coaches corner

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.

Eating Out: It’s All About Planning

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By: Alex Carlson

Many of my clients wonder if they can track macros and still eat out. I say, of course! It just takes a bit of planning. Here’s what I recommend:                          

  • Choose the right restaurant. Check the menu online before you go. Look for words like “grilled,” “broiled,” “baked,” or “roasted.” Skip “fried” and “creamy.”

  • Keep it simple. Stick to the basic food groups; protein, carbs, and fats. In other words, opt for the salmon with a side of veggies versus the pasta with a rich sauce.

  • Ask for it on the side. As in, “Can I have the sauce/dressing on the side?” Trust me, you’ll wind up using a fraction of what they give you.

  • Do the math first. If you’re following a macro-based plan, enter the macros before you leave the house (you’re able to do this because you checked the menu ahead of time, right?)

  • Skip the minefields. That means alcohol and dessert – the minefields of dining out. Try sparkling water with lime in a wine glass rather than Chardonnay, and a cup of great coffee after dinner rather than the chocolate ganache.

Avoiding Injury with the Deadlift

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By: Emma Minx, DC, CCSP and Kate Blankshain, PT, DPT 

We co-manage many crossfitters. Our goals are to restore mobility and function (Emma), then address weakness, imbalances, and movement deficiencies (Kate). We often consult together to identify the cause of injury and determine the best treatment plan.
 
Common injuries we treat involve the low back, shoulders, and knees. Whenever there is a heavier deadlift workout, we know we’ll be seeing an influx of patients. The culprit is typically one of two things – the hips are too tight, which puts a greater strain on the low back, or the movement itself is performed incorrectly.
 
Let’s start with mobility. Your body alternates mobile and stable joints. For instance, your ankles, hips, and mid-back should be mobile, while your knees and low back should be stable. When the body loses mobility in one area, it has to compensate for it somewhere else. Typically, this affects the low back, which should be a stable area. That’s why making sure your hips are properly warmed up prior to deadlifting is critical.
 
During the deadlift, it is important to maintain a tight core and extend the hips as you bring the bar up from the floor. Instead, most people initiate the movement with their arms and back. In other words, they begin raising their torso to a vertical position too soon rather than pushing into the ground, driving their hips forward, and squeezing their glutes. 
 
Bottom line: the deadlift should be considered a pushing movement rather than a pulling movement. Push into the ground and push/drive the hips forward. 
 
Emma Minx is a chiropractor at Bannockburn Chiropractic and Sports Injury Center and Kate owns Rally PTE.

3,2,1 . . . Breathe!

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Think about the last time you did 15 thrusters or 30 wall balls or ran 800 meters. Could you get through it without stopping? Were you able to immediately move onto the next movement? If not, think about your breathing.  
 
The idea of “training with a purpose” all too often gets lost in the rush of complex movements, friendly competition during class, and the relentless search for PRs. Yet part of training with a purpose is learning your individual work capacity and heart rate control.
 
That’s where controlled breathing comes in. The purpose of controlled breathing is to keep you from “red lining,” that moment when you realize you can’t possibly do another burpee, clean, or pull up yet there’s still 8 more minutes on the clock. The more consistent your breathing, the steadier your heart rate.
 
So if you find yourself gasping for air, stop. It’s counterproductive to continue because the longer you deprive your body of oxygen, the more acidic your blood becomes and the more your performance will suffer.

The better you get at controlling your breathing, the shorter (and fewer) rests you’ll need, enabling you to return to the workout faster and resulting in a better overall performance.
 
You can find some great blogs and videos on proper breathing for crossfitters here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJht14CTV8g
https://youtu.be/melaUbdYjbQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJht14CTV8g
https://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/breathing-techniques-situation/

The Holy Grail of Squatting: The Squat Stance

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A squat is a squat is a squat. Often heard but rarely understood. It means that no matter what type of squat you’re doing – full clean, front squat, back squat, air squat – consistency is key. And one of the important -- but most commonly missed -- constant is the stance.

The stance is your foot position or angle and the width and balance of weight on your mid foot. It should look and feel the same in your overhead squat as your air squat, back squat, and every other type of squat we do in CrossFit and weight lifting.

You can see how important consistency in this position is when you consider the Olympic lifts, in which the accuracy and precision of the foot work is amplified when dynamically transitioning from the pull to the catch.

A good way to find your natural stance is to jump and land in a squat. From there, take note of your foot position and make small adjustments as needed. Then work to replicate this same position across all your squat movements. When you notice you’ve deviated from your standard stance, identify the factor causing this and work to improve it versus compensating in other ways and losing that critical squat stance consistency.