3 Areas That Are Essential To Mobilize

“It’s not enough to exercise,“You have got to sleep. You have got to drink enough water. You have got to develop a practice around maintenance of your body. You have got to learn how to move right.” -Kelly Starrett

Let’s face it, there are times when movement prep and cool-down take a back seat to the actual workout. You might be guilty of jumping right into your main lift of the day because you’re short on time. Maybe your post workout cool-down consists of some gasping and sweat angels on the floor before lumbering to the parking lot in search of your protein shake?

Yes, you can make an argument about how kids don’t stretch before taking off at the playground, but with a few rare exceptions all of us need to make time for mobility if we are training hard. Mobility is equal parts injury prevention and performance benefit. If you want to perform at your maximum capability it is well worth the investment of time. I’ll give you a hint, it doesn’t take much! Let’s look at 3 major areas that can make a huge difference in mobility.

1.Ankles
2.Psoas
3.Thoracic spine

1.Ankles
Tight ankles can be a major impediment in your daily training. If you feel like you are hitting a wall in your lifts and want to improve your squats, deadlifts, cleans, and snatches you may want to give some serious attention to your ankles.

Our musculoskeletal system generates movement through the contraction of muscles on a series of levers, our bones. Some positions are more advantageous than others and our goal as athletes is to take advantage of these positions to generate more power in our lifts.

Shortened range of motion in the ankle will make it difficult to maintain powerful positions in the squat because to achieve depth the body must borrow additional range of motion. This compensation is often shown by the individual turning their feet out to the sides. This is often a less favorable position for our muscles to produce optimal force from and can increase risk of injury.

To prep the ankles and increase range of motion practice sitting in the bottom position of a pistol (1-legged) squat. A pistol squat forces the ankle of the working leg to dorsiflex, or shorten the angle created at the ankle joint.

Another easy way to pick up ankle mobility is by evaluating your footwear. If your everyday shoes have a heel (even a little one…including men’s dress shoes), this can cause your calves to live in a chronically shortened position robbing you of additional length and ankle mobility. Transitioning to more neutral shoes or spending time barefoot can help reverse the effects of heeled footwear.

2.Psoas
The psoas is a tricky muscle that often slips under the radar. It runs from the head of the femur in the hip socket and travels up attaching to the lumbar spine. If the psoas tightens, it reduces range of motion in the hip socket and simultaneously pulls the lumbar spine down and in. This usually shows up as pain in the low back.

Mobilize the psoas by exploring positions of hip extension. Think about the backswing of the leg before you kick a ball. This means creating space with movements like the couch stretch. Your low back will thank you.

Spending more time standing (versus sitting) is a way to restore more psoas length throughout your day. Think about transitioning to a standing desk or getting up to take a lap around your house, block, or office once an hour to allow your psoas time to return to its intended length after extended periods of sitting.

3.Thoracic Spine
The thoracic spine or t-spine for short refers to the series of vertebrae the length of your rib cage, from the neck down to mid spine. As you can imagine, this area is profoundly impacted by the activities we perform and the positions we keep it in. Sedentary behavior and poor posture will cause the thoracic region to become immobile and lose its ability to flex and extend. This becomes problematic and dangerous especially when overhead movements are involved.

Just like with our ankles, a lack of mobility causes our body to compensate and search for movement in alternative areas when hitting an end range of motion. This means losing stability in order to allow for additional mobility. When the thoracic spine is tight our body finds extra space in the lumbar spine and/or scapula region. Chronic injuries and inflammation tend to spring up in these areas if we continually force this movement during exercises like the overhead press or kipping on the pull-up bar.

Again, trappings of our everyday lives contribute here. If you have a desk job, you more than likely spend most of your day hunched over a computer and don’t spend much time reaching overhead. Try simply reaching up to tap the top of the doorway each time you pass through one on your way to the kitchen/bathroom/etc. If you don’t leave your seat much, refer to #2.

These are just 3 areas where mobility can make a huge difference in your performance and your health. If you want to learn more about ways to improve your mobility stop in to speak with one of our coaches today.

4 Ways to Eat Better Without Going On a Diet

When it comes to improving your diet you might always try to do a complete overhaul. You revamp the foods you eat and the behaviors and rituals you have around eaten. Then you get busy or life gets in the way and you’re right back to square one.

Rather than try to do a full 180 on your diet consider making some changes that are sustainable and easy choices. Here are 4 ways to eat better without going on a diet!

Stop drinking calories
Swap out your condiments
Choose “real” foods over packaged foods
Use Hand measurements for portion control

Stop drinking calories
Liquid calories can add up quickly as they are usually high in sugar. Even beverages like juice can contain 3-4 tablespoons of sugar in a bottle. Not only that, but calories that you drink are not recognized the same way by the body as calories being consumed and people who regularly drink sugary beverages tend to over-consume calories.

If you are looking to clean up your diet aim for non-caloric or low-calorie beverages. Water is ideal, but if you have to have something with flavor like green vegetable juices, sparkling waters, and non-caffeinated, unsweetened coffee or tea. Try to avoid adding sweeteners back in including artificial sweeteners.

Swap out your condiments
Condiments can be an area for quick wins. There are simple trade offs you can make that exchange empty calories like sugar and unhealthy fats for nutrient boosting options that burn fat and boost your health! When it comes to choosing healthy condiments you want to consider the macronutrient value and micronutrient value while also considering the quality of the ingredients.

Macronutrients are the amounts of carbs, fats, and protein in a food. Since condiments are used to add flavor, most of the unhealthy options will create flavors by adding sugar and fat-keep an eye on these numbers when topping your salad. An example of this would be a ranch dressing that is high in sugar and made from soybean oil.

