Posts Tagged ‘Recovery’

Yes. They can.

End of story.


All jokes aside, this post is timely given some members of the audience reading my blog, and some situations I’ve witnessed in my years as a CrossFit coach. A lot of gyms out there have fun monthly challenges to keep their members engaged and strengthen the community. One in particular, which I’ve seen at dozens of gyms all over the world, happens during the second to last month of each calendar year. This event is called… ROW-VEMBER! What is Row-vember? Well, it’s an in-house competition to see who in the gym can row the most meters in the month of November. Sounds fun, right?! Well, it can be! At least, until people take the competition a little bit too seriously.

If read that and thought, “You’re kidding, right? How can someone take a rowing competition too seriously?” I’m SO glad you asked! There was a handful of individuals that were so set on winning, that in many ways, rowing took over their lives for four weeks. They’d show up early to row before class. Stay to row more after class. They’d come in and just row instead of taking class. Sometimes they’d back to the gym a second time during the day just to get in more rowing. Someone even took apart their own personal a rower so it would fit in the car to take with them on vacation! Now hopefully the picture is getting painted a little bit clearer as to how things went down.


A few years ago, Crazy Castro had the CrossFit Games athletes complete a HALF MARATHON Row… that’s 21,000 meters. In a row. Insane! What happened next? Well, like every other year after the CrossFit Games are over, people all over the world tried to do the same workouts on their own… “Just to see how they’d do compared to the fittest people on earth.” I know several people who called up some friends one day, went to the gym, put a movie on the TV, and rowed for over 90 minutes straight, just to say they did it. I get it. (Well, just like I know people pay money to do Ironman distance triathlons, doesn’t mean I want to do one myself. You do you, just know it’s not my jam!)

So we’ve talked about a crazy CrossFit event where athletes rowed for over an hour. And we’ve discussed people going to the gym all the time just to row and taking rowers on vacation with them to not fall behind in random competitions. Now, to drive home my point of just how bad it got, put those two groups together. There were a handful of people rowing 20,000+ meters nearly every day!! And if they missed a day, they’d make it up before or after!! That is insaaaaaaaaane to me. I’ve been in this CrossFit game for nearly a decade, and I’ve never even rowed a 10k!

I understand some people just like long and slow cardio. I also get how completing long distances in the form of several shorter interval repeats can make it more manageable. But what my brain doesn’t process is why when you’re 23 days into a month, and your sleep is suffering, focus is off, hands are calloused, butt and lower back are wrecked, and energy is down… you’d keep going just because there are seven days left in the month! But they did. That is a situation where, in my brain, the competition got way too intense. If you’re pushing yourself to the point of adrenal fatigue over pride and a $50 gift card, I think your priorities should shift a little bit. Realize that we want to take care of our bodies through the work we put in at the gym, not destroy them!


I thought of this story because at one of the gyms where I currently work, they’re completing a challenge each month to complete 2018 reps of a different movement. January was burpees, and I think there were about a half-dozen members who completed them all! This month, it’s Calories on a bike or rower. Since I didn’t hop in last month on the burpee game, I figured as a coach I would hop in a lead by example to encourage others to participate. After a few days of rowing a bit and writing my score on the board, I realized that a few of us started to get a little bit competitive with each other. The first few days it was fun, and then I was reminded of the folks I saw a few years ago.

Let this be my official declaration to those of you who are in the friendly game with me:

I just want us to have fun. If you ever feel like you’re impacting your work, social/personal life, or health and stress levels just by trying to row more, let me know. I will gladly step back and bow out of the game! 

I say that kind of in jest, but still pretty serious. For me, I find rowing or biking a little more than I usually would to be a great way to burn off a few extra calories. It’s low impact, I can do it on my own, and at my convenience. So, while my goal is to “#BeLessFat” and allow myself to drink another beer or two on the weekends without feeling guilty, I know that some people get wayyyy too into the competitive spirit. Don’t allow me to fuel an unhealthy fire. I want to make your life better, not worse! Besides, at the current gymour competition isn’t even for most meters, it’s just to see if people can hit 2,018 in the month. Every meter above 2,018 is just icing on the cake! I’ll back out in a heartbeat if I need to, though.


If you can keep it all in perspective, though, game on. Today I rowed an extra 4,000 meters at a comfortable pace while watching a live video of my favorite Dj, and my heart rate was low the entire time. It was just some nice active recovery, and it felt awesome!

While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really competitive, I rarely let that get in the way of my own health. Sadly, though, I know a lot of people who can’t safely make that distinction. Did rowing alone lead to adrenal fatigue? Of course not. But putting  one’s body through that much unnecessary stress for that many days in a row, certainly didn’t help! Story one was about a competition that went awry. Story two is about a challenge to hit 2,018 meters. The point is, saying, “It’s not a competition,” is great, but we all know that to some people… everything is a competition! If all else fails and your brain won’t let your body stop pushing, remember that it’s only a game. And none of it matters. Train smart, friends.


