The Best Exercise You’re probably Not Doing for Your Elbow Health


Still have that nagging elbow pain that won’t go away? It can prevent you from even picking up your coffee cup if it is really aggravated and will keep you out of the gym for days at a time.

This type of pain often occurs as inflammation due to overuse of the forearm muscles. THe symptoms of “tennis elbow” or “lateral epicondylitis” can be mitigated with ice or NSAIDs, but your goal should not be to deal with the symptoms.

Prevention is always the best measure and there are exercises you can do that will act as a rehab and prehab. Here is the best exercises you’re probably not doing for your elbow health. Adding this exercise in to finish your workout is a great way to combat elbow pain and prevent it from coming back! Enter the Zottman curl.

The Zottman Curl:

The Zottman curl is one of the best and most efficient exercises that you should be doing if you care about performance in grip heavy workouts with rope climbs, kettlebell swings, and deadlifts. This is also a great movement to prevent elbow pain from occurring.

You won’t need much weight to start ( especially if you’re rehabbing an injury). These curls are extremely humbling and are very challenging on the biceps and extensor muscles in your forearms if performed correctly.

Start with a pair of dumbbells and a supinated grip. Perform a bicep curl and pause in the top position or :01-:02 with your biceps fully contracted. Slowly rotate your hands into a pronated (palms down) position before lowering the weight. In the bottom position rotate your palms back to a supinated position before performing your next rep.

Pro tip:
Performing these from a tall kneeling position on both knees will help you activate your core and glutes simultaneously and prevent you from cheating on the curl.

Perform 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps of this exercise with a light to moderate load. You should be able to perform these curls at the beginning or end of your workout 2-3 days each week. Give the Zottman Curl a try and bulletproof those elbows today!

Where does alcohol fit into your training?


Since about 7000 B.C., alcohol has been a staple for gatherings in many cultures. You may have heard that wine can actually be a healthy beverage for your heart, or that a hot toddy when you’re sick makes you get better quickly. Are these claims true? Like most answers: yes and no. It depends on a myriad of things like your genetics and the way your body processes alcohol, additives and the quality of the booze you’re consuming.

So where does this fit into your life? If you’ve ever wondered if you should avoid it all together, or can have a glass or two of your favorite red or microbrew, this article is for you.

Let’s talk about the science of alcohol. What’s in it that gives us that fuzzy feeling? The answer: ethanol. This substance absorbs into our bloodstream and causes a “depressing effect” on the systems in our bodies.Our reaction times slows, stress and anxiety are reduced, and the body altogether slows down.

Weightlifting and exercise in general generate metabolic waste for the body to process. The liver is instrumental in clearing these waste byproducts from the body. If you are working hard in your training you may be putting a hefty load of work on your liver. Make sure that if you are exercising and enjoy a few drinks you are getting ample rest and recovery to keep your body in balance.

There is also the additional calories to consider when it comes to alcohol. If you are trying to lose fat then there is most likely no room in your diet for excess calories. You want your primary calories to come from lean protein, fibrous vegetables, and heart healthy fats. Replacing some of those calories with alcohol put you at risk for nutrient deficiencies. Not only that, but after a few drinks you may become tempted to reach for foods that don’t support your body compositional goals.

Consuming alcohol doesn’t make you unhealthy or a bad person. Just like anything else you consume, it should have can have a place if you are responsible and keep it in balance with your health and wellness goals.

