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Crossfit Training: Maximum Intensity or Maximum Risk?

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“I’m doing Fran today.”

This statement would sound derogatory to any normal, average human being who has never picked up a muscle mag or has ever wondered how the guys in the movie “300” trained. But to a lot of athletes out there “I’m doing Fran today,” causes fear, panic, excitement, and nervousness all at the same time. Fran is one of Crossfit’s most famous Benchmark workouts. The workout involvs doing 21-15-9 repetitions of 95lbs Thrusters and Pullups in a superset fashion.

Introduction to Crossfit Training

A benchmark workout is a workout that is repeated throughout the Crossfit programming. When a non-crossfitter looks at the main website, all they see is a collection of really high intensity workouts with no structure. Apparently there is a structure to Crossfit programming, however the structure is a closely guarded secret in founder Greg Glassman’s mind. Coach Glassman is the “genius” behind this “revolutionary” training program. He loves using the words “efficacy” and “power.” In fact, that’s all he really talks about.

Every time Coach Glassman speaks, you are either forced to listen carefully at his words, trying to decipher his SAT-ish language, or marvel at how much someone can talk without actually saying anything. Take, for example a passage from an an interview he gave in Girevik Magazine:

“First of all, what is unique about your Crossfit approach to training?

I think we are unique in both the efficacy of our regimen and our methodology. In terms of approach, I don’t know of another program utilizing gymnastics skills and drills, Olympic Weightlifting/powerlifting, and multi-mode sprint work. Our hallmark of combining these elements in single workouts may be globally unique – we’re still searching.

In terms of efficacy, of course our results are due to our methods – this is true of every program, but more to the point we have spent literally thousands of hours honing our definition of fitness. It is our definition of fitness that has refined our approach, and, in turn, forged our results. For CrossFit the specter of championing a fitness program without clearly defining what it is that the program delivers combines elements of fraud and farce. The October 2002 issue (“What is Fitness?”) of our magazine, CrossFit Journal, is an eleven-page manifesto of our view and standards of fitness.”

Here’s what that means:

  • Crossfit combines gymnastics, Olympic Weight Lifting, and GPP into a single program.
  • We spend countless hours defining the term “Fitness.”

You can go and read the 11-page “manifesto” of Crossfit, but it’ll probably just confuse you more. I know I had to read it at least 5 times to make sense of it. And even then I had a ton of questions. In my quest to simplify my life, Greg Glassman was just throwing random words at me that meant nothing. The purpose of this article to clear up a lot of the “hoopla” surrounding Crossfit, and to give you guys a real taste of what Crossfit really is without all the confusing jargon.

Who is Greg Glassman?

According to Girevik Magazine, Glassman started off as a gymnastic coach in 1974 at a Y.W.C.A gym in Pasadena, California. He went on to train a variety of athletes from various sports, backgrounds, and professions. Coach Glassman soon realized the drawback of traditional body building and endurance athletes when it came to the demands of law enforcement personnel and high intensity athletes. After much experimentation, he found he was able to produce better results with his clients by combining heavy fundamental movements (compound and olympic lifts) with high intensity training (sprints, circuit training).

Out of all the clients and athletes Glassman has worked with, he claims to have a special place for law enforcement and military personnel. It makes sense why this group of athletes would be so keen to make Crossfit a regular part of their training. Crossfit is randomized and challenges a broad spectrum of fitness goals – perfect for law enforcement and military personnel who need to be ready for anything at any time. Crossfit is also extremely popular with Mixed Martial Artists, however, it can be argued that Mixed Martial Artists have been performing Crossfit-esque workouts long before Coach Glassman branded the training style.

So…What is Crossfit Training?

Crossfit isn’t as complicated as Crossfiters and Greg Glassman want to make it seem. We can start with the fact that Crossfit effectively combines gymnastics, Olympic lifting, and high intensity training. Let that sink into your mind first before we continue.

Moving on, the goal of Crossfit programming is to be as general as possible. Glassman believes that the needs of athletes and every day citizens are nearly the same. We all require exercise in the following ten aspects of fitness:

  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Stamina
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Speed
  • Power
  • Coordination
  • Accuracy
  • Balance
  • Agility

I have yet to figure out how Crossfit helps you with flexibility, coordination, accuracy, and balance. However, I do agree that the other six can be easily accomplished with Crossfit. However, because this is a general approach to all-around fitness, you’ll be strong – but not the strongest. You’ll be fast – but not the fast. You’ll even get bigger and leaner – but you won’t be the biggest and leanest. Get my drift? After a certain point, if you really care enough, you need to specialize for your sport.

