Are you Ready for The Fittest Games?

The Fittest Games is an event Crossfit Central has hosted for the past 10 years. Year after year it continues to grow and get bigger and bigger. It is THE biggest functional fitness competition in our region. If you are wondering if you should dip your toes in a local competition, this should be it!

In order to compete in The Fittest Games, all athletes will need do an Online Qualifier which consists of 2 weeks where you will complete 2-3 workouts a week. We already plan to program these workouts in Crossfit Central’s classes so you will not have to worry about doing them on your own.  The Qualifier workouts will take place Oct. 17th- 30th and it’s only $25 to register.

There are 4 individual divisions this year: Pro, Amateur, Intermediate, and Scaled. I believe many of my clients at Crossfit Central have an opportunity to compete in the Intermediate or Scaled divisions. The Intermediate/Scaled division was created to give athletes that are new to competing a chance to earn their spot. These athletes are not proficient, or may not have gymnastic skills such as muscle ups or toes to bar, or advanced barbell skills such as high repetition snatches and clean and jerks. These workouts will be modified appropriately for this division. So if you have a pull up and a handstand push up, I think you should try your hand at competing!

The breakdown of how many athletes move past the Online Qualifier:

  • Intermediate Men – 75
  • Intermediate Women – 45
  • Scaled Men – 50
  • Scaled Women – 30

The Fittest Games will take place January 28th & 29th at the Travis County Expo Center.

To register for the Online Qualifier click HERE

Let’s get to training and show the Region what Crossfit Central Athletes are made of!

Tempos Will Increase Your Strength

What is Tempo?

Tempo means you are executing an exercise at a given speed during the contraction phase of the movement as well as the eccentric phase of the movement. The contraction phase is where the muscle is shortening when you are doing a movement. I.E during a bicep curl, the biceps are shortening during the motion of bringing the weight up so that is the concentric phase of the movement. The eccentric phase is where the muscles are lengthening. I.E. during a bicep curl on the downward motion, the biceps are lengthening the return the weight back to the waist in a controlled manner.

What does a Tempo look like?

A Tempo consists of 4 numbers that dictate the tempo of the movement.

Your Back Squat says 3 x 10 @ “40×1” The 40×1 is the tempo that is attached to the Back Squat.

The First number (4) is the eccentric phase of the movement. In the back squat, it will be the descent of the squat. So the tempo is placed to take 4 Seconds to get to the bottom of your squat.

The Second number (0) is the number of seconds you will pause at the end of the eccentric phase of the movement. In this case, the “0” means there is no pause at the bottom of your squat.

The Third number (x) is the concentric phase of the movement. In this case, an “x” means explode. If there was a number, that would tell you to go through that portion of the movement for that many seconds. So with the back squat, an “x” means to explode out of the bottom and stand up as fast as possible.

The Fourth number (1) is the number of seconds you will pause after the concentric phase before you return back to the eccentric phase. In this case, you will pause for 1 second at the top of you squat before you return back down with a 4 second descent.

Reading Tempo gets tricky when the movement starts with a Concentric phase. For instance a Strict Press @ 2111, does not start at the 2 seconds because that is the eccentric phase, or when you are controlling the movement down. So you must start at the 3rd number, the “1.” It reads you press for 1 second, you pause for 1 second at the top, you control the movement down for 2 seconds, and then pause at the bottom for 1 second.

Strict Press, Push Press, Deadlifts, and Pull Ups are examples where it gets trickier to read because you have to start the movement at the 3rd number.

Why use Tempos?

They make you stronger! Time under Tension, or TuT as written in exercise science literature is referring to how long the muscle are under strain during a set. So think about doing a set of 10 Back Squats at no tempo. You went at your own speed and usually it takes about 4 seconds a lift. So your total time for 10 Back Squats would be 40 seconds.

Now think about doing a set of 10 Back Squats @ 4221. Now each Back Squat will take you 9 seconds to complete. With 10 Back Squats taking you a total of 90 seconds. Which is 50 seconds longer then just doing a set of 10 with no tempo. So in essence your muscles are under strain longer and will adapt to that and get stronger.

