Health and fitness requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice. For those committed to improving themselves daily – like the people we see in our gyms – there’s some risk involved too. You could cut your shin on a box jump, twist your ankle while running, or sprain a shoulder muscle while practising some gymnastics.
You could also get hit by a bus while crossing the road, or by a buck while cycling through the bush. Those are all educated risks.
You can either sit back to become overweight and unhealthy to avoid the short-term risk of a niggle from training, or you can overlook that small short-term risk for massive long-term benefits. Just as you can stay indoors to avoid the world, or you can go on with living your life.
There are some educated risks to leading an active and healthy lifestyle. Every now and then you’re going to pick up a niggle or an injury. So how should you approach training while you are nursing an injury? I see two approaches: the pigheaded approach and the smart approach. Let’s talk about the smart approach because that pigheadedness (that is a word) is what gets you injured.
Tip #1: Pain Free RoM
The most common symptom of an injury is pain. While there are varying pain sensations, pain is inevitable and is a sign of damage. You should never move through pain. This might mean reducing the range of motion (RoM) about a joint for particular movements and in more severe cases it means not moving that joint at all.
At the end stage of the recovery and rehab process you typically have no pain through the full RoM, but as soon as you add load there is pain. RoM is significantly more important than load. Therefore, reduce or remove load to ensure full RoM with no pain.
Tip #2: Seek Treatment & Guidance
If you have picked up a musculoskeletal injury then you really should have already seen a physiotherapist for diagnosis and treatment. If you haven’t then you’re veering towards the pigheaded route. A physio can determine which structure is injured and treat it accordingly. This manual therapy aids the recovery process.
The physio and your coaches will then be able to guide you on what to do in training to ensure that you continue improving fitness while the injured area recovers (as long as you listen). You can’t do this alone or with Dr. Google, neither of you have the relevant skills, education or mindset. Even physios need physios.
Tip #3: Make Strict Bodyweight Movements a Priority
Injuries generally prevent you from moving external loads. Fitness isn’t just defined by how much load you can move, and gymnastics comes before weightlifting in your development as an athlete. So RE-focus your time and efforts on strict bodyweight movements. That means no kipping.
This has the huge benefit of better strength with no downsides. And even though you aren’t doing them, when you do get back to more dynamic movements you’ll be MORE proficient at them thanks to your bigger base level of strength. Yeah, you should be doing that from the very beginning, but one can only lead the horse to the water, yeah?
Tip #4: Prioritise Your Nutrition
Nutrition is the most important aspect of your health and fitness. You need to eat enough to support your activity levels but not body fat. When you’re nursing and injury your activity levels generally drop. If they do drop, you should be eating less. “My nutrition is better when I’m training properly” is just an excuse to stuff your face because you’re feeling sorry for yourself.
Less exercise = less need for calories. More importantly, what you eat directly influences your body’s ability to recover from any form of trauma.
Tip #5: Have a Game Plan
You’ll need to follow Tip #2 in order to have an effective and realistic game plan in place. That’s because the most common behaviour with athletes and injury is returning to their pre-injury levels of intensity as soon as they’re feeling “good.”
You might be completely pain free, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the injured structures are fully recovered. Soft tissue takes a long time to recover, and you also need to recognise that you aren’t just recovering from the injury itself – you need to recover from the inactivity too 😉
Part of the game plan is continuing to train. One of the most important aspects of rehabilitation is ensuring that other parts of the body and other areas of fitness continue to improve while the injured area recovers. And that is totally doable. Take a look at the Instagram video below of Kevin Ogar. Kevin was a Regional level CrossFit athlete who was injured in a freak accident. He is now bound to a wheelchair, but his fitness has continued to improve – so much so that he is now able to sit in a squat!
