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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.

 

How it is YOU that is limiting your success.

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If you’re looking for certain ways to hold yourself back from progressing, try doing this:

  • Dismiss your progress
  • Whinge
  • Complain
  • Give excuses / stories / false justifications

This article might be a bit clichéd for some of you. However, I want every reader to ask themselves “Am I prone to these behaviours? How are they in any way contributing to success?”.

Dismissing your progress

 Over the last week we have had testing and competitions for lots of members to get a measure of their fitness and progression. The results have been OUTSTANDING! However, here are some peculiar things I’ve heard:

  • I only PB’d “Isabel” by a measly 7 seconds
  • I only added 2.5kg to my Push Press 3RM, that sucks
  • I didn’t do well. I got further in the Death by 2km but I didn’t finish it

A personal best is a PERSONAL BEST! Every kg, second, round or rep matters. It is hard evidence that you are getting BETTER!

What if you didn’t get a PB? The first thing to address is the context:

  • Did you train enough?
  • Are you sleeping right?
  • How’s your nutrition?
  • HOW’S YOUR LIFE?

There are many factors that should be taken into consideration to give your results perspective. Adjust your perception and realise that sometimes you should be celebrating the EFFORT you put in, not just the result.

Whinging and Complaining

When you approach a task negatively, like whinging and complaining about how hard, stressful or difficult it is, you are cutting yourself off mentally and severely limiting your ability to focus before you have even begun the task at hand. How are you able to do something 100% if you have already used your mental and physical energy on doubt? When a challenge arises, take the task for exactly what it is, an opportunity that can challenge you to be better.

Making Excuses.

 

Excuses, excuses, excuses. The more you use them, the more you hinder yourself from being your full potential. The saying goes, everything happens for a reason, this is because life is a process, and your success in whatever you approach goes hand in hand with your ability to confront whatever comes your way with a positive mentality, the road to success doesn’t have room for negative energy or complaining.

The next time you find yourself stepping into the slippery slope of excuses, take a moment to take a step back and analyse your approach; is your energy positive or negative? If it’s negative, take the opportunity to turn it around and use it to power you to your full potential.

Coach Leigh

Laren: Return to Sport from Hip Surgery

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Athlete Name: Laren G.

Sport: Cricket.

Goal: Return to sport from hip surgery and cricket specific performance.

One of the best parts of my job is seeing the progress of an athlete who has gone through an injury and is dedicated to returning to their sport. I have been involved in the rehab and return to sport process of ACL reconstructions, shoulder reconstructions and tendinopathy and fractured wrists. Most notably however is a cricket athlete of mine, Laren, who after years of repetitive loading through his hip from fast bowling developed a CAM lesion and labarum tear in his hip. After managing the injury during his last season of cricket he went in for surgery during the off season. I’d like to give you all a little insight into the process of getting him back playing.

Stage 1: Restore proprioception and muscle activation.

In the very early stages his rehab the main goal was to restore activation of the smaller glute muscles with some range of motion improvements. Due to the nature of his surgery we had to tread carefully with how much we mobilised and loaded the joint to not aggravate a surgical fracture created to aid recovery. Therefore, majority of the exercises were body weight and were proprioceptive based, ie: supported SL balancing progressing to unsupported SL balancing with eyes closed.

 

Stage 2: Restore range of motion and neuromuscular firing patterns.

The aim for this phase was to improve firing patterns and mobility of compound movements. I began to add in body weight squats to a high marker with the progression to first increase the range before adding excessive load. Along with this we also included kettlebell Romanian deadlifts (RDL), mini-band hip thrusts and low box step ups as accessory movements to further improve strength and to start loading the hip. The assault bike became his best friend during this time as it is a great way to put the hip through motion in a low load and not impact setting.

Due to compensatory movement patterns and tight muscles Laren developed a mild patellar tendinopathy which was managed through isometric and tempo loading and soft tissue treatments.

 

Stage 3: Improve muscle mass and strength and return to running.

Laren then completed a good 8 – 10 weeks of hypertrophy / strength biased programming to improve muscle size and strength to ensure the muscles and tendons were strong enough to handle higher loads prior to a strength bias phase. During this phase we also worked on basic jumping and landing mechanics drills to start providing impact loading. We saw further mobility improvements during this phase where Laren can now squat lower than pre – surgery! Laren had been given the clear by his physio for any movement restrictions and he began the return to running phase.

 

Stage 4: Return to sport.

