Step Down or Rebound || Coach Tim Garland

With the CrossFit Open just a few weeks away, our last few articles have focused on mindset and integrity in training. Applying those principles, I’d like to focus on a single movement often in the Open. The box jump.

The box jump is an expression of power and control of our body-weight. The explosive strength required, as well as stamina when performed at high volume, is not for everyone.  An alternative to this movement is the step-up. While the step-up does not have the same explosive strength demands, it can be a safer movement, especially when considering the urge to “rebound” from a box jump.  Some of us are new to this realm of exercise, so let’s define ‘rebound’ within the context of a box jump.

Rebound- rēˌbound
*to bounce back through the air after hitting a hard surface or object*

So, the next question…how do you determine if you should rebound?

It is probably best for the majority of the general population of group class folks to go ahead and step off of the box. The demands placed on the Achilles tendon, thus risk for injury, are not worth the reward. Rebounding should be left for those that make training a top tier priority. This means they are recovering with the best of the best, by keeping incredible sleep hygiene, eating to replenish for their body type and workload demands, and taking care of their bodies with a complete soft tissue regimen.

So, you are not an elite athlete and do not know where to begin with taking care of/troubleshooting your body. Below are three examples of soft tissue work that you can implement, if you are not already doing so,
that will aid the likes of running, double-unders, and of course…box jumps.

 

Foam rolling the lower portion of your calf. You can also use a kettlebell or even barbell if you find that you need a bit more pressure. Simple place the lower portion of your calf on the object of choice, then work through some extension/flexion of the ankle, and even clockwise/counterclockwise rotations.

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Using a band below the ankle joint itself, elevate the ball of your foot and drive your heel toward the floor while simultaneously pushing your shin toward the top of your foot.

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Working off of a box, place a ball in the belly of the muscle on your shin and gently apply pressure. Here, as with the foam roller in #1, you can work through flexion/extension of the ankle while slowly working your way up (or down) the front of the shin. Please don’t place the ball on the bone itself, remember we are working the soft tissue!

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Try these out. Not sure if you are doing them correctly? Ask a coach, they are there to help!

Stay Safe and Healthy,

Tim

Integrity In Training || Coach Gen

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On Tuesday, Coach Wes posted a meme that was the perfect intro to today’s article. He had no idea what I planned to write about, but the fact that there is a meme about it says it’s a common occurrence.

In the midst of all the New Year’s resolutions and the hype of The Open coming up there tends to be an added pressure to ‘perform’ in the gym. People’s focus turns to the numbers on the board and the actual work being done becomes secondary. This leads to mediocre training just to get that score and very little actual progress. I challenge you to find a way that that is going to serve you in the future.

In my opinion, as a coach and an athlete, training is very rarely about the score. It’s much more about the quality of movement and the development of the skills so that I can progress. That’s not to say I don’t push my people or myself, only that if it’s a shitty rep, we’re not counting it. Yes, there are those who straight up shave reps (see below video), but in my opinion, it’s just as bad to count reps that you know aren’t up to par when you are trying to. Here’s why:

Let’s say I’m working on my toes to bar. I can get close, every once in awhile my toes get all the way up there, but for the most part I just do the work and say “eh, that’s close enough” with a good 8 inches between my toes and the bar. How am I EVER going to get better at the skill if I settle for mediocre? What do you think would happen if instead, during every single WOD with toes to bar, I held myself accountable and only counted the reps where my toes truly touched the bar? I’d probably progress more quickly because I’d get pretty damn tired of doing all those extra reps that didn’t count.

Another option I have here, is to take a step back in the progression. Maybe I never actually get my toes close to the bar, but I can get my knees to my elbows almost every time. What’s the better option here? Do shitty toes to bar reps or do proper knees to elbows reps? At least in the second option I’m practicing proper form and I’m going to develop the skill and my strength. Once I’m efficient in that progression, I can move back up and continue my progress. Poor practice makes for poor performance.  Proper practices makes for improvement.

