So You're Starting to Plateau....

Starting out in CrossFit is great - everyday is filled with new challenges and skills. Then you start to get the hang of it, and it's PR city. You can't touch a barbell without PRing. You feel stronger and more capable everyday. You are on the fast track to badassdom, and it just keeps coming. You are unstoppable. And then, just like that, it happens... PRs start to slip away, the weight loss slows down and the frustration kicks in -- you wonder why CrossFit isn't working anymore. And then one morning you decide it's cold outside and you elect to battle it out with your snooze button instead of coming in for your morning WOD. Then one missed class turns into two, and suddenly 2 weeks have gone by since you have come into the gym and we coaches have gotten the torches out and are ready to send out the search party.......

If any part of this sounds familiar - don't fret. Despite your frustration, this is a temporary phase - a growing pain of your fitness journey. The important thing to remember is you are the tortoise, not the hare. Just because you have stopped making regular gains does not mean you have met the maximum of your fitness potential. What it does mean is that you have hit a plateau. But I will repeat - this is not permanent. There are some simple changes you can make to your routine to break this barrier and start feeling like a badass again:

  • Talk to your coach - Your coach sees you on the regular, and they might have some insight as to where you should be focusing your attention.  Be accountable for your fitness journey - schedule 5 minutes with them and ask!
  • Change your class time - sometimes getting out of a rut can be as simple as surrounding yourself with different athletes and a different coach. New people in your routine might help you push yourself and give you the boost you need.
  • Mix-up your intensity - if you have been choosing heavier weights for WODs to push your strength, try going a little lighter and turning up the speed (with good form). After a couple weeks, try switching back and test it out.
  • Tweak your nutrition - maybe you've been allowing more cheat meals. Maybe you've been eating the exact same thing every single day. Just like with your exercise, you need to have variety in your diet. Mix it up and dial it in.
  • Focus on recovery and mobility - the right mobility work will do wonders for you. The only hard part is figuring out which one you need. Talk to your coach and take some extra time to make sure you are addressing your issues. They just might be what's holding you back.

With any changes you make to your routine, overall remember to be patient. Most people have the potential to be good or even great athletes if they allow themselves the patience to stick it out.

Look How Far You've Come, Baby!

For many previous and current Awesomes, the path has been consistent - putting in hard work and being a positive force in the UB community.   For some, it starts out like this in an expanded time line:  "I want to get fit... Ok, I want to learn how to do that... (Scanning the board) Who's score is that?  I want to beat that... No, I don't want to compete, I just enjoy what I do... Ok, maybe one competition...."

Sound familiar?  It sure is for Hayley - she walked through UB's doors in the beginning just wanting to get better.  Improvement seen?  She went from chasing others on the board to now being the one scanned by others while grabbing an Awesome along the way. She wasn't happy with her old FGB score in 2012 and decided to PR the WOD by 100 reps last year.  Level 2 class qualification? Check that off the list.  For the longest time, she avoided entering any non-UB competitions. She finally relented this year and entered the Moxie Throwdown with one of two UB teams.  And despite her apprehension, she had a blast. Cherry on top: She placed 2nd at the Ultimate Lift Off and PR'd almost all her lifts. 

Check out dem abz!

Check out dem abz!

Fast forward to today, Hayley continues to push herself to get each elusive carrot. What's next? Only Hayley will know.  But, gurrl, look how far you've come!

Weekend Recap

United Barbell has been killing it on the competition scene.  We applaud those of you who have decided to try it out, and are excited to cheer for those of you continuing to put yourself out there.   Jason L. was one of 4 people who competed last weekend at the Good Times CrossFit Fall Fitness Team Competition.  For those of you who missed it, he wrote you a nice play by play recap...

 

I had the honor and privilege of competing this past weekend up near Sacramento at the Good Times CrossFit Fall Fitness Team Competition alongside Jeremy, Ruth and Ludi.  There were a total of five workouts.  I've done a number of competitions and this was definitely a good time involving important strategy considering each of us were managing some limitations/injuries: Me/Bruised Collar Bone, Ludi/Strained Chest, Jeremy/Cold and Ruth/Overhead Lockout Discomfort.  Jeremy stepped up as a leader for our team to help organize us the week going into the competition.

 

WOD #1
8 Minute Ascending AMRAP
-Hand Stand Push Up
-Power Snatch 115#/75#
-Bar Muscle Up

 

Jeremy noticed the above posted two days before the deadline so he got an exception request to perform the above with everyone but Ruth who was traveling on business last week.  Jeremy and Ludi tackled the first two movements while I took all of the MUs to maintain efficiency.

