5 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself & the CrossFit House

CrossFit has gotten a bad rap for the amount of injuries it leads to. And to be fair, there is some validity in these claims. It’s hard to argue that doing CrossFit doesn’t push people to injury when the measure of success is faster time and heavier weight. It’s all about how hard you can push the limits. Right? The greater the risk the greater the reward. Isn’t that what they say?

But let’s be fair. Risk is involved in all things. Let me repeat that.

Risk is involved in all things.

If you are a runner, soccer player, power-lifter or couch potato, you’re at risk for something. The question is, what are you doing about it? And like I’ve said before, CrossFit doesn’t cause injuries. People do.

CrossFit is designed to push your limits. Most sports are. But it’s in those moments of greatness – when someone has surpassed what we thought possible – that we realize limits are worth pushing. When incredible power is achieved. When suddenly, new boundaries are set. When those willing to push hard enough are looked at with awe. With wonder. It’s in those moments where we find ourselves.

I would bet both Rich and Camille’s $275,000 every limit they pushed during their training was worth standing on that podium at the 2014 CrossFit Games as the Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth.

Watch this video and tell me if you disagree.

So, you can hurt yourself in CrossFit (gasp!). Now what? What are you – what am I – doing about it? Because if we want to keep doing this sport we love, we need to start protecting our house.

CrossFit is a company, a lifestyle and its core, a workout regimen. If we don’t start taking responsibility for ourselves, we may not have a house worth coming home to. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but ultimately, it’s about doing the right thing. We need to start holding ourselves and each other accountable – for using proper technique, scaling when necessary, pushing the limits responsibly. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of defending CrossFit when it comes to injuries. I’m tired of the hate articles and the petty “my sport is better than yours” crap.

The bottom line, folks, is we’re all doing something we love while getting fit – be it powerlifting, running, triathlons, CrossFit, Zumba or Pilates. Shouldn’t that be enough? As CrossFitters who are passionate about what we do, it’s high time we start protecting our house – the CrossFit name and our bodies.

Here are 5 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself & the CrossFit House

Disclaimer: I’m not certified in CrossFit, kinesiology, chiropractic care or any other medical degree for that matter. I’m just a normal person who loves CrossFit and has learned my fair share about the need for injury prevention. These are a few things I feel will further your love for CrossFit (or whatever sport you love) and allow you to continuing doing it for as long as possible because you’re taking care of your body.

1)  Use proper technique and hold others accountable for doing the same.
Just like runners need to learn the difference between pronation and supination and how it effects them, CrossFitters need to learn the proper technique for the variety of different movements our sport requires. Take the time to watch videos online, attend training camps and practice. You’ve heard the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” And, while I’m not one to believe perfection can be attained, I do believe in getting as close as possible. So learn the technique and commit to it. Don’t be afraid to hold others accountable as well. Personally, I absolutely want someone to tell me if I’m doing it wrong. Otherwise, we’re all just setting ourselves up for failure – and continuing to give CrossFit a bad name.

2) Embrace your weaknesses.
The Fittest don’t get that way without hours and hours of training. If you watched this year’s Games, you heard Camille say, “Every year, you get better at finding your weaknesses.” Figure out what they are and attack them. After all, that’s what’s standing in your way of victory – and what’s likely causing you injuries if you aren’t taking the time to get the technique right. (Refer back to number 1.)

3) Educate yourself on mobility and recovery.
This is something that came out of nowhere for me. One day, I woke up and my back hurt. I knew it wasn’t due to an injury, but I also knew that it would lead to one quickly if I didn’t do something about it. After a few trips to the chiropractor, I became highly aware of how efficient our bodies can be if we’re taking care of them properly. Recovery isn’t just a supplement you drink after working out. It’s physically helping your body recover from everything you’ve put it through and mobility plays a key role in this. This involves regular (if not, daily) stretching and mobilizing – your muscles, your joints. This is not something to be taken lightly. If you fail to do this, you are setting yourself up for an injury. Period.

4) Get the right amount of sleep and the proper nutrition.
Sleep. Here lately, I haven’t been getting enough of it. And it shows in my daily WODs. There’s plenty of evidence to support why getting the right amount of sleep is important. So, 8 hours – minimum – get it. As for nutrition, this is something I’m most definitely not qualified to talk about. But, I’ve worked with a personal nutritionist as well learned from some of the best when it comes to this. And, there are a few easy things you can be doing to improve your body’s overall health. Fish oil, zinc & magnesium and vitamin D should all be a part of your daily supplements. (More on this below.)

