Kipping it Real with Elizabeth!

Each month Overland Park CrossFit recognizes a member who exemplifies our values and motivates others in the gym to push themselves with encouraging words. September’s Athlete of the Month is Elizabeth Dollins. She was chosen because of her evident commitment to her health and fitness. She puts this on display by making class attendance a high priority, pushing herself to do heavier weights and more difficult gymnastics movements in metcons, and constantly striving to improve her technique. She is super encouraging to all of the members in her class and her positive attitude and awesome dance moves shine through! Her hard work is paying off and we love having Elizabeth as a part of our OPCF community!

1. How long have you been working out at Overland Park CrossFit? October 2020

2. What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout? Do you remember what it was? My first weekend as a CrossFitter, the gym was closed on a Saturday. They wrote a workout we could do outside. It was shuttle runs, every ten yards, down a football field followed by a 100-yard bear crawl….do it all three times. I remember thinking “I’ve been bear crawling forever, I have to be near the end” and I would look up and it had been like 10 yards!
3. What has been your favorite workout so far? I’ve found that I prefer the long, chipper type of workouts where you pace yourself and just keep moving. Especially if there is a run involved so I can use that to catch my breath!
4. What is your favorite cheat meal? Ice cream, always.
5. What did you want to be when you grew up and where do you work now? I wanted to be a physical therapist…then I realized how squeamish I am with blood/injuries/wounds, so that got discarded. I now lead a Catastrophe Response Team, responding to natural disaster events around the country (floods, hurricanes, wildfires, etc.).   
6. What do you like to do outside of work? I like to travel and adventure, especially outside!  I like to run, hike, or paddleboard as often as I can! We are also a big music family… band, choir, show choir, musical theater… all the things… so I get to support my kids in those endeavors as well.
7. What advice would you give a newbie just starting at OPCF? Give it 30 days. I know it is overwhelming to start. So many humans. So many words that don’t make sense. All the loud noises. Trust falling to the toilet because your legs are toast. I Googled every movement in the workouts for at least the first month before class. The coaches are so helpful. Ask questions, take feedback, and interact with strangers. You won’t regret it! Come to 9:30! We are a hoot!
8. What is your favorite/least favorite movement? My favorite movement is anything with machines! I love workouts with a lot of biking or rowing! Of the lifts, cleans are my favorite (preferably power). I’ve improved my cleans so much, even just in the last few months since focusing on it in the new Barbell classes!
My least favorite movement is wall balls.  Gross.
9. What’s one CrossFit goal you have set for yourself to accomplish this next year? I really want to focus on being more intentional with gymnastics movements, just the very basic ones. I’ll go through periods where I work on them consistently and get so close, then I move onto other things and by the time I circle back I’ve lost that momentum. I want to get to a point where I have the ability to do the movements in most of the Train track workouts, even if it is at a reduced quantity.
10. What changes have you seen in yourself since starting at OPCF? I’ve gained more confidence in my own abilities, both in and out of the gym. Knowing what my body is capable of, and how far I can push it to do hard things. Whether it is taking third-place in a (scaled) CrossFit competition, hiking across the Grand Canyon, or running a half-marathon, I have more confidence in setting goals, working towards those goals, and crushing those goals.
11. What is your biggest improvement or proudest accomplishment thus far? Joining OPCF has had positive ripple effects through every area of my life. The easy answer is to say that I’m stronger. I can lift heavier, push myself harder, and I’ve learned so much from our (very patient) coaches about my body and how to use it correctly and efficiently, and how to fuel it appropriately. But more importantly, I’ve also found the most amazing community of people who are also trying to take care of themselves, and have fun doing it. The relationships I’ve made in my time here have been so awesome! I have a built-in group of friends who willingly (and enthusiastically) say “yes” when we want to do an obstacle course mud run, or when we suggest a 25 mile hike across the Grand Canyon. I have people that encourage and support me, in life and in the gym. I started my fitness journey alone, spending hours on a treadmill in my basement. Trust me, it is better with friends.
12. How do you fit working out into your weekly schedule? If I’m being honest, I build my schedule around working out as much as possible. I have young kids, a demanding job, and life is super hectic, but being at the gym is as much a part of my mental health as it is my physical health. If I miss several consecutive days, or have to take a break for whatever reason, I feel the effects of that in my day-to-day life. Sometimes that means functioning in a heightened state of anxiety, sometimes it is not sleeping as well, and other times it is just having less ability to exercise patience with the people around me. Recognizing that it is about so much more than just working out makes it easier to prioritize it! I want to give the people in my life – my family, my employees, my friends – the best version of myself, and working out is part of achieving that goal!
13. What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet? I want to do more international travel. I’ve really hit all the areas of the United States now, so I’m ready to get out into the world and see the rest of it!  Let’s climb some mountains!!!!!!!

