CrossFit Total, Programming and Attendance this week

Are you ready for the CrossFit Total?  We don’t typically share what the programming is going to look like in the coming week because we are CrossFit, which means General Physical Preparedness or GPP.  This means you cannot preview workouts and cherry pick the ones that favor your strengths, or that morning’s weather forecast.  You wake up and you get your tail into the box to put in your work that has been carefully programmed to test you at whichever level of GPP you have.

This Wednesday, you will be tested with the CrossFit Total.  Read the article in the link and ready yourself mentally heading into Wednesday.  This is one of the most important days for you to get to The Arsenal all year!  Why?  This will be setting your baseline for functional strength.  We will be using this baseline for a major strength program we will be starting the following week.

Note this quote from the article for our CrossFit newbies:

If you don’t have a damn good idea of what you can do for a heavy triple, you don’t need to be doing a CrossFit Total yet.

Know thyself, and if you are not ready for these heavy lifts, use this as an opportunity to build upon your strength base.  For those who know, make it a serious point to get into the box on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week because the programming is tailored to ready you for optimal performance.  This shouldn’t be a challenge for most of you because our attendance over the past month has been better than ever!

We have some great things planned as we close out the year, and we need some serious commitment from The Arsenal athletes (you!)  Read the article and get to the box.

Box Jumps at Muncie CrossFit

Building Bones and CrossFit

In CrossFit, we build muscle, and we also build bone. Machines need strong bones. But machines are more than just engines or in the case of our athletes, more than just muscle.  In order for machines to pull and push, lift and press, they need structure and support.

We don’t use machines. We build them.

Of course, building bone is far less sexy than building muscle. I’ve yet to hear someone say, “Check out the femurs on that guy!” or “Her tibias are phenomenal.”  But building and strengthening bones are very important parts of what we do at The Arsenal.

A recent New York Times article, “Why High Impact Training is Good for Your Bones” states:

“Bones should be jarred, for their own good. Past experiments have definitively established that subjecting bones to abrupt stress prompts them to add mass or at least reduces their loss of mass as people age.

Recently researchers at the University of Bristol gathered male and female adolescents — the body accumulates bone mass rapidly at this time of life — and had them go about their daily routines while they wore activity monitors. The bone density of the volunteers’ hips was also measured.

A week later, the scientists reclaimed the monitors to check each teenager’s exposure to G forces­, a measure of impact. Those who experienced impacts of 4.2 G’s or greater — though these were infrequent — had notably sturdier hipbones. Additional work done by the same researchers showed that running a 10-minute mile or jumping up onto and down from a box at least 15 inches high was needed to produce forces that great. The significance of these findings is that people should probably run pretty fast or jump high to generate forces great enough to help build bone.”

Box Jumps at Muncie CrossFit

Box jumps! Running! CrossFit!

CrossFit involves various functional movements and exercises so we can pound our bones from all sorts of angles.

The bone remodeling process is very interesting and dynamic, and I could geek out on this for another few thousand words.  (Don’t worry, I won’t.)

The direction and line of forces through the bone have a significant effect on the bone-building process. If force is transmitted through a line of strong dense bone tissue, it has less of an effect on bone formation than if that same force were transmitted through a line of weaker bone tissue.

And even more interesting, if the normal line of force changes due to a change in a movement pattern and strong bone tissue is no longer transmitting large forces, it will lose its high strength and the minerals will be redistributed over time to support the new line of force. That’s just one reason compensatory movement patterns, either due to injuries or faulty movements, can be so dangerous.

When a normal movement pattern is restored after a long time or a lifetime of faulty movement, bones can potentially break when large forces transmit through weakened bone tissue. This can cause broken or fractured bones, bone spurs or even avulsion fractures–when a piece of bone is broken off by a tendon during muscle contractions.

This is why you need to ease back into the WODs, if you are returning from an injury or new to movement training.  Keep from jumping around for the first few weeks of training to allow the bones to experience the pressures of lower-impact movements while the bone structure begins to remodel.  Every few weeks increase the height of boxes the speed of runs in small increments.  In generally healthy and well-nourished people, 15-24 weeks of progressive training is long enough to remodel and harden bones into well adapted force-transmitting machines.

In short: Train your bones the right way with proper technique and intensity and you can avoid serious potential injuries. Our bones can change shape and density over time to adapt to our changing lives and activities.  

So beat your bones!

Any questions?