5) Listen to your body and check your ego at the door.
This hits home majorly for me. Nearly two years ago I was hospitalized for pulmonary embolisms. For those unfamiliar, a pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in the lungs – and highly fatal. For a clot to reach your pulmonary artery, it has to have already traveled through one side of your heart. Listening to my body saved my life. Your body is way smarter than you ever thought about being. It knows when something is wrong and it’s usually giving you more than enough signs if that’s the case. Listen. And if there is in fact something wrong, don’t let your ego get in the way of your safety and the safety of those around you.

It’s my hope that by taking these small steps, we can help prevent CrossFit-related injuries and protect the CrossFit name as well as everything it represents. By doing this, we can also make sure what it represents is something we’re proud of.

There are numerous resources readily available online (and from real experts). So instead of pretending to be something I’m not, I’ll just leave a few of these gems for you below.

Technique, Mobility & Recovery Resources:

  • Bruce Barbell – Loads of free videos on gymnastics & Olympic weightlifting.
  • Mike Cazayoux: Joint by Joint Approach – A great introduction to mobilizing your joints.
  • Breaking Muscle – This site has articles for everything from endurance and weightlifting to nutrition and exercises for your kids. Here’s what they have on mobility & recovery.
  • Movement, The Book – If you’re seriously into learning how your joints work, start here.
  • Mobility WOD – While there is a paid version of this site, the free version offers some pretty great content as well. And, worth every penny – I highly recommend buying Kelly’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard.

Supplement Recommendations:

  • Pure Pharma – High quality supplements that should be part of your daily routine.
  • Top 7 Supplements for Athletes  – Supplement recommendations from CrossFit Invictus, Fittest Team in the 2014 CrossFit Games. (They might know what they’re talking about.)
  • Eat to Perform – Meal planning guide and calculator as well as an online support system. I don’t personally subscribe to this website, but I’ve heard good things.
  • SFH Supplements – Recommendation by Games athlete, Mike Cazayoux.
  • RSP Nutrition – High quality pre and post-workout supplements. I use Fast Fuel, ReGen, AgmaGen and GlutaGen.

*Note: I have not been paid to endorse any of these products or services. These are just some resources I’ve come across during my time as a CrossFitter, either personally or through fellow athletes. Have a resource you love? Share it in the comments below.

 

Bruce Barbell Taught Me Respect

This past Saturday, I had the privilege of attending a Bruce Barbell training program with 7-time World Team member Matt Bruce and CrossFit Games Champion and Hack’s Pack UTE member, Mike Cazayoux. For 8-1/2 hours we covered Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics movements as well as endurance, nutrition and injury prevention.

To say my mind is on overload is an understatement.

Over and over we practiced different lifts, focusing specifically on the snatch and the clean & jerk. Matt Bruce and his crew would walk around us like hawks as we cleaned, jerked & snatched, critiquing our every move. “Shoulders back. Butt up. Tight core. Straight arms on the pull. Come up on your toes for the shrug. Drop under the bar. Elbows up. Fast jerk.”

How am I supposed to do all that and still remember to breathe at the same time? And as if that wasn’t hard enough, they also videoed our every move….and then proceeded to plaster it on the tv in front of everyone and tell us what we did wrong.

And I loved every minute of it.

When Mike Cazayoux took over the gymnastics portion of the program, we drilled through progressions for handstand push-ups, pull-ups, toes-to-bar and muscle-ups. All the while, he basically made these seem like child’s play as he eased into a muscle-up while talking us through the technique. Wait. You can talk & muscle-up at the same time? That’s impressive.

CrossFit Bridge City members with the Bruce Barbell crew.

CrossFit Bridge City members with the Bruce Barbell crew.

And then came nutrition and endurance. Two words: Mind. Blown.

I seriously need to get it together when it comes to my diet. This is something I’ve known for awhile now. Something I know I need to get a handle on if I want to be a real competitor. But after everything Mike had to say about nutrition and eating to perform, it became a little more clear how far off base I really am. How do people continue to live on all the crap we put into our bodies? On stuff that offers zero nutritional value?

That aside, when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the science behind the body’s three different energy systems, it’s truly mind blowing. Throw in metabolic flexibility and you may as well as well be speaking Chinese to me. Luckily, Mike broke it down on a level I could understand. Bottom line: our bodies are amazing machines and we have unbelievable power at our fingertips.

Overall, I give Bruce Barbell a 10 in all aspects of the program. It was easily the best money I’ve spent in a long time. That being said, I learned far more than technique and nutrition this past weekend.

Bruce Barbell taught me respect.