The most popular question out there is how are the Crossfit workouts created? Well, I’ll let Glassman answer that question himself:

“Our view of what fitness is and isn’t creates, in effect, a theoretical template that guides the selection of exercises, their rep range, frequency of occurrence, length of workout, etc. Come to know our standards and aims and the rationale behind our workouts’ architecture becomes somewhat self-evident. The workouts themselves are a near perfect expression of our vast experience building the world’s toughest athletes. This question is great but somewhat like asking Tiger Woods, “How do you do it?”

That being said, the process is without a doubt part art. In fact, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, that august non-profit arbiter of exercise science admits in its Essentials of Strength and Conditioning that exercise programming is still more art than science. At CrossFit we call it the choreography of exertion. Our routines display balance, symmetry, theme, composition, and an aesthetic cultivated over decades of experience – including successes, and failures. The workouts are designed to maximize human physical capacity, period. That being the case, they are universally regarded as being the toughest workouts in every athlete’s experience.

Finally, I cannot discount the utility of posting workouts to the site and getting feedback from hundreds of elite athletes around the world. This would prove invaluable to any strength and conditioning coach or program.”

I have to agree with Glassman on this one, although he could have said what he said with fewer words. I have lots of articles on my site talking about program design, but I still get questions about program design. There are people who can come up with some challenging and effective programs (like me) and those that struggle with it. This is what separates the trainers from the enthusiasts.

Is Crossfit Training Safe?

I’m going to go to the Crossfit site right now and take a look at the first workout and tell you whether or not I think it’s safe:

Grace

135 pound Clean and Jerk, 30 reps

This workout is obviously not safe for a complete newbie. It’s not even safe for me since I can barely clean and jerk 135 for a single rep. Here is how I would tackle this workout:

  • Drop the weight to 95lbs and perform 30 Power Clean and Jerks
  • Work upto 135lbs
  • Drop the weight again to 95lbs and perform 30 Clean and Jerks
  • Work up to 135lbs

We just covered the first reason why Crossfit might not be safe: technical exercises performed at high repetitions. Cleans and snatches require near-precision technique. One small mistake can injure you for good.

The second reason why Crossfit might not be safe is the high intensity nature of the workouts. These workouts cause something called rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo). Rhabdo is a condition where the breakdown of muscle fibers result in the release of muscle contents into the blood stream. These contents (myoglobin) can be harmful to the kidneys and may result in kidney damage.

In a recent Crossfit Journal article , five of the first cases of rhabdo were presented. All five patients recovered fully from their condition within a few weeks, and most went right back to Crossfit. These five individuals were active athletes, but relative beginners to Crossfit. Their condition results in too much Crossfit too fast.

Rhabdo can occur with any sort of high intensity program. A mixed martial artists can get rhabdo from his training, and so can a military personnel. However, cases of rhabdo are higher in Crossfit because of the incredibly high intensity nature of Crossfit. If you underestimate it, it’ll get you.

Later in this article I will show you how to get started with Crossfit without risking rhabdo.

Is Crossfit Training for Me?

Before we get into how to follow Crossfit safely, I think it’s important to determine whether or not Crossfit is for you. Crossfit is for individuals who want to achieve a more well-rounded level of fitness. Here is a problem I’ve experienced in the past: Each time I tried to get bigger and stronger, I got slower. Once I started working on conditioning, I lost some size and power. I was always trying balance between these two ends of the fitness spectrum.

The solution to these problems is Crossfit. In my opinion, everyone should have a taste of Crossfit. However, after 3-6 months, or however long it takes you to get a real taste for it, you should modify it for your own needs. If your main goal in life is to be the biggest guy in the gym, you can probably use Crossfit to shed some fat real fast or maintain cardiovascular conditioning, however don’t deviate to far away from what ever it is that’s helping you pack on size.

How to Get Started with Crossfit Training

On the main Crossfit site, they tell you to spend a month getting to know the movements. Start the program, substituting the exercises that you don’t know with the exercises that you do know. This is a pretty good approach. I’ve experimented with Crossfit in the past, and to tell you the truth, it can get really frustrating really fast. If you have the money and time, I suggest going to an affiliate. Crossfit has a list of local affiliates on their website.

