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The Open Guide – Recovery

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So far in our guide we have talked about how to tackle training and nutrition for the 5-6 week season. The time frame is the longest competition period in CrossFit (GW Strength & Conditioning athletes are likely to be in the same boat) and those who can feel both mentally and physically fresh each event have the best chance at success.
If you want to express your fitness to your highest level then you need to pay attention to recovery.
 
Unfortunately there isn’t a magic pill to save you from the fatigue and muscle soreness that will no doubt come after you push yourself thanks to the excitement of competition and crowd support. However, there are few easy things you can do to help you recover faster and are proven to aid performance across any length of season:
Post event
  • Cool down: immediately after you crush an Open workout, spend 5-10 minutes doing steady state, low intensity cyclical work. It’s a great way to restore bloody flow to your entire body whilst providing a very low aerobic stimulus.
  • Hot/cold hydrotherapy: GW athletes, if you haven’t experienced the benefits of our ice bath then this is the time to bite the bullet. Although it can be a little uncomfortable to begin with, ice baths can reduce perceived fatigue and soreness which will make you feel better. Feeling better is BETTER.
  • Eat & hydrate! I know you read yesterday’s nutrition article so there isn’t much to add here.

During the week

  • Active recovery: Adding 1 or 2 weekly 30 – 60 minute sessions of low intensity (heart rate below 75% or so, while maintaining a rhythmic breathing pattern) activity in a relevant setting (stay within your sport during competition) is a fantastic way to speed up your recovery and to improve your conditioning.
  • Avoid movement redundancy: thankfully your coach will do this for you, but if the first Event has mega-shit-tonne of burpees in it, guess what? You don’t need to do burpees for the following week. Train smart, let the muscle groups and movement patterns that are of primary focus in one event get some rest during the following week of training.
  • Mobilise, prehab and movement training: Quality training allows you to compete well each week. Restore ROM with mobility and proper warm up drills. Complete your injury prevention work every day. Above all else, move with purpose ON PURPOSE.
 One last thing….
Whilst it is too late now to make any serious jumps in capacity, there is something you can do today and over the season to ensure peak performance:
SLEEP

As Jami Tikkanen, coach of many CrossFit Games athletes, says:

Your body recovers its neurotransmitters, repletes energy sources, repairs tissues, renews immune system, releases growth- hormone, etc. all during your sleep. Insufficient (in quality or quantity) sleep means reduced brain, physical and immune function. Not enough sleep = poor performance and reduced ability to adapt to training stimulus (never mind poor health). Quite simply, great athletes sleep well, and you should too.

You will need 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night. Here are some tips to help you clock up the ZZZZZZ’s:

  • Cool your room to 15-19 degrees
  • Keep your room as dark as possible – blackout blinds and no lights
  • NO ELECTRONICS – unplug yourself from the Matrix
  • Wash your sheets, covers, etc weekly

A lot of these tips will actually benefit everyone year round. Compeition is a great time to develop habits. I challenge you to make a lifestyle goal to take on one of our tips, for example sleeping 7.5 hours every night, for the length of the Open and see how it can transform your performance in and out of the gym.

Part 4 of our guide comes out tomorrow and it is centred on the most important muscle of all: the one between your ears.

Coach Leigh

CrossFit | Strength & Conditioning | Personal Training

GW Performance

South Yarra

The Open Guide – Nutrition

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We are one sleep closer to the Open. Yesterday we discussed how to focus your training and concentrate your efforts on peaking for each event attempt. Today we want to remind you that the only way you can have elite performance and health is by taking care of your nutrition.

 

In all our previous articles and messages at GW Performance we have underlined the thinking that nutrition serves as the foundation for progress. Whether your goal is to improve health, performance, body composition or all of those; you cannot out work a poor diet.

