Coaches Corner: Burpees & Consistency by Melanie LaBlanc

Soooooooo, we’ve all been there. We see someone on our left, or right, or in a magazine, or at a competition and we think: “GOSH, I wish!!!!” Here’s the deal, I’m going to talk to you not only as your coach, but also as an athlete that struggles the same way you do.

When I walked into my FIRST CrossFit class ever, I was struck head-on and blindsided by the WORST possible FIRST WOD in history, Open WOD 12.1 – a 7min AMRAP of target burpees. To this day I’m not sure why I went back for more. I can still remember looking to my left and seeing an amazing athlete (who now just so happens to be one of my best friends) attack these burpees while receiving praises from the coach.  I thought to myself, “I will NEVER move like she does!”  I can still remember my total rep count: a whole whopping 34 reps.  Fast tracking a year or so later I redid the same workout and completed 133 reps. (But please don’t ask me to prove that number to you at ANY point!)

But you know what?  I’ve learned a lot about life through CrossFit… and burpees. I know you may thing I am crazy saing this, but you can do burpees efficiently with some practice. Did you know if you widen your stance when you jump up off the floor you’re shortening your range of motion? How about if you kick your feet back as you’re “falling” to the floor you’ll get there faster? Or like if you “bounce” your chest off the floor you rebound? Heck I could go all day about burpees… Like: burpee box jumps, bar facing burpees, lateral burpees over bar, burpee pull-ups, burpee bar muscle ups, target burpees… OK, OK, enough coaching tips!! The real point is that until you do enough “burpees” you really have no feel, or body awareness as to how to make them efficient, and actually “feel good”.  Again, I apologize, whom am I kidding, burpees NEVER “feel good”. But what I’m REALLY talking about is letting go of the things (possibly in life) that don’t “feel good” but working on making those things, like burpees, more manageable, fluid, and/or efficient – and this is where I want to take you to my topic of consistency.

To be consistent and proficient IN ANYTHING, takes time, practice, reps, and reps with constant variations.  To be consistent one needs to be “unchanging in (an) achievement over a period of time” – Oxford Dictionary. And that’s just it, it does NOT matter whether it’s daily life drama, problems at work, dealing with issues with your kids, that hyped diet you’re on, or doing stupid burpees… the more consistent I am, the less chances I have in a varying outcome, and this TAKES TIME!

Now, let’s talk to you from a coach’s perspective… I LOVE YOU ALL!! And you are ALL a pain in my butt some days, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! The reason being, I AM JUST LIKE YOU!! I get frustrated! Some days I really don’t get why I’m not functioning the way I did last week, last year, or whatever… One of my recent tag lines is: #iustacould… as in I used to be able to do something.  But there’s no blame in it, life consistently evolves. The fact is, if I don’t put the time into something, I won’t get the results I wish to have. My job as your coach is to help you be accountable for the goals you are setting… achievable goals! My job is to encourage you! Allowing you to see the BEST you have within you, while working out the kinks one at a time. With every little progression you make, I am rejoicing alongside you – IT JUST TAKES TIME AND CONSISTENCY!!! That, AND, someone who believes in you! And myself and the rest of the CF 727 coaching staff believe in YOU!

Just remember ONE thing though: to build anything of substance you need a solid, firm foundation (as well as a good architect) and if you start at the bottom and “consistently” work your way up, you WILL have what you are looking for. And soon enough you won’t be the one looking side to side, and at the people around you… YOU will be the one being looked at, and up to!  I really am proud of ALL my athletes and everything I have seen them achieve!! And even though I work weird and long hours, I honestly wouldn’t do it if I didn’t truly love all of you, see your worth, and have a desire to walk step by step beside you as you continue to grow and achieve!

Here is a great video with someone else’s story for extra motivation!

Coaches Corner: “5 Tips to Improve Your Olympic Lifts” by Coach George Daicoff

Post by Coach George Daicoff:

We hear some of the common cues in the gym regularly such as “finish the pull”, “keep the bar close”, etc. Here is a list of 5 tips that are important for improving your performance in the snatch and clean and jerk that are not as commonly drilled.

olympic-lifts-snatch

1. Practice

It is well known that the snatch and clean and jerk are very technical in nature. The fundamentals of weightlifting include learning the positions as you progress through the lifts. Once you have learned the positions, you must become consistent with hitting the positions. The old saying goes “Practice Makes Perfect”. Grab a PVC, weighted PVC or light barbell and work through progressions – couple favorites are the Burgener Warm-Up and Pendlay progressions. Come into class a few minutes early or stay a few minutes after as these make for good additional warm-ups or cool-downs.