I’ve never been to an affiliate. But I can tell you one thing: if you’re not familiar with Cleans, Jerks, Snatches and other complex, high intensity moves – be careful with them. I’m not an expert at these movement, but I was able to learn the “power” versions of these rather quickly. By this I mean power cleans, push press, and power snatches. You can also substitute these movements with a dumbbell or kettlebell. Using a dumbbell or kettlebell is probably safer than trying to heave a huge barbell over your head.

A few more tips to help you get started without risking rhabdo:

  • Start with a lower frequency than the one recommended (3 on, 1 off). Try three days a week and steadily move up to four or five days a week.
  • Be prepared to eat. After my first week of Crossfit, my metabolism was on fire. I just kept eating everything in site (this can get dangerous in the long run).
  • Take longer rest periods than you think. For example, if you’re doing Fran, maybe work in a minute rest periods between each set, even if you don’t need it. This will help you get used to the idea of moving back and forth between two big, compound movements.
  • Time and record everything. Without a training journal, you’ll never know if you made progress with this program.
  • Don’t be afraid to deviate from the program. People on the board will yell at you, but who cares? I personally don’t follow the Crossfit programming because it does not match my needs.

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5 Types Of Mobile Games That Can Actually Help Your Mind

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featMobile gaming is often viewed as a way to pass the time, or simply as entertainment. More often than not, these are perfectly fair descriptions. On other occasions, mobile apps and games can help optimize both body and mind!

Mobile Games & Puzzles for Brain Health

However, the mobile gaming market is vast, and among the offerings there are also some games that can help to train your mind in various ways, or in some cases improve wellness. Here, we wanted to give some examples of types of mobile games that can serve these purposes.

1. Escape Puzzles

In the real world, “escape room” attractions have become wildly popular in just the last few years. They’re generally seen as weekend recreation options for groups of friends or colleagues, but there are also those who believe they benefit your brain health. To our knowledge there aren’t in-depth studies into this phenomenon’s mental benefits just yet, but there’s certainly something to be said for the idea. Escape rooms lead to everything from positive moods to improved memory and heightened social skills. Escape puzzle games don’t carry all of the same benefits, but they are in many cases the mobile versions of the rooms, and they can certainly exercise your brain where concentration, patience, and problem-solving are concerned, at the very least.

2. Conquest Games

This isn’t quite as big a category as that of puzzle games, though there are actually different genres within the idea of a conquest-themed mobile game. What we’re referring to here though are games like the mobile versions of Sid Meier’s Civilization installments, which famously delve into real human history in quite a lot of detail. Simply put, games like these that teach real history can exercise the brain and help to improve memory, association, attention to detail, and specific knowledge.

3. Poker Games

Poker games are actually among the oldest ones available on mobile phones, though they’re steadily getting more sophisticated these days. Poker apps are included among the games spreading gradually into the U.S. through expanding gambling legislation, and even some free-to-play poker games are now employing advanced graphics and features that make them feel like the real thing. Whichever specific app you opt for though, you could actually stand to enjoy real mental benefits. Various medical studies have actually hinted at poker’s benefits in everything from improving focus and attention to detail to combating Alzheimer’s Disease!

4. Quiz Apps

Some might consider quiz apps to comprise their own category aside from gaming, but the distinction isn’t particularly important. Either way there are dozens if not hundreds of accessible quiz apps, and each and every one of them can teach specific knowledge and keep the mind sharp in general. It’s virtually never a bad idea to test your knowledge, and these kinds of games help people do it on a daily basis.

5. Brain-Trainers

Lastly, and most overtly, there are also apps specifically designed to train the brain. These are in some cases actually designed with medical input and consideration, but they’re still game-like in nature, or at least include games more often than not. The specific training varies from one app to the next, but this is definitely a category you’ll want to look to if you’re curious about using mobile games to improve your mind.

Final Thoughts

Mobile apps, games, and real-world puzzles such as escape rooms are sometimes purely for entertainment. Other cases, such as those discussed here, can be leveraged to help with brain training for better cognitive performance and perception. The best part is, these brain games can often be leveraged during times you’d otherwise be doing nothing else!

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Getting Your Health Under Control In 2019

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For many, having control over their health is a constant battle with a number of vitamin deficiencies as well as illnesses that are sometimes unavoidable it is crucial to ensure that your health is under control. Whether this is a visit to Finchley dentist to prioritise your oral health or a visit to the doctors for a checkup there are a number of ways that you can prioritise your health within a busy lifestyle.

