Coaches Corner

In Search of the Elusive Double Unders

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By: Coach Brad

I remember hitting about 50 double unders on my first day of practice and within a week completing Annie with unbroken sets (50-40-30-20-10); then Flight Simulator in under 7 minutes; and eventually hitting a max unbroken set of about 250. I was lucky: I never struggled with them and I still have the skill to this day, although with far less endurance.
 
Not everyone is so lucky.
 
As a movement, jumping rope is neuro-muscular in nature. That’s why it requires practice – to develop those connections between your brain and your body. And that’s where practice comes in.
 
The top reason to practice doubles is not just to get better at doubles (although practice will get you closer to perfect). The real reason is that a flawless exhibition of rope skills will also lead to improvements in other technical demands of gymnastics, weightlifting, and sports conditioning and performance.
 
I have a friend who practiced daily for 6 months before he could consistently string more than one together. But he used the “dolphin kick,” which is self-limiting because it’s so exhausting. So, he started over and after two years of practice was able to do numerous sets of 100 doubles back-to-back, surpassing me in all benchmarks.  
 
The point of that story is to tell you that it may take weeks, months, or even years before you can string together your first doubles. But if you stick with it – including incorporating attempts into the WODs instead of immediately going to singles – I guarantee you’ll get there!
 
(It’s also a good idea to buy your own rope).

I have a lot more to say about double unders, including drills to help you get better and scaling options for classes, and you can read it all here.

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/

Making Room for the Donuts

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Anyone who knows me knows how much I love donuts and ice cream. I could eat both at least twice a day given the opportunity. But I don’t. Instead, I plan my sugar highs around my macros rather than planning my macros around my sugar highs.

In other words, I don’t eat donuts and ice cream and then figure out how many carbohydrate and fat macros I have left. Instead, I decide that on Tuesday I want a cup of ice cream, input the fat, carb, and protein macros first, then build the rest of my food around those to meet my daily requirements.
 
Do I slip up? Yes, of course, especially when I pass a Joe’s Donuts. But the key to meeting my nutritional goals and having the foods I love is moderation.
 
I try to only give myself two to three “treats” a week but I’m not perfect. If I find that I’m indulging too frequently, I’ll just dial back for the next week or two. It’s easy to make justifications on why I should have that donut but  I focus on trying to become a little bit better each day.
 
Moderation is important but knowing what your next meal will be is one of the best ways to keep yourself on track. That way, little over-indulging doesn’t knock me off track.
 
I never want my clients to view the healthy eating plans we come up with as restrictive. If you like a glass of wine, you can have a glass of wine – just build it into your macros. And if you like a donut or bowl of ice cream, you can have those, too – within your macro framework. You’re not “cheating.” You’re planning.

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.