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!
Crossfit, as it’s taught at Crossfit London, is a devastatingly effective physical fitness regime. Interestingly while it obviously builds muscle and skill, its biggest adaption is in your brain! Are you looking to reduce stress, meditate or up your mental game, This is the place for you!
CrossFit London’s unique combination of skill development, against a background of general modal domain gains (strength, aerobic capacity), developed and practiced with high-intensity creates the ideal environment to begin to develop your capacity to deal with stress.
One interesting aspect of our regime is the development of flow or as Csikszentmihalyi, says “The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile” . Our workouts aim to create a balance of perceived challenges and skills. This balance is crucial in developing flow . When people are allowed unprepared into a crossfit class the challenge is often bigger than their skill level. This creates anxiety and stress. These are probably the very reasons why someone goes to a CrossFit class.in the first place. However, if the class is under programmed or too easy when the beginner’s skill level exceeds the size of the challenge, it becomes dull and boring.
At Crossfit London, we support our beginners by steering them through our fundamental process, which gives our clients the basic survival skills they need.
This preparation also explains why our sessions are designed to develop flow. The literature identifies numerous elements in developing flow. To promote flow feedback needs to be almost instant. Our trainers provide in the moment feedback and you can measure your progress against established standards so you know what your goals and aims are. Whilst you may have a muddle of internal aims, during the workouts we give you the targets you need to chase while making sure they are amended to your specific skill level.
Whilst in a normal gym you meander between machines, or chill out to music is a dance class, CrossFit workouts require you to merge your actions and awareness. You are there, in the moment. When pushing a weight above your head 30 times, you need to be present in the task. You don’t really have time to think about yesterday or tomorrow’s work problems. You need to be there in the room, with your weight and your skill and the challenges. The internet is stuffed full of adverts claiming that their weird mind training can give you flow. If there is one truth in mind training it’s that as a stand-alone thing, it’s worthless. Mind training needs to be coupled with challenges!
We work to make you and the movement one. We aim to build your physical and mechanical dominance. We strive to make every movement feel like an extension of your body. We get you to practice, practice because our moves are worth it. You can grapevine till the cows come home, but it’s the power lifts, the Olympic lifts, and basic gymnastic moves that boost your genuine physical capacity. We get you to focus on the process. It’s just that in flow and work and relationships, process is queen! By constantly challenging you, your workouts and skills begin to shape the language and the thoughts you use. This influences the way you interact with others and your relationship with yourself. Every jogger who secretly knows they cannot do a pull-up or run any faster or handstand subconsciously accepts their weakness and it often carries into real life. Many of our clients succeed in the workplace because, by coming to us, they have already been to hell and back. There is nothing to fear in a zoom presentation!
By coaching effectively we genuinely give our clients, not only a physical gym but a mind training gym too! We know this, as Crossfit London was the first-ever Crossfit affiliate in the UK ( actually the 8th anywhere in the world ) and we know our stuff. Our staff are experts, with years worth of teaching and training practice, and we know our stuff. See you soon!
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.
In this article we visit the basic language of weightlifting and how it relates to the concept of relative intensity.
When it comes to using weight; in simple terms, people think this: lift the heaviest weight you can, that’s your 1 rep max; then based on that you can lift 90% of it 3 times (3reps), 85% of it 5 times, 75% 10 times. If you do 3 rounds of 3 reps, that’s 3 sets.
So weight lifting is a mix of percentages, sets and reps, all based on a one rep max. Simples!
This is a great place to start, but to develop your strength head, you need to develop your knowledge and insights into the strength game.
Some time ago, Zatsiorsky pointed out there are two types of one rep maxes you can have: a competition 1 rep max, and a training 1 rep max.
A) A competition max is where you get hyped up and get a PB and scream a lot.
B) A training 1 rep max
However, often people skip the full definition of a 1 rep training max.
A maximum training weight is the heaviest weight you can lift without substantial emotional stress.
Damn. No screaming.
For athletes, the difference between the two is great. The example Zatsiorsky cites is that for athletes who lift 200 kg during a competition, a 180kg is typically above their maximum training weight. As a possible indicator, if your heart rate increases before your lift, that’s a sign of emotional engagement. Weightlifting is meant to stress your body, not your mind.