 

Macronutrients: What are they? Why are they important?

If you’ve been doing CrossFit for a while or have simply been in the fitness space, then you have probably heard the phrase ‘counting macros’ time and time again. It is a phrase that is often used in conversations about nutrition and often the questions, ‘Do you count your macros?’ or ‘What are your macros?’ are common inquiries in a typical CrossFit gym. But what are macros exactly? “Macros” are short for macronutrients and there are 3 types: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Each of these are essential for a healthy, well-balanced diet. Let’s take a look at each of these individually to get a better idea of why they are important.

Protein

Why is protein important? It is involved in many of our body’s basic functions, such as the repair and rebuilding of tissues, hormones, and our immune system. For the average, sedentary, generally healthy adult, they need about 0.8g of protein per kg of body mass to cover basic daily requirements. However, this is just the recommended amount for basic protein turnover and preventing malnutrition. It is not necessarily optimal.

An individual’s protein needs will increase if they are training hard frequently or have a heavy physical job; if they are injured or sick or are recovering from surgery; if they are older (you don’t digest protein as well when you’re older so you need more to meet the basic requirements); or if they’re losing protein for some other reason. Individuals may need more protein if they are trying to lose weight because it can put them in a negative energy balance (protein helps them feel full longer). 

Some good sources of protein include:

  • Beef, bison, and buffalo
  • Chicken and turkey
  • Fish
  • Eggs and egg whites
  • Cottage cheese or strained Greek yogurt
  • Beans and legumes
  • Protein powder

So, now that we know protein is good for us and we need it for basic daily functions, how much do we actually need? You can use your hands as measuring tools. For most people, try eating 1 to 2 palm-size portions of high-protein foods per meal. For highly active people, try eating 2 to 3 palm-size portions per meal.

Carbohydrates

Carbs are not the enemy! In fact, they are necessary for giving our body the energy it needs to function and perform at an optimal level. There are several different types of carbohydrates:

  • Complex carbohydrates – 
    • They come from whole-food sources like vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
    • They tend to keep us feeling full longer. 
    • They also supply micronutrients, phytonutrients, fiber and water.
    • They keep our blood sugar and insulin levels stable while releasing their energy gradually.
  • Simple, refined, and highly processed carbohydrates – 
    • They digest quickly but tend to leave us feeling unsatisfied.
    • They have been stripped of nutrients and tend to carry sodium and industrial chemicals.
    • They stimulate our appetite and leave us wanting more.
    • They can cause fluctuations in our blood sugar and insulin levels.

The amount of carbs that an individual needs is based on several different factors:

  • How big or small someone is
  • How much lean mass or body fat they have
  • How active they are
  • How intense, long-lasting, and/or frequent that activity is
  • How old they are, and what stage of life they’re at
  • Intake levels of other macronutrients
  • Genetics
  • What foods they like, tolerate, and prefer to eat

When choosing what carbs to eat, keep the following ideas in mind: We thrive best on a mix of carbohydrate types that occur naturally (keyword – naturally) in different types of foods. In most cases, we want to eat relatively slower-digesting, higher-fiber carbohydrates, which we can get if we choose a wide selection of diverse, whole, less-processed foods, such as fruits and root vegetables, whole grains, and beans and legumes. Occasionally, faster-digesting, lower-fiber carbohydrates can be helpful, particularly for athletes or people looking to gain weight. 

How many carbs should you eat daily? As a starting point, try to eat 1 to 2 cupped handfuls of carbohydrates per meal. For highly active people, try eating 3 or more handfuls of carbohydrates per meal or adding more meals (since larger portions can be hard to digest in one sitting). 

Fat

Most people tend to stay away from fat in their diets because they think that it is what causes them to gain weight. However, this is not necessarily the case. Fat has several important jobs in the body and is therefore a necessity of a well-balanced diet. Dietary fat has 6 major roles:

  • It provides us with energy (in fact, it is the most energy-dense macronutrient).
  • It helps make and balance hormones, particularly our steroid hormones.
  • It forms cell membranes.
  • It forms our brain and nervous system. 
  • It helps transport important vitamins.
  • It gives us two fatty acids that we can’t make on our own.