Also controlling the eccentric phase of the movement, the lower phase, recruits more motor units thus effectively developing strength and performance. That is why if you don’t have a strict pull up I tell you to work the negative portion of the pull up because it will develop strength in those muscles and recruit more motor units to more prepare you to get your 1st strict pull up then just working strict pull ups with a band.

As a beginner, using tempos are also great for pinpointing out where you have weaknesses or imbalances. Rushing through portions of a movement can be a crutch because you may not have the mobility or stability needed to perform that movement properly.

Think about the Back Squat again, if you are missing range of motion in your ankle you will tend to rush through the eccentric phase of the movement because it would hurt to lower slowly and control it to the bottom and hold for 2-3 seconds.

So if you have been hitting a plateu in your strength gains and haven’t broken past your barriers, try adding some tempos to your lifts and see if you notice a difference. If you know your technique is not the greatest, you definitely need to control the movement and feel where your technique is breaking down and learn from it.

Heres a video of me Back Squatting at 40×1 for a set of 4. Notice how slow and controlled the movement is and much more difficult it is only squatting 70% of my max.

 

Please reach out if you have any questions with this: jesspowers@crossfitcentral.com

Specific Approach to Reach Your Goals

For the past 3 weeks, I have been working specifically with Laura twice a week to increase her upper strength and increase her speed. More specifically her main goal is to get 1 strict pull up. Laura is quite honestly one of those ideal clients. She shows up every time, is ready to work, and listens and implements what you tell her right away. It is every coaches dream!!

After assessing Laura, I knew right away that we had to hammer in a lot of scapular strength and stability work and isometric holds to get her to her ultimate goal. After only a couple weeks working on this, she is already so close to completing her first strict pull up!!

Here’s a look into what I have been incorporating in here training regimen:

I have broken up Laura’s pull up training cycle up into two days. On Tuesdays we work on scapular strength by incorporating DB external rotators and DB powell raises. We also work on supinated chin over bar holds and really focus on drawing those shoulder blades down and incorporating all the shoulder muscles in the exercise. We went from 5-10 seconds to 15-20 seconds this past Tuesday! On Thursdays we work on Negative pull ups and other upper body pressing and pulling movements. She has increased her negative pull ups from week 1 of going at a 6 count to last week being able to do a weighted negative pull up with a 10# DB strapped on for 8 count.

 

 

At the rate she is going I see her not only getting 1 strict pull up but multiples in just a few more short weeks.

 

Do you have a specific goal in mind? Whether its a gymnastic movement such as a strict pull up or a muscle up or looking to improve your barbell technique?

I currently have 2 openings for personal training to help you work to reach your specific goals. Stop wishing and start doing something about your goals if your current path isn’t working. All training can be done at Crossfit Central Burnet so we can play with all the toys =)

 

 

Are You Doing Your Homework?

Remember this workout from awhile back:

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What I remember most about this workout from a coaches’ point of view  is a lot of people not knowing what their Max Clean or Push Press was.  I know we have all gotten comfortable with having Wodify there and being able to see our maxes and percentages, but when the percentage is in the middle of a Metcon you will not be able to see this.  This is an instance where you will need to do your HOMEWORK!

If you are wanting to get stronger, which I know most everyone is, then you must come prepared to class and have a mindset that you are going to crush the strength piece.  It is what every great athlete does if they expect to get any better.

Here are 3 things you can do every night before you come in for your workout:

1- Look at the workout on Wodify

The workouts get released the night before at 7PM so you can visualize and see what you are about to do the next day. I would be sure to look at it and notice if there are any percentages listed, any max lifts, etc. So that way you can look back in your history and see how much you have lifted in the past.

2- Write out your numbers for the workout

Let’s say the workout is 5 x 5 of Front Squats performed at 70-80% of your max. First thing I would do is look back at my Front Squat max and find out what 70% of that is and write it down. Then I would write down 80% of your max next to it. So for me personally, I would have a piece of paper that says 130#-150#. So I knew my first set would be at probably 135# and I would see how I felt and try to work up to 150# by my last set.

