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3 things to do before Working Out

September 22, 2014
3 things to do before workout

You can just picture it: you get wrapped up in the excitement of going up to the board to either lay eyes on the WOD for the first time or to check other people’s scores while disregarding pre-wod “personal” time. However, if you avoid tearing into your WOD like a toddler unwrapping gifts on Christmas, you will get more benefits and be able to perform better. Here are 3 things to do before every WOD.

1. Go over the movements and plan a warm-up. This suggestion will vary depending on whether or not your Coach provides you with a warm-up. If your Coach provides you with a warm-up (an appropriate warm-up), you can still get to the gym a few minutes early to work on some trouble spots. If you get to the gym 10 minutes early, you should use the first 5 minutes to perform a general warm-up like jumping rope or rowing. Then use the second 5 minutes to work on a flexibility requirement that is specific to the workout that won’t damage your power output. For example, if the workout had cleans or snatches, stretching your lats and triceps would improve the rack position without hampering power output. Also, if you have a desk job, stretching your hip flexors by doing some reverse lunges would improve almost all movements seen in CrossFit by allowing you to maintain a strong, neutral position without “anterior pelvic tilt.”If you do not have a Coach providing you with a warm-up, it will be your job to think about what muscles are important to each movement in the WOD and to warm them up respectively. For example, doing good mornings without weight will help loosen up the hamstrings and lumbo-pelvic hip complex which is important for any power or Olympic lift. Doing push-ups and raising an arm at the top will help engage shoulder stabilizers which are important for kipping pull-ups and burpees. Related post: 10 Things Every CrossFitter Should Do

2. Refresh your technique on difficult movements. No matter how advanced you are, it is always beneficial to refresh complex technique before ‘3,2,1 GO!’ If the workout involves Olympic weightlifting, doing a warm-up that covers the individual components of each lift will be incredibly beneficial. For example, doing 2 x 5 Hang Clean Pulls, 2 x 5 Hang High Pulls, 2 x 5 Hang Power Clean, 2 x 5 Front Squat, 2 x 5 Hang Clean before a heavy clean session will help warm-up the movement patterns and refresh the technique.If the WOD has a complex gymnastic movement, it is easy to knock out a few practice reps or, even for the advanced athletes, review a few of the progressions you learned before even starting. Refresh how to get your hips to the rings or perform the swing part of the kip in complete control before even going into a muscle-up or a butterfly pull-up.

3. Think about the workout and how you might want to scale down or up. It is preached to hundreds every weekend: CrossFit is infinitely scaleable. Fran can be given to anybody. An 80 year old, deconditioned lady could do, for example, 9-7-5 chair stand-ups (with or with-out help) and assisted seated rows (resistance provided by Coach). Rich Froning Jr might decide to do Fran with 225lbs Thrusters. Both of these are neither the original workout, but it is an appropriate modification of the original workout that suits the goals and needs of both athletes. Decide what movements pose the issue for you and whether you need to scale down or up. If in doubt, always ask your coach, but having a simple understanding beforehand on which movements you would like to scale down or up will help your coach out.

There you go! 3 things that you can do before every WOD! Arriving to the gym 10 minutes early will allow you to really focus on these 3 things, helping improve your times and decrease your risk for injury, improve your technique, and make sure that you are getting the most out of your workout!

Do you have any pre-WOD rituals? Share them with me below by commenting please!

Function Training Tips

3 things you will learn training young athletes

September 15, 2014
Blog_YouthTraining_91514

Youth sports training, and specifically youth strength and conditioning, is one of the most misunderstood topics in the industry. There are many values that you, whether as a competitor, or more specifically if you are a coach dealing with a diverse population, can take from youth training and apply it to your daily WOD/coaching. Here I want to share 3 things I learned from coaching young athletes:

1. Movement, Movement and Movement! The most important thing when it comes to working with young athletes is movement. Not just getting off the couch, but being able to do human movement efficiently and effectively. Teaching the basics of strength training is rule #1. You need to be able to have a perfect lunge, step-up, strict pull-up etc. You also need to be able to move somewhat athletically. Learn how to skip correctly, high-knees, butt kicks and other simple footwork. Keep stuff simple, but demand perfection. Load can come later. A kid’s athletic future can be destroyed by loading improperly (just like an individual starting CrossFit), but you will only aid their development by teaching movement virtuosity.

