CrossFit: Sport vs Exercise Program

CrossFit has exploded in popularity as a fun and effective way to get fit.

It’s popularity has evolved because it works for everyday folks who need to maintain their health but is also extremely popular as a competitive event.

Sometimes it is tough for the outside world to see the differences between the sport of CrossFit that they see on TV and the training methodology they would experience in a local gym. Let’s look at some of the key differences between the sport and the training style so you can make an educated decision on adopting CrossFit into your life.

CrossFit in any form without a doubt incorporates functional movement. Using natural human movement patterns like squatting, hinging, and pressing overhead you will experience these patterns. What varies between competition and class is the technical requirements or difficulty, and the loads used in competition. The Games you see on TV are the best athletes in the world competing head to head. In order to truly differentiate the fittest men and women they must be tested by the most extreme workouts. You will see that they perform weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardiovascular workouts but at much higher intensities and volume than a coach would ever ask you do perform in your local gym.

“Intensity is the independent variable most commonly associated with maximizing favorable adaptation to exercise,” -Greg Glassman

The cool thing is you get to see your favorite athletes being pushed and tested so that they feel the workout is just as challenging as you might feel workouts are. Everyone is safely pushed and challenged to improve themselves. Reaching just a little bit further and tapping into their true potential.

If you want to try a high intensity functional fitness workout like CrossFit you may well be surprised by how friendly and welcoming the community is. You will not be the biggest or smallest, the oldest or youngest, or even the least experienced.

Training for the sport looks very different from what you may think is involved with a regular CrossFit class. Everyday the workout is different and scaled to your specific needs. You coach is more likely to scale the weights or movements in a way that is self limiting (you choose when to stop) rather than push you into doing something that is dangerous or painful.

This style of training is so popular because people are able to experience long term growth in a fun and supportive environment. If you’re ready to join a like minded community of motivated individuals then come check us out!

Don’t Get Spoiled By Fresh Vegetables

Most people tend to rationalize their way through their nutritional decisions without much hard science (let’s face it usually no science) to back it up. When it comes to fruit and vegetable intake this is no exception. Many folks skip out on canned or frozen veggies counting them out as “nutritionally void”. 

It turns out that may not be the case though. Foods that are frozen or canned may not be as pretty as the heirloom veggies you pick up at the farmers market, but don’t get it twisted. 

Research has shown these foods can actually contain higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals compared to their fresh cousins. Frozen veggies can be flash frozen and preserved the same day they are harvested. Fresh veggies on the other hand lose some of their nutritional value as soon as they are picked and experience a steady decline in vitamin and mineral content day after day. This isn’t a big deal if you buy local produce but if you rely on fruits and veggies from across the country then you might be missing out. 

Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, and E are less prone to oxidation when they are frozen or canned. This processing prevents the main oxidation factors of heat, light, and oxygen exposure.

Other areas to consider when it comes to fresh, frozen, or canned is that of cost and food waste. If you find yourself constantly buying fresh veggies and finding them spoiled in the back of your fridge then 1) you are not eating the vegetables and 2) you are wasting your money on them. Frozen and canned veggies will maintain their quality and are clearly set up for a longer shelf life than fresh produce. 

Don’t be afraid to change up your nutritional strategies. If your goal is to save money and eat more healthy food then it’s worth a shot!

 

Why Carbohydrates are Important As an Athlete

Nutrition is one of the most important components of training for performance. The largely held belief that sugar and carbohydrates are bad for athletes has been debunked!

Many studies show that carbohydrates are one of the best ways for an athlete to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles.If an athlete doesn’t have enough glycogen stored in the muscle, power output is directly affected. Without enough glycogen, the muscle becomes fatigued.

So how do you ensure you’ve got enough glycogen stored up in your cells for optimal energy output? Eat carbohydrates and at the right times.

When carbohydrates are consumed in healthy individuals, insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, is released in order to get glucose out of the blood and into the cells. Once this process takes place, glucose is stored as glycogen. That tired feeling after you workout is a signal to your body that blood sugar levels have dipped. This is a perfect time to utilize post workout fuel.