 

WOD #2

8 Minute Time Cap Per Mixed Gender Pair

-25 Kettlebell Swings

-25 Toes to Bar 

-25 Weighted Pistols 53#/33#

-25 Double Unders

 

Jeremy and Ludi paired together for this one and did a really nice job communicating with each other and switching off.  Ruth and I partnered together with the plan of me doing more Pistols while she took more KB swings and double unders.  We did not communicate as well and got to learn from the other two immediately afterwards about vocal signals.

 

WOD #3

"Gorilla Complex"

10 Min to Max Load Per Teammate

-1 Clean

-1 Hang Clean

-1 Push Jerk

 

We were not checking the schedule and had 2-3 minutes to jump into our lane to begin lifting which threw our planning off as we just began lifting without much of warm-up.  Jeremy took charge of keeping the team on schedule after that!

 

WOD #4

8 Min AMRAP Per Same Gender Pair

-12 Chest to Bar Pull-Ups

-9 Axel Bar Shoulder to Overhead 155#/115#

-6 Ring Dips

 

The ring dips really hit the women (not just our team) hard but Ruth and Ludi handled the other bar movements very well.  Jeremy and I had pretty set rep schemes going into this WOD and deviated just a little bit after factoring fatigue from the prior WODs.  I got into my butterfly groove on the chest to bars and the announcer said: "United Barbell making those pull-ups look f****** easy!"

 

WOD #5

12 Min AMRAP All Team Members, Two In The Arena At Any Given Time

-15 Hang Snatches 125#/85#

-15 Up & Over Box Jumps 24"/20"

-15 Plate Burpees

-20 Calorie Aerodyne Bike

 

We strategically deployed everyone to their strengths and soboth men and Ludi to the snatches, Ludi/Me to the BJs, Ruth on Burpees and Jeremy on the bike with support from Ruth.  The snatches from a weight perspective were not bad however our grips were so warn out by that point that all three of our hands exploded (blood) on the bars during the hang and Ludi really powered through the pain to keep our momentum going.  

 

Overall we finished 37th out of 40 Teams and had a lot of fun!  The action felt pretty non-stop with the next WOD just a little over an hour following the prior.  We had great spectator support from Ruth's husband Tim, Jeremy's Lisa and daughter Gia and my Mom.

 

Way to go team UB!  Sometimes showing up (despite it all) can be the hardest part... You killed it!

Food for Thought: A Scientific Excuse To Sleep In

Whether you're the person who feels guilty for putting your sleep first or you're the opposite and don't put going to bed early high enough on the priority list, this refinery29 article is a good quick reminder: treat your sleep with consideration!  There's a reason you'll spend about 25 years worth of your entire life asleep.

.. Enjoy!

The struggle is real — in the morning, at least. Should you stay in bed and enjoy that extra-precious hour of sleep? Or, should you slip on a sports bra and head to the gym? When your days are packed from dawn to dusk, sometimes a painfully early training session is your only option. But, is skipping sleep to exercise the right choice?

Maybe not, says sleep expert James B. Maas, PhD. He tells Equinox’s Q Blog that if your workout routine is causing your sleep schedule to suffer, it’s possible you’re doing more harm than good.

There’s a reason why most fitness bands include sleep quality in the metrics they monitor; shut-eye is essential to your overall health. And, as performance coach and exercise physiologist Pete McCall explained to us last month, extreme fatigue is a legitimate reason for skipping your workout. “If you skimped on sleep a few nights in a row and feel like you’re dragging, go ahead and take the nap instead of forcing yourself to work out,” says McCall. “Exercising on top of exhaustion...will cause additional stress for your body.” That’s because sleep is when the body resets and repairs itself — and that includes your immune system. Chronic sleep loss can leave you more susceptible to catching a cold.

But, if the early a.m. is your only option for sneaking in a workout, are you screwed? Nah. Of course, the obvious answer is to go to sleep earlier the night before you want to work out — but that's often easier said than done. Still, remember that seven to nine hours of sleep per night is a blanket recommendation and may not be the "magic number" for everyone. You also don't need to exercise every single day, so alternate days of sleeping in with mornings of getting up a bit earlier to train. “Working out first thing in the morning is a great way to kick-start your metabolism,” Mcall says. “Plus...you can knock [your workout] out before the hectic pace of the day unfolds and you’re pulled in a million different directions.”