 

Now, a bit of a disclaimer. The following is not a prescription, However, we can provide you with some knowledge on how to properly adjust your nutrition to compensate for the rigours of the Open

 

 Your gut is unique

 

If you’re after a meal plan template then feel free to stop reading here. Like training, nutrition is best designed on an individual basis. Of course, there are principles that serve as an umbrella to this topic and you can read more about them here:

Simple Nutrition Advice

Health Supplements

Performance Supplements

In sum, you need:

  • Enough energy to fuel day-to-day functions and exercise
  • Adequate protein to repair/build muscle
  • Adequate carbohydrates to recover from training and competing as well as fuelling long events (if one should arise)
  • Sufficient fat and micronutrients to keep you functioning at peak health.
  • An understanding that your gut health will affect performance and wellness.

Getting more specific, a factor athletes forget is that any competition is a stressor. Positive or negative, it’s simply stress. Your adaptation and ability to overcome that stress is what the Open season is all about for 40 + days.

A variable you can control during this period of stress is food absorption and a good mental state in relation to the food you’re eating. Ask yourselves the following questions:

  • What foods make you feel light and vibrant and mentally acute?
  • What foods weigh you down and make you want to have a nap?
  • What foods make training uncomfortable if consumed within 90 mins prior to start time?
  • Are you often very thirsty within the first couple of minutes of a high intensity workout?
  • Are most of your meals solid food meals?
  • What percentage of your foods are packaged?

The purpose of these questions is to highlight the importance of proper absorption. It is under your control and easily manageable.

Tips:

  1. Plan and prepare your weekly menu.
  2. Pay attention and note foods that you don’t digest well.
  3. Pack your daily nutrition with micronutrient dense whole foods and ensure you’re eating enough to recover from the positive and negative stress of training + competing.

Game day

For most of you, Saturday will be Game Day. We compete during the morning and you should be able to complete the event around your “normal” workout time.

For CrossFitters, the average Open workout is 10-14 minutes long and will contain all aspects of fatigue. It’s a wonderful dance between creatine phosphate, lactic and aerobic output. As every athlete is different, each dose response will be different. However, because we know the average demand for each workout we can advise some simple pre and post fuelling strategies:

CrossFitter tips:

  • If you have practiced and trained in a fasted state all year, don’t change your routine now. The best thing you can do is to ensure fuelling for the 2 days prior and adequate hydration.
  • If you are going to eat pre-event then ensure you do the following: plan a meal that is easily digestible and eat it well before “go” time. A slightly fasted state is going to be better than having your body try to digest food whilst going HAM on a CrossFit test.
  • Post workout is just as critical as pre. Emotions will be running high, you may be splayed on the floor exhausted from your effort whilst your mind might be running wild with thoughts of how you could have done better. Hopefully each of you will also be excited to support the rest of the community too! We recommend that you quickly debrief with your judge and coach then begin the recovery phase (slow aerobic cool down on either the bike or rower) plus begin re-hydrating and re-fuelling. Depending on your body type and digestion, either a drink of carbohydrates and protein or small meal within 30-60 minutes of your event will be best. Continue to re-hydrate consistently throughout the day and week.

Strength & Conditioning athletes have very similar requirements, albeit on the days we test strength & power. For these events that are primarily creatine phosphate (ATP) energy system dependant – i.e. short bursts of high power output – you should consider caffeine in your pre-workout routine. The caveat with caffeine or pre-workout supplements is that competition is not a trial phase. If you haven’t been doing it before then don’t try something new now! If you’re unsure how you’ll react and/or digest such things then starting on them during competition can be risky for your performance.

 

 

Above all else, around the Open tests, please focus on lifestyle consistency, not changing much apart from maybe eating cleaner and being extra prepared. Ensure that you are doing self assessments on your energy, rhythm and confidence. This will give an idea how to balance it all to optimise your chances of success  throughout the season.

Coach Leigh

CrossFit | Strength & Conditioning | Personal Training

GW Performance

South Yarra

Mobility Monday | Ep 7 | Barbell Lower Body Soft Tissue Complex

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Today’s episode will be covering a routine that is a perfect progression from your stock standard foam rolling.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. Using the barbell for soft tissue work is a lot more direct compared to a foam roller so take your time and apply pressure as required.