Micronutrients are the non-caloric compounds in foods like vitamins and minerals that are important for your health. Look for condiments and toppings that are high in vitamins and minerals. You could look at topping your tacos with fresh guacamole rather than sour cream and cheese.

Choose “real” foods over packaged foods
Real foods like meats, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits are a great way to improve your health. Another way to think about “real” foods, is does the item look similar to its original form? “Real” food’s origins are recognizable. Simply put, choosing these foods over packaged and processed options is going to be your best option for the majority of the time.

When you eat real foods, you avoid foods with a high glycemic index and will spike blood sugar. Real foods also contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and fiber to help your digestion and energy levels.

Use Hand measurements for portion control
If you don’t want to follow a specific diet, using some simple hand measurements to monitor the amounts of foods you eat can be a great option. You can always learn more and improve your food choices, but learning how to moderate the amount of food you eat can get you on the right track.

Women should aim for a protein serving the size of their palm with each meal 1 fist of vegetables with each meal, 1 cupped hand of carb dense foods with most meals, and 1 entire thumb-sized portion of fat dense foods with most meals.

Men can shoot for 2 palms of protein dense foods with each meal, 2 fists of vegetables, 2 cupped hands of carb dense foods with most meals, and 2 entire thumbs of fat dense foods with most meals.

There you have it. 4 ways to eat better without going on a diet. If you need help making healthy choices in your diet just let us know!

Move It Or Lose It!

We Aren’t Meant To Be Caged

As a species, we live a life of captivity. Our cars, jobs, and homes are akin to the large cages used to house bears at the zoo. Sure, they have enough room to move around, and maybe even run a bit, but not nearly as fast or as far as they would in their natural habitat. Zoo animals get their hour or so of daily”enrichment”, just like we get our hour or so at the gym. What about the rest of the day? The average person, even an exerciser, is mostly sedentary throughout the day. We drive to the gym, to work, sit (or stand) at a desk, drive home, and sit in a chair. Just like those bears, an hour of movement a day is not enough to sustain us. It’s what we do in the other 23 hours that matters most. 

We Are Meant To Be Active

We, like zoo animals, no longer do what we evolved to do over millennia; we are meant to run, climb, throw, hunt, gather, squat, carry heavy things, jump, dance, walk long distances over varied terrain, in the snow, barefoot and uphill both ways (kidding, but not really). We are meant to MOVE! Just like zoo animals, a captive life can make us sick and maybe a little crazy. 

Our Habits Determine How We Move

The WAY we move matters. Our alignment matters. Our stationary lifestyle, our chairs,  footwear, clothes, and even our culture has essentially cast us and skewed our natural postural alignment. We sit so much that our butt and hamstring muscles can literally stop responding. Heeled footwear puts the entire body out of alignment, from our feet to our necks. Our clothes dig into our skin creating unnecessary restrictions. The cultural cues of “stand up straight” and “chest up and shoulders back” leave some of us looking like high school girls, while driving and computer work leaves us hunched over like trolls. All of this causes our bodies to hurt; We are full of aches and pains, which seem to only worsen with age. 

It’s Not Too Late

We think of losing the function and mobility we had in our youth  as a thing that is bound to happen, a natural part of aging. It doesn’t have to be that way. A study of the Hazda tribe, one of the last remaining hunter and gatherer tribes in the world, found evidence to the contrary. The older the people were, the more they moved, and that the elders had the same mobility as the tribe’s young adults. In our culture, we think bodily degeneration is inevitable, when really it’s how we move in our daily lives that mold the bodies we will have in the future. We simply squander our genetic inheritance, joints meant to last a lifetime, with poor patterns and habits.     

MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!

The movement you don’t do now is movement you will be unable to do in the future. It’s literally MOVE IT OR LOSE IT. You are resilient as hell and can heal from almost anything. It is never too late to start moving!

STARTING OCTOBER 26th, 2019

The Movement Workshop starts October 26th, 2019. If you’re ready to “MOVE IT”, register with the link below.

Don’t Get Spoiled By Fresh Vegetables

Most people tend to rationalize their way through their nutritional decisions without much hard science (let’s face it usually no science) to back it up. When it comes to fruit and vegetable intake this is no exception. Many folks skip out on canned or frozen veggies counting them out as “nutritionally void”. 

It turns out that may not be the case though. Foods that are frozen or canned may not be as pretty as the heirloom veggies you pick up at the farmers market, but don’t get it twisted. 

Research has shown these foods can actually contain higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals compared to their fresh cousins. Frozen veggies can be flash frozen and preserved the same day they are harvested. Fresh veggies on the other hand lose some of their nutritional value as soon as they are picked and experience a steady decline in vitamin and mineral content day after day. This isn’t a big deal if you buy local produce but if you rely on fruits and veggies from across the country then you might be missing out. As our beloved Alaskans know fresh and local is hard to come by most of the year!

Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, and E are less prone to oxidation when they are frozen or canned. This processing prevents the main oxidation factors of heat, light, and oxygen exposure. Some commonly frozen heavy hitters for these vitamins are things such as bell peppers, spinach, kale, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Other areas to consider when it comes to fresh, frozen, or canned is that of cost and food waste. If you find yourself constantly buying fresh veggies and finding them spoiled in the back of your fridge then 1) you are not eating the vegetables and 2) you are wasting your money on them. Frozen and canned veggies will maintain their quality and are clearly set up for a longer shelf life than fresh produce. 

