Am I a CrossFitter only in the gym?

Am I a CrossFitter Only at the Gym?

By Dr Christopher Passalacqua

Alright, you just did a great WOD, you may have even bested your last time doing this WOD, now what? You hang in the box for few minutes busting chops, congratulating your fellow athletes, and possibly eating a Paeliopack that JD just sold you for $8.74. Sip some water on the way home. Now the real time of life sets in. The WOD lasted 12:43 seconds and the rest of the day or night is ahead, now what?

Time after time are we caught up in the delight of what we just accomplished with a stunning workout and lack legitimate zeal for the rest of what makes up out daily activities; work, house chores, family time, meals, rest and shoveling the driveway.

The very fabric of our daily lives is actually what puts us in line for preparing for the gym and most certainly repairing from the gym. Vinny asked that I write a few thoughts down; we recently had one of many good conversations at the clinic after getting him adjusted. Everyone understands that when you work-out, your muscles and tissues are being broken down, the recovery starts within a 15 minute period of time and can last up to 48 hours. Most if not all, have experienced DOMS, delayed onset muscle soreness when your muscles and soft tissues are filled with metabolic byproducts, namely lactic acid and they are sore. Still rebuilding what was broken down from the WOD. The most important 15 minutes to a workout is what you put in the system to cause the healing process to get its greatest potential. Lots of healthy sugars, some protein, some fat. Right on, but then breakfast comes along and some bizarre foods start getting dumped into the system, cereals, toast, oatmeal, etc.  Not a fresh fruit or veggie to be found, no lean meats or healthy fats anywhere. How about a mid morning snack? What are you eating for lunch, now the WOD is only a few hours away? You see, every meal has its purpose and its rewards. Every meal either causes us to move in a direction of health and well-being or it doesn’t. Pretty simple stuff; don’t even get me started on water consumption…(half your body weight on ounces pr day is a safe place to start, but I’m not getting started!)

Sole Fitness E95 fitensity

How many hours of sleep are you getting, the greatest amount of HGH (human growth hormone) is secreted when we fall into deep sleep. There is research to suggest that teenagers would well to be getting 10-12 hours of sleep per night. How much are you getting as an athlete? How about a cat nap during the day? Are we burning the midnight oil getting that project from work done and forsaking a good night’s sleep? Staying up late to watch the news, “if it bleeds it leads?”  Sleep deprivation also causes our immune systems to falter, can’t shake that cold or sniffle?

What are we reading, filling our heads with, and hanging out with? There’s an old saying, “what you think about, you bring about, and you’re judged by the company you keep” so what and who are you thinking about? What you read has a lot to do with what you think about. Don’t get me wrong, I am addicted to reading probably more so than training. Retirement for me hold lots of hours in the library or now with my new Kindle. At home I read only fiction, but at the office I read a ton of journals and health related books. Constantly trying to learn something new or at least turn the kaleidoscope of information to see how it can apply to my patients or me…there is just too much to learn out there for the benefit of others and self to neglect the process of learning. I try and share some info with JD and Vinny and it’s refreshing to know they’ll read it, have read or are least open to hear about it. Constant learning away from the gym.

If we train to be more functionally fit, are we doing the everyday chores that make up a majority of our lives? Shoveling the snow and not snow blowing? Mowing the lawn in the summer, taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, dusting the house, laundry, cooking in stainless steel not Teflon, washing our cars, etc. How about family time? It’s what we are doing away from the gym that matters most, after all, the man that got me interested in power lifting once told me, if I wasn’t looking forward to the time away from the gym, I wasn’t working hard enough in the gym. He was right.

Simple rules for Crossfit apply to life away from the box, don’t cheat because you only cheat yourself, do your best at all your events, there are no second chances or do-overs, have a ton of fun, don’t compare yourself to others, be yourself , and don’t obsess over any particular WOD or exercise with leg press machine, it’s just not worth it. “Almost anyone can be successful or win when everything is going right, they are feeling good and have no problems. The real champions are the ones who can come through when they are really hurting, everything is going wrong and the sky is falling all around them. Whether it’s an injury, a tragedy in the family, a business failure, academic problems or any other kind of adversity, true champions seem to overcome and even thrive on the challenge, using the adversity to make them better.”    Wayne Boughman

Am I a Crossfitter away from the gym? I’d like to think so, at the end of the day life is a series of constantly varied functional movements executed at a high intensity, I’m acutely aware that most of life is ‘outside the box.’