Now the foundation had been laid, it was time to reintroduce some higher level movements such as weightlifting, higher level jumping/plyometrics and other power exercises (loaded and unloaded) in combination with continuing to improve strength in the fundamental movements.

Laren is able to now bowl during training and has now played his first match, although not ready for match bowling he is able to field and bat with no issues. He has been very consistent with his rehab which has shown in his recovery. Although initially the process is monotonous, it is essential to lay foundations for later training to allow for return to sport safely and effectively.

If you would like any further information on returning to sport after an injury, feel free to contact me at mitch@gw-performance.com.

191116

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GW Performance – CrossFit

Warm-up

Open 16.2 Warm Up (No Measure)

PRE CLASS

Trigger: Posterior Shoulder + Psoas

Mobility: Banded Extended Front Rack + Banded Hamstring

2 Rounds

Dislocates x 10

Leg Swings x 10 EW

Caveman sit x 30 sec

SL Calf stretch x 30 sec alternating

1 Round

Calf raises x 10-20

Kip swing x 10-20

Clean grip RDL x 5-10

Standing Samson Floss x 10 ES

Squat jump x 5-10

Strength

ALL: Back Squat (12:00 / Build to heavy 3 / 20X0)

NOT MAX!!

Metcon

ALL: Metcon (Time)

WOD FOR IVY

3 Rounds For Time:

Run 400m

15 DB Snatch E.S. (25kg / 15kg)

6 Back Squat

Score: Subtract 1 sec off total time for every kilogram used in each set of Back Squats (e.g. 100kg used = subtract 300 seconds from finish time)

181116

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GW Performance – CrossFit

Warm-up

FYF OG (No Measure)

PRE CLASS

Trigger – Shoulders & Hips

2 x Banded Hip Stretches

2 x Banded Shoulder Stretches

_________________________________

1 Round x 30s

Spiderman Lunge + Rotation (Alternate)

Couch Stretch ES

Frog Stretch

Shoulder Dislocates

2 Rounds

Wall Squats x 5

SL Hip Thrust x 5 ES

Cross-Over Reverse Fly x 10

Scap Pull-ups x 5

Banded Good Morning x 10

3-5mins Practice

Double Unders, Row Technique, Handstand Skills, Kipping, Muscle-ups, Pull-ups or Oly Skills

Core / Trunk Circuit (10:00) (No Measure)

EMOM (2 Rounds)

1. Feet raised plank hold 30-45sec

2. Support hold (box or rings) 30sec

3. Medball Sit-ups x10-20reps

4. L-hang/Tuck hang from bar 30sec

5. Rest

Metcon

ALL: Metcon (AMRAP – Rounds and Reps)

16:00 AMRAP

12 Goblet Lunges (16kg / 12kg)

8 Burpees to target

12 Goblet Lunges (16kg / 12kg)

8 Toes To Bar

12 Goblet Lunges (16kg / 12kg)

8 H/R Push Ups

171116

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GW Performance – CrossFit

Warm-up

Overhead 7 (No Measure)

Pre Class

Roll – Thoracic, Lats and Biceps

Trigger – Pecs and Shoulder Ext. Rot.

Mobility – Lats on Bench and Pecs on Floor

__________________________

2 Rounds

V-T-W-A x 10

Wall Angles x 10

Scap Pull Up x 5

FLR x 20 seconds

1 Round

Band Y Press x 10

Wall Climb x 5

Band Donkey Kicks x 5 E.S

Bear Crawl With Ball x 20m

Strength

FIT: 12:00 Pull Up Progressions A. (No Measure)

Complete for QUALITY

10 x T – W

10 x Crossover Pull Down

3 – 5 Eccentric Pull Ups

2 – 4 x 10 Banded Pull Ups

PERF: Strict Chest to Bar Pull Ups (5 Set Ladder)

Set 1: near max

2 to 5: less one rep per set

Metcon

FIT: Metcon (AMRAP – Rounds and Reps)

10:00 AMRAP

5 Hang Power Snatch (42.5kg / 30kg)

10 Pull Ups

30 Double Unders

Scaling –

HPS: weight

PU: Ring Rows

DU: 2 x attempts

PERF: Metcon (AMRAP – Rounds and Reps)

10:00 AMRAP

5 Hang Power Snatch (62.5kg / 42.5kg)

5 Muscle Ups

30 Double Unders

Scaling –

HPS: weight

MU: 5 x (2 C2B + 2 Ring Dips)

DU: no.