Working Out During and Post Illness

It's that time of year again.  Everyone seems to be getting sick.  In fact, this year's flu has set records. And you know how it goes...  Just after you're cleared from the flu, you get a chest cold, then a weird sinus something after you thought you were through with it all.  While you focus on zinc, vitamin D, sleep, and proper nutrition to get yourself healthy again, here are some facts about when to return to your workout regimen.

What happens if we workout while sick?
Basic Physiological Processes
So what happens when we workout is that the stress of the workouts tend to create the microtears in our muscles. These microtears from the stress are a normal process of damage and repair. The body uses inflammation to signal and start to repair the damage caused by working out. Inflammation is obviously initiated and maintained by the immune system until all tissues are repaired and strengthened against the stress that was placed on the body.</p>
In addition, stress from activity especially sustained activity elevates cortisol levels. Cortisol helps mobilize the body’s supply of fat and glucose to provide fuel for the muscle, but it is an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive. For example, cortisone is a derivative of the same class of drugs, the glucocorticoids, and is used therapeutically to reduce pain and inflammation in specific areas of the body.
Our immune system is the way that our body fights infections and other pathogens that make us sick. So you can see how diverting the immune system away from fighting infections towards repairing muscles may be problematic. I have seen it many a times where someone is sick and decides to workout and they get even sicker. Similarly, you can even almost be over an illness and workout a couple of days after it has gone away and then it will come back.</p>
This is similar to antibiotics. When doctors prescribe antibiotics they tell you to continue to take them for the whole amount of weeks and not to stop even if you feel better. Likewise, even if you do not feel sick anymore the body is still fighting the last remnants of infection within your body. So when you subject it to heavy stress from working out or trying to come too quickly to exercise it may depress the immune system such that the infection comes back. Sometimes more strongly than the first time.
How to work yourself back into exercise
Work slowly back if you are used to high intensity exercises. For a cold, a 1-2ish week buffer between getting back to full exercise is likely good.
For more severe illnesses such as influenza or pneumonia, I would take at least 2-3 weeks after all of the symptoms have subsided to work back into things with full intensity. The problem with going back to high intensity right away is that even if all of the symptoms have gone away there is still bacteria or viral loads in your body, just not enough to make you symptomatic. So high intensity exercise can actually depress your immune system enough to make the illness come back, sometimes even stronger than ever. Thus, it is best to be conservative with this.
If you’re using a typical 3x a week type of exercise schedule, start with about 20-30% of your typical full workouts, and ramp up by 10% until after about 2-3 weeks you will reach 100%. Best to be conservative than get an illness again and be out another couple weeks if not more.

For more information regarding the intensity of workouts while sick, tips on recovering, and to read the rest of the article, click here.  Please remember, if you are or suspect yourself to be contagious, you do not want to be infecting people around you. This is not good gym etiquette. Please stay home and let yourself rest and recover.  Hit it hard once you are all healed up and ready to go!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

If you've been consistently coming to UB over the year, you've likely seen more and more of this week's long overdue awesome, Sally Chou! Sally is a long time UB member who recently started getting deeper into the CrossFit and olympic lifting world. If you've attended any of our Thursday night Oly classes, you've likely seen Sally there, working on her clean technique and laughing a ton. She is one of those rare athletes who is able to keep things light and fun while really focusing on her technique, and she's constantly coming back for more - it's great to see such awesome!