Is your workout wasting your time?

I was tipped off to an absolutely incredible article online recently, and its title was just perfect, it’s called Is your workout wasting your time? Honest to goodness, that is EXACTLY what I think when I watch what passes for fitness training in this country today. Now don’t get me wrong, SOME exercise is better than NO exercise, but when I walk into a “fitness studio” and see three ladies up in front of a class with microphones on their head, going through light lightweight barbell curls and counting “ah, one… and ah two… and ah three…” THEN witness them putting the barbell on their shoulders to do “squats”, only what they call squats is more accurately described as “Ok, unlock your knees, move down one inch, and baaaaack up… ONE…”

The sad thing is, I had gone into this place before to see if they were hiring personal trainers. They weren’t, and if they were, they required some specific certification and I can’t even remember which one it was now.

All I could think though when watching this class is “Mr. owner dude, you are a professional, and you are absolutely wasting these people’s time and money. You are giving them a false sense of security about their health status, by telling them that this ‘workout’ is going to get them into a much better state of fitness”. I was legitimately ticked off at that moment. I’m disturbed that the “fitness industry” in the US today has come down to this, people thinking that they can do some cute “toning” workout that wouldn’t even get a truly fit person to breathe hard, and somehow that’s going to stave off disease, give them more energy, help them live longer lives, maintain their full physical capabilities well into their elderly years, and so on. They think that they can go to a state-of-the-art gym, hop on an elliptical machine, turn on the TV, turn off their brain for a half hour, and expect a real lasting benefit to their health. And on the other side of the gym, we’ve got people (mostly men) who think that in order to get stronger, they need to isolate every single individual muscle in their body. Heck, if they could isolate each muscle fiber, they’d do it. They completely neglect the fact that if you work out on a leg extension machine, you are doing one thing, and one thing only: Getting stronger on the leg extension machine.

I’m ranting, I know, but it bugs me because it’s so prevalent. I’m lucky, for a while I worked out at a facility where there are plenty of people who understand full range of motion, full body functional training. The free weight room is actually more populated in that gym than the machine room (and most people who go into the machine room go in there for one reason, because that’s where the pullup bar is mounted). I can’t say the same for the “cardio” room, that’s populated with lots of people droning away “doing their cardio”. But I must confess, I use the equipment in there from time to time. Because they have a Concept 2 rower in thttps://web.archive.org/web/20160331072806/http://www.hyperfitusa.com/here (SCORE!!!). Plus I’m a wuus and do my 5k WOD’s on the treadmill in the winter instead of running outside.

Guys and gals, I’m telling you this one thing: I don’t care if you come to train with us, or with Hyperfit USA, or with any of the other affiliates around. What I do care about is this: Do Crossfit. And don’t just “do” Crossfit, really “do” it. You can do it on your own, but take it from me, prior to partnering with JD and Vinny to open Motor City Crossfit, I would drive the hour to Hyperfit USA in Ann Arbor to learn technique and train with them as often as I could. It wasn’t frequent for sure, but it absolutely paid off dividends. There’s just something different about being in a group, with real coaches pushing you, and making sure your technique is correct. Over two years into my Crossfit experience (and with very good technique according to multiple coaches), I still benefit from a constant eye on my form to make sure I’m doing the workouts properly.

So, in short, get on out here. And bring a few friends, if you’re going to stick around a few extra decades now, you might as well have some friends stick around that long too.

In case the original source of the article is down, I’ve archived it here:


A no-nonsense look at the often nonsensical world of fitness clubs.

By: Paul Scott; Photo Illustrations: Matt Mahurin

A state-of-the-art health club recently opened in Rochester, Minnesota, where I live. A gleaming cathedral of exercise, it cost $22 million to build and features an expansive climate-controlled fitness floor beneath three-story ceilings and a soaring wall of windows. Like most American health clubs—a $17.6 billion industry made up of more than 29,000 clubs and 42.7 million members—the facility reserved its nerve center to house its greatest treasure: hundreds of futuristic and impossibly sleek cardio- and strength-training machines. Walking these aisles is like entering the showroom of a Mercedes-Benz dealership.