One downside to more shelf-stable options in sodium content. The amount of sodium in preserved foods should be of particular consideration for anyone with known cardiac issues. So if you (or your family) have heart conditions, particularly high blood pressure, flash frozen may be the better choice. Many brands now offer “low” or “no sodium added” canned options, so keep an eye out!

With that in mind, don’t be afraid to change up your nutritional strategies. If your goal is to save money and eat more healthy food then it’s worth a shot!

 

What to Wear

CrossFit Gear Tips & Tricks

One of the questions we get asked most often is “what should I wear”. Shoes are a common focus for these questions but it can extend to anything. Sooooo I decided to write a comprehensive list of our recommendations for clothing and other gear because, let’s face it, as you get fitter the next thing you know your quads and booty are going to outgrow a lot of things.

WOD Shoes:

There are lots of options for shoes. The essential characteristics of a CrossFit shoe are that it has a thin flat sole (less squish when squatting and deadlifting), durable upper (for rope climbs), and ideally soft enough to run in, but just barely.

 

Nobull Trainer: Flat, firm but pliable sole. Good all round shoe. Excels at durability (although some folks have had issues which Nobull has been good about addressing)  but good for everything.

 

Nike Metcon: Flat, has a hard heel so it excels at lifting but is very poor for running.

 

Reebok Nano: The original CrossFit shoe. I think the Nano 9.0 is out now but they also re-released the Nano 2.0 recently because it was so popular.

 

Innov8 (various models): Lots of options with zero or little drop. Fairly minimal. Better for running than many of the other options. Good for folks with narrow feet.

Weightlifting Shoes:

What about lifters? Do I need shoes specifically for lifting. The short answer is “no”, most people don’t NEED a specific shoe for lifting. Also, changing shoes mid-workout is a pain in the butt. A solid all-around shoe should be the priority. If you have really tight/stiff ankles and have trouble getting into the bottom of a squat lifters can help with that, but realize it is a bandaid and these mechanical restrictions should be addressed. They can also be a good idea if you’ve started to spend time outside of class working on squats or olympic lifts.

 

Nike Romaleos: probably the single most popular weightlifting shoe of professional weightlifters. A bit on the heavy side but very solid.

 

Adidas: adidas makes several styles. All are good just pick one that you like that fits your needs. Lighter if you plan to be able to do some WOD’s with your lifters on. Heavier if you only plan to lift in them.

 

Inov8 Fastlift: There are a couple of versions of these. Inov8 makes a very lightweight lifter. Solid all around and a decent choice if you think you’d like to be able to do some WOD’s in them.

 

Nobull Lifters: The “bougiest” of the lifters. Old-school solid wood sole. THese are beautiful and you’ll get lots of ooo’s and aaaaah’s when you wear them. Probably exclusively for lifting though, unlikely you’ll want to WOD in them.

 

Clothing Brands:

These brands offer lots of options not listed below. We haven’t tried everything so if you’re looking for more options just explore their websites and keep the essential characteristics we mention below in mind for whatever clothing item you’re shopping for.

 

Lululemon

Hylete

Virus

Rogue Fitness

Rhone (men only)

Ten Thousand (men only)

Fleo (Women’s booty shorts)

Reebok

RPM (not just jump ropes)

Nobull (not just shoes)

Barbell Apparel (casual, jeans, etc) Several coaches (Sam & Gabi) are ambassadors so let us know if you want a discount.

Men’s Shorts:

Essentials: These should be light and breath well. Ideally they’ll stop above the knee so you don’t need to adjust every time you squat to avoid them getting caught on your knee. They need to be a durable material so the barbell doesn’t tear them up. You don’t want the pockets to stick out a bunch because your hand will get caught when doing box jumps and the like. Oh and don’t forget they need to allow the “big booty life”.

 

Lululemon T.H.E. Short: This is my favorite short for working out. Lightweight, good fit, comes in different lengths, and with or without liners. Lots of color options so you don’t have to wear the same black shorts every day. Durable material that stands up to the barbell running up and down your thighs.

 

Hylete Verge II: The fit on these shorts is wonderful. They have nice zippered pockets too so nothing to catch your hands on.

Men’s Sweats/Joggers:

Anything comfy with room for the quads and booty will work here. You won’t be wearing them for long. Typically these will either come off before class starts, during/after the warmup, or at the latest, after any strength work we do early in the class. So, ideally something you can get off over your shoes so you don’t need to fuss with those too.

 

Lululemon Intent or Surge Joggers: These are my personal favorite, super soft and comfy. Look for the Luon fabric or Luxtreme.

 

Lululemon Great Wall Pant: Come in lined (double layered) or unlined. The lined ones are great in winter and unlined are great in summer.

 

Virus KL1 Active Recovery Pant: Loved by some. Choose with caution if you are blessed with especially strong quads.

 

Virus IconX Bioceramic Pant: Very similar to the KL1, but they are a jogger. Extremely comfortable, priced slightly under Lululemon.

Men’s Compression Tights:

Not an everyday thing for most guys but if you’re comfortable with it go for it. They can be great for recovery or for days when you’re just doing powerlifting or olympic lifting so you can stay warm without restricting movement. As a runner I’ve worn lots of tights and enjoy wearing them to make Gabi uncomfortable. Some essentials (also some pet peeves): a low waistband, high waisted tights just feel weird and look weirder. Or maybe I’m just weird, too soon to tell. Also, some brands put an extra piece of fabric in the crotch so it isn’t see through. This is annoying and uncomfortable. How about making your tights so they just aren’t see through! I’m talking to you lululemon! (sorry but it irks me that a brand that made their mark by making great womens tights can’t make a single decent men’s tight. They’re the worst offender of high waistbands and weird extra pieces of fabric…. them and Nike.