See? Fat is extremely important!

Some healthy sources of fat include:

  • Avocado and avocado oil
  • Cacao (dark chocolate)
  • Fresh coconut and coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Olives and extra virgin olive oil

We know that fat is good for us, but we also want to make sure that we aren’t eating too much fat. Once again, you can use your hand as a measuring tool. For most people, they only need 1 to 2 thumb-size portions of fat-dense foods per meal. For highly active people, they need to be eating 2 to 3 thumb-size portions of fat per meal.

In summary, it is important to remember that we eat foods and meals, not nutrients. Therefore, eating a wider variety of whole foods will increase your chances of eating a more balanced, nutrient-dense diet. Each individual person will need a different amount of macros – there is not a one diet fits all approach, and their macro intake will depend on a variety of different factors. 



Kipping It Real with David!

Each month Overland Park CrossFit recognizes a member who exemplifies our values and motivates others in the gym to push themselves with encouraging words. August’s Athlete of the Month is David Doell. He was chosen because of his obvious dedication to making fitness a priority and always striving to do his best when he’s in class. It is evident that he wants to get better and he takes the time to learn how to do the simpler movements correctly before trying to advance to something more difficult. This level of patience and perseverance is very admirable. His hard work is paying off and we love having David as a part of our OPCF community.

How long have you been working out at Overland Park CrossFit? I joined in February of 2022, so roughly 6 months.
What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout? Do you remember what it was? I remember thinking this is a hell of a lot more fun than just lifting weights at a regular gym! 
                         
What has been your favorite workout so far? It’s hard to pick just one. I’m a huge fan of the variety of movements and workouts that we do. It keeps things interesting.
What is your favorite cheat meal? Chili dogs.             
                                                 
What did you want to be when you grew up and where do you work now?  I wanted to build roller coasters growing up. Now I work as a Civil Engineer. 
What do you like to do outside of work? I play a lot of adult-league sports with friends and travel when I can. 
                                                       
What advice would you give a newbie just starting at OPCF? Don’t be afraid to ask the coaches for tips. All of them really know their stuff.       
                  
What is your favorite/least favorite movement? Favorite: handstand push-ups. Least Favorite: power snatch.                                               
What’s one CrossFit goal you have set for yourself to accomplish this next year? I want to be able to perform any movement listed in the workout, like t2b, muscle-ups, handstand walks. Whatever the workout calls for, that’s what I’ll do.
What changes have you seen in yourself since starting at OPCF? My overall fitness has greatly improved since starting at this gym. I’ve always focused on strength, but my flexibility, balance, and endurance have all improved as well.

What is your biggest improvement or proudest accomplishment thus far? I have come a long way with proper lifting form. I am way more confident when performing lifts and I am comfortable enough to start increasing my weight.   
How do you fit working out into your weekly schedule? It’s important to make personal fitness a priority. I set a goal of going at least three times a week after work. 
   
What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet? Backpack Ireland. I think we have finally nailed down a trip for 2023.

The Fourth and Final Stage of Pacing Awareness: The Master

The athlete who has progressed to the final stage of pacing awareness is appropriately named ‘The Master’. It is in this stage that the athlete has a “deep intuitive understanding of how to plan appropriately for different workouts and adjust plans on the fly based upon how things are going.” To get to this stage of pacing awareness takes time, lots of practice, and knowing one’s own abilities in a variety of modalities, combinations and time frames. 

At this stage, athletes don’t necessarily need to work on the exact dynamics of pacing, but actually start to become more intune with what their body can do and what situations can lead to failure or a total red line. In order to achieve this, they need to be exposed to a variety of different scenarios so they can develop the internal sense of how they feel with different combinations of movements. They can also get more specific on things they need to work on. For example, an athlete may be pretty good at bar muscle-ups, but when they do a workout that has bar muscle-ups paired with other grip-intensive movements then they completely fall apart. So instead of just working on bar muscle-ups alone, the athlete can focus on workouts that include rowing and bar muscle-ups, or bar muscle-ups and hang power cleans, etc. 