Tips For A Balanced Lower Body


After an intense workout of front squats or thrusters, you may have felt that burning pumped up sensation in your quads. Your pants are tighter and you can no longer put your phone and keys in your front pocket for fear of getting them stuck. 
The quadriceps and hip flexor muscles on the front of your legs are responsible for extending the hip and knee joints. They have tremendous potential for growth and get a great workout from movements like front squats, step-ups, and walking lunges.
Having powerful quads is not a bad thing by any means. In fact, the greatest Olympic weightlifters, cyclists, and speed skaters have huge powerful quad muscles. 
Some folks have very powerful quads but have issues recruiting the muscles of the posterior chain.  They allow the quads to handle all lower body movement. Having poor form can also contribute to you being quad dominant. If you are an athlete who notices that your weight is often in your toes you may be prone to this imbalance. If the coaches are always telling you to “get in your heels’ this is probably the correction they are cueing. 
The top priority in a training program should always be safety and function. That’s why using compound movements like squats and deadlifts provide excellent returns. In terms of strength building and promoting lean body mass they provide the most bang for your buck. People who focus too much on a single movement like squatting may be neglecting movement patterns that would keep them strong and healthy.
You should have an equal ratio of squat and lunge workouts to hinge and deadlift workouts. If you are quad dominant or lacking in the posterior chain department then that ratio should be 2 to 1 in favor of the hinge and pulling movements. As you are able to better recruit and develop the glutes and hamstrings then you can start to balance out the program you are following. Not only that but building a stronger posterior chain will make all of your lifts more powerful and you will look and feel better too!
Deadlifts, RDL’s, Kettlebell Swings, Good Mornings, Reverse Hypers, and Hip Thrusts are all excellent for beefing up those glutes and hamstrings. You can also adapt movements to make them more favorable to the posterior chain. Low bar back squats and box squat variations recruit more posterior chain than front squats do. Reverse lunges instead of forward or walking lunges will also be a better option to help you stay in your heels.
If it looks like you have a second kneecap then you might be in the running for quad dominance. Our training programs contain constant variance to make sure you are improving in all areas and eliminating weaknesses. Our coaches can help you through a series of assessments to determine what to focus on and how to get your body strong, healthy, and balanced.

The New Year’s Resolution Conundrum


res·o·lu·tion
/ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/
noun
a firm decision to do or not to do something.
eg. “she kept her resolution not to see Anne any more”
Some things happen in life with the flick of a switch. When you want to turn a light on you simply flip the knob, clap your hands or yell across the room to Alexa and “voila”, let there be light.
Others take time to build, layer upon layer, like a brick house. The process can only happen in a very specific way. With a strong foundation, one brick at a time.
On January first many folks scramble to find the switch that will yield the results they are looking for. But behavior change is not a light switch. Behavior change is a process. Getting stronger, eating healthy, or losing weight won’t happen instantaneously. It happens brick by brick. You only get the results if you follow the process. The right plan and the right effort simultaneously.
“You are never pre-qualified to live your dreams. You qualify yourself by doing the work. By committing—even overcommitting—to what you believe you should do.” – Benjamin P. Hardy
If you are committed to an outcome then the process it will take you to achieve your goal should be irrelevant. Your focus is on results now. Your focus is on determining the right plan and taking the first step towards achieving.
If you are someone who worries about how far away you are from your goal then you are focused on the wrong thing. Focus on what you want, not what you don’t.
When you set your goals say exactly what you want. Getting specific here is key. Numbers and dates. These make your goals realistic and allow you to work backward to where you are today. This will help you set realistic expectations for what you can and should be achieving on a given day.
If your goal is to lose 40lbs then it would be impossible to achieve in one session. Your goal doesn’t feel like something that you can actually achieve. By February you may be frustrated that you haven’t hit it.
But if you start thinking about the future version of you that weighs 40 lbs less than you can start to understand what needs to be done. Your focus is not on losing weight but acting like the person who has already lost it.
You might do things like have a gym membership that you use regularly. Have a salad for lunch every day. Go for walks and spend your weekends on the go. You probably have other healthy friends that support your decisions.
“You can not entertain weak, harmful, negative thoughts ten hours a day and expect to bring about beautiful, strong and harmonious conditions by ten minutes of strong, positive, creative thought.” -Charles F. Haanel
In his book The Master Key System, Charles Haanel unpacks the process of achieving one’s goals. He explains that you have to “be it” and “do it” BEFORE you can “have it”. Most people get this process backward. They expect that they will change their behavior once they have achieved their goal. Instead, you must act in accordance with what it means to achieve your goal. Ask yourself, “Would a person who cares about their health make the decision I am about to make?”
The more your decisions and actions align with the goal, the faster it will come to you. Don’t let this New Year slip away from you. Stop looking to flick the switch that will make all of your problems go away.
Instead look for the path that is more difficult, but leads to success. Surround yourself with people doing the thing that you want to be doing. Who look the way you want to look. Learn from them, adapt their behaviors, and put in the work.
This is your year.

5 Health Metrics That Are More Important Than Weight


For some strange reason American’s have chosen the scale as their favorite way to track progress around their health. People derive their sense of self worth based on the number facing up at them from between their feet. If you’re someone who draws any sort of emotional reaction, positive or negative, from the scale then you may want to self reflect and consider if there are better options out there. 

