Coaches Corner: How’s Your Triple Extension?

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The athletic pyramid has a strong, solid base in the most important concept - triple extension. What does that mean and how does it apply to you?
 
Let’s start with the definition: Triple extension is the holy grail of power generation; the point at which the ankle, knee, and hip are fully extended, providing maximum power output upwards. The use of triple extension is the driving force of all weightlifting and jumping movements, among others.
 
Why should you care? Because the better your triple extension, the more efficiently you’ll move, the more weight you’ll lift, and the better athlete you’ll become. Not improving on the Olympic lifts? Work on triple extension. Having trouble getting the bar overhead? Work on triple extension. Want to become more explosive in running and kettlebell swings? Work on triple extension!
 
Need help with your triple extension? Ask any of the coaches. That’s what we’re here for.

Coaches Corner: Getting Gymnasty

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When it comes to gymnastics in CrossFit, most of us aspire to attain the big skills: ring or bar muscle ups, chest-to-bar pull ups, handstand push-ups, or big sets of toes-to-bar.
 
Attaining those skills requires a certain amount of body weight strength, coordination, and spatial awareness. The best and safest way to ensure you have the requirements needed for these high-level skills is taking the time and putting in the effort to do them STRICT.
 
Performing the higher-level gymnastics skills strict (without momentum, i.e. a kip) demonstrates mastery of the movement. It shows possession of the required body weight strength, coordination, spatial awareness, and flexibility to perform the skill. It also significantly reduces the possibility of injury when momentum (a kip) is later added.
 
But gymnastics in CrossFit is much more than high-level skills. All body weight movements in CrossFit are considered gymnastics (pull-ups, push-ups, air squats, etc). Mastering and building strength in body weight movements will positively influence your functional fitness, both inside and outside the gym, and serve as a stepping stone to the higher level gymnastics skills while enhancing your proficiency when an external object load (such as a barbell) is added.
 
So take a few minutes a day, before or after class, to work on your strict gymnastics strength (whether you have the skill or not) and watch how it pays off!

Eat This/Not That: One-Pot Thai Coconut Chicken Curry

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A simple Thai Coconut Chicken Curry made in just one pot, ready in 30 minutes, plus Paleo and Whole30 compliant. (With thanks to www.fitmittenkitchen.com)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 TBS ghee or coconut oil

  • 1/2 TBS minced garlic

  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast, cut into chunks

  • 1 medium head broccoli, chopped, about 3-4 cups

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped, about 1 cup

  • 1 medium orange bell pepper, chopped, about 1 cup

  • 1 13.5oz canned coconut milk (full-fat is best but lite also works)

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or cashew milk (Whole30 compliant)

  • 3 TBS red curry paste

  • 1 tsp fish sauce, optional but adds authentic taste

  • 1 heaping tsp turmeric

  • 1/4 tsp pink salt

  • 1/8 tsp cayenne, or to taste

  • 1 large head cauliflower, pulsed for rice (about 4-6 cups)

  • Cilantro for garnish

In a large pot on medium heat, combined ghee or coconut oil, minced garlic, and diced onion. Stir frequently for about 2 minutes. Add chicken breast chunks to pot and stir. Cover and cook until the chicken is white on the outside (it doesn’t need to be fully cooked).

Add chopped broccoli and bell peppers then gently pour in canned coconut milk, unsweetened almond, or cashew milk, curry paste, fish sauce, turmeric, salt, and cayenne. Gently stir until combined. Bring to a boil then simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. Veggies should be slightly soft and chicken cooked through.
Meanwhile, make cauliflower rice. Chop a head of cauliflower into large pieces, then add to blender or food processor. Process until cauliflower is in bite sized pieces.  Or you can buy frozen bags of cauliflower rice!

Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

Makes six servings

Calories: 308

Sugar: 3 grams

Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 11 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Protein: 30 grams

Meet the New Coach: Lou Seal

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Lou Seal found his passion in football and track in his early teens. He graduated from Ball State University with a degree in sports administration and marketing, then turned his passion for sports into a career. Today, Lou is the event director for RAM Racing, producing running events across the country for more than a quarter million runners a year. 

Like many people, Lou stuck with the big box gym routine until he found CrossFit. At the same time, he also won a lottery spot in the Chicago marathon. He managed to balance a running program with CrossFit, sometimes dropping in on running days just to stretch or watch the class. After a year, he received his Level 1 certification.