2. What’s more important, playing or winning? As we delve into youth sport psychology, the age old question erupts on whether or not winning is everything. One can argue their points, but if a child is only obsessed with winning, other qualities of life will be forgotten. Values of teamwork and off-season hard work are best taught in early athletic development. As either a coach or a newbie to the CrossFit realm, you must not forget this lesson from youth sports. Coaching members to win the workout is not going to benefit them like coaching them to get the most out their workout through virtuosity of movement. It takes a bigger coach to scale someone down (or yourself down) than to cheer someone to power through without regard.

3. Communication and Listening! Personally, some of the movement cues that I learned through coaches that worked with kids greatly improved my coaching of adults. With kids, it is important to keep things simple; understanding what “scapular retraction” might be beyond them, anybody however will understand “pinch a coke can with your shoulder blades.” Similarly, as a coach, you need to listen to what your members are saying. There is valuable feedback that you gain by listening to the people you work with. From programming feedback to personality traits, all are important. For example, a shy individual might not like to demonstrate in front of a group, but might instead like to be praised as “looking like the best in the class” when no one else can hear; information you can only gain by listening closely.

Working with young athletes is incredibly rewarding. The fact that you can take place in the development of growing young men and women makes the philosophical profit even greater. However, just like we cannot forget what it is like to be young, we also must not forget that the young can teach us a lot about being old!

Function Training Tips

Beginners guide: Olympic Weightlifting

September 8, 2014
Blog_BeginnersGuideOlyLifting_9814

A question that I get asked a lot is: How should I incorporate Olympic lifts (the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk) into my normal CrossFit programming? This is a perfect example of a question with more than one right answer. Over the years, I have found many repeating patterns when it comes to implementing an efficient Olympic lifting strategy. Below you will find components of what I would call an extremely applicable program that anyone can use when they are looking to implement more Snatches and Clean & Jerks in their workouts.

How much time do you need? I hate when I see beginners (and more advanced lifters as well) struggling in the back of the gym for hours with heavy weights on the bar. The technique breakdown is quick, and resting 3-4 minutes between sets means that not a lot is being done. An excellent beginners program can be done in 15 minutes. Seriously.

How often should you lift? The training required to set the motor pattern is immense, especially with beginners. Due to this fact, I believe that beginners would benefit most from spending 15 minutes daily, at least 5 days a week on Olympic lifting.

What days should you perform each lift? Easy! I would rotate. One day snatches, the next day cleans.

What variations should you use? This question alone can be long-winded. However, the more of a beginner you are, the less complex lifts you should be performing. Spending 2-3 months doing nothing more than hang clean pulls and hang power cleans (and their snatch variant) will pay off MASSIVELY. Do not rush the more advanced lift. I would take a weaker individual with a perfect clean pull than someone that can power clean 275 with horrendous technique.

How much work can you really do in 15 minutes? You would be surprised:
A. 3 x 4 Hang Clean Pulls at 50% 1RM Clean (rest 45 seconds between sets)
B. 4 x 3 Hang Power Clean at 50-65% 1RM Clean (rest 60 seconds between sets)
C. 3 x 4 Push Jerks – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds between sets)

I guarantee that many individuals can find a way to make that last 2 hours. IT CAN BE DONE IN 15 MINUTES! You do not need to be resting 4 minutes between sets!
But what about going heavy?

