (or peaking block).

NB – just because you’re changing the training stimulus slightly doesn’t mean that you can ignore the sports skill. If you’re a powerlifter or a weightlifter, then you still need the competition lifts (or close variation) in the transition block but you’ll just have them in a slightly different place.

Step 2: Making a new Development Block with changes

This means going through steps 1 through 5 again of Programming 101. The changes come however by making small changes based upon your training data. To understand what changes you should make comes down to understanding your weaknesses and where you’re failing.

In turn this comes down to the assessment step.

In “Programming 101” I mentioned how we take videos and observe lifts to find out where they fall apart and from this infer where what areas and exercises might be best. You should be running this exact procedure again.

Variables you might want to look at altering might include

  • Intensity ranges
  • Volume
    • Daily
    • Weekly
  • Exercise Selection (including variation)
  • Lift phase emphasis (eccentric focus, isometric focus, concentric focus)
  • Unilateral vs Bilateral

Etc. To get the most out of this you’ll need to spend a lot of time on it and on your spreadsheet (which is why you should really have a coach). With this type of data collection and analysis we must take something of a Bayesian approach. Bayesian inference, in a very basic way, says the more data we collect the higher the probability a correct inference can be made. Or, the more data we collect the clearer the picture becomes.

The classic example is firing photons at a “target” through slotted paper. At first the results appear random. They show up on the target in no clear pattern. But as more and more photons are “fired” the outline of the slots appears progressively more defined. Basically you’re more data increases your resolution.

In real words what’s this means is the more data we collect, the more development cycle you run, the better picture you can build up of what works.

Take a look this snapshot of training data:

This is a macro view of a few squat variations (we didn’t start running good mornings until later in the year) and their relationship with the competition lift.  As you can see this is a VERY small sample size but we can probably that in this situation pause squats help and eccentric squats help. Potentially blocks of paused squats FOLLOWED BY eccentric squats help more.

Now lets say we have 20 or 30 cycles of training data we’d have a very clear picture of what works and what doesn’t. Knowing this you can then program being able to make strong inferences to what will work. This being said the human body is an open system so just because you do “A”  and it works really well in January doing it again in November doesn’t ensure the same.

Considerations

This way of programming takes time and for the first few blocks isn’t any clearer than traditional programming. The key is consistency to one goal over time, collecting the data and making sure you then look at it to see what’s working.  If you see that every time you add in heavy deadlifts your deadlifts goes down then you know that may be high intensity deadlifts aren’t the key for building your deadlift no matter what people say. Likewise, if every time you add in a paused bench press you hit new maximal numbers then maybe you every time you plan to hit a new record the block before should include paused bench press?

If you really want to make the most of the effort you put into the gym you should make the effort to stick with the programming and learn what works for you. We live in an age now where no one has the time to do this which leaves you two options

  1. Make the time
  2. Pay someone to do it for you

If you have the expertise and time then it’s very much worth learning for yourself. If you don’t you should hire a coach whom understands the training process but remember when you hire a coach they’re the expert, but you are the boss. If it’s not what you want or how you want there is always another coach out there.

I'm too inflexible to try Yoga or a flexibility class!


“I’m too inflexible to try Yoga / a flexibility class.”
It sounds backwards doesn’t it. Surely that’s why you need to come to a class?
But I get this statement a lot.
And yes, with good reason. If you can’t touch your toes isn’t a splits class going to be out of your depth? Or a bridge class knowing your tight shoulders?
Fortunately not. This is where scaling bears it’s fruit.
Crossfitters reading this will know scaling well. You do a workout with 100 pullups but know that with your max 4 reps completing in several minutes is an impossibility.
So you scale. Make it easier so it’s something you CAN do.
Those who are willing, will find a way.
Luckily fhe same works in flexibility.
Lets take the bridge as an example. A mean fear when your shoulders force nothing less than a 90 degree bend in your elbows. While your hear practically sweeps the dust off the floor.
So we scale:
1. Firstly you will need a partner. For sole traders out there, a chair can work depending on the shape, but a breathing obstacle works better and can be recruited with a suitable dose of chocolate.

