The Blog

Am I doing Crossfit?

Once again, it has been some time since I have last posted here on my site… face palm. I will say it has been a productive 4 months: I have been putting many steady hours at the hospital, and also had my first out of country trip to Mexico with My Champ in early December. Come to think of it, things have been pretty non-stop since our return! Busy is a good problem to have, in my opinion. A busy life is a full life 🙂

The last physical venture I had written about was my Spartan Super race I ran in September. Naturally, coming off that race led me to wanting to challenge myself even more. Preparing for the Spartan in conjunction with my endurance training for my triathlon races was an eye-opener. There were both strengths and deficits that became evident. The strengths: I had decent muscular endurance and a fairly efficient ability to recover; the deficits: I had lost a lot of strength (mainly upper body) and my physical skills were very limited. Since I desire to be as rounded an athlete as possible, I had to change that.

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Katrin Davidsdottir of Iceland

For just about a year, I had been following the sport of Crossfit under the radar. I began following the likes of Katrin Davidsdottir (current Crossfit champ of the World, ‘Fittest Woman on Earth’), as well as several other professional athletes under the Crossfit umbrella. Inspiring doesn’t even come close to describing what these athletes are capable of. I watched a lot of YouTube on the sport, and as mentioned in another blog- the documentary “The Fittest on Earth” helped fuel my urge to finally participate/train in such a way.

What is Crossfit?

The sport of Crossfit was founded in 2000 by Greg Glassman, and is defined as a strength and conditioning program of constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad time and modal domains (1). An individual’s ‘fitness’ is measured by work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Individuals train often by taking classes at Crossfit affiliate gyms, also known as ‘boxes’. Classes are usually structured about 1 hour in length, including warm-up, skill development, followed by a circuit/workout of the day or ‘WOD’. Performance on each WOD is scored (ie. the amount of repetitions, rounds, or time performed) to encourage competition and to track progress. Over time, one can objectively measure their level of fitness based on the progress of their scores and even by comparison to others within their box or even in competition. According to Greg Glassman: “Crossfit is not a specialized fitness program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 recognized fitness domains”(2). The 10 fitness domains include:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

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    Samantha Briggs: 2013 Crossfit Games Champion and decorated triathlete/duathlete

Displaying some sort of skill in each of these domains makes one a complete, rounded athlete: excelling at each of them is the elusive goal in becoming the ultimate athlete. Sounds rather daunting, doesn’t it? On the flip side, I do believe that is the draw: to test one’s physical fitness in every was possible. Call me crazy, but the idea of being constantly challenged physically, really excites me. I knew the more I read up on the sport, the more videos I watched, the more WODs I attempted (thanks, Crossfit.com!) I knew I wanted to join a Crossfit affiliate to supplement my training.

Something New

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At SPARK Sport Conditioning: Oct. 2016

The sport of Crossfit is actually huge in the United States and all over the world (over 13,000 boxes and counting); and it is showing substantial popularity here in my hometown of Edmonton, AB. A few friends and acquaintances suggested their boxes to me, but it was SPARK Sport Conditioning that I fell in love with. The main reason was the quality of everything: the facility, the coaches, the people, and the expected quality of performance. There is a negative stigma that many have towards the concept of Crossfit. Many feel there is a great risk for injury having individuals who are beginners with little or improper instruction performing complex movements/lifts at an accelerated rate. I did not get that sense at all at SPARK. I can say from my own experience, as well as watching the coaches interactions with others- that they take great care in ensuring proper form is executed.  I will say that my background in weightlifting and sports has helped me progress at an accelerated rate. Witnessing other athletes from all walks of life attempt and excel at each WOD is so motivating and inspiring. SPARK’s positive environment and focus on quality have made me feel right at home.

What I love most about training Crossfit is the variety: you are always training a different skill, and the variety of workouts are limitless. You are constantly keeping your body guessing. Examples of equipment used in a Crossfit box/workout:

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  • Barbells
  • Dumbbells
  • Gymnastics rings
  • Pull-up bars
  • Jump ropes
  • Kettle bells
  • Medicine balls
  • Plyo boxes
  • Rowing machines

One item that you will NOT find in a Crossfit gym/box that you would commonly see in every other gym: a mirror. That’s right. Unless you are in the bathroom, you will not find a single mirror on the workout floor. GASP- no mirror??? How will you ever check your form, make sure you’re doing it right; how will you ever capture that perfect post-pump selfie?? My sarcasm is to prove a point: the mirror is NOT necessary to the purpose of your workout. You are encouraged to learn to FEEL when your form is on point; and actually, following your form in a mirror can lead to improper form (often due to head direction, and following a moving target). Your purpose for your workout has zero to do with how you look, but how you PERFORM. Your success is measured not from the subjectivity of your appearance, but instead objectively measured by the weight, time, and repetitions the task is executed. Something new, right? That is what made me fall in love with this training the most.  Ever since coming off the fitness competition scene, this is the very thing I have been looking for to switch my focus. Not looks, but performance, strength, skill. It’s a much healthier, tangible way to measure my fitness- my success.

