We believe that the safety, efficacy and efficiency of training programs are the most important facets of that program. We also know that measurable, observable and repeatable data is needed to evaluate safety, efficacy and efficiency. Safety simply refers to the rate of injury; efficacy is the ability to produce an intended result (increased fitness); and efficiency refers to achieving that result quickly. What sort of data supports those facets, though?
Numbers. Your training numbers.
The best training numbers to record are your benchmarks. The numbers we use on our athletic skill levels chart, and the fitness tests we program during test weeks. While it’s good to know how you performed on any given day, the majority of the workouts you do are constantly varied – you’re unlikely to do them every again. So those numbers won’t tell you much. However, the benchmarks programmed for you are repeatable and therefore allow us to measure change over time.
So your benchmarks allow us to evaluate how safe, efficacious and efficient our training programs are. However, recording your benchmarks are more beneficial for you. Here’s why:
It shows you where you’ve come from
Everyone started their health and fitness journeys somewhere, but most people forget about where they’ve come from. If you have a record of what you were able to accomplish when your journey began, and you have your most recent abilities recorded to compare that to, you have the greatest source of reward and motivation. This is especially helpful when you didn’t perform as well as you would have liked in a competition or during test weeks. All you need is a look back to where you’ve come from to remind you of how much you’ve actually accomplished in such a short space of time.
It helps with goal setting
For the most part, everyone would like to look better naked and get fitter. But how do you know if you’re getting there without knowing where you actually want to be? By setting smart goals. In order to set goals, though, you need a baseline. What is your body composition now, where would you like it to be, and what is a realistic timeline are questions we ask to get you to looking better naked. How many squats can you do in a minute, how quickly can you run 800m, what is your “Helen” time, are the sorts of numbers we use to set fitness-based goals. Those benchmark numbers are a part of the goal setting process, and goal setting is central to success.
It guides your efforts in regular training
Benchmark numbers tell you what you are capable of and what areas of your fitness are still improving. That sort of information is essential to making good decisions when scaling and modifying workouts. Good decisions here determine your intensity, and intensity is the independent variable most important for results.
It’s you versus you
The group environment is one of support and competition. But it’s easy to confuse that competition as you competing with others. Having someone to chase in a workout is only good competition because it’s forcing YOU to work harder. Frequently going back to your benchmark numbers for comparisons are a subconscious reminder that you’re ultimately competing against your previous self.
Get yourself a logbook, use Excel, learn about the number of fitness tracking apps available, and get it all set up for the next test week in 12 weeks time. Record your efforts when he hit those tests, and repeat the process every time a benchmark comes up.
I’ll get going on Monday.
I’ll start when winter is over.
I’m waiting for my friend to start with me.
I need to start that new job first.
Okay, I’ll start tomorrow.
No, you’re just full of excuses and bullsh*t.
Those are just a few of the familiar phrases people say when it comes to making changes that are needed to improve their health and fitness. Not the last phrase, though. That’s me calling them out 😉
Are you one of those people waiting for that perfect time, when all the conditions are just right, to make changes to your nutrition for the better of your health and fitness? Well, that time is either now or never. That sort of all-or-nothing approach (to anything) typically gets us nothing. If you want to make a difference to your health and fitness, truly want to, then the only time to start is now. Here are a few tips to get you out of that stuck feeling.
Change Your Mindset
That’s the first step. There will never be the perfect time to start. I’m not trying to be morbid, but you could be dead before that time comes. So get going on those changes now.
It’s often difficult to get going because you genuinely don’t know what changes to make. Book in for a nutrition consult, sign up for the next lifestyle challenge, and get yourself some books. Support, however, also comes from those you spend most of your time with – friends, family and work colleagues. Tell them about your goals and what you’re going to do to achieve them. Tell them when the going gets tough and share your successes with them because they’ll keep your fire burning.
If they don’t support you or belittle your goals and achievements, delete them.
Just Get Going
You are able to start right now, while reading this post. You don’t have to go to the supermarket before changing your mindset, you just need to change it. Write down your new intentions and post them to places you won’t miss them. They shouldn’t be grand goals and massive schemes, though. Think of the smallest change you could make in the next 10 minutes. Aim to be just 1% better everyday.
Make it a Priority
YOU have to make YOUR health and fitness a priority. IF it is a priority, good nutrition becomes a priority by default. IF nutrition is a priority, making the time to buy, prepare and eat healthy food won’t be a problem. Look at your schedule and find the time.
You are going to have challenges, but what matters is that you’ve started. It’s much easier to prevent a stopped train from moving forward than it is to stop a travelling train 😉
Today’s post came up on the CFJ blog way back in September 2014. It was written by one of the CrossFit HQ office crew. It was his (lighthearted yet very true) take on the stages CrossFitters go through. Russ wrote this three years ago after he had been involved with CrossFit for a long time. It is still as funny, as true, and as apt today!
The Four Stages of CrossFit
By Russ Greene
1. Bad Form, Great Gains:
Like everyone, he starts out inexperienced. He doesn’t know how to squat well, let alone snatch. Still, he takes minutes off of benchmarks and adds 100+ pounds to lifts.