If you are classified as a beginner, your focus should not be going heavy. As for more advanced lifters, if you do not have the best form in your gym, my guess is that you would benefit from taking a step back from heavy, drawn out sessions and focusing on my sample program below:

Sample Beginners Olympic Program

Empty Barbell Warm-Up (EBWU): Performed as an unbroken complex

• 5 Hang Clean Pulls
• 5 Hang Clean High-Pulls
• 5 Hang Power Cleans
• 5 Strict Press
• 5 Push Press

Monday – EBWU

• 3 x 5 Hang Clean Pulls at 50% 1RM Clean (rest 45 seconds between sets)
• 4 x 4 Hang Power Clean at 50-65% 1RM Clean (rest 60 seconds)
• 3 x 3 Push Jerks – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)

Tuesday – EBWU

• 3 x 4 Snatch Pulls from Hang at 50% 1RM Snatch (rest 45 seconds between sets)
• 4 x 5 Hang Power Snatch *Pause* to Overhead Squat – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)

Wednesday – EBWU

• 15 Minutes on Split Jerk Technique

Thursday – EBWU

• 4 x 5 Hang Clean High Pulls at 50% 1RM (rest 45 seconds between sets)
• 4 x 4 Hang Power Clean to Reverse Lunge – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)

Friday

• 3 x 5 Unloaded Hang Power Snatch
• 3 x 4 Snatch Pulls from Floor – Load to technique (rest 60 seconds)
• 4 x 3/3 (3 each side) Dumbbell Snatch from hang (rest 45 seconds)

That concludes my beginners guide to Olympic weightlifting programming. If you’re a beginner and have any questions about how else to get started, comment below and I’ll get back to you in no time!

Training Tips

6 Steps to get better during the Crossfit off-season

August 19, 2014
Offseason-training

It is the unofficial CrossFit Off-season. What are your plans? Is your goal to compete? Lose weight? Get ripped? Build muscle? No matter what your goal is, here is a simple, easy to follow 6 step process to help you smash through your weaknesses and be a better you in no time.

Identify your weaknesses. Whether it was strict HSPU at The CrossFit Games or Friday night drinking sessions with your mates, identify the movements or situations that kept you from achieving your goal.

Evaluate your weaknesses. How bad were they? If it is a movement, were you just a little slower than the pack? Or how about those late Friday nights out and about? Did they occur every week or maybe once a fortnight?

Plan the road to redemption. Now that you are aware how bad it actually was, you must plan ahead so that you will be able to overcome adversity in the future. Whether this is reading up on knee and hip mobility associated with the squat or finding a group of like-minded friends that will forbid you to ruin your diet on Friday night. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to outline the path to success.

Follow the Road. So you have laid the path, now you must follow it… you practice your Olympic lifts with a coach, or you went back to the basic skills in gymnastics, or you kick started your health with a 30-day eat-clean challenge. Whatever it is, make sure you stick to the path and commit to the journey. There will be challenges along the way, but if you clearly identified the path at the onset, it should be easier to stay the course during rough times.

Reassess at the forks in the road. At some point along the way, you will either be tested again at a competition or you could give your body a scan to assess the progress. These are the critical points where you need to look at what the results are, good or bad, and then reevaluate what is most important in your program. Identify the components that have helped you out the most and add more of them while eliminating some of the gimmicks that might not have worked for you.

Make adjustments and continue forward! You are now ready to go again! Stick to it and keep fighting to be a better you next season! See below for some common examples:

Example 1: Training

Identify weakness: Pull-Ups in large sets.
Evaluate weakness: Cannot do more than 10 in a row. Always last in competitions.
Plan: 3 week rotations of working strict, kipping and weighted pull-ups.
Follow: Stick to it at least twice a week.
Reassess: At a local competition I was no longer last, but my grip held me back more this time than before.
Adjustments: Start super-setting pull-up work with grip work like farmers walks or hang power snatches.

Example 2: Nutrition

Identify weakness: Snack foods like cookies or donuts.
Evaluate weakness: Every day after lunch, I have cravings for sweets.
Plan: Eliminate access to bad foods as much as possible, throw away all bad food at desk and tell all co-workers to stop offering you their guava pastry. Stock up on healthy snacks like nuts, whole fruit and sugar-free Greek yogurt.
Follow: Do it! Every. Damn. Day.
Reassess: Is this helping me lose weight or look better naked? Did Greek yogurt satisfy my cravings while black berries did not? I only fall off the wagon if I did not prepare.
Adjustments: I need to make sure that I am prepared everyday to succeed, if not, I am only setting myself up for failure.