That’s the job of your partner and employer.
In short, if you screamed it up – it’s too heavy to use as a basis for regular training.
So, if you are calculating reps and sets using a 1 rep max, please, please use the right one; otherwise you’ll break. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon… If you want to properly test your 1 rep max, book a PT session with one of the training team.
If you have been lifting regularly for a while, you have probably begun to review strength literature and you are probably aware that lifting 80% of your 1 rep max provokes strength gain.
So, when lifting sets of 5, you’d probably like to put 80% of your 1 rep max on the bar. Everyone does that, but think about what it is you’d are actually be doing.
Let’s forget weightlifting for a moment, and talk about bricks. Imagine you are a labourer on a building site. Lets say we run a test to see how many bricks you can move in a day. For argument’s sake, let’s say you can move 1000.
Normally in training we wouldn’t want to move the 1000, we would do 800 ( 80%) but many people want to set 5 reps of that. So there you are, lifting 5 x 800 =4000.
If you tried to do that in a day, you’d probably die.
Back to the weight room. So you can lift 100kg calmly as your 1 rep max. You’ve been told if you lift 80% and over of this figure, you are strength training. So, to keep the maths easy, if you lift 80kg, you are strength training. But do you lift that 80% five times?
As you see from my poor labourer example, the first 800 was probably easy, but the next 800, isn’t easy, the 3rd 800 is getting you to breaking point.
In short, 80% lifted multiple times, isn’t perceived by the body as 80%. It sees it as much, much heavier because of the volume. The bricklayer, is of course a silly example – but try and get the message rather than be sidetracked in the endurance aspect of the example.
In simple terms, because you are lifting in sets of multiple reps, a load of 67% of your 1 rep max lifted 5 times has a relative intensity of 79%. It feels like 79%, your body thinks it’s 79%. It is 79%
Putting 76% of you 1 rep max on your bar for 5, has the effect of being 88%.
70% feels like =82%,
73% feels like = 85%.
80% on the bar for 5, is like lifting 91%.
Relative intensity is the simple observation that volume, load and rest effects how your body feels and adapts to weight.
Remember your muscles are dumb, they don’t know or care about percentages. They just know what feels heavy.
According to Mike Tuchscherer; “The body responds to things like the force of the muscle’s contraction, how long the contraction lasts, and how many contractions there were. A percentage isn’t necessarily a precise way to describe this, as different lifters will perform differently.”
In take-home terms, if today you went to the gym and during the strength session, you only got to 68% of your (proper) 1 rep Training max for 5; you actually hit the 80% in relative intensity. That’s the 80% you need to nudge your strength along.
For now, in our general programme, we are not obsessing about percentages; but those who do know their lifts, I hope will be grateful for this insight. For the rest of you, simply work to a set of 5 that you can comfortably lift, bearing in mind these RPE (rates of perceived exertion) as guidance.
On a scale from 1 to 10:
9: Heavy Effort. Could have done one more rep. 8: Could have done two or three more reps, but glad you didn’t have to. 7: Bar speed is “snappy” if maximal force is applied 6: Bar speed is “snappy” with moderate effort
After a while, I suspect a “five” you can do in class will be at an RPE between 7 and 8.
Once you bedded this concept of relative intensity into your head, you can look forward to many years of safe, effective lifting.
Crossfit london In Bethnal Green E2 is famous for many, many things. The 1st ever British Crossfit affiliate, the 9th affiliate in the world, amazing olympic weightlifting classes, the best Crossfit beginner introduction process, its amazing clients, its fantastic coaches ( blah, blah, ). Its also famous for its drill by drill instructional system and its use of allegory and metaphor to help people learn stuff!
The reality is that experiences in one part of your life, can often help elsewhere!
In other words, it’s possible to argue that the Olympic Lifts are wholly informed by your romantic, and for that matter, your pick up ability at parties.
The job of thesquat clean is to lift the bar to the correct height, no more and no less, then get underneath it.
Which is exactly like picking people up at parties
Have you ever met someone at a party and absolutely nailed it in the first few sentences? Have you had one of those moments when you could literally have said “get your coat, you’ve pulled”, and got away with it?