Now let’s look at those rep shavers. ‘Karen’ is on the board (150 wall balls for time).. I’m scanning the scores from the earlier classes and I see that ‘John’ did it in 5:15. Well… I’m going to do it in 5:00! 3-2-1 go… rep after rep (let’s say for the sake of this scenario that all my reps are legitimately good).. I’m getting tired and no one else is counting my reps, but me….. Rep, rep, rep… oh jeez the clock says 4:45 and I’m only at 119… eh screw it, I have to beat John so I just call it at the 5:00 minute mark even though I only completed about 130 reps. No one will know. I report my score, Coach gives me a high five, and no one is the wiser.

A few weeks down the road, ‘Karen’  comes up again and we do it with a partner who helps keep count. Where am I now? I shaved 20 reps last time to get that score and I’ve done nothing between then and now to improve my ability in this WOD. I’m in trouble because there is no way I can repeat that score with a proper rep count… busted.

Guys, regardless of what your scenario is, it all boils down to integrity and diligence in your training. If you truly want to improve and succeed you have to hold yourself accountable. We as coaches do our best to give corrections and cues throughout, but I can’t stand next to you and count every rep or watch to make sure your toes hit that bar every time. There is always room for improvement and I am the first to admit that sometimes fatigue, injury, or whatever else affects the movement. If that’s the case, do your best at the proper progression, but don’t come report RX when 90% of the time your toes were 8 inches from the bar.

If you need help with a progression, ASK US. We are here to guide your progress so if there is something you’re struggling with or you don’t know the proper way to progress, get with your coach and we’ll figure it out, but don’t settle for mediocre movement for the sake of the score.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Be excellent.
-Coach Gen

February Athlete of The Month – Colette LaPorte!!

Each month we spotlight a different CFA athlete who stands out and shows just how awesome they are. What is it that makes up an Athlete of the Month? It may not be the person that finishes the fastest, Rx’s every WOD, or gets a PR every time they walk in the gym. Although we love and celebrate when those things happen, the Athlete of the Month is made up of much more than physical ability. This person shows up, gives their best every time, and then gives a little more. They are hungry to learn and always ready to do the work. They support their fellow classmates and encourage them to reach their goals. This athlete embodies what we believe the CrossFit Austin Community should be about.

Our February Athlete of the Month is Colette LaPorte! She started with fundamentals back in June of 2016 and has been in group classes since July. You’ll usually find her with the 6:30 am crew, but she occasionally pops into noon as well. Colette has been a natural since she walked in the door. It’s been really exciting to see the progress she’s made on top of such a solid foundation. She puts the work in during class and pays close attention to taking the proper steps to reach her goals. All that work has certainly paid off in her time here! We’ve enjoyed Colette’s infectiously positive attitude and watching her continuous gains over the last few months and we’re excited to see her continue to progress for many more years! Colette, we are proud to have you as our February Athlete of the Month and as an awesome part of this community. Thanks for all your hard work and the smiles you bring us on a regular basis! Congratulations!

State your Name and/or Nickname please:Image may contain: 1 person, standing and shoes

Colette

Words to live by?

My dad would say to me growing up “just do your best, no matter what that is” and I always try to apply that to my life.

What is your fitness background?

I played soccer as a kid and have always been a runner.  I got into weight lifting about 4 or 5 years ago.

How long have you been CrossFitting?

I started training with Gen in June of 2016

Take us back to your first day of CrossFit… How did you feel? How do you compare it to workouts today?
I definitely felt overwhelmed when I first started CrossFit. Some movements I knew how to do, but there were lots that I didn’t. I still feel like I’m a major work in progress but I love improving and accomplishing small goals.
What’s your favorite part of CrossFit Austin?

The camaraderie and the competition. It’s nice to meet like-minded people and to have them push you harder than you would working out alone.

Current Training Goals/PRs?
I’m training for the Austin Half Marathon this month and I also really want to be able to do a handstand!

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What advice do you have for folks just starting out in CrossFit?

That not everyone is critiquing you or watching what you’re doing like you might think. Focus on progress, not perfection!

What is your cheat meal go to?

Pizza – it’s my love language

Tell us about a moment you felt most proud of yourself during a workout.

Anytime I push myself harder than I thought I could.  Whenever I do more weight, reps, whatever more than I originally thought I could going into the workout.

If you could create a WOD and name it for yourself, what would it be?

“Let’s get this over with”

8 burpees
8 squat cleans
8 pull ups
8 toes to bar
400 m run Processed with VSCO with b1 preset
3 rounds
What are your hobbies, interests and/or talents outside of CrossFit?
I like to travel, binge-watch Netflix, and any DIY craft.
Tell us something we don’t know about you…

I’m fluent in French and my fingers are double jointed so I can twist my hand into a pretzel.