Muncie CossFit Member Rope Climb

Top 10 Things No One Tells You Before Starting CrossFit by Danielle

The following post is by Danielle, an athlete and member of The Arsenal.  She shared this with me recently, and I thought you all would enjoy it as much as I did.  – BJ

I have been doing CrossFit for almost 4 months now. The first 3 months I loved going but I wasn’t consistent. I would look at the WOD online and decide it was too hard or that something else was more important. I wasn’t eating clean like I should have been. The past month I have been going 5-6 days a week and eating cleaner than ever before. I can tell a huge difference in my performance, my energy and the numbers I am putting up on the board.

For those of you who are not familiar with CrossFit, here are a few terms you may need to know:

WOD – Workout of the Day. This is the combination of exercises, prescibed weights, and time or reps allowed for each exercise. This will control the entire workout each and every single day.

RX – Doing the WOD exactly as prescribed. If one RX’s the workout then they have done the weight, reps, and exercises exactly how they were prescribed.

Box – CrossFit centers are not called gyms, they are called “boxes.” They literally resemble a box made of cement walls that contain bars, weights, and ropes. No TVs, no mirrors, and no cute posters.

Before starting CrossFit I did a ton of research and asked other CrossFitters what to expect. Throughout all of my research and questions there were things nobody ever told me. The following are the top 10 things I think people should know before starting.

1. You will find out how out of shape you really are.

Having been an athlete for 13 years, a runner for 8 years, and a consistent YMCA-fitness-class-goer, I always thought of myself as someone who was in shape. The first WOD I ever completed led me to think differently.

I didn’t come close to RXing the WOD nor did I come close to getting the same number of rounds as the other members. As I was leaning over the bar, out of breath, thinking “I don’t want to do another deadlift,” I saw other members knock out their deadlifts and then sprint out the front door around the building and then come back in and do it all again. It was then that I thought to myself, “Wow, I am really out of shape and tomorrow morning I need to get up and come straight back.”

Well, the next morning I did get up and come back but it wasn’t easy. Every single muscle in my body ached, even muscles I didn’t know I had. Every step hurt but the best step I took that day was the one back inside that box. After a few months of CrossFit, it is safe to say that I am in the best shape of my life.

2. Your friends and family will begin doing research on “Crossfit” and tell you how bad it is for you.

Before starting CrossFit, I consulted with people who have done CrossFit before and others who only knew of it. Those who had done CrossFit gave me great advice and those who had only heard of it gave me the opposite. At first people who had only heard of it told me that the coaches weren’t properly trained, they made you lift more than you were capable of and injuries will happen all the time due to improper lifting skills. What I came across my first day was the opposite. The coaches tell you to only lift what you can and they teach you the basics. Our box actually has classes for beginners to teach them the lifts before they are allowed to do the WODs in an effort to avoid injuries.

In the few months that I have been doing CrossFit I have found that it is insanely good for you. It is good for your aerobic and anaerobic respiration, your muscles, your heart, your mental toughness…the list goes on.

3. You will be good at little.

Every single CrossFitter wishes they were good at everything and could RX every single workout but in reality you are worse at more things than you are good at. CrossFit includes a variety of workouts from gymnastics to weightlifting and running to bodyweight exercises so it is almost impossible for one person to be good at them all. Some people can deadlift 500 pounds but they can’t run a mile to save their life, while others can do rope climbs all day long but can’t do a handstand pushup (aka me).

4. It is OK to ask for clarification.

Don’t waste your time and money doing the workout wrong and getting hurt. If you don’t understand how you are supposed to do a specific workout or lift, then ask. That’s what the coaches are there for. Don’t feel like you are being annoying or holding up the WOD. Everyone was new at one point so they all know how you feel.

5. Don’t be afraid to scale down.

If you need assistance or lighter weights so you are able to get through the entire WOD then use it. If you can’t do a pull-up without the assistance of a resistance band, that is OK. Eventually you won’t need the band and will be able to do them on your own. If you can’t lift the RX weight then don’t. Don’t be too proud to scale down.

6. What you eat is more important than what you lift.

Nutrition is key. Nutrition affects your energy levels, recovery, and performance. And let’s be honest, it affects the way you look. You can do CrossFit for months but if you are eating junk then your results will be junk. For the first couple of months I would have a granola bar for breakfast before the WODs but after doing some research I heard that oatmeal was better for you. Once I began eating oatmeal for breakfast I saw a huge difference in my performance and energy levels throughout the workouts.

