Archive for October, 2011

While I think the regular “Beyond the Athlete” segments are great, I was trying to come up with a way to spice them up.  So, to take it to the next level, I set my sights on having “Celebrity” editions and getting some of the best CrossFitters in the world to take part in our quirky interviews as well.  Not only can we learn what kind of shampoo they use, I tailored the questions more toward how they became so successful at the sport so we can hopefully pick up some tips on how to improve our own game.

First up is Miranda Oldroyd.  Miranda is one of the more recognizable figures in CrossFit today.  She finished 21st in the 2008 CrossFit Games and was an ESPN commentator for the 2011 CrossFit Games you all have been watching.  Miranda founded and owned CrossFit 801 in Salt Lake City (before recently moving to Santa Cruz, CA) and can be found all over the CrossFit Headquarters YouTube site doing demos for the daily WODs.  She is Rogue Fitness sponsored athlete and you can check out some of her personal bests here.  And, if that isn’t cool enough, she was more than willing to give up some of her own time and answer my bonehead questions.  Again, for those of you who are not used to the “internets” please be sure to click “Read the rest of this entry” to see all 25 questions.

What is your current job and what are your accomplishments?    

I work for CrossFit as a member of the Seminar Staff for the Level 1 Seminars as well as the CrossFit Coaches Prep Seminars. When there are areas I can help out I also work for CrossFit Media as a commentator/who knows?? I consider my training to be somewhat a job as well. I competed in the 2008 Games, suffered an injury in 2009 and plan to get back to the Games as soon as possible! I am a wifey and a mom to the most amazing dogs on the planet, Gunner and Midgee!

1. Where did you grow up and where do you currently live?

I grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. I lived in Utah my whole life until just a few months ago when I moved to Santa Cruz, CA.

2. What is your athletic background? 

Not much to tell here. I was a high school cheerleader and ran track for one season in high school. I competed in one local fitness competition in Utah before finding CrossFit. I am more of an athlete now that I have ever been in my life.

3. How did you get started with CrossFit and how long have you been doing it?

I first found CrossFit in November of 2007. My husband and I were both personal trainers and stumbled across the website as we were looking for new ways to improve our training.

4. What mistakes did you make early on that held you back from improving?

I made the mistake of changing my programming to mimic the Games after the 2008 Games. Everything was short and heavy. I always wanted to add weight to everything. I have now had to go back and strip the weight down so that I can build an aerobic base.

5. What are your favorite exercises/WODs?

Favorite WODs: Grace, Isabel, Amanda, Nasty Girls.

6. What exercises/WODs do you hate?

I am going to try not to say I hate any workouts…so that my brain doesn’t revolt when I have to do them. I am currently working to improve on workouts with a lot of running. 🙂

7. With all of your past success in competition, what are your current goals with regards to CrossFit?

I want to find out what my athletic potential is. I truly believe that if I hit it, I will not only qualify for the Games but I will do very very well. It’s not about beating anyone else, its about REALLY finding out what I can do.

8. Through your experiences, what has had the most impact on making you a better CrossFitter (endurance, strength, Oly lifting, etc.)? Furthermore, what advice would you give novice CrossFitters looking to improve their WOD times/rounds?

Sound technique and an aerobic base. Master the basics, get yourself a set of lungs. PRACTICE movement.

9. In your perfect world, what would you be doing in 10 years?

Working for CrossFit. Training clients out of a small barn in my back yard.

10. If you could eat dinner with 3 people past or present (besides Jesus who is overused and not that interesting of an answer), who would you choose and why? Furthermore, what would you order for dinner?

I will choose 4. All of my grandparents that I didn’t appreciate enough when I was young. I would order pizza!

11. Who is your celebrity crush?

CrossFit has ruined celebrities because none of them look as good as the guys I see every day, especially my hubby. But, if I had to choose….Ryan Reynolds.

12. What is your favorite movie and why?

I am going to get ridiculed for this….I love 8 mile. There I said it. I am the world’s biggest Eminem fan.

13. What is your favorite book(s) and why?

Eat, Pray, Love….it sucked me in.