I learned how much respect Olympic weightlifters have for their craft – the barbell, the programming and the technique. I learned how a Games athlete prepares to be the fittest with hours of training and strict nutrition. I learned how much CrossFitters and Olympic Weightlifters respect one another. How much each sport has done for the other. What they continue to do.

To be the best requires intense dedication and commitment – to your training, your nutrition, your technique. It requires humbling yourself to learn from those who have been where you want to be. It requires pushing yourself beyond the limits your mind and body have created. It requires respect.

The CrossFit Games Open: Roosters Went to Work

If you’ve read my blog lately, you know that I’ve been [a little] obsessed with The CrossFit Games Open for the past 5 weeks. It’s been an emotional ride. And, if I’m being honest, a tough one. But, I guess that’s the point. Work hard. Reap the rewards.

Good news, we survived!

*Party Dance* Moving on…

Over the past year and a half, I’ve grown really close to the girls I WOD with. We like to call ourselves the Rooster Crew. Because, well, we get our butts up before real roosters do. Everyday. 5am is no joke. (Especially if you’re not a morning person, like me.)

Oddly enough, CrossFit made me a morning person. For real.

There’s no way I’d be waking up at 4:30 am. EVER. And then I’m like, “Oh, but this looks like a fun WOD. Getting up it is!” And really, if I’m not getting up to go to CrossFit, I’m not getting up . (Just ask my husband…)

Anyhow.

Roosters are always read to work.

Roosters are always ready to work.

As Roosters, we’re dedicated. Not only do we get up and show up, we work hard. As is to be expected, some days are better than others. Some days, we’re all feeling it & others, we probably should have stayed in bed. But for the most part, we’ve found our groove and we’re rockin’ and rollin’.

Personally, I love seeing my Rooster girls every day. I’ll spare you the mush & just highlight a few reasons why these girls rock. A) I’m not the only crazy person getting up that early to get my butt kicked. B) I’ve never met a more encouraging & positive group of people. C) They’re all pretty freaking hilarious.

But mostly, these girls impress me. Every. Single. Day.

Throughout The CrossFit Open, I definitely heard some negative talk. When double unders were introduced, I’m pretty sure more than one of them cursed. (Ok, maybe I did too.) And then came chest to bar pull-ups. And then some serious weight on deadlifts. And so on and so forth.

But you know what? These girls put on their big girl panties and went to work. I’m talking, going from “I’m not competitive,” to “I’m going to redo that WOD because I know I have more in me.”

Can I tell you how happy that makes me? Seriously.

And so, because I think they’re worth bragging about, I put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to bring you the following PRs from my favorite group of girls, the CrossFit Bridge City Rooster Crew:

Ally

  1. “Got” double unders (a.k.a. – Did them in a WOD for the first time ever).
  2. PR’d her deadlift – AND did 20 reps with the weight in Open WOD 14.3.
  3. Used a 20″ box for the first time.

Erin:

  1. PR’d her deadlift at 155# pounds in 14.3.
  2. Did toes to bar for the first time in 14.4.
  3. Did 65# in an overhead squat for the first time for Open WOD 14.2.

Pam:

  1. Did her first ever chest to bar pull-up in Open WOD 14.2.
  2. Did toes to bar for the first time in 14.4.
  3. PR’d her deadlift by 20#.

Dawn:

  1. Improved her score by 32 reps on her redo of 14.1.
  2. Received an invitation to participate in the SETX Invitational & Open Championship for placing in the top 30 out of the 8 area CrossFit affiliates in Southeast Texas.
  3. Did all 50 toes to bar (and she says this is her goat) & managed to knock out 18 cleans at 95# in 14.4.

Melissa:

  1. Did deadlifts at 155# in a WOD for the first time in 14.3.
  2. Did toes to bar for the first time in 14.4.
  3. Showed a competitive side I’ve never seen before, coming in 7th out of all of the girls who competed in The Open from CrossFit Bridge City.

Christina:

  1. Did deadlifts for the first time in a WOD since injuring her back just 3 months prior to The Open. And rocked them, coming in 6th overall for that WOD here in SETX.
  2. Placed in the top 200 in the South Central Region for Open WOD 14.5 at 178.
  3. Finished The Open in the top 14% of the South Central Region.

If you see them, be sure to give them a high five. It’s well deserved. And, a special shout-out to some of our other girls who didn’t participate in The Open but who make our day each morning with their smiling faces – Brandi, Amy, Sheri. Keep kicking butt girls!

For the rest of you who competed, what are you proud of? What PRs did you hit?

