Congratulations Allen & Martha!

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Big congratulations to Sweat Shop members Allen and Martha, as they tied the knot this weekend in Livermore!  Many of you at the gym may not have even known they were getting married as both Martha and Allen are very humble and don’t like to boast.  Be sure and congratulate them next time you see them at the gym!

Gym Etiquette

I found this video from CrossFit Oahu on the funny mannerisms you’ll see at some CF gyms. While I believe the solid etiquette, vibe, and community are the staple of what makes Sweat Shop great, I couldn’t help but laugh at these as I know there are parallels with some folks in the SHOP….myself included. Sorry Nabil for ghost-riding the rower handle and to Rikus, I’ll try not to keep “borrowing” your 9 dollar wrist straps I know I can buy on Amazon myself. Seriously though, that medicine ball clean!

It’s Complicated

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Split Jerk. Easy Split Jerk.

2 front squats + 1 split jerk

1 push press + 1 push jerk

1 snatch + 2 overhead squats

1 power clean + 1 front squat + 1 split jerk

1 clean + 1 push jerk + 2 split jerks

Look familiar? You’ve probably done one of these or something similar since your time here at the Sweat Shop. These are examples of complexes, and we use them in the gym to build strength, develop quality movement patterns, and to improve our overall clean & jerk or snatch.

One benefit I want to particularly discuss is how complexes develop our proprioception. What the heck is that?! Don’t worry I’ll tell you! Proprioception involves special sensory receptors located in our joints, tendons, and muscles. Because they are sensitive to tension and pressure, they are used to relay information concerning body movement back to your central nervous system. Basically, your brain uses this information to understand where it is in space and gravity.

Now lets relate this to our olympic lifts and complexes. We need to know where our body is in relation to the bar right? Sometimes we don’t even see the bar the whole time, and then we need to figure out when to catch that darn thing. Complexes are a great way for our brains to receive a variety of information from the different movements incorporated in any given exercise. Also, complexes are a great way for beginners to learn the clean & jerk or snatch. By breaking down the movement into different segments, our brain doesn’t become overwhelmed by the abundance of information.  Not new to the lifts? Awesome, complexes can help fix different sections of your lift. Say you’re an individual who likes to pull early, bend your elbows early, or just rely on our drop under the bar instead of finishing our pull. Using complexes, such as 2 hang cleans + 1 clean, to break down the movements will help relay the proprioceptive information back to the brain to use for those PR attempts in the future.

Complexes are a great training method, and can be super fun. Go ahead and try out some of the complexes I mentioned above, or come up with your own and ask Nabil, JB, Rene, DJ, or myself if it’s a good one. Lastly, sorry if you thought this was going to be a post about life complications. Maybe next time! Enjoy!

Battle On Sunset This Saturday

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This Saturday, we will have 5 athletes competing at the “Battle On Sunset” at CrossFit Antioch. CJ and Patrick will be in the Rx’d division, while Megan competes in the Scaled, and Joel and Cassie in the Master’s divisions. They all have been busting their butts practicing as they have known the workouts for some time now. The workouts should be really exciting as they are all under 8 minutes, there’s a 1RM Power Clean, and the floater is a sprint! Come cheer them on! The event starts at 8:30am and will run until the late afternoon. For directions from the Sweat Shop, click here.  Good luck Sweat Shoppers!

Listening to your body

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Ali getting her butterflies on point! I see an awesome Fran time in her future!!

“The pain is momentary, the pride is forever.” Is it? There are different levels of pain aren’t there? While it undoubtedly hurts my lungs even thinking  about Fran, I know that pain will subside and I will be able to recover later. But what when that pain is not one of a fleeting taxing workout? Let’s take a look at what is means to “listen to your body”. We’ve all heard that saying, but what does it actually mean? I found a such an article on the subject. Check out an excerpt below:

It might come as a surprise, but our bodies are incredibly smart. If we take the time to listen to them,”some very serious injuries or conditions could often be avoided,” says Dr. Doug Andrews, PT, director of sports medicine for Optim Healthcare. “When we experience pain, our body is definitely telling us that something is not right. It is up to each person to figure out what the signal means,” Dr. Andrews says.

Think of pain like the “check engine” light in a car. Turning a blind eye to this blinking light will inevitably result in a breakdown, granted the body’s warning signs can be more subtle than a car’s. (If only our knees came with a “Check ACL” light.) But when it comes to preventing small problems from turning into lasting injuries, there are symptoms and signals that act as the first line of defense . Sure, soreness and fatigue accompany many exercise routines, but being able to identify more serious aches and pains is more important than many endorphin-seeking, active folks might think.