When you are doing CrossFit the quality of your food is more important than anything else. Research different eating plans such as Zone and Paleo and eat like that. Eat like a caveman. All you really need to consume is lean meat, vegetables, nuts and seeds so cut out the fast food, sugar, and starches.

(Image Source)

7. You will have more bruises, blisters, and scrapes than you can count.

I am almost positive that my shins will constantly be bruised from some of the Olympic lifts, I will always have a scar from rope burns, and each day the blisters on my hands will get worse. If you are worried about scrapes, bruises, blisters, and blood then CrossFit isn’t for you. I have seen people miss the box when they do a box jump and they end up cutting their shins and I have seen the palms of people’s hands tear off from too many muscle ups, so if you are afraid of a little blood or getting bruises then CrossFit is not for you.

8. You will form lasting friendships.

When I began CrossFit I only knew one person at my box and now I know almost everyone. You will form friendships and make so many different connections. If you aren’t there for a few days, people will notice and they will ask you why you haven’t been coming. If you get hurt during a workout, coaches will call and check up on you.

9. No two days are the same.

I can guarantee you that no two days will ever be the same. From the warm up to the WOD, each day will be different. Yes, the exercises and lifts are the same, but the order you do them in or the amount of reps or time allowed for the WOD is always different. That’s what makes people come back. When people go to a gym they often start off with 30 minutes cardio and then go do a few bicep curls and lunges and then leave. They then do this every single day. CrossFit is completely different, its always changing, and the change is what people love. The change is what keeps people from getting bored.

10. You are only competing against yourself.

While some people like to have fun and see if they can beat their friend’s time, in the end the competition you have inside the box is only against yourself. I have let out so many different emotions inside the box including happiness, frustration, anger, tears, joy, and the feeling of accomplishment. When you do your first pull-up or rope climb, the feeling you have is like no other. But that also goes for saying when you drop the bar for the first time because it is too heavy and you can’t get out of a squat, you will be beyond frustrated with yourself. CrossFit really pushes your mental strengths and weaknesses. You can’t blame someone else because you couldn’t lift as much as you wanted, you have to blame yourself, and that is the hardest part.

Please visit Danielle’s blog to read more terrific stories

Why most of your days are boring or stressed

I was coaching a group last week and wrote the word “CONSCIOUSNESS” on the white board as a pre workout reflection.  This is the definition provided by Wikipedia:

Consciousness is the quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself.[1][2] It has been defined as: sentienceawarenesssubjectivity, the ability to experienceor to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.

The purpose was to get a group of busy adults, students and professionals to actually stop, for mere seconds, and FOCUS deliberately on what they are doing right at that moment.  Some just stared at me, maybe deeply thinking.  Maybe thinking they want me to skip this boring stuff and get to the workout.  That moment was indeed the best exercise in the whole hour.

When we go to work, play or workout most of us remember vividly moments of FLOW ( full immersion in what we are doing resulting in great performance and emotional pleasure).  However, we rarely get to experience this exhilaration.  Daniel Goleman points to why:

People are in flow relatively rarely in daily life.  Sampling people’s moods at random reveals that most of the time people are either stressed or bored, with only occasional periods of flow; only about 20 percent of people have flow moments at least once per day.  Around 15 percent of people never enter a flow state during a typical day. (Daniel Goleman. Focus. 2013)

There are two common alternatives to flow that you may experience:

1. Disconnected/Bored:  daydreaming, wasting hours on the Internet, scattered attention, indifference, little purpose.

2. “Frazzle”:  constant stress overloads their nervous system with floods of cortisol and adrenaline.  Their attention fixates on their worries, not their job.  This emotional exhaustion can lead to burnout.  (Daniel Goleman. Focus. 2013)

I write this to you because I have great confidence that what we do causes each athlete to focus, fully focus, on the task at hand in our box.  You are being directed consistently about what to do, how to do it and at what intensity level you should be efforting.  Daniel Goleman stated in the same book, “Apart from a career change, there are several doorways to flow.  One may open when we tackle a task that challenges our abilities to the maximum–a “just manageable” demand on our skills.”  What do you pay for when you enter into relationship with The Arsenal?  At least one hour of deliberate FOCUS and  CONSCIOUSNESS.  Exercises in taking serious and lasting control over your habits, behaviors and decision making one session at a time.

