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It’s Open Time! 2019

It’s Open Time! 2019

Originally published January 14, 2018

Whether it’s your 1st or 4th Open, it never loses its spectacular hype, anxious anticipation and excitement. Competition takes an ordinary workout and turns it into a test. The intensity reaches a knew level and shocks even the most seasoned fitness aficionado. Putting it on a worldwide scale against the average CrossFit go-getter and the sports elite, it doesn’t get any bigger than the CrossFit Open.
You Vs. You
Here’s an important perspective that needs to be embraced in order to enjoy and appreciate the experience of the Open. Please, don’t get caught up in being over competitive. Avoid the urge to compare yourself to others and get stuck seeking validation of your efforts with a ranking or placement. At the end of the day it is completely arbitrary where you end up. All that matters is the effort you put in each time and the way you conduct yourself before, during and after the workouts. To bring out the best in your efforts, attack each workout with a healthy dose of humility and gratitude. You will have all the support you need from those around you to be uplifted when things start to get hard.
Community
The spectacle that is the Open brings the community together like nothing else. It’s about supporting those around you to give their best and leave it all out on the floor. It’s a celebration of hard work, dedication and persistence in the art of fitness.
One & Done… For All Five
To maximise your experience throughout the five weeks of workouts, here’s a couple tips:
  • Discard any expectations. There is no need for unnecessary pressure to perform beyond your means.
  • Do the workouts once. It’s the old “one and done” rule. Talk with your coach about strategy, be confident and give it everything you got for that day.
  • Reflect on your performance but don’t dwell on them either. This is an opportunity to learn your capabilities in the scope of these workouts, but don’t make it more than it is. You may discover some weaknesses in the light of competition. Turn these into positives by making it something to focus on for the future. It will all make you better in the long run.
Proper Preparation
Incorporate active recovery, mobility work, myofascia release prior to the day of the workouts. Nourish your body with good food. No radical changes are needed. Just be sure you replenish them glycogen stores for the day of the workout. That may mean some clean carbs like sweet potato and rice, accompanied with plentiful veg and a hearty steak (grass-fed of course).
Sleep well. The most important element of proper preparation is getting restorative sleep leading up to the workout.
Make it a memorable experience and have as much fun as you can during the five weeks. Leave the ego somewhere far, far away, as it will only be crushed down to size in this competition. If you embody true humility and respect for other competitors, you will have a great time giving your best.
Setting Goals for 2019: Refining Your Strategy

Setting Goals for 2019: Refining Your Strategy

Author: Joey Jiritano

The coming of the New Year can be the catalyst of change for many a person. Yet, to follow through and attain those well-meaning goals, whether it be to lose weight or hit that Personal Record (PR) at the gym, can turn to a faded aspiration with no hope in sight. Most of the time, the problem is the lack of process and planning to put the wheels in motion to achieve sustainable gradual changes. So, defining your outcome goal really is the easy part (especially if you adhere to the S.M.A.R.T goals principle; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely). Putting some thought into how you are going to achieve your goals will give you the keys to success.

Example

Jabba wants to hit a snatch PR of 70kg in 2018, which will add 12.5kg on his current max snatch. That’s good Jabba has a clear number to define the goal, now the process has to be established. Therefore, to achieve this goal, Jabba will;

  • Dedicate 2 sessions a week to building the snatch.
  • Perform 50 good quality reps at 70 – 85% at each of these lifting sessions. Along with accessory strength movements (Overhead Squats, Snatch High- Pulls etc.)

So, as long as Jabba complies and completes 50 good quality snatches at each session per week, that will amount to a minimum of 100 per week x 52 weeks a year = 5200 reps! And that’s not including the accessory work on top of that. It’s certainly not an overwhelming work load, as it can be broken down into 10 sets of 5 reps per session.

What You Need To Do

PLAN

The example above is a simple one to showcase the power of consistency and planning. It creates a simple process to guide you toward your outcome goals.