Becoming a ‘Master’ means that the athlete is able to learn and internalize lessons from every workout because they have already developed such a refined view of how they are feeling and how they are expected to feel. This creates a beneficial cycle where the athlete is able to do more training (since they are able to pace appropriately almost every time) which creates more learning (since they are getting more exposure) and also facilitates developing more capacity (since the athlete is now able to do more volume at a sustainable effort). At this point in their athletic journey, they can just get better simply by doing a lot of different movements in a variety of combinations. 

It is important to remember that every athlete is different and may not move through each of the four stages in a linear fashion. Athletes often have different “tendencies”. Some athletes may err on the side of caution and always overplan and other athletes tend to go out super hot and try to hang on. The first group of athletes would benefit from learning to cut loose and go off of feel and the second group of athletes would benefit from developing a bit more restraint and spending more time planning out their sessions. Ideally, the athlete is able to understand where they sit on the spectrum (if they are ‘The Wild Man/Woman’, ‘The Accountant’, ‘The Shrinking Violet’, or ‘The Master’) and therefore can make the adjustments that they need to.  

 

Kipping it Real with Sara!

Each month Overland Park CrossFit recognizes a member who exemplifies our values and motivates others in the gym to push themselves with encouraging words. July’s Athlete of the Month is Sara Hoffman. She was chosen because it is evident that her health and fitness are important to her because of how she prioritizes working out even with a busy work schedule. She has made great improvements in her movement patterns by listening to the coaches and trying to implement the cues they give her. She is very active in the OPCF community, participating in events that take place outside of the gym, as well as being encouraging to the other members in her class. Her hard work is paying off and we love having Sara as a part of our OPCF community.

How long have you been working out at Overland Park CrossFit? Since April 2021.

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout? Do you remember what it was? The first non-foundations CF workout I remember was a Saturday ladder workout with teams of three that involved a lot of C&Js, deadlifts, and I think biking. I’m sure I looked panicked trying to find partners, but thankfully, a couple of very welcoming 9:30 classmates (shoutout to Amy & Elizabeth!) asked if I wanted to join their team. I thought I was going to collapse in the middle of the workout, but tried unsuccessfully not to show that. Afterwards, I was so happy and proud that I had finished a “real” CF workout and couldn’t wait to keep going to classes.

What has been your favorite workout so far? I remember really enjoying one Saturday team workout that was synchro everything–GHDs, burpees, DB snatches. It’s fun to have someone pushing you while doing the exact same thing simultaneously. I like the out-of-breath laughs that come with trying to time bar-facing burpees together.

What is your favorite cheat meal? Mac & cheese from the Peanut. Also Chipotle if that’s a cheat meal, but I have it WAY too often to call it that.

What did you want to be when you grew up and where do you work now? I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a kid, but now work as a pharmacist at a home infusion pharmacy.

What do you like to do outside of work? I love to travel, play volleyball, pet dogs, eat food, and obvi do CF.

What advice would you give a newbie just starting at OPCF? Just keep showing up. That’s the hardest thing at first–to keep going even when you feel intimidated or nervous. I used to feel so nervous just to go each day, thinking, ‘What if today is the workout where I drop a dumbbell on my head or somehow majorly embarrass myself?’ But it definitely gets easier! If you keep showing up you will feel more comfortable, make progress and make friends!

What is your favorite/least favorite movement? Least favorite: thrusters Most favorite: D-ball over the shoulder

What’s one CrossFit goal you have set for yourself to accomplish this next year? To do a competition!

What changes have you seen in yourself since starting at OPCF? I came to OPCF because it was hard transitioning from a huge, convenient community in college to not really having any community after graduation. Now I have a place I can go that lets me get my workout in AND also is a fun and supportive community. I notice a huge difference when I make it to the gym versus when I don’t. I feel more irritable and anxious when I’m not able to make it in, and more relaxed and happy when I do.

What is your biggest improvement or proudest accomplishment thus far? I’m proud to have completed the rim to rim hike at the Grand Canyon with an OPCF group. I love being active and outdoors but have never really been an avid hiker. It was something very hard that we were all proud to accomplish together. Not exactly a CF achievement, but since a major reason I joined was to find a community and make new friends, going on a trip with people from the gym was a huge deal for me.

How do you fit working out into your weekly schedule? Some work days I’m able to make 6:30pm if I don’t have to work late or have something else in the evening like volleyball. On days I don’t have to be at the pharmacy, I usually come to the 9:30am class–I like to get my workouts in earlier in the day, but I’m simply not an AM person enough to drag myself to 5:30am.

