When speaking to successful people–successful in business, sports, life, family, academia, getting out of bed daily–about their paths to success, there is a common trait. That the road to success wasn’t always that straight. It was characterised by bumps, detours, u-turns, dead stops and a lot of thick mud. If it was easy, everyone would be so successful, right?!
The health and fitness journey is much the same, especially because the overarching goal is lifelong fitness. Your PB graph is going to be far from linear. That’s how it goes naturally, but sometimes it’s good for you to consciously turn back with a view to better progress. Yes, go backwards in order to go forwards.
Consider the pull-up. You start with a simple ring row and end up with the technical butterfly chest-to-bar pull-up on the extreme opposite. If you end up stuck at one of the stages of progression for longer than you’d like to, you aren’t moving forward. The most common strategy is then to layer on more work, which can and does work at times. But try a regression.
If your kipping pull-up capacity just isn’t growing, go back to focusing more on your strict pull-up strength and use jumping pull-ups on a lower box in metcons. If you’re a handstand push-up ninja, increase the deficit by a lot and only work the eccentric until you can press out of the bottom–that’s regressing to turn a strength into new skill!
If your running capacity feels stuck, don’t just run more. Tweak your mechanics and use shorter runs and sprint work to dial it in. It will improve your running in the long term.
Taking a step back is also a lesson in enjoying and respecting the process, which is especially important in fitness because there is no end destination. So if you’re hesitant to hold or back for a bit, it’s just your ego getting in the way. Try it. Silence the ego, take a step back for a while, and take note of your progress. But don’t forget to enjoy the process!
There has been a trend across the industries, since forever, to reintroduce past approaches. The automotive industry has the modern classic–old aesthetics with modern technology. Clothing manufacturers are always bringing their old lines back. Architecture finds a way of holding on to both antique and modern elements.
Old school is cool, yeah? Aside from the sentiment there’s a lot of marketing behind it. That’s partly how existing customers are retained while attracting young blood. Old school also works, which is why there is a growing trend in the food industry to push ingredients and recipes that were found to be beneficial centuries ago. It’s a trend I’m picking to be the big new food/health/wellness trend of the year.
It’s because old school works, and now science is able to evaluate why certain ingredients were so prominent in diets from particular regions. However, it’s not changing the message. The message is still to eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and minimal sugar; keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat; use herbs and spices to flavour.
And that’s what you should be doing most of the time. Do not fall into the trap of purchasing products that contain these ingredients. Yes, turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory spice that’s been used by populations of the subcontinent in their cooking for decades. But you don’t need a pill that contains turmeric. How about you find ways to cook with it?
Food and supplements are BIG industries and that means they’re in it to make money. Fair enough. Your nutrition, however, doesn’t rely on what most big food industries are peddling. You’ve just got to eat real food, the way your ancestors did. Do what your great grandmother did!
For as far back as I can remember now, we’ve had two tracks of programming. There’s L1, the fitness track, and L2 the performance track. For a while there were even three tracks, one being for ‘competitors.’ That was a mistake, but a good lesson nonetheless! The primary reason for the two tracks is to ensure that we’re covering all bases of fitness for all levels of fitness.
Having two programming tracks also takes care of much of the modifying guidelines you and the coaches need to ensure that you achieve the intended benefits of the workout, which means getting a good workout. And it shows you where you could be going with your fitness. However, you don’t have to, and for a long won’t be, following just one or the other track.
New members are the exception here. You all start on the fitness track because that’s where we build a strong foundation. Depending on how you progress, you could be capable of completing some pieces of the performance track in six months. And as you progress over the years you’ll find yourself having to mix and match between the two tracks to ensure you are progressing. The ability and need to mix and match doesn’t stop there, though.
If you have been following the L2 track for a long time, are able to complete some of the workouts as prescribed, and are still progressing, the L1 track still has benefits for you. The best benefit is arguably a bit of regression work. Dial the technical demand, volume and intensity down a bit to practise good recovery habits and tidy up your fundamental movement patterns.
You do however need to be smart about this. There is no point mixing and matching so much that you end up with an entirely different workout because you won’t progress at all. Scaling up or down too much will have the same effect, and scaling up too much WILL leave you injured. And that’s where the advice of the coaches comes in. While you are ultimately responsible for the direction you take, you are coming to us for a service. You can pay for a good plate of food without eating it, but I’m sure there are better ways of wasting money 😉
On a side note, following the fitness (L1) track doesn’t mean your performance won’t increase, and following the performance track doesn’t mean your fitness won’t increase. They are merely terms we use to describe slightly different methods and stages in your fitness journey.