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18 Tips for Bulletproof Knees

Posted: October 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

With my current knee struggles and hearing from several others that they too are having knee issues, I thought this article would be a good one to read up on.  Mike Robertson shares several ways to ensure your knees stay as healthy as possible.  With the large amount of leg work we do on a monthly basis, I think it is wise to do the best we can to keep our knees functioning properly.

18 Tips for Bulletproof Knees
by Mike Robertson

Having a bum knee sucks, so I decided to come up with a bulletproof plan to get your knees feeling healthy and working as well as humanly possible.

Wait! Were you about to X out of this article already? Maybe go check and see if any new hotties have posted their photos elsewhere on the site? Well, don’t. Why? Because you don’t want to go through this, do you?

I didn’t think so. Yes, this article is about knee health. No, that’s not as sexy as biceps and big bench presses, but maybe I can scare you into caring with the photo above.

You see, a year and a half ago, I had perfectly healthy knees, and I was coming off the best training cycle of my entire life. Long story short: A ski trip led to an arthroscope and a knee that may never return to normal.

Fixing knees is my business. I’ve studied their architecture, how they function, the most cutting edge research, common injuries, and what the best and the brightest in the industry are doing to fix even the most stubborn knees. I’d love to say I’m doing it all for you, but obviously there’s a little self-interest involved here as well!

If you’ve ever had a knee injury, this is the article for you. I’m going to get you up-to-speed with some new concepts (along with reviewing some old ones) that are sure to get your knees as healthy as possible.

Never had a knee injury? Then this is an even better article for you. If you follow the ideas here, you’ll be a lot less likely to have a knee injury in the first place.
18 Tips for Bulletproof Knees

1) Purchase some knee sleeves.

I’ll make this first one easy on you. Go out, buy some knee sleeves, and wear them every time you train your legs.

This could be quad-dominant day, hip-dominant day, “leg” day, or whatever you want to call it. Just put them on before the workout, warm-up thoroughly, and bask in the joy that healthy knees bring to you.

2) Don’t skimp on your warm-up!

This idea is beautiful in its simplicity, yet often ignored for various reasons such as “I’m in a hurry” or “I don’t need to warm-up because I’m 22 and therefore ten feet tall and impervious to harm.” Well, I’d love to see what that lack of warm-up is doing to your joints, pal!

Beyond improving your training performance for numerous reasons, warming up reduces the viscosity of synovial fluid (the stuff that fills your joint space), providing better lubrication and healthier joints in general.

3) Want healthy knees? Focus on ankle and hip mobility!

It may sound counterintuitive, but when we have knee issues, where do we focus most of our attention? The knees, right? You know what else? That’s a big part of the problem!

The fact of the matter is that knee issues are typically due to issues at other areas of the body, not the knees themselves. Lack of hip mobility in all planes can not only lead to knee pain, but back pain as well. Eric Cressey and I covered about a zillion hip mobility exercises in our Magnificent Mobility DVD, so I’d highly suggest checking it out.

However, one area we didn’t cover as in-depth was ankle mobility, and this area is often poorly addressed, or worse yet, not addressed at all! After reviewing Mike Boyle’s Functional Strength Coach DVD series, I realized how poor sagittal plane ankle mobility is in many athletes.

In the first exercise, all you’re going to do is set up next to a wall with your feet a few inches away from it (you may even want to start with your toes touching the wall at first). Rest your hands on the wall, place all your weight on your heels, and then stay tall and try to “shoot” your knees over your toes.

In this second exercise, you’re going to place a small board underneath your toes to put you into a dorsiflexed position. I find it easiest to place this board in front of the wall so you can balance yourself with your hands.

While staying tall, you’re again going to try and “shoot” your knees over your toes. Don’t worry if there isn’t a ton of range of motion at first; it’ll improve as you practice it.

4) Get your glutes firing.

This is another area that not nearly enough of us are addressing, as most who have patello-femoral pain are only worried about isolating the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO).

In research by Ireland et al. (1), they found that athletes with patello-femoral pain had significantly decreased strength in both hip abduction and hip external rotation. How much is significant? These subjects were 26% weaker in hip abduction and 36% weaker in hip external rotation!

Now that we know what movements to train, what muscles are most affected? Specifically, we’re talking about getting your gluteus maximus and posterior fibers of the gluteus medius firing. So before we do low-body work, we should be getting some activation work in to make sure those muscles are stimulated and ready to go. X-Band walks are perfect here.

