We're back on the Newsletter Bandwagon. And this time we're going high-tech. Each month we will post a newsletter/blog on the Write-Board. Make sure to take a minute and read what's been going on at Chagrin Falls CrossFit and see which members are getting a special shout out. Think of this like a digital "PR" Board amongst other things. We always appreciate your feedback, so please feel free to comment or email us directly. Click the link below to read!
Olympic Lifting. To so many it’s just the sport we see every four years when the Russians lift up heavy weights at the Olympics. CrossFit has helped bring the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk to the forefront of fitness. And we love it. We want everyone else to love it too. So if you think you’re terrible at Oly, think that you’ll never understand the hip pop or the timing, or think your mobility is just too poor to ever catch a snatch in the bottom of an overhead squat; then all the more reason to participate in any and all olympic lifting seminars or classes. There’s a reason why these olympic lifts pop up in our programming so often, and below we answer a couple questions we know are circling around in a lot of your heads.
Why do we snatch so much?
Olympic Lifting, and the snatch in particular, is the pinnacle of weightlifting movements in terms of its expression of, and unique ability to increase power, speed, mobility, flexibility, agility, accuracy and development of your central nervous system. All of these translate directly to increases in your fitness. Snatching does not just make you better at snatching; snatching makes you better at, and more quickly able to adapt to, all things. Taking a cursory glance at the top athletes in CrossFit reveals that one of the single greatest correlates to success at the random tasks at the Games is a well-developed snatch and/or clean and jerk. In short, the best Olympic weightlifters continuously find themselves near the top of the leaderboard year after year.
Nobody is saying you need to work towards a 265 pound snatch or set the new world record, but practice makes perfect. The snatch and clean and jerk are very technical. So technical. Most of you look like fish out of water for your first 10,000 reps. It can hurt the eyes at times. We snatch because that’s the best way to get better. We snatch to train your body how to pull, boop, pop, and catch. We snatch as a way to use almost your entire body, and a fair bit of grey matter too, all at once. We snatch because it is challenging. We snatch for the gains and for the gainzzzz. Bicep curls are awesome. Bench press? Fantastic. Neither is super technical. You can probably manage working those beach body muscles during an open-gym. They are actually great accessory work and we’ll touch on them from time to time, but they are not “meat and (sweet) potatoes”. That said, it's a pretty safe bet most of you have already mastered the art of the bicep curl so we’ll focus our efforts on movements that will push your body and mind to make the adaptations you need to soar.
Why I can’t hit my lifts all the time?
Every day can’t be a PR day. In fact it’s usually not. It’s actually science. Working at high percentages, at highly technical lifts specifically, will result in both successful days and days where you wonder, “How the hell did I just miss that lift?!” If you hit all the lifts, at all the prescribed weights, all the time; you would not be pushing the limits of your current ability and would not improve. If you miss all the lifts, at all of the weights, all of the time; you will just be training to miss reps. It's on the fringes of either extreme upon which we lay the foundations for our future success. We must push our limits. It's human nature to expand, grow, and test oneself. That's how we landed on the moon, but no one would describe that as easy. There were many failures along the way, but if it's good enough to get us to the moon, this pushing of our perceived limits, then you can be damn sure it's good enough to get you to that next snatch milestone.
In our first blog, we talked about getting the most out of a workout. Now we dig a bit deeper and expand on the art of scaling, and really, it is an art. The options or modifications to workouts are limitless. That’s one reason why we say that functional fitness is for everyone, at any fitness level. Knowing when and how to scale is paramount to “getting the most out of your workout.” Going too light too often results in too easy, and you won’t grow as an athlete. Staying with the RX weight when it’s too heavy or performing skills you’re just not ready for both sabotage your recovery and set you up for injury. So we encourage you to take this one to heart; it speaks right to the core of your development.
How and when should I scale?
Listen to your coaches as they explain the intent of the workout for the day. Preserve the intent. Change the load and adjust the difficulty level, but always preserve the intent.
We set parameters on how long things should take when we’re programming. If we want a 5 round workout to take 8 minutes or less, than you better be using weights with which you can safely and efficiently cycle through reps. If you have to clean and jerk a weight for every rep when the workout calls for shoulder-to-overhead, you’re missing the point. It’s not a clean and jerk workout. Don't be mistaken, there are definitely days when we want the weight to be heavy, for the movements to be slower, and for you to have to work to get those reps - but the intent is different. Know the difference, and if you are unsure or can't decipher it, ask the coach. Also worth noting, chronically lowering your weights is as detrimental to your progress as chronically elevating them for the sake of the Rx button. Knowing the intent gets you the results.