 

Virus Bioceramic: great tights, good fit, durable. Low waist, drawstring so they don’t fall down as you move more. No extra fabric in the crotch. Winning.

 

Let me know if anyone else finds a men’s tight worth mentioning.

Men’s & Womens T-Shirts & Tanks:

Typically anything that is a cotton/poly blend will be great or a tri-blend of cotton/poly/rayon. It’s typically best to stay away from full synthetic materials because they’re so slick that the barbell slips more on the shoulders. Also the synthetic materials stick to the body a lot when wet. 100% cotton also isn’t great, it’s just not soft/stretchy enough.

 

Next Level: This company is a wholesalers so you can’t buy direct from them, but when you buy shirts from other companies (pretty much anything with a design on it) you’ll look for this company’s name on the tag.

 

Belle & Canvas: This company is also a wholesalers so you can’t buy direct from them, but when you buy shirts from other companies (pretty much anything with a design on it) you’ll look for this company’s name on the tag.

Women’s Shorts:

 

Lululemon Speed Short: Comfortable waistband, short inseam and wide leg holes accommodate a crossfitter build. Durable

 

Fleo 3.25 contour : Confidence required. Soft. Contour waist ensures no awkward gapping in the back. Lots of fun prints & colors.

Women’s Tights/Leggings:

 

Lululemon Wunder Under Luxtreme: Slick, durable fabric that tolerates frequent barbell contact.

 

Lululemon Align: Soft allows for maximum movement. Caution: light colors show ALL SWEAT! Downside to soft fabric is that it pills with regular barbell contact, so avoid on olympic lifting days.

Sports Bras:

 

Lululemon Free to be Wild: Good lat accommodation. Fun patterns. Not a lot of support for the ladies who are more blessed. Durable.

 

Lululemon Energy: Slightly more coverage. Moderate support. Less lat accommodation. Durable.

 

NoBull. Durable. Basic colors. Runs small

 

Nike Pro – lasts 1million years guaranteed. Moderate support.

Women’s Sweats/Joggers:

Essentials: keep the legs warm during transit to/from the gym as well as retain heat during warmups. Easy on-off is good for quick removal after warm-up. Durable material if you think you might like to lift in them.

 

Virus KL1 Recovery (unisex) Jogger style: Warm, but breatheable. Easy on and off due to ankle zips

 

Socks:

These are just for fun. Wear whatever is comfortable but socks can be fun.

 

Stance: lots of fun designs and colors. Also specific styles for “training” and “running”.

 

GEAR

Jump Ropes

I’ve tried to google good jump ropes for CrossFit many times and I’m always surprised how lacking the online recommendations are. A few things to keep in mind: Length is critical. It is ideal that you can adjust the rope to any length after purchase and continue to refine it over time. This is because as you get better you’ll be more comfortable with a shorter rope because your technique will be more consistent. Next important item is rope weight/thickness/material. Beginners will find ropes with more weight and resistance are easier because it will be easier to keep tension on the rope and to feel that tension while jumping. (i.e. the rope gives more feedback) So beginners should consider something slightly thicker and probably plastic coated (typically these will be thicker, heavier and give more wind resistance than their bare-cabled cousins, and also be less painful when the rope contacts your skin) As you refine your skills you’ll find that you’ll want a lighter and lighter rope because it will move faster and fatigue you less.

 

Good Beginner Ropes(also low cost b/c you won’t have it very long):

 

Rogue SR-3/SR-3S: great beginner rope. They’re only $15. Plastic coated cable. Long or short handle. I recommend you start with the SR-3 with the normal length handle. It will give you more adjustability on overall rope length as you learn; without needing to break out a screw driver. Handles are plastic which keeps the cost down but could break if you accidentally drop plates on them. Bushing in the handle is good but not as good as having bearings.

 

Rogue SR-1/SR-1S: same as the SR-3/SR-3S except it has bearings in the handle and the price goes up to $24. Still a good option for beginners and not too expensive.

 

There are tons of other beginner brands out there in the $10-$15 range. They’re all the same and in my opinion not worth the hassle to save a few bucks compared to the Rogue SR-3.

 

Ropes for intermediate/advanced users:

Advanced users should consider switching to a bare cable. More punishment when you make mistakes but less air resistance, more speed and lighter cables. Also, since you’ll probably have this rope for a long time it is worth considering aluminum handles for longevity and durability.

 

RPM Session: The bougiest of the bougie ropes. Lots of fun colors and you can customize. Stock ropes are $55 but custom ropes are $85. Aluminum handles. The smoothest, friction free rotation you will find and thin, light, bare steel ropes. And the bare steel ropes come in colors! You could start with this rope as a beginner if you wanted to because they sell coated cables as well so you would just change out the cable as you get better. This is what I use and I love it.

 

Rogue SR-2/SR-2S: Just light the SR-1/SR-1S except the handle is aluminum. A great option. Slightly less expensive at $42-$46 compared to the RPM Session.

 

Rx Smartgear: Nice ropes. Their handles are a little on the heavy side. They’re cables come is all sorts of custom lengths but you have to order them to length. Changing the length after purchase is very difficult. And experience has shown that the recommendations on their website generally result in too long of a rope. I don’t generally recommend these ropes although some people swear by them. Rotation is smooth and the handles are large. For folks with big hands these may be more comfortable or easier to hold.