Well done, but be honest, you probably continued talking and screwed it up.
Who hasn’t successfully hit on someone in a party then proceeded to talk their way out of what would have been a perfectly decent shag?
We’ve all been there.
And its the same with thesquat clean..
All you need to do is A) pull the bar B) tell itto “get your coat”” then C) get under it . You have to ( and I mean , “HAVE TO” ) bring your hips all the way in. But, do you need to continue to pull? Do your arms really need to tug it up further? Do you need that big upward shoulder shrug… does the bar need to go sailing up past your chin to the moon before you decide you need to be going down the other way, and fast.
Once the bar is up by your chin in the pull, it’s too late. By this time the bar has thought better of it, it needs to think about things a bit. Now it needs to check with a friend or wash its hair, or get a taxi home, and voila, there you are left all alone.
Once you discover the Olympic lifts, they do become a bit of a personal challenge.
Your job, in partnership with your Crossfit london Coach, is to pick apart your strength, flexibility, agility and technique to achieve the best performance you can. The snatch is simply where these attributes combine.
However, there is one common limiter that many share when they try and achieve a good over head position in the snatch. Poor shoulder mobility.
Ive seen awesome athletes from combat, rugby and Crossfit , unpicked by the challenge of overhead mobility.
As a massage therapist I can suggest numerous drills that allegedly deal with this issue. I personally feel they all take second place to the dislocation. Any stretch that attempts to mirror the position you want to achieve, I believe, trumps a generic stretch or therapy drill. That said a if you attempt to get the position you want AND throw in lots of stretching and mobility too, I think thats a recipe for success.
So let me recommend this procedure/drill called a Shoulder Dislocation, and no, you don’t actually dislocate your shoulder! Buy a pole and improve your overhead position.
Over the next year I want to try and consolidate all of the present research on the Olympic lifts on the CFLDN blog, so all those Olympic Lifters at Crossfit London in Bethnal Green E2 can benefit. As reports surface (or I find old ones) I’ll post the title here along with a review of the conclusion.
Whilst reading any articles I write on the olympic lifts, do try and sink into a deep overhead squat.
Just for the novelty.
A fair warning though. I’ll be sharing the ideas of others. Some may be accurate, others not so. The hope is that it will begin to inform your thinking and get you to critically reflect on your performance. It is , in reality, all about you.
I’ll reference, but I’ll probably not go the full Harvard route ( I’m getting lazy as I age)
So, let’s start with: The Snatch Technique of World Class Weightlifters at the 1985 World Championships. Baumann, et al.
This study used 3D film ( ah, the time before mobile phones) and measured ground reaction forces in the 1985 world championships in Sweden. The most interesting discovery was that knee joint movements are fairly small (1/3rd of the hip joint moments ) and do not correlate well with the total load. Better lifts actively control their knee movements.
The report identifies the point at which the lifter drops under the bar to be the most important and technically most difficult . It’s interesting to note that the trajectory of the bar comes in towards the lifter. Many coaches emphasise bringing the hips to the bar.
It was noted that the movement ends with a jump backwards under the barbell. This has been noted by Garhammer(1985) and Vorobyev(1978) who thought it was a fault. It was also noted that the pull brought the bar to approx 60% of the lifters stature.
“My rules for whether or not a backward jump is acceptable are pretty simple:
The body, feet and barbell must all travel backward equally.
The body and bar must remain in close proximity during the backward movement.
The lifter must receive the lift in a solid, balanced position without a need for compensation or adjustment
It must be something the lifter has arrived at naturally, i.e. it’s not an intentional technical style”
So check out some Garhammer thoughts in Weightlifting and Training(chapter 5) in Biomechanics of Sport
This is quite a comprehensive (review) chapter and he identifies these three characteristics in better lifters
1 ) faster movements
2) body extension during the pull
3) lower peak bar height relative to body size
But enough of talking about pulls and snatches and what goes where. Below is an extract from Tommy Kono’s book showing successful and unsuccessful pull heights and the trajectory of the bar during the snatch. Notice the S pull!
We will talk S pulls in other articles!