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Body confidence: Feb. 2nd, 2017

Ever since implementing Crossfit-style training into my regimine (about twice/week) I have gained confidence and a new passion for my training. My aerobic capacity has increased in each discipline for my triathlon training- particularly in my swim. The aesthetic results are the icing on the cake. I have an increased metabolism, and my clothes are fitting me as though I’ve been dieting. The truth is, the better and stronger I feel, the better I want to fuel my body; the better I fuel my body, the better I perform. Everything just keeps getting… better. To answer the question of this title, the answer is ‘yes’. I can’t wait to unlock some of my undiscovered physical potential.

“What’s the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” – John Green, American author, YouTube video blogger, and historian (3)

“Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else.  It’s the ache in your lungs, the burning in your legs and the voice inside you that yells, ‘I can’t.’ But you do not listen.  You just push harder.  Then you hear that voice fade away and start to whisper, ‘I can.’ That’s the moment you discover that the person you thought you were is not a match for the person you really are.” – Author Unknown (3)

 

Citation

1. Glassman, Greg. “Understanding CrossFit” (PDF). The CrossFit Journal. Retrieved 20 February 2017.

2. Shugart, Chris (November 4, 2008). “The Truth About CrossFit”. Testosterone Muscle.

3. 50 Inspirational Quotes for Crossfitters. https://www.boxrox.com/50-inspirational-quotes-crossfitters/. Retrieved 20 February, 2017.

Shapely Shoulders Workout

*Photos courtesy of Taylor Oakes for BodyRock.tv

Although I was born with a wide frame, the round, solid and shapely shoulders you see in pictures were earned. When I began competing I hardly had any shoulder ‘caps’ to speak of. With each competition season I made it my mission to add size to this area. Through hard work and relentless high volume training, my delts (deltoid muscles) became a strength!

I know many women are scared to put on muscle, for fear that they will appear ‘bulky’. Here are the main benefits (in my opinion) of adding some size and shape to your shoulders:

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  1. Looks great in a tank top/spaghetti straps/strapless dresses. Sure, it’s not tank top season (yet), but summer bodies are made in the winter! Now is the time to build and improve your physique so you can confidently rock those cute summer outfits and dresses in a few months time 😉
  2. Creates the illusion of a smaller waist. Instead of stuffing your organs into a waist trainer (right?!), why not control what you can make bigger? The wider your shoulders, the narrower your waist will appear. Again, a v-taper shape looks great in tank top/dress!
  3. You will appear (and actually be) stronger. Whenever I see someone (male/female) with round, solid shoulders I think ‘athlete’!! It helps bring up your posture- especially if you balance out the rear area of your delts. An aesthetically strong-looking appearance screams confidence. And with an improved appearance I’m willing to bet you WILL be more confident!

 

Listed below is one of my favorite shoulder workouts for hypertrophy (putting on size). Remember with high volume training, it’s better to have shorter rest periods (no more than 1 minute). This is an intermediate-style workout: feel free to comment below if you have any questions!

 

The Workout

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

*2 warm-up sets

4 sets of 15/12/10/10 reps

 

Upright Row on Smith

3 sets of 10/10/10

Superset with

Plate front raises

3 sets of 10/10/10

*maintain upright posture for both exercises; do not ‘bounce’ or rock while raising plate/weight to eye-level

 

Side laterals: Triple Dropset

3 sets of 10/10/10; 10/10/10; 10/10/10

*You will start with your MAX weight at 10 reps, then drop the weight to 5-7.5 lbs lighter than your max, and so on. Ex: 25 lbs (10 reps), then 20 lbs (10 reps), then 15 lbs (10 reps). Rest 1 min between each set.

 

Bent over cable side-laterals (rear delts)

4 sets of 15/12/10/10 (each arm)

*no resting after each arm: this will help increase the intensity, and each arm technically gets a rest as the other arm works

 

Reverse Pec/Dec Flye (FST-7)

7 sets of 10/10/10/10/10/10/10

*30 sec rest between each set; weight must either remain the same or increase for entire exercise; this is a great finishing-move to really hit those rears (posterior delts) 😉

 

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My Top 3 Treadmill Workouts

When I say I love to run, that love is mostly reserved for outdoor running. However, based on gym workout schedules and the turbulent weather changes of living in Edmonton, AB (with a 5+ month winter season) I am often limited to running on the treadmill. Not quite as stimulating and scenic as the great outdoors.

