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Posts Tagged ‘Warm-up’

Recovery: the Ugly Step-Child

In Training, WOD on February 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Let’s talk about the oft-ignored, terribly neglected, ugly forgotten step-child of the CrossFit family: mobility work. We discussed this during my Level 1 seminar, and I think it’s a portion of the coach’s training that many boxes choose to forget– most likely due to client demand. CrossFitters arrive everyday ready to “hit it” harder. We live for the intense workout– for the lost breaths beneath the bar, the triumph of a heavy lift or a quick metcon time. Many people see the warm-up or the cool-down as “optional”– something they can phone in, or skip altogether when they’re in a rush to get from home to the gym back to classes. However, when I look at all the serious athletes I know and/or stalk via the internets– despite the wide variance in their training methodologies– they all have one great constant: dedication to mobility and recovery.

I forgot where I read it, but I recently encountered a blog post with the following advice: the shorter your WOD, the longer the required warm-up. While this is probably a bit reductive, it’s also fairly sound advice. If you have a long, slow workout at low intensity ahead of you, your body will probably require less prep than it does before Fran– 2 to 10 minutes of absolute, Hellacious shock. Your warm-up for Fran will probably take longer than the workout itself, which is fine because honestly if you don’t do it, you’re subjecting yourself to injury, poor recovery… and/or just a really disappointing WOD.

Proper warm-up/mobility/recovery is on my mind lately because I had an odd experience in the past couple days. Friday night, I woke up in the middle of the night with my right elbow in absolute agony. I still don’t know what it was, but it definitely felt like tendon pain. Eventually, I fell back asleep. When I woke up, the pain was gone, but out of concern, I spent a morning stretching and “smashing” with a lacrosse ball.

Later that morning, I performed the box’s WOD:

3 rds:

30 pull-ups

30 deadlfits (155/105)

30 box jumps (24″/20″)

Because we know deadlifts are a silly point of pride for me… I was determined to do the WOD as prescribed. Also because 105lbs is just about bodyweight for me, I knew it would hurt. I figured, because I had just taken a rest day, and would rest again the day after, I could afford a rough workout. And it’s been a while since I’ve had a long, tough WOD. I completed the workout in 20:15, and felt good. I enjoyed it. It was intense and the right balance of movements so that I could keep slogging through without feeling absolutely miserable. However, people who work out intensely should probably¬†not return to their highly sedentary jobs and proceed to sit at a desk for hours on end. After hour three of studying, I felt my entire body begin to seize… Eventually, the sensation was so uncomfortable and distracting (more painful than the workout itself), I had to just get out of my chair. I then spent a good half-hour devoted to foam rolling, lacrosse-balling, and stretching. Eventually, my body loosened up, and I could get back to work. But of the rest of the evening, I made sure to rise periodically and loosen up my limbs. Before bed, I stretched and rolled out again.

When up woke up the next morning, I felt better and looser than I have in a long time. Shockingly, I had no aches and no soreness– though I feel as if I should have for that workout. Anyway, it stressed to me the importance of mobility and recovery, and how I neglect it far too often in my routine.

Since I was feeling fairly limber, I decided just to try out a few snatch drills I discovered from the good folks of Barbell Shrugged (PVC/training bar/light weight). I’m eager to try it with some real snatch weights, but I’ll save that for an actual training day. I will say, however, that my snatch felt smoother than ever after this long progression. Yeah, it’d be a fairly long warm-up, but definitely something worth a shot if you’re trying for a max, or something to do as drills on a light day:

This is the link for part one of the progression (there are four total videos) and they’re well worth your time.

Another useful resource: this provides some static stretches to do the night before lifting. Because static stretching actually taxes the muscles, common wisdom is not to do them too much before the actual lift– but these can help your mobility both the night before and the night following.