In maintenance phases (where I’m focusing on max strength), I may only do one set before training. In phases where motor control and recruitment are the priority (for instance, in the early off-season or a transition phase), I may perform three or even four sets of these exercises before training.You’ll see in the video that the set-up is a little funky, so hopefully seeing it will make it easier than me trying to explain it! Big things to focus on here include turning the toes out slightly and bracing the core throughout. This will prevent you from using the “Weeble-Wooble” substitution pattern that typically occurs in hip abduction movements. Stay tight, tall, and use those glutes and you should be just fine.

5) Forget about isolating the VMO!

A lot of athletes and lifters are interested in getting that VMO to fire, especially those with patello-femoral (PF) pain. This anterior knee pain, in many cases, is due to soft-tissue imbalances between the stronger/tighter lateral knee structures and the weaker/inhibited medial knee structures (the VMO). This muscle imbalance leads to a lateral (outside) pulling of the patella into the femoral condyle, resulting in knee pain.

The obvious solution here would be to isolate and then strengthen the VMO, but it just doesn’t seem to be that easy. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be any true VMO “isolation” exercises. Sure, terminal knee extensions (TKEs) hit the VMO, but it’s not “isolated.”

In an article discussing muscular control of the patella, Malone et al. (2) flat out state, “The concept of VMO isolation through specific exercise should no longer be part of our lexicon.”

Instead, I feel a more comprehensive plan of attack is necessary. For instance, a comprehensive patello-femoral pain program could include any (or all) of the following:

• Foam rolling of the lateral structures (primarily the vastus lateralis and iliotibial band)

• Direct soft tissue work (e.g. massage/ART) for the lateral structures (all of the above plus the lateral retinaculum)

• Improving general quad strength (via quad sets, leg extensions etc.) TKEs could definitely be part of the program; just understand they aren’t a true isolation exercise.

• Improving the motor control and strength of the gluteals

• Stretching the quads and calves

It should be noted that each and every knee is different, requiring a specific andindividualevaluation and treatment program. I’m not trying to rehab people here, rather help them prevent the need for rehab! However, I just don’t see the need for direct VMO “isolation” exercises in that treatment program, as their use hasn’t been justified in research at this point in time.

6) Get some balance in your training.

I’m still shocked at how many people don’t adhere to this rule. They’ll squat, then lunge, then do leg extensions, and then maybe get some hamstring work in if they aren’t totally wiped at the end of their workout.

If you don’t follow this rule, your knees may not hurt now, but I can guarantee they will in the future! When I say that we have to balance your training, we aren’t talking within the training day or even the training week. You need to address the long-term health of your body when you lay out your programming! Don’t just plan one cycle, follow it, and then forget about it when planning the next one. What you did (or didn’t do) in this cycle directly affects ensuing cycles.

So if you did a ton of quad-dominant work in one cycle, you better make up for it with some serious hamstring and glute dominant work down the line. As Alwyn Cosgrove always says, “Time magnifies all programming errors.”

7) Stop pain provoking activities!

This is the simplest tip I’ll give, but for whatever reason people still fail to listen to their body and grasp the concept: If it hurts, stop doing it! This can include squatting, lunging, running, playing basketball, or any other pain-provoking activities.

Your second grade PE teacher could give you the same advice. Remember that sometimes taking an extra day or two off isn’t a bad thing if you can train harder (or pain-free) the next time around. As well, there are also those times when you need to take a step back and work toward a total-body overhaul. If your body has been functioning in an ineffective fashion for a long time, it can take some time to get things sorted out. Take the time sooner rather than later to do this.

Each and every time you step in the gym you need to work on being better, and if you’re injured, that just can’t happen.

8) Don’t be afraid to isolate after traumatic injury.

Most of the time, isolation exercises totally suck, especially if strength and/or performance are your primary goals. However, in a rehabilitation setting the rules can, and need, to change.

Following my knee scope, I started back into training with basic proprioceptive exercises, working on regaining mobility, and then progressing back into single-leg exercises. Problem was, my quads were flat-out weak. Just like any other time one muscle is weak, another one is forced to compensate. So by not isolating my quads, I was reinforcing another muscle imbalance.