“Being a coach is more than competition, lifting heavy, or going hard,” Lou says. “I find joy in entertaining a class, motivating members to do things they thought they couldn’t, and being part of a community that is striving to better themselves.” His goals at RPE are to continue to learn and grow as a coach and to build relationships with a new membership base to help them accomplish their goals. 
 
Lou also holds his CPR/AED American Red Cross certification.

Meet the New Coach: Josh Silvernail

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His  name is Josh but you can call him Silver. Born and raised in the Detroit suburbs, Josh played sports his entire life. He played wide receiver on the Albion College football team, collecting several all-conference awards and representing Team USA in the Aztec Bowl. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and speech and communication. 
 
“My passion is to help people,” he said. He worked as a personal trainer in a traditional “globo gym” for 13 years, then . I had done internships for speed and agility clinics and developed a training protocol during college. Josh (or Silver) ha fell in love with CrossFit in 2009 and opened his own affiliate in 2013. After five years of running his own business and the birth of his son, Jaxon, he says, “it was time to step away and forge a new future with more time with my wife, Danielle, and our son.”
 
Josh qualified for the North Central Regionals as part of Team CrossFit AMRAP in 2011, and then as an individual athlete in 2012, 2013, and 2014. 
 
“I look forward to stepping into a coaching role at CrossFit RPE to help make a positive difference in this community,” he said. “My passion is, and always will be, helping people chase their goals and accomplish things they never thought possible.”
 
Josh has his CrossFit Level 1 and Level 2 certifications, and is also certified in NASM-CPT, NASM-PES, and Precision Nutrition Level 1.

Coaches Corner: Strict Press

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One of the most common issues I see with the strict press is not engaging the core enough. This leads the athlete to lean back at the top of the press, putting extra strain on the lower back and increasing the risk of injury.
 
Here’s how a good strict press should break down:
 

  • Unrack the bar with purpose and get it in a solid front rack position.

  • Tighten your mid-line (core) and squeeze your glutes and quads even as you engage your upper body.

  • Recruit your entire upper body for a press, not just the shoulders. Engage your arms, upper back, and chest; a strict press requires everything to, well, press. 

  • Keep the core stable and lock out the arms overhead. If you’re doing multiple reps, this should be your starting position. Bring the bar down quickly to touch your chest and press back up. Your body is primed with the weight coming down to press it away, so get ready. Pausing at the shoulders blocks momentum and, more importantly, can psyche you out when the going gets tough.

Don’t lean back. It may seem easier because you’re recruiting more of your chest (as in an incline bench press) but it is terrible for your back.

Eat This/Not That: Getting Your Fiber

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What do pistachios, pearled barley, and bananas have in common? They are all high in fiber.
 
Why should you care? Because fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. Even better – it fills you up without filling you out. There are two kinds of fiber – soluble (think fruit and oats), which imparts some calories; and insoluble (think whole grains), which pass through your body without leaving any calories behind. Fiber can reduce your cholesterol and your body’s absorption of sugar (which is why an apple is better for you than apple juice), and may play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
 
However, the typical American gets just 15 grams of fiber a day, not even close to the recommended 28 grams.
 
So it’s time to up your fiber game. Learn more about fiber here and find a list of 43 high-fiber foods here.

Coaching Tip: Eight Ways to Welcome New Members

This week we stole a great article from Morning Chalkup, a daily roundup of all things CrossFit. 

It’s January and that means new members armed with resolutions and hungry for some fitness. Here are eight ways to help them feel more comfortable at RPE.
1. Say hello. It can be scary going to a new place, period. Now imagine walking into a new place where everyone has their shirt off, music is blaring, barbells are dropping, and a packed room of athletes are using weights in ways you never knew existed. Intimidation city, population one! So when you see a fresh face at the gym, say hello, introduce yourself, and make a new friend.
2. Save the weight-loss advice. Maybe wait until a little later before offering unsolicited weight loss advice. Yeah, it's the new year and lots of athletes are focused on the scale, but the in-shape athlete telling the new out-of-shape athlete how to shed and shred might not be the most encouraging.
3. Offer help. Bands, barbells, PVC pipes, ab mats, you name it.  They're not always easy to find. Don't wait for them to ask for it. Pick one up and bring it over.
4. Don't coach. Unless you are the actual coach leading the class, don't coach a newcomer. You don't know their background, if they have any injuries, or if they've been on ramped yet. That is not your job. Let the coach do the coaching.
5. Partner up. No one likes being the last one picked on a team. Do a solid and partner up with the newcomer. It doesn't matter if you're the fittest in class and you'll need a second barbell; lead by example. 
6. High fives abound. Fist bumps, high-fives, knuckles. Whatever. Make a point to find that athlete and congratulate them on a great workout. There's no better way to encourage a new athlete to return than offering some praise. 
7. Encourage them to return. Walking through the door was the hard part. Help make their decision to return easier by encouraging them to come back. "Will I see you again tomorrow?" shows them that CrossFit isn't like any other gym they've ever been to. 
8. Remember your first time. Remember, unless you were born with a double body weight back squat and a 400-pound deadlift, someone had to help you get to where you are. Return that favor.

