Sorry about the ‘blog drought’ during the recent weeks. Sometimes the topics and words just don’t come! I’m working on new ways to research the sorts of topics that are relevant to both existing and potential members, but don’t ever hesitate to ask for topics to be covered. Simply log your requests in the comments section of the most recent posts. Today, a bit about yoga.
What do you think of at the mention of yoga? It’s probably yoga pants, stretch mats, primarily women holding really awkward stretches for stupid durations, and ‘core’ exercises. Sure, those are aspects of yoga, but merely the superficial. (Aside from it being primarily women, that tide is changing!) It’s a lot like CrossFit. What you see are barbells, bumpers and funky looking pull-ups, but we’re developing so much more than just a 1-rep max back squat. The benefits of the program delve much deeper, and the movements are but a tool to get you there.
Yoga is an ancient science with an array of types and practices. The ultimate goal of the practice is development of both mind and body. You learn specific poses that both strengthen and lengthen muscles, and flows that move you quickly between poses to get your heart and lungs working. You are also taught how to better align the body. Those new to yoga probably focus more on the mechanics of the pose – external alignment – and as you progress you focus more on internal ‘settings’ that refine your positions.
Learning breathing techniques, not too different from the methods I previously wrote about, is arguably one of the most beneficial aspects of yoga. Apart from being necessary for physical performance, knowing how to control your breathing is important for maintaining focus and calm of mind. You also learn fundamentals of visualisation, which is again important for physical and mental performance. The breathing and visualisation practices teach you how to stay on track, in all tracks of life!
Something new to me as a movement coach was learning to move without visual cues. You have to trust the verbal cues of the instructor and develop your ability to move correctly based on those cues, without seeing them move. It’s a great way of developing your spatial awareness.
Now in order to attain the proposed gains in mental and physical abilities, you have to be challenged. And yoga certainly will challenge you! But just as we advocate in CrossFit, it’s all relative. You need not have a prerequisite level of flexibility or strength to start because the movements and positions are all modifiable relative to your abilities. We’ve also endeavoured to pull from the most effective training practices out there with a view to developing that broad and inclusive fitness, so I’m not sure why we haven’t got yoga going sooner, but it’s up now and along with adding more classes to the schedule at HQ, we’ll get classes scheduled at East shortly too!
Have you got suggestions for other yoga class times? Drop them into the comments section below.
Marilize van Niekerk
What drove you to join CrossFit Jozi East?
Me and my husband were at a normal Gym, we would go for a few weeks and then stop. We were just looking for something new and exciting and then we tried CrossFit! Haven’t looked back!
How long have you been a member of CFJ East for?
About a year and three awesome months.
Who inspires you?
In life my husband, my mother, my family, my friends, anyone in general who strives to be the best they can be and help others do the same.
What are you doing when you aren’t at the gym?
Hanging with family and friends, playing with my puppy, love attending festivals, live music and good food and during winter hopefully doing a few trail runs, hiking or some 4×4. Love the outdoors!
Tell us one interesting thing that people might not know about you?
I love planning events! I want to have my own events planning business one day!
What was your favorite childhood T.V Programme?
If you had to have a super power what would it be and why?
There are so many! I think flying so I could see the world! Go anywhere anytime!
What would your perfect workout be?
At this moment anything with like sit-ups, lunges, kb swings, box jumps and push press!
What has been your most memorable class or session at CFJ East?
Every day is an awesome class or session! But one that stands out was the 12 Days to Christmas workout from last year! I was in a team with two amazing women that carried me through that horrible (yet AWESOME afterwards) workout!
What might we find in your fridge at home?
Right now some veggies, cheese and some beers! TOTALY PALEO!
What Is The Coolest Thing That You Have Achieved At CFJ East?
One thing is definitely my deadlifts and back squats, would never think that I could lift that heavy!
What Changes In Your Health Have You Noticed Since Starting?
Definitely physically there are changes, my mental health has also improved and I can lift heavier stuff!
List Some Of Your Big Goals.
Last Man Standing……enough said! Think that’s a pretty big goal!