What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet? A helicopter ride! There are so many places I want to see from the sky–Victoria Falls, Hawaii, Great Barrier Reef, New York City.

 

Kipping it Real with Moses!

Each month Overland Park CrossFit recognizes a member who exemplifies our values and motivates others in the gym to push themselves with encouraging words. June’s Athlete of the Month is Moses Nganga. He was chosen because he has really embraced a hard-working mentality. He consistently shows up to class, he is conscious about his nutrition habits, and he is determined to perform the movements correctly and with good form. He has made some really good progress since he’s been here and that can all be attributed to his dedication and perseverance. His hard work is paying off and we love having Moses as a part of our OPCF community!

How long have you been working out at Overland Park CrossFit? 3 months and 15 days

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout? Do you remember what it was? It was very new with movements I had never done before. It was exciting because I knew I was going to get the right workouts moving forward.

What has been your favorite workout so far? Every workout has been great so far, but I really enjoy snatches and all forms of cleans.

What is your favorite cheat meal? Burgers with fries.

What did you want to be when you grew up and where do you work now? I wanted to be a professional piano player but that never happened. I now work for MERCK.

What do you like to do outside of work? I enjoy spending time with family.

What advice would you give a newbie just starting at OPCF? Be patient with yourself in regards to seeing results; be consistent and eat healthy.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement? I wouldn’t say I have a favorite or least favorite movement because they all work to help each body part develop and give me the overall results I want with time.

What’s one CrossFit goal you have set for yourself to accomplish this next year? I want to be ripped, strong, increase muscle mass, and be between the Train and Compete level.

What changes have you seen in yourself since starting at OPCF? My belly has gotten flatter; I’m starting to see definition around my upper/lower body and I have become stronger.

What is your biggest improvement or proudest accomplishment thus far? Being consistent and building up my endurance.

How do you fit working out into your weekly schedule? I wake up very early in the morning to get my 5:30am workout session in before doing anything else. This aligns with my family duties and work schedule.

What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet? Travel more with my wife and our daughter.

 

The Second Stage of Pacing Awareness: “The Accountant”

In any sport or new activity, there is always lots to learn, which can often take time. CrossFit is no different. Not only does CrossFit’s methodology involve numerous gymnastics movements, technical lifts, and the need for a good cardiovascular foundation, but the different time constraints and styles of workouts calls for an entirely separate set of skills: the ability to pace appropriately based on the workout. 

Most CrossFitters fall into one of the following four pacing categories: 1) The Wild Man/Woman 2) The Accountant 3) The Shrinking Violet and 4) The Master. As discussed in a previous article, ‘The Wild Man/Woman’ stage occurs when the athlete’s capacity to finish a workout without completely blowing up has not been fully developed yet and they don’t have the experience necessary to know how to pace different types of workouts. Let’s compare this first stage of pacing awareness to the strategies used by ‘The Accountant’ (the second stage).

As the name suggests, ‘The Accountant’ is an athlete who is very calculated and takes their pacing strategies almost too far. Oftentimes, if they fail to adhere to their perfectly calculated plans; they often fall apart and have no strategy to fall back on. These types of athletes will start to create mental and literal spreadsheets of their split times. They often think that by doing the math ahead of time they’ll be able to will their bodies to go along with their plan. However, once fatigue starts to set in, no amount of willpower or sheer determination can keep them from staying on track. Instead of setting a rigid plan with no room for deviations, athletes need to learn how to adjust their plan on the fly based on how the workout is going.

Here are some quick tips for how you can avoid a rigid workout strategy and learn how to pace off of how your body feels:

  • Descending sets are typically better than straight sets (such as 6/5/4 for a set of 15 pull-ups instead of 5/5/5).
  • Don’t do more than 50% of your max unbroken set (for example: if your max set of toes-to-bar is 20, don’t do more than 10 reps at a time).
  • Always leave two reps in the bank. Hitting just one rep that’s “two hard” can push you over the edge, cause you to fall apart, and lead to failure.
  • When calculating your likely split times, make sure to build in extra time to account for fatigue. If you know that you can typically do 6/5/4 chest-to-bar pull-ups in 25 seconds when you’re fresh, plan for that to increase by several seconds each round due to fatigue, such as 30s, then 35s, then 40s, etc. 