Burgener

Pendlay (make sure to also check out steps 2 & 3)

2. Know when to be Patient

All too often a novice lifter will rush when pulling the bar from the floor in the snatch and clean to the point where they are not in a good position once the bar clears the knees. Commonly, the hips will be elevated and weight in the foot will shift toward the toes to name a couple. The purpose of the first pull from the floor to the knee is to set the lifter and bar in an advantageous position where the lifter can generate the most power as they progress into the second pull into the hip. –  In general, hips should be down to maintain the back angle as the bar is lifted from the floor to the knee, weight in the heels, knees back and tension in the hamstrings. Yes, we want to accelerate the bar from the floor through the first and second pulls, however, the rate needs to be limited to where a good position at the knees is obtained.

3. Know when to be Aggressive

Once the bar has cleared the knees, the weight is in the heels and tension has built in the hamstrings, the lifter will want to generate as much force as possible by driving through the heels and violently extending the hips. Once the bar has brushed the pockets, the lifter will be in a race to pull oneself under the bar and catch overhead (snatch) or in the front rack (clean). If the key positions can be consistently met, the lifter should strive to be more aggressive and faster in these portions of the lifts.

4. Mobilize

It is no secret that the Olympic lifts require full range of motion and mobility in almost all areas of the body in order to complete efficiently. It is said that the overhead squat (major component of the snatch) is an excellent tool in exposing any areas that need attention. Three main areas to focus on in general for the Olympic lifts would be the ankles, hips and upper back/shoulders. Determine your needs and mobilize prior to lifting.

Favorite for each:

Ankle – 1st part

Hips

Upper Back

5. Be Mindful of Technique during Conditioning

Fatigue during metabolic conditioning will tend to affect your technique of the Olympic lifts. Common faults seen when technique is breaking down due to fatigue are pulling from the ground without bending at the knees, pulling with a rounded back and pressing out snatches and jerks. Multiple repetitions at lighter weight (common in conditioning) with compromised form will build and solidify bad habits that will carryover into your lifts for strength work. Take a few extra breaths or scale the weight in conditioning so that you can complete the lifts with your back locked in and catching the weight locked out.

Coaches Corner: “Relax. Have fun. Work out” by Coach Ryan White

Post by Coach Ryan White:

I found CrossFit over 8 years ago in July 2007. Looking back I can’t believe that much time has passed. I experienced CrossFit back when nobody knew what I was talking about to now, where the CrossFit Games are aired on ESPN.

This isn’t meant to be a post to walk down memory lane and remember the “good old days” because I truly believe that CrossFit’s evolution over the past few years has been great. However, I wanted to share my more recent personal CrossFit discovery with everyone because I think it is important to remember why we all do this. Here it goes!

Like most people, I was hooked on CrossFit after my first ever WOD – it was Fran! Yes, it took me over 20 minutes. Yes, I ripped the shit out of my hands. However, the 5 only other members didn’t leave my side (that’s right, we only had 6 members total). There were high fives at the end and, while it was pure hell in the moment, it was fun. I was hooked!

Taken right after completing my Level 1 in 2009. Back when the CrossFit Games were still at "the ranch" in Aromas.
Taken right after completing my Level 1 in 2009. Back when the CrossFit Games were still at “the ranch” in Aromas.
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Taken when I first started coaching!

As weeks turned into months of WODs this same feeling persisted. One of, “I can’t wait to get to the box to see everyone, train hard, blow off some steam and have fun.” After getting certified and taking on a full-time coaching position, I got more into the competitive side of things. I transitioned into 3+ hours worth of training a day while maintaining group coaching hours and personal training clients. I was living at the box. I signed up for my first competition in Chicago, placed and wanted to hit training even harder. I did, but with all that, something had to give.

Things started to go a bit downhill when I started a program outside of what the rest of the box was doing. I isolated myself and started taking training a bit too serious. I was cranky during WODs, frustrated with my lifts a lot of the time and was being super critical of myself. I was proud of myself – my focus and my work ethic, but I wasn’t balanced, having fun or happy.

2012 Competition in Orlando with CrossFit Games athletes.
2012 Competition in Orlando with CrossFit Games athletes.

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Opening up CrossFit 727 in turn opened my eyes. Like a shock to the system, I started training with classes again and, because of all the business ownership responsibilities, it was impossible for me to have 3+ hour training sessions. I took Sundays off to not even enter the gym. Friday night open gym with our members got me out of my “I train alone” rut and I started having fun again. Am I PRing my Fran time today? No. But am I enjoying CrossFit the same way I did when I discovered it? HELL YES!