Longhorns or Aggies?

Can I plead the 5th? I went to OU…

Leave the fine folks of CrossFit Austin with some parting words…
Never give up on what you truly want!

Why you’re still falling short of your goals in 2017

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Today marks our final sunny day of January, and hopefully all of you are in hot pursuit of more fitness “wins” in 2017. Now that said I’m sure many of you like myself left a few things on the table in 2016.  The inconvenient truth is we all set out to accomplish something last year only to fall short (or maybe not even start at all).  

Most times this is less a product of effort and more a product having a flawed approach.  Often times people think that to improve at a specific movement they just need to keep practicing whatever movement it is they want to get better at. While the reality is there’s much more below the surface that needs to be corrected for that movement to progress. Confused? take the conversation below:

Athlete: “I want to add 20 lb. to my clean this year. My best right now is 200 lb.”
Coach: “What’s your 1 rep max front squat?”
Athlete: “I think around 210 lb. Why does my front squat matter?” It’s my clean I want to get better at.”

Clearly this person doesn’t see the same opportunity their coach does to improve the clean via squat strength improvement. That’s not an indictment of the athlete. It’s a simplistic example of the gap in experience and knowledge between a coach whose job it is to know this stuff inside and out, and an athlete who may be excited about what’s in front of them but hasn’t dug deeper to understand their own limiting factors.

Another example:

The athlete who can’t perform on overhead squat but wants to improve his snatch and thinks the answer is to spend an extra 20 minutes after class each day hammering away at snatches.

The better approach is to work with his coach who can provide him homework—probably a bunch of tedious seemingly unrelated drills, stretches, and fundamental movements that make him wonder how this will translate to the snatch—to help him gain stability overhead, and mobility in the hip, ankles, and upper back.  A far better approach than just hitting snatches four days a week hoping something will eventually click.

And since we’re on the cusp of the Open:

Athlete: “I want to get a muscle-up this year.”
Coach: “How many strict chest-to-bar pull-ups and ring dips can you do?”
Athlete: “1 or 2 ring dips and I don’t think I can do a strict chest-to-bar pull-up.”
Coach: “Well let’s start by improving your strict pulling and pushing strength before we get thinking about a muscle-up.”
Athlete: Makes a sad face.

The point is simply to say that getting better at cleans or snatches or muscle-ups or toes-to-bar involves way more than just logging time flailing around on the rings or a bar. It involves diagnosing what’s preventing you from improving—is it strength, is it positioning, or is it just a small technical correction?— then removing the limiting factors and building the necessary movement qualities to help you achieve that ultimate goal.

You can spend years using trial and error or spends hours a week researching on the internet trying to self diagnose why you still can’t do certain things. Or you can work with a great coach and start knocking those goats off your list systematically, and successfully. Let’s do it different in 2017. Get a coach, get a plan, and start winning.

 

Play with Patience || Coach Tim Garland

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Patience is a virtue. Ever hear that? You undoubtedly have, but how does this apply to exercise?  If I wait around to move, I won’t get stronger, leaner, insert any other goal-oriented adjective you’d like….

The patience I’m referring to could be viewed from two different, yet very similar situations. Let’s take a ride with John and Jane through their respective situations.

John is brand new to the world of exercise. He played football in middle school and has been pounding away at the keyboard with a steady diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew ever since. He wants to get moving and is on fire right now for his New Year’s goals. He has done his research on local gyms and decides that going the 1-on-1 private training route is the best place for him to safely learn and begin.

He goes through 15 private sessions and decides he’s ready to move into group classes. John and his coach talk about being smart, and not getting in a rush when he transitions to the faster paced group classes. He takes several months, progressing at a slow, steady pace. He decides after a few months that there are a few movements that he is ready to tackle, and schedules another private session with his coach. The coach assesses, and decides that John is not ready for the next level movement just yet, but assigns certain drills to aid John in his progress toward his goals. John is diligent with his homework and patient with his progress. This patience pays off, and he’s rewarded with successful completion of his first set of kipping pull-ups!