Training Tips

10 inspiring examples from the Crossfit games

August 6, 2014
Crossfit_pic

The CrossFit Games have come and gone. The main story of Rich Froning’s insane comeback despite looking awful at running will be one for the ages. However, there were many other individual stories that took place this year: stories of desire, dedication and determination that should be enough to keep anyone motivated throughout the off-season. The abundance of rookies excelling, along with veterans being legendary, certainly made 2014 a year to remember. Here are 10 examples from The CrossFit Games to keep you inspired until 2015!

1. Speal-ler! Speal-ler! Speal-ler! – The legend that keeps growing. In his 7th CrossFit Games, Chris Spealler did not disappoint. With a 3rd place finish on the Muscle-Up Biathlon and a truly inspirational double grace finish, Chris Spealler brought the crowd to its feet more times than anyone else…combined!!! Chris has shown the CrossFit community what the heart of a champion looks like from 2007 until 2014.

2. Small but MIGHTY – In the spirit of Chris Spealler, Cody Anderson broke into the scene with the size of a 16kg kettlebell, but the force of a 315lbs clean. Cody will be the prototype for smaller athletes to look at to see how it’s possible to compete with the big guys.

3. Kara Webb was inspiring and heart breaking – A misfortunate fall in the Midline March knocked her out of a sure podium finish – a big improvement from last year’s 12th place. She showed grit and determination through most of the weekend, showing the ladies that it is not all about finesse, but who has the biggest heart.

4. Do Not Doubt Yourself…EVER! – If that line can be applied to only one person, the clear choice is the young gun-slinger out of the South East, Noah Ohlsen. The list of people that have doubted Noah is long, with Dave Castro at the top of the list. After a truly inspiring weekend that landed Noah just short of his goal, the list of doubters certainly decreased to zero. Over the past 4 years, trusting yourself and outworking everyone can yield phenomenal results. Do not underestimate yourself…ever!

5. Who wants it more? – The amazing finish to the Push-Pull event between Rich and Josh Bridges was jaw-dropping. A perfect case of the power of “want” – who wanted it more? In this case, Josh outlasted Rich, but the desire displayed by both athletes should light a fire under your training.

6. Work the weaknesses – Rich Froning was the first off the “thick” part of the “thick ’n quick” workout (in part helped by a no-rep). A far cry from him falling into a crumpled heap of second place in 2010. Do you have a weakness? WORK IT!

7. Injuries are obstacles, not road blocks – Annie Thorisdottir was plagued with injuries during the past 2 years. Despite the major set-backs, she came back strong and secured a 2nd place finish on the podium and a first place finish in the hearts of the fans. Don’t be discouraged if you have an injury; use Annie’s smart training to inspire you to come back smarter and stronger than ever!

8. Age is just a number – Lauren Fisher is 20, while Valorie Voboril is 35. Both did not let their age define their performance and finished in 9th and 5th respectively. No matter how old you are, you can still improve every day!

9. Family Strong! – Some people use family as an excuse to get out of training. Jason Khalipa and Lauren Brooks use their family as motivation and salvation to fuel their training. Lauren Brooks especially showed the true strength of a mother when she stood up with the 225lbs clean and won 2 of the 3 sprint events – inspiring not only mothers, but everyone, everywhere, that dedication to loving your family and loving yourself will pay off.

10. It doesn’t matter where you come from – So what if no one knows what gym you train at. Marlene Andersson and Celestie Engelbrecht qualified out of Asia and Africa respectively – leading towards expectations of 40 and below on every workout. However, Marlene’s best finish of 23rd and 21st and Celestie’s one finish below the 30s was a 17th place show that it doesn’t matter where you came from, but you can still compete with the world!

What was your most inspiring moments from watching the 2014 Games, and how has it impacted your training plan for this new year? Comment below!

