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Dave’s Dialect – CrossFit Chichester Programming

Happy New Year everybody!

Dave here with a little piece about our Programming, why we use it, how to use it and how to get the most of it.
First things first, the trial period for the programming is well and truly over and all coaches are in agreement that Thrivestry Programming is here to stay at CrossFit Chichester. The planning and thought process that goes into programming like this is second to none, and that’s where I want to start today.

The strength/skilled elements that we work on in class, and the workouts we all have a love hate relationship with are not random. They are not just chucked together to make you suffer a gymnasticy, high jumping, weight throwing, burpeefied death!… (although when laying on the gym floor in a puddle of your own sweat, it may feel like it…!) Believe it or not, there is method behind the madness!

When nearing the end of a strength cycle, with weights getting heavier, you will find the workouts getting slightly shorter, so to not tax the central nervous system too hard. When the strength cycles are in transition or at the beginning, this is where you will find the longer metcons, that test your cardiovascular fitness and endurance more.

JJ has been designing gym programming for years and years [Since 2004], from helping newbies achieve their first press up, to developing and preparing highly skilled athletes for competition. The diversity of abilities means that the programming you see every day on the big screen in the gym can be whatever you want it to be.

Progression – The process of developing or moving gradually towards a more advanced state.

You may have heard me at the beginning of a class say “this is session 2 of 12 of our Front squat cycle today guys” … Most cycles run for 12 session and get progressively harder from 1-12. This is no accident. Session one will generally begin with a medium rep range and a somewhere between 50-70% of your max effort (in this case front squat) throughout the cycle the rep range will have varied and towards session 12, have shortened, with the % of your max effort increasing to around 75-85%.

Managing to attend most of the sessions and completing each rep with good form, should see your numbers increase in that particular lift by the end of the cycle. Only however, if we are working off the correct percentage, this is why it is so important to find out what our 1 rep max efforts are to make sure we are working off the right numbers.

So why not have a look at the cycles coming up this year (ask a coach to show you if we haven’t already displayed it) and work up to your 1 rep max in an open gym session before the cycle begins. You will reap the rewards from working with your correct numbers and get best out of your training!

Context

Every session we run has its own context, Practice, Competition and Mental Toughness. ‘Coach’ will tell you at some point during the session which one it is for the workout that day. The Context is the recommended overall approach to the class that day. Without a planned approach you will likely stick with the same approach you are comfortable with and you will not get the most out of your training.

Below is a diagram explaining the primary focus and output required for each context:

The goal is always to get better overall, not just win the workout that day. It is like trying to win every battle… but losing the war.

To understand the problems with getting stuck in a particular mode are as follows:

If you do Competition context all the time you will get hurt.
If you do Mental Toughness context all the time you will burn out.
If you do Practice context all the time you will get bored.

But how to you apply this to your training? If all you know when the timer beeps, is “Go Hard”!…
It starts with taking notice as to what the context is for the day, then approaching each part of the class with this mindset.
Pay close attention to the days that aren’t your default mode. If you are someone who always goes as hard as possible, constantly remind yourself on Practice days that the primary focus is quality form, learning, and mastery (not crushing yourself or beating someone else).

If you are someone who is always extremely cautious, someone who always needs the coach to force you to ‘go up’ (in load or skill), be more deliberate on Competition and Mental Toughness days. Push yourself to attempt a heavier load or higher box (with the coach’s agreement). Always record your score on Competition days. Take the time to look up your old score so you have a target to beat. Throw caution to the wind and learn some new skills that might embarrass you on a Mental Toughness day (taking you out of your comfort zone).

Working on weaknesses

The last subject I want to touch on is about working on your weakness, or in another sentence… knit picking the workouts/exercises you like.
I can speak from personal experiences as I used to train this way, lunges… NOPE, overhead squats… NOPE, thrusters… HELL NOPE!
I knew this was wrong, I knew I would not develop as an athlete if I avoided the exercises or training methods I disliked. So I followed a new approach of turning my weaknesses into strengths.

Instead of avoiding them I would work on them, more so even than the exercise I did like, so that I would get better, stronger, fitter and eventually turn them into strengths, meaning I no longer sighed or groaned when I saw they were in the workout of the day!

One of the main things you realise from this approach is that you develop other aspects of your fitness along the way without even realising it. The more lunges I put into my programming, the stronger my legs got individually, which meant I achieved my first ever set of pistols!.. I also felt stronger in my running and other endurance aspects like high calorie assault bike or high rep wall balls.