 

Next Level Jump Ropes:

So you’re crushing double-unders and looking to get to the next level. Generally not worth considering these options until 50 unbroken is easy and you can generally do 100+ unbroken. These include heavy ropes for endurance and strength training as well as high precision ropes for extra speed. Or you just have $100+ to burn.

 

RPM Comp: Lighter weight and faster than the session. Also a little grippier on the handle. But $65-$80.

 

Rogue SR-343 Mach: Precision machined. Faster, lighter, more awesome.

 

RPM Scout (weighted rope): Good weighted rope option. It’s about twice as heavy as the normal RPM so still not really that heavy. A good option to challenge yourself in workouts but there are heavier ropes out there. We have two of these at the gym if you ever want to try one,.

 

Rogue Pro Jump Rope: Another good weighted rope option. Heavier than the RPM Scout.

 

EVO Jump Rope: Similar to the Rogue SR-343 in design/appearance.

 

Rogue Heavy Jump Rope: The heaviest of the heavy ropes. This thing is a tank.

 

Knee Sleeves

Why do you want/need knee sleeves? You probably don’t need them. They’re good for keeping your knees warm during lifting sets with lots of rest. If your knees are slow to warm up they can also help speed that process up. They’re not really intended for knee support although they provide a little. Secondary uses is as a physical contact buffer on movements like burpees, pike HSPU and lunges.

 

Rehband: really the best and only option you need to consider. They offer 3mm, 5mm and 7mm thicknesses. 5mm tends to be best for CrossFit without being too restrictive. If you want more info or help selecting a thickness check this out. https://www.rehband.com/blog/pick-right-knee-sleeve-3mm-5mm-7mm/

 

EXO: very durable, priced per pair. They keep their tightness. Available in the same sizes as rehband.

 

Wrist Wraps

If you have pain in your wrists during push-ups, handstand pushups, front squats, pressing, etc. it might be worth considering some wrist wraps.

 

Schiek 1100-WS: Very robust. These provide lots of support and are my go-to recommendation. They can be a bit bulky so if that bothers you maybe consider another option. Better in strength settings as opposed to metcons due to bulky and heat-trapping nature.

 

Rogue Wraps: Very lightweight. Not much support, but may be all you need, especially in a WOD setting. Easy to adjust too.Lots of brands (Schiek, Rocktape, etc.) offer similar options, pick based on appearance.

 

Rogue Wrist Wraps: Heavier duty than the Rogue Wraps. These offer a bit more support, are a bit bulkier and harder to adjust. Lots of brands (Schiek, Rocktape, etc.) offer similar options, pick based on appearance.

 

Lifting Belts

As your powerlifting and olympic lifting progresses you may find a benefit from a belt. There is lots of confusion about what this piece of equipment is for and how it should be used.  What it is:… What it is not…. How it should be used…. Improper use…. Will all be covered in a separate blog post.

 

They can be cloth or leather and have velcro, belt buckle or a lever for tightening. They also come in single width or tapered versions. Single width is preferred. The taper somewhat defeats the purpose of the belt or at least diminished its effectiveness but if you have a small torso and the wider belts pinch your ribs or are incredibly uncomfortable the taper belt may be your only/best option.

 

Inzer Lever Belt: The original lever belt. These things are awesome and built to last. The lever makes it really easy to get it on and off. But it also makes it hard to adjust the fit since you need to remove two screws. Luckily you’re likely to be the only user so there shouldn’t be much adjustment necessary. Rogue and Schiek as well as a few other brands now make lever belts as well. It’s probably not worth looking past Inzer and Rogue. The bulky lever can also make unfavorable for olympic lifts (vs. powerlifts) because, depending on lever placement, it can make it difficult to maintain a straight bar path.

 

Schiek 2004, 2006, etc.: Cloth belts with velcro. Easy on-off. 1-way velcro makes it really easy to tighten quickly. Good for use during a WOD.

 

2-Pood: Nice cloth & velcro belts with lots of fun color options.

 

Grips

Do you constantly rip when doing high volume pull-ups, toes-to-bar, etc.?

 

WOD & Done: Disposable. Made of Rock Tape type material.  Thin, which allows for good bar feel. Slightly wasteful given single use nature, but saves hand skin without compromising performance.

 

Natural Grips: Still disposable, but multiuse.  Requires either tape or wrist wrap to secure to hand. Slightly less bar feel but more protection.

 

Rogue Grips – or other similar leather products: Require an extended break in period but very durable and comfortable once molding has been achieved.  Less bar feel. Best of kipping pull ups and ttb. Intentional bunching of leather, which alleviates grip requirements makes MU turn over more challenging IMO.

 

IS THERE ANYTHING WE’VE FORGOTTEN THAT YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT?

Let us know by emailing info@redoxcrossfit.com

4 Habits for a Better Night’s Sleep

Hey there motivated individual! I have a new challenge for you. Guess what? It’s harder than any whole-food-eating, gallon-of-water-drinking, couch-to-5k challenge you’ve ever tried.

Not only that, but if you complete it successfully I promise you’ll never want to stop.

That’s why I’m challenging you to 1 month of restful nights sleep!

So why is that so hard? Because for some reason our culture idolizes the overworked, overtired, puffy eyed stories of grinding day in and day out with insufficient sleep. We seem to overvalue sacrifice and undervalue our bodies. Not only that, but I think we all forget what it feels like to operate as our 100% rested and ready to go selves. I promise that if you invest in your rest you’ll never want to go without it again.

Let’s dig in to some techniques to help us prepare for an awesome night’s sleep!

