A Sample Week of Workouts

So the other day I was picturing a fictional week of working out. Normally my workouts consists of Crossfit and more Crossfit. But this one was different. Its focus was on lengthening the tissue.

Here is what I came up with:

Day 1: Hot yoga session.

Starting the week with hot yoga will get the muscles, ligaments and tendons lengthened and loose. Plus yoga offers a mindful practice I’ve been focused on. By mindful I am referring to the practice of being in the present moment. Yoga teaches this.

Day 2: Stretching with weights.

Joints, connective tissue and muscles were stretched to the max yesterday. Now we are bringing tension back to the muscles by adding weights. Keep the weights light. We are still going into deep ranges of motion. These are the days to work on movements like overhead squat, snatch and other flexible demanding movements.

Day 3: Light weight or no weight cardio session.

We should be feeling good and lose. Now it’s time to do some steady state cardio for at least 30 minutes. We want to circulate as much oxygen rich blood through the body as possible. So a lot of good breathing while not getting the heart rate up too high.

Day 4: Heavy lifting.

Squatting and hinging movements like back squats and deadlifts today. For sure some pull-ups. Going heavy will remind the body what it’s like to lift heavy. We will be adding even more tension in the tissue. But after all the stretching in the previous workouts, we will see a boost in performance because we will have more movement in the joints.

Day 5: Crossfit WOD

Friday night lights. My week of workouts wouldn’t be complete without a good o’ Crossfit WOD. Every workout up till now was massaging the muscles. Now it’s time to hit it hard.

It’s now Friday and you have 2 days off until you hit hot yoga again. If you feel like doing something in between you have a couple of options.

Option 1: Skill work.

Option 2: Lifting session.

This was fun to think up. As you grow older and mature, your style of workouts change. Maybe this week of workouts will be in my future.


5 Tips to Shed Fat and Shred the Rest

It’s fat loss we want, not weight loss. Weight is too important to lose. Weight is everything from bones to muscle to connective tissue. Fat we can spare.

But before we give fat the boot. Let’s give fat some props. From www.livescience.com:

It’s common knowledge that too much cholesterol and other fats can lead to disease, and that a healthy diet involves watching how much fatty food we eat. However, our bodies need a certain amount of fat to function—and we can’t make it from scratch.

Triglycerides, cholesterol and other essential fatty acids—the scientific term for fats the body can’t make on its own—store energy, insulate us and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism. Fat and inflammation is what we are after to lose. Inflammation is the bodies response to injury and it tends to hold onto water. Resulting in a swollen bloated look.

So what is the best way to lose fat?

5 tips to shed the fat and shred the rest

  1. Reduce your carb intake. This is listed first because I know it works. I remember my first taste of reducing carbs when I cut out bread from my diet for a month. I ended up losing 20 pounds and that dumb spare tire in only 30 days.

  2. Lift weights. Lifting weights takes a toll on your body. In a good way. As your body recovers from the lifting session, it relies on stored fat as fuel source.

  3. Drink more water. Think of water as a supplement. You might not feel thirsty, but drink water anyway. A hydrated body is an efficient body. Helping the engine run better and move waste out of the body.

  4. Sleep more. Sleep stimulates growth hormone (gh) your fat burning hormone.

  5. Laugh more. Besides the ab workout from a good laugh, laughter reduces stress. Reduced stress lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol has been shown to stimulate fat storage.

Maintaining healthy fat levels is a life long event. Its not a 6 week challenge. Make this a lifestyle choice. Something you can keep up your whole life.


Hip Extension: Its a jump

To be successful in Crossfit and athletics, learn proper hip extension. Hips generate a tremendous amount of power and movement when used correctly.

Hip extension is moving the hips from a bent position to a straight position as in jumping or sprinting. If you hear a coach say, “big hip extension”, what we are saying is, aggressively push your hips forward. Go from a bent position to a straight position with speed and intent.

At Crossfit Upland, our hips allow us to do movements like: kipping pull-ups, power cleans, snatch, kettlebell swings, running. All of these movements require fast hip extension to pull off.

One way to improve hip extension is to squeeze your glutes. The glutes are a powerful hip extensor. Fire those muscle to get more speed in your hips. This speed will translate to increased power.

Another way to get your hips to move forward quickly and aggressively is to move your sternum upright. You maybe have heard your coach say “chest up”. We want your chest upright and stacked over your hips. This creates proper structure and keeps you safe.

Hip extension. It’s one of the most athletic movements you can perform. Next time you are in Crossfit Upland, ask a coach “how do I improve my hip extension”. We will take a look at your current level and then give a recommendation how to improve it.


Track Your Food and Fast

I track what I eat and I intermittently fast.

Food tracking

Tracking my food serves a few goals. For starters, it slows me down. I can no longer grab the chips and chomp away. When I track, I need to get out my scale. Get a plate. Set the plate on the scale. Tare the scale. Measure out the chips. Then chomp away. All the added steps slow me down. Helping me make better food choices.