NAME: Walter Dell’Erba
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A JOB? I work for Bosch, Siemens & Gaggenau home appliances focusing on kitchen manufacturers and importers.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING AT CFJ? Since August 2014
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO JOIN US WHEN YOU DID? Had a chat to Little Nic T at a kiddies birthday party and told me about the best CrossFit facility in the area and I should come to a “bring a buddy class”
ARE THERE ANY MEMORIES FROM YOUR FIRST DAYS THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE? Bring a buddy was a COLD Saturday Morning and we trained outside and I thought, this is going to hurt!!! It did hurt for a few days – but I was hooked and addicted.
WHAT IS THE COOLEST THING THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AT CFJ? Winning the recent Lifestyle Challenge. Sticking to the training and not giving up or getting bored.
WHAT CHANGES IN YOUR HEALTH HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE STARTING CrossFit? Started jump up with 38% body fat and dropped to 24% in one of the lifestyle challenges. Stronger than ever, healthier, mobility, healthy lifestyle, more concentration – I could go on forever!!
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT BUSY GETTING FITTER AT CFJ? Spending time with my family, movies, I enjoy cooking, my 5 year old son Levi keeps me busy.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS SINCE JOINING CFJ? Winning a Lifestyle Challenge at the start of 2016. For me this is the longest I’ve ever been in a fitness regime, I normally get bored and drop out – so that is a big achievement for me.
LIST SOME OF YOUR CFJ BUCKET LIST ITEMS. A 6 pack would be nice, but that’s a long term goal ha ha. To do all workouts RX’ed
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO EAT OUT IN JOZI? At the moment I’m loving the “Classic Indian” in Key West Bedfordview – I love curries etc.. RocoMamas and The Wolfpack are also great!
IF YOU COULD INVITE 3 FAMOUS PEOPLE TO DINNER, WHO WOULD THEY BE? Dr Wayne Dyer; Alessandra Ambrosio ; Lee Evans
WHO INSPIRES YOU AT CFJ AND IS THERE ANYONE ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE A SHOUT OUT TO? My 6 am class – what a great class!!
Shout out to little Nic T, thanks for getting me to CFJ dude
TELL US AN INTERESTING FACT WE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU. I have met Nelson Mandela, and I lived in London for 8 years.
IN NO MORE THAN 5 WORDS, TELL US WHY YOU CrossFit. Keeps me out of mischief
Earlier this week I wrote about the volume trap that many athletes get stuck in, and the effect it has on intensity and therefore results and safety. That concept applies, in my opinion, to all sports and training methods. If you look at the very best in just about every sport, CrossFit included, they don’t just spend time doing work. A great deal of their time is spent in short, focused sessions design to refine their performance. Well, the only sports that don’t fall under that generalisation are endurance sports.
The bulk of people reading this blog are likely to be CrossFitters, many of whom now express their fitness outside of the gym in endurance sports. So this article is primarily directed to them. You’re the people coming to us for guidance on health and performance. Trying to get this information through to the bulk of the endurance community, though, is flogging a dead horse. Despite all the advances in knowledge and the greater deal of information available, the majority of the endurance community are still practising “more is more and therefore better.”
I believe that the cream of the global endurance crop are now better balancing their training with good strength and conditioning, and less volume in favour of more intensity in specific domains (cycling, running, swimming, etc.). But for the most part, the ever and rapidly growing contingent of endurance athletes and coaches still want “time in the saddle, time on the road, feeling the water.”
I don’t disagree with time needed to condition an athlete for an endurance event. It’s especially important for mental conditioning. But more time isn’t going to get you fitter. Firstly, as mentioned in the previous piece about volume, intensity is the variable most commonly associated with favourable adaptations to exercise, and (too much) volume comes at the sacrifice of good intensity. The practise of simply adding more volume over time to the same training movements and loads also results in accommodation. This is when the response to a stimulus decreases over time. You avoid that happening in endurance sports by varying the training modes and volume.
All of the time spent drilling the same movement pattern over and over is harmful too. Especially when no time is being dedicated to flexibility and strength.
So what do you do if you’re a CrossFitter looking to enter and perform relatively well at endurance sports?
- Seek a coach out who has programming knowledge to develop a program that’s tailored to you. If they do have programming knowledge, they’ll keep you CrossFitting 3-4 times a week as your base, with high intensity aerobic sessions making up the rest of your training time.
