With the Open behind us this week provides a great opportunity to back off. While you’re always improving in some areas, progress does plateau eventually. Deload weeks are what we use to negate those plateaus. An opportunity to rest the mind and body before progress begins to diminish, and in preparation for another upward push.
The key in these back off weeks is backing off the volume. So don’t be tempted to do extra work, but keep your intensity high. There’ll be more time at the end of the sessions to cool down so spend the time on mobility. And don’t stress, a few days of less work isn’t going to affect your fat burning or undo all the gains you’ve achieved in recent months! Enjoy the smaller volume, have some fun, and gear up for the next block of training.
After the deload we’ll be testing some benchmarks. It’s been a while since we’ve tested fitness and you need some benchmark numbers as we move on to a new block of training. The only way to observe changes in fitness is by repeatedly measuring fitness. Repeatedly doesn’t mean weekly (yes, despite all the great advice you get at CFJ we still get the odd person doing “Helen Fridays”). We typically run 10-12 week training blocks and test at the end of those. So get stuck in to training and wait for testing and benchmarks to come up in class.
If you read the above you’ll now know that testing is to follow.
After testing we’ll be starting a new 12-week block. Here’s what you can expect on that block:
- A strength focus. NOT a bias, because a bias would require sacrificing other components of fitness. Our aim is a broad and inclusive fitness so although more strength focus, it won’t mean a lack of conditioning work.
- A focus on aerobic capacity. That means, improving the body’s ability to utilise oxygen for energy production over sustained periods of activity. Your ability to keep going, but not just long and slow, your ability to keep going even at relatively high heart rates.
- In keeping with the strength focus, we’ll be reverting back to adding more strict and weighted gymnastics work to develop a bigger base level of bodyweight strength. Strength is your base. As we progress through the training blocks we layer on skill and technique work and then develop stamina and endurance. This approach, along with lots of mobility work, bulletproofs your shoulders.
- The Endurance and Barbell Clubs tie into the above. That means less conditioning work on the bar for the BB Club but more classic lifts. We’ll keep those sessions to the “every minute” format to ensure that you are getting conditioning work in while developing your ability to lift big under fatigue and with short timeframes. Endurance Club, running, rowing and skipping as skills are still a focus but to grow your aerobic base we’ll be doing more of the long, slow distance stuff (like AMRAP 20) and long (longer than 3 minute) intervals.
- Refer back to the mail you received yesterday about the GI JOZI program schedule. That’s there for those who don’t really want the strength focus or for you who need some active recovery.
- MetCons will be low load but high volume to work on that aerobic capacity, but also to ensure we aren’t interfering with the strength work. This might seem counterintuitive to conventional training wisdom, but that “wisdom” hasn’t done much for fitness, ever. You can develop strength and endurance at the same time.
- The only sessions with fixed days are the GI JOZI, and BB and Endurance Clubs. All other sessions are constantly varied – you won’t know what you’re getting or when you’re going to get it – it’s where a lot of the magic happens!
- Within a 12 week cycle we’ll have three 4-week micro-cycles. Three weeks of increasing intensity followed by a back-off week, with the third micro-cycle ending in testing. We’ll also layer more testing in to the latter part of the 12 week cycle so that all the testing doesn’t happen at the end, and you get to celebrate success more often 😉
Look after your nutrition, sleep and mobility. Work on finding that technique/intensity balance. Turn up consistently. Relax. Have fun. Workout. Enjoy the process. And the results will come.
With all the fuss about the Open and the public holiday disruptions, the February Lifestyle Challenge ended without enough attention. To the challengers, we’re sorry about that.
You challenge leaderboard is below. These were the participants who scored best across the board – nutrition, training, stretching, activity outside of the gym, bonus point challenges, changes in waist and hip circumference, and improvements in the fitness test – they made the biggest changes to their lifestyles!
- Leon Naidoo (13th overall)
- Marius Hofmeyer (16th overall)
- Marinus Yates (18th overall)
- Walter Dell’Erba (1st overall)
- Eben Killian (2nd overall)
- Bradley Mangan (3rd overall)
- Camilla Krog (1st overall)
- Aileen Dhooge (5th overall)
- Jennifer Lees (6th overall)
- Claudia Themistocleous (2nd overall)
- Mel Sears (3rd overall)
- Laura Karamarkov (4th overall)
For the first time ever, we (the KitchnBox team that includes the founders of KB, a nutrition coach and myself) took the challenge out to other gyms. So while these were the top of the leaderboard for our gyms, there was alos a leaderboard for all the other gyms and individuals who entered. And two of the names above won the ‘global’ challenge too.
Walter and Camilla won the global challenge too!
A very well done to all of you. We hope that the challenge has helped you instil sustainable, healthy lifestyle habits. We’ll get profiles for these guys up shortly.
The annual winter challenge won’t be too far off. That’s a team challenge that includes a cook off, team events and bunch of other fun. Hang tight!
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A JOB?
I am a Project Coordinator and Regulator Administrator for The Aurum Institute – NPO that conducts Clinical Trials.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN TRAINING AT CFJ?
Aside from my inconsistency, since 2013 – just before CFJ was moved to the current premises.
HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT CrossFit?
Well, firstly Calvin and I were flicking through the DSTV channels one day and found ESPN and the CrossFit Games. We love all kinds of odd stuff and were completely drawn in by this crazy competition we had never heard about. From then, Calvin started training at CrossFit Durbs and whenever I called him, he would usually be there. So I decided that I should look for a box here in Joburg so we could train together when he moved back, went online and found CFJ!