#TBT 1st Annual Memorial Day Murph
#TBT 1st Annual Memorial Day Murph

This isn’t meant to be a post to bash competitors or their training reoutine. Instead, it just to remind you all to not take this too serious and to remember that our common goal is to be healthier and better humans. Celebrate PRs, but don’t beat yourself up over a missed lift.  Remember to enjoy every second you are in the box. Sure, we all have bad training days. Rather than internalizing it, go over and give someone ELSE a high five at the end of a WOD.  Cheer on each of your fellow athletes until the very end and I promise those bad training days will suddenly become some of your best.

Pat Sherwood, who has been around a little longer than me sums up this personal discovery of mine perfectly!

The goal is just to get fit, make it the best hour of your day, stay safe, turn up the music, high five some people, and blow off some steam. So remember that. Relax. Have fun. Work out”

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This year’s open house! A great day spent throwing down with our members. Couldn’t be happier.

05.06.14 – Tuesday WOD and VO2max, a Coaches Corner Article

Coaches Corner Article by Assistant Coach Lindsay Smith

VO2max and CrossFit-based Training

What is VO2max, you ask? VO2max stands for maximal oxygen uptake and in simpler terms; how much oxygen your body is able to use in a given period. This measurement is generally considered to be the most accurate indicator of an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness as well as aerobic endurance. The better your VO2max is translates to how efficiently your body is delivering oxygen to your working muscles during maximal effort exercise.

In theory, the more oxygen your body is able to use during high intensity exercise (such as CrossFit), the more ATP (energy) you can produce. This correlation can be seen clearly in endurance athletes who typically have very high VO2max levels.

Although studies show that VO2max does have a genetic component it can be increased through both training volume and intensity…sound familiar? A study was done to examine the effects of a CrossFit-based high intensity power training program on aerobic fitness and body composition. The study spanned a 10 week period and included both men and women of all aerobic fitness levels and body compositions. The program consisted of lifts such as cleans, deadlifts, overhead presses, snatches and squats all performed as quickly as possible. The program also included skill work for the improvement of Olympic lifts as well as gymnastic movements. At the end of the 10 weeks aerobic fitness and body fat were tested again. The results proved significant correlations between absolute oxygen consumption and oxygen consumption relative to body weight in both men and women. Results also yielded decreased body fat percentage and improvements in VO2max also in both men and women. The administrators of the study stated that their data showed that CrossFit-based high intensity power training significantly improves VO2max and body composition in subjects of both genders across all levels of fitness. This is why CrossFit-based training is so good for athletes of any kind.  If you’d like to view the actual numbers of the study, you can visit:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439334

If you’d like to test your VO2 max, you can visit Concept2’s website and use their online calculator. Before visiting their site, you’ll need to establish a max-effort 2,000m row time. You should use the damper setting that enables you to get the best 2000m result, as this is what was done in Concept2’s study.  Once this has been established, the calculator will generate a number in which you’ll cross-reference with a chart which will give you a good indicator of your level of overall fitness ranging through poor, fair, average, good and excellent. The calculator can be found here:http://www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/training/calculators/vo2max-calculator

If you have any questions at all about VO2max please feel free to ask me, as I am very passionate about it because of my running. When I am training at the gym, not only am I getting better at CrossFit; I am also getting better at running without actually running. This is due to the correlation between CrossFit training and increased VO2max capacity.

Strength

 Snatch 4×3@85%

Conditioning

10 minute AMRAP:

2 Power Snatches
2 KBS (70/55#)
4 Power Snatches
4 KBS (70/55#)
6 Power Snatches
6 KBS (70/55#)
…….

Announcements

  • NEW MORNING SCHEDULE – effective TODAY. New WOD times are 5:30 AM and 6:30 AM
  • Yoga class will be EVERY Saturday at 11:15 AM . Pay what you can structure and lead by instructors from Gulfport Yoga!

Events

CrossFit 727 St. Petersburg

 

4.14.14 – Monday WOD & The Road Ahead

Congratulations on getting through test week! We cannot begin to tell you how excited we have been seeing ll of the PR’s that have occurred in the last week! For many of you, this may have been your first official “test week,” or for some, may be a chance to see how you have improved (or not improved) since last time. What we would like to do now is explain why we program test weeks, the program for the next 8 weeks, and some philosophy behind the workouts you will see for the next week.