You can replenish your glycogen stores by consuming more carbohydrates after you workout, causing your body to release insulin and bring your blood sugar levels back down. This will simultaneously trigger glucose to be stored as glycogen in the cells. Since the cells that are fatigued and depleted are your muscle cells, storage will happen in your muscles instead of your liver. As an added bonus to hypertrophy, the next time you go to use your muscles they’ll be contracting at full energy capacity.

In certain circumstances, for example if an athlete has diabetes, consuming these types of carbohydrates won’t have the desired effect. If an athlete is not insulin sensitive or has diabetes, spikes in blood sugar levels will stay elevated after eating carbohydrates. This can result in elevated LDL or bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. A diabetic body simply can’t handle the sugars and isn’t releasing insulin in order to store it into the cells. There is a solution to the exception. As a diabetic, you would work directly with a medical professional and be prescribed insulin since the body is not producing it on its own.

You may be wondering how you can increase your insulin sensitivity to optimize your response to elevated blood sugar levels and maximize your muscle growth and global energy. There are a few key factors to consider around your workout that will help.

It’s important to tend to your overall health. The more stressed your body, the harder normal daily functions and internal reactions will be. We are aiming for optimal here. Make sure you’re doing the following to keep your blood sugar levels in check:

  1. Sleep
    We all know how important sleep is. It can impact every function in the body, especially the release of insulin. Aim for 8 hours a night of good quality sleep. Try sleeping with a sleep mask to eliminate any extra light in the room or a hot tea before bed to wind down.
  2. Exercise
    This is one of the most important components for staving off disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day. Studies have shown that this is an excellent way to decrease your risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes along with a plethora of other diseases!
  3. Eat a Balanced and Healthy Diet
    Aim for a variety of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Eat healthy fats, like omega-3 found in fish and seeds, avocados, and nuts. Avoid saturated fats when possible and drink plenty of water.

The big takeaway here is that carbohydrates are friends and food! Get in touch with someone who can help you navigate the waters of carbohydrate timing around workouts if you’re looking to improve your power output and physique.

Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths

Debunking 3 Big Stretching Myths

Stretching is one of the most misunderstood practices in the realm of fitness and sports performance. A long standing staple in many training sessions, it is commonly performed incorrectly, performed at the wrong time, or avoided for the wrong reason.

By the end of this article you should be able to see the benefits of stretching and how to place it into your routine. Let’s take a closer look at what stretching is, when to do it, and debunk 3 of the most common myths about stretching.

    • Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.
    • Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.
    • Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury.

 

Myth #1 Stretching makes you weak.

Stretching is sometimes avoided entirely. Especially by athletes who are concerned with losing strength or experiencing a decrease in performance. Holding long static stretches before executing a high intensity lift or movement may have an impact on the stretch shortening cycle of the muscle.

Most folks however, are not going hold a long passive hamstring stretch and immediately pop up into a heavy set of back squats or deadlifts. Proper stretching of the muscle requires breathing, relaxation, and a parasympathetic state to be performed correctly. Odds are that what most folks consider stretching is more like jamming their connective tissues, ligaments, and joints into aggressive end range of motion and uncomfortably holding them there until the pain is overwhelming. The positions are wrong. The intensity is too high. The body doesn’t relax. Stretching is not achieved.

Performing proper stretching has actually been shown to IMPROVE strength as the muscle is able to contract properly and generate force through a greater range of motion. But when and how should it be done? Let’s move on to myth #2.

Myth #2 Stretching should not be performed before exercise or sport.

Stretching before exercise or sport can actually increase performance. The key is knowing how long to stretch. A meta-analyses of studies around stretching and the ability to generate strength or power in subsequent effort found some pretty clear data.

Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds had no negative effect on the ability to jump, sprint, or produce force in resistance training movements. Holding stretches for 30 seconds or longer lead to decreases in the ability to produce force with longer stretch times leading to more significant decrease.

Key Takeaway: Perform dynamic stretching and short duration static stretching before exercise or sport. Take the muscles through a progressively increasing range of motion to improve circulation and prepare the body for performance.