Member Focus: Sonya Jones

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Meet Sonya Jones. Sonya usually attends the 5:30 pm class at Deerfield and she is a powerful lifter! 

How long have you been doing CrossFit? Seven years.

Favorite movement? Deadlifts and thrusters.

Least favorite movement? Running.

Any recent PRs? Nope.

Upcoming fitness goals: I want to increase my endurance and improve my running.

What is something that most people don’t know about you? Most people don’t know that I love history and I would love to work for the CDC.

Why CrossFit? CrossFit has made me more aware of the importance of functional movements. I also never knew that I was physically strong until CrossFit.

Why do you keep coming back? I enjoy the challenge. It is satisfying completing WODs.

Why CrossfitRPE: The community and the coaches!

Eat This/Not That: Getting Back on Track after the Holidays

Ok, the holidays are officially over and it’s time to return to the real world. If you’re like most people, you put on a few pounds over the past month. That’s ok. Here’s how to get back on track.
 

  1. Start with a high-protein, healthy breakfast. One of the easiest ways for me to rebound after a rough couple of days is to make my first meal of the day the healthiest. I usually build my meal around some high protein food (eggs + egg whites, turkey bacon, protein powder in my smoothie). It sets the tone for the entire day because you’re less likely to eat poorly for your next meal. 

  2. Get to the gym. It’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll start tomorrow but that’s a lie. You need to make it happen today, because if you go today then you’ll be more likely to go to the gym tomorrow. 

  3. Go easy on yourself. Just because you gained a few pounds doesn’t mean the past few months of hard work are gone! You can lose it just as quickly as you gained it. Maintain perspective! 

  4. Create a menu. Plan your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and spend an afternoon meal prepping. Remember to shop on the outside of the aisles and focus on lean meats, vegetables, healthy fats, fruits, some starch, and no sugar.

Coaching Tip: CrossFit Etiquette

This week’s column is a bit outside the coaching sphere, but important to the overall success of a workout and our community. Here are 10 resolutions I hope everyone will make in 2019.
 

  1. Sign up for class and sign in. Our classes are getting larger and we want to make sure they’re staffed appropriately. We also want to track attendance to know when it’s time to add (or delete) a class.

  2. Be on time. Our coaches work hard to start and end class on time. If you come in 10 minutes late, you don’t have time to warm up and it can disrupt the class.

  3. Listen. Coaching instructions while at the white board are designed to keep you safe and help you be successful with the lifts and WODs. Side conversations keep you – and others – from hearing

  4. Protect the equipment. Please don’t drop light weights from overhead. This is called ghostriding and it can damage the bar and break the plates, not to mention bounce around and hurt someone. Oh, and dropping kettlebells on the platform is also a no-no.

  5. Clean your stuff up. That means wipe off the equipment and the floor and put everything away – where it belongs.

  6. Stay in your space. We can get pretty crowded in some classes with people and equipment.

  7. Respect the athlete’s space. Someone starting a big lift? Be careful not to walk in front of them – they need to concentrate.

  8. Introduce yourself to new members and drop ins. Remember, CrossFit is about community!

  9. Respect the coach. Our coaches work hard and want only the best for you. That’s why they’re continually providing you with tips to help you improve. After all, no matter how long you’ve been doing CrossFit, we all have room for improvement!

  10. Use the right towel for the right purpose. The bright white ones are for your face; the grey icky ones are for the floor.

What Are Your Goals for 2019?

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In 2019 I will . . .
 

Studies find that if you tell people your goals and make them very specific you’re more likely to achieve them. So tell us your goals!
 
We’ve put an envelope containing goal strips on the bulletin boards in each gym. Write your goal, pin up the paper, and get working. Do you want to lose 3 percent of your body fat? Get your first muscle up? Finally string together 10 doubleunders?
 
Talk to a coach; they can give you the necessary progressions to reach your goal.
 