According to CrossFit, fitness is measurable.  The only way to measure any sort of data is to have numbers to work with. So, test week is a way for you and our coaches to collect initial data via our 1 rep max lifts and benchmark times for various workouts. Then, it is our intention to find a means to improve these numbers via programming. Then, after 8 weeks, we will re-test some of these lifts and benchmarks as a way for us to see how well the program worked for you. 

Now I’m sure most of you only really care about whether or not you PR the next time we test, but it is our responsibility to tell you as your coaches why we do what we do. With that being said, here is the road ahead for the foreseeable future:

1) Mondays-Thursdays, we will still be focusing on four primary lifts – Snatch, Clean and Jerk, Back Squat and Push Press. Unlike before, we will not necessarily snatch just on Mondays, or back squat on Tuesdays, etc. This time, we have adjusted the program for variance – sometimes you’ll snatch on Mondays, some times you’ll snatch on Thursdays and so forth.

2) Fridays will still be Open Gym, but we will have either strength or endurance oriented WODs for you to pick from. Yes, there is still Open Gym, but we will now have several programming options to both guide you and help you reach personal goals. For those of you who want to get stronger in Olympic lifts, we will be focusing on Front Squats for the next 8 weeks. For those of you who want to get better at your endurance, we will have WODs help improve your aerobic capacity. This makes training more goal oriented and more fun for you!

3) Strength work will be based off of percentages…We mean it!!  This has always been part of the program, but now that we have test week under our belt, it is important that we strive for prescribed percentages. For example, one week you may be performing 5 sets of 5 back squats at 70-75%, whereas closer to test week you will be squatting 5 sets of 2 at 90%. For those of you who diligently came for test week, use your 1RM to calculate what weight you will be using for that specific day. For those of you who did not come on a certain day of test week, you have a couple ways to go about this. Option 1 would be to test your 1RM if you have not done so. Option 2 would be to find a heavy set at a certain percentage, and then work with us to calculate an estimated 1RM.  It may not be exact, but we can work with it. This leads us to a sub point.

3.5) Those who are consistent will thrive. Those who are consistent will see the most improvement. This comes with strength programming being set at percentages, and the variance in days we do certain lifts. So if you only show up two days a week, and the lifts we do on those two days change each week, there is no way for you to TRULY follow the programming to the best of your ability. DISCLAIMER: that does NOT mean that you will be unable to follow the program if you cannot come on a certain day because the following week we will perform something similar to option 2 seen above for calculating weight.

4) All Time Domains will be Tested. Strength and conditioning pieces will vary between interval and non-interval. Some days will be AMRAPs, some days will be rounds for time, some days will be EMOM styled workouts, etc. Expect workouts that are less than 8 minutes, workouts between 10-15 minutes, and some workouts to last over 20 minutes in duration. Strength pieces will also be interval and non-interval. Some days are 5×5 at a percentage, others are EMOM. You will still make gains while not being bored. 

5) Strength Comes in Time, Skills will be pounded. Strength comes in time, but those who are well skilled are the best athletes. Expect to see more muscle ups, toes to bar, chest to bar pull-ups, bar muscle ups, handstand push-ups, etc. Don’t be scared. This is the ONLY way to get better at these movements. “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect.”

6) There will be an Rx+ Option. For those of you who were at the gym on Tuesday, you probably noticed an Rx+ option. Why is this option there? I have heard from some of you that you would like to be more competitive and this option allows you to do more challenging workouts in a group setting.

These are just some of the things that you will see in the road ahead. This may be one of the most fun programs you will ever follow, but know that it will also be one of the hardest. This post is not meant to scare you, bu to excite you. As a gym, and more importantly a community, we will follow this program together, struggle together, and succeed together. Stick with it, be consistent, try your absolute hardest, and see how much you improve in the next two months alone.  Come in, have some fun, fight through your WOD, and then once you see your improvements, then you will be able to truly believe that this process works. Because once you have tested the data and the facts show you have improved, it’ll leave you ringing that PR bell and smiling, but better yet, leaving you hungry for more.

Strength 

2×10 Back Squat @65%

Conditioning

EMOM for 20 minutes:

Odd: 10 Box Jumps (30/24)

Even: 5 OHS (135/95)

Announcements

  • NEW SATURDAY CLASS! We will now have a 10 AM class in addition to the 9 AM class every Saturday. Also, for the 9 AM slot, we encourage you to bring-a-friend to try out a WOD!
CrossF
Skittles is getting her legs ready for squats!