Introducing the SETX Invitational & Open Championship

I signed up for The CrossFit Games Open with zero expectations. I just wanted to track my progress. And knowing competitions always make me better, I knew The Open would give me another reason to push myself.

With three WODs down and two to go, I have to say, I’m surprising myself. That being said, I’m not celebrating just yet. I can feel toes to bar or wall ball shots coming. But for now, I’ll enjoy my ranking…

In related news, the 8 CrossFit boxes in our area are hosting a competition on April 26th based on The Open rankings. It’s the first ever Southeast Texas (SETX) Invitational and Open Championship and it goes down at Ford Park in Beaumont, Texas.

The 1st ever SETX Invitational & Open takes place April 26, 2014.

The 1st ever SETX Invitational & Open takes place April 26, 2014.

For the “invitational” portion of the competition, the top 2 male and female competitors from each hosting CrossFit affiliate will receive a special invite to compete, and the remaining 28 spots will be filled by the highest ranking males and females after week 5 of the CrossFit Open competition.

Here are the latest female rankings and male rankings for the SETX Invitational & Open.

Those wishing to compete in the “open” portion are welcome to register after the 2014 CrossFit Games Open is completed on March 27th. There will be Standard, Masters and Team divisions available for both males and females.

Register online or learn more about becoming a sponsor/vendor on their website.

Two WODs of The CrossFit Open Down & I’m Not Done Yet

We’re officially two WODs into the 2014 CrossFit Open in preparation for the CrossFit Games to be held later this year.

When 14. 1 was released, some rejoiced. Others, not so much. I can remember thinking to myself, “Well, maybe I’ll get lucky & it’ll be a good day for me when it comes to double unders.” Truth be told, mine are hit or miss. Some days, I’m able to knock out 30+ unbroken. And some, I’m lucky to get two. Needless-to-say, I’m still working on those.

It’s probably safe to assume the vast majority of athletes who are new to CrossFit, had to be convinced to sign up for The Open to begin with. (I was one of those myself.) And, a pretty good amount of them are probably thinking to themselves right about now, “What a waste of my money.”

If this is you, STOP.

Take a step back and remember what CrossFit is about. It’s about you and your goals. It’s about always pushing yourself to that next level – whatever that may be for you. Is your goal to RX everything? Or is it to just become proficient at double unders? Whatever it is, rest assured The Open is helping you accomplish those goals, even if you can’t see that right now.

Did you manage to complete 14.1? Did your double unders improve? Did you at the very least work your butt off practicing them? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it was worth your $20. Period.

14.2 was announced last night. As usual, I attended 5:00 am this morning & gave it a shot. You know what? I only scored 37. But you know what else? That was 27 more than I expected. I can do pull-ups. For me, that’s a strong point. But, I’ve never done chest to bar pull-ups before today. Progress!

Before The Open, each time chest to bar was introduced into a WOD as RX, I would immediately count myself out, saying, “Well, I know I can’t do those. Guess I’m not RXing today.”

Wrong attitude.

Maybe you can’t RX chest to bar. Maybe you can’t RX standard kipping pull-ups. Does that mean you should stop working on them? Stop striving for progress? Hell no. It simply means you try. You push yourself.

My first CrossFit competition.

My first CrossFit competition.

The thing about The Open and CrossFit competitions in general is that it does push you. It breaks your mental barrier to allow your physical body to do far more than you ever thought possible.

I’m new to CrossFit, but I speak from experience. My first time to ever try max pull-ups was in a competition. I did 21 & placed 2nd in that particular WOD. I had no clue I had it in me to do that many pull-ups. Hell, my coach had to tell me one day to stop using a band because, I could do pull-ups. I, of course, quickly told him, “No I can’t.” After class, he made me try pull-ups unassisted and I did 5. Mentally, my mind was made up. Physically, my body said, “Look out girl, I got this.”

That’s what CrossFit is about. Breaking physical and mental barriers.

CrossFit is far more than physical limitations. It’s mental grit. Whether that’s having the dedication to get up at 4:30 am 5 days a week to have a WOD kick your butt, or one day becoming an elite athlete. We all have barriers. We all have goats. How you choose to obliterate those is up to you. Bottom line: CrossFit is Tough. You’re Tougher.

For me, I’m pushing through this thing. We’re two WODs down & I’m not ranking anywhere near where I want to be. All that tells me is I need to push harder and strategize differently. I plan to re-do 14.2. Maybe I’ll do better, maybe not. But one thing I do know – I can always use practice on overhead squats and chest to bar pull-ups.