3-  Have a game plan for the workout

Think about what your goals are. Let’s say the workout was:

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and you don’t have pull ups at all without assistance. Are you just going to throw a band up there and fling your way through 50? Or should you talk to your coach and find a better way to scale 50 pull ups. Maybe that means bringing down the reps so that you can get stronger. Maybe that is changing the movement to ring rows, barbell rows, single arm DB rows, barbell pull ups, etc. There are so many different ways to get to your goals, it is important for you to know your goals and communicate them to your coach so they can provide you with the best possible scenario for you.

If you have any questions about your homework or how to get to your goals, please don’t hesitate to email me at jesspowers@crossfitcentral.com.

Best Brussels Sprout Recipe

If any of you are like Gabby and myself, we consume brussels sprouts on the reg. It is such a easy and quick vegetable to cook up while allowing us to get our “greens” in. We would normally just pour some coconut oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Recently, I purchased Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook and the recipes in here are to die for! Seriously, I have never had a cookbook where I literally want to cook every single item. If you are stuck in a rut with your cooking, please purchase this, your taste buds will thank you.

Gabby and I cracked the book opened last night and literally drooled over this recipe! We had to make it ASAP.

Rosemary Bacon Brussels Sprouts & Apple Salad

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This is so so simple and easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
  • 3 to 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon
  • 1 large Pink Lady apple
  • 1 tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

Cooking Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Toss the halved brussels sprouts in melted coconut oil and spread out evenly on lined sheet, sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until crispy.
  3. While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, cook the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium heat until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan, set aside to cool, and then chop into small pieces.
  4. In the same pan, sauté the diced apple in the bacon fat until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  5. Make the candied walnuts. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the coconut sugar and walnuts and toss to coat for about 2 minutes.
  6. Place the pan with the apples back over medium heat. Add the candied walnuts, roasted Brussels sprouts, bacon, and rosemary, season with a bit of salt and pepper, and then mix to incorporate. Serve immediately.

And BOOM! You can enjoy your delicious and healthy vegetables. Someone try to tell me after tasting these that I you don’t like brussel sprouts!

Cook these up and share the final picture over Instagram and use #PowersKitchen

Share away!

Get Results NOW!!

How many of you were attracted to that phrase above?

Our society has turned so much into the NOW world…. we want INSTANT results, access NOW, lose 15 pounds TODAY, double your income TOMORROW. All those words are about instant gratification.

I was reading Spartan Up by Joe De Sena yesterday and came across this study he talks about constantly called The Marshmallow Test.  This study was conducted at Stanford in the 1970s and involved children having the choice to have one reward, eat one marshmallow now, or wait alone up to 20 minutes and receive a larger reward, two marshmallows. Watch this short clip and you can see the struggle in their faces:

How many of you have that same struggle and pain on your face when you look at some foods that you know are not good for you but you want to devour anyway? You may go so far as even smelling that piece of cake or pie.

This test was all about Delayed Gratification. The researchers found that the children who were able to wait and receive the larger reward were far more successful than the children who didn’t wait. Those children that waited had higher SAT scores and lower body mass index (BMI) 30 years later.

Now I know these are just children but I see a direct correlation to society today. Everybody is looking for the IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION! No one is willing to delay gratification for a bigger reward! People tend to choose instant pleasure over long-term benefits because they like instant gratification.

How many of you plan to start your diet on Monday but that Monday never comes? How many say they are going to put “X” in their savings account from their paycheck but that never happens?

We have to become aware of what we are doing and make action steps to get rid of this mindset. You have to do what it takes every single day to get to that goal no matter if you “feel” like it or not. Your WHY has to be bigger, it can’t be placed on our emotions and feelings if we reach our goal or not. Willpower is just like a muscle. You must strengthen it with practice and always looking to improve.

I hear people complain all the time that they are not losing weight or seeing improvements in the gym. Before you complain, you need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are truly giving 100% effort towards your goal.