Moving More And Sitting Less

During the course of the day, it is important to keep moving, with a lot of people sitting down throughout the day it is important to remember to move around. By adding a 10-minute walk to your daily routine this can help to improve mental health as well as your physical health. This small addition to your daily routine can help you to lose weight and maintain a suitable cholesterol level. This could help your health in the long term as this helps you to maintain a healthy weight.

The Power Of A Smile

Have you ever thought about how a smile can help you and those around you to feel better? The simple act of smiling releases chemicals into the brain helping you to channel positive emotions as a result. This act of smiling can also make you appear endearing and approachable to others allowing you to spread joy to those around you. This is something that can take practice to do but can have major health benefits. By making time to laugh and smile during the course of the day you can reduce stress and anxiety whilst helping to improve overall happiness.

Sleep

Having enough sleep is something that can be very difficult with a busy lifestyle. However, it is important to make the time. With the recommended sleep time aimed between 7-9 hours per day, it is important to look at how much sleep you are getting and how much this can affect your overall health.

If you are feeling like you cannot concentrate or are having trouble being able to focus on simple tasks, this may be a consequence of lack of sleep. In order to sleep accordingly make sure that your day is filled with exercise and activities. By filling your day with exercises and activities you will wear yourself out. This will allow you to stick to a simple sleeping schedule throughout the week.

If you struggle to fall asleep at night try relaxing before bed, whether this is through having a bath or shower or even reading a book to help you unwind, this can help you to fall asleep almost instantly.

Relaxation

Another important aspect of your health is relaxation. It is not good for your heart or your mind to be stressed 24/7 therefore, it is important to practice self-care wherever possible. With a number of meditation apps available to you both free and paid you can have a completely customisable experience based around your specific needs.

By adding ten minutes of meditation into your daily routine you can help to reduce stress and anxiety whilst helping to lower blood pressure. So with all this in mind, there are a number of considerations when thinking about your health in 2019 that are well worth considering.

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Intermittent Fasting – Introduction and How-To

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Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular. It appears that apart from marketing, losing weight is the most popular topic to be discussed online. People want to get rid of all those pounds, whether extra or seemingly extra to attain the ideal body shape. A multitude of diet plans have been devised; from cabbage soups to high protein diet to eight losing herbs and supplements, everyone is trying everything that might have the slightest notion of producing likable results. But in most of these diet plans, one has to give up eating their favorite foods. No more pizzas and pastas, some happily adopt an herbivorous lifestyle, just to lose weight.

But what if you do not have to give up eating your favorite dishes? What if you don’t have to try any experiments with artificial supplements on your body? What if weight loss could happen with you eating what you generally eat, and in the quantity you eat but still losing weight? Sounds elusive, right?

The truth is that it is possible. And this is not a new found theory, but it has been around for quite a while. Surprised?? Wondering what exactly is this magic diet plan? It is called, “Intermittent Fasting”.

Intermittent fasting is the trick to adopt. It requires a person to go on a fast for 24 hours, once or twice every week depending on the individual capability, and having a large intake of water/green tea during this time span. With the lifestyle we all lead, packed with work, food, more work and a truckload of responsibilities, it is not only difficult to take out time for gym and aerobic classes but truly impossible. Similarly, even following a diet plan can become monotonous, and everyone is aware of how diet plans quit working after some time since the body becomes immune to them. So you might just lose weight during the first month of your diet plan routine, it is assured that the results will start to wear off once the body becomes accustomed to the routine. On the opposite end, Intermittent Fasting will help you consistently lose weight and also maintain it. The routine is not difficult to adopt.

Steele Williams a leading celebrity PT and personal training course expert from TRAIN says that studies dating back to 1945 proved that Intermittent Fasting (IF) extended the life of mice. More recent studies on humans show that alternate day fasting increases SIRT3 proteins, which scientists believe are responsible for longer lifespans.

Also, IF has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, therefore reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and “bad” cholesterol.

All you have to do is pick a day or two in the time frame of a week when all you are going to be consuming is water, or better still, green tea. That one day where the intake of liquids is going to be on the rise; it will allow the metabolism to flush up and work off all those stored fats in the body. Take it more like a body cleansing day. Just like a shower is vital to rid the exterior of all the germs, a day on water is pivotal to rid the body of the harmful fats that are stored up.

In the remaining days of the week, keep on going with your normal diet. You do not have to give up food at all during that time. Sounds great? Well you will feel great once you try out this truly genius form of putting off those extra pounds!

Have you tried intermittent fasting? What are your thoughts?

 

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