Jane is the exact opposite of John. She is an ex-collegiate athlete, with weightlifting and gymnastic experience. She is a STUD! Jane has done CrossFit for nearly 2 years, when work transfers her to a different state. Jane is a social butterfly and quickly gets involved in the Social Sports group scene in her new city…and blows out her knee in the first month. After surgery, rehab with her Physical Therapist, and a few sessions with a trainer bridging the gap between the therapy room and weight room…Jane is itching to get back to her old self. She goes light and moves smart in her first week back. Jane is feeling GOOD. The following week she decides that she is ready to attempt close to the same weights she was moving prior to surgery as well as moving at the same pace/speed. Wrong! Crack,snap, pop. She’s back on the floor because she rushed her recovery which sets her back another 6-8 months. In the meantime, ‘ole John is cruising at his pace, and surpasses all of his goals for the year!

All that to say, no matter where you begin…you have to listen to your body and respect the weights/movements that you are attempting. You can’t rush progress. It is a compilation of correctly-focused work and drills. The CrossFit Open is right around the corner. Keep Jane in mind, and be like John. Constant quality begets longevity!

Play smart,
Coach Tim

Push Up Man 2016 – Michael Page!!

On Tuesday, we shared with you the words from our Push Up Woman of the Year, Leah Alter. Today, we’d like to introduce and give you the pleasure of getting know our 2016 Push Up Man of the Year, Michael Page!

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“The Push-up Man and Woman of the Year exemplify everything that we love about our athletes, our community, and the human spirit. Not only do these people walk through the doors of CFA day in and day out, and work hard to improve themselves; they go out of their way to lift up everyone around them. They make their friends and families a priority over themselves. They lead and encourage by words, actions, and example. They represent the burning spirit of what makes our little South Austin gym unique and special. We at CrossFit Austin can humbly bestow no greater honor and we give our utmost heartfelt thanks that you both have chosen to make our gym, business, family, and lives a better place!”

 

When did you join the CFA community?
I started CFA 6 years ago.

What is one of your most memorable moments from your early days at CFA?
At the old CFA building they had the best WOD times and lifts on the wall. The Great Wall of Records was intimidating, but also inspiring. As one of the “old guys” in the gym, I knew it would be challenge, but I was determined to get on that wall amongst the young whipper snappers. One day “Karen” was the WOD, and if you don’t know Karen she’s mean, ugly and known to make men cry. But that morning I somehow fought back the tears and pain and scored a time worthy of the wall.

Any ‘newbie’ stories you’d like to share?Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling
I bent a barbell while doing box squats. Pretty sure that’s never been done before.

What is it about CFA that you love or that is different from other sports/programs you’ve tried?
What I love about CFA is how it’s an individual sport that’s achieved by a group effort. Everyone shows up to work on their own fitness goals, but we motivate and encourage one another to accomplish the challenge.

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you first started CrossFit?
I would say, “Hey, focus more on correct form than throwing up big weight.” But then my pride would probably say, “Whatever. I’m going for two PRs.” Then we would exchange countless insults.

How did you create long term fitness/CrossFit success for yourself?
I had to be consistent with my workouts. Coming in 4 times one week then once the next week doesn’t work for me. I realized staying fit was not easy. It’s a job. And I was ready to put in the work.

What keeps you motivated?
Being healthy for my wife and daughter keeps me motivated. My family has a history of heart disease and strokes at an early age. My brother, who’s an avid Crossfitter and only 40 years old, recently had a stroke. I’m pushing 39 and hell bent on beating the genetic card I’ve been dealt.

What makes you come in and train on days when you don’t want to? Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and sunglasses
Mornings I don’t want to come in usually involve a workout I hate. But I make myself do it anyway, because you can’t get better at something while sleeping in.

Recent PRs?
Fran. I owe it all to my coaches. They convinced me to change up my strategy and just like that – my time dropped dramatically.

Current training goals?
There are two movements I have yet to achieve: Butterfly pull-ups and muscle ups. Those are my goals this year.

Tell us about an obstacle you have had to work through in your training. How did you work through it?
I’ve battled a low back injury for the last 2 years. I had it worked on at Airrosti, picked up a few stretching movements from my coaches and corrected a few lifting movements that might have caused it over the years.

