My dad's painful knees & why he fell in love with CrossFit®
from Ben Dziwulski WOD Prep
"Snap, crackle, pop."
That’s the sound of my dad, Tom, walking around our house.
Several years ago, Tom had knee surgery to clean up some scar tissue. After years of playing competitive sports (wrestling, football, softball), he felt really banged up and decided to get surgical intervention to make the pain go away.
The only problem: the surgery didn’t really eliminate the pain, at least not for long. At first, everything felt fine, but once he started trying to run/walk for exercise, he would always feel the pain flare up again. I was trying to get him into CrossFit® (having just opened my own affiliate) but he wanted nothing to do with it. He was afraid to get hurt.
He was exposed to the common, "My ____ hurts, please help!" response that doctors tend to give:
"Get some rest and here’s some pain meds. If it doesn’t go away - we’ll get an MRI and see if you need surgery again."
Luckily, around the time my dad was struggling with this pain, I had just completed my CF-L2 course, and I had a few words of wisdom for him:
"Hey dad, you should try some air squats."
At first, he was reluctant to take my 23 year-old-and-absolutely-not-a-doctor advice: "Ben, I don’t think you understand, my knee hurts! If I squat, especially below parallel, that’s going to make everything worse."
But, knowing my dad is a huuuuge fan of analogies, I responded with this:
"Your knee is like a door hinge. Sometimes it squeaks, sometimes it feels stuck, but when it was brand new it worked perfectly fine. What’s the worst thing you can possibly do for a door hinge, especially an older one?"
"Uhh... put superglue in it? Bash it with a hammer?", he said with a sarcastic grin.
"No - the worst thing you can do for a door hinge is to leave it alone, to never use it, to let it rust and seize up."
"Hmmm," he groaned, giving me a suspicious look.
"So if you don’t squat, if you don’t take your knee through it’s full range of motion, it’s only going to make things worse. Just like a rusty door hinge, the best way to unfreeze your knee is to get it moving!"
He liked the analogy, and then launched into a lecture about how WD-40 breaks up rust and helps prevent further oxidation… blah blah blah.
Long story short, here’s what I programmed for him....
Every morning while he was waiting for his coffee to brew, he did this:
- 20 Push-ups
- 20 Abmat Sit-ups
- 20 Air Squats (as low as possible without pain)
A few weeks later, my dad came back to me and said,
"You know, my knees haven’t felt this great in years. I’m still popping and cracking, but the pain is gone and the squats are actually getting easier!"
Here we are, nearly 5 years later. My dad and I just did a workout together and he was knocking out hang snatches (with a full squat), like a champ.
Pretty crazy how one small "win", like using air squats to treat knee pain can translate to a complete shift in mindset.
My dad loves CrossFit® now, gets psyched about the Open, and his favorite workout BY FAR is a "Half Murph", which he does at least two times a month.
So… what’s the lesson here?
Movement is the key. Movement changes everything.
Movement inspired my dad to fall in love with CrossFit®. Movement helped him develop a simple morning routine that keeps his knee pain-free. Movement prevented both a trip back to the doctor and potential surgery.
It’s all about movement.
Turns out, my 23-year-old-not-a-doctor self was actually onto something….
I didn’t know it at the time, but loads of scientific literature has pointed to "dynamic range of motion" as a major key to alleviating pain and increasing mobility.
Here’s what Dr. CJ DePalma, WODprep Coach and owner of "The Movement Dr." has to say:
"If you want to squat better and be more comfortable, then you should sit in a squat for minutes a day. If you want to be more comfortable overhead with weight, then hold weight over your head. If we add load and movement to it, research shows our body will adapt faster and we will increase strength simultaneously. This is better than static stretching and/or complete rest - which is shown to decrease strength acutely. The bottom line is this: movement is better!"
CF231 is closed today.......Enjoy time with Family and Friends
Coach Anna will be conducting her Olympic lifting classes on Sunday's @7:30 am beginning June 24th. Come and be coached on the finer details of Olympic lifting by CF231's certified coach. All members are welcome to attend.
On Wednesday CF231 was honored to host the Murphy Challenge for the USNSCC Cadets (Lt. Michael Murphy's Division). The 20+ cadets began the evening with some inspiration words by Dan Murphy (Michael Murphys father) followed by special encouragement from their unit commander. After a some instruction on the movements and a warm-up the cadets began their workout in honor of fallen hero Lt. Michael Murphy.