So I begrudgingly got on the leg extension machine and watched myself struggle with 40 pounds. Seriously, I’d rather have a bullet in my head than be seen struggling with 40 pounds on the leg extension, but it’s what I needed to get my strength back.

If nothing else, remember this motto: “A muscle that’s weak in isolation will be weak in integration.” Do what it takes to get the strength back, even if it means resorting to machines for a short time. The end-goal is to increase tissue tolerance and get to a point where we can perform single-leg exercises without compensation.

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Sorry, I know this is a day late.  I wanted Chief’s “Beyond the Athlete” segment to soak in.  Plus, who doesn’t like one more day of Diane Lane?  Ok, lets learn some more from Dr. Bowden

Question of Nutrition: Vol 4
by Dr. Jonny Bowden

Nutrition guru Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., answers all your burning questions about calorie restriction and longevity, chia seeds, L-theanine, tuna toxicity, diet sodas, and “expensive urine.”

Mercury Rising?

Q:What’s the final word on tuna and mercury? Tuna is a bodybuilding staple, but I’m starting to worry that I eat too much.

A: Short answer: Don’t worry about it.

I say that as someone who’s as worried as anybody on earth about the toxic effects of mercury, not to mention the lackluster efforts of governments to control it. There’s no doubt that it’s in an awful lot of fish. Where it gets tricky is when we try to define the point at which it poses a real danger to our health.

That depends on a lot of factors. A pregnant woman and her developing fetus are far more vulnerable than the average bodybuilder. Many of the warnings about high-mercury fish were in fact targeted at that population (pregnant women, not bodybuilders).

Then there’s the question of how you define a “safe” level. Many people think the government’s standards are too lax. To them, it’s as if we said “speeding” only applies to driving over 120 mph. If that’s the standard, then all of us drive safely.

But let’s look at it from the other direction. If you stop eating fish, there’s a price you pay. Most experts think the cost of giving up fish, in terms of global health, far outweighs the possible problems caused by mercury in your system.

Two things you can do: One, consume a lot of selenium, which seems to have a chelating effect on mercury. Two, you can get your tuna from the same place I get mine: Vital Choice in Alaska. I don’t have any ownership in this company, by the way. I just think they have the purest and best fish anywhere.

On balance, I think the benefits of cold-water fish like tuna and salmon, which are such amazing sources of protein and omega-3s, far exceed the possible danger. If you’re pregnant, I might modify that advice, but not by much.

Eat Big, Die Young?

Q: I have a problem. I want to build as much muscle as possible, and that means eating big and training hard. But I also want to live a long time, and it seems that calorie restriction may help with this. Does calorie restriction work? Are muscleheads like me going to die young?

A: Good question, and I wish I had a perfect answer. As in many areas of life, the best strategy for one goal (training for a marathon or the Arnold Classic) might not necessarily be the best strategy for a different goal (living as long as the soy-loving folks on Okinawa).

I don’t know of any studies on how long professional bodybuilders live, but for what it’s worth, consider a couple of examples.

You may remember Chris Dickerson, the 1982 Mr. Olympia.

Fat Loss and Double Trouble for Your Back

When I lived in New York in the mid-1990s, I trained at a gym where Chris worked as a trainer. He sure didn’t look like he did on stage in 1982, but he looked fit, healthy, and robust.

And my friend, former Mr. America Tom Terwilliger, is the picture of glowing good health. He’s a successful motivational speaker and coach, but he’s just a fraction of the guy who was on the cover of Muscular Development.

Fat Loss and Double Trouble for Your Back

Terwilliger then …

Fat Loss and Double Trouble for Your Back

… and now.

While I can’t speak for those guys, I assume neither follows the same “supplement” program he used back in the ’80s, or trains quite as hard. Ditto with Lee Labrada. But these guys are in great shape and have healthy, active lifestyles. It’s hard to see any reason why they would die early. Quite the contrary.

That said, the research does show that calorie restriction is a pretty potent life-extender. Cutting back about 25 to 33 percent seems to do it. That’s not the strategy to follow if you’re trying to bulk up, but you don’t need to look like a vegan bean sprout to get the benefits.