  • Grab a calendar and clearly set the times and places to work at your goals.
  • Jabba decides to do the pre-planned programmed snatch sessions at his CrossFit gym every Monday and Thursday at 5:30pm.
  • He will work with his coach, which keeps him accountable and holds the quality of the sessions to a high standard.
  • Have a checklist and create mini-goals to work towards your main goal(s) for the year.
  • Jabba attends these sessions twice a week and checks each one off as he goes. This will create a sense of empowerment and momentum that is propelled through these small achievements. This is completely relative and specific to the individual, but they should be small, relatively easy to achieve goals. That could mean just showing up to the gym on certain days, or drinking a glass of good mineral water upon waking everyday… easy peasy.

MEASURE

It’s important to observe and measure progress periodically, this will help you to affirm you’re on the right path. Lifting and performance measurements are an easy metric. With something like weight-loss or body composition goals, taking a photo monthly will give you observable evidence that you’re on the right track. Tracking will also motivate you when you see favourable results, feeding the fire to get after them 2018 goals.

“Discipline is freedom” – Jocko Willink

Don’t be afraid to set big goals. Although you want to be realistic with your expectations, that doesn’t mean shying away from seemingly difficult goals that require an abundance of hard work and sustained discipline. Planning a new routine can be life changing and profoundly important towards the bettering of oneself.

Need some ideas for some goals? OK, here’s a few;

  • Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. Decide what time would work best for you. Set an alarm to get up and get it done! You might be amazed at how much more productive you can be.
  • Read a book a month (non-fiction). Get some highly recommended reads and devour that knowledge.
  • Diet goals you ask?
  • Food prep. Aim to have a healthy whole foods lunch and/or dinner prepped for each day of the week.
  • Cut out any bad foods (sodas, processed foods, fast foods, donuts etc.)
  • Include veggies in a meal each day. At least one meal containing a few serves of veggie goodness. Look up recipes that will inspire you and help to make healthy choices palatable for you.
  • Training goals?
  • Just get to the gym. Make it a habit and part of the routine. Consistency is the most powerful conductor for progress and change.
  • CrossFitters: PR your ‘Fran’ time, or a workout that challenges you and exploits your current weaknesses.

Make it your year for change. Think of some personal goals and plan a strategy to get after them!

Is Your Gym a Community?

Is Your Gym a Community?

Originally posted August 18, 2018

If there is one thing that separates CrossFit from other strength and conditioning programs, it’s the community.

I have found that the sense of community at a CrossFit box is unique; everyone knows one another, you’re greeted with smiling faces, there is always someone to help with technique, to compare results, to help in achieving goals, discuss competitions, or arrange social events.

My experience is that this doesn’t happen in regular gyms. I barely spoke to any other members of whichever stale ‘globo’ gym I was attending at the time, except for occasionally asking “are you using this?”

Coaching, technique and programming are all important factors when discussing CrossFit but Community is often a forgotten factor which I believe is important.

Ever wonder why you push yourself so hard on a WOD with your 5am classmates? Ever wonder why those last 20 chin ups felt so much lighter when ten people were cheering you on versus when you tried to muscle-up on your own?

It’s the power of numbers.

From Military to LEA (Law Enforcement Agency)  I have come to realise that group fitness classes, (whether ocean swimming, weightlifting or participating in another burpee based WOD), do work because the camaraderie and people we have surrounded ourselves with challenge us. We share that experience, a mutual respect for one another and unconditional assistance.

‘Mateship’ became a popular notion during the First World War with allied soldiers on the front line but there is science in this notion. The Köhler effect states that less capable individuals will perform better when doing a task in a group setting, rather than on their own.

CrossFitters always come together when facing tough workouts, we challenge and push each other to perform better and faster than ever before.

My goal is weight loss, can you guys help?

My goal is weight loss, can you guys help?

Originally posted August 9, 2018

I have spent the last 17 years in either Military of LEA (Law Enforcement Agency) work around the world supporting various activities of national and local government. Part of my responsibility to my work was to be “Fit to fight”. A lean mean fighting machine.

What I have discovered is that weightlifting is the most effective tool for increasing  metabolism thus, decreasing body fat.

Time and time again I have seen soldiers and officer’s focus on their weightlifting efforts, witnessing great gains in their lean body mass and in return decreased body fat percentages.

Weightlifting in the form of dead-lifts, squats, presses, and compound functional movements.

Obtaining the physique of a bodybuilder on the face of Flex magazine is very hard to do. Just ask any average person. It takes years of hard work, the right training program, and a lot of  nutritionally good food. Weight training will add a few pounds of lean body mass which will in turn make you leaner and give you a better looking physique.