Even if coaches are absent, he makes incredible progress, so he tells all who care, and even those who don’t, about CrossFit. Often Stage 1’ers think that all other sports and programs are pointless.
2. Better Form, Slower Gains
After months or years of trying the athlete greatly improves his form on the basic movements. He may even seek out expert coaching from a specialist. Despite the improvement, he’s no longer a beginner, and the gains don’t come as quickly as they used to. It takes more time and effort to make the same changes.
3. CrossFit Snob
Having discovered concepts such as “torque,” “hollow body position,” and “fascia” the athlete now thinks he understands fitness. Despite his own experience, he now thinks that specialty or expert coaching is necessary for a good CrossFit program. This stage is often accompanied by an increase in esoteric practices and a decrease in hard work on basic movements (thousands of hours of Estonian snatch drills and intimate moments with lacrosse balls, not a lot of basic intervals and couplets).
The snob looks down at everyone who’s in Stages 1 and 2. He starts talking about “bad” coaches and “bad” programming.
After years of suffering, the athlete matures from the snob stage and emerges as an Enlightened CrossFitter. He now knows that inexperienced coaching and poor form are necessary steps in the pursuit of excellence. After all, millions of people have turned their lives around and improved their health with less-than-perfect coaching and programming.
He realizes that the real enemy isn’t internal rotation or 5 days a week of hour-long metcons.
In short, he has learned that, “The real enemy is the couch.”
Your immunity is the ability of your body to resist disease and infection through the action of specific antibodies. Your immune system recognises a foreign cell, releases the relevant antibodies to the area, they attack the foreign invaders and hopefully clears them out. An autoimmune response occurs when your immune system attacks you. Healthy tissue is incorrectly registered as foreign and the immune system attacks it, in the absence of any foreign bodies.
A simple example of an autoimmune response is tissue rejection after an organ donation. If the tissue from a donor organ is not close enough to that of the recipient, the body recognises it as foreign and therefore potentially harmful. Despite the donor organ being healthy tissue, the recipient’s immune system attacks and destroys the organ.
To name but a few, more common forms of autoimmunity are rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes. What is interesting about these diseases is that they have a common trait: damage to the lining of the intestine (gut). When the gut lining is damaged, undigested food particles (foreign invaders) make their way into the body. This is often referred to as leaky gut syndrome and it could be a factor in many other diseases too.
There’s nothing good about having a leaky gut, but if you do, at least we know that it is most likely to be caused by some of the food you’re consuming. Furthermore, it’s most likely to be food that only became part of the western diet during the neolithic period. During that time, humans learned to raise crops and keep domestic livestock and were thus no longer dependent on hunting, fishing, and gathering. That is, humans became lazy, fat, unfit and unhealthy during that time.
Thanks to historians, we know which foods became prominent during the neolithic age. Those are grains, dairy, and legumes. Now, not everyone responds to food the same way. Your genome, and therefore your ancestory, plays a critical role. But we do know that those food groups are pro-inflammatory and that people with autoimmune diseases have found significant improvements by eliminating those foods.
You may not have an autoimmune disease, but you may be struggling to lose weight or have chronically achy joints and muscles. Or your blood sugar might always be out of whack despite you thinking that you’re avoiding sugar, or your fitness may not be improving at all. If so, it could be related to a leaky gut and therefore consuming too much of one or all of those neolithic foods.
How will you know? You’ve got to test it. Eliminate one of those food groups for a month and evaluate your symptoms. Repeat the process for the other groups. Or simply remove some types of food from those groups. You shouldn’t go it alone either. Get some help from a professional. Observe, measure, repeat!
Last week I published a post from Charles Poliquin about “cardio” and it’s effects on body composition. I’ve also written about that topic previously, and it’s something that I’m constantly engaged on in the gym because of the amount of people training for fitness events. I’m carrying on the theme this week, but from as different angle.
When the word “cardio” is mentioned, the general perception is that it’s referring to long, slow distance efforts of either running, cycling, swimming or rowing. Anything that requires steady-state activity in excess of 20 minutes.
Anything that requires steady-state activity in excess of 20-30 minutes.
That’s not a typo, I intended to repeat it because “cardio” (steady state exercise) isn’t limited to monostructural activities such as running, cycling and swimming. A 40-minute “MetCon” would be considered steady state activity too. It’s 40 minutes, so you would have to hold a much lower intensity – engage in a steady state – in order to make it through the 40 minutes. Unless you do what most inexperienced CrossFitters do and go out the gates too hot before crashing and burning at 10 minutes. (I have “MetCon” in inverted commas there because a 40-minute MetCon is not metabolic conditioning, it’s steady state activity.)
Similarly, completing two or more MetCons in an hour class would be considered steady state activity. Again, that is so because you simply have to lower your intensity early in the session in order to make it through all MetCons. I call those sorts of classes MetCon Aerobics. They have their place, now and then.
If you’re constantly doing workouts in excess of 20 minutes or have three metcons to complete in an hour all the time, you’re basically just doing steady state activity and you’ll end up experiencing the effects listed in those aforementioned articles. It won’t prepare you for any sort of fitness or exercise event, your gains in fitness will taper off very quickly, and you’ll end up unhealthy.
A short and sweet message today – just like training should be!