ARE THERE ANY MEMORIES FROM YOUR FIRST DAYS THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
Ha! Ok, as I did my Jump Up at the old box, I was rather intimidated by these awesome crazy people as well as all the movements we needed to do – I had ‘trained’ previously for a couple of years but never really committed. On one of my Jump Up days, I thought I may have contracted measles and wasn’t able to train but I still went along and watched while Andre showed us how to do a tripod for a handstand push up amongst other things! 🙂
WHAT IS THE COOLEST THING THAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED AT CFJ?
Well, when I first started I was basically skin and bones – zero muscle. So being stronger, fitter and more determined has definitely been one of the best things I have achieved. I think I have become more committed to follow through on things and this has a lot to do with CFJ 😀 Also, bodyweight deadlift, bodyweight back squat, 3-4 double unders in a row, competing in as many competitions as I can amongst many others!
WHAT CHANGES IN YOUR HEALTH HAVE YOU NOTICED SINCE STARTING CrossFit?
I have become fitter and stronger; also have become less likely to back out of something that I know will make me uncomfortable and I am now more confident in my own strength and that I can actually look after myself and don’t need someone to carry a box for me 😀 Also, CF definitely helps me with my fibromyalgia too.
Anything with a barbell and skipping.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN CrossFit?
Running, rowing, wall balls!
LIST SOME OF YOUR CURRENT GOALS.
To become more gymnasty! So, to get a pull up and to be able to stand in a handstand position for longer than 10 seconds as well as to run and row without feeling like I’m dying every time
WHAT IS YOUR NUTRITION FIT? (Paleo, Zone, anything and everything, etc.)
I try to eat as healthy as I can; I don’t follow anything specific. I am trying to stay away from gluten, sugar and dairy – these affect my fibromyalgia terribly. I do love me some Bubble Tea though! 😀
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING FOR EXERCISE OUTSIDE OF THE GYM?
I enjoy doing the ParkRun and I also do yoga in my spare time.
WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO EAT OUT IN JOZI?
I love food; it’s why I have no money at the end of the month! I would say Jungles Sushi in Bedfordview and Burgerack in Glenvista!
IF YOU COULD INVITE 3 FAMOUS PEOPLE TO DINNER, WHO WOULD THEY BE?
Tom Hiddleston – because he is dreamy 😉
Christmas Abbott – because she is just so inspirational and kicks ass!
The Rock – he is just such an awesome guy and he is hilarious!
WHO INSPIRES YOU AT CFJ?
Everyone. Especially the ladies in the 6am class; always going harder, encouraging you to load more on the bar and pushing through the stereotypes – ladies can lift!
If I had to mention anyone specific, I would say Rachel Clark – she is an incredible inspiration and she has one of the strongest minds in the box and obviously, Calvin 😀 because he is relentless in the pursuit of his dream to go to the Games; he inspires me daily to be a better person.
TELL US SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU.
I am a gigantic nerd – I love everything comic bookie! And I also love rap music 😉
We’re often asked about why, in general, CrossFit workouts and competitions don’t have categories or movements that are relative to bodyweight. I typically have the same answer every time.
Consider a firefighter weighing in at 70kg. He/she is part of the team responding to a house fire and finds an unconscious person, weighing in at around 90kg, in one of the rooms. The said firefighter already has gear on them weighing about 30kg – all set gear so it doesn’t change in load depending on the size of the firefighter. Are they going to hang back and call in one of the heavier members of the team to pull the person out, or are they going to get the job done themselves? Well, I certainly hope they’re going to do it themselves!
The analogy is of a simple premise: Life knows not weight categories! And in CrossFit, we’re training for life. So CrossFit competitions, like the Open, Regionals and Games, will test the athletes in very much the same way.
Weight categories in some sports, however, are a necessity. But it’s a necessity that rewards the specialist and we’re doing everything but specialising in CrossFit. We do also use bodyweight as a guideline in some workouts, depending on the desired outcome of the workout, but prefer using loads as a percent of your true 1-rep maxes as a guide because then we’re basing the prescribed loads relative to your abilities and not relative to your bodyweight.
And having to score athletes relative to bodyweight in competition or asking you guys to calculate loads that way in training would be a logistical mess. Have you ever taken note of athletes calculating loads when percentages are programmed in class??!!
So, little guys, get stronger. Bigger guys, unless you have excess body fat to lose you’ve got nothing to complain about so up your gymnastics game.
(Thanks to Devan & GC for today’s blog inspiration 🙂 )
Timing is important in all movements, but especially so in movements that are performed in a wave of activity from the hips and legs to the upper body. Just like the thruster!
A common error in the thruster is initiating the press before the hips and legs extend. Remember, extension means straightening of the knees and hips, and in the thruster, it’s a powerful extension. Pressing before the legs and hips have extended places undue load on the arms, and being a much smaller muscle group, the arms generate a lot less power and fatigue faster. Not something you want on a movement that is already so demanding.
Common cues you’ll hear in class are “delay the press” and “keep the bar racked for longer.” When you’re next moving on a thruster, like today ;-), here’s what you need to focus on.
The thruster is a lower body dominant movement. The hips and legs should create upward momentum on the barbell, and the arms simply guide the bar to it’s end position before bringing it back to the front rack. When you stand out of the squat keep the heels grounded and stack the elbows, and stand as fast as you can. The faster you extend the legs the more power you put on the bar and the less work the upper body has to do.
Delay The Press
Keep your attention on what your lower body is doing. If you stand fast as noted above, when your hips and legs reach full extension the bar will “pop” off your shoulders and become weightless for a split second. This is your cue to press. Think of the squat and press as two separate movements, but the thruster should be performed as one movement.
It’s also important to get the bar back to the front rack position before descending into squat again. The longer the bar stays in contact with the shoulders, the less works the arm do and the less the thruster will suck. Kinda.