What is your cheat meal go to?
Cheat meal or meals? To be honest, I’m really good at eating healthy during the week, but the weekends are brutal. It’s so hard to ignore queso when it’s staring you in the face. But since we’re talking about one meal, I would say a Mighty Fine cheeseburger and fries.

What does the Push Up Man title mean to you?
It’s a great honor. I see so many people killing it in the gym. Making great improvements. To be recognized amongst them is quite the achievement.

Thoughts upon winning the title?Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, indoor
Honestly, I was completely shocked. Especially since I couldn’t make the party. So when my wife put me on FaceTime to accept the award over the phone I was stunned. Speechless. And needed a drink.

How will you use your new found Push Up Man glory?
I’ve tried to use it at home with my wife. I get as far as saying, “Hey, I’m the freaking Push Up Man! I’m kind of a big deal! So there’s no reason I should clean the dishes!” It has yet to work.

Leave the fine folks of CFA with some parting wisdom.
When life shuts a door… open it again. That’s how doors work.

Push Up Woman 2016 – Leah Alter!

If you missed the CFA Holiday/8th Anniversary Party, you might not have heard about our 2016 Push Up Man and Push Up Woman of the Year! We offer our sincerest congratulations to Leah Alter and Michael Page for their outstanding actions that lead to being the recipients of our Push Up Man and Push Up Woman of the Year awards. We are honored to present to you a look into the lives of these two beginning with Leah’s interview. Stay tuned for an inside look at Michael Page later this week!

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“The Push-up Man and Woman of the Year exemplify everything that we love about our athletes, our community, and the human spirit. Not only do these people walk through the doors of CFA day in and day out, and work hard to improve themselves; they go out of their way to lift up everyone around them. They make their friends and families a priority over themselves. They lead and encourage by words, actions, and example. They represent the burning spirit of what makes our little South Austin gym unique and special. We at CrossFit Austin can humbly bestow no greater honor and we give our utmost heartfelt thanks that you both have chosen to make our gym, business, family, and lives a better place!”

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When did you join the CFA community? September 2011
What is one of your most memorable moments from your early days at CFA? Any ‘newbie’ stories you’d like to share? My very first day at CFA and the workout was a 1 mile time trial. It was about 104 out. Miguel was the coach and I was the ONLY person in class. As you can imagine this day did not go well for me. Miguel was very encouraging even though I couldn’t even run 1 mile. I couldn’t wait to come back as I was determined to never get back to that place again in my life.

What is it about CFA that you love or that is different from other sports/programs you’ve tried?
CFA is just a special place. No matter what is happening in life, I know I can go to the gym and sweat it out with great friends. I always feel better when I leave.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time to when you first started CrossFit? Check the ego at the door.
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How did you create long term fitness/CrossFit success for yourself?
What I love about Crossfit and weightlifting is that you can always get better…
stronger, faster, smarter. I am always learning and that keeps me hooked.
What keeps you motivated? Long-term health. I’m turning 40 in March and I am the strongest I have ever been in my life.
What makes you come in and train on days when you don’t want to? Shout out to the ladies of CFA! I absolutely love training with you. We push each other but most of all are each other’s cheerleaders. It’s awesome! No offense to you gentleman, you’re all badass too J
Recent PRs? Squat clean, front squat (those pause box squats work, y’all!)

Current training goals?
Train without pain 🙂fullsizerender4
Tell us about an obstacle you have had to work through in your training. How did you work through it? I have unfortunately been injured a couple of times. It’s hard because in many cases it is when you are hitting your stride in a training cycle or training for a competition. But I think the most important thing is to find something you CAN do while injured and get better at that. It has taught me to be adaptable, which helps in and out of the gym.
What does the Push Up Woman title mean to you? To me, the answer to this question is about the Push Up Women who have be awarded it before me. They are all smart, strong, passionate women who have given a lot of themselves to this community. I am so honored to be included in this group.
Thoughts upon winning the title? It’s pretty swell.

What is your cheat meal go to?
It’s never the same meal. I just like food too much to only have one meal. Top 3? Burger, fries and milkshake (post weightlifting meet), Pizza or chips and queso.

Leave the fine folks of CFA with some parting wisdom. My resolution for 2017 is to be more present. I want to spend less time on my phone/computer and more time connecting with people. This community gives me that opportunity every day and I am so thankful for you all.
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