Once you’ve reached your goal, put a big checkmark on it. We’ll collect them every quarter and have a drawing for prizes. Then pull out another piece of goal paper and get started on the next one.

Coaching Tip: Keep Your Kids Active Over Winter Break

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Just because the weather’s bad doesn’t mean your kids have to become couch potatoes. Here's an easy game for you to play at home. All you need is a dice and an open space. Roll the dice and have your child complete the following movements. Substitute movements throughout the winter break to keep it interesting!
 
For younger kids (ages 2-6): 

  • Crab walk

  • Bear crawl (hips high and straight legs)

  • Frog hop (broad jump)

  • Bunny hop (quick jumps)

  • Giraffe walk (up on your toes, reaching high overhead)

  • Gorilla crawl (like bear crawl, but sideways and bending knees)
     

For older kids (ages 7-12) 

  • 10 jumping jacks

  • 10 squats

  • 10 push-ups (or press up to plank and hold for 2 seconds, repeat for 10)

  • 10 burpees

  • 10 mountain climbers

  • 10 sit-ups (butterfly legs where bottoms of feet touch)

Have fun! Feel free to tweak any of the movements to your liking but we have a lot of success when kids think of exercise as a game. 

Eat This/Not That: New Year's Resolutions

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It’s New Year’s resolution time! Studies show that the more specific your resolution (ie, “I resolve to only drink 1 glass of wine a night,” vs “I will cut back on drinking,”) the more likely you are to stick to them. Here are some fitness-focused resolutions to get you started.

In 2019, I resolve to: 

  1. Attend class at least ___ days a week.

  2. Meet my macros at least ___ days a week.

  3. Not beat myself up if I have an “off” nutritional day.

  4. Get at least 25 percent of my body weight in ounces of water with an ideal goal of 50 percent.

  5. Plan my meals for the week.

  6. Bring my lunch at least ___ days a week.

  7. Limit myself to ___ alcoholic drinks a week.

  8. Pay more attention to how my clothes fit than to the scale.

  9. Take at least 30 minutes a day just for me.

  10. Focus own progress in the gym rather than comparing myself to others.

Coaches Tip: Run Better and Safer

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The running equation is pretty simple: Speed = stride length x stride rate (cadence). So if you want to run faster, you can either increase your stride length (take bigger steps), or increase your stride rate (take more steps per minute).

  • Stride rate (cadence). Studies of elite runners suggest an ideal cadence of about 180 strides/minute or more. Taking smaller, quicker strides minimizes the impact on your joints, decreases the risk of overstriding, and helps prevent injury.
  • Stride length. Too often when runners try to pick up their pace, they end up overstriding (reaching out too far with each step, exaggerating the heel strike and increasing the force through the knees, hips, and back). To increase stride length without risking injury, increase stride length on the back side of your stride rather than reaching forward. In other words, use your glutes and hamstrings to push the ground away, rather than reaching forward with your front foot to lengthen your stride.

Written By:  Kate Blankshain, PT, DPT

Eat This/Not That: Staying Hydrated

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We’ve all been raised to believe that we need eight glasses of water a day. But what’s a glass? When do you drink? What should be in that water? Does it need to be water? What about during workouts? Here are some answers.


Why drink? Sixty percent of your body is composed of water, including 75 percent of your muscle and 85 percent of your brain. It’s why a headache, fatigue, and weakness are the first signs of dehydration. You need water to absorb vitamins and nutrients; to ensure proper digestion; and to detoxify your liver and kidneys.

Does coffee count? Actually, no. Coffee and energy drinks with caffeine (as well as alcohol) act as diuretics and thus contribute to dehydration.

How much to drink? The idea we need to drink 8 glasses (2.5 liters) stems from a 1945 government recommendation. But the reality is that how much you need to drink depends on your own individual composition and activity level. I recommend drinking at least 25 percent of your body weight in ounces with an ideal goal of 50 percent. So if you weigh 140, aim for 70 ounces (about ten, 8-ounce glasses). And make sure you drink after workouts. The American Heart Association recommends a pint of water for every pound you sweat.

Should I drink during workouts? If you can. If you’re dehydrated, studies find, it could affect your performance. And make sure you hydrate before a workout, too.

Do I need sports drinks or added electrolytes/carbohydrates? Not unless you’re engaged in duration exercise, something like Murph, or it’s really hot. For our typical workouts, plain water is fine. There’s some evidence that cold water is even better in terms of performance. Having said that, if you work out early morning before you eat consider adding some Xendurance Fuel 5+. It contains a blend of sweet potato carbohydrates and caffeine to provide quick energy.