 

  • Optimize Your Environment

Do more of this:

  • Make it dark

Our bodies’ sleep cycle is regulated by a hormone called Melatonin, produced in the Pineal gland. Melatonin is released as the day grows dark and tells our bodies to begin shutting down. Any exposure of our bodies to light will reduce the release of Melatonin and could potentially disrupt the sleep cycle. Try blackout curtains, removing any sources of light in the bedroom, or even a sleep mask to really turn out the lights!

  • Turn down the thermostat

As drowsy as it makes us to sit by the fire, it actually isn’t ideal to be in a hot environment for a good night’s rest. According to Dr. Peter Attia, “the lowering of our body temperature at night is a cue for our brains that it’s time to go to sleep and increases the proportion of time we’re in delta-wave (translation: deep) sleep.” So what’s the ideal temperature? Most studies show that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal for sleep.

Don’t do that!:

  • Checking email before bed

Technology and sleep appear to be mortal enemies. A very “neither can live while the other survives,” Harry Potter/Lord Voldemort type of scenario. Staring at a screen make our bodies think we still need to be alert, active, and ready for action. AKA not drowsy, calm, or relaxed. Best practice: No screens in the bedroom. Turn off phones, computers, and television 30-60 minutes before bedtime to let your body know it’s time to shut down.

  1. Smart Consumption

Do more of this:

  • Eat protein before bed.

To ensure a restful night of sleep it is important to be aware of how we’re fueling our bodies throughout the day.Some studies have shown that eating a high protein snack before bed resulted in significantly fewer wake episodes compared to carbohydrate based snacks or a placebo. Try a protein shake, a late night omelette, or some greek yogurt and peanut butter to fuel your slumber.

Don’t do that!:

  • Drink coffee after 12pm.

Caffeine can have seriously disrupting effects on your sleep.Try to avoid alcohol, tea, and any beverages that alter your state, dehydrate, or have you running to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

  1. Develop a Routine:

Do more of this:

  • Set a bedtime alarm.

We are creatures of habit and our routines have a profound effect on how our bodies behave. By scheduling out a bedtime routine each night our bodies will be primed for a great night of sleep. Try setting a bedtime alarm 8 or 9 hours before you wish to wake up. This is the cue to start your bedtime routine. Put your cellphone away, take care of your bathroom business, and settle down in bed with a fictional book or a journal to reflect on your day.

Pro tip: If you have pet get them in a routine that helps you stay on track!

Don’t do that!:

  • Wait until you’re tired.

Consistency is king when it comes to a good night’s sleep. If you want to wake up rested you have to exercise the discipline to shut down at a reasonable hour each night. Whether it’s turning off the TV or signing out of work emails, it has to be an active choice. If you continue to stimulate your mind, it won’t be able to recognize that it has to shut down for the night.

  1. Use your physiology to unwind

Do more of this:

  • Stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system

Our bodies respond to the environment and are always in one of two modes.

  1. Sympathetic aka “Fight or Flight”
  2. Parasympathetic aka “Rest and Digest”

We can hack our parasympathetic nervous system to initiate the healing benefits of our rest and digest state. Try taking a hot bath before bed, gently massaging or foam rolling your muscles, or practicing long slow deep breathing.

Don’t do that!:

  • Strenuous Exercise

Exercise is incredible and will often help promote a deeper sleep. However don’t try to squeeze your workout in too close to bedtime. Training will ramp up your bodies Fight or Flight response and it may take some time to wind down after the fact. Try to wrap up your workout 2 hours before bed and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time.

5 Tips when Choosing a Personal Trainer in Anchorage

Let’s face it, trying to find a personal trainer ranks up there with some of life’s most difficult decisions. Choosing a college…starting a family…what to watch on Netflix this weekend?

A good personal trainer should always be a good listener, explain why you are doing specific workouts/exercises and will always prescribe a plan that will help you reach your fitness goals. Daunting as it is to choose a trainer, there are a few key areas to help you start your search.

1. Experience
Experience is an important factor in choosing a trainer, but first you have to define the specific experience needed for YOU. Because a trainer has been “in the business” for years doesn’t mean they’ll know the area you’re looking to improve. Instead consider some other forms of experience:

Look for experience showed by happy reference-able clients. Each trainer should have stories of past clients they helped.
Ask yourself, has this trainer worked with people who look, act, or sound like me?
Look for experience outside the fitness environment. This could mean a trainer who has proven success in business, academics, military service, or personal endeavors. Top performers tend to bring their work ethic and attitude to all areas of life.
Look for shared experiences or similar backgrounds. A trainer who happens to be a mother of 3 children can offer invaluable experience to a new mother who is nervous about returning to training.

2. Knowledge
Experience can take many forms, but you want to make sure that your trainer is in fact knowledgeable. The best trainers are lifelong learners and their resume should speak to that. If you are having a hard time locating their credentials, it’s important to ask. Most trainers will open the floodgates about their inspirations and influences. Some leading questions could be:

How did you start your fitness journey?
What are your biggest influences in health and fitness?
What certifications do you hold?
Do you recommend any websites or articles where I could learn more?
What systems or progressions do you use to help clients achieve their outcomes?

3. The 5 Chimps Theory
In zoology, you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp by which five chimps they hang out with the most. What does this have to do with choosing a trainer? It means find a trainer who you want to be like. Consider what personal characteristics would best help you on your fitness journey:
Do you need a trainer who is serious and intense? Or are they quirky and can always lighten your mood? Keep in mind that you aren’t selecting the trainer you WANT, but the trainer you NEED!