Name: Sally Chou
Nickname / Alter Ego: Sal, Sals
Hometown: Milpitas, CA
Occupation: Mobile User Acquisition Manager at NexonM
When did you first start CrossFitting?: I went to my first 1x1 onramp sometime in 2013 at CrossFit Burlingame and the head coach made me do the WOD “Grace” aka 30 clean and jerks on the same day I actually learned how to do clean and jerks... AND a 2k row after that. I was definitely not hooked.
When did you first start CrossFitting at UB?: I finally took a second chance at CrossFit again in April 2014 when work moved up to SF with the UB sign in plain view of my building. I’ve also been on limited membership (10 classes per month!) until only 2 months ago. It was about time...
Favorite WOD: Anything with rowing, pull ups, snatches, box jumps or a nice combo or all of the above.
Least favorite WOD: Anything with running and burpees. I’m inefficient at both and usually scale my weights if either is involved cause I’ll be overly out of breath after doing either movement. Working on it though!
How did you first get exposed to CrossFit?: I’ve been a competitive paddler for 10 years now. I was training on the national team for a couple years (2013-2015) and really needed to bring my fitness to the next level off the water. My paddling coach had a CrossFit background and before we got on the water, we would do stuff like learn OH squats, toes to bar, or do a simple WOD like Cindy where I would get absolutely destroyed. I thought I was pretty fit so naturally I was curious to learn more. Most of my teammates did powerlifting in the gym but explosive strength training (snatch/cleans) seemed more relevant to me as a sprint paddler than raw strength training (bench/press/deadlift).
What is an unexpected way CrossFit has affected your life? (1) I became more of an athlete rather than just being a “crossFitter” or a “paddler”. I’ve learned a lot about sleep, nutrition timing and intake, and being mentally strong. (2) My perception of beauty in women also changed a lot through the year. Although it’s sometimes frustrating that strong-bodied women are still looked down upon even in my group of friends, I enjoy redefining beauty standards and the stereotypes of lifting for them.
What’s the last thing you searched for on Google?  ... Some insight into my mind:
“When was Chuck E Cheese founded”
“Is the adams apple a bone or cartilage”
“How many calories are in a cronut hole”
“Bay area flesh eating bacteria oysters"
What’s your secret talent?
I’m really good at selfies, to the point where I’ve been dubbed the name “Sallfie”
Me @ world champs with US, CA, AU!


Competing with Yourself

Competition.  It's good for performance, it's good for character, it's good for the soul.  In games season, competition is everywhere, but why limit yourself to competing in an official arena? Every day can be a competition with yourself. It might be as simple as beating your time or score, but maybe it's to not walk one step of the runs in a WOD, or maybe it's to do all your pull-ups unbroken.  

Why frame it as a competition?  It keeps you in check with your goals - What are you doing every day to get there?  Does every choice you make get you closer?  Winning involves the entire journey - from committing to your goals and working your face off to achieve them.  You are up against you and every excuse you give yourself.  To win is to choose to push yourself a little harder everyday and overcome the obstacles you have set up for yourself.


Of course, all of this requires that you are not just setting goals, but tracking your progress - you can even set up mini goals and give yourself small prize rewards for hitting your marks, both integral pieces to climbing the mountain of athletic success.

Food for Thought: Control vs Concern

More delicious mindset food for thought from Comptrain.  Want your mindset to take you to the next level in the 2018 House Cup?  Get in on Coach Jason's Mindset Seminar February 11th!


As athletes, there are only five things that we can truly control—our training, nutrition, sleep, recovery, and mindset. If it doesn’t fall into one of those categories, forget about it. Control the things you can control and ignore everything else. 

The above diagram illustrates some of the most commonly overheard topics in the athlete warm-up area at the CrossFit Games (or any other competition). Most of them are concerns that lie outside of the athletes’ control.

This concept of control versus concern is the cornerstone of the process, and—like everything else—it requires some practice. 

Before the Games each year, as a mental exercise, CompTrain’s elite athletes (Katrin Davidsdottir, Brooke Wells and Cole Sager) make a list. They write down every possible thing they can think of that could go wrong at the CrossFit Games. No stone is left unturned—the final 2017 list had 101 items on it, and included things like the weather, alarm clocks not going off, nutritional distress, judges miscounting reps, travel delays, and shark attacks. We named the list “101 Things That Could Go Wrong At The Games,” then went through it one by one, categorizing each item into things we could and couldn’t control. The things we couldn’t control got erased from our mind, and the things we could control got a plan. 

A huge piece of chasing excellence is attention to tiny details, but the key distinction is that you pay attention to the right details, the ones within your control over which you have power. Most people go through life having no idea what they can actually control. They’re concerned about a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean they control those things. Many people struggle to recognize the difference between the two. Imagine a book of matches. A typical matchbook has 20 matches, and together, they represent all of your energy for the day. Energy is a finite resource; once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. If you burn through your matchsticks on things that are outside your control, you have less energy for things you can control—things that can actually move the needle on your performance.