To read the full article click here 

Remember, everyBODY is different. Do what works best for you.

Farewell Doug

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I’m very sad to say that Doug, one of the genuinely nicest and most positive person I’ve ever met  is moving to Seattle.  If you happen to see him at the gym before he goes be sure and wish him the best.  I’ve also made it mandatory for Doug that he come in for workouts whenever he is in the area… and yes Doug, a 4 hour layover at SFO is plenty of time to make it out to the Sweat Shop for a workout!

On a side note, we are now taking applications for anyone looking to take Doug’s spot as “barbell and weights cleaner upper”.  The pay is really bad ($0), job hazards are high (there’s a good chance the person will start yelling as many of them were  still working out when Doug was cleaning their weights), job satisfaction is pretty low too (many people wouldn’t even know what happened to their weights, as Doug would have them put away and be out the door before the chalk dust even settled!).

Much love to you Doug, I look forward to seeing you when you visit the Bay and hopefully see you back here someday.  Take care.

Rope Climb Demo

Rope Climbs w/ Lulu from CrossFit Sweat Shop on Vimeo.

Many of you regulars know my long-time private training clients Jen (the one with the “Little Mermaid” sheep dogs) and her husband Greg (the “90′s alternative” beast who cleans the floors with his sweat before the Friday 4:30pm class). They have two awesomely athletic daughters who drop in every now and then to workout with their parents: Sadie, an outstanding lacross player and handstand pushup-er and her little sister Lulu who is a 9 year-old trapeze artist! Lulu came to the gym on Tuesday and I asked her if she could give the Sweat Shoppers a solid DEMO of the basic rope climb wraps that we use. Check it out! Thanks Lulu! Great job!

Kettlebell Therapy

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Brandon picking up my slack on the KB swings at Iron October II.

Love them or hate them, easy or difficult, kettlebell swings are a movement that will give you one killer workout. Kettlebell swings are great for multiple reasons. For one thing, they are great for increasing power output. In order to initiate movement we must use our glutes and hamstrings to move that kettlebell to where we want it to go, similar to when we perform the snatch or clean & jerk. Secondly, they help to increase muscular endurance and aerobic capacity. If you’ve ever tried performing kettlebell swings for a large number of repetitions, you may have felt the burn in your shoulders, grip, and even your lungs. Talk about blowout! Third, they are great for increasing anaerobic capacity as well. Try performing kettlebell swings in some sort of interval such as :40 on and :20 off. The constant increase in heart rate from such a dynamic movement makes it a great exercise for high intensity interval training. Lastly, the amount of muscle groups used to move that kettlebell from it’s start to finish position is enough to consider it a full body workout. Anywhere from the glutes, hamstrings, quads, back, shoulders, and core are used just to move that darn thing. We’ve all probably come to expect how effective kettlebell swings are on its own or combined in a WOD, but I recently came across an article where they are used as corrective and rehabilitative exercises as well.

In specific, the article talks about how kettlebell swings can be used to relieve low back pain and preserve functionality. A friend of mine came to me asking what she could do to help her recovery, so I wanted to do some research and give her more then just the usual mobility exercises and stretches. You can check out the article here! Of course this doesn’t mean go out and start doing a ton of kettelbell swings in hopes of curing your pain. Go through your check points and make sure you are activating the correct muscle groups by starting nice and light. Also, make sure those shoulders, hips, and thoracic spine are mobile enough so that your body doesn’t compromise by using something else it shouldn’t. Be smart!

In any case, kettlebell swings are a dynamic movement that provide multiple benefits. If you absolutely despise them, do a few sets here and there until they become no problem. If you love them, keep doing them!

Handstand Drills

IMG_6931Taneya cruising upside down during a workout

You may have noticed handstand walks becoming more frequently programmed for our advanced variations on pushups and handstand pushups.  As with muscle ups a few years ago, by programming them more frequently, we not only get more practice at them, but as more people become able to do them in workouts, it becomes less of an unimaginable feat, and more of just another ordinary exercise.  For me personally, I didn’t really care for them before I learned how to do them, but the more I began to practice them, the more I enjoyed them as I began to understand them more.  Now, just as snatches and clean & jerks, handstand walks have become one of my favorite exercises because of the physical and mental challenge it brings!

Here are some drills to help you work your balance up side down.

 

9 Things Good Listeners Do Differently

20666184335_ca55edc7fd_zBraydon is a tremendous athlete and an excellent listener. 