So, think about what I’ve shared above relative to your whole life, especially your job.  Ask yourself, am I disconnected/board, frazzled or consistently achieving flow in my daily work life?  If the answer is no, or you want more, come visit me, I believe I can help.

(All quotes above taken from Focus by Daniel Goleman, published 2013.)

The CrossFit Games Open at The Arsenal — Why should I do this?

Before we (John and BJ) give you some solid rationale for why YOU (Mom, athlete, dad, son, grandma, grandpa, new, old, etc.) should compete in the CrossFit Games Open, please watch the short video below:

1. YOU earned the right to compete!

That’s right.  Even if you are in week one of your CrossFit training life, you deserve this because you’ve made a commitment to yourself.  You are a part of a global community, and this is the annual event that celebrates that reality.  This event connects you to virtually every CrossFitter around the world, and enables an even greater level of community than you experience in our  box day to day.

2.  True benchmarks of your progress

If this is your first go around at The CrossFit Games Open, then you’re going see that each of the 5 workouts released will be rigidly scored by one of the coaches at your affiliate (in your case, Muncie CrossFit).  This will be a clean, effective and true evaluation of where you are at right now with your fitness and the quality of your movements.

3.  It is for EVERYONE, even non-members of The Arsenal

We are going to invite every person who signs up for the CrossFit Games Open, to come in and get their official workout judged here at The Arsenal.  We will host 5 dedicated sessions for non-Arsenal members throughout the 5 weeks of the open.  This is a big deal because anyone who completes their workout at an affiliate does not have to submit video evidence of their score.  Otherwise, the athlete will need to take a strictly enforced video to submit as proof of their score.  If you are elite already, and are likely going to make it to the Central East CrossFit Games Regional, then you will need video evidence of each workout regardless.  However, that will be a reality for only a handful of athletes in Delaware County.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Learn more about the CrossFit Games on the official CrossFit Games website here.

2. Ask a staff member about specialized assessment and training for the 2014 CrossFit Open.

Schedule yourself for Open Workout 14.1 via this link. We will open our doors to the public on Friday, February 28th at 10am for 14.1.  Members can sign up for many more available times via our calendar!

We will be hosting a CrossFit Games Open fireside chat at The Arsenal on 1.15.2014 at 8:15 PM to answer questions and to allow everyone to sign up for the open that night.  It happens to be the first day you are able to sign up, why not celebrate it and do it together!  This will also be the time and place to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have about competing in the open or how we will conduct open workouts at The Arsenal.

This is a BIG DEAL for anyone in the CrossFit community, and we are so excited to be an affiliated host site for such a fun, challenging and global demonstration of the sport of fitness.  See you all on the 15th!

The horrible truth about elite training

Recently I’ve been immersed in visiting fellow CrossFit affiliates, going to coaching and athlete camps, reading the best literature by the greatest coaches walking Earth and there is a theme emerging.  The theme is that the ideas at the pillars of elite training are, well… dull and boring.  So much so that we tend to just ignore them.  Coach Dan John should be credited with that simple statement.

Olympic Lifts:  Snatch, clean and jerk.  Power lifts:  Squat, bench press and deadlift.  Classic exercises/gymnastics:  Pull-ups, burpees and push ups.

The fact remains that most of us cannot effectively complete these lifts in repetition with a PVC pipe, let alone throw serious weight.  The downside of a WOD, is that it is the expression of movements that each of us should be competent in before we add load or even consider Rx.

Rule of Thumb:  If I cannot execute the lift effectively with a PVC bar, I am not ready to WOD/Met-con with any additional weight.  

A Crossfit workout is the result of effective, repetitive, consistent, methodical, deliberate and exhaustive practice of the pillars of elite training.  We don’t WOD to get better at these movements, we WOD to use these movements as utility in metabolic conditioning.  We come to WOD because it is fast paced, competitive and interesting.  We ignore the fundamentals because they are dull, repetitive and boring.   Can you now see why we see such heinous images of people attempting a WOD before they have demonstrated competence in these movements?  (If you question this just type Crossfit into YouTube and brace yourself)

Here is your take home assignment:  

1. Write down the lifts/movements that you cannot demonstrate competency.  Write down the answer of this question under that list:  How many minutes have I deliberately trained these movements in the past week?

2. Present this list to your coach at The Arsenal.  We will then prescribe a training plan to build your competence in those lifts/movements.