Myth #3 Stretching increases risk of injury

Based on the first two myths being debunked you probably know where this one is heading… The idea that stretching increases risk of injury is tied in with the lack of knowledge around proper timing and execution of stretching protocols. In fact in today’s society where we spend more time sitting, in poor positions, with our shoulders hunched and necks cranked forward as we peer at our cellphones and computer screens.

We’ve already established a dynamic stretching and short duration (< :30 seconds) static stretching routine can help prepare the body for performance, but there is a huge benefit to longer duration static stretching post workout and during active recovery sessions. By addressing some commonly tight muscles like the pectoralis or psoas we are able to correct our bodies posture and alignment. Stretching these two muscles helps provide stability to the hip and shoulder joints and can significantly decrease injury risk.

So now that we’ve debunked some of the common myths around stretching you should feel confident about incorporating stretching into your training. If you need help with stretching, mobility, or any other training needs consider connecting with one of our trainers to find a plan that works for you.

Stop Setting Goals And Start Building Systems

If you find yourself setting a goal, formally or informally then you’re off to a great start! After all, having a goal is better than no goal. Having a goal that you write down even further increases the likelihood that you’ll achieve it.

Goals can have a downside though. One downside is that they cloud your vision to other potentially great opportunities that would benefit you. The other downside is that if you miss out on your goal you might feel like the time and effort you put into achieving that goal was a waste.

So what should you do if not set a goal? I want to challenge you to stop setting goals and start building systems!

At least that’s what Scott Adams, the creator of the popular comic strip Dilbert would argue. Scott has always made it a point to approach life with a systems manner of thinking. This approach allowed him to build valuable skills and networks that he was able to tap into later in life. One great example of this is through his blogging. Scott was able to pay the bills as a cartoonist, but started his own blog and regularly posted despite the fact that he wasn’t earning money as a blogger. Eventually his blog writing got him some regular features in the Wall Street Journal. After being recognized as a writer in the Wall Street journal he began to receive book deals and speaking offers that were far more lucrative.

Scott didn’t set out to be paid as an author or public speaker. He started by regularly showing up for his daily practice of blogging. He chose to put his efforts in developing a skill set even if he wasn’t sure how that could be used in the future. Imagine how his path might have differed if he had set a goal of becoming a speaker? It would have probably looked extremely different from the system of daily blogging.

So what are the differences between goals and systems?

Goals
Merriam-Webster defines a goal as “the end toward which effort is directed.”

Systems
A system can be defined as “an organized set of doctrines, ideas, or principles usually intended to explain the arrangement or working of a systematic whole.”

You’re probably already thinking about areas in your own life where you’ve focused on one particular goal. Maybe you achieved it or maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’re still pursuing it.

Think about how you could develop a system that improves your health through a system for eating or getting daily exercise, improving your finances, or building relationships in your work or personal life. What are daily actions you can take that will move you forward no matter what?

Mitch Stout

The Importance Of Stress For Your Health

Did you know that a little bit of stress can actually maximize your performance?  Most people think of stress as always negative.  Sometimes pushing yourself just outside of your comfort zone creates good stress and helps you progress to reaching your goals.  

If you’ve ever been in a flow state and totally lost track of time immersed in the task at hand you know know how astounding it can be to snap out of it. You were so focused that you couldn’t worry about your bills, external relationships, and the little worries in life.

The more time you spend in flow the happier you are. It also turns out that flow is the best way to get good at a particular skill- assuming the activity meets some key criteria. 

The Yerkes Dodson Law examines how as arousal increases so does performance. Being pushed slightly beyond your comfort zone you get hooked. Locked in flow you will continue to push yourself, just barely keeping up with the challenge that is inches from your grasp. They even assigned a specific value to the degree of difficulty. If the level of the challenge is approximately 4% greater than your current skill you will be most likely to get into a flow state.

If you think about great athletes, musicians, artists and other high performing individuals you will see countless examples of them rising to the occasion. Completing the game winning drive as they march their team down the field and scoring with just seconds left on the clock. Playing a guitar lick faster and faster immersed in sweat and the roar of the crowd. These folks are locked into what they are doing to a place that is beyond what conscious mind and ego can interfere with. They are fully present and immersed in the task at hand.