What does it take to be a good listener? Being a good listener is something some of us have had to work at. For others, this skill set comes naturally. Originally, I had intended to do a post regarding listening to your body and how it relates to being a good listener. However, before we get into all that, I really wanted to drive home what it looks like to hone in on your listening skills. Lets check out what HUFFPOST has to say about being a good listener. Below are just the bullet points, to check out the full article click here. 

1. They’re present.
2. They’re empathetic.
3. They realize their shortcomings.
4. They have an open mind.
5. They’re emotionally intelligent.
6. They pose significant questions.
7. They’re not on the defensive.
8. They’re OK with being uncomfortable.
9. They’re good leaders.

Matt Fraser: Inner Strength

I like Matt Fraser because he seems to be a pretty humble guy.  I also really like this video because while he talks about how difficult and how much competing consumes him, the very last line in the video puts it all in perspective.  It’s definitely something we should all keep in mind whenever we’re involved in any kind of activity.

CrossFit Team Series

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The CrossFit Team Series is back! Last year was the inaugural season for the Series, and it had quite a big turnout across the world. The format is similar to last year in which teams of 4 (2 guys/2 gals) compete together in CrossFit workouts against the their respective region and the world. Just like the Open, CrossFit announces a set of workouts and the team has 4 days to complete and submit scores for each. Last year, the registration crept up on us quickly and we only had one registered team (who did very well I might add), so we are hoping to get more participation out of the gym. The great part of this year is that they have a scaled division as well. This can be a great way for all competitors to get more experience competing together as a group and building camaraderie! So, if you are interested, talk with your fellow Sweat Shop mates and get a team together! It is still early, but registration is coming up soon so I wanted you all to have a heads up. More info like scheduling workout times at the gym and other logistics will be posted in a later once we know more, but for now check out the official announcenement here.

Mobilize Those Wrists and Ankles

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Our wrists and ankles are the primary hinges for our two major sets os extremities, our hands and feet. Unfortunately, they often go neglected. Two common sites for pain and acute injury are often corrected by tightening our wrists straps, tying our shoes a little tighter, or wearing some sort of protective sleeve. Sure these are quick fixes to the problem, but they do little for fixing the root cause.

Do your wrists hurt when catching barbells in the rack position, doing front squats, thrusters, overhead squats, or handstand push ups? Chances are you have poor wrist mobility. There’s no secret to the wide range of motion our wrists are capable of. We use them in flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction. We need them for picking things up, throwing things away, carrying all sorts of objects, and for almost all everyday activity and exercise.

Now what about those ankles? Most people suffer from poor ankle mobility, in particular they suffer from a lack of dorsiflexion. Dorsiflexion refers to decreasing the angle between the top of your foot and shin. Unfortunately, when we lack in dorsiflexion, our knees are first to compensate. Something has to bend right? If we can’t mobilize our ankles, then the stress simply moves onto the next possible joint and so on. Maybe that’s what’s causing those pesky hip or low back problems?

This article I came across has some good wrist and ankle mobility exercises, and can help you determine if you have immobile wrists or ankles. Just like building strength and increasing our conditioning, mobility and flexibility take time. Stick with a few of these exercises for a few weeks or so and always make sure to test and retest to see if they are helping or not. Enjoy!

Pre-Gaming

11855662_1461044154221332_1788710932131185082_n-1 Same ol’ Seth. Everyday.

Ok. I know. I really wanted a reason to post this picture of Seth. In all seriousness though, it got me thinking how much of a joy it is to coach a dude like Seth. You know how he strolls into the gym with that pep in his step, carrying his snazzy gear with that smirk on his face like, “I’m gonna crush this s***!” As a coach, I love it as it gives me a jump-start before class knowing that someone is jacked and ready to put in work. His energy (including his loud and squeaky screams intra-WOD) is contagious and you can tell how much fun he has in the hour he’s at the gym. In speaking of his snazzy gear, a while back, I asked him what gets him ready to go each day. He recited some quote from UCLA coach, John Wooden, about how it all starts with how you dress and if you care about the little things in how you present yourself, chances are you’ll put the same care in the things you do throughout your day. After it made me feel like crap about my own workout attire, the quote did resonate with me, as I understand how everyone has their own way to get pumped or excited for work and other areas of life. For me, it’s blasting some catchy 90’s R&B Jam in the car or seeing my buddies warming up and talking about how great the workout is going to suck!

What about you guys? What sorts of things get you pumped and ready to work at the Shop? Is it music? The workout itself? Texting your buddies your WOD time predictions? Seeing the people once you get to the gym? Strategizing on beyond the whiteboard? The coaches doing the dougie in the warm-up?

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