Ok… So you may not see yourself as an athlete, you may just enjoy the gym and enjoy what you enjoy… but you are never going to experience new ‘Joys’ if you do not open that door and keep developing as a human being. Our bodies are extraordinary, so don’t limit it to what it can do.

If you have any more questions about the programming, or anything else for that matter, please feel free to give me a message of pull me aside in the gym for a chat ☺

Dave is a Coach at CrossFit Chichester. He takes the mid morning classes, and Day time PTs. If you’d like to book an assessment with him, then go here and ask for Dave when we call you! 

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Julia Hammond – New Coach of 2020

Before delving into Julia’s experience of learning how to be coach, it needs to be said that Julia is one of the kindest, most earnest individuals I’ve ever met. She’s extremely hard working. Totally sincere, and overall and wonderful human being. As a result, I think she makes an excellent coach. Given the ongoing success of her ‘Easy Monday’s’ Class which allows our lovely lady’s to train together, both old and young, she’s proving to be leader, and well worth the title ‘Coach at CrossFit Chichester’. 

Without further ado, over to Julia. – Archie Cunningham 

Hi guys, just a quick update on what I’ve been doing along side Archie and Lydia the past few months, and what I’ll be doing in the gym in 2020!

I completed my CrossFit kids trainer course, back in October, which was a brilliant learning experience and has inspired me further to getting more kids into the classes we currently run.

We are hoping to be able to offer an after school session every weekday, as the benefits of exercise for children’s learning are huge.

[Julia has also come along to one of our Corporate workshops we run as part of wellness coaching to improve companies cultures, and make them more health conscious and improve staff team work]. You can see a video of her coaching here.

CrossFit is a workout format that incorporates children’s natural playfulness and energy. It lends itself to quick workouts that are full of variety that keeps kids intrigued and moving. No, I’m not suggesting loading your child up with a kettlebell for 30 reps of deadlifts. But what’s wrong with some crab walks followed by skipping or jumping ?
As mums and dad we constantly think about how I can keep our children healthy and happy.
We want them to have access to any and every program that will foster the value of exercise throughout the rest of their lives.
In this day and age, kids don’t have to be limited to the basic after school activities of past generations: basketball, football, track. Your kids can go to skateboard clinics, yoga seminars? The sky is truly the limit!

CrossFit can have the same benefits for children as it does for adults. It makes you stronger and improves your cardiovascular health, will improve performance in sports. Classes are also a great way to make new friends with a common interest.

Most importantly, CrossFit for kids encourages a lifetime of exercise, and a disciplined attitude towards health. In a world filled with video games and iPads, I’d say this is huge.

We’re really excited to see how Julia’s career as a coach progresses with us, and as a regular slot, if you’d like to experience her coaching come to our Tuesday at 6.45pm class, or book an initial assessment here (for new members) and request Julia!

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The Squat – Why is it so important?

“The squat is essential to your well-being. The squat can both greatly improve your athleticism and keep your hips, back and knees sound and functioning in your senior years” – Greg Glassman, Founder of CrossFit.

So why is doing the squat properly fundamental to us?

Contrary to popular opinion, it is a remarkably a good exercise of rehabilitation for cranky, damaged and/or delicate knees. In fact, if you are do not squat, your knees are considered not healthy regardless of ‘pain free knees’ or the amount of discomfort you are not in. This is equally true of the hips and back as well.

“The squat is no more an invention of a coach or trainer than is a hiccup or sneeze. It is a vital, natural and functional component of your being” Greg Glassman.

The bottom position of the squat is nature’s intended sitting position, as you stand from the bottom position, this is movement is a biomechanically sound method of which we stand. There is nothing artificial about this movement.

Why we use different versions of squats?

 

Back squat- trains the entire lower body musculature, the back squat places greater emphasis on the muscles of the posterior chain, such as the glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors, than other squat variations. It’s also an unparalleled lower-body mass-builder. In my opinion, the back squat is the king of the strength-training world, and we’re all just lucky to bask in its glory. Not only is it the most commonly utilized form of squatting—except for the half-squat, maybe—the full barbell back squat is one of the most effective exercises in the history of civilization for strengthening the lower body.

The front squat is quickly gaining popularity among a wide variety of athletes, partially because of its prominence in CrossFit protocols. It’s also a crucial component of Olympic lifts. Whatever the reason you do it, it’s an brilliant movement, not least of all because it’s harder to do really badly than a back squat. But you need good front rack mobility to be able to front squat without your elbows dropping which causes your chest to fall- causing a rounded back.

By locating the barbell across your shoulders in front of the body, the front squat puts much more emphasis on the quadriceps and upper back than the traditional back squat, but still trains the glutes and hamstrings well.