You can’t help but touch the things, to rub their cool slate-gray exteriors and to squeeze their padding. The mechanical housing has become more unisex, the digital readouts more technical, and the end result is an impressive ability to make you forget that this is the same basic collection of machines that have anchored the floors of health clubs for almost four decades. There are leg-extension, leg-press, leg-curl, and upper-body workstations in the aisles for building muscle, and treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary cycles in the aisles for developing cardio fitness.

On a recent afternoon, it thrummed with activity: Men and women logged obedient noiseless reps on a range of machines; runners banged out the miles on treadmills; and one gal raced away on an elliptical machine, legs neither running nor swinging, but doing something inexplicable in a feverish Road Runner–like blur. It’s a vision of exercise utopia that is mirrored in gyms across the country. Except that a growing chorus of critics find fault with it: The man jackknifed into the leg-extension machine could be risking knee injury; the exercisers slaving away on other stationary machines are building individual muscles in place of whole-body strength; the people slogging away on the treadmills with their eyes glued to TV screens seem like automatons.

No wonder the attrition rate for gym members hovers at 35 percent a year, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), and the latest estimates show that almost half of exercisers give up on a new routine within a year. It seems fair to ask if health clubs are partially responsible for the obesity epidemic, a trend that has followed the rise of the industry. Perhaps the first development has not been caused by the second, but it certainly hasn’t been helped either. With all the fancy equipment and with all the desire out there to look good, why can’t we keep the weight off? Why can’t we stick to our gym workouts? Is it our fault? Or does the fault lie elsewhere?

“The health-club culture tries to create a dependency on machines,” says Vern Gambetta, a trainer with 38 years of experience training professional and recreational athletes, and the author of Athletic Development: The Art & Science of Functional Sports Conditioning. “If you have a limited amount of time to work out, you’re better off ditching the machine to do different kinds of body-weight and whole-body exercises. You’ll get more caloric burn for your time spent.” Critics also charge that a traditional machine-centric regimen has other downfalls. In general, it relies excessively on the discipline of the exerciser, it promotes training muscles in isolation (as opposed to how muscles really work, in a chain of movement), and it can stress vulnerable joints more than is necessary. At issue is not only the very meat and potatoes of how you work out, but also the best way to get the most out of your time in the gym.

There is potential for pain in any workout. The key to preventing injury is to find your weak links and then modify your exercise to fortify your weak links, while also not putting stress on them, says Nicholas DiNubile, MD, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and the author of FrameWork: Your 7-Step Program for Healthy Muscles, Bones, and Joints. The three most common strength-training-related injuries Dr. DiNubile sees are rotator-cuff problems, knee issues, and lower-back pain. While these are not exclusive to machine-based training, the nonfunctional movements that some machines require, coupled with heavy loads and less-than-perfect form, can cause problems—especially in men over 40 whose joints are getting creaky—and are not especially meaningful.

Researchers, for instance, have known that the leg-extension machine (the unit in which you sit with your shin behind a padded bar attached to a weight stack and then straighten your leg in front of you) trains you to do just one thing: become very strong at the leg-extension machine. In one of the few studies on this subject, researchers from the University of Kentucky studied 23 patients with knee pain to see what made them stronger: a step-up test or doing leg extensions. While they found that both groups eventually became stronger at doing leg extensions, only the group doing the step-up test actually became stronger at stepping up and doing functional activities. The reason: The seated leg-extension machine has nothing to do with how we use our legs, which are meant to hold us upright against gravity while we walk, climb, or descend.

In fact, Chris Powers, a biokinesiology researcher at the University of Southern California, determined that although the thighbone rotates under the kneecap as we walk, using a leg-extension machine actually causes the kneecap to rotate on the thighbone. The mechanics of the leg-extension machine simply doesn’t simulate what happens in functional activity (e.g., walking, running, or going down steps). “The leg-extension machine puts a lot of strain on the knee ligaments and the patella,” says Tim Hewett, PhD, a professor in the departments of biomedical engineering and pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati. “I would never consider letting our athletes use a leg-extension machine.”

Paul Juris, EdD, executive director of the Cybex Institute, the research and education arm of the leading stationary-equipment manufacturer, says “maybe” to the criticism that leg-extension machines impose pressure on the knee, but adds that shear forces exist in a host of exercises, such as lunges and squats. “On the leg-extension machine,” he says, “I can mitigate those forces by moving the pad higher up the shin, raising the weight, and then using only the top 15 percent of the machine’s range of motion.” It’s a thoughtful response, but it undercuts the primary selling point of machine-based training, which is that using a machine is always safer than other forms of training. When it comes to promoting strength that is not meaningful, the leg-extension machine is one of many.