The funny part is that weight is such an inconsequential and ambiguous predictor of substance. Just consider this. If you have three avocados-one freshly picked and hard as a rock, one brown soft and ooze, and one firm ripe and tender-which one are you going to slice open to make your guacamole with? It shouldn’t matter if they all weigh 170 grams right…

What you are made of, how you feel, and what you are able to produce are all factors of way greater significance than your weight. 

What you weigh is going to constantly fluctuate. You may lose weight and be less healthy. You may be well hydrated one day and performing well then get totally thrown off because your weight went up a pound or two. This number doesn’t say who you are as a person or how healthy and fit you may be. It’s just an arbitrary number. Stop letting the pounds run your life and change the way you feel about yourself. Instead try one of these alternative ways that measure success off the scale!

Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is an alternative way to track your progress and provides much more actionable information than just your weight in pounds. This takes into account your lean muscle mass. In this way you can actually gain weight in muscle which would consequently reduce your percentage of body fat. This is a clear example of how gaining weight would make you healthier. Plus as you add more muscle to your frame you will burn more calories at rest. The fat will disappear faster and faster on it’s own!

Measurements

Taking specific measurements is a great way to achieve the goals around the way you want to look. Measuring neck, arm, waist, hips, thigh, and calf circumference can help you transform your body without ever worrying about the scale. Losing two inches off your waist will make you look and feel like a whole new person!

Habit Tracking

One of the best replacements for weighing yourself is to instead track daily health habits. If you track metrics like sleep, hydration, servings of veggies, daily walking, and other relevant habits you can focus on the right behaviors to make you look and feel great in the long run. This takes discipline but it is essential to long lasting transformation.

Performance Metrics

Switching your focus to the weight on the bar is a great alternative to the scale. People will often train harder and longer in pursuit of strength and performance goals than solely for aesthetic purposes. If you push yourself more in training the results will speak for themselves!

 

The Importance Of Stress For Your Health


Did you know that a little bit of stress can actually maximize your performance?

IF you’ve ever been in a flow state and totally lost track of time immersed in the task at hand you know know how astounding it can be to snap out of it. You were so focused that you couldn’t worry about your bills, external relationships, and the little worries in life.

It turns out that time spent in a flow state is one of the highest corollaries to a fulfilling life. The more time you spend in flow the happier you are. It also turns out that flow is the best way to get good at a particular skill- assuming the activity meets some key criteria. 

The Yerkes Dodson Law examines how as arousal increases so does performance. Being pushed slightly beyond your comfort zone you get hooked. Locked in flow you will continue to push yourself, just barely keeping up with the challenge that is inches from your grasp. They even assigned a specific value to the degree of difficulty. If the level of the challenge is approximately 4% greater than your current skill you will be most likely to get into a flow state.

If you think about great athletes, musicians, artists and other high performing individuals you will see countless examples of them rising to the occasion. Completing the game winning drive as they march their team down the field and scoring with just seconds left on the clock. Playing a guitar lick faster and faster immersed in sweat and the roar of the crowd. These folks are locked into what they are doing to a place that is beyond what conscious mind and ego can interfere with. They are fully present and immersed in the task at hand.

It is important to find the thresholds in your life where you can push yourself and grow. If you feel like a task is too easy you will quickly lose interest and find yourself bored. If it is too difficult, you will feel like it’s hopeless and not actually give your best effort. Find the challenge that is engaging and challenging yet attainable if you truly want to get the most out of yourself!

 

3 Exercises to Fix your Lower Back Pain


The body thrives on balance. Our muscles and joints are happiest when they are getting equal and total range of motion. The spine is no different and since it’s range of motion is smaller than most other joints, imbalances can be felt more intensely.

The spine requires the stability of the supporting muscles that surround it to keep up upright and mobile. When a link in this system is weak, the body will compensate in order to expend the least amount of energy. 

A common issue seen causing that dreaded lower back is due to tight hip flexors, tight spinal erectors, accompanied by weak abs and glutes, also referred to as the lower cross syndrome. The tightness of the body in one area causes another area of the body to become weak. 

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Buddhist Proverb

 

So how do you fix or prevent this? Here are three things you can do today to make sure your glutes are firing, your core is tight, and your hips and back muscles stay strong but supple.