Sources:

 https://wodprep.com/blog/crossfit-pacing/ 

 

The First Stage of Pacing Awareness: “The Wild Man/Wild Woman Stage”

The wod of the day is a 20 min amrap consisting of rowing cals, barbell clean and jerks, and bar over burpees. You start off the row at a blistering pace – holding 1600 for the first 10 cals. You then jog over to your barbell and rip through the 10 clean and jerks. You then finish the round with 10 of the fastest bar over burpees you’ve ever done in your life. Round 1 – done! You glance at the clock and it reads 1:15. Uh oh. You are in big trouble. Another 5 minutes ticks by and you are now pulling 900 on the rower, your clean and jerks have turned into sluggish singles and you are barely peeling your body off the floor after each burpee. This scenario may sound familiar to you and is common for many newer CrossFit athletes who don’t understand the concept of pacing.

Just like any other skill in CrossFit, it takes time to learn the art of pacing. In fact, most CrossFitters can fit into one of four pacing stages: 1) The Wild Man/Woman 2) The Accountant 3) The Shrinking Violet and 4) The Master. Let’s take a look at the first of these four stages and some strategies to better your pacing game.

The Wild Man/Woman

This is a common pacing strategy for most rookie CrossFitters and can often be defined by the following thought process:  “Go hard, see what happens, and hang on for dear life.” When most people start CrossFit, they are excited about the intensity of the workouts and tend to jump in full throttle without any regard for pacing. At this stage, the athlete’s capacity to finish a workout without completely blowing up has not been fully developed yet and they don’t have the experience necessary to know how to pace different types of workouts.

However, there is a way that newer athletes can improve their pacing strategy. Here are few options to practice:

  1. Write down your split times the next time you do an AMRAP or ‘For Time’ workout. This will help you develop pacing awareness.
  2. Shoot for negative splits next time you do a low-skill AMRAP or ‘For Time’ workout. (Negative splits means that you get faster every round.)
  3. Integrate paced interval workouts into your training. With interval training, you are resting between rounds and have a better opportunity to adjust your pace depending on how your body feels. Here is an example workout:

4 rounds:

  • 1 min ME row for calories
  • 1 min ME alt. Db snatches
  • 1 min ME burpee box jump overs
  • 1 min rest

Start at a moderate pace and then try to increase your pace after each round.

Sources:

https://wodprep.com/blog/crossfit-pacing/ 

 

Kipping it Real with Wes!

Each month Overland Park CrossFit recognizes a member who exemplifies our values and motivates others in the gym to push themselves with encouraging words. April’s Athlete of the Month is Wes Sewell. Wes was chosen because since he started at OPCF, he has always been really good about asking questions if there’s a movement or portion of a workout that he doesn’t understand. He also prioritizes doing the movement correctly with good technique versus focusing on putting more weight on the bar. He listens to his body and is not afraid to take a rest day or active recovery day if he is feeling extra run down. His positive attitude radiates throughout the gym and he is always very encouraging and helpful to the other members. His hard work is paying off and we love having Wes as a part of our OPCF community.

How long have you been working out at Overland Park CrossFit? I have been working out at OPCF since October of 2021.

What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout? Do you remember what it was? I remember the workout had air squats, front squats, and some wall balls.  I actually thought the warm-up WAS the workout so that’s what I remember the most.

What has been your favorite workout so far? I like any of the deadlifting and squatting because those are the movements that I mess up the least.

What is your favorite cheat meal? Pizza by a landslide.

What did you want to be when you grew up and where do you work now? I had ZERO idea what I wanted to be. I ended up in the transportation and logistics industry and now own my business.

What do you like to do outside of work? Camping, fishing, and riding UTV’s; but anything outdoors really.

What advice would you give a newbie just starting at OPCF?  Don’t try to do too much too soon. Listen to your body and don’t workout if you feel like you’re hurt or going to get hurt because sometimes in the beginning, you’re so sore you might do movements incorrectly and get injured.

What is your favorite/least favorite movement?  My favorite movement is deadlifting and my least favorite movement is the snatch – by a long shot!

What’s one CrossFit goal you have set for yourself to accomplish this next year? I would love to do a bar muscle-up.

What changes have you seen in yourself since starting at OPCF? I’ve gotten much stronger. Lifting items around my property has gotten much easier. Who would have thought all those KB farmer’s carries would come in handy!?!?  My clothes are starting to fit differently too.