We will not get better and remain healthy if we do not demonstrate competent execution of these lifts/movements every day, every WOD, all the time at The Arsenal.  For those nursing injuries, ask yourself, what is the likelihood that I was executing the lift/movement effectively?  If you have even a question about your confidence, ask a coach to put eyes on your lift.  That is why we are here.

The good news is that we are getting significantly better as group, but there are a percentage of us whose egos and concern about appearance are getting in the way of competence in the pillars of elite training.

Ask yourself:  Am I that person?

Conviction. Obsession? Why is CrossFit worth it?

The Arsenal Coaching Staff and Scooby; Photo: Lorri Markum

Your Coaching Team

The Arsenal family (everyone associated with us) is a group that boldly states conviction (A firmly held belief or opinion) that hard work, community, sacrifice, encouragement, accountability, and genuinely caring about the person next to you matter.  That conviction is sometimes called obsession by others.  I really cannot fault them.  Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated, and dedicated is indeed what our members are.

Why do I bring this up in a post to you all?  Because you need to know how much you motivate the team of trainers at The Arsenal, and know that you matter.  We take personal responsibility in ensuring each and every member’s needs are being met and that they are advancing.   I also bring this up because of our Guiding Principles which are displayed below:

Guiding Principles of The Arsenal Image You’ll notice that it spells L.D.R.S.H.I.P (Leadership).  We feel these principles are worthy of conviction, even obsession if you don’t mind the word.  We feel this way because our community of members is worth it.  Worth the effort to be all these things everyday in the WOD (Workout of the Day) or away from The Arsenal.  We are a family and every family stands for something.

Those who have invested time, money, blood, sweat and even a few tears with us:  WE HONOR YOU.  We are here to tirelessly serve you and be the example you deserve.  An investment in this family is expensive.  It’s expensive because it costs you a hell of a lot more than money.  It makes you commit, be held accountable, work hard as hell, show up and be there for your team.

Like it or not, you matter at The Arsenal, and that is a responsibility that some are not ready for.

In addition to the Guiding Principles being demonstrated, what do you get for your time, money and commitment at The Arsenal:

1. World Class Programming

2. Instruction/Coaching

3. Community

4. Accountability

5. Safety

If you have any question about the capacity of The Arsenal team to produce these day in and day out for you, please find one of our members and ask them.  We obsess as a team of trainers on all 5 points above, because again, you deserve nothing less from us.

Please share this message with anyone you feel has the courage to attack the negative habits in her/his life and is ready for a challenge that will demand the absolute best they have, every time.  If you’ve stumbled upon this note and have never met one of our amazing members or have not visited our site, please sign up for a “free trial” and meet us all.  We love new people, we love answering questions and we love working side-by-side with someone trying CrossFit for the first time.

Try us out:  FREE CROSSFIT WORKOUT (WOD) click on any date/time and select “free trial” to sign up.

Healthcare costs, CrossFit and YOU

What jumps out at you from the following infographic from the Harvard Business Review discussing the sentiment about future costs and quality of healthcare in the United States?

Harvard Biz healthcare graphic

What is obvious is that we are not optimistic, and we are all at risk.  The question remains, what can I do about it?  The answer maybe a little more straightforward than many of us are prepared to accept.

1. Diet:  We decide each day what we put into our bodies.  We decide the quality and volume of the foods we consume.  The vast majority of American’s diets are overrun with sugars and an abundance of carbohydrates that lead to morbidity and mortality.  (IE: the length and quality of your life diminish rapidly).  This is a quote from Ali Mokdad, a scientist working on a team studying the state of U.S. health:

Scientists were expecting tobacco and high blood pressure to continue to be the usual suspects, Mokdad said. Instead, tobacco ranked second, followed by obesity, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose level and physical inactivity or low activity.

“What we eat, what we put in our mouth is the major cause of morbidity and mortality,” Mokdad said. “It makes sense. For us to be able to document it and to go back in (the) past and show how this has been changing over the past two decades is very powerful.”

2. Activity: Our ancestors would be embarrassed by our lack of functional activity day-to-day, and by ancestors I’m speaking of the pre-modern civilization variety.  Our activity level does not include even the bare minimum of variety, intensity and functional movement our bodies were designed for and NEED to maintain fitness and overall health.  We have lowered the bar to vigorous walking, jogging or even taking the stairs at work as a substitute for the type of rigor we were created for.  Now add this quote from Dr. Mike Ray, a practicing physician in Arizona, has been the medical director of the CrossFit Games since 2008:

“That’s the biggest thing: I think maybe some
of this is because one of the biggest issues we need to
address in medicine is there’s so much of a focus on
treating sickness as opposed to actively promoting health.”