Working that #ParaSquat @stouty08 put out last week! Got up to a full 90secs freestanding then started to play around with moving my arms around. Sotz Press, I'm coming for ya. This is some good mobility work for my ankles and hips. My backs been feeling way better since I started playing around with this. @wheelwod @adaptivecrossfit @crossfit @crossfittraining @crossfitwatchtower @progenex @barbellsforboobs @stephthehammer @angel_cfredefined #stillgotaprettygoodlookingsquat #bootygainz? #FullROM #hadtovideotomakesureofdepth #notgoodatfeelingwhenImlowenough #harambereincarnated #shutupmeag
Tip #6: Be Smart, Not Pigheaded
Every now and then we need reminders. Why are you doing that? Who are you doing it for? What got you started? Is it good for you? Are your goals realistic? From a health and fitness perspective, we give you those reminders often. But those reminders are also new information for all the people newer to our facilities. Today, we’re talking CrossFit!
Among all the varying definitions and explanations of what CrossFit is, one of the most common is it’s the “sport of fitness.” It may have something to do with the competitive nature of the training environment in CrossFit gyms, a bit to do with all the exercise competitions using CrossFit-style workouts, and helluva lot to do with the Sport of Fitness™ being the official tagline for the CrossFit Games.
In fact, that trademarked tagline provides the distinction between CrossFit the training program and the sport of CrossFit.
CrossFit the Training Program
CrossFit the training program is what CrossFit was truly designed for. The overwhelming majority of people doing CrossFit are training for lifelong health and fitness. They want to be better cyclists, runners, hikers, parents, healthier grandparents, athletes – they want to be the healthiest and fittest they can possibly be throughout life.
They use CrossFit to increase their level of general physical preparedness (GPP), and a better GPP correlates to better performance in life or sports, and in overall health and wellbeing.
People under this category are by no means lesser athletes than anyone else, they simply have different goals. Training once a day in class on three to five days a week is sufficient to realising some of those goals. With good and varied programming, training that way is sustainable for life and should see consistent improvements in most areas of fitness.
Take many of our members, for example. We’re nearing our seventh birthday and many members have been with us for five to six years. They’re healthier and fitter than they were before joining, and they continue to progress physically both in and out of the gym!
Some might spend extra time working on weaknesses or preparing for an event such as a marathon, a triathlon, an in-house throwdown, or a local exercise event, but overall, the sacrifices here are minimal and training in class is more than enough preparation.
These are the people we exist to serve. You are the reason CFJ was opened. This was the reason you joined in the first place. You are the majority of our clientele. That’s just how we like it!
CrossFit as a Sport
A Recreational Sport
Many people using CrossFit as a training program grow to enjoy the competitive aspect of it. This competitive edge is typically fostered in training where you have your previous scores to beat, where you’re using the person beside you as motivation to keep moving, where the group environment itself drives you to work harder. These people grow to enjoy that competitive aspect so much that they regularly enter local events – it becomes their weekend sport.
Here, aside from a good base level of GPP, some specific goals are required to ensure safety and enjoyment in competition. The more serious recreational athlete may need individualised programming, will need to keep their nutrition dialled in, and will need to learn about managing themselves in competitions.
While people here make up a much smaller percent of our clientele, we have the systems and resources in place to support them. While some extra sacrifices are made here, the goal is still to chill out and have some fun. Performing well in an event isn’t the be all – like participating in a local club sport. Whereas playing sports professionally demands a vastly different commitment.
Events is written in bold to highlight the fact that the majority of local exercise events are not competitions. That is because the primary goal of those events is participation. Sure, there are some events with prize money and/or prizes for podium finishers, but let’s be real – it’s about participation and expressing fitness, not so much testing fitness. Similar to a mountain bike or running event. They serve to get you out of the gym to express your fitness.
The CrossFit Games
By this I am referring specifically to training towards competing at either Regional or Games levels of the CrossFit Games. While just about every Games athlete trains CrossFit to grow their base level of GPP, the Games have evolved to include a specific skill set. While aspiring Games athletes must still ensure a strong GPP (for life and for competing at the Games), they now also need to acquire the specific skills required to compete effectively at Games level.