Training Tips

6 TRAINING LESSONS FROM LE TOUR DE FRANCE

August 2, 2014
The Cyclist Nuyens Nick

In the American sporting world, the month of July is known for two things: not yet football and no more basketball. However we are blessed with the MLB all-star game, Wimbledon, and Le Tour de France. The latter of which is an incredible race of grueling aerobic endurance, quick bouts of power, and draining muscular anaerobic endurance. In other words, cycling is about sustaining force production. However, I do not want to over-simplify this wonderful event. Le Tour de France spans weeks, placing great requirements on being light weight, efficient, and strategically accurate over the course of the tour. You do not need to be an expert in cycling to learn some valuable lessons from these tremendous humans.

Here are 6 things you can learn from Le Tour:

1. Efficiency pays off in the long run – The Tour covers 3,664km (2,276 miles) this year across Western Europe. That is a lot of pedaling. There is no room for technique error or a mis-firing muscle. For example, in 2012, the champion Bradley Wiggins cycled for 87 hours, 56 minutes and 40 seconds with the second place finisher only 4 minutes behind. A 0.001% decrease in efficiency would have placed Bradley Wiggins in second place. The same can be said for training. Anything that is not perfect will slow you down. Perfect your efficiency.

2. Extra Weight = Extra Work – This can be interpreted in two ways: 1.) Equipment: Go to any competitive exercising competition and you will see a gluttony of equipment for sale. Is it really necessary? Most of the time the special equipment is just going to slow you down so DITCH IT! 2.) Excess bodyweight will slow you down: Instead of focusing on building muscle, focus on getting stronger. Similarly, if you focus on getting "fitter," the weight usually will melt off. Here’s a related post to read more on this.

3. Teamwork Triumphs – Even though cycling has individual glory, teamwork is what got the champion to the top. The team is responsible for protection, motivation, strategy and understanding what is going on around you. Sound familiar? A good training partner should do all of that – protect you from distractions, motivate you through difficult times, provide strategy in training and understand and apply new information.

4. Pacing and Pouncing – Each stage of Le Tour involves two major strategic parts: pacing (staying in the peloton) and then pouncing. If you do not pace the first 4 hours correctly, you will not be able to pounce in the last 20km. On a long 20 minute AMRAP, you cannot go all out from the get-go, you need to pace, stay in the pack, and then towards the end, when you have positioned yourself perfectly, explode and finish strong.

5. Eat for the Job – Cyclists know exactly how many calories they are burning in a given stage based on lean mass and heart rate monitors sending information back to camp. Using this information, team organizers are able to create a nutrition strategy that is perfectly in tune with macronutrients needed for recovery without causing unnecessary weight gain. If you training hard, you need to eat enough whole foods like vegetables, fish and sweet potatoes to support recovery, but not enough to cause weight gain. Bring this checklist with you the next time you go stock up on food.

6. Determination is Powerful – Watch the close-up shots of the cyclists and notice how pained their faces look as they try to win the stage. When the finish line is in sight, all the science goes out the window and the victory comes down to who wants it more, who can push through the pain. How determined are you to lose weight? How determined are you to get that new back squat max? Here are 7 things mentally different from those who succeed, and those who do not.

Le Tour de France just concluded this past week. If you missed it completely, try and remember to catch it next year. It’s quite the sight to see.

Now tell me about you, what from the above do you need to be focusing on? Do you need to work on your efficiency and technique? How about focusing on building strength and not necessarily muscle? Are you eating properly for "the job"? Comment below and let me know!

Training Tips

3 Lessons i learned from competing at the Crossfit games

July 26, 2014
Vida_Brickell

The last time I was at The Games was 2011, its second year at the now named Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA. That year I was competing with my team out of CrossFit Vida Brickell (pronounced Vee-da Brick-uhl). That was my 3rd year competing in CrossFit competitions and my first time working with a team. I remember most of the experience vividly (ahem…the after party) and this year I’m back but experiencing The Games from a coaching point of view. I still remember most of the lessons that our journey in 2011 taught my team and I. Reflecting on these lessons, we are presented with a few lessons from 2011, and some concepts to look for with the 2014 CrossFit Games.