2. Try out all positions and really focus on the most tender sights – typically the calves, ITB and Adductor Magnus/VMO are VERY delicate in the beginning.
QUES FOR THE DRILL:

1. Play around with the position of your legs and the tension if your muscles while going through each position.
I hope you can get some painful tips from this complex and stay tuned for next week!

 

Dylan Jones

 

Jerk Skills with Coach Mitch

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Coach Mitch demonstrates a complex that can be used to warm up before completing a Jerk or overhead session. This complex is designed to be completed with a barbell or at a low percentage of your Jerk or Press 1RM.

A great way to engrain the skills of the jerk and get the body primed for your session. Have a go at this complex next time you are warming up for your Jerk or overhead session.

 

Mobility Monday | Ep 5 | Thoracic Bench Mobilisation

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Today’s episode will be tying in the last two episodes by intergrading the newly found thoracic mobility into drill which gets the trunk and upper body working together.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. This drill will help lengthen out Triceps and lats (Latissimus dorsi), while increasing Thoracic extension and teach anterior core “stiffness”.

2. Tight/weak lats, triceps and T-spine have a huge implication on the ability to get into a front rack position and to do overhead work safely so this is a great drill to do before training or between sets.

3. Having the ability to keep the anterior core stiff and to resist against Lumber extension is critical for lower back injury prevention.
QUES FOR THE DRILL:

1. Keep your elbows at the end of the bench and as you drop your hips back sink your chest and head down between your arms while letting your scapulars to move freely around the ribs.

2. Keep your abdominals braced and make sure to resist against lumber extension while extending through the T-spine while completing each repetition through the tempo of your breath.

 

AGAIN, THANKS TO:

Eric Cressey from Cressey Sports Performance based in Hudson, Massachusetts.

I hope everyone is working off some of that Christmas joy and stay tuned for the next episode in 2017!

Dylan Jones

 

Level Up for The CrossFit Open: Optimise your THRUSTERS

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In Part 2 of this CrossFit Open series I offer my 5 tips on how you can make the Thruster more efficient. It’s no surprise each year when we see this movement appear the Open. The thruster is seen as one of the “staple” movements within CrossFit. Being able to excel in CrossFit requires proficiency in movements so that one can maximise their power output in fast paced, uncomfortable tests of capacity. Therefore efficiency is key!

 

The Benefits

First, due to the uncomfortable demands of any CrossFit met-con, the benefits of training the Thruster can often be forgotten. We get distracted by the pain of doing workouts like Fran or 15.5 and forget the beauty of the training effect. The Thruster is a compound movement (multi-joint) combining the Front Squat and Press. Each set also must begin with a Clean or Power Clean. This means we are using the whole body to move a load (i.e. the barbell) a long distance. That output creates a large metabolic demand. Put simply, your body needs to recruit a lot of muscles and oxygen to get the work done. Your lungs, heart and muscles are getting worked.

The Thruster is also very versatile. Not only is it a great tool for higher repetition work as described above, we can add weight and use it to develop strength & power. We can also constantly vary the implement. Although usually performed with a barbell, the thruster can be completed using a variety of different equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, deadballs, sandbags and more!

 

The Breakdown & 5 Tips To Improve Efficiency

I have found the following 5 tips the most beneficial when it comes to improving your efficiency and overall performance. But first, let’s break down exactly how to do a thruster.

  • Stance: your feet should be shoulder-width apart in the position you would normally stand for an air squat, with the barbell front racked on your shoulders. Placement of your hands should be no wider than the outsides of your shoulders, with your elbows up in the front rack position.
  • Core to extremity: Keeping midline stable and posture neutral, pull your hips down and descend into a below-parallel squat.
  • Apply force: From the bottom position, explode through the heels to drive you and the bar beyond the start position , using the momentum to simultaneously gain a “thrusting” sensation which propels the bar off the shoulder into the Press.
  • Finish: in a standing position with the barbell fully extended overhead. The bar should be over the centre of the body; ie inline with ears, hips and middle foot.
  1. Improve your Front Squat position

Remember, the first aspect of the Thruster is either going to be a Clean or a Power Clean into a Front Squat. If you have mobility restrictions that do not allow you to move smoothly through the squat to below parallel, then this is the first thing that needs addressing. Improve your position by releasing your hips, upper back and ankles to provide yourself with a comfortable squat stance. The better your movement quality the less energy it will take to execute the movements.

