Be a Cheerleader

*I posted this on LAX CrossFit’s page found http://laxcrossfit.com/2014/11/be-a-cheerleader/

**For context, the wod I am referencing in the below is:

3 Rounds of:

500m row
15 hand release push ups
25 KB swings @ 1.5 pd

Today’s WOD was damn hard. 2 out of the 3 movements in it were not my strengths but that was all the more reason to push through it. I was the last one done and was close to not even finishing it. That of course did not happen as I am lucky to wod with amazing athletes. I had a small cheering section pushing me to get through the rest of the kettlebell swings before the 20 minute time cap hit. If it wasn’t for them, I would have just had a staring contest with the damn thing until time ran out. LAX’ers would never let that happen and I am extremely grateful for them. We are each others cheerleaders.

That doesn’t always happen though.  I have been on both sides of the coin.  There are times I finish before others without paying them attention, and then there are times I have been the one struggling wishing someone would come over and scream at me to keep going. We are all guilty of both scenarios.   So, next time you get done with the WOD, before you start to clean up your equipment or go to shoot the shit with your friends coming into the next class, look around the box to see who else might still be working out. Those last minutes or even seconds of a workout are sometimes where we need each other the most for that extra push. Be a friend and show some camaraderie. It’s what helps us all keep coming back for more.

When is Sore Too Sore?

According to webmd.com muscle soreness is “simply a symptom of using your muscles and placing stresses on them that are leading to adaptations to make them stronger and better able to perform the task the next time.” This is great news for me given that I am sore every day of my life. I must constantly be getting stronger. So does this mean I am pushing my body the right amount when I workout or am I pushing my body too much? How do we know when too much is too much?

This past Monday, the workout had 3 rounds which included 25 reps of kettlebell swings. At 1.5 pd. That’s about 55 lbs. That is a total of 75 reps. That is about 70 more reps than I have ever done at that weight. That’s 75 reps of swinging almost half my body weight. They sucked doing them but I was amazed that I was able to string even as many as 10 together.  I was the last one done in the workout but I didn’t care. I felt very accomplished by 7 am on a Monday morning.

My arms felt destroyed after though. When I got home and was getting ready to shower, it took me three tries to get my shirt off as I couldn’t even lift my arms. (Not cute). The rest of the day I could feel the soreness. The next morning the soreness was there but it was more of like a fatigue kind of feeling. I of course still worked out (rest day on a Tuesday? Not an option). The weight I was lifting felt heavier than it usually did and I struggled to string even 5 pull ups together. Not my best work.

The odd thing is I got through 2 other workouts this week that involved a lot of arms without feeling like I was pushing it too hard. It was more that stuff just felt like more of a challenge. Other athletes in the Monday classes were hurting too this week. Some pushed through and some scaled down.

This all has me wonder: was doing 75 reps of kettlebell swings at 1.5 pd too ambitious? Was it smart or was it dumb? Is it worth pushing yourself so much in one workout that it leaves your body feeling fatigued the rest of the week?

According to www.menshealth.com, “The real expert says: If you’re not sore to the touch and you have your full range of motion, go to the gym. Start with 10 minutes of cycling, then exercise the achy muscle by performing no more than three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions using a weight that’s no heavier than 30 percent of your one-rep maximum, says Docherty.”

So that’s one school of thought. It’s still ok, just don’t go too heavy.

How does this fit into really wanting to train harder? What if say (totally hypothetical) you signed up for a team comp 3 months away and you really don’t want to be the weakest person on the team? Do you suck it up buttercup and keep training? Can you have light days? Because let’s face it, if you CrossFit or do other high intensity workouts, every day you would be sore. That would mean a lot of light days.

I will defer to you, my friends and experts. Was 75 reps of 1.5 pd kb swings awesome or stupid? When is sore too sore?

Trainee Becomes Trainer

I gave my friend her first “official” training session this past Friday.  In the very short amount of time I entered this world being the trainer and not the trainee, I realized a few things that I am sure all great coaches and trainers hold near and dear to their hearts.

  • You have to know your athletes or clients and what they are comfortable with. For instance, I didn’t even think to ask my friend first if it is ok that I make physical contact with her to tweak her positioning. She didn’t have a problem with it but some people might.
  • Communication is key. As it was our first session together and she’s a beginner, I repeatedly asked her during movements how she was feeling. I wanted to make sure she was using the right muscles and feeling the burn where she should. I also wanted to make sure she wasn’t breezing through things with no burn because well, we know how I feel about sandbaggers.
  • As my friend and former trainer, Rick, reminded me before Friday, when it comes to training someone, you have to start them in kindergarten, then first grade and so on. (He also diplomatically told me, “Missy, don’t have her do all that crazy CrossFit shit you do.” Keep it basic at the beginning to really focus on core and good form. I also was reminded that what I think is scaled down may even need to be more scaled down. For example, I programmed modified push -ups to be from the knees and figured two sets of 10 were totally feasible. Those suckers can burn your arms out pretty fast so I tweaked the second set to be 5 reps.
  • Training is kind of like dating. Both the trainer and the trainee need to be vested in it. I’ve had my share of personal trainers and out of about 5 of them, I clicked with two. I had a trainer cancel a half hour before my 6 am session for supposedly being sick (when in actuality, as I found out later, he was just out partying the night before).   Obviously this isn’t professional nor is it respectful of the other person’s time.