1. Unknown and Unknowable. The old tag line was tested with the opening Swimming Beach Murph event and then continued with various tasks including softball toss (Remember Khalipa’s throw?) and the introduction of the Watt Bike. This theme has continued and if you are expecting to know every discipline tested, you are sorely mistaken.Take away: Learning new skills and trying new functional movements will not only cause your body to learn to adapt to new things, but it will keep you motivated to continuously learn new things. This commitment to learn and try new things is a must for any competitive athlete.

2. Team work will be tested. In 2011, the opening workout for teams included moving large amounts of heavy sandbags over a field with obstacles and back. This workout required huge amounts of communication and teamwork. Each Games since then has focused more and more on teamwork and you can bet burpees that it’s being tested right now in the 2014 Games.Take away: Team WODs are fun if you work together, they are a great way to add variety to your daily training for either performance or fitness goals. They’re also great to get an understanding on the amount of communication that needs to be going on within a group at all time.

3. You cannot “game” The Games. Deciding to go easy on an event to save it for later will surely backfire. On the flip side, always giving 110% might leave your nervous system too fried for the remainder of the evening. It takes a correct balance of pushing to your limits, without pushing past them to maximize your efforts across the competition weekend.Take away: If you always give it your all, your recovery will be affected. Taking a down week or spending a day focusing on active recovery (stretching and skill work) will help you get geared back up again to hit it hard.

If you are reading this, I hope you are either watching The Games in person, or tuning into the livestream! Still two days of intense competition left! Below is a picture of our squad in 2011…good times!

Training Tips

Why you need to rest more – World Cup Edition

July 17, 2014
over_training_blog

The World Cup is the ultimate show case: squads have minimal time to work together to form a team, various international tactics are displayed against each other, new names will rise up and never be forgotten (Tim Krul & James Rodriguez) and some of the world’s greatest athletes are on display for everyone to see. This World Cup in Brazil also saw the impact of basic sport physiology in plain view: the heat and humidity. One of the ESPN pundits said “the heat and the humidity are not a factor since it was hot in Germany during the 2006 World Cup.” This was one of the stupidest things someone could say. Just ask anyone that comes to Miami for an away game. Despite this pundits’ naivety towards basic science, there is another interesting point I want to bring up – the impact of rest. Not just whether a team has 3 or 4 days of rest, but an extra week or two before the tournament.

The opening match of the tournament was on June 12.

La Liga, the Spanish premier league played its last game on May 18 giving their players 25 days of rest before the World Cup started. Serie A, the Italian premier league also played their last game on May 18, leaving the players with 25 days of rest as well. The Premier League in England played its last game on May 11, giving their players 32 days of rest. The Bundesliga, the German premier league played their last game on May 10, giving their players 33 days of rest. And finally, in comparison, we have the Primera Division of Costa Rica. Much of the Costa Rican National Team plays at home in their own league, which ended on April 23. This gave the Costa Ricans a full 50 days of rest before the World Cup. I am not saying that the Ticos did not deserve the great run they had, but when you schedule your league to end early, giving your players TWICE THE REST of many of the World’s best players, you are at an advantage.

Much of the talk recently has been on how tired some of the best players were looking throughout the Cup. Obviously, look at the quick turnaround they had as noted above. In comparison, look at how well a squad can come together as a team if given more time off and more time to work together. The Costa Ricans’ fresh legs certainly played a part in their run. This is something you need to keep in mind with your training. If you are competing, taking some time off from the last major competition will help with your recovery and let you focus on your next goal. Similarly, taking increased time to focus on a specific goal will help improve your chances of success.

The body is not made to perform at 100% 365 days a year. If possible, schedule your most important competitions around the same time of year (most occur late summer, including The Games). Throughout the year, use a smaller selection of competitions as gauges to where your training is, but do not focus on "peaking" yet. Using this method, you will ensure that you are able to get adequate rest during an "off-season" that should focus on improving weaknesses. If instead you try to run at 100% the entire year, you will end up looking tired down the stretch, failing that important lift or missing a muscle-up that could have put you on the podium.