That said, if you do ask and the coach doesn't answer your question in exactly the way you'd like, or the answer seems intentionally vague, there is a good reason for that too. He or she may be challenging you to do more. If giving a vague response, he may be forcing you to grope in the darkness to find your way. Coaches will do both occasionally to push you outside of your comfort zone - only a little and only once in awhile. Our primary concern is always your safety, but after that, our interests include challenging you to grow between the ears. If we handed you everything, it would be far too easy. Mental fortitude, mindfulness, character, and perseverance are stressed almost as much as physical adaptation. We have to train those too or we’re not keeping our end of the deal. On some days you may leave frustrated, and you'll leave elated on others. Such is the journey of life.
The big picture here is re-framing scaling; it is not necessarily indicative of weakness or a lack of commitment. Rather, it is a willingness to humbly look at your skill set today and make decisions that will allow for your continued maximal growth today and tomorrow. Dropping from a 65 to 55 pound overhead squats doesn’t mean you’re not draining the tank and left on E by the end of the workout. It just means you're being honest with where you are, preserving intent, and creating a proper path for continued development.
To end, taking ownership of your fitness is crucial in making choices on how and when to scale. Know what your 1-rep maxes are. Know how fast you row a 500 meter split. Be mindful of how fast you can complete 25 wall balls. Take those snippets of fitness facts and create your game plan for completing your workout. In time, you should be able to “guesstimate”, pretty accurately, how long a workout will take or how many rounds you can complete. Don’t go blindly into that good night. Build, or work with us to build, your game plan; then all you have to do is the work.
Fitness is our lifestyle. Our passion. Our profession. The drive behind most of things we do in life. The backbone behind goal setting in and out of the gym. Beyond all that, the mission is to get fitness out there to anyone who will read or listen and for all those who are looking to learn more. Or do more. Or be more. Or be better. Or be fitter. Or all of the above.
We, and by extension CF2, are launching this blog site, “The-Write-Board.” Posts will be a mix of individual opinions on all things health and fitness and a joint effort on continued education for our members. We are excited to launch a new medium and hope that we’ll be continuing the conversation on living a sustainable healthy lifestyle with all you.
This first post ties into last night’s Town Hall meeting addressing some big topics as it pertains to getting the most out of your time in the gym. Veteran member or newbie just out of on ramp, both need to be aware of how to get the most out of the workouts. We answer that below.
-Jenn and Matt
Co-Owners, Chagrin Falls Crossfit
How to Get the Most out of My Workout?
Remember the BIG picture. Fitness. Understanding the overarching concept of “fitness”, or the “sport of fitness” if you're competitive. We're trying to increase your work capacity. Not the intensity you feel, or how hard it feels; we want to grow your actual ability to do more physical work. We want to make you a better, more efficient machine. Whether short, light, heavy, or long; whatever the WOD looks like that day, we want to see growth in how much work capacity you have. Life requires and surprises us with a vast array of requirements, and our training strives to mirror those in combinations limited only by our imaginations. Life is random and does not respect that you prefer to workout for exactly 20 minutes with a heart rate of 140. Life does not care that you prefer to do pull-ups in sets of 6-7, and never together with box jumps. Life is random and we benefit by keeping the stimulus semi-randomized as well.
That said, there is an intent to every workout. It’s appearance may seem random, but each workout has a purpose and tests/develops a specific skill or combination of skills. So as you scale, ask or remember the intent. Should it be heavy? How heavy? Should I be moving fast with a relatively light weight? What time am I aiming for here? What's a potential real life application? Ask your coaches and ask them why. Then when you scale, with the guidance of your coaches, keep the purpose in mind. Assuming you are attacking the workout with the utmost intensity - you will maximize your benefit. There is a maxim in our community: he or she is fittest who is best equipped to deal with the random assortment of challenges the world throws at us. This is true and we see it play out daily in our lives and in nature. Our goal is to prepare you for nearly anything.
If you can’t see it, don’t understand it, or want a better understanding of the intent, ask a coach. Just come talk to us. Just like you should know the ingredients in the food you eat, you too should also have an understanding of the components that fuel your fitness.
Going beyond fitness, we believe this training, and these lessons, will actually make you better at any endeavor at which you want to improve. Tell us what you want to be better at, then commit to this process and check your list again in 6, 12, or 18 months. I promise you will be better. These lessons carry-over and apply to many of life’s arenas. The intensity, the constant striving for self improvement, the iron-sharpening-iron effect of suffering and competing next to friends while under the watchful eye of your coaches all combine to burn off the dross in one area, fitness; but also gives us tools for burning off waste in other areas. In other words, when you commit to this training and its constant push for excellence, you will not just become fitter in terms of body fat percentage and VO2 maxes; you will become a better human. We challenge you to let this change you.