This workout featured an 800m run 50 pull-ups, 100 push ups and 150 air squats and a workout ending 800m run. The cadets pushed through the "Murph" as parents and CF231 members looked on. There was a special energy in the gym that night as cadets cheered each other on throughout the work-put.
A Special thank you to CF231 members Steve and Gina Horowitz for organizing the event. Congratulations to all the cadets for a job well done.
On Saturday at CF231 over 75 members, family, and friends came together for the “MURPH CHALLENGE”.
The morning began with the inspirational comments by Dan Murphy, the father of US Navy Seal LT Michael Murphy. After Mr. Murphy’s comments the athletes watched a short inspirational video on the courageous efforts of Michael Murphy during Operation Redwings in 2005, which earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. After the comments, the video, and the viewing of the Congressional Medal of Honor, CF231 athletes strapped on their wristbands, adjusted their knee sleeves, chalked up and began their tribute to the memory of LT Michael Murphy (USN).
We at CF231 were honored to have Mr. Dan Murphy kick off this year’s event, which he has graciously done for us the last three years.
Congratulations to all who participated in this "Very Special" Crossfit Event
Lets look at a comparison between the Rower and Skier.
The Rower is lower extremity dominate, has a dynamic hip opening and activates the posterior chain.
The Skier is the opposite upper extremity dominate, has a dynamic hip closing and activates the anterior chain .
These 2 machines compliment each other and in combination can give you a great workout opotion.
If you are planning on using the Ski Erg at open gym here are three beginning suggested workouts.........
Check out the Concept 2 technique video @
Go to technique video on the sidebar
Resist the temptation to ski for too long the first time on the machine—we recommend starting with no more than 3–5 minutes at a time. We also recommend starting with the double-pole technique as it uses more muscle groups and gives you a great overall workout. After 3–5 minutes, take a break to stretch and walk around. If you feel good, do up to four of these short intervals of skiing.
Begin experimenting with cadence and power. Cadence is displayed in strokes per minute (spm) in the upper right corner of the Performance Monitor. Power is how hard you are pulling. It is displayed in a choice of units in the central display area: watts, calories, or pace. Try some 3 minute intervals of skiing, varying your cadence and pace, as described below.
- 3 minutes at 35 spm, comfortable effort; 1 min rest
- 3 minutes at 40 spm, harder effort; 1 min rest
- 3 minutes at 42 spm comfortable; 1 min rest
- 3 minutes at 44 spm, harder effort; 3 min rest.
- End with 10 minutes of steady state skiing at your choice of power and stroke rate. Make note of what pace you settle on, because you will use it in your next workout.
This workout introduces longer skiing with cadence variation.
- Do four 5 minutes pieces, varying the cadence rate as noted below. Try to ski at a pace that is a faster than your 10 minute pace from Workout 2.
- 35 spm for the first 2 minutes
- 40 spm for the next 2 minutes
- 45 spm for the last minute
- Rest: ski very easily for 2 minutes before starting the next 5 minute piece.
This workout focuses on longer, steady skiing.
- Do two 10 minute pieces with 3 minutes rest in between. Try to go a little faster than you did for the 10 minute piece in Workout 2. Your stroke rate should be between 40–45 spm.
This workout features short intervals for variety. This is the workout to see how fast a pace you can achieve.
- Ski 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy for a total of 20 minutes. Watch the central display for your pace. Aim for a cadence of 40–45 spm. Record your pace after the workout using the recall/memory function on the Performance Monitor.
Once you complete Workout 5, do a benchmark piece of 30 minutes nonstop. Record your total meters, and repeat this workout every few weeks to see how you are progressing. You can also enter it in the Concept2 Online Ranking!
To all our Athletes who participated in our
CF231 Winter Classic Competition
1st Place Larry Biello
2nd Place Jimmy Bozza
3rd Place Kevin Egan
1st Place Lauren Cohen
2nd Place Jacqueline Hartman
3rd Place Toni Milito
1st Place Deb Stehlik
2nd Place Robyn Silvestri
3rd Place Shannon Bedell
1st Place Coach "B" (not pictured)
2nd Place Anthony Brandofino
Here is an excellent video showing the crossover symmetry activation movements. Hope you try the system out... it will make a difference in your flexibility and overall shoulder health....
Lets talk about the 2017 Open…..