  2. Midline Stability: elbows up, eyes straight ahead and spine neutral

As with every movement in the gym, you need to learn brace your core first. This is the key to locking in your posture. Once your posture falls apart so too will your performance. The common coaching queue of “elbows up” is aimed to help athlete’s keep their neutral spine. By keeping your elbows high it creates a solid rack position for the bar to rest on your shoulders. Continuing to lift the elbows during the squat will help you from dropping your chest. Typically your eyes will follow the line of your elbows, so keep them up too.

  3. Drive through your heels

As soon as you come too far onto your toes, you are generating forward momentum and instantly lose power due to the instability. During the Thruster the barbell should be moving up and down in a straight path in the vertical plane. If the majority of your balance is not in your heels, you will rock forwards and backwards and the barbell will move outside of that ideal pathway. This then requires extra work. We don’t want to do more than we have to!

  4. Breathe

In most workouts, the inclusion of Thrusters means that the WOD is designed to gas you out. A lot of people forget to breathe when performing the thruster, as they are so intimidated by the movement. Instead, utilise your breathing to keep a steady rhythm. Try one breath per Thruster; inhale on the way down, and exhale at the top of the Press. Steady breathing is one of the most important factors when it comes to cycling Thrusters within a workout. Having improved control over your breathe will allow you stay composed even in the toughest workouts.

   5. Don’t grip too tight!

A tight grip can quickly fatigue your forearms during thrusters, so loosen your grip when you can. You should feel the weight on your body, resting the barbell in a comfortable position across the shoulders, allowing the legs to control the power within the movement. When the bar is overhead, tighten your grip slightly to prevent the bar from wobbling or dropping unexpectedly.

Put these lessons into action and practice!

  • Practice small range (sub-maximal) sets with a light and manageable weight. The goal is skill adaptation, NOT to build strength
  • Progressively increase the rep range rather than increasing the weight. Once you’re efficiently able to cycle 12 to 15 reps of a barbell movement you can then return to small ranges with a heavier weight.
  • Practice small sets within a workout at intensity. Over time you will grow in confidence and ability. Then, when the time is right, you can unleash your new skill during the Open!
  • Improve your mobility. Better mobility provides a better position, better position allows greater efficiency!
  • There is so many great videos on technique for not only the thruster but all barbell movements. Including this one by Jason Khalipa http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sWdo3dxgROI
  • Ask your coach. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or feedback from the person who sees you every day! We are here to help!

 

Look out for my next part of the series where we will step away from the barbell and focus more towards some gymnastics skill, starting with the pull up!

Strength & Conditioning For Junior Athletes: The Essentials

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As a strength and conditioning coach working with youth athletes is arguably one of the important parts of the job. As a coach you can have an amazing impacts on a child’s development physically, emotionally and also cognitively.

This article is aimed towards both coaches and parents looking at how we should we specifically train youth athletes. If you still need to catch up on the benefits of strength and conditioning for youth athletes then check out my previous article here:

Junior Athletes Need Strength & Conditioning

 

As we have seen there are a number of benefits to strength and conditioning and it is essential for athletic development. But how are youth athletes different than training mature adults?

A youth athlete needs to be trained, progressed and treated differently to an older individual. Obviously the basic principles may be the same but how we adapt the exercises and sessions may be completely different. We are going to look at the essential parts of a session for a youth athlete:

 

FUN –

Youth athletes need to have fun and enjoy their training session. At the end of the day they are kids. They have shorter attention spans and as they develop they may start to understand the more serious side to training. As a coach we need to ensure the programming is fun and engaging for the athlete. They will be able to handle short bursts of information but keeping the session fun will allow them to stay motivated and connected!