We were made for rigor and work, and sitting at a desk and driving is not rigor.  We simply were not built to be still and latent day-to-day.  We were built to move, a lot!

3. Lifestyle:  This is the catch all that we have control over, but neglect as products of our environment.  In America we celebrate a culture of consumerism and abundance, and we (the collective we) despise rising healthcare costs and the lack of innovation in drugs and surgical interventions to heal our wrecked bodies.  In most cases, we should look in the mirror to find the culprit for our high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and respiratory problems to name only a few.  We can take control of our own healthcare costs, by simply taking control of our maintenance at home and in our typical day.

Sounds simple, but I’m really busy and I have to work tons of hours and I have 4 kids, and, and, and….  OK, I get it, but remember your excuses when your doctor shares the “not so good” news with you about your health and you’re now on diabetes meds for the rest of your life.  Here is a simple guide to follow that will work, if you do it!

Diet:  From the same study above by Ali Mokdad,

“The most important dietary risks in the United States are
diets low in fruits, low in nuts and seeds, high in sodium,
high in processed meats, low in vegetables, and high in
trans fats,”

So, eat meats, vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruits, little starch and no sugar.  There, simple.  Or, just try to shop on the outside perimeter of the grocery store, this is where all of those food items are located.

Activity/Lifestyle:  Go today to your nearest CrossFit box (CrossFit gym/facility) and sign up for a free trial, they all have these.  Describe your current situation to the CrossFit trainer at the session.  Then, sign up for one full year committing to 3+ CrossFit WOD’s (workouts of the day) per week.  Most boxes have times as early as 6 AM and as late as 7 PM or later.  Most boxes have some form of childcare should you need it.  Most boxes can even accommodate those with irregular work schedules.  CrossFit is a program prescribes constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.  These are universal motor recruitment patterns, or using multi-joint movements, we are built for.  The programming, coaching, and community provide a level of consistency, safety and accountability that will not only impress you, but will change your life.

These behavior changes are not impossible or out of your reach, however the medicine and surgical interventions you may need in the future without the proper diet, activity level and lifestyle may be well outside of your means.  Think about how the decisions you make today are going to impact tomorrow, and think about your quality of life now and what you wish it to be.  We at The Arsenal are built, staffed, educated and fully equipped to be your guides, coaches and accountability partners on this journey.  Wherever you are in terms of sickness, wellness or fitness we can accelerate your results and empower you.  Come by today to learn more about all the above and if joining at The Arsenal is right for you.

Is CrossFit for me?

As we at The Arsenal have been engaging the community of Muncie, the most common question we get asked is, “Is CrossFit for me?” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t; let’s start with a few facts to see if CrossFit is a good match for you.

CrossFit prescription is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.”  (The CrossFit Training Guide) Functional movement are compound multi-joint movements that most of us need to do everyday in most activities.  So, if you do fixed movements in your day to day activities and in your sports, then maybe a different program is better suited for you.

“The CrossFit Program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks.  Our athletes are trained to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges.  This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, firefighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess.”  (The CrossFit Training Guide) If you would like a mind, emotions and body disciplined for diverse and randomized challenges, then CrossFit is for you.

…at CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions… Why?  Because compound or functional movements and high intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result.  Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid irrefutable scientific fact and yet the marginally effective old ways persist and are nearly universal.” (The CrossFit Training Guide) In this case, I think you know if CrossFit is for you.  If you don’t buy into hype, then buy into hard research and scientific fact that is the foundation of CrossFit.

The above excerpts are quotes from The CrossFit Training Guide which is a prerequisite for all our CrossFit Level 1 certified trainers.  We direct the most effective, safe and productive training environment there is.  We never leave our athletes (8-85 years old) on an island without a coach.  We tailor each day’s programming to the group of 5-15 people who are in that particular WOD (Workout of the Day; 1 hour or less CrossFit training session).  There are few humans who are incapable of CrossFit training, unless in their heart and mind they have self-diagnosed that the training is not for them.  I used two key words that define a CrossFit Athlete HEART and MIND.  That is of the utmost importance, because at The Arsenal you will find athletes of all shapes, sizes, ages and ability levels.  The one common value in our community is those two powerful words.