It is important to find the thresholds in your life where you can push yourself and grow. If you feel like a task is too easy you will quickly lose interest and find yourself bored. If it is too difficult, you will feel like it’s hopeless and not actually give your best effort. Find the challenge that is engaging and challenging yet attainable if you truly want to get the most out of yourself!

Dr. John Vincent

The Top 3 Hacks For Healthy Eating

Eating styles, or more commonly called “diets,” all have their roots in accomplishing a specific goal. Some eating styles will help you reduce body fat, while others purport to add lean mass. These specialized eating styles can all work if you stick to their stringent directives. But once you deviate, you will not see the results you are looking to accomplish. Then, you are on to the next one that will actually work for you and your lifestyle. The cycle begins again and what is old is new again. This revolving circle can become frustrating and lead to mediocre outcomes at best.

At WRCF, we hold an agnostic view of these eating styles and don’t subscribe to any of them; rather, we sit down with our clients to approach nutrition coaching from a whole health perspective. Considering your food preferences, cooking and prep skills, schedule, and lifestyle factors, we help clients create tailored programs for continual progress.

Throughout our nutrition coaching practice, we have seen at least 3 strategies that continuously work for many clients you should consider.

  1. Choose the right fats
  2. Eat at least 5 fruits/vegetables a day
  3. Build your snacks and meals around protein

Choosing the right fats – Fats have been vilified for many years by the American public due to a slew of reasons (that’s a different blog). But, fats are an essential macronutrient that needs to be consumed to help many of our bodily functions like building hormones and being power packed energy source. But they are not all created equal. Poly and monounsaturated fats are excellent sources of fat. They are found in foods such as salmon, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. These fats can help with inflammation reduction and have been shown to help improve blood cholesterol levels, which can help reduce your risk for heart disease and may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes (Mayo Clinic).

On the other side of the coin is trans fat. Trans fat is most commonly found in highly processed foods and created through partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated fats can increase total blood cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride and lower HDL (good cholesterol). These all increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Trans fat should be avoided when at all possible with a goal of zero grams per day.

Eat 5 fruits/veggies a day – Eating whole uncrossed fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to obtain the daily recommended dose of fiber and essential nutrients while adding prebiotic to your digestive tract to help support gut health.

Believe it or not, this is the most challenging suggestion to follow for most new nutrition clients. Most find they only get 1-3 fresh or minimally processed fruits and veggies before purposefully getting 5 as a minimum each day.

An interesting anecdote I’ll share with you for some folks is they try to avoid eating too many fruits to achieve their 5 a day for fear of eating foods high in carbs. If this is you, you can rest easy. Even if you choose the fruits that are highest in carbs like mangos, grapes, or cherries, you will still be far in the shadows of grams of carbs you will find in single servings of processed carbs in that nutrition bar. If you are still concerned, consume 3-4 servings of veggies and 1-2 servings of fruits per day, and you will get all the benefits and fewer calories from eating whole foods.

Build your snacks and meals around protein – That’s right, both snacks and meals. Most clients understand that meals need to have protein but neglect to realize that snacks do too. Proteins are comprised of amino acids (both plant and animal) and are the building blocks of our body. Without dietary protein, our bodies will cannibalize current muscles to perform critical functions of the body.

Proteins come in many forms, and the amount you need is based on your goals, body composition, and genetics. Working with a professional will help you set the amount required each day. With this knowledge, you can reverse engineer your meals and snacks to meet your required needs. AND OH… FYI… most folks don’t need to drink a protein shake to meet their daily needs. Shakes should be used as the category they are found in the store, supplements (not your base).

Christophir “Smitty” Smith

There you have it—our three most commonly used strategies to helping most people eat healthier. If you would like to see what methods work best for you, set up a meeting with one of our two nutrition coaches.

4 Tips To Help You Get Started

Most of us have no problem once we’re at the gym, on the trail, or biting into a salad. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. But getting to that point. Doing the “healthy thing” or the “hard thing” that we know will benefit us. That can be a bit trickier.

There is a certain amount of activation energy we must muster anytime we want to break out of our normal habit patterns. It’s hard to make will power override the status quo every time we need to make a decision though. If you’re someone who finds themselves frequently running into barriers when it comes to healthy habits then this article is for you!