A final word from Garhammer in .Barbell Trajectory, velocity and power changes and four world records
This study took place at the 1999 junior world weightlifting championships). The aim was to support the concept of using sub-maximal training lifts to increase power output. The paper concludes that 75% -85% of 1 RM is best to produce maximal power output.
To be the best Olympic weightlifter you can be, you need to understand one crucial thing.
What the rules of Olympic lifting actually are.
Not the rules made up by the coach or some internet commentator, but what the rules really are. Many organisations and coaches, in the search for that new world champion, simply want to impose a particular type of lifting style on anyone who walks in through the door. If you don’t have the natural attributes of their ideal lifter, they ignore you.
In this imposition of a style, many coaches seek to exclude, rather than welcome people. No where is this clearer than in the snatch, often totally wrongly , defined as the squat snatch.
“The barbell is placed horizontally in front of the lifter’s legs. It is gripped, palms downwards and pulled in a single movement from the platform to the full extent of both arms above the head, while either splitting or bending the legs. During this continuous movement, the barbell may slide along the thighs and the lap. No part of the body other than the feet may touch the platform during the execution of the lift. The weight, which has been lifted, must be maintained in the final motionless position, arms and legs extended, the feet on the same line, until the Referees give the signal to replace the barbell on the platform. The lifter may recover in his or her own time, either from a split or a squat position, and finish with the feet on the same line, parallel to the plane of the trunk and the barbell. The Referees give the signal to lower the barbell as soon as the lifter becomes motionless in all parts of the body.”
You’ll notice that in receiving the bar, the words are “splitting or bending the legs”.
The fantastically lovely deep squat snatch, is a thing of beauty, It’s where strength, mobility, flexibility, agility, and let’s face it, awesomeness blend. It is, however a specific method used by strong, mobile, flexible, agile and awesome people . As many people will tell you, if you don’t have mobility and flexibility, as far as the squat snatch goes, you are screwed. Even if you are awesome.
What the rules mean is you can also power and split snatch. The split and power snatch are available to all (well, OK, 95% of people).
So my advice is this.
Focus on the actual message of the Olympic lifts first. Get judged on how much you can lift over your head, not on the method you use. Splitting and power snatches are safe and can be used by awesome strong people who maybe are a teeny weeny bit challenged in the mobility, flexibility and agility department.
Vorobyev states in ” A text book on weightlifting”, “depending on the makeup of anatomico-physiological and psychological features the lifter adopts… split or squat and other technical elements”
This doesn’t mean that you cannot have a go, and practice the squat snatch. Maybe it will encourage you to actually do some mobility and flexibility, Maybe you’ll actually try and nail your over heads squat, but why not, in the meantime, make sure you have a great power and split snatch too.
Little did Aryna Sabalenka realise that her controversial grunting in the 2018 Australian Tennis Open could assist Olympic weightlifters in Bethnal Green E1. A short yell or kiai has always been part of martial arts, and exertion is sometimes accompanied with a bit of a grunt. But, is it a technique or tactic you should use to improve your snatch and clean and jerk?
Damian Farrow (2018) in ‘All the Racquet: What science tells us about the pros and cons of grunting in tennis’, put the advantages of a grunt in simple terms.
If you grunt, you get: a 3.8% increase in groundstroke-hitting velocity and a 4.9% enhancement in velocity.
According to that report “The velocity, force, and peak muscle activity during tennis serves and forehand strokes are significantly enhanced when athletes are allowed to grunt.”
“Grunt history, gender, perceived advantages, and disadvantages of grunting, years of experience, highest level of competition, and order of testing did not significantly alter any of these results”
I must confess that the exact science behind this phenomenon slightly eludes me, but allegedly, increased force on impact lies within the concept of kinetic energy. KE is the energy of motion which is transferred on impact. KE is calculated as one half of the product of mass and velocity squared.
Grunting, so brainy people say, tightens the body core which increases the mass behind the tennis strike, thereby increasing the force on impact resulting in the increased velocity of the tennis ball.
The carry over to Olympic weightlifting at CrossFit London is obvious. If you lift quietly, the chances are you are missing out on some free energy that could move the bar to where you want it.