On the flip side,  my two favorite trainers, Rick and Drew, were just as excited to train me as I was to get after each workout. They kept it fun and challenging and really took the time to understand my style. I like to know how many reps in a set I am doing (right Rick??) and would get frustrated by the surprise element of “oh do 10 more.”  Once they understood this, they knew how to motivate me. They also would get just as pumped as me as I hit new PR’s. So as I begin this journey training my friend, I intend to really understand what aspects she likes and what needs to be improved.

In case you are curious what programming I had my friend do (or want to offer up any advice), here it is:

  • Box Squats: 2 sets of 15 (box was about 20 inches high)
  • Squats using a swiss ball against the wall: 2 sets of 15
  • Front plank, side plank on each side: 2 rounds to get a cumulative of 30 seconds on each
  • 1 minute of max sit ups (modified so that she crunched lifting her back off the ground a few inches)
  • Modified Push Ups: 1 set of 10 and 1 set of 5
  • Swiss ball dumbbell press: 2 sets of 15 using 5 lb dummbells

Our Friends, Pull-Ups

From LAX CrossFit website that I blogged for http://laxcrossfit.com/2014/11/our-friends-pull-ups/

Before CrossFit, I thought only one kind of pull up existed. The old fashioned elusive “Strict” pull up. Those were hard enough to do. Personally I never could until a few years ago. I am having a flashback to those embarrassing moments in high school where part of the Physical Education testing was to do an unassisted pull up. My scrawny arms couldn’t even come close.  Then I started my CrossFit journey and was in awe of watching athletes rep out all sorts of pull ups: strict, kipping and butterfly.
Ok so right there, that’s 3 types of pull ups.

Soon I was introduced to other variations: chest to bar, weighted strict, L-pull ups and even negatives. That’s 7.

Does the variety of pull ups ever end? No actually it really doesn’t. I googled pull ups and found a whole more slew of them, including variations of how you grip the bar and thus changing the pull up itself. Reverse grip, Static Commando Pull Up (and no this has nothing to do with doing a pull up sans your unmentionables), and even an In and Out Grip, to name a few.

What this reiterates is you can never not be challenged by pull ups.  You can set goals for pull ups as simple as get 1 strict or maybe you want to work your way up to a bar muscle up (as according to our friend Wiki it is part of the pull up family). There are some pull ups that might also help you in other areas of fitness you do. So be warned you might see me haphazardly practicing Thai Clinch Pull Ups to help me work on strength for kickboxing.

I found this link online with a video of 30 different variations. Check it out for ideas and inspiration here:  http://undergroundgym.com/30-pull-variations-beginner-advanced/

Some other fun pull-up facts I found in my research:

-The most pull ups in one minute is 42 achieved by David Bourdon (USA) at the Pacific Health Club in Liverpool, New York, USA, on 22 March 2014.

– The world record for consecutive pull-ups (palms faced outwards) is 612 achieved by 70-year-old Lee Chin-Yong of Korea on December 29, 1994. The feat took 2hr 40min to complete (can we have him come to LAX and demo this please?)

-Webster defines a pull-up as: an exercise in which you hold onto a bar above your head and then pull your body up until your chin is above the bar (who wants to write Webster and request an updated definition?)

Trainer Poser

A friend of mine from work approached me recently to help her get on track fitness wise. (Which mind you this was on Halloween and I was dressed like a bear. Not sure how she thought I was a suitable choice!) She is ready to commit to making work outs part of her routine and requested that I train her. My initial reaction: flattered. My next reaction: umm I am not a coach nor do I play one on TV. I asked her some questions just to get a sense of what is driving this new leaf she wants to turn. I asked what her goals are or what she wants to focus on (not sure if I sounded like a friend, therapist of wanna be trainer).

At any rate, she expressed that she really just wants someone to keep her accountable and help her with some basics to get started. I told her I would be happy to do it, I just want to ensure I don’t put her at risk for injury nor do I just give her sloppy programming with no real plan.

This made me think a lot about whether I really should be the one to “train” her. I by no means intend to throw her into the CrossFit world. I recognize that there is a science to fitness and programming (which is why people get certified for that! What craziness and silliness it would be if there were a bunch of average Joe’s acting like Jillian Michaels).  I know how to push myself and what my body can and cannot handle. I don’t know yet what hers can do and I would be naive to think I am qualified to be her trainer. But surely I can help her learn some basic movements like sit ups, push-ups and air squats.

I could bow out and suggest she take group fitness classes. I could tell her to buy a fitness book and do her own programming. I could just tell her taking this on would be a bit over my head.

I know in my heart of hearts I wouldn’t do any of that. I am truly passionate about fitness and even though I am an athlete and not a coach, I want to see my friend through on this journey.

I write this blog really to get advice and suggestions from my friends who are coaches and trainers or who maybe have been in a similar situation (either in my friend’s shoes or mine). Are there recommended programs out there I can follow?  Is there an app even that we can use and I can take the role of ensuring she keeps good form and doesn’t get injured?

I welcome all advice so lay it on me J