My solution: interval training. I NEVER run steady state on the treadmill: talk about boring!! If I am to do steady state (meaning- the same consistent, low-intensity pace for the entire duration of the exercise) I will do an incline walk. Interval training on the treadmill has several benefits: 1) cures boredom; 2) burns more calories (especially post-training); and 3) will make you a stronger runner for your future outdoor runs!

These are my top 3 favorite treadmill workouts that I use in rotation. I like to change things up constantly in order to keep my body guessing, and I invite you to do the same! You can tweak the speeds/inclines based on your current fitness level, but do CHALLENGE yourself 😉

Enjoy!!

 

Interval Pyramid

Run time: approx 40-45 mins

*warm up 4-5 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

Increase incline to 1.0%

1 min at 4.0 mph

1 min at 7.0 mph

1 min at 9.0 mph

x 10 rounds each

Cool down 4 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

Incline Conditioning

Run time: approx 35-40 mins

*warm up 4 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

30 sec at 8.0% incline at 9.0 mph

30 sec at 15.0% incline at 4.0 mph

1 min at 0% incline at 6.0 mph

x 10 rounds each

Cool down 4 mins at 4.0 mph (no incline)

 

Build and Burn

Run time: approx 35-40 mins

*warm up 4 mins at 4.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

1 min at 8.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

1 min at 9.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

1 min at 10.0 mph

2 mins at 6.0 mph

*repeat sequence x2

TABATA SPRINTS

8 rounds of:

20 sec at 9.0 mph

10 sec off (hop off treadmill)

Cool down 4 mins at 4.0 mph

 

Muscle Confusion Workout: Back and Hamstrings

Ever since I hung up my figure competition heels, I have put a ton of emphasis on variety in my training. I added circuit/body-weight workouts into my regime about once a week, and every so often I will participate in something different like a Muay Thai class to shock my system. I still aim to strength train at least 4 times a week in the gym because well, I love it.

Here’s a little insight as to what it’s like to train with me in the weight room: first, clear your schedule. It’s going to be a while. Unless it’s some sort of cardio circuit (which I will be sharing many of on this site), I actually don’t know how to train ‘quickly’. I’m addicted to volume. I like knowing that I am going to be completely spent at the end of my workout; that I’ve pushed myself to the absolute brink.

I have had many people offer to train with me and no offense, I know most of you would hate it. I brush off many of the “oh we should totally train together sometime!” I am 90% business, 10% girl-next-door. I am somewhat chatty-jokey in between sets as I like to keep the mood light. I reserve all the intensity for the set at hand. I often train with higher reps than most, but that’s because my intent is to go to failure- with as many repetitions I can possibly execute with proper form intact. I have been told many times that I have ‘resting-bitch-face’ at the gym, and I’m at peace with that. I’d rather be known as the intense, hard-working chick than the flaky, 10 lbs of makeup, texting-on-her-phone the whole time, walking on the treadmill slower than I walk to the fridge kinda girl. Oh and I do take gym selfies, but only pre or post workout… timing is everything 😉

This is an example of what I call a ‘muscle confusion’ workout: super-setting two muscle groups that have nothing to do with each other. For those of you that don’t know: a ‘superset’ is performing 2 different exercises back to back as one set. It’s a super efficient way to cover two major muscle groups and burn a ton more calories than a typical workout. You could also categorize this as a ‘pull’ workout since although you are training upper/lower body simultaneously, both muscle groups involve a pulling motion. It is lengthy, but the less you rest in between supersets the quicker it will be, and the more you will get out of it.

And here it is… Give it a try 😉

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Back and Hamstrings

superset (x 5 sets including warm-up)

  1. Straight-legged deadlifts x 15 reps
  2. Straight bar pull-ups (bodyweight- to failure)

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Reverse lunges on Smith Machine x 15/leg
  2. Reverse grip bent over rows (on Smith) x 15

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Sumo squat (Using T-bar: stand facing T-bar, holding bar between legs) x 15
  2.  T-bar rows x 15

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Cable side lunges x 15/leg
  2. Cable straight arm pull-downs x 15

superset (x 3 sets)

  1. Single leg lying curls on balance ball x 15
  2. Reverse hyperextensions on balance ball x15
*Cardio= 35-40 mins