2. Warm up suitably and do some preparatory stretches of your shoulders (find some examples in our flexibility class)


3. Start your bridge position lying on the floor, heels tucked to your backside withe feet on the floor
 
4. Your partner stands facing you with feet at your shoulders either side of your head
5. They then walk out at a 45 degree angle from your shoulders, starting 1 foot away
6. You grab hold of their ankles, elbows pointing up

7. Your partner supports underneath your shoulders, while you push off your hands and feet into a bridge
8. If unable to lock out your arms, bring your head to your chest and lower down, have your partner walk out a bit more from your shoulders then try again

9. Stretch out your back after you finish
10. Scaling like this you can hold and work on a proper locked out bridge, and work towards doing it solo
 
Come to the flexibility class for a full breakdown of this and more shoulder stretches.
Or  if you’re keen to get flexible quicker or prevent pains and injuries, try a 1-1 by booking a free session here:

https://10to8.com/book/qwzphv-free/191921/

Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Next Level Chillin'

On Tuesday it’s Halloween, all hallows eve. A time during which the gate between the world of the living and the dead is wide open – allegedly. In any case, we’re going to take this opportunity to spend a good amount of time in savasana, the corpse pose, to let the physical body rest and quieten down the mind.
In other words, we’ll be throwing a few restorative shapes, before I take you through a progressive muscle relaxation. PMR is an excellent way to not only improve awareness of your physical body in space (aka, proprioception) by targetting individual muscles, or muscle groups, but also to sharpen your focus by drawing your attention to a specific body part for a brief moment in time, and linking that to your breath – sound familiar?
Following on from last week, let me reiterate just how important it is that you allow yourself sufficient capacity to recover from your training in the gym. Physical exercise is a stressor on your system, even more so when performed at high intensity.
As we grind through those workouts day in, day out, we tend to forget how to breathe properly (remember 17.5, anyone? Dark times), and this can ultimately lead to, or contribute to, muscle tension and muscle spasms (abmat sit-ups for reps, need I say more?)
Yoga for CrossFit
Proper breathing is an often under-estimated tool you can use to aid your performance. As with everything else, it’s something that you improve through regular practice – all it takes is a little conscious effort.
It’s a fundamental part of the practice of yoga, and next week we’ll be drawing on this specifically to aid your recovery and general relaxation.
As it is starting to get a bit nippy now, please bring adequate clothing and layers, as we will be horizontal for a good part of the class. Take a pair of warm socks, perhaps even a thin blanket and/or an eye mask, if you have one.
Click here to book in, see you bright and early on Tuesday!
Yoga for CrossFit

7am roll call – Time to get upside down!

Working out at the gym puts stress on your system. In order to get the most out of your training regime, you need to make adequate provisions for recovery – eating, sleeping etc. – no rocket science here, and you know this already anyway! The focus in this week’s Yoga for Athletes class will be on inversions. That’s not just handstands, headstands and so on by the way. An inversion is any posture whereby the head is lower than the heart. An excellent way to calm down the CNS, and of course to build strength in the arms and shoulders, as well as to hone those ninja skills.
We’ll be practising a restorative form of pranayama (‘control of breath’) to begin with, before exploring different progressions of the traditional yogi headstand (sirsasana) as well as the forearm stand (pincha mayurasana). If there mere thought of that makes you feel a little queasy – fear not! We will be building up to these big poses safely and with plenty of wall space to support. If you’re a HSPU ninja, come along to mix it up a little, get those rhomboids to work and add to your gymnastics ninja repertoire. If you’re working on building strength to hold yourself upside down – this class is for you, to get used to holding your weight over your shoulders in a way that is stable. Change of perspective and a bit of added zen, how’s that for a good start to the day? Click here to book, see ya there!

Yoga for Sports

Standard post-workout state. If you train hard, you gotta let your system recover!

How Does Balance Get You Flexible?

How Does Balance Get You Flexible?
20171018_214422
Balance is all areas of life, we hear it all the time.
It’s also important in getting flexible, in a slightly different way. Here’s how.
When you want to get flexible the most important thing is relax. You know that already.
The easiest way NOT to relax is to lose your balance. When you’re about to fall over your body kicks off an adrenaline response, tensing up in preparation for a collision with the floor. After all, who wants to fall on their face?
Unfortunately this is not helpful when you’re stretching, especially if you’re a foot from the floor.
 