Once you feel that a trainer has a background that aligns with your goals it’s time to explore how they engage with you.

4. You’ll know how much they care!
The initial meeting is the perfect time to gauge your trainers level of caring. A good trainer takes interest in your needs and listens to your concerns. They inquire about your health and fitness background as well as relevant personal information. Expect questions about injuries, conditions, and athletic background as well.

The trainer/client relationship involves more than planning a workout routine. It involves building trust, addressing challenges, and working together towards a recognized goal. Now the trainer should set clear expectations for what you can expect from training. The approach they use should have a clear progression and benchmarks to track your progress along the way.

5. Persistence trumps Intensity
As author Derek Sivers says, “If more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” Most people have an idea of what they SHOULD do, but generally struggle with what they WILL do. When you begin a new routine, adherence is key. For your first month or two, your trainer should be helping you develop habits around fitness and other healthy practices. When you choose a trainer consider the factors that will encourage your training as well as remove potential roadblocks.

Is it a convenient commute to the gym or park?
How often will you be able to meet? What times?
Is this a price that I am able to pay for each month/week/session?
Is this an environment that is safe and comfortable?

It’s easy to find an excuse why you shouldn’t call, but let’s face it, you’re still reading this for a reason. You’re reading because you care. Because you have a goal. Because you’re ready to do what it takes.

So instead of justifying why you can’t right now. Why it’s not a good time. Why next month would be better. Think about what your life would look like if today you made the choice that changed everything.

Squats vs Deadlifts

Squat versus Deadlift

Which lower body movement is “King of the Lifts”?

The squat and deadlift are the two staple movements of a lower body training program. The squat and hip hinge are also two fundamental human movement patterns and are important for normal daily function. They also require a large percentage of muscle recruitment making them essential for developing muscle mass as well as increasing neurological capacity and hormonal output.

The squat and deadlift are also both elegantly simple in theory yet technically complex in application which can make them intimidating for new lifters. The human body is capable of moving tremendous loads with these movements and to stay safe you must master the basics. After all, strength training should always be performed with the proper coaching, equipment, and environment to keep you safe as an athlete.

When it comes to strength training many athletes tend to prefer one lift over the other. There are many reasons for this. Comfort. Body type. Skill level. To name a few. Some people may have stayed away from performing either the squat or the deadlift from a negative past experience or injury.

Let’s take a look at:

  • Who should be training squats and/or deadlifts,
  • The benefits and muscle groups worked, and…
  • The Volume and Intensity you should be using.

General Population versus Athletes

If you are a recreational athlete or utilizing strength training to stay healthy and fit then it is essential that you learn the basics of squatting and deadlifting. After all the ability to squat and hinge are components of everyday life. The human body is an adaptation machine and responds to the demands that are placed upon it. When we spend a lot of time sitting in chairs instead of moving We begin to lose these human movement standards. Don’t worry, the gym is the perfect place to bring them back. When you first learn these lifts make sure to work with an experienced coach who can give you the visual, audible, and tactile cues to perform these lifts.

Athletes also need to hinge and squat to develop explosive power, muscle stiffness, and joint stability for their sport. They may prioritize either the squat, deadlift, or a derivative like the trap bar deadlift based on the demands of the sport on their muscles. Working with a strength coach on sport specific training will be key to choosing the right lifting program for you.

Benefits and Muscle Groups Worked

The ability to perform a basic body weight squat should be the first goal of a training program. The squat requires mobility of the ankles, knees, hips, and spine as well as the motor recruitment patterns to properly extend at the knee hip and ankle simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Depending on the squat variation being used as well as the depth and other variables you can increase or decrease specific muscle activation. Low bar back squats and box squats achieve greater posterior chain activation. Front squats and overhead squats require a more upright torso and are quad dominant.

The deadlift is the most effective exercise for working the posterior chain. The posterior chain is essential for developing strength and power as an athlete. Powerful hamstrings and glutes will make you run faster, jump higher, and lift more weight. The muscles of the back also benefit from deadlifting due to the powerful isometric contraction required to maintain a neutral spine during heavy pulls. The rear delts, lats, and erector spinae all will grow as a result of deadlifting.

Volume versus Intensity

As a general rule of thumb strength training programs should have an inverse relationship between volume and intensity. Since squats and deadlifts are both total body lifts that require intense focus and neural activation it is important to vary loading patterns, volume, and intensity.

Deadlifts tend to be great for intensity but can be problematic in large volume. One fix for this is to train the hinge movement pattern with other implements that remove the need for heavy loading. Kettlebell Swings, Romanian Deadlifts, and Glute Bridges all train this movement pattern and are great.

Squats on the other hand seem to respond better to higher training volume. With that said you can still grind yourself down with too much high intensity work in the rack. Sticking to Prilepin’s chart for percentages is a great way to stay on top of loading parameters to ensure progress without burning out!

There you have it. A breakdown of the squat and deadlift as well as the reasons you should train them. If you’re looking for help learning these movements and building a movement practice to change your body or get stronger we have a team of coaches who can help you reach your goals.

Is Boutique Fitness Right for Me?

If you’re ready for results it’s time to ditch the health club…

There was a time when we got all the exercise we require from our daily activities. But as hunting and gathering lead to farming and eventually the industrialized world we live in today the need for human “labor” has been nearly eradicated. Now that we work desk jobs, eat our meals from the hot bar at Whole Foods, and enjoy a generally sedentary lifestyle we are required to reintroduce this missing physical activity. For some reason, the question of how to add physical activity, or work, back into our lives is one that has proven to be puzzling, controversial, and difficult terrain to navigate.