Is there such a thing as too much water? There sure is. It’s called hyponatremia and it can actually be fatal.

So how do I stay hydrated? Glad you asked. My best tip is to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and keep it filled. If plain water is boring, add fruit or cucumber slices or sugar-free flavorings. Just keep sipping!

Enjoy the Process, Move with Intention

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When you started your CrossFit journey, your coaches told you two things that would provide the best chance at obtaining the results you wanted: come to class and bring a positive attitude. While critical steps, I want to take it even further: you also need to bring a Purpose with you.

 

That means understanding why you do CrossFit and why each movement is important in meeting that goal. And that means going beyond just the movement. Whether in the warm-up, strength or metcon component, even the cool down, every movement – from a plank to a sit-up, to an Olympic lift or muscle up – offers an opportunity to improve. To get better at the movement, to get in better shape, to give yourself a better chance at lifting more weight, completing more reps, or mastering more movements.

 

Think about how much better you’d do if you started moving with a precise purpose. But purpose isn’t just for the 60 minutes you’re in the box. Purpose should be a part of every moment of your day, including waking up in the morning, going to work, spending time with your family and friends, even choosing what to watch on TV. Once you understand the purpose of each “movement” of the day (To earn money? Stay healthy? Surround yourself with and give out love? Improve your community?) your ability to meet those goals will improve – just like your performance in the box.

Take Care of your Hands!

Contrary to the machismo central to CrossFit, ripped hands are not cool. And, if you’re taking care of your hands, they shouldn’t happen. That’s why proper hand care is crucial.

I’m not talking soft hands; you need your hands to be tough enough to handle our rigorous workouts. But you also need to find a happy medium between tough and calluses the size of marbles. Otherwise, when you’re hanging on the bar doing pullups, toes-to-bar, or other gymnastic moves, those calluses will rip right off.

Here’s what I do to protect my hands (and I never tear):

  • Moisturize daily. The worst thing is dry skin, which creates the perfect environment for growing calluses. This is particularly important in the winter. If your hands are really dry, moisturize them when you go to bed and sleep with socks over your hands.
  • Shave your calluses once a week. This keeps the skin from building up too far. I use this callus remover.
  • Use a Ped Eggas needed to remove dead skin and keep your hands smooth. Just don’t overdo it!

Let me know if you have any questions or want a quick hand appraisal!

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Coaching Tip: It’s All About the Thumbs

How do you grip the pull-up bar? If you say with all five fingers over the bar (like a monkey grip) then you need to change. To ensure the right grip, reduce the risk of tearing, and stay safe, you should grip the bar with your pinky knuckle over the bar and your thumb wrapped around the bar, not on top. Also, grip the bar across the middle of your palm, not where your fingers meet the palm. It’s the same way you’d grip a barbell.

Correct Grip  

Correct Grip  

Wrong Grip

Wrong Grip

This is, by and far, the stronger grip. It can keep your shoulder more stable, reduce the risk of tearing, and, hopefully, keep you from slipping off the bar. It also helps build grip strength and works to activate your lats.

Have a weak grip? Active bar hangs and farmers’ carries can strengthen your grip.

Eat This/Not That: Surviving The Holidays

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‘Tis the season to overeat and over indulge. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Just follow these recommendations to set yourself up for success:

  • Eat breakfast. Make it a high-protein, low-carb meal to get you started right, and eat several healthy snacks. But please don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation of the big meal.
  • Eat in moderation. Load your plate up with turkey and veggies, leaving just a little room for the starchy sides. Enjoy everything, but keep it to one plate and don’t leave the table stuffed.
  • Eat slowly. It takes time for the hormones your stomach releases when you eat to reach your brain, which sends the “full” signal. If you eat too fast, you’ll eat way past that point.
  • Wait for dessert. Along the same lines, wait a while before reaching for dessert. You’ll be more aware of just how much – if any – you can handle.
  • Watch the alcohol. You don’t have to be a teetotaler, but you these tips can help reduce the empty calories (plus potential headache) too much alcohol can cause:
  • For every glass of wine you drink, fill your empty glass with sparkling water twice before reaching for the bottle again.
  • Avoid sugar-heavy mixers like fruit juice and soda.
  • Plan for the next day. Return to your regular eating pattern. Of course, you can integrate leftovers into your macros (leftover turkey and other proteins plus the veggies). But don’t depend on the leftovers to get you through the weekend. Have meals planned just as you normally would.