In the sport of CrossFit, there is so much that lies beyond our control. All of the buzz in the athlete area falls into this category. No amount of concern will enable us to control things like the weather, workouts, standards, judges, or other athletes. Whether we’re training in December at home or competing at the Games in July, we train our mind not to focus on anyone’s performance but own own. At the end of the day, the only competition is with ourselves. 

Sleep Posture

As a very pregnant human, I think a lot about sleep and sleep posture... but this is a topic y'all should be considering!

You will hear us say posture is an important skill - you have to actively work to improve it. Posture influences how you move, think, and recover. But did you know it's a skill you can work on while you sleep? Sleep posture plays a big role in your overall posture and physical well being.  Think about it.  You spend a lot of hours on that mattress.  That position you habitually sleep is a big contributor to your mobility issues you have to deal with during your waking hours. Do you sleep on your stomach? This often creates a very asymmetrical cervical spine range of motion that influences the rest of the spine all the way down to the lumbar spine and the sacrum (low back pain anyone?).  Pile those pillows high?  Look for a forward head posture issues. Do you curl your wrists in and hug an imaginary teddy bear while on your side?  Watch for neck pain, diminished bad wrist mobility, and a whole lot of shoulder of issues.  Tuck your feet tight into your sheets so they point down like a ballerina?  Check your ankle mobility... you see where I am going here.  Don't take your sleep posture for granted.

How should you sleep then?  The answers vary. The two most ideal positions are either on your back or on your side.


Side Sleeping

If you choose to sleep on your side, you’ll need enough support under your neck to keep your spine neutral and be able to maintain stacked hips. Some find using a body pillow is great support. If a big body pillow doesn't suit you, you can get away with a regular pillow or a bolster pillow for the knees, and a pillow under the neck. When you are in a neutral position, you should not feel the need or desire to curl your wrists to tuck under your head or neck, bring one leg down in front of the other, or sleep with your head on top of your arm or shoulder.

Back Sleeping

If you prefer to sleep on your back, make sure your neck is properly supported (too high can be just as bad as too low). Make sure your neck is not pushed too far forward by too many pillows.  If someone were to look at you from the side, your neck should be in line with your body and not in front of it.  You can lie with your head flat on the mattress if you’d like. A pillow under your knees can provide extra comfort (some people even prefer two pillows or a bolster to elevate their legs a bit more). Make sure the sheets aren't pulling your feet down, untuck them if you need to necessary. This position will maintain a neutral, supported spine while promoting optimal blood flow.

Do these positions sound crazy?  Are you willing to give them a try?  Changing your sleep habits takes time, but happy, healthy slumbers are well worth the effort and the postural benefits will pay you back in dividends!

The Open is Coming!

Hey!  Hey you! Have you registered for the house cup yet?  Why not? 

The Mambas stole the trophy in 2017.  Who will take the lead in 2018?

The Mambas stole the trophy in 2017.  Who will take the lead in 2018?

Head to head and team challenges, team spirit and CrossFit!  What more do you want?

Head to head and team challenges, team spirit and CrossFit!  What more do you want?

While we aren't ready to announce all the changes for this years 5 week House Cup smorgasbord, here are some things to help you get on board:

It's Free

Register for the 2018 CrossFit Open Here!

Register for the 2018 CrossFit Open Here!

In 2016, registration for the CrossFit Open was required in order to participate in the United Barbell House Cup. But in 2017, we decided to only require members to register with us to participate in the House Cup.  The same is true for 2018.

We know many of you love participating in the CrossFit Open.  There is a great sense of competition and community created by comparing yourself to athletes participating globally.  You can absolutely still participate in the 2018 CrossFit Open... In fact, registration opened yesterday!  However, you don't have to to participate in the House Cup.  

If You Miss a Week

If you are out of town and need to miss a week or two, it will not penalize your team.  No excuses!