Specific skill training can be referred to developing ‘specific physical preparedness’ (SPP). Therein lies the difference between CrossFit and The CrossFit Games.
It’s the same in all sports. You can use the sport as way of keeping fit, but if you want to compete at a high level in that sport you need to be conditioned specifically for the demands of that sport. As with any sport, the sacrifices start mounting here. More specific programming is required along with a staunch dedication to keeping nutrition and other recovery practices dialled in. Athletes often have to train alone and may sometimes become alienated from the community. They’ll have to train through the aches and pains. But for them, it’s okay, because it’s what’s required to realise their goals.
Be it in our gym or the general CrossFit community, these athletes form a tiny percent and therefore form an even smaller percent of the general population. South Africa has had just ONE athlete in the recent history of the Games come close to the top 10 at the Games – you do the percentages.
Just as we support recreational CrossFit athletes, we have always supported athletes with genuine aspirations to compete at a higher level. There are no quick routes for these athletes, and for most, it will take years to realise their goals. The reality for athletes aspiring to compete at this level now is that they need sponsors that will give them the money needed to maintain their lifestyles AND training AND pay for travel, pay (lots) for a coach to program and coach one-on-one, saddle up for non-fun-CrossFit, and most importantly, have chosen their parents wisely 😉
Your goals ultimately dictate the face of CrossFit you choose to follow, so record some tangible goals. Set short term (3 month), mid-term (6 month) and long term (1 year) goals. Record why you have those goals. List how you’re going to achieve those goals and then review with a coach.
We’re here to help you achieve those goals. You may just need more consistent training in class or a bit of extra flexibility work. Maybe you need some help in preparing for an event, or want to level out your fitness so you’re better prepared for a local event. Or perhaps you’d like to take a good stab at getting to Regionals, in which case you’ll have to be prepared to prepare for many, many months.
Competing in the sport or not, there’s a far greater picture – your lifelong health and fitness, and some fun!
As our favourite Pat Sherwood quote goes, “The goal is just to get fit, make it the best hour of your day, stay safe, turn up the music, high five some people, and blow off some steam. So remember that. RELAX. HAVE FUN. WORKOUT.”
Go home? Are those your only choices?
On our About Us page we’ve always had a line that reads “Sure, CrossFit can be tough, but it gets results.” You do need to work hard to get results, and we certainly get you working hard. But hard work only covers an area in the big picture of lifelong health and fitness. Training with us can be as tough as you make it.
Enjoying improved fitness through life requires that you remain injury free and enjoy what you’re doing. While group training is part of what we offer, how to stay injury free while having fun and getting results means something different for everyone. It means different load and repetitions for you, different movements for the next, a slower pace for him, more intensity for her, catching up instead of doing the warm-up perfectly, and for some it may mean an entirely different workout of the day.
How hard you go is relative to your “hard” for that day, and it doesn’t mean a thing. You coming in just to move is doing more than the overwhelming majority of the population on the couch.
Listen to your body and tell the coaches what it’s saying. There are countless variations and substitutions for what we’re doing on the day. Come in instead of avoiding a session; stay instead of ninja bombing out! And if all that you need is to come in and hang out without training or exercising, do it. That’s what CFJ has always been – your third place.
But, get uncomfortable and test the limits of your abilities often. Life will demand that of you!
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 😉
It’s been a while since I’ve posted an article from Darren at CFNZ, and that’s a crime because his content is so good! I had to get this post up on our blog because it’s a great piece that echoes much of the ethos at the CFJ facilities and it deals with what coaches and affiliate owners around the world work with.
That Second Marshmallow
By Darren Ellis, CFNZ
I’ve talked before about an experiment that took place in the sixties involving willpower, where a scientist used his four year old son and his classmates as subjects.
Each subject was seated in a room with a desk and a marshmallow. The researcher’s instructions to the child were “I’m going to leave the room for ten minutes. You’re free to eat the marshmallow. But if when I come back into the room and the marshmallow is still here, I will give you a second marshmallow.”
