Happy Friday! Here’s a Quick Look at our Week Ahead!

Strength:

– We are on Week 1

– With the New Cycle, we will be taking it back to the basics for the start of 2022. This new cycle will focus on the 3 basic power movements (Back Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press), where we will hit some maxes early on and retest again at the end. Also, we will take the Olympic Lifting down in weight and just focus on light barbell cycling to help prepare for the Open. The cycle will last 8 weeks (Jan 10th – Feb 28th), putting us at the second week of the 2022 CrossFit Open.

Week 1
Day 1: Heavy Single Back Squat
Day 2: Heavy Single Bench Press
Day 3: Every minute (10 minutes) 5 Clean and Jerks (light)
Day 4: Heavy Single Deadlift

 

FUNDRAISER: Isabel for GiGi’s Playhouse – April 24th

Meet the amazing Izzy and her incredible parents, Kent and Kerri. We have the pleasure of honoring these member of our Wellness family on Saturday, April 24th 11am-1pm by hosting the CrossFit workout of Isabel.

Knowing and loving Izzy’s family and the role they played in bringing GiGi’s to Little Rock, we want to do our part in celebrating the 2nd birthday of GiGi’s Playhouse and all that they do for individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

Without a gala or walk last year, GiGi’s Playhouse Little Rock is in critical need of support. Please join us in our fundraiser WOD of Isabel.

Register/Donate:

https://support.gigisplayhouse.org/…/wod-for-gigis…

Heat Sign-up:

https://www.slottr.com/sheets/18261139

 

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.

Why High-Intensity Training (HIT) Is Good For You

Today there are so many fitness programs and classes available it can be overwhelming to decide how to train. If you are researching training programs you have probably heard of High Intensity Training (HIT) or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIT is incorporated into many classes and has grown in popularity due to its ability to produce fast and effective results. But what exactly is it…and more importantly how do you decide if it’s right for you?!

Lets answer your top 5 questions about High Intensity Training so you can feel confident in finding a gym, personal trainer, or other fitness option in your local area.

Your top 5 High Intensity Training Questions:

 

  • What exactly is HIT?
  • Is HIT a good fit for me?
  • What does a HIT workout look like?
  • What types of movements are in a HIT workout?
  • What are the benefits of HIT?

 

1.What exactly is HIT?

High intensity refers to a level of intensity that is measured by a high power output or a high rate of perceived exertion. This will be unique to every individual.

A high intensity strength workout will cause high motor unit recruitment. This means it activates a majority of the muscles in your body and generally requires loads >80% of your 1 rep maximum to achieve the desired stimulus.

Near maximal exertion for aerobic work or “cardio” this would be performing exercises at a pace that elevates heart rate and gets you sweating and breathing heavy. You would work at a pace that would be unsustainable for more than a few minutes at a time. These workouts are often set up in an interval fashion where you go hard for a short period of time and then rest. This allows you to repeat the effort several times until the desired training stimulus is achieved. As you train in this way you will improve your ability to train hard for longer periods of time and delay the “burning” feeling commonly associated with HIT.

2. Is HIT a good fit for me?

High Intensity Training is a great fit for anyone looking to get fast results. The key is determining what the definition of “Intensity” is for you. Jumping into a class workout performing movements you haven’t mastered and loads your body is not ready for is a big no-no.

Working with a coach who has experience scaling workouts to meet your needs and abilities is the key to having long term success with HIT training. They will help you choose the exercises, weights, frequency, and duration of your training session to ensure your body gets the stimulus you need with risk of injury or burnout.

Be weary of anyone who promises vomiting or intense pain from their workouts. It’s not an effective way to get the results you want!

3. What does a HIT workout look like?

For a high intensity strength training workout you will be using heavy loads. Ideally greater than 80% of your 1RM as this is the ideal load for gaining strength, building muscle, and improving body composition.

Often times performing multiple exercises back to back at moderate intensity (60-80%) can produce a similar training result. It is important that the movements are carefully selected to ensure that form is not compromised and that the rest time is adequate enough to allow for repeated effort.

If you aren’t familiar with exercises, weightlifting, or just aren’t sure of what your body is capable of then you will benefit from working with a certified and highly qualified trainer or coach. They will analyze your movement and help you develop the motor control and stability to prepare your body for more high intensity forms of exercise.

4. What types of movements are in a HIT workout?

Any type of movement can be incorporated into a HIT workout. Resistance training with barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells are all great tools. You can incorporate resistance bands, chains, battle ropes or medicine balls. Gymnastics implements like pullup bars or rings. Even simple bodyweight movements and plyometrics can be used.

The most important factor when choosing movements is that you have technical proficiency with the movement and can perform multiple reps at a given load with exceptional form. If your form tends to break down when you are fatigued or you have mobility issues that alter your technique then that movement is not a good choice for the high intensity training session.

5. What are the benefits of HIT?

There are numerous benefits that come from High Intensity Training.

The lactic acid produced from properly executed high intensity training will stimulate the release of growth hormone stimulating sugar and fat metabolism. It also increases protein synthesis which means you will build more lean muscle. HIT training also elevates your metabolism helping you burn more calories both during your training session and for many hours after you’re done.

You also tend to accomplish more work in less time with HIT training. This makes it a great way to train for busy folks who can only train 20-30 minutes 2 or 3 days per week. Just remember that training is only half of the equation. Adequate sleep and proper nutrition make sure that your body recovers from and adapts to the training stimulus, giving you the results you want.

There you have it. Answer to your Top 5 questions about HIT training. If you’re ready to talk to a coach to see if High Intensity Training is right for YOU then get in touch with one of our coaches today for a free consult!

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.