The leg press is equally disconnected from the reality of human anatomy. Doubters can Google the sight of 77-year-old televangelist Pat Robertson leg pressing what he claims to be half a ton, while former secretary of state Madeline Albright, who is 70, has stated that she is good for up to 400 pounds on a leg-press machine. Either these two septuagenarians are as strong as linebackers or something’s wrong here.
“There are no motor-control requirements on a leg-press machine,” explains Stuart McGill, PhD, professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario. “You just push. In real-life tasks, you have to balance on one leg, you have to sidestep, and you have to get all the muscles to coordinate together. These are very different patterns.” Machines such as the leg press and the leg extension give off a faulty assumption that muscles are to be strengthened one at a time—in isolation—rather than in the ever-changing alliances in which they must actually produce and reduce force in real life. According to Cybex’s Juris, we need to isolate muscles to get at hidden weaknesses, that, thanks to our body’s desire to protect its weakest link, we won’t otherwise find.

“If you have a weakness in a particular portion of your musculature, the body will compensate to protect that weakness,” says Juris. “The only way you can target that weakness is by isolating a joint.” Critics see the targeting of isolated muscle weakness as hubris, plain and simple. “How are you going to isolate every one of those weak areas anyway?” asks Gambetta. “That’s a reductionist view of the body. I take a holistic view of the body.” Gambetta calls “compensation for weakness” the beauty of the body. “The body is not a machine,” he says. “The body is smart.”

Many critics also say that health clubs perpetuate the false divide between strength and cardio. “This dichotomy is artificial,” says Gambetta. His argument is based on the perceived importance of VO2 max, the term for your maximum oxygen absorption potential and the holy grail of most sessions spent on a treadmill, stair climber, rower, stationary cycle, or elliptical trainer. “VO2 max is a popular yardstick for health because it is measurable,” says Gambetta, “but it is just one of many factors related to endurance performance.” If it’s the steady elevation of heart rate you’re after, any strength program based on whole-body movements will have your heart rate elevated as readily as the most popular elliptical trainer. It’s hard to understand how we came to the point where a healthy person with two good knees can find himself stepping off an elliptical trainer and climbing onto a commercial-grade Total Gym, a newly marketed device otherwise known as a gravity machine. Aren’t we all living on a gravity machine?

When he passed away on August 28, at the age of 80, Arthur Jones died having accomplished nothing less than fundamentally rewriting the way we exercise. In the late 1960s, Jones designed the multistation Blue Monster (later renamed the Nautilus), the first user-friendly strength-training machine. His invention “led to the ‘machine environment’ that is prevalent today in health clubs,” according to his obituary in The New York Times. The consensus within the health-club industry was that Jones’s legacy was for the better, both for the physical health of Americans and the financial health of modern health clubs. Joe Moore, president of IHRSA, says, “Many of the innovations he came up with in the 1970s are still incorporated into strength training on machines of all brands.” Nautilus vice president of product development Greg Webb said in The New York Times, “The idea of a health club changed. It became big business. Arthur Jones started that.”

If that is the case, it might trouble some to know that our machinery-based approach to fitness, far from having been distilled through years of careful academic study of biomechanics, was in fact set in motion by a ninth-grade dropout and amateur anatomist who carried a Colt .45, rode the rails, imported and hunted exotic animals, married six different women who were between the ages 16 and 20 when they married him, and “lived on a diet of cigarettes, chocolate, scrambled eggs, and coffee,” according to The New York Times. There’s no doubt that Jones’s invention brought resistance training to the masses, but his claim that he created a “thinking man’s barbell” is more marketing than truth. In fact, most strength machines are designed for bodybuilding and require relatively little expertise for either the user or the trainer, and therein lies both their appeal and their flaw.

If you are a bodybuilder—that is, if you have strength trained for years and dieted so rigorously that your body-fat percentage is in the single digits—then it potentially makes sense to train individual muscles in isolation. The other case in which machine-based training makes sense is in rehab, when the body has become so disabled that it must be rebuilt brick by brick. But most of us are neither crippled nor on the verge of entering the Mr. Olympia competition, so why do we train as if either is the case? The answer is a combination of the gyms’ desire to maximize profits, and our own desire to find workouts that don’t involve work.