Only about 15% of the children were able to resist eating the marshmallow.
Years later, the scientist asked his son how his classmates were doing. Turns out the children who had been able to resist eating the marshmallow were doing better in both in school and in life – better grades, better colleges and higher paying jobs.
A lot of functional fitness gyms use the randomness of their programming, and the ‘exer-tainment’ style of their workouts ( extremely high volume and/or load, overly competitive environments, loud music, plenty of cheerleading but not much actual coaching) as a way to allow their members to eat that first marshmallow.
And eat another.
Always trying to make it taste as good as the first….
But what we’ve observed, after 10 years in this business, is that ultimately, despite the gym’s best efforts, members start hating the taste of marshmallows, no matter how delicious you try to make them… they’re done.
The endorphins they had from long and tough workouts, the masochistic pain of muscle soreness for days after, of ripped hands, of box jump scrapes and rope burn on the legs that are so often thought of as a good thing – these first marshmallow kind of things, is replaced. Now we feel unsatisfied, unfulfilled and still sore!
But what of the real signs of acheivement? Overhead mobility, gymnastic ability, functional strength. How are they coming along after the initial surge in progress?
If we want to stick with training for the rest of our lives – and hopefully you’ve thought about that, you DO want to, you HAVE to, if you’re going to live a satisfying life – then eventually we will need to shift our focus from pain, discomfort, difficulty, intensity, and volume, to mobility, efficiency, sustainability and virtuosity; or you’ll eventually start to fall out of love it.
This MIGHT take years for some people, but it will happen.
Now don’t get me wrong, some discomfort and even pain are unavoidable symptoms of training, but better, more consistent results come from smart programming and adequate recovery. Training ‘hard’ with no thought to recovery and movement quality, is the quickest way to injury, stagnation, and wasting inordinate amounts of time and money. If we replace hard with short, intense and quality. If we replace aching muscles with mobile joints then injury can be replaced with success, stagnation with excitement, money and time wasting with fun new activities and exploration of fitness in life.
Unfortunately, it’s in our human nature to somehow like these hard ones ones the most!!! It’s crazy, but the most effective programs for getting people the best results in the safest way possible, tend to be less ‘fun’……
Social media doesn’t help much either (but when has it?), filling our feeds with top athletes pushing themselves to breaking point, posting images and video of the most insane physical feats. It was a breath of fresh air to see Games champ Mat Fraser recently post a day of training that, while reflecting an athlete who had the luxury of an entire day to devote to training, showcased mindful practice, sensible volume and a focus on the basics.
One of our challenges as a gym that is here to change lives, and leave a mark on the world, is how to find the sweet spot between enjoyable and effective. We program workouts that are going to keep people around for the long haul so they can reap the benefits the rest of their lives.
That means, some days, it will be like that first marshmallow you aren’t allowed to eat. We’re asking you to occasionally swap the ‘cool’ snatches and butterfly pullups and insanely long Hero workouts, for movements and workouts that promote mobility, balance, health. We’re asking you to sacrifice a day or two of ‘exer-tainment’ for a lifetime of health and fitness.
As a business, do you think we’d prefer to bring in 200 members to the gym, get them hooked on hard workouts, push them hard, promote the competitive aspect and give shout outs and respect to those who can suffer the most……
….then, after 2 years, have a bunch of burned out people leave while we try to find another couple hundred?
Makes no sense right?
From both a biz perspective AND the job satisfaction for our staff, it makes far more sense to keep the people around who are coachable, want to learn, and are focused on long term, sustainable progress. It’s a win win situation for everyone.
We promise to let you have ‘marshmallows’ sometimes.
But also know that we’re not going to give you ‘diabetes’, despite how much some of you ask for it…… it’s not in your best interests….. or ours.
Original article: That Second Marshmallow
Posts tagged with ‘life’