- Your aerobic sessions need to be interval-based a lot of the time. The event’s distance is only partially responsible for guiding your training and should NOT be your training distances. That means if you’re planning on running a 21km, don’t use 21km as your training runs! It also means that training beyond your event’s distance will not make the event distance easier.
- Get some long distances in too, but only a few and with the mindset that you’re conditioning the mind and body for the rigours of the event, not because it’s going to make you fitter. It’s not going to make you fitter.
- Find your weaknesses and add in focus sessions to iron them out. This could be foot strike in running, breathing, timing on your release in rowing, position in the water. These are things that keep you above your goal times, along with poor power, speed and stamina. A lack of aerobic capacity is unlikely to be your weakness.
- If you are deciding on your first long distance event, don’t just pile on the extra work. You need to slowly and progressively add volume and intensity.
Always remember, the goal is lifelong health and fitness. When you’re in it for the long game, less is generally more!
Volume in training refers to the total amount of repetitions completed in a session and throughout the day. Contrary to much belief, volume is not necessary if the goal is to get fitter. Remember, we define increased fitness as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. That is, improving the capacity of all energy systems, enhancing each of the ten recognised physical traits you see painted up on the gym walls, and being capable of performing well at any imaginable physical task.
How do we achieve that sort of fitness? By a healthy daily dose of constantly varied, functional movements applied at high intensity. To state the obvious, volume doesn’t feature anywhere there. Doing more isn’t going to make you fitter, and by you I’m referring to 99.99% of you NOT training for multi-event, multi-day fitness competitions.
Volume and subtle variations thereof have their place in programming, especially in the realm of athletes who are training specifically for multi-event, multi-day competitions. But even for these individuals, the extra volume is only going to work if intensity remains high. Intensity is the independent variable most closely associated with favourable adaptations to exercise. Without intensity you have no results. Adding volume, be it within a session or throughout the day, inevitably comes at the cost of intensity.
Let’s consider one of our daily workouts – the daily workout being the entire hour including warm-up, cool-down, skills, strength, and/or conditioning. A metcon is only a piece of the session, not the workout. We typically do one metcon if we the goal of the day is conditioning, and sometimes it comes along with skill or strength work. Think about how you’d perform if we layered on more metcons. Do a 7-minute metcon, rest a bit, and then hit a 10-minute piece before finishing of with another 20 minutes worth of conditioning. If you tried to achieve some sort of intensity, you’d manage that in the first metcon and maybe a bit in the second, but as you proceed you’ll begin to do less work than you might have if you were doing that piece alone. Or you’ll think “that’s a lot of work so I’m just going to pace all the way,” deliberately sacrificing intensity. Either way, it’s less intensity in favour of volume.
Sure, you’d be working lots so your oxidative energy system will be stimulated, but that’s coming at the expense of time in the anaerobic energy pathways – you’re only increasing work capacity in one time domain. With the added work comes along the need for more recovery too, and let’s not kid ourselves. Most of us only have the time to get all our fitness work done in one hour a day so you’ll end up sacrificing good recovery practices in favour of getting more done. And where are you going to get the opportunity to practice and develop skills?
Worse yet, more and more work will just take you back to where the fitness community came from – long gym sessions at low intensity with poor results.
More volume for the sake of doing more is not only counterproductive but potentially harmful too. But you can add extra work that is productive. Identify a few weaknesses and drill one of them a day in a focused 15 minute session. This is the best way to refine your skills, and if you take a page from the books of the best athletes in any sport, this is where they spend the bulk of their extra time. Dialling in that foot position, fixing their timing, getting familiar in a new position. Skills and drills are your biggest bang for buck outside of class time. Now you’ve got to have fun too so play around with stuff we don’t get to in class as often. But if you’ve got ankles as flexible as cold chewing gum and shoulders incapable of properly holding an empty barbell overhead you’re better off on stretching and skills and drills than getting your meathead work done.
Not sure what to do? Pay more attention during class, we cover progressions daily. Even better, book a private or semi-private session with a coach, get a homework program and review it every four to six weeks. It’s more bang for your buck.“Be Impressed with Intensity, Not Volume.” – Greg Glassman