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The remedy?
– Start with something to hold. This can be a partner, yoga block, sofa, whatever you have to hand. Preferably not your pet cat as it will run away.
– Over time your balance will improve. Balance is a learned skill, like agility or strength. The more you do stretches that test your balance, the less you will need a support.
20171016_213300
Yoga involves a lot of movements that require balance. It not only develops your balance but also makes holding these stretches easier as your balance improves.
So like any smart student, we cheat and copy what works in yoga and use it to get flexible even faster. And you’re well away.
Come to flexibility class for your dose of improved balance for your Crossfit and gymnastics.
Or for even faster results book a 1-1 session with Felix for free on
M: 07504142211
E: felix@superflexcoaching.com

Locust or Superman?

Now that is a good question! Depends on whether you ask a yogi or a CrossFitter! In any case, it’s one of the shapes we’ll be getting into during Tuesday’s practice. In this week’s class, we’re going to focus on mobilising the spine by getting into all sorts of twists, so be prepared to wring out those obliques – because we all love a bit of extra-curricular accessory work, right? Thought so ?
Then, we’ve got a couple backbends to release the lower back, a few shoulder and wrist mobilisers as well as a sun salutation flow to make sure you’re awake and ready to rule the day by the time we wrap up.
Gonna be a good crew, please book in here if you would like to join! Tuesday rise & shine/flex my friends! See you there, meanwhile I hope you all took today as an opportunity to take that fitness outside into the sunshine!
Yoga for Cyclists

The Sun Salutation – How is it going to benefit your training?

If you’ve done yoga before, you will have practiced it, and if you haven’t, you may well have heard of it – the sun salutation, or surya namaskar, by its Sanskrit name. The sun salutation is a foundational sequence of roughly a dozen asanas (yoga postures), performed in the same order and usually at the beginning of a yoga practice. There are different variations, e.g. the classical sun salutation, surya namaskar A & B – you’ll be coming across them all in my classes. Now, let’s look at why you should integrate them into your programme to complement your training at the gym.

  1. No equipment needed

The sun salutation is a type of bodyweight exercise and you can do it anywhere. I like to take my practice outside whenever possible, making the most of London’s many green spaces. You’ll have the choreography down in no time, meaning you’ll bust out those downward facing dogs and baby cobras without even thinking about what comes when before you know it.

Downward-facing dog

Downward-facing Dog

  1. It makes for a great warm-up, cool-down or a full-on workout in its own right

It all depends on how you pace it, and how many rounds you complete. In vinyasa flow yoga, the style in which I teach, it’s the rhythm of your breath that leads you from one posture to the next, meaning you – or on occasion I, if you practice with me in class – set the pace. It’s a great way to warm up before a workout, and to bring that heart rate down when you’re hanging out of your arse after a savage metcon.

  1. It mobilises the spine

The practice of yoga asana aims to move the spine in all directions by means of forward folds, backbends and twists. The sun salutation incorporates a number of poses that repeatedly flex and extend the spine, particularly the lumbar. This promotes spinal disc health as the biochemical process controlling disc hydration is stimulated through on and off pressure. The spinal discs already have very poor blood supply – now add to that gravity from walking upright, general lack of movement due to a sedentary lifestyle for many of us, natural degeneration through ageing, as well as compression under load from weightlifting and you have…less than ideal conditions for your discs to stay happy and healthy!

Bhujangasana - Cobra

Bhujangasana – Cobra

  1. It makes for happy hammies

Struggling to keep a neutral spine when deadlifting? Tight hamstrings are a common plight, and not only among athletes. There’s three of these muscles – they originate at the sitting bone, and the back of the femur (that’s your thigh bone) respectively. Tightness in this area may cause the pelvis to tuck under, and therefore compromise the integrity of the spine in CrossFit movements such as the deadlift. As with everything, consistency is key, and I guarantee you that you will be able to touch your toes no matter how impossible that may seem at this point in time – incidentally it’s one of the most frequent reasons I hear people give for not coming to class. No more excuses now, get yourself on the mat or the gym floor and start stretching!