“The club owners bought into what the equipment industry told us,” says Michael Scott Scudder, a former club owner and a leading consultant to the industry since 1991. And what the equipment makers ultimately told the gym owners was that if you stocked enough machines, you could do without as much one-on-one attention from trainers. “I don’t think fitness happens best in isolation,” says Steve Myrland, manager of Myrland Sports Training and a former strength coach for the University of Wisconsin and the San Jose Sharks. Various studies back this up, showing that people who exercise in groups maintain greater motivation to train than those who work out alone. “This is hard stuff, and it’s a lot easier to share hard stuff than do it yourself. At the clubs, you are going to be turned loose on the machines, and a machine is like an isolation booth.”

The desire to retain customers also has led to a modern gym environment that some critics believe sends mixed messages. “The problem with our gyms is that they misrepresent the fact that you are fundamentally there to do work,” says Jack Berryman, PhD, a professor of medical history at the University of Washington and a historian for the American College of Sports Medicine. “The modern gym is a techno holiday with gadgets and lights. They’re trying to entertain people.” And this can be detrimental to exercisers who are trying to stick with their workouts. Performance psychologist Jim Loehr, EdD, author of The Power of Story and chairman and CEO of the Human Performance Institute, in Orlando, Florida, advises busy corporate executives on how to become more successful at sustaining their commitment to fitness. He has found that a primary component for making exercise sustainable is to stop tuning out during workouts. “We don’t want you disengaged while you are working out,” he says. “We tell ourselves that exercise is so painful that the only thing you can do to get through it is to watch TV. Watching television and working out is a form of multitasking. To me, however, real value lies in paying attention. It is an engagement practice, it gets your mind off work, and it aligns what you’re doing with what you’re thinking.”

Perhaps the best evidence against traditional health clubs is that these days most elite athletes rarely step foot in one. They work out in environments designed for functional training. Evolving on the sidelines of the fitness industry for the last decade or so, functional training, or FT, has become the buzzword within the fitness industry, and many observers feel that it can cure some of the ailments plaguing health clubs.

An FT approach to fitness stresses the training of movements over muscles, the irrelevance of strength without mobility, the neurological foundation to strength and athleticism, and the use of simple tools to gain complex results. The main purpose of FT is to bridge the gap between absolute strength and functional strength, to achieve peak performance, and to prevent injuries, says Gambetta, one of FT’s early proponents. In general, FT discourages the use of machines in favor of free weights, body-weight exercises, and certain devices used in physical therapy, such as medicine balls, stability balls, wobble boards, and resistance bands.

The proliferation of FT-based approaches has touched various sports and all levels of athletes. For instance, there’s Bill Knowles, director of iSport Training, in Vermont, who has trained various Olympic athletes, and Greg Roskopf, founder of Muscle Activation Techniques, who has worked as a biomechanical consultant for the Denver Broncos, the Denver Nuggets, and the Utah Jazz. Core-training gurus such as Paul Chek and Mark Verstegen have built up extensive client lists with athletes from all the major professional sports. Boutique FT clubs are cropping up all over the country, such as Conrad’s Body Tribe, in Sacramento, California; Exuberant Animal, in Seattle; and Myrland’s Morning Movement Mayhem, in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2001, Gregg Glassman founded CrossFit, a back-to-basics functional-training program that’s popular with the military and law enforcement; it now has close to 200 affiliates, with outposts in almost every state.