As time goes on, I am getting better at warming myself up before working out. If it’s a squat day, I’ll spend time working on hip and ankle mobility, try and get my glutes to fire effectively, and add in dynamic movements to prepare my core and hamstrings to do some work. On days with Olympic Weightlifting, I’ll devote a few extra minutes to position work with an empty bar to reinforce every phase of the lift. While my warming up is moving in the right direction, an area where I still need to improve is ensuring I cool down properly after a training session.


I tell my athletes all the time how important a proper cool down it is to their recovery, but often will convince myself that I’m “too busy” to do it. In this post, I will provide a great resource that explains why cooling down matters, and then a share some resources where you can learn what you can do to take better care of your body.

Last fall, Box Life released a great article called 3 REASONS TO COOL-DOWN AFTER YOUR WOD. The brief summary lists those reasons as follows:

  1. Helps waste removal and decreases blood pooling
  2. Lessens the effects of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness)
  3. Increases flexibility

If you ask me, those are all pretty good reasons to want to spend a few extra minutes each day on self-care! But that’s not all! They also include their “Stages of an Effective Cool Down”:

  1. Gentle Exercise– One of my favorite cool downs for athletes after a workout is to have them hop on a rower or an assault bike while they’re still completely gassed, start moving right away, and get slower every sixty seconds or so. Maybe a male athlete would start by holding a 2:00 pace, and would only hop off after four or five minutes when their heart rate is back down. That could mean pulling a 3:45 pace, and that’s fine. This style of cool down also offers a great opportunity to practice proper rowing technique during their recovery, without the pressures of “beating the clock” during a workout.
  2. Stretching– When the workout of the day includes explosive movements, I’ll rarely spend a lot of time before the workout on long, slow, isometric movements. If our muscles are long and relaxed, it can be harder to produce fast-twitch responses, so typically I’ll want to have athletes move faster in their warm-ups. After the workout, however, muscles are typically going to be plenty warm. Focusing on longer holds during cool down can not only improve flexibility, but it can also help flush out toxins faster that may have built up through rigorous exercise!
  3. Re-Fuel– This can be as simple as drinking water to replenish fluids lost during the workout, or taking some sort of post-workout nutrition. I will usually encourage people to eat “real food” whenever possible, whether that’s sweet potato and chicken breast, or maybe a delicious glass of chocolate milk (if you’re into that sort of thing.) For most people, however, something like a protein shake will do just fine to help your body repair damaged muscles, recover faster, and help you come back stronger than before! I haven’t used protein powder in years, but I’m going to be trying a new product soon. The brand FNX offers a Cricket Protein blend called Restore, so I’ll let you know what I think.


One of the first CrossFit celebrities who gained international notoriety for being awesome is Kelly Starrett. He started “Mobility WOD“, and through it released hundreds of hours of incredible videos helping people address range of motion limitations and improve their performance inside, and outside, of the gym. I STRONGLY encourage everyone to search YouTube for his videos located there, as well!

The “New Kid on the Block” for CrossFit stretching and mobility is the group at ROMWOD. Another great resource, athletes who stick to the plan with them, find significant improvement in their body awareness, and consistently increase their end ranges of motion.

If there is anything else I can do to help suggest resources, please let me know. When in doubt, though, YouTube can be an amazing place to learn how to take better care of your body and recover after training sessions.

My goal is to help my friends stay healthier, for longer, and I hope this post helps to do just that. Thanks for the great article, BoxLifeMagazine!

If I had to pick, I’d say the Clean is my favorite lift. There’s something about trying to pick up a HEAVY weight off the ground, and somehow stand with it on your shoulders… that is really fun for me!

For a great video on how to learn to Clean CORRECTLY 🙂 check out Glenn Pendlay of California Strength breaking it down.


Anyways, back to me being a nerd for Cleans. At one of the Seminars I’ve attended to try and become a better competitive exerciser, I got to meet Spencer Arnold.

Spencer is an Olympic Weight lifter who lifts in the 69 kilo weight class. That means he weighs NO MORE THAN 152 pounds on the day of his competitions. 152 pounds. That said, here he is Cleaning 332.898 pounds at the American Open this year. I did not type that wrong. Almost 333 pounds. At a body weight of less than 152 pounds. Cool.


Ok, so now you know he can lift.

On his blog, he shared an article with a great exercise for stabilizing the standing portion of the Front Squat half of the Clean. It’s called the “Front Squat Recovery Exercise”. Basically, it helps to ensure that the core is strong at the bottom, and that the torso is vertical (stacked over the hips) in order to provide a stable column to stand with the bar. Read his description, and then check out the video at the bottom of the post.

Looking for supplemental drills to improve your Olympic Weightlifting? (I’m hope the answer to that is YES, by the way!) Well, there’s one.

Link to his post with the Front Squat Recovery Exercise

Keep tuned into Spencer’s blog, too. He posts tons of great content, and definitely knows his stuff.