Here are 4 Tips to help you get started on your healthy habits!

1. Define your task.
2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.

1.Define your task.
Specificity is your friend when it comes to taking action. The more focused and detailed your pursuit is, the more likely you will be to get it done. Just think about the following 3 statements:

  • “I’m going to eat healthy today.”
  • “I’m going to have a salad for lunch.”
  • “I’m going to eat a vegetable and lean protein with each meal and avoid eating sugar today.”

Which person do you think is going to have the most success with their healthy eating today?

Ding ding ding! If you said person number three you are absolutely correct. This person took an approach that set them up for success in their meal choices for the day. Notice that they didn’t have to do anything special to make this happen. The short amount of time it takes to plan how you will attack your healthy habit will pay tremendous dividends in the end!

2. Make it as easy as possible to begin.
As we talked about before, there is always a certain amount of activation energy required to start a new habit or task. If we can reduce the amount of activation energy it will be easier to get started.

That’s science right? Boom!

So how do we actually apply this concept? There are a ton of ways. Let’s say the habit is to go to the gym at 6am tomorrow morning. What are all the things that could make your trip to the gym happen successfully? You could:

  • Set your alarm so that you have enough time to wake up, get ready, and drive to the gym with 10-15 minutes to spare.
  • Set up your morning coffee and a simple breakfast so it’s ready to go.
  • Set a bedtime alarm reminding you to shut down the tech and get ready for bed at a desirable time.
  • Pick out your gym clothes and anything else you need to start your day off as a success.
  • RSVP/Sign up for the class.
  • Coordinate with a friend to carpool together to class. (This is a great way to stay accountable!)

The less you have to do in any given moment the easier it will be to take action. Try to eliminate as many barriers as possible that would present as an obstacle to your goal.

3. Find a way to make it more fun or interesting.
If you struggle to prepare healthy meals or don’t really like to exercise maybe you just haven’t found the approach that works for you. Trying a group fitness class, small group session, or personal training appointment might help you figure out the right environment and type of support you need to make going to the gym “not so bad” 🙂

If cooking and eating healthy is a struggle try to come up with a ritual that makes meal prep more fun. Invite a friend over, crank up some tunes, or binge watch one of your favorite shows while you chop veggies and cook up your meals for the week!

4. Stop publicly sharing your goals.
Studies have shown that people who publicly announce their goals or intentions are actually less likely to follow through on them. When you tell someone “I’m going to lose 10 lbs” or “I’m going to hit the gym 5 days a week” it feels good at the moment. According to the study, that sense of completeness you feel will make you less effective than if you were to keep the goals to yourself.

So what should you do instead? Write down the goals you have or some of the changes you want to make. Discuss a plan of action with an experienced coach who can tell you what it takes to get there. Keep it secret. Keep it safe. Get it done.

There you have it, 4 tips to help you get started towards your wellness goals.

When you hear that alarm go off in the morning and your first instinct is to hit that snooze button remember this maxim from Marcus Aurelius, “Is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” Remember it is human nature to seek comfort. But it is our most basic desire that we are satisfied in the process. Hold yourself to that higher standard. The delayed gratification of getting out of bed for a walk or to hit the gym will improve your life and fulfillment in the long run. The warm bed feels good in the moment, but you’ll sleep easier knowing your actions are aligned with your words.

Wes Wilson

Why you should love the Lunge

Lunges, split squats, and other unilateral leg movements are tremendous tools for building a strong, functional, and balanced body. Yet they tend to take a backseat to the more popular lower body exercises like squats and deadlifts. Let’s explore some of the benefits of lunges, common faults, and some popular variations so you never miss a lunge day again!

Lunges are a fundamental human movement pattern and take many different forms. The movement is generally defined as a split legged stance with one foot planted in front of the body and the other extended behind the body. From this position the athlete can raise or lower their body while stepping forward to the lead leg or returning to the rear leg. Lunges require leg strength, core strength, balance, and coordination. They can be performed as a bodyweight movement, under an external load, or explosively as a plyometric exercise. There are really an incredible number of ways to perform this exercise. Depending on your goals there are many ways that training lunges can be beneficial.