Another reason for tracking is to get to know the type of food I like. Knowing what I like to eat will help me select a better diet. After a few weeks of tracking, I noticed I am partial to fats. Actually I love them. I will drink whipping cream. So, I eat more of a Keto style diet. Eating Keto means more fat. But to keep the calories from getting too high, I will take from (reduce) my protein and carbs. As long as it falls within the macro and calorie range, its in my mouth.

Intermittent fasting

I feel its important to be hungry, every day.

First and foremost it makes food taste better. If you have ever been starving you know what I mean. Broccoli can taste amazing on an empty stomach.

If you are constantly eating throughout the day, you are never hungry. Hunger is our bodies natural mechanism. Stay in touch with that.

The app I use to help me fast is called zero. Its easy to use and free.

As I write this I’m hungry. My stomach wants food. But thats okay. Food can wait.


The Yoga Burpee: A Warm Up

The point of the warmup is to… surprise… warmup. Its to prepare your body and your mind for things to come.

Nearly every gym and every trainer has their own style of warmup. Some are good and some are great. I’ve yet to see a bad warmup. I suppose a bad warmup is none at all.

My style of warmup will almost always have some sort of mobility piece attached to it. Getting the joints through a full range of motion. I want to get all the cobwebs dusted off before we start throwing weight around.

Thats where the Yoga Burpee comes in. The yoga burpee is a routine I use at the gym as a quick and effective way to warm up. It’s deigned to open up your shoulders and hips. Also, your arms get a workout holding the push-up position.

The Yoga Burpee is based on three parts. Each part starts with an inchworm.

The first part goes like this: standing, inchworm, knees, chest, up dog, down dog, standing.

The second part is: standing, inchworm, right twisting bear, left twisting bear, down dog, standing.

The third and final part is: standing, inchworm, right runners lunge, touchdown, left runners lunge, touchdown, down dog, standing.

Yoga burpees can be repeated as many times as necessary to get the desired results for the warmup. I will normally repeat this 3 times. At a slow pace this is enough.

Feel free to add anything you like to the yoga burpee. For example, add a fourth part by jumping up to a pull-up bar and hanging. Or you can add 3 push-ups between each part.


Grip: Your Hands On The Barbell

Medium, Wide and Narrow Grip Positions

Medium, Wide and Narrow Grip Positions

A question comes up a lot about grip. Where do my hands go on the barbell?

One way to look at grip position is to discuss how far the bar needs to travel a.k.a. barbell path distance.

Barbell Path distance is the distance the bar travels from start to finish. For example in the bench press, the bar goes from the top, to the chest and then back to the top.

The wider your grip, the less distance the bar needs to travel. This is because your arms begin to angle. A narrow grip makes the bar path longer because your arms get straighter.

A wide grip on the bar will always make the bar path distance less. To put it another way, improve your chances of a successful lift with a wider grip.

If the rules allow it, you want your grip to be as wide as possible to make the lift faster. Good advise but it comes with a price. That price is leverage.

Leverage is the exertion of force by means of a lever or an object used in the manner of a lever. The lever in the case of a bench press are your arms (bones, joints etc.). When you change the position of your grip, the angles of your arms change. This will affect the shape of your lever and the force you can apply.

To optimize your lever you want your elbows under your wrists and elbows close to your body. If your hands are too far apart your elbows are inside your wrists far away from your body. This makes for a very short bar path but poor leverage. If your hands are too close then your elbows go outside your wrists and elbows get too close and you get jammed up. This improves leverage over the wide grip but makes the bar path extremely long.

Always do what feels right between a wide and narrow grip. Try different styles to find the one that fits you the best.


Long Workouts: Pacing

Gassing out during a workout? We have all experienced it. Even elite athletes have mistakenly gone out “too hot” at the start and lost their lead at the end.

Throughout my years of coaching CrossFit, the best performances come from athletes who pace. Whether a workout is for time or reps, keeping a consistent pace is key.

Pacing doesn’t mean slow. Think of pacing like this. On a scale from 0-10, 0 is at rest and 10 is a full sprint, be at 6 to 7. This will allow enough gas in the tank to last the entire workout. As you get more fit, your 6 to 7 will get faster and then performance improves.

Here are a few points to consider to endure longer workouts:

1. Create a plan. Pick a rep and rest strategy that is sustainable and fits your style.

2. Stick to your plan. As best as you can. Shit happens so be ready.

3. Start at a pace that is manageable for the entire workout. Don’t be influenced by other athletes. Race your race.

Know your body. Push it, maintain it, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and you will execute peak performance during the most difficult workouts.


Mind Strong


Bruce Lee said, “Do not pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength do endure a difficult one.” Such a good quote.

At Crossfit Upland this is our mantra. We want workouts to be difficult. The harder the workout, the tougher your mind becomes.

A tough mind is the key. Its a way to manage all the crazy things life throws your way.

Of course, difficult is subjective. What seems impossible to one, might be easy to another. How do you know when you are challenged? For me, its when I tell myself I want to quit. It’s that voice in my head telling me I’m pushing myself too hard and I need to stop. This voice is wanting me to be soft. It wants me to take the easy route. I need to drown out that voice with my sweat.

Push forward and never quit.