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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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Everything You Need For A Home Gym Fitness

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Let’s say that you want to change your lifestyle. Some people buy new clothes, others get a haircut. However, there are those that want to devote themselves to the process of transforming their body entirely.

Getting Started

Working out is not something everyone’s fond of because it involves a lot of physical activities and sweating. Those that work out will tell you that the feeling is incredible. Not only is it good for your health, but for your physique as well. If you want to get slimmer and fitter, then you need to start working out as well.

Moreover, some people enjoy going to the gym. They like the company of others and can easily make new friends there. If you are not one of those people, then don’t worry. You can still work out even if you don’t visit a gym regularly.

Essential Home Gym Equipment

Nowadays, people are getting more and more interested in creating a home gym. This way, you can enjoy the comfort of your home without anyone looking or staring at you. Working out from home is the best. After you’re done, you can take a shower and watch a movie. There’s not a single person that doesn’t love this. Here’s some of the equipment that you might need to create your own personal home gym:

Weights

Weights are usually small and very practical. They are quite affordable as well. You can walk into a sports store and easily find the ones that will be good for you. If you are a beginner at this, then it is advisable that you get the lighter ones so that your arm can get used to the weight.

Once you get better at it, you can purchase the heavier ones. Every physical activity has a technique that needs to be mastered. You can watch online tutorials on how to accurately lift them. This will definitely get you those slimmer and tighter arms that you want.

Jump Rope

This item is probably the most practical one. Jump ropes are extremely easy to find, and they are probably one of the cheapest things you can get for a good workout. There are all sorts of activities you can do with a rope that will probably define every piece of your body. The jump rope is good for the calves, legs, thighs, hands, and arms. Make sure to check out Home Gym Reviewed for more details.

It is very easy to use, and all you have to do is jump. At first, it will be probably rather tricky because you’ll get quickly tired. Once you get the hang of it, you can jump a lot quicker and faster. Make sure to challenge yourself to do more and more jumping jacks each time you use the rope.

Exercise Ball

This item is also suitable for doing all kinds of physical activities. If you don’t know where to star, you can hire a personal trainer to come to your house and show you all sorts of techniques with it. The second option is to watch videos online with professional fitness instructors and how they use the exercise ball. The ball is affordable and really fun to use. You won’t be able to stop once you learn how to do the exercises with it. You can use it to build abs around your abdominal area or thighs as well. Whatever you choose to do with it, make sure that you sweat. A good workout always comes with a lot of sweat.

Stationary Bicycle

It’s the same as riding a bike, but you won’t be moving at all. You know how everyone says that it is very good for your health to ride a bike constantly? Well, you can get a stationary bike for your home gym and work out those legs and thighs. It’s a great piece of equipment that every homeowner needs to have. Read more here. The sensation and the feeling are the same as riding a regular bike. The more you ride it, the faster you’ll get the desired effect. Just don’t overwork your legs because they will hurt a lot later on.

Final Thoughts

Putting together your own home gym can be a rewarding experience. Often, you’ll be required to invest much less money than you think—provided you know how to shop! Careful study of home gym equipment reviews and your own personal goals will help guide you through the journey as seamlessly as possible!

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Nashville Personal Trainers for the Ultimate Body Transformation

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Some people prefer to work out at home where they’re most comfortable in. This can provide some results, but it won’t be the same if, for example, you work out with a trainer. You see, at home, you have no one to watch you and correct you if you’re doing something wrong. You can end up doing an exercise wrong all the time and risk damaging a nerve or a muscle in the body. This is not good, especially if you’re looking forward to losing weight.

Go With a Pro

Burning calories is easy. You just need to be persistent and motivated to do so. We all like to lie around in our beds, hoping to lose weight only by watching what we eat. This is not effective at all. You can lose 1 or 2 pounds by not eating unhealthy food, but it won’t make much of a difference. If you’re overweight, watching what you eat won’t be enough.

Benefits of Personal Trainers

This is where personal trainers come in handy. If you live in Tennessee, you would be able to find professional trainers very quickly. Nashville has quite the selection of experienced and knowledgeable instructors that will make all the difference in your life. Here’s why:

Quick results

If you have someone to monitor your progress continually, then you would be able to lose fat sooner. A trainer will show you the right technique for each exercise and create a nutrition plan that you have to follow. Just by following their program, you can start to notice a difference right away, instead of waiting for some miracle at home. You probably don’t know that much about a good fitness regime like a professional trainer does. Leave all the planning to the experts; you just play by their rules.

Avoiding injuries

Do you know how easy it is to pull a muscle or break a bone? Not doing the activities correctly can lead to all of that. That’s why it is safer to try your luck with a trainer and hope for the best. A trainer can guide you through all of the exercises until you learn to perfect them yourself. For example, lifting weights without guidance is the ultimate recipe for damaging your arm muscles. If you have a fitness instructor present at all times, you minimize the risk of injuries. So don’t waste any more time and find the perfect trainer for your workout.

Gaining muscle

Some prefer to lose only fat. Others want to build muscles. There can be a combination of both if you ask the right person for it. An experienced trainer will show you how to balance those things. Sure, you have to sweat and work really hard, but in the end, you’ll get the complete body transformation that you’ve been wanting since forever. Gaining muscle is a long process that involves proper nutrition like intake on proteins most of the time. You would be able to get used to that in no time, just be patient.

Setting goals

If you feel like you can’t set goals for yourself or don’t know how to, then leave it to the pros. Once you hire a personal trainer, you won’t have to worry about all of that. They can create a list of goals that you have to work really hard to achieve them. Of course, they would be here for the entire process to keep track of your progress. Setting goals will increase motivation, and they will lead you closer to your desire for the perfect body. Also, a trainer would be able to set realistic goals so that you wouldn’t lose hope.

Innovative workout routines

You can quickly get bored with repeating the same exercises over and over again. This might lead a person to quit if something repeatedly happens all the time. But, professional trainers know this. That’s why they mix up different combinations of physical activities so that each day you have something new to try out. This way, the whole fitness regime wouldn’t be monotonous. It will add to the sense of excitement and surprise trying to figure out what you will do next. Sooner or later, you can learn them all.

Establishing exercising habits

Let’s say that you’ve reached your goal. You were able to transform your body into something you’re glad of. This doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising altogether. You should continue the journey so that the body can stay fit. Believe it or not, after all that exercising and sweating, your trainer would have already made it a habit of you to exercise regularly. Once you get up in the morning, all you’ll want to do is go through a good workout. This is how things should go on in the future. Trainers pass their knowledge onto their clients to use it forever. To find out more click here.

Challenge

An excellent instructor would always challenge you to do and achieve more. Let’s say that you’ve done 50 jumping jacks. Each time your instructor would challenge you to beat your own score. This is how you get better and more confident in life. Soon you would be able to do 300 jumping jacks without breaking a sweat. It might seem impossible in the beginning, but with time and proper technique, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. You just need someone to challenge you all the way until you become a better version of yourself.

Encouragement

Everyone can have a minor setback when going through a journey of transformation. Let’s say that you’ve gained a pound or two instead of losing them. It’s normal for these things to happen. You mustn’t get discouraged once they occur. You are on the right track, but sometimes it takes a lot of time to notice a difference. This doesn’t mean that you won’t at all. Your personal trainer will encourage you constantly not to give up and embrace every setback as a lesson in life.

 

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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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