Health clubs themselves are also adapting. “Most IHRSA clubs can now offer functional training,” says Moore, but you will have to seek it out. “Aerobics areas often have smaller classes that utilize free weights, dumbbells, and different types of balance mechanisms.” While men have traditionally avoided large classes, more and more are participating in small group exercises, says Richard Cotton, the American College of Sports Medicine national director of certification. “There’s a trend of groups of two or three signing up for a session together,” he says, “especially if they are transferring from a machine-based regimen to a functional-training approach, because learning the proper form is essential. Some guys worry that they’ll lose bulk, but that’s a misperception. You can still make strength and mass gains, and the advantage is that your body will be in better balance.” Michael Rogers, a professor of human performance at Wichita State University who has studied functional training in older adults, concurs: “Many young men strength train purely for appearance,” he says, “while older men are looking for exercises that will improve function in their daily lives, whether it’s a golfer strengthening his swing with a resistance band or a triathlete training his core on a stability ball. They realize it’s more meaningful to work out to enhance an aspect of your life.” In recent years, manufacturers such as FreeMotion and Hammer Strength Ground Base have built cable-based strength machines and special functional machines to build whole-body strength. Many allow ground-based training that does not conform to a factory-set plane of movement. In fact, my gym has some of these new machines, and a lot of health clubs have them, so there are some good choices to be made in many gyms if you know what to look for. But the essence of training smarter doesn’t require a high-end piece of gear, but rather the ability to absorb a small set of principles. Gambetta, who created the Freethinker’s Workout (opposite page), recommends using these guidelines to make the best decisions in the gym.

Train on your feet. Sitting is an unnatural body position for strenuous work. Once you sit, you lose your body’s natural anchor: the muscles of the back, butt, abdominal core, and legs. Ground-based training immediately puts an end to a host of outdated stationary-machine and free-weight lifts, including the bench press, military press, incline press, and chest press, and leg extensions, leg presses, leg curls, preacher curls, and so on. You’ll find that staying on your feet keeps your heart rate up, requires you to think creatively, and keeps your workout moving along efficiently. You’re either exercising or walking it off. That keeps your awareness up and boredom down.

Vary your pace. Stationary running or cycling can become a semiconscious plod, anesthetized by television. Structuring tempo builds aerobic capacity, burns calories more efficiently, builds strength, and helps develop the ability to absorb force while in motion. Tempo changes do not have to be intense, only clearly drawn, whether you alternate 30-second efforts or do an “inverted pyramid” of descending durations of effort. Mentally, varying your tempo makes the time go by faster as well. With alternating durations of effort, you are pushing, recovering, or holding steady, and never simply tuning out.

Train movements, not muscles. The five basic movements to develop in any exercise session are limited to different forms of stepping, pushing, pulling, squatting, and rotating. There’s no need to do one exercise for your biceps, another for your shoulders, and another for your chest. Two good pushing drills take care of them all. Instead of targeting the upper back and then the lower back, simply pull (in the form of pull-ups or incline pull-ups) and bridge (holding your torso stiff to build strength in your back). For the lower body, lunge, step-down, and squat drills are all it takes, and body weight alone is usually more than enough load.

Train for the four elements: stopping, slowing, descending/ascending, and catching. Many gyms don’t value the reduction of force—the catching of a ball, landing from a step-down, or changing direction—because there’s no easy way to measure it. Yet stopping, descending, and absorbing momentum are far more valuable for joint safety than any isolated strength-building exercise. This means not only throwing a medicine ball but also catching each return throw or rebound. It means stepping downward on one leg, running downhill, developing footwork agility, and squatting or lunging with control.

Prepare to use the distant corners of your gym. Since gyms are not often set up for clients who move their bodies across space or in multiple directions, who toss weighted balls, or who need to do drills that require stopping and starting quickly, a more athletically based use of your health club will often require taking over its less populated areas. Empty basketball courts, aerobics classrooms, and other open areas are necessary in order to train dynamically indoors, so get used to feeling like a pioneer on the prairie.

While Gambetta’s workout can be done in any commercial gym, some exercisers are looking for salvation outside the proverbial box. To build Revolution Defense and Fitness, a small commercial gym tucked away in a light industry business park in suburban Minneapolis, Damian Hirtz spent about as much on gear as the typical health club spends on its pec deck. Hirtz’s low-tech fitness center is an affiliate of CrossFit and has a climbing rope, kettlebells, medicine balls, jump ropes, a set of heavy bags, a set of big plates, and a chin-up station made from galvanized pipe he admits he bought in the plumbing aisle at Home Depot. That’s about it. No machines, no mirrors, no benches.

It’s not that he’s cheap. It’s just that it’s hard to break the bank when you’ve intentionally turned your back on the vast majority of gear that adorns the floor of the typical gym. “Why do I want distractions?” says the 33-year-old father of two boys, ages 6 and 13. “My clients want a workout that’s fast and efficient.” One of those clients is Brian, a 36-year-old mechanic, who is currently banging out the 30 pull-ups required for today’s “Dirty 30” workout, a timed set of 30 box jumps, walking lunges, kettlebell swings, medicine-ball wall throws, and other full-body exercises scrawled on a marker board. Hirtz allows Brian, and the other guys and one woman in attendance, to do the chin-ups with resistance bands to help them get over the bar. Or they get themselves up by swinging their torsos. Or they break up their work into smaller sets. Pulling is pulling.