  1. Single leg glute bridges, to strengthen the core & glutes. Aim for 3 sets of 15 on each side. Plant the bottom of your feet and palms firmly on the floor. Stack knees above ankles. Lift one foot off the ground and perform a single glute bridge with the other, pressing firmly into your palms, shoulders, and foot to take any pressure off the neck. Try to get the hips as high as possible, then lower to the ground.
  2. Couch Stretch, loosen the tight hip flexors Aim for 2 minutes on each side. Using a couch or a bench, get into a low lunge in front of your object of choice, and the goal of this stretch is to use the front leg to support your weight as you put your back foot on a couch or bench and get your knee as close to the couch or bench as possible to stretch the hip of the back leg.  
  3. Supine single-leg twists to loosen the tight muscles in the lower back.

Lay on your back, hands out to a T, and legs together, bring your right knee up to your chest and let it fall to the left side of your body. Try to keep the spine stacked in a straight line. Repeat on the left leg, bringing left knee to chest then letting it fall to your right, knee resting on the ground or a block. Spend at least a minute on each side.

Incorporate these exercises and stretches into your routine to help ease and prevent lower back pain. As always if anything causes pain, don’t do it and always consult your doctor before trying new things.

4 Ways to Save Your Joints


When you are dedicated to your training and putting in the hours to achieve your goals then there is nothing more frustrating than joint pain and inflammation. It almost feels like your body is punishing you for working hard. No fair, right!

Rather than make excuses about your pain or backing off on your training you may want to consider some new techniques to mitigate the damage from these patterns of overuse.

1. Focus on form
2. Make intensity your new volume
3. Recover Harder
4. Hit the Supplements Aisle

1.Focus on form
If you are training often and hard then even the slights inefficiencies in your movement can turn into nagging injuries over time. Before you put in all that hard work you owe it to yourself to work with an experienced coach to refine your movement. You will make progress faster and stay healthy in the process. Slow down, not every day is a competition.

2. Make intensity your new volume
Sometimes the body simply needs a break from volume. All athletes in any sport go through periods of alternating intensity and volume throughout the year. They have different rhythms and protocols for preseason, in-season, post-season, and off-season training. Try backing off on the volume of your training and focusing on higher intensity pieces instead. For lifters, this could mean performing fewer sets or reps and using a higher load, shorter rest times, or a faster tempo. Runners might try lower mileage with weeks and adding a sprint workout 1-2 times per week instead.

3. Recover Harder
Training hard without the proper recovery techniques is bound to beat you up and becomes unsustainable long term. Make time for massage, foam rolling, stretching, yoga or mobility sessions, sleep, and any other recovery methods that can improve your performance. Sometimes the most beneficial thing you can do is stimulate your parasympathetic nervous with these recovery techniques to let your body’s natural healing mechanisms kick in.

4. Give your body what it needs to repair itself
There are tons of great supplements that can help with joint health. Fish oil and omega 3’s provide a healthy inflammatory response in the body amongst many other health benefits. Glucosamine and Chondroitin provide the building blocks for joint repair. Tart Cherry Juice extract has been shown to reduce muscle soreness after a workout. Give those a try to start!

Don’t let joint pain stop you from moving and doing the things you love!

5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season


As the weather turns colder, many of us tend to let our health and fitness routines take the back burner for a few months. Whether you are feeling rundown or beat up from two CrossFit Open cycles in one year or just trying to escape the holiday season without eating too much pie. It is important to recognize what the change in season can mean for you in your training and health.

The winter months bring about changes in our training routines, daily habits, and nutrition. Rather than take a hit and accepting that this is a time to let yourself slide (because you’ll make it up and get back on track in January) what if this year you made a plan to do things differently.

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” -Jim Rohn

Here are 5 Tips to Help You Change with the Season!

  1. Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
  2. Go for a walk during the daytime.
  3. Break a sweat every day.
  4. Stay Hydrated.
  5. Structure your day for success.

Eat more vegetables and healthy fats.
During the summer months, there seems to be an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables around. In the winter we tend to shift towards more comfort foods, foods that are preserved or packaged and are easy to prepare. Focusing on incorporating more vegetables in your diet will help you get the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and micronutrients that you need. Omega-3s found in fish oil can help with skin health, heart health, and has been shown to support

Go for a walk during the daytime.
Getting outside for a walk during daylight hours can be extremely beneficial for your body and mind. Even if we can’t get Vitamin D from the sun during the winter months we can still benefit from its exposure. Walking can help improve metabolism, boost mood, and be a much better pick me up for your energy than coffee. Doing it in sunlight is proven to be one of the best ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that gets people run down in the winter months.