Women simply don’t have the natural levels of testosterone needed to support the type of muscle growth they fear.

“Marathon runners are slim, shouldn’t I run long distances to become thinner?”

That makes as much sense as playing AFL to get taller. This logical fallacy is commonplace in weight-loss fitness as many people are quick to make hasty generalisations. Nonetheless, in any sport, genetics play a significant role. The best runners are thin because slim people make for better runners. Just as the some of the best AFL players are tall, the best long distance runners are thin.

In fact, many people who take up long distance running to loose weight end up “skinny fat” a term I first heard coined by a college of mine, a physique denoted by looking skinny whilst clothed but lacking lean muscle mass and accompanied by a noticeable amount of fat or “doughy” appearance. These people are known to complain about being unable to lose the last few kilos of fat whilst sipping at a full fat Coke over a lunch of white pasta whilst wearing active gear.

What can I do about this?

Definitely focus on the strength component in our group workouts. If you want to get more experience with lifting, consider signing up for CrossFit Norsemen Barbell Club. You’ll focus on the core lifts, increasing strength, lean body mass, and overall performance. Many members of this club will lean out while getting stronger at the same time.

Strong is the new Beautiful.

Strong is the new Beautiful.

Originally posted July 11, 2019

‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, or so the saying goes.

The language of advertising as far as I can remember has reinforced the impression that the ideal female should be stick thin, scantily clad, and above all, submissive.

Who are you?

Everybody struggles to develop a sense of security, a sense of personal identity. But most of us end up constantly glancing around to see if we measure up to those comparable around us. We end up hating ourselves for it, especially if we can see exactly what buttons the advertisers are pushing. But many of us buy into the images, including myself, just enough to wish we could do it all.

Could I be that thin? Could I be that happy? Could I be that confident?

I ended up telling myself that I wasn’t affected by media or advertising. I found myself spending astronomical amounts of money on the latest vogue without any achieved benefit. I found the problem with buying into that image is that depending on the woman’s body type, a model like weight isn’t just a difficult goal, it can be an unhealthy one.

In the last several years, there has been a shift in the way we (women) are viewing our bodies.

Mainstream popularity in Bodybuilding (Weightlifting), Strong Man (Women) and CrossFit and has put a spotlight on ‘strong women’. More and more women have discovered that lifting heavy not only improves our health but also our self-confidence and the way we perceive our bodies.

A number of published medical studies have identified “Strength training is associated with significant improvements in several dimensions of body image, health-related quality of life,  physical activity behaviours, satisfaction, and comfort.” Ref1

Further, women who regularly participate in weightlifting had significantly higher general well-being scores when compared with people who do not Ref2. Women involved in weightlifting lose more body fat and increase muscle mass compared to those that do not.

I got so wrapped up in the aesthetics that I overlooked the amazing feats my body could accomplish.

Weightlifting can be intimidating for anyone, but especially women.

I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with powerful, strong and independent women who are still feminine. I was initially fearful that if I started to lift weights then all my femininity would disappear.

Part of the issue is how the media and women have defined beauty, as the introduction identified. For those who are already self-conscious, even just stepping into a gym can be a huge emotional obstacle.

I suffered from a poor self-image. I was focusing on how I looked as defined by the mainstream media. However, with the right support and community (like you would find in CrossFit Norsemen), goals can begin to shift.

Whilst losing weight was a nice side effect of lifting, I found I gained a new emotional strength committing myself to it. I found my motivation became lifting heavier and becoming stronger rather than fitting into a smaller dress size. We need to place an increased value on strength, health, and personal achievement rather than arbitrary features like weight.

My confidence grew in seeing and achieving goals that had previously not been reached. I was happy in my own skin.

Becoming stronger externally had a very tangible impact on my mental toughness and emotional endurance. When you are strong on the outside, you feel as though you can surmount and achieve anything you set your mind to.

Ref: A study published through the National Library of Medicine entitled “Strength Training Improves Body Image and Physical Activity Behaviours among Midlife and Older Rural Women

Ref 2: Another published study entitled “Effects of weight training on the emotional well-being and body image of females” looked at the difference in training and how it impacts the confidence of women.