PLAY –

Play goes hand in hand with fun. Unlike adults tough and intense training may not work for youth athletes. During play, kids have the opportunity to learn while using their imagination, creativity and pushing their physical boundaries. The addition of games and other activities can further enhance their learning in a safe environment.

TECHNIQUE/FORM –

 Technique is important for individuals of all levels but is especially vital for younger athletes. Children are a blank slate and as a coach we are setting them up for their future. At this young age we are responsible for teaching them the correct movement patterns so poor technique can be detrimental to their development. Setting a high standard from the start will assist the athlete in the long term and most importantly reduce their risk of injury. Technique always comes first!

COMMUNICATION –

 Communication is key. As a coach we need to be concise, clear and easy to understand especially for kids. Providing the right information is essential whilst also understanding that every individual learns in different ways. For example one child may learn mainly through visual information where another may need to feel the movement. During the session it is also good to provide positive feedback and how they can improve their performance. We need to create an environment where it okay to make errors as it is form of learning and getting better.

LONG TERM –

 Training youth athletes is all about the long-term process. As coaches and parents it can be easy to only examine the short-term results without stepping back and seeing the bigger picture. We want youth athletes to progress and develop naturally with our main goal being to aid their long term development.

Training should focus on building the basic fundamentals and providing children with tools to continue on their health and fitness journey. Focus on long term athletic development and you will set them up for years to come!

 

Children are the future. Taking the time to teach them about S&C is essential during their early stages of development. While the principles and methodologies may be similar, youth athletes need to be trained differently to adults. As coaches we should focus on building a strong training base and natural progressing in a fun and safe environment. This combination will allow kids to thrive in S&C and enjoy their journey!

If you are looking for a safe environment with high-level coaches to further develop as an athlete then contact us to find out more. At GW Performance we have educated coaches who can cater to a range of athletes. Email us at info@gw-performance.com.

CrossFit at GW in 2017: Phase 1, Foundation

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Welcome to the new year. With the start of 2017 comes the beginning of a 6 week training phase that will establish a baseline to launch from. You will establish strength, power and various fitness standards that you can progress from all year.

We are also approaching the 2017 CrossFit Open. At this point in time we want to work on figuring out what is limiting you from maximising your power output. Be consistent in your attendance and there will be nothing to worry about 😉

If you haven’t already, set some SMART goals with your coach. It is time to dig in and enjoy the ride of another opportunity to get fitter!

Mobility Monday | Ep 3 | Thoracic Extension Mobilisation

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Today’s episode will be covering one of my favourite mobilisation drills for the upper back/thoracic region on the spine.

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

1. A good analogy of the spine is to think of it like a tree; at the base of the tree (Coccyx, Sacrum & Lumber spine) there’s little movement which is it’s stable foundation. But, further up the tree (Thoracic & Cervical spine) mobility increases to allow the trunk to move freely.

2. Shoulder mobility starts with the spine so if you’re lacking thoracic extension, forget about doing overhead work safely.

3. Thoracic spine, Scapular and Glenohumeral joint (shoulder) have an incredible synergistic relationship so adequate thoracic mobility must be maintained if want healthy shoulders.
QUES FOR THE DRILL:

1. Use a back ball, two tennis balls tapped together or a thin foam roller and start just below the inferior angle of the scapular. After a set of 5-8 repetitions slowly move the object towards the head an inch and repeat for 2-4 sets

2. Focus on wrapping your shoulders back while keeping your ribs down and make sure not to compensate with Lumber extension.

3. Complete each repetition through the tempo of your breathing. So as you exhale extend back over the object and flex forwards as you inhale.

 

I hope you have enjoyed the episode and stay tuned for next week!

Dylan Jones

Snatch Skills With Coach Mitch

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Coach Mitch demonstrates a complex that can be used to warm up before completing a snatch session. This complex is designed to be completed with a barbell or at a low percentage of your snatch 1RM. A great way to engrain the skills of the snatch and get the body primed for your session. Have a go at this complex next time you are warming up for your snatch session.