So blaze your own trail, but heed the advice of your tour guides, the coaches, for a fun but safe journey.
You’re fired up! It’s the start of the new year, you either beginning a new health and fitness journey or carrying on from last year, and you have goals. Your momentum is high, so you’re dialing in your nutrition and getting stuck into training. You’re doing everything you need to, all of the time.
That might not be the best approach.
You certainly need to work towards your goals, but perfection is impossible. Balance, however, is sustainable. What I’ve experienced over the years, in both nutrition and training, is that almost everyone who goes “strict” all the time, even if just for specific periods, ends up going the opposite way. And that usually happens at the end of their set period or after some sort of event–birthdays, holidays, parties, etc.
Whereas those who find a healthy balance of good food and treats experience ongoing results, and are generally happier.
It’s kind of a kid-in-candy-store analogy. A kid who has never been exposed to all those amazing colours and smells is likely to lose their sh*t in a candy store. But a kid who has had some exposure to candy over time is more likely to know what they want and don’t want, find it, and if the parents are smart enough they’ll be out of there!
If you try to keep it strict all of the time, you’re probably going to lose your sh*t like that first kid.
In my opinion, it’s a simple approach. Eat good food (veges, a variety of meats, nuts and seeds, some fruit and starch, a bit of dairy) MOST of the time, and go for less healthy foods (processed foods, takeaways) and sugary treats SOME of the time.
This is striving for sustainable. Excellence is sustainable.
What better way to return to a normal schedule in the new year than with some baseline testing? For many of you who’ve been with us for a long time it will almost feel like starting all over again–unfamiliar workouts, a surprise everyday, and a healthy dose of nervousness! We use fitness testing to evaluate the safety, effectiveness and efficacy of our methods, and as an opportunity for you to measure changes in your health and fitness. So if it feels like your December holidays are hurting more than they should during this week of training, don’t sweat it. You’re going to have an opportunity to redo these tests in 3 months 😉
Remember, we use testing days to evaluate your fitness. While the approach to the session is very much the same, the intention is specifically to test. Whereas the intent on training days is to develop your fitness.
Similarly, there’s a difference between doing and practising. On some days or in some parts of workouts we’re working towards increasing your work capacity. Those are doing days and pieces–you either have the ability to perform the movements as written, or some smart modifications are necessary to ensure that you are training effectively. On other days and pieces we dial the intensity right down to practise–learn a new skill, improve an existing skill, or simply allow for active recovery.
Your coaches will always explain the intent and purpose of the workout, but remember that unless you’re proficient at a movement, modify the workout to ensure you’re doing and training. And when practise or technique days come up, work on your ninja skills!
This week’s testing will give an insight into what sort of training you can expect in the coming training block.
The focus of the first block of the year will be to develop endurance and stamina while improving your speed and skill level. Endurance and stamina sort of go together to build what we refer to as your engine. A big engine means that you’ve got the ability to go far, get there quickly, and handle heavy loads along the way while maintaining good positions.
Speed is your ability to reduce the time cycle of a repeated movement, and you need good skill levels for that. This all follows on from the last cycle, and will get you nicely prepared for the Open!
So “gassy” metcons, learning how to cycle a barbell, and gymnastics practise. All of which go towards shedding those excess kilos you gained over the holidays, IF you’re sorting out your nutrition 😉
As we have been doing, there will be four training blocks in a year. Two of 13 weeks and two of 12. While we have previously used CrossFit’s benchmark workouts to evaluate your work capacity, there’ll be a change this year. There will still be fitness testing, but the tests will be unique to that training block. Instead of being familiar with the benchmark tests, you’re now exposed to something new!
The ladies and odd hero workout will still feature throughout the year, of course. Some for testing and others for training days. They’re great workouts that should form part of any fitness program.
The Barbell Club is going through a work capacity and stamina phase too, to ensure that all programs are tied in. Lots of complexes and percentage work for you guys.
The Endurance Club is kicking the year off with a rowing block to improve your rowing skill level and of course to grow your lungs and engine. It will be a good way of ensuring you’re getting endurance work in while recovering from training on Monday to Wednesday.
G.I. Jozi is there for the low skill, cardio-based workouts, and it shouldn’t be too long before the Concept Cardio room is good to go!
Don’t forget about the UpSkill plans and private coaching available for those of you wanting some individually tailored programming and coaching. Group classes aren’t all we do, they’re PART of our offering!
Enjoy the return to full training, and take care of your recovery!