So next time you find yourself face to face with a marshmallow, cookie, pie, think back to this and delay your gratification in light of a nice big reward coming to you in the end.

My New Favorite CARB!

I was recently introduced to this amazing combination at a dinner party with a friend, and ever since I have been trying to replicate it!

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If you are like me, you would usually just get regular sweet potatoes at the grocery store. You always noticed all these other types of “yams” or “sweet potatoes” but you didn’t know much about them so you just skipped over them. But skip over NO MORE!

Japanese Sweet Potatoes are a rich source for a variety of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, C, E, B6 and potassium. They taste a bit sweeter then just regular sweet potatoes.

These things are so delicious and have become my new favorite carb source for my post workout meal. I have finally perfected the recipe after numerous times of utter failure. It is so easy just make sure to leave them in the oven for the allotted time.

First, pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and wash the Japanese Sweet Potatoes. Wrap them in foil and place in the oven for 75-90 minutes. Once done, be careful when removing them from the foil because they will be quite hot. I usually take off the skin and put the ones I am not using in a tupperware container.

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I top off the Japanese Sweet Potatoes with some Coconut Butter and call it a win!

Just so you know, I don’t like coconut water or coconut meat but I absolutely love Coconut Butter! The only store I have found that sells it is at Whole Foods. Check it out.

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Let me know if you try this recipe and what you thought of it =)

Healthy Shoulders = Happy Shoulders

How many times do you walk around with unhappy shoulders? How many hours do you sit in front of a computer with a rounded upper back and shoulders pinched forward?

These are valid questions you need to think about in regards to your shoulder health. Most of the injuries I have come across have been related to some shoulder injury or dysfunction. About 80% of those injuries can be avoided if the athlete would take the time to properly warm up and work on their mobility issues when they are not at the gym.

I have found that there are 3 exercises that if done properly can help make your shoulders happy again and help fix some of your mobility issues.

Exercise #1: The Wall Slide

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The wall slide is one of my favorite mobility tools to warm up your shoulders. They do 3 very important things:

  • Activate the lower traps, rhomboids, and external rotators
  • Strengthen the pecs and internal rotators
  • Decreases the contributions of the upper traps

They essentially help you pull everything down in your shoulders to stabilize your scapula while you can freely move your gleno-humeral joint.

Tips:

  • Focus on keeping your lower back against the wall by keeping your core engaged
  • Try to press your forearms and wrist into the wall while keeping your lower back against the wall
  • Only go up as far as you can while keeping your core engaged
  • Prescribed amount: 2 sets of 10

Exercise #2: Seated External Rotators

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The Seated External Rotators are a great exercise to strengthen your muscles that deal with external rotation in your shoulder, the infraspinatus and the teres minor. These two muscles are the only ones that deal with external rotation in the shoulder.
This exercise will help reinforce posture and improve the traditional rounded back, shoulders forward look.

Tips:

  • Always face the dumbbell
  • Start out with a light weight (5lbs or 2.5lb plates or dumbbells)
  • Keep your elbow on top of your knee the whole time
  • Prescribed amount: 2 sets of 10 each side

Exercise #3: Band Pull Aparts

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The Band Pull Aparts are also a great exercise to improve posture and helps fight against the evils that lurk when you sit at a computer all day. They essentially help strengthen the muscles that help retract your scapula aka the muscles that move your shoulder blades together.

Tips:

  • Focus on keeping your shoulders down and back
  • You only need a light band for this exercise
  • Keep tension on the band at all times
  • Prescribed amount: 2 sets of 20

So, next time you come to class, show up a little bit early and hit these 3 exercises up to start to have your shoulders start smiling again =)

Stanky Leg Clean

With the popularity of olympic weightlifting getting higher and higher, the trend to rush into it has become the norm. We need to remember to have a solid foundation first to build onto before we start adding a lot of weight to the bar and seeing what happens.

Foot work is the most important thing to focus on with Olympic Lifting. Bad foot work causes missed lifts more times then you think. Check out my favorite tool to fix your foot work and have some fun with it.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Be Powerful,

Jess