Ultimately, like everything else, the tenuous relationship between sleep and exercise requires compromise and balance. As sleep scientist Hans Vans Dongen, PhD, tells Vox, “There are three things we need to take care of for our health: sleep, exercise, and good food. But, often it's a busy day...what should you cut? The benefits of the exercise for your health are undone by not getting enough sleep, so you may shoot yourself in the foot.”

So, the next time you're debating whether to trade shut-eye for squats, perhaps you should sleep on it.

Does this sound like you?

"How do you feel after WODding this morning?" "Actually I feel fine.... Maybe I didn't deadlift enough..."

When starting CrossFit, one experiences great soreness, but partnered with the consistent gains of a new athlete. So, commonly, one associates one with the other. Soreness becomes the gold star of hard work well done and the sign of personal progress. But as the body adapts to the demands of a new training style, soreness becomes less intense or less frequent. This is often mistaken for a sign of not having done enough, trained hard enough. This mentality, revering the inability to walk comfortably up stairs or get up from your toilet seat, is misdirected.

Soreness, both DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), as well as the temporary diffuse "burn" you feel after a set of an exercise, in small doses are signs progress - they are signs of microscopic tears in your muscles that will lead to an adaptive healing process leaving you stronger. But the DOMS pain sensation is not necessary to gaining strength... so not feeling soreness does not mean you didn't do necessary work that will lead to future gains. On the other side of the equation, if you can't function (e.g. can barely lift your arms to put your shirt on or you shower like a dirty T-Rex) it is a sign of severe DOMS. Extreme DOMS is not a sign of bigger gains. Instead it limits your ability to train, function, and if not dealt with properly, can serve as a precursor to injury.

It is true - a some soreness on occasion is a good thing. But it is not a necessity, nor should it be the goal. If you do experience DOMS, remember to address it - don't take the day off, but instead do light movements with the muscle group and foam/lacrosse roll as necessary.

Feedback

Hello!  Are you happy at UB?  Are you getting your fitness itch scratched just the right way?   Do you have an earth shattering CrossFit idea that you have been bashful to share?  What ever it is, we want to know about it!  And we are giving you anonymity.   Pretty please fill out the form below.  We are just obsessed with making UB all it can be.  Thanks in advance!

The Weekly Dose of Awesome

With less than a year of CrossFit training under his belt, Alfredo has been knocking down one bench mark after another.  So much so, he quickly found himself qualifying into our Level 2 Competitors class. Relying on his athletic foundation from years of soccer, Alfredo moves amazingly well through the workouts. His focus now being on strength development and technique with the barbell.  His smile and attitude during class are infectious, and motivates his fellow athletes even during the most brutal moments of their training session.  And even when work pulls him away for 2 weeks of travel, the first moment Alfredo returns home, he heads straight to UB to catch our Tuesday night throw-down.  Its that kind of dedication, perseverance, and grit, combined with an amazing attitude and lightheartedness, that makes Alfredo an extra strength dose of AWESOME.

Alfredo with a barbell.. the only time you will find our awesome without a smile.

Alfredo with a barbell.. the only time you will find our awesome without a smile.


Weekend Recap

Three different competitions went down over the weekend.  Each had some great results!  In case you haven't run into our weekend's competitors, here is what you missed.

 

Yellow Fever

entry by Anita

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Team Yellow fever took on the Lifeworx Throwdown with the mindset to have fun and do our best and we did exactly that. Amidst PRs (Tao Tao rowed 500m @ 2:07, Dave nailed a 175lb thruster, and Anita PRing a 125lb thruster and 130lb clean), tire flips, and log carries, we all left the competition with some simple words of wisdom-- communicate, be flexible, and always have fun. Most important to know is that competitions aren't only for the seasoned Crossfit Games athletes-- it's for anyone (yes, anyone) who wants to challenge themselves and place goals upon which can guide their training. Tao Tao, Shaun K and Dave are continuing the Yellow Fever on Oct 25 at Crossfit Vacaville for Halloween Massacre!

 

Strong(wo)man Nationals

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The American Strongman Nationals consisted of six events over two days. Coach Kristin lifted all the weight... and if you don't believe me, ask her about deadlifting cars...  At 250, this was the largest strongman competition held anywhere to date.  Kristin kicked serious ass and placed fifth in her weight class!  To top it off, she was awarded an invite to compete at the Arnold Sport Festival in February.  Go Kristin!!

 

Quad Dogs

Colleen and Coach James rocked the Dia De Los Beasts competition on Saturday up north.  They took on everything from synchronized WODding to a hill tire drag and then some.  They made sure to keep the goal of fun in mind and ended the day 2nd on the podium!  Great job guys!  Way to continue to represent!