Uttanasana - Forward fold

Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold

  1. It helps you get to that next ninja level

The sun salutation engages approximately 140 muscles in the body, using nothing but your own bodyweight. How’s that for a well-rounded workout? Mindful movement helps cultivate proprioception, i.e. the awareness of whereabouts in space your various body parts are, and controlling that – aka ninja skills. If you’re struggling with certain movements such as the push-up, try a chaturanga dandasana variation I’ll be teaching you, whereby you’ll learn how to gradually lower yourself down towards the ground from plank, eventually hovering a couple inches above the floor.
I’m running a weekly yoga class on Tuesday mornings, 7-8am at Gales Gardens, starting Tuesday Oct 10th. Suitable for all levels, complete beginners most welcome! Click here to book in, and feel free to email me at christine[at]crossfitlondonuk.com if you have any questions.
Click here if you missed last week’s post on who I am, and what you can expect from my classes.
 

New weekly Yoga for Crossfitters class

Hey team,
Your Crossfit coaches help you get swole, now it’s time to get flexy! Come and join me on the mat for an hour on Tuesday mornings at 7am, starting Oct 10th. I’m stoked to meet you guys & gals!
Who am I?
I was brought up in Bavaria in the Southeast of Germany and have been living in the Big Smoke for the past 12 years. When I’m not working in my job as a quality manager in construction, I try and spend as much time outside as possible. Hiking, riding my bike, my skateboard, climbing, running the occasional obstacle course or endurance race – I’ll take anything over sitting on my arse in front of the telly! Crossfit helps me get into shape for my endeavours, while a regular yoga practice helps me stay supple…and keep a level head!
Christine_MvL
How did I get into CF?
I was looking for a type of training to help me get stronger and level out a few board sports-induced strength imbalances. So initially I started doing CF to help my skateboarding. Needless to say, I’ve never looked back and am now increasingly gravitating towards putting that fitness to good use outside of the gym and testing out that general physical preparedness!
Christine_KnK
Random fact?
In January I rowed the full marathon distance of 42.195m on an erg unbroken in 3:30:08, for no reason other than that I wanted to, after racking up nearly 240.000m prior. Hit me up at christine[at]crossfitlondonuk.com for tips on distance rowing or if you’re keen to find out more on how to prepare for, and get through this kinda thing.
Christine_Row
Why yoga?
Um, why not?! I could write a novel on the many physical and mental benefits and why I think everyone should be doing it!
Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming posts on how a regular yoga practice will positively impact on your performance at the gym. Meanwhile, you can also head over to my website at www.yogishapes.com to find out more about me and my philosophy.
Falka_Plank
I’m just not down with this new age hippy shiz…and how do you even ‘radiate from the heart space’?!
Oh good, cos neither am I! My classes are primarily built around specific muscle groups with a strong emphasis on alignment and anatomy. I do believe in mindfulness as an extremely powerful tool to improve performance, especially if you’re competing or generally enjoy pushing your limits. The word yoga means to yoke, or to unite, and through the practice of asana, the physical postures, as well as pranayama, a variety of breathing techniques, we aim to establish, and strengthen that mind-body connection. However you won’t find any flowery language, chanting or incense in my classes. What can you expect then?
A friendly space where every body is welcome – my yoga classes are suitable for all levels, so don’t worry about not being flexible enough! Just as in Crossfit, modifications are available for the postures and I will offer hands-on adjustments to help you get the most out of your practice. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!
bhujapidasana
Favourite workout?
Small:
3 RFT – 1k row, 50 burpees, 50 box jumps @ 24″, 800m run
Favourite dessert?
Banoffee pie!!!
My weekly class will run at Gales Gardens on Tuesday mornings from 7-8am, starting Oct 10th. Book in here to get your stretch on!
Christine_Leake_St
 
 

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

Drills for the back handspring

At Crossfit London in Bethnal Green E2, our gymnastic programmes teach both adults and kids how to back handspring.
As our clients are recreational gymnasts ( doing it for fun and excitement)  dancers and cheerleaders, we need to make sure our trainers have a comprehensive range of progressive drills and skills to help you master the full move. Some of the moves we use are featured in this useful video.
Many people learn through a mix of methods. The approach is often called VARK ( visual, audial, reading and kinesthetic) by publishing video’s  with the skill break down, it helps our learners learn. You will get most of the moves we teach  by hard work and patience, but we will make sure you have the drills and pathways to  achieve your goals.
Some of our clients achievements are on this facebook group.
We offer adult and kids gymnastic  classes and PT sessions in  our gym in Bethnal green, London E2. In the meantime, check out this great video and start the learning process