What is your biggest improvement or proudest accomplishment thus far? It is definitely that I was able to do my first strict pull-up a couple of weeks ago!

How do you fit working out into your weekly schedule? I try to make it in 4 days per week, but if I slip a little, or have to rest more, I don’t beat myself up over it; I just get back in there as soon as I can. I will also put together a work-out at home with things I’ve learned at OPCF if I can’t make it to the gym.

What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet? I am super competitive so I’m ready to get to a point in my CrossFit journey that I can do some competitions!

 

 

What is the Inner Core? Why Should You Care About it? How Do You Use it?

Have you ever experienced lower back soreness or tightness after a day of heavy squatting or pulling from the ground? Deadlifts are probably the most common culprit when it comes to causing lower back stiffness 24-48 hours after a tough workout. Is this normal? Should you just assume that your back will be sore after you deadlift or squat heavy? The answer is no. You may have good movement patterns, warm up properly and lift with good technique, but still experience some level of discomfort the following day. One answer to this problem might be that you lack the awareness or ability to activate your inner core.

Oftentimes when we think about our core muscles we always picture six-pack abs (or the rectus abdominis – see diagram below). It’s common to think that if your abs are shredded then you have excellent core strength. But in many of the movements that we commonly perform at the gym, such as toes-to-bar, v-ups, GHD sit-ups, hollow holds, etc., you are actually using your outer core muscles, which facilitates trunk movement and provides a broad level of  stability.

In contrast, the inner core provides your trunk with stability at a much more detailed level. Picture the inner core as a cylinder that wraps around your vertebrae. The top of the cylinder is the diaphragm (see image below), which sits below the lungs and is your primary breathing muscle. The bottom of the cylinder is the pelvic floor (see image below), which has several different important functions. In relation to the core, the pelvic floor helps the abdominal, hip and back muscles control the movement of the sacroiliac and hip joints, which are important for hinging and squatting. The front and sides of the cylinder are made up of the transverse abdominis (see image below), which is the deepest layer of abdominal tissue and provides support for the lumbar spine. Finally, the back of the cylinder is made up of the lumbar multifidus (see image below), which is an important stabilizer of the lumbar spine as well.  

So, now that we have a picture of what the inner core looks like and the different muscles that make it up, why should you care about it? Well, for starters, strengthening the inner core muscles can reduce chances of injury. That back soreness/stiffness that was discussed above? Proper engagement of the inner core muscles can help reduce and eliminate that kind of discomfort. Furthermore, learning how to brace these muscles correctly will help you pull more weight off the floor (think deadlift, clean and snatch) and improve your squat strength. Training your inner core will also help you learn how to breathe better which will increase your engine during conditioning pieces. 

One of the best ways to learn how to activate your inner core is to practice breathing correctly – through your belly, not your chest. Most members of the population fall victim to shallow breathing where only the chest and lungs expand during the breath; they take a long inhale (lasting for 5-10 seconds), but the exhale is quick and most of the air is released in a few short seconds. 

In order to change the way you breathe, it is important to develop an awareness of how you breathe. Set aside a few minutes a day to focus on deep, symmetrical breathing. Inhale through the nose, expand your abs (or belly), and then exhale through your nose trying to match your inhale tempo. To take it a step further, try to maintain a perfect posture while you complete these breathing sequences. Another breathing technique to practice is called ‘box breathing’. For this method, inhale, hold your breath full, exhale completely and then hold your breath empty. Try to complete the inhale, hold, exhale, hold for the same number of seconds (about 5-10 counts for each). Repeat this breathing sequence 10-20 times. 

Rectus Abdominis:                                          

           

The Diaphragm:

           

The Pelvic Floor:

      

Transverse Abdominis:                   

   

Lumbar Multifidus:

     

Sources:

https://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/inner-core 

https://foundationphysio.com/5-basic-functions-of-your-pelvic-floor/ 

https://corewalking.com/abdominal-muscles-transverse-abdominis-function/ 

https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/the-athletes-toolbox-the-lost-art-of-breathing 

 

 

Transverse Abdominis:                   Lumbar Multifidus: 

 

Sources:

https://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/inner-core 

https://foundationphysio.com/5-basic-functions-of-your-pelvic-floor/ 

https://corewalking.com/abdominal-muscles-transverse-abdominis-function/ 

https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/the-athletes-toolbox-the-lost-art-of-breathing