Personally, my guess would be that as long as your calories are coming from really good sources, you’re not abusing your body (you know what I’m talking about), and you’re getting adequate rest, sun, sleep, and balance in your life, you’ll be fine.

And remember, goals change as we get older. When you’re pushing 60 it may not be as important to look like Dorian Yates. You’ll probably settle for low body fat, high energy, nice musculature, and all your sex organs in good working order. Being the biggest on the block may not be as important as being alive and well and still able to go all night.

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Next up is Chief Jason Umberger.  Chief Umberger is the first member of CrossFit 717 and he talks about it a bit in his answers.  Along with this, he is the newly minted Chief of Police in Swatara Township.  I personally can’t think of a nicer guy or better role model than Jason and he is a wonderful asset to our community.  Lets learn a little more about him.

The Chief takin' charge

1. Where did you grow up? 

Hershey, PA

2. What is your athletic background? 

I participated in wrestling and baseball in High School and played collegiate baseball at the University of Maryland.

3. How did you get started with Cross Fit?

I injured my back in May 2009 and met Paul Erwin as HOSA. He introduced me to cross fit in August of 2009. I can’t thank him enough – my life hasn’t been the same since!

4. How long have you been at Cross Fit 717? 

Since September of 2010 – I am the first member of the box and proud of it!

5. What are your favorite exercises/WODs? 

I like them all because different exercises expose different weaknesses, but I do like to do the Girl WOD’s so I can see what my progress is.

6. What exercises/WODs do you hate? 

I’m not a big fan of the snatch because I haven’t mastered it yet. Double unders are also my biggest frustration – can’t do the dang things yet!

7. What are you goals with regards to CrossFit? 

Be able to do double unders and just improve my overall fitness level as I age. I also want to improve my mental toughness – being able to push myself past the pain and keep going when I want to slow down!

8. In your perfect world, what would you be doing in 10 years? 

I’d be retired from my current job as Chief of Police, collecting a pension and started a new career where I could have the flexibility to travel.

9. Where did you go to high school/college? 

I went to Hershey High School and then on to the University of Maryland where I earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice. I also attended and graduated from Penn State University earning a Masters Degree in Public Administration.

10. If you could eat dinner with 3 people past or present (besides Jesus who is overused and not that interesting), who would you choose and why?  Furthermore, what would you order for dinner? 

I would have dinner with President Abraham Lincoln, President Theodore Roosevelt, and his son Brig. General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.  All three great leaders who understood the art of leadership and inspiring people onto great things.  And my family has ties to the Roosevelt family. My grandfather was Brig. General TR Jr.’s personal bodyguard in WWII.  I’d probably order flank steak because I love it!

11. Who is your celebrity crush? 

Diane Lane – actress

12.  What is your favorite movie and why? 

That is a tough one – I have many.  I love inspirational stories about underdogs achieving the impossible and also movies that highlight great leadership sooo… Rocky, Gladiator, Chariots of Fire, Band of Brothers, and Cinderella Man to name a few.

13.  What is your favorite thing about CrossFit 717?

The people and the varied workouts.  Every day is something new and challenging and CrossFit pushes you to the limits of your physical and mental capacity. And it enables you to improve on your weaknesses!

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Saturday WOD Recap: Grace

Posted: October 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

As the title says, CrossFit 717 had a great turnout to do “Grace” and raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer.  I know it meant a lot to the coaches to see all of you file in and clean and jerk your heads off (is that too dirty?).  Everyone put up some awesome times and I would be willing to say this was one of the more fun WODs we have done in a long time.  So fun in fact that even Jason Weller stayed after to participate in an impromptu team style WOD.  For those of you who missed, here are a couple photos to give you an idea of what went on:

Aldo speaks as Jason contemplates his strategy

"Coach"mehl looking to see if he needs to correct anyone's inchworm form

Despite losing all his shorts and have to borrow Bekah's, Justin is still excited to warm up

For once, everyone is following instructions

Erik hits full extension

Ashley finishes her clean

Todd prepares his jerk

Susie cleans as Bekah swings

Kelly mocking 135 lbs

Erin and Cara in sync

For all photos of the pink explosion, check the photobucket page or just click “WOD Shots” above.