Scaled Division

For those of you who are new to the House Cup or the CrossFit Open, there are both scaled and RX versions of each workout, so all can participate.... see?  NO EXCUSES!!

SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  The teams draft is happening in less than 2 weeks, so stop thinking about it and register!  (Captains - get to recruiting!)

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

Warren is a guy whom, if you are not familiar with him, you should add getting to know him to your list of New Year resolutions. Whether in class, or grinding it out during open gym in between classes and finals, he is always giving his best, always looking to improve and get better. Where as some people may shy away from feedback or being watched and critiqued on their movements, Warren seeks it out and strives to get better. No matter what the workout is, even if its his least favorite movement of running, he always has a can do attitude and attacks it head on. While may seem shy at first, once you crack that shell you'll realize what a great addition to our community he is! He has a head down and hard work mentality that motivates me and I hope will come to motivate you as well!


Name: Warren S.

Nickname: Sheffy

Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

Occupation: FireFighter for Fresno Air National guard and Part-time  Sales associate for Macy's Union Square

When did you first start Crossfitting: I started crossfit in March of 2017

When did you first start Crossfitting at UB: September of 2017

Favorite WOD: I don't think i have any favorite WOD, I guess anything that would put me to work i would say

Least favorite WOD: My least favorite WOD is anything that has running in it.

How did you first get exposed to crossfit: I didn't care much about my health and did not workout out for 1 year. When it was time to take my PT test i was in the worst shape i have ever been in years and i actually failed it miserable. So i told myself that i did not want to feel this way again, I started to go back to the gym but this time it was to a crossfit it help me get back into shape and pass my PT test. After that I was hook because of all the support you get after the workout

What is an unexpected way Crossfit has affected your life: Growing up i was such an introvert just wanting to be left alone, With crossfit it help me with my confidence and pushed me to come out of my shell. Im really grateful for that and met a lot of amazing people because of it.

What is the first song in your favorite playlist right now: Born Free by Kid Rock is the first song of my playlist and it is actually the first song that i listen to, to start off my day.


Food for Thought: Optimism: A Competitive Choice

The following is from the folks over at Comptrain.  Like the concept?  Get in on Coach Jason's Mindset Seminar February 11th!


Look around the room and count how red things you see. 

Done? Great. How many green things did you see?

If you’re like most people, probably not many. If you’re looking for one thing, it can be difficult to see anything else. That’s how positivity works too, and it’s an important characteristic of successful people. 

Positivity is what sets talented people apart from exceptional people.

Great performers share a way of thinking—a set of attitudes and attributes that cause them to work harder and smarter than other people as they prepare for competition. It starts with optimism. Individuals who achieve durable, frequent success are optimists. Optimism is an attitude people they choose to have—instead of looking for or dwelling on the negative, successful people focus on the positive. 

No one is arguing that a positive attitude is going to win championships. Champions win because they have talent and they worked very hard over many years to hone it. Optimism works like fertilizer—enabling and enhancing all the efforts you make to improve your game. And while the correlation between optimism and success is imperfect, there is an almost perfect correlation between negative thinking and failure. So why wouldn’t you be optimistic if it were a choice you could make?

And it is a choice. The first thing you have to do is decide being optimistic is important to you, because you understand optimism is essential to fulfilling your dreams and attaining your goals. Once you make that decision, you have to start looking at things from a different perspective. 

Misfortune happens to everyone. Champions just refuse to let it push them into doubtful, fearful thinking.

Will you focus on the things that go wrong? Or are you going to focus on what you have going for you? Will you see yourself succeeding where others don’t? 

Will you own your mind or let others own it? 

BodySpec Coming January 30th

Body Spec is coming!   Set your 2018 goals and get motivated by establishing a new-year comprehensive body scan.  These scans are comprehensive and individualized snapshots of your body that give you the information you need to:

  • Pinpoint the exact impact of a new training or diet plan
  • Track progress over time, down to exact muscle and fat changes in different areas of the body
  • Optimize your training to suit your body’s specific needs
  • Compare your bone density to others like you
  • Identify long-term health risks

Save your spot here to get your January 30th scan scheduled!