If you are looking to improve balance and coordination you could train lunges with a loading pattern that increased the demand for midline stability. Lunges performed with a barbell overhead or a single dumbbell or kettlebell loading one side of the body will achieve this. Due to the stabilization and core strength required to complete a lunge variation of this sort there is a huge transfer and application to sports and life. Ensure that the load demands don’t force you into a compromised position and that you have the necessary mobility to handle the movement pattern (AKA ask coach if you’re not sure)!

To develop greater strength and enhance muscle growth select lunge variations that allow for greater external loading. A reverse lunge is a popular option for this as it allows the weight to remain in the lead leg ensuring proper form and engagement of the posterior chain. Reverse lunges can be performed with dumbbells held at waist level or a barbell in the back rack position to go hard and heavy. A good rule of thumb is to keep the majority of the load in the front leg as you perform the movement. Select a load that allows for a controlled descent to the floor allowing the knee to kiss, not crash into, the ground.

To prevent injuries, increase range of motion, and correct imbalances the Bulgarian split squat or Bulgarian lunge is an excellent choice. This exercise is performed by working one lead leg at a time with the rear foot elevated on a platform 4-6 inches higher than the lead working leg. This movement optimizes the hinge position of the hips and is greater for activating the gluteus muscles. A popular loading pattern for this lunge is with dumbbells held in suitcase fashion. Make sure to select the appropriate box height to elevate the rear leg to prevent the spine from hyperextending at the end range of motion. Take care to stabilize the lead leg and focus on balance to reap the benefits of this killer lunge variation.

If you want to learn more about the best training movements be sure to discuss your goals with one of our coaches!

Mitch Stout

5 Health Metrics That Are More Important Than Weight

For some strange reason American’s have chosen the scale as their favorite way to track progress around their health. People derive their sense of self worth based on the number facing up at them from between their feet. If you’re someone who draws any sort of emotional reaction, positive or negative, from the scale then you may want to self reflect and consider if there are better options out there. 

The funny part is that weight is such an inconsequential and ambiguous predictor of substance. Just consider this. If you have three avocados-one freshly picked and hard as a rock, one brown soft and ooze, and one firm ripe and tender-which one are you going to slice open to make your guacamole with? It shouldn’t matter if they all weigh 170 grams right…

What you are made of, how you feel, and what you are able to produce are all factors of way greater significance than your weight. 

What you weigh is going to constantly fluctuate. You may lose weight and be less healthy. You may be well hydrated one day and performing well then get totally thrown off because your weight went up a pound or two. This number doesn’t say who you are as a person or how healthy and fit you may be. It’s just an arbitrary number. Stop letting the pounds run your life and change the way you feel about yourself. Instead try one of these alternative ways that measure success off the scale!

Body Fat Percentage

Body fat percentage is an alternative way to track your progress and provides much more actionable information than just your weight in pounds. This takes into account your lean muscle mass. In this way you can actually gain weight in muscle which would consequently reduce your percentage of body fat. This is a clear example of how gaining weight would make you healthier. Plus as you add more muscle to your frame you will burn more calories at rest. The fat will disappear faster and faster on it’s own! 

At Wellness Revolution, we have access to our Inbody Scanner: https://inbodyusa.com/general/technology/.  Most athletes do quarterly check-ins to monitor where they currently are and track progress.  

Measurements

Taking specific measurements is a great way to achieve the goals around the way you want to look. Measuring neck, arm, waist, hips, thigh, and calf circumference can help you transform your body without ever worrying about the scale. Losing two inches off your waist will make you look and feel like a whole new person!

Habit Tracking

One of the best replacements for weighing yourself is to instead track daily health habits. If you track metrics like sleep, hydration, servings of veggies, daily walking, and other relevant habits you can focus on the right behaviors to make you look and feel great in the long run. This takes discipline but it is essential to long lasting transformation.

Performance Metrics

Switching your focus to the weight on the bar is a great alternative to the scale. People will often train harder and longer in pursuit of strength and performance goals than solely for aesthetic purposes. If you push yourself more in training the results will speak for themselves! Having benchmark workouts that you can repeat is a great way to measure progress.  

Dr. John Vincent