Thursday, May 21, 2009

Youth is Mobility


150 Squats

There are some things about our youth that we would prefer to forget :)

In fitness terms, youth is mobility. When people see someone who's been on the planet for 80 years still going up & down stairs, carrying their own groceries & headed to the dance hall a couple times a week, they often comment about how young that person seems. It's because they're still moving around independently. It's when we start needing help up off the couch at a family gathering that we start to seem "old" to people. It's that lack of mobility & independence. 

The best way to combat that? Keep Moving! Especially your legs! I have a friend who is 85 years young and is still going strong. He said that he realized years ago that most people end up needing a cane or the like just from the muscle loss of age. So he does squats every day. 

Yes, squats.

The squat is the most effective exercise for keeping you "young." You do some sort of squat every time you get up from a chair, a park bench, or the toilet seat. By doing multiple, full range of motion squats, these previous activities should never seem "hard." 

So do your squats!

Here's a link to good squat form; keeping the lumbar curve, chest up, knees tracking over the feet, & weight in the heels. In the video, they are performing front squats with weight, but the comparison of good and bad is very good for any squat, even good ol' bodyweight squats.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Add some weight!

Today's workout.

20 x 50m sprints. 

Sprint down, walk back & immediately go again, the walk is your rest!

Yesterday's post was about functional capacity. Today's will address the lifting of heavy things. 

I think we can all agree that if you can lift 100 lbs off the ground, you can easily lift a 30lb box of copier paper.  Many of the feminine half of the population worry about lifting heavy and getting too big & bulky. For the vast majority of the population, this need not be a worry. Since we are training functional, multi-joint movements, we are building coordination and agility as much as we are building muscle. If you just want to sit down and do bicep curls, then yeah, you'll probably put on size. But there are surprisingly "small" guys who can put 200 lbs over head. It has more to do with correct form and timing, than actual muscle contractile potential. 

The purpose of the movements we do in CrossFit are not to build muscle, they are to efficiently & safely move a weight over a certain distance. That's why we get on you with your deadlift form. It's both more efficient & more safe to keep correct form. 

In life, we my never approach our max lifts in the gym. We may never have to move a 100 lb anything anywhere. That's precisely why we do it in the gym. The gym is a place where we can safely push ourselves way beyond our comfort zone, and out on the edge of our capabilities. Wouldn't you rather try to lift that 100, 200, 300 lbs in the relative safety of the gym. Wouldn't you rather train your body for something bigger & better than what life may provide. 

For some professional, you may be tested at the edge of your capabilities. Firefighters & police officers come to mind. For the rest of us, we may never approach our max deadlift anyehere in our daily life. But if you can deadlift 150 lbs, & are a mom of two, with an office job, stopping by the pet store on the way home, lifting that 20 lb bag of dog food out of the car got a whole lot easier, didn't it?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Functional Capacity


150 Squats
50 Pull-Ups

There are a lot of things we read in health or fitness magazines, or see in the general media which may not apply to everyday life, or functional capacity. 

Functional capacity is defined as your ability to do work. For the purposes of this post, we're considering work in the mathematical/mechanical sense of moving some load (mass) over a distance. That could be your stapler from the left side of your desk to the right side, carrying the groceries from the car, or putting 95 lbs on the bar and going overhead. These all demonstrate a certain measurable amount of work. Your ability to complete these task gives you a certain measurable work capacity.

My mother could never understand why someone would walk on a treadmill when you could step outside and actually get somewhere in the process. I feel similarly. It's better than nothing (though just) to spend 45 minutes on the elliptical, but have you trained your body to do anything productive? Will you use that motion, or anything similar, in the rest of your day? I suspect not. I suspect you would more likely, on a daily basis, to squat (ever get up from a chair?), lift something overhead (put a book on a high shelf?) or deadlift (pick up anything from the ground?).

Don't get me wrong, the elliptical machine is great for elliptical-ing, and perhaps for rehabilitation, but for most of us, it will not enable an easier time with any physical task in our day. 

Most exercise media is just made for to fill up said media, and lacks true functional application. Which is fine if you just want to "sit like this" more effectively. But wouldn't our valuable time be better spent performing exercise that just might relate to the motions we're already doing on a daily basis?

Tomorrows post will address the benefits of lifting a wee bit heavy. I'm sure you already know it's functional :)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Beach Workout! (6 seconds!)

Ah the Beach..

5 rounds for time of:

12 Med Ball Slams
15 Meter Lunge
12 Dumbbell Swings
15 Meter "long" Jump

Today, for the first time ever, Lisa beat her friend Amber in a 6 seconds! This is an incredible accomplishment. When they first started working out, Amber had a consistent lead over Lisa of anywhere from a minute to a minute and a half. Lisa has really been pushing herself, and has been slowly closing that gap. 

Today, there was no more gap. Lisa-9:33, Amber 9:39. Woohoo Lisa!!

A Glimpse of Intensity. May 8, 2009

Had two ladies really push themselves today.

5 rounds for time of:

10 Front Squats
10 Push Press
15 (each side) Medicine Ball Sit & Twist

Each used a "ladies" bar weighing 33 lbs, with a 9 lb med ball. . They both finished in under 10 minutes. Well done.

I call today a "good" workout because, I could see in both of them that there was a moment that they both felt like they couldn't do any more. At different times, they both stopped, took a breath, and kept going. 

I'm not saying that every workout should be like this, especially when you're first starting out. This is, however, the kind of intensity you should be building to on some kind of regular basis. The great thing about this kind of intensity is that we can all get it from the same workout! Throw some weight in that bar, and hand it to a firebreather, and he'll be hitting that wall just like my two ladies today. 

That intensity sure is a bear in the middle of the workout, but when you finish, the sense of accomplishment keeps you on a wee bit of a high the rest of the day.

About the picture....if this poor girl can get up and keep going after this, you can push yourself a little harder in your workout :)