Overhead squats have their roots in Olympic weightlifting. The overhead squat strengthens the midpoint of the barbell snatch and is essential to mastering that particular lift. For non-competitive weightlifters, it can be an effective way to train the lower body while developing balance and mobility. Overhead squats demand a certain degree of shoulder mobility to be executed correctly, but taking wide grip on the barbell makes this much easier.

The box squat – a staple for newer members to learn proper mechanics.

Box squat is that an athlete will always have to break parallel in order to reach the box during the eccentric phase of the lift. When free squatting, there is a tendency for athletes to squat higher as the weights get heavier. Box squatting eliminates that entirely, and after consistent practice with the box, an athlete should always break parallel for all squats. Box squatting helps teach correct squatting technique by ensuring that an athlete sits back completely when descending, rather than just dropping down and bouncing up.This kind of squat is a form of ballistic stretching, and can be an excellent method to assist with poor flexibility and range of motion and provides an easy way to measure progress. It also forces an athlete to squat backwards rather than straight down. This allows the lifter to sit further back on the box and achieve a shin angle that is perpendicular to the floor.

In fact, “box squatting produces a rate of force development that is three to four times greater than other forms of squatting.” Quote from boxlife magazine.

How long does it take to master/ develop the squat?

“It’s fair to say what when the squat is mastered the technique and performance are superior. This suggests that none of the points of performance are deficient and fast multiple reps are possible. We can use Crossfit’s favourite standard for fast multiple reps, Tabata squat. Performing perfect squats for 20 seconds, rest for 10, for 7 more times. This will show if you can keep perform form in those 4 minutes of work aiming for 140-160 fast reps. By this you will know if you have mastered the perfect squat.” – CrossFit Level 1 training manual. 

How people with different leg length need different stances?

We are all built a little bit different.
Anatomical differences, height, body weight, mobility, experience levels, muscle strengths & weaknesses etc. all affect how a person is going to squat.
If you look at the best squatters in the world, they are built to squat. This usually means that they have shorter femurs and squat very upright.
The femur bone AKA the thigh bone often has the biggest influence on what your squat will look like. The Quadriceps/Thighs are the prime movers in any type of squat.

Longer femurs (legs)- will have an increased range of motion (ROM) in their squat. The knees and ankles will have to move an increased ROM to perform the same movement.
As the ROM is greater, the mobility requirements for the squat will also be greater. So by taking a wider stance this will help you perform the squat with good depth. To get deeper in your squat stance, make sure you keep your chest up. People with longer femurs tend to learn forward more- by keeping you chest up you’ll be able to get deeper in the squat.
When you squat wider, you’re artificially making yourself shorter. This can be seen when you film yourself from the side. You can clearly see that the apparent length of the femur is shorter with a wider stance. Because of this ‘shorter’ femur.
Lifting shoes with a help reduce the dorsiflexion demands (ankle going forwards). This allows your knees to travel forward without your heel coming off the floor. This will allow you to squat more upright and deeper.

How does stronger squatting improves anything?

Running- one of the best ways to ensure your legs and glutes stay strong is by squatting. And while it can sometimes be hard to give up a day of running for a day of strength training, benefits of squatting for us runners outweighs the pain of skipping a run day.

Jumping- The squat is a basic functional movement and is essential for any training program designed to help you jump higher. The movement patterns used in a jump and squat are similar resulting in the same muscles used for each exercise. As a result, improving squat technique, strength and endurance can directly influence your ability to jump higher.

Deadlift- you improve your squat, it will improve your deadlift. If you focus on building a massive squat, you’ll be more likely to move some impressive numbers in the other major lifts. The squat requires so much raw strength and stability through every major joint, that it impacts heavily on your performance of the other lifts. To have a big squat you need to be solid and stable through your entire body and his raw strength translates to the deadlift.

Bench press- Believe it or not, squats produce the most Human Growth Hormone out of any movement you might do. As a result, due to tension maintained throughout the body during the movement, it can improve seemingly unrelated lifts. Athletes who have completed long squat cycles will agree that, their bench press improves, even if they’ve not trained it during that period of time.

It’s safe to say that learning how to squat correctly, and progressively trained, produces phenomenal results in your overall fitness. We found at CrossFit Chichester, that it takes a while to develop, but the results are worth the effort.

For further reading – see:

Zack Long’s article on dissecting the squat. 

Or download the level 1 training manual for the most in-depth analysis of the squat, and makes for good bed time reading!

Coach Macca is one of our excellent coaches here at CrossFit Chichester. To book an assessment with him, to gain some of his knowledge book an assessment here!