Thoughts on the drill? Let me hear it, people!

The folks at Again Faster constantly provide useful information to CrossFitters and athletes everywhere on their website. Today’s video that they reposted on RECOVERY and Foam Rolling is no exception.

Many of you have had a few lessons in the gym in regards to some helpful foam rolling techniques. This short video provides not only the HOW to do several exercises, but also some critical reasons as to WHY we want to spend time with this training tool. Check it out, and let me know if you have any additional questions.

Thanks for the great stuff, AF!

It was a beautiful morning in Denver and I had few minutes to step outside and finally answer Ben’s question from last week, which was “What can you do to prevent being sore the day after a workout?”

I touched on 3 main topics:

  • Ice to reduce swelling
  • Proper nutrition to replenish broken muscles.  (Kevin Ogar, a friend of mine, said this, “Cramming some post workout carbs is a good idea: sweet potatoes, yams, squash, starchy veggies and tuber (besides white potatoes), grassfed meat and butter.  And large quantities of them”)
  • Active stretching and mobility to decrease likelihood of injury and increase range of motion (I would definitely recommend Kelly Starrett’s MobilityWOD)

What do you think, guys?

I’m not even going to try and come up with a clever little intro to this post.

Lisbeth (creator of the CrossFit Lisbeth Blog) does it again.

I know I share a lot of the same messages over and over again on my blog, but they’re motivating to me, and help try to keep ME honest and inspired through life. Hopefully you guys enjoy these, too.

Recovery ~ By Lisbeth

Recovering from a bad start is not an easy thing to do.But it’s a skill you have to learn — in the gym, in your relationships, at work, in life.

Sometimes, you start your WOD and everything just sucks. Everything. Your hook grip feels funny, you smack your chin with the bar, and your chest-to-bar pull-up catches . . . only air. WTF.

Life sucks. You suck. And then you die.

Or so it seems.

In reality, though, you have basically two choices: You can get bitter or you can better. You can quit or you can make something of this piece of sh** day you’re having. That’s always your choice. Nobody makes it but you.

So, decide. Reset your jaw and come right back at that WOD, and life.  Make it — WILL it — to get better. Finish your rep, finish your round, finish what you started. Do what you said you would do.

Or be a p**** and go cry about it. Quit something else in this life. Give up. And then convince yourself that you never really wanted it anyhow. Because that’s just how you roll.

Your day, your choice, your life.

Recovery isn’t a drink after a workout. It’s the entire way you approach life.

Part of my goal in sharing articles with you guys is to simply inform, or sometimes remind, you guys of things that can effect your performance in and out of the gym.

This article was shared with my by Trish O’Donnell (Coach and friend at Alpine CrossFit) and as soon as I read it, I thought… “Great, some of my teammates on Team CrossFit Lakewood are going to be mad at me after reading this.” But you know what, most of us already know this stuff.

The reason I’m sharing it with everyone, is that some of us may NOT know this, and this information is critical to performance, recovery and muscle growth. So read the quotes I have pasted below, and then go read the full article here. Knowledge is power.

Alcohol Will Make You Suck ~ by Zeke

“Research overwhelmingly suggests that alcohol use and athleticism do not go hand in hand. Although it might not be realistic for some of you to quit drinking altogether – if you want to thrive in the athletic environment you should take steps to limit and eventually eliminate it because…”

“While dehydrated, you are greater risk for many injuries including: cramps, muscle pulls, and muscle strains. Also, dehydration can lead to severe brain impairment and even death when coupled with extreme temperatures and intense practices. Dehydration also leads to muscle loss – muscle which you are working so hard to gain.”

“Alcohol, when consumed in amounts typical with most college aged drinkers, will dramatically decrease testosterone levels. Less testosterone = less aggressiveness in workouts, loss of motivation, weakness, & once again muscle loss.”

“Aside from messing with your coordination, endurance, & judgement (not just when you’re drunk, but afterwards too). Alcohol also interferes with lactic acid breakdown, which means you stay sore longer.”

“So, here’s the deal on alcohol & “leaning out for the summer”… Aside from taking in over 1,000 calories on a conservative night of drinking…alcohol is stored much like fat in the body. More importantly alcohol destroys amino acids and stores them as fat.”

“(Alcohol use) will disrupt and fragment two stages of your sleep, where your body produces the most human growth hormone. Bottom line is that if you’re not getting enough sleep – your body will not recover, you won’t grow stronger, and your energy levels, mood, & performance will suffer.”

Then, Zeke ends the piece with a Zinger. I lot of the time, people want to blame others for their lack of progress, fat loss, strength gains, etc. Check out the last two lines of the article. Very well said.

“Ultimately, the decision is yours – you know the facts. This has been my personal testimony and I hope it encourages you to make changes. If not, don’t come bitching to me on why you’re getting weaker – it’s not our programming – it’s YOU.”