Break a sweat every day.
Prioritizing fitness may actually be more important in the winter than the summer. We naturally find ourselves more active during the summer months, enjoying the weather at the beach or on a hike or a bike ride. In the winter we tend to hole up indoors. Those hours of walking are replaced with hours of Netflix bingeing and lo and behold we start to get soft and complacent.

Stay Hydrated.
In the winter months, you may never feel the need to quench your thirst as you do on a hot summer day. Most folks tend to stay on the dehydrated side. Sweat also evaporates in the cold dry air, so many people are less likely to replenish fluids after exercise. Be sure to set daily hydration goals for yourself. Setting alarms on your phone to get up and grab a drink of water is a great way to accomplish this.

Structure your day for success.
One of the best ways to take charge of your health during the winter months is to plan out your day. Set yourself up for success by incorporating healthy habits and avoiding the detractors is key. Plan to have a big healthy salad before showing up to the holiday party where you know there will be tons of desserts. Book a fitness class, yoga session, or plan to meet a friend during a time you would normally just watch TV or surf the internet.

If you want to stay in control of your health this winter and have questions about how to eat, train or plan let us know!

Throw Up Heavy Weight, Not Your Breakfast


Pukie the clown can attest.

When it comes to training with intensity, we have to walk a fine line between achieving the desired stimulus and overdoing it. One consequence of pushing yourself too hard in a workout can be nausea and potentially even vomiting. 

This is never a fun way to end a training session, or worse, to halt your training session only having to finish the workout once you’ve recovered. (Mouthwash anyone?!)

But vomiting during or after a workout is something that can be addressed and avoided almost all together. There are certain factors that correlate with this unwanted reversal of digestion and if you plan properly you can finish the workout in style with minty fresh breath! 

To start let’s take a look at what is happening in the body leading up to a catastrophic workout induced vomiting. Often times you are performing an exercise that elevates lactate levels, something like intervals of sprints or sprint style wods with tools like the air bike or rower that are alternated with brief bouts of rest. You go all out on each short set and then have a brief recovery period. Sometimes it only takes one hard set. 

During high intensity exercise your body flips the switch from parasympathetic to sympathetic systems. The need to perform is prioritized over the need to repair, recover, and digest. Blood is shunted away from the organs associated with digestion. The brain has redirected it to the muscles in the arms and legs to aid performance by providing oxygen and carrying away metabolic waste.

When we warm up we should aim to bring our bodies gradually and progressively to the capacity needed to perform the workout. This is one of the key ways to avoid the dreaded exercise induced emesis. If you jump too quickly into the workout, the body can perform the movement, but homeostasis is seriously disrupted and it attempts to restore it as quickly as possible. Having elevated acid levels in the blood is dangerous to the body and it decides that all other functions need to stop until pH is back within a normal range. That means digestion gets knocked out of the queue and we all know what that means….

“When you push yourself beyond limits, you discover inner reserves, which you never thought existed earlier.” ― M. Arora

One way to reduce this unpleasant effect is by building your lactate threshold. Strategically performing workouts that take you to the brink of your threshold before resting and letting your body clear the buildup and return to normal. Your body will recognize the need to perform this process and adapt to become more efficient at it. The more you train this system the less likely you are to be majorly disrupted by threshold work and you will also notice improved work capacity.

You can also plan your nutrient intake to prevent the nausea and indigestion that can result in vomiting. Before your workout eating a small snack of about 20 grams of easily digestible protein and 40-60 grams of carbohydrate with the avoidance of fat and giving yourself about an hour to digest can be beneficial. You optimize energy levels for training, but don’t consume so much food that your body is still digesting come training time. Avoid foods high in fat as well as foods that irritate the GI tract such as dairy, spicy foods, and caffeine. 

If a 500 meter row still makes you yak, don’t sweat it. Make sure you properly rehydrate and don’t take yourself past that threshold too often. Explain what happened to your coach and they will be able to monitor your performance and provide suggestions to help you properly warm up, eat, and monitor pace to prevent this from happening.