All that’s required is that they do today’s workout together and mark their workout time when they’re done. “You compete only against yourself,” says Hirtz, “but you might work a little faster if you notice the guy next to you is working harder than you are.” Joining us for today’s effort are a 36-year-old bariatric surgeon named Chuck, a 33-year-old insurance underwriter named Mark, a 57-year-old musician named George, and a 36-year-old trainer named Gina. They share little in common other than no one looks overly fed or overly built. To a man (and one woman), they look lean and all-around strong. “Put them in any sport,” says Hirtz, “and they can hang.”

Promise to Women

One of the reasons some women don’t start working out or lifting weights is that they don’t want to get ‘big bulky muscles’. We’ve heard this many times from both men AND women. It’s a valid concern and we would like to reach out to you.

We’re making this promise only to the women because, well, fellas? If you get bigger icky bumpy muscles you can deal with it on your own.

It’s official…’I don’t want to get all big and bulky’ is no longer an excuse!!

See you soon!

–Motor City CrossFit

P.S. – Here’s a graphical representation of what we’re talking about. On the left you have a female marathon runner’s muscles. On the right you have a female weightlifter. This woman lifted nearly 200 lbs over her head in Beijing (198 lbs to be exact). And look at those big, icky muscles. If you aren’t afraid to look like the gal on the right, stop on by.

Since the above picture is kinda small, here’s the original :

And on a final note, guys, you DO get lean looking muscles when you do Crossfit type workouts, but pretty much end up looking the same as the ladies do if you’re a marathon runner (you decide if it’s attractive or not, see below). We’re built different, ladies don’t build those muscles like men unless they’re “using” something they shouldn’t be if you catch my drift.

Power Output Calculator

CrossFit is all about intensity. Intensity is correlated with power output. The more power you can put out, the better your results will be across the board. For example, a 165lb guy who does Fran RX’d in 2:15 averages about 345 watts, or 0.46 horsepower over the course of that workout (that’s a lotta power). That same guy, if he were to do Fran in 5:45, only puts out about 135 watts, or 0.18 horsepower over the course of that workout.

As time goes by, you can watch your power output go up in each workout. As your power output goes up, you know you are getting fit in many different ways. For example, over one year, I cut nearly 15 seconds off of my 400m run time, without having run barely at all that whole time. The key was, CrossFit helped me be able to put out a lot more power, which means that by the 200m mark, I was finally starting to breathe a little harder, where before, I’d be gasping 50m into the run. Power is king in life.

Of course not every workout is going to have a high average power output. Things like a 1RM deadlift by definition aren’t very fast, even though they are in fact intense and difficult. Similarly, doing 26 rounds of Cindy is near-heroic, but not very powerful in the grand scheme of things. What you will see is perfectly in line with one of the most basic principles of CrossFit, namely the energy pathways:

  • Short duration (<10 second) bursts of power allow extremely high power output. A 1RM Power Clean, which takes 1 second, has an average power output of about 1500 watts, or just over 2 horsepower.
  • Moderate duration (10 seconds to about 1-2 minutes) efforts allow high power output. The above Fran example is getting towards the trailing edge of this range, and has a high power output.
  • Long duration (>2 minutes up to infinity) – Allows lower power output for sustained durations. A 4 minute mile has begun using this as the primary pathway, as have most workouts where there is continuous effort such as Run 5k, Row 2k, 500 Squats for time, etc. What? You can’t do 500 continuous squats?

The key is, maximizing your power output in ALL of the energy pathways.

See the free issue of the CrossFit Journal for more info on these pathways, and other great information.

So, with this in mind, I have put together a handy dandy tool that will calculate your power output for any particular workout. It’ll also show the total amount of work performed in the workout. PLUS, what’s really cool is, since you were created differently than every other person on the planet, you put in your personal information like height, weight, and even the length of each segment of your body (torso, head & neck, upper arm, forearm, etc), and it will calculate YOUR power output based on YOUR body dimensions. Believe it or not, you could have a lower tabata squat score than your friend who’s the same weight, but still be putting out more power if your body dimensions were different enough.