Take a moment to schedule yourself into a FREE CrossFit WOD today, our schedule link is right above and you’ll be able to participate and see for yourself.

Where Should I Begin?

Confusing Sign

Starting a new training regimen or returning to training can be a scary thought, but as we said before, fear is a liar.

After a long break from training or when starting to train for the first time, many athletes have a hard time knowing how to start while avoiding injury or excessive soreness.  Breaks from training greater than six months can lead to significant detraining and muscle loss as well as weight-gain due to accumulation of fat.  Many times athletes try to regain their lost muscle mass and shed their gained fat tissue by diving back into the training regimen they had just before their break.  Most often this leads to injury; physical, psychological and metabolic.

You can’t rush perfection

Drastic changes in physical activity and diet tend to be temporary or very difficult to maintain for more than a couple of weeks.  After that, most people will either take a break and then try again with the same methods (yo-yo effect,) fall off the wagon completely or become injured and end up worse off than they were when they started their new program.  As if that weren’t enough, during a long break most people fall into a daily routine that doesn’t include training or thoughtful food preparation, making it difficult to re-establish an effective training and diet regimen.  Many of the small things that make a rigorous training program effective such as adequate sleep, nutritious diet, consistent training and deliberate recovery are overlooked in favor of overtraining and starvation diets in order to see results quickly and regain the physique, strength, stamina, and overall good health and fitness of their previous diet and training program.

The process of change

As with any lifestyle change, including long breaks in training, the effects of the change take place gradually.  Generally, when training is concerned, it takes about six months for new or replacement behaviors to become habits.  This means that it will take about that long before you can really call a new behavior or state (i.e. training, nutrition, sleep patterns, and metabolic homeostasis) integrated into your lifestyle.  This has less to do with physical adaptations, and more to do with psychological ones.   Enter – The Transtheoretical Model.

The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change (TTM,) better known as the Stages of Change, provides five benchmarks or “stages,” by which we achieve sustainable behavior change.  I will discuss the TTM in greater detail in a later article, but for now it is important to know that changing your lifestyle, (i.e. the collection of behaviors and beliefs that make up your daily living experience,) is a process and not an event.  Therefore, the most effective approach to change is a procedural one.  Gradually introducing or reintroducing behaviors that are consistent with your desired lifestyle will increase adherence, decrease change-related anxiety, allow for the behaviors to be adequately reinforced, and ultimately lead to a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle of fitness.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Set Goals.

Setting realistic, challenging, and achievable goals is undoubtedly the most effective strategy for any change.  It is hard to figure out how to go from here to there without knowing where “there” is, or how to get “there.”  Effective goal setting takes some time and deliberate thought but is well worth the effort.  People who set goals are nearly twice as effective at achieving them, and nearly three times as likely to maintain the changes made as a result of their goal achievements!  That’s a figure too significant to ignore!

2. Write it down.

Awareness of your behavior is the first step toward changing it.  Documenting your food and drink intake, bedtime and hours of sleep, training activities, and any other aspect of your lifestyle is vital to identifying the patterns that already exist in your daily routine.  For instance, on days when I go to bed before 11pm, I generally eat 250-350 fewer calories because I am asleep when I would otherwise be eating a late-night snack.  Over the course of a week, that adds up to 1750-2450 calories.  After a month of going to bed at 10:30pm, I may save myself from consuming up to 10,500 calories, that’s the amount of energy in 3 pounds of fat!

3. Reinforce.

Giving yourself a reward for consistently adhering to your goals and tracking your progress will help motivate you to keep going.  Pick some activity or item you want or like to do and make it a reward for consistency.  However, in order for you to get your reward your behavior must be consistent with your goals, otherwise it will lose its effectiveness.  Take as many opportunities to reinforce your good behavior as possible.  For example, use a reinforcement statement like this; “For every meal I meet my dietary goals, I will read a chapter in my favorite book.”  Or this statement that adds the element of accountability; “Every week I don’t miss a workout or cut any of my workouts short, I will go to a movie with my spouse.”

At the heart of the matter of change is a gradual and consistently progressive approach through goal setting, documentation and reinforcement.  Whether you are just starting out as a beginner, or getting back into training after a long break, with these tools you will be back in the training saddle in no time.