Do you even WOD, bro? 3 things you AREN'T doing, but SHOULD.
Are you interested in saving time and effort in your mobility work? How about improving your performance and squeezing the most from your hard work? If so take the time to read and implement the information in today’s blog.
NUMBER 1- GET ASSESSED TO SAVE TIME AND EFFORT
We often think of musculoskeletal assessments as tools that should be reserved for the injured. However, with our current knowledge of human movement we can now utilize powerful assessments that will help athletes with much more than just injury rehabilitation.
Four reasons every athlete should have a movement assessment:
1. Quantify the athlete’s baseline movement competency- If you never test your baseline level of function how will you know whether you are truly getting more functional? Remember just improving aerobic capacity and strength measures does not automatically mean you are moving better and improving function.
2. Provide the athlete a unique user’s manual for their body- Having a full body, joint by joint assessment done of your body will allow for targeted mobility and maintenance work. This will save you time by eliminating unnecessary stretches and mobility and maximize your effort. This will lead to improved movement and possibly lower injury risk.
3. Occasional retesting as a way to monitor whether movement is improving or worsening- Once you have established a movement baseline it is now possible to occasionally go back and retest as a way of measuring whether your movement is improving or worsening as you get stronger.
4. The SAID Principle- Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. For some, there are movements that because of a chronic maladaptation or underlying structural limitation are simply not possible with proper mechanics. Enter compensatory pattern. If movement quality is effectively zero, then one will be forced to move in a compensatory pattern which most likely will lead to a very rapid accumulation of load and hence this movement could only be non-injurious if performed very infrequently with sufficient recovery time. However, continuing to do this movement with a compensatory pattern will not have the physiological outcomes that it was intended to have anyway, and therefore continuing at a lower frequency is a futile effort. Better to regress, improve movement, then continue once you are able to get into a position that will create a beneficial adaptation to the imposed stress.
If you are interested in finding someone in your area that can put you through a movement assessment click here.
NUMBER 2- PRACTICE, DON’T JUST PLAY
If you want to get the most out of CrossFit, improve your performance, and minimize injury risk then start supplementing your workouts with drill work. Lots of it! Golfing provides an exceptional analogy to understand the importance of drill work. Adopting the mindset and training habits of an aspiring golf pro can have a powerful, plateau-busting effect on your training. You see, golfers have understood for a long time that there is a time to demonstrate your ability on the course and a time for developing your skill on the range. The technical nature of many of the lifts and movements you will encounter in CrossFit require an equal attention to technique as the golf swing. However, most of us prepare for a WOD in the same way as the amateur golfer, showing up right before a round, hitting a small bucket of balls on the range, and driving to the first tee. We don’t spend the time between rounds improving our technique and movement through drill work. This is where the biggest opportunity for performance improvement exists. Pro’s will spend much more time practicing and doing repetitive drills then they will ever spend on the course. This is how pro’s can make the complex movement of the golf swing look easy and effortless. A max effort snatch is equally demanding in terms of movement and technique and therefore will absolutely demand the same attention to practice and drill work for improvement. The time to improve your technique is not during or right before a WOD. It’s on your off days or recovery days.
Their are two reasons that most of us will never be elite golfers and these same reasons will also limit your progress in the gym:
1) No assessment– Going back to the first point, most of us have never spent the time or money to be assessed by a professional to discover our weak links. The same holds true for any pursuit that utilizes our bodies movement to create a desired outcome. Exercise may be the purest demonstration of our ability to move well and therefore assessing this ability should be everyones first step.
2) Low Practice/Play Ratio– The second reason most of us will never get close to becoming a scratch golfer is our practice-to-play ratio consistently hovers around ZERO. If we are honest, most of us spend little to no time practicing for the complex, skill-based movements. For most of us, practicing is not fun and it takes time out of our day. However, neuroscientists have proven that the path to expertise and skill development comes through drills and repetition. There are no shortcuts.
So next time you go to your box, ask your coach what drills you can do outside of the box in order to improve your lifting technique and competency. It’ll make their day and is probably the quickest and easiest way for you to improve your 1RM!
NUMBER 3- RITUALIZE YOUR RECOVERY
If your aim is to improve fitness, it is important to understand that progress is created through a two-phase process, first stress, then recover. Repeat often. Everyone understands that a deliberate effort is needed to create the stressor via exercise. However, most of us drastically underappreciate that recovery requires an equally deliberate effort. It should not be left to the whims of fate. It is not the exercise that makes you stronger. It is an optimal, rebounding recovery from the stress of that exercise that makes you stronger. Done correctly, the stressor is one step back, and the recovery is two steps forward. If you add stress while you are still one step back then you will only be taking another step back. To ensure you are always stepping forward, you must ritualize your recovery. In other words, approach the creation of recovery habits with the same diligence as you approach creating exercise habits. CrossFit is hard! For most of us, CrossFit creates a drastic spike in terms of physical stress to our body. If you want your hard work rewarded, then your recovery efforts must match the intensity of your workouts. Recovery is a GIANT topic but allow me to at least point out a few areas where ritualizing your recovery will pay off.
1) Sleep- Get 8-9 hours, don’t watch television or stare at a screen one hour prior to sleeping, don’t eat one hour prior to sleeping, avoid stimulants during the afternoon hours, utilize supplements like 5HTP and melatonin, block out any cool spectrum lighting in your bedroom.
2) Nutrition- Avoid processed food, avoid sugar and simple carbs, get proper amounts of protein and fats in your diet, eat more vegetables, drink plenty of water.
3) Breathing- Spend 5 minutes a few times a day on focused breathing, meditation is great but even a few minutes of deliberate belly breathing can pay off huge by decreasing anxiety, increasing awareness, and pushing you in to the rest and relaxation zone
4.) Quantify your recovery- Technology has made it possible to measure your current state of recovery. This allows you to make intelligent decisions about when to hit it hard and when you should be recovering. This technology is still relatively young, but like all technology, it should only get better. One of the more established companies creating this technology is Omegawave.