Through personal experience and experience working with a selection of elite CrossFitters and elite athletes, my preferred seasonal plan is as follows:

August: Peak of Season – "Championship"

September: Month 1 of Off season – Focus on Sleep and Flexibility, have fun with "easier" training

October: Month 2 of Off season – Focus on weaknesses and unilateral strength (e.g. lunges instead of squatting)

November: Month 3 of Off season – Start working back into a normal training load of strength, Olympics and conditioning

This method ensures that you will have about 50+ days of recovery. Individual preferences may vary, but giving your body this essential time will give you the advantage going into the next season refreshed and improved – a feeling often accidentally discarded by many competitors.

Training Tips

5 Habits of successful Crossfitters

July 7, 2014
knees_cavingin

Training 1 to 2 hour(s) a day, 5 times a week, gives you a lot of time in the gym. Sometimes, that alone is enough to reach your fitness and wellness goals. Many people, however, continue to struggle to accomplish the goals they’ve set out for themselves; whether that is your first ring muscle-up, stringing together butterfly pull-ups, hitting a #405 back squat, or PR’ing on Fran by 30 seconds. When you look at the big picture, the average time you spend in the gym (box) only makes up about 3-6% of your total week. That leaves you plenty of “extra” time to be either up to no good, or practicing good habits that will in turn contribute towards reaching those goals you work so hard for. Let’s start…

1. Stretching – Taking the time and making the habit of stretching on a daily basis will aid you infinitely in this sport. Not only will it improve your range of motion (which we all need), but it also promotes muscle recovery, decreased soreness, and to some extent can decrease your risk of injury just by increasing blood flow supply and nutrients to your muscles. Adding to that, stretching consistently (especially as you get older) helps to maintain flexibility and can help to prevent atherosclerosis. Elite weightlifters stretch daily, you should too.

2. Drinking water – Yes, we all do it, obviously. But chances are you probably aren’t getting quite enough of it considering your level of physical activity. Waiting until you are at the box to start drinking water (especially in summer) is not the way to do it. By that time, you’re probably already in the hole. Did you know that as little as a 2% reduction in body weight due to dehydration will significantly hamper your performance? Not drinking enough water will thicken your blood which means your heart works harder and you’ll fatigue more quickly. That doesn’t exactly allow for an intense training session. Make sure you are drinking up throughout your day and keep a water bottle handy with you wherever you go. A good benchmark for ounces you should be taking in is your body weight X 0.75.

3. Making Sleep A Priority – If you are not able to sleep as much as your body needs, you are not going to reap the benefits of exercise you deserve. Plain and simple. A lot of us underestimate the importance of a good-night’s sleep. Not sleeping enough will decrease your energy and can have an impact on your hormone levels, slowing down the rate at which you recover from workouts and increasing the risk of injury. Both are extremely counterproductive towards reaching any of your goals. Make it a priority to get to bed a little earlier, and try to limit blue light (artificial lights emitted from your phones, computers, TVs etc) just before bed. Cut down the amount of time you spend scrolling through Instagram at night and hit the sack a little earlier tonight. Your body will thank you for it.

4. Finding The Passion In It – Staying motivated is sometimes the most challenging thing, especially when progress stagnates. Making the habit of staying motivated and defining your passion will prove to be critical to your success. If you can find something to train for, something that is tangible such as a men’s basketball league or competing in the RX division for your next competition, you will find a renewed vigor in your training to keep you pushing on. Having poorly constructed goals like "trying to fit in that wedding dress in 4 weeks" or "I want a six-pack for this pool party next month" will most likely, eventually, result in gaining the weight back and being in a worse place than when you started. We’re talking about making habits that result in lasting changes after all. Find the passion in it, and make it a habit of always having one.

5. Learning As Much As You Can – Does your local community college have a class for personal trainers? Or perhaps a general health & nutrition class for nursing? If so, try and organize your busy schedule to allow yourself the leisure time to seek further education. You would be surprised at what you can learn and apply to your health and fitness. Those who are most likely to succeed and achieve their goals make huge efforts to learn everything they can to help them get to where they want to be. In CrossFit, it may be learning everything there is to know about the technique and mechanics for weightlifting. Lifting with bad form will decommission you quickly, so make the habit of learning as much as you can. Don’t sabotage your duteous efforts.