So… to sum up… for anyone at all concerned with their health and wellness, mobility and recovery should be just as great a concern as the workout itself– and, in fact, should be considered as part of your workout. I say this, knowing guiltily that I’ve neglected it for years. So, whaddya say, join me in learning to take better care of ourselves?

Go Gumby

In Training, WOD on July 11, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Part of what makes CrossFit so much fun, and yet still one of its larger tragedies is how much it borrows from other fields to which other athletes dedicate their entire lives. Though CrossFit contains so many elements of many sports– sprinting, rowing, even the notorious softball throw from last year’s open– I think its perpetual ADD is particularly tragic when it applies to Olympic lifting and gymnastics– two extremely demanding disciplines that require so much time and attention to detail. I mentioned recently that our box started offering specific gymnastics classes. It’s a very cool feature and one I don’t think I’ve seen at many CrossFit gyms, though I do know that many top-tier athletes attend specialized gymnastics gyms to train.

But I’ve noticed something that differentiates these disciplines from the lifestyles of the typical WOD-aholic: the amount of time that athletes dedicate to supplementary work outside of “working out.” Now this supplementary work could be stuff like technique drills or training particular muscle groups, but I’m thinking of something even simpler: stretching. Even with quick research, I’ve found that Catalyst Athletics recommends an extensive stretching routine for any of its Olympic lifting programs– one that probably lasts longer than most CrossFit WODs. I’ve seen powerlifters take a full thirty minutes to warm up before approaching the bar. And I’m fairly certain that gymnasts can dedicate hours to stretching alone.

We CrossFitters, however, are the impatient sort. A popular marketing angle for CrossFit gyms is “get your workout in less than an hour!” We’re used to high-intensity, fast-paced AMRAPs. We’ve encountered four-minute workouts that can render you incoherent (Fran, anyone?). It’s no wonder that the slow, time-consuming discipline of proper stretching has fallen to the wayside. We’ve all heard the CrossFit mantra: “Your workout is my warmup,” and it’s true– but is that a good thing. Why are we warming up with other people’s workouts? Isn’t there a reason they warm up with other things? Perhaps to keep from snapping precious muscle fibers? I bring this up because I’m so very guilty of this mentality. For way too long, I’ve satiated myself with a bit of foam rolling before heavy lifts or sprints. Not only does it cripple the effectiveness of my workouts, it puts me at huge risk for injury. Well, no more!

We’re actually fortunate enough to have more than one gymnast at our box. Today, I pestered our little stretchy man (henceforth referred to as Gumby) to help me stretch out my hips. Let me tell you… twenty minutes of this hurt so much more than most WODs. I managed to ply and twist and agonize parts of my butt I didn’t even know I had. And it felt damn good… well afterwards, anyway. I’m also very perturbed by how entirely inflexible I am in certain ways. I think the backs of my legs (calves and hamstrings) are just made of cement. Gumby actually made a suggestion that I rather liked– that I stretch whilst typing for a few minutes a day. It’s really not that far of a stretch (ha! Pun intended) from my current routine, since I already take breaks from my desk to do handstand pushups against my wall or pistols on my living room floor.*

[*Yes, I realize how strange this is. I’ve conceded that I’d either be impossible to live with, or just damn entertaining…particularly when the occasional handstand-gone-awry results in couch-collisions]**

In fact, I type this now from my living room floor with painfully splayed limbs.**

[**Please stop picturing this. Or if you do, picture it far more graceful than it actually looks.]

Anyway… I’d planned to dedicate Tuesday to some kettlebell work, but the box’s WOD was too fun to resist:

AMRAP 5 minutes:
7 Sumo Deadlift High Pull (2/1.5)
3 Strict Pull Ups

Rest 3 Minutes

3 Deadlift @ 275/185

Rest 3 Minutes

7 Burpee Smashballs (15/10)
1 Rope Climb

Tomorrow, I have squats again… I alternate between feeling nervous about squats, and being excited. Right now’s a nervous time. Wish me luck. Hope I don’t get squished.