Here’s the features of this nifty little program:

  • Calculates your power output for any workout.
  • Quickly displays customized power output for you based on your weight, height, body length segments, etc)
  • Has functionality for any girl or hero WOD.
  • Will be adding other common WOD’s in the future (Filthy 50, etc)
  • Make *sure* you enter your body data in the “Anthropometry” worksheet before using the calculator. You only need to enter this data once.

Trust me when I say this, it is *way* less complicated than it looks. It is made to open up to the “Anthropometry” sheet first so you remember to fill in your info (you can even guess your dimensions if you want, but it won’t be very accurate). The next sheet has all the info on it for workouts. Try a few out and play around with it.

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CrossFit acronyms

 

  • AMRAP: As Many Reps (sometimes Rounds)as Possible
  • ATG: Ass to Grass
  • BP: Bench press
  • BS: Back squat
  • BW (or BWT): Body weight
  • CFT:CrossFit Total – consisting of max squat, press, and deadlift.
  • CFSB: CrossFit Strength Bias. A program developed by Jeff Martin and Darrell White, explained here. You’ll need a CFJ subscription.
  • CFWU:CrossFit Warm-up
  • CLN: Clean
  • C&J: Clean and jerk
  • C2: Concept II rowing machine
  • DL: Deadlift
  • FS: Front squat
  • GHR(D): Glute ham raise (developer). Posterior chain exercise, like a back extension. Also, the device that allows for the proper performance of a GHR.
  • GHR(D) Situp: Situp done on the GHR(D) bench.
  • GPP: General physical preparedness, aka “fitness.”
  • GTG: Grease the Groove, a protocol of doing many sub-maximal sets of an exercise throughtout the day
  • H2H: Hand to hand; refers to Jeff Martone’s kettlebell “juggling” techniques (or to combat).
  • HSPU: Hand stand push up. Kick up into a handstand (use wall for balance, if needed) bend arms until nose touches floor and push back up.
  • HSQ: Hang squat (clean or snatch). Start with bar “at the hang,” about knee height. Initiate pull. As the bar rises drop into a full squat and catch the bar in the racked position. From there, rise to a standing position
  • IF: Intermittent Fasting
  • KB: Kettlebell
  • KTE: Knees to elbows. Similar to TTBs described below.
  • MetCon: Metabolic Conditioning workout
  • MP: Military press
  • MU: Muscle ups. Hanging from rings you do a combination pull-up and dip so you end in an upright support.
  • OHS: Overhead squat. Full-depth squat performed while arms are locked out in a wide grip press position above (and usually behind) the head.
  • PC: Power clean
  • Pd: Pood, weight measure for kettlebells
  • PR: Personal record
  • PP: Push press
  • PSN: Power snatch
  • PU: Pull-ups, possibly push ups depending on the context
  • Rep: Repetition. One performance of an exercise.
  • Rx’d; as Rx’d: As prescribed; as written. WOD done without any adjustments.
  • RM: Repetition maximum. Your 1RM is your max lift for one rep. Your 10 RM is the most you can lift 10 times.
  • SDHP: Sumo deadlift high pull (see exercise section)
  • Set: A number of repetitions. e.g., 3 sets of 10 reps, often seen as 3×10, means do 10 reps, rest, repeat, rest, repeat.
  • SPP: Specific physical preparednesss, aka skill training.
  • SN: Snatch
  • SQ: Squat
  • SS: Starting Strength; Mark Rippetoe’s great book on strength training basics.
  • Subbed: Substituted. The CORRECT use of “subbed,” as in “substituted,” is, “I subbed an exercise I can do for one I can’t,” For example,if you can’t do HSPU, you subbed regular pushups.
    Sadly, many illiterate posters get this bass-ackward, and claim that since they can’t do HSPU, they subbed HSPU for pushups. D’oh!
  • TGU: Turkish get-up (See exercise section)
  • TTB: Toes to bar. Hang from bar. Bending only at waist raise your toes to touch the bar, slowly lower them and repeat.
  • WO, sometimes W/O: Workout
  • WOD: Workout of the day
  • YBF: You’ll Be Fine (liberally applied in spray form)
  • PYSUWYAD: Pick your shit up when you are done