 

In response to the demands of the market the fitness industry has grown tremendously, particularly in North America where an estimated $28 billion was spent in 2015. Much of this industry is dominated by health clubs and large gym franchises that offer a sampling of strength equipment, cardio machines, TV’s, massage chairs and minimal staffing. Granted  how many staff members do you need when your members don’t actually attend the club? In a study done by students at UC Berkeley found 67% of gym memberships are never used in the population they surveyed.

 

“If you are not going to the gym, you are actually the gym’s best customer.” -Stacey Vanek Smith, NPR

 

The savvy marketers at big box gyms know how to target their marketing towards individuals who won’t actually come to the facility. As humans we often get a rush of excitement by a new fitness undertaking. “This is it, the time I actually change, no looking back,” you say. The challenge is that the health club has made zero commitment to you. They don’t care if you show up or not. Luckily there is someone out there who does.

 

Boutique fitness is the alternative to the traditional health club model. Boutique gyms offer specialized classes based on the expertise of the owners, teachers, or coaches. CrossFit boxes, Barre studios, Bikram yoga, parkour facilities, spin classes  are all great examples of the boutique fitness model.

 

These communities succeed when the all parts are working together; the owner, staff, and clientele all succeed when they each meet their goals. This synergistic effect leads to faster results and more satisfaction from all parties. As a client you have a team of coaches and fellow members who are all rooting for you, teaching you, and most importantly holding you accountable. Becoming fit doesn’t have to be a chore, a challenge, or a pain point. In fact, it can even be fun 😉

 

Boutique gyms have been seen rapid growth in the past decade as clients recognize that when it comes to fitness, not all gyms are created equal. Some of the most common excuses sound like:

  • “I have a hard time sticking to a routine”
  • “I’m just too busy to exercise”
  • “I get bored with going to the gym, it always feels like work”
  • “I don’t know how to lift weights/choose a routine/eat the right food”

 

These are great excuses, but since you’re ready to make a change it’s time to ditch the excuses and focus on RESULTS. By implementing a system that counters your excuses you’ll be left with the only option, the results that you want to achieve.

 

If you struggle with sticking to a routine you will benefit from the coaches, friends, and community members that you’ll meet at each class. A group of people that will ask you about your day, learn about your goals and life, and most importantly encourage you to show up consistently to your workouts.

 

If you claim to be too busy then you should sign up for classes ahead of time. The wide variety of classes that are available each day at time frames that are consistent with your schedule make it easy to squeeze in an hour long workout.

 

If boredom is your challenge then a workout that changes every day is exactly what you need. Not only that but the different coaching styles and friends you’ll make at different times of the day make each class a totally unique experience.

 

If information is the enemy then relax, because that’s already been taken care of for you. Your coach has put a lot of thought into a training program that will improve your fitness and will be by your side to instruct you on form, breathing, and what weights to use. Keep an eye out for group nutrition challenges to boot!

 

To get the results you want sometimes you need to try a new approach. If that trip to the gym feels more daunting than Frodo walking the ring to Mordor then it’s time to see what a boutique gym has in store for you!

The Power of Choice

Most of us have an area in our life we wish we were performing better in. That part of us that doesn’t quite fit into our own skin. It could be a touchy subject that our spouse and friends know to steer clear of, the elephant in the room. It could be the promotion you still haven’t received, the credit card you haven’t paid off, or the weight you were supposed to lose by the beginning of  summer… in 2012.

 

And because you’re wearing this very uncomfortable skin that’s not quite your size I am happy to tell you that you are exactly where you chose to be today.

 

I can already hear the objections rising up so let me explain why.

 

You see I totally understand your story. I understand because it’s yours, mine, and everyone else’s. Sometimes having a new baby, a busy time at work, or the worst timing for a medical emergency/broken down car/economic depression can happen. There are a million and one events in life that can derail us. They are not always fair and can seem impossible to overcome when they show up knocking at our door.

 

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

At that point we do an admirable thing. We give up on our dream. We set it aside to go fix the problem. We change our identity and become the superhero who knows exactly how to work overtime and take care of a sick parent. We do it because we want to make sure the story has a happy ending. We do it out of love.

 

And life goes on.

 

And sometimes the situation gets better. And sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, the situation that called for a superhero 6 months ago no longer needs a hero to save it. But there you stand in cape and tights committed to action. Except now it’s time to go home. Time to write a new story.

 

Where you stand today is a result of many choices. Some of your hero moments were the big decisions that shaped your trajectory. Like I said, I’m proud of you for doing that. But now it’s time to get back on the path. Your path. The one you stopped telling yourself that you wanted because it hurt too bad to think that it may never come true.

 

You might think it’s too late (it’s not).

 

You might want to try, but feel that you strayed too far (you haven’t).

 

You have to remember you have the power of choice. And it’s a good thing that you do. It gives you the power to turn your greatest adversity into your greatest strength. You always have the option to shy away or to stand and fight.

 

It’s time for a new story. You’re the hero and you’re at the turning point in the movie of your life. So what are you going to do next?You’ve endured hardship, learned tough lessons, and fallen time and time again. Wouldn’t this be a great time for everything to turn around?

 

Maybe you can recruit someone to help you get there, a long lost friend or a wise old mentor. Maybe you need to crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and experience the training it will take to achieve your success.

 

The time to act is now. Don’t slip back into your old story. You are the hero. The power of choice brought you here. Your choice decides what happens next.

 

So what are you going to do?

 

[GYM OWNER:] Add a call to action here, like: “Schedule your Free Consult here” with a link.