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!
What is an easy way for people to conceptualise multi-faceted physical qualities? 🧐
It’s easy to picture how a “crystal” fits together. Multiple faces create a whole, and intuitively, this is a strong stable structure. It’s harder to digest something multi-faceted in a biological/physical setting (like tying together different hip/trunk focussed work). Models that offer ready-made and understood concepts can, maybe should, be used to help athletes understand how their training fits together and each aspect offers support to another.
This could easily be expanded into a layered model showing how stability feeds into deceleration/absorption of force and then acceleration and expression of force🚦💥
Then find a way to communicate athlete progress in a way they can easily understand.
Create a playing field where you don’t have to fight to win. Build understanding in a way that it’s harder to not get it than to get it. Let athletes win the understanding easily so you can work on the hard stuff together.
To develop your strength you need to be training at our powerlifting class. Alex, who runs the Instagram page Athlete testing is a genuine go-to strength coach!
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!!
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.
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!
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.
It’s something that’s not always recognised, but, Crossfit thrives on intensity, not volume. The secret is “ keep workoutsshort 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 Hobartdiscussed his views in the Crossfit Journal, on the volume v intensitydebate. 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 strengthand skill buildingsolves that. “Increased rehearsal of poor movement patterns and shoddy mechanics is a losers gambit”. The winners get to those extraskill/strength classes,: the ones thatfix 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 willcontinue to build work capacity across broad times and modal domains with a singledaily 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. Youmuststill end up on the floor having a physical and mental break down at the end of that 5-20 minute workout. HOWEVERIf 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 someclues. Work your mobility until you move like a supple leopard.Fix your injuries. Learn how toeat well.Get enough sleep, and work with our strength and gymnasticexpert coachesto 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 classesfill 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!
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
You survive the first exposure, and your poor shocked astonished , horrified body mounts an acute response to try and survive the experience.
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
Programming plays an important role in your health and fitness. A program that’s built on sound principles of strength and conditioning can help guide you a lifetime of fitness. Neglecting these principles can lead to plateau, injury and a decrease in performance. Whatever is programmed should always be explained with the “why” behind it. There’s always a purpose to training, and the answer is always more than just intensity. Thus the purpose of these articles is to explain this “why”, so that you can get a better of idea of how to structure your WODs.
At CFLDN, our programming is guided by three ideas:
Scientific principles of strength and conditioning.
The GPP methods that Crossfit is founded on.
The philosophy and vision of CFLDN.
The scientific principles of strength and conditioning:
It’s said that “methods are plenty but principles are few.” This can easily be seen in the fitness market where we’re flooded with different methods to get to the same goal. Some methods are highly effective and are backed by research, while others are new and shiny but not necessarily effective. At CFLDN, we choose methods that have proven to be effective, and are backed by established principles of strength and conditioning.
The GPP principles that Crossfit is founded on.
In Crossfit, the goal is General Physical Preparedness, or GPP. GPP aims to prepare you to tackle a wide range of physical tasks, and be fit across a series of modalities. Founder of Crossfit, Greg Glassman reflects this in his definition of Increased Work Capacity Across Broad Time and Modal Domains. This is a fancy way of saying, get more, different stuff done.
The philosophy and vision of CFLDN.
At CFLDN, we want to make you fit for life. We want to teach you not just how to sweat, but how to move, and to draw the lessons you learn in the gym to make you a better person outside of the gym. And, taken from our mission statement: CFLDN is held up by our powerful pillar of individuals that unite over a common goal for higher order health.
We believe that this approach works, and makes you better, fitter human…. Want to run 5km? Easy. Can you help me move this couch? Absolutely. Can you keep up with your kids? Sure, can they keep up with me? Can you keep your cool in traffic? Well I just did that WOD so this is easy. We believe that this style of training is the most effective for all round fitness, and it creates a greater way of life.
Adding to the Intensity Paradigm…
At CFLDN, we have our own spin on Crossfits original ideas set in the mid 2000’s. While we believe in Glassman’s mantra of Constantly Varied Functional Movement performed at High Intensity, we acknowledge the pitfalls that constantly working at high intensity can bring. We emphasise the need for planning, periodisation and prioritisation within the programming to ensure sustainable improvement.
Likewise, training should vary in terms of intensity – gone are the days of going as hard and as fast as possible, all the time. Training, like life, should incur cycles of intensity, from low, medium and high. Want to run be a bull in a china shop every day? Have fun with that. Want to unleash the bull sometimes when you’re really ready for it? That’s a game worth playing.
High, Low and Reload Days:
Though high intensity training has its merits, we need to create space for intensity to flourish. This being so, an effective program should include re-load days and weeks to let the body recover, grow stronger, and be ready for the next workout. Many fitness programs neglect this fundamental biological principle in an effort to GO HARD ALL OF THE TIME, but we know from years of experience and research, that reload days and weeks are critical for lifelong health.
Reload days will look like gymnastics EMOM’s or longer aerobic workouts. These days aim to achieve a few things… refine motor patterns, promote blood flow through staying in the aerobic zone (avoiding lactic threshold), nourish the nervous system, enhance recovery from training and life stressors. You should feel GOOD after these sessions. You should leave energised, sleep well, and be ready to hit the next day.
Why we move the way we do…
Crossfit is not defined by a repertoire of movements, rather, it uses a variety of exercises to get better at a wider range of activities.
This being said, we do follow the key functional patterns of:
A typical week will involve an a mixture of these primal patterns, as we look to achieve balance in the body.
We use these exercises as this how how you move your body in the real world. Eg. If you need to pick something up, you’re not going to perform a bicep curl, you’re much likely to perform something that resembles a deadlift (bending).
Focussing on functional movements has been proven to help build lean muscle mass and promote fat loss. This is due to the metabolic stress, muscle tension and damage that takes place when you do these movements. Everyone knows the feeling after lifting a heavy deadlift…. There is substantially more work being done that doing bicep curls.
Variation is critical to keeping the body and mind growing, it truly is the “spice of life!” Crossfit makes use of this idea and ensures that every day you’re facing a new physical challenge. Not only does this keep things interesting and engaging, it ensure that you’re given access to a wide range of movements that leads to a well balanced body and General Physical Preparedness.
Variation is not gospel! We still acknowledge the need to have planning, periodisation and prioritisation within the programming (we’re not drawing workouts out of a hat). So every workout has a purpose or a “why” that’s supported by the overall goal at that time.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the Art and Science of Programming!
Steve Hennessy-Maia is a Senior Coach at CFLDN. You can find him working the floor at Crossfit London, and helping clients. if you want effectiove help fill out the contact form