To begin we are very excited that so many of our members have registered for this years CrossFit Open. This will certainly be a test of your strength, stamina and mental toughness. It will be exciting to see you compete alongside your “Box-mates” over the next 5 weeks.
Here is some information moving forward.
· The Open class schedule for judging is posted on Wodify and Facebook.
· Keep in mind you will need to get to the gym a little earlier then usual so you can get a quality warm-up. However, be aware as to not become a distraction to the existing class.
· The workouts are posted @ 8pm Thursdays for that week (crossfit.com) There is a live stream of the workout between 2 games athlete each Thursday.
· Workouts are designed to test your fitness. There will be amraps, rft, chippers, strength components. The wod could be 4-6 min 9-14 min, or 20+ min no telling.
· Expect the unexpected.
· Each RX workout will have the following designations
o Individual Men
o Individual Women
o Masters Men 35+
o Masters Women 35+
o Teenage Division
· The weights and movements may vary for each division
· In addition, there are variations referred to as “scaled”. Here weights and movements are adjusted so athletes with various fitness levels and abilities may participate.
· You may choose to go RX or Scaled with each workout. If you are comfortable with the weights and movements you may consider going RX, if you have trouble with any component in the RX workout you should consider going “scaled”.
· You are not locked in to a category. You can RX week 1 Scale week 2……etc
· If you go scaled your score will be adjusted against the Rx athletes for that workout.
· You have until Monday evening to complete and post your workout time
· You may redo any workout before the deadline and resubmit (not recommended)
So what happens on your “Open” Workout Day.
· Look over the wod prior to your workout, decide on rx or scaled. You can discuss this with a coach prior if you wish.
· Arrive 10-15 mins early and begin to warm-up, a run/stretch. Once the prior class is over you will have access to the gym and equipment.
· Begin by warming up for the wod (especially the movements).
· You will be assigned a judge and a heat. This is dependent on the number of judges available, amount of equipment being used and safety considerations.
· Once you have completed the workout you have until Monday evening to post your score on Crossfit.com
· You are responsible for posting your score not the judge. The judge will validate your score with CrossFit.
· You can view your position on the leaderboard located on crossfit.com.
Once we have the workouts we will offer specific strategies regarding the work out.
If you have any questions post it on the forum or speak with a coach at the gym……………………
We are excited for you………………..
Good Luck, Have Fun, Enjoy the Open
Yoga this Sunday @ 11:30 am with Sydney
The CrossFit dietary prescription is as follows:
• Protein should be lean and varied and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
• Carbohydrates should be predominantly low- glycemic and account for about 40% of your total caloric load.
• Fat should be from whole food sources and account for about 30% of your total caloric load.
Total calories should be based on protein needs, which should be set at between 0.7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass (depending on your activity level). The 0.7 figure is for moderate daily workout loads and the 1.0 figure is for the hardcore athlete.
What Should I Eat?
In plain language, base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, meats, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar. That is about as simple as we can get. Many have observed that keeping your grocery cart to the perimeter of the grocery store while avoiding the aisles is a great way to protect your health. Food is perishable. The stuff with long shelf life is all circumspect. If you follow these simple guidelines you will benefit from nearly all that can be achieved through nutrition.
The Caveman Or Paleolithic Model For Nutrition
Modern diets are ill suited for our genetic composition. Evolution has not kept pace with advances in agriculture and food processing, resulting in a plague of health problems for modern man. Coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, and psychological dysfunction have all been scientifically linked to a diet too high in refined or processed carbohydrate. The Caveman model is perfectly consistent with CrossFit’s prescription.
What Foods Should I Avoid?
Excessive consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates is the primary culprit in nutritionally caused health problems. High-glycemic carbohydrates are those that raise blood sugar too rapidly. They include rice, bread, candy, potato, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbohydrates. Processing can include bleaching, baking, grinding, and refining. Processing of carbohydrates greatly increases their Glycemic Index, a measure of their propensity to elevate blood sugar.
Benefits of Yoga for CrossFit Athletes
Yoga is a perfect complement to the sport of CrossFit and can benefit athletes of all disciplines, genders, ages and abilities.
When you get into the fitness habit of taking a yoga class designed with the athlete in mind, it will force you to slow down and pay attention to the body you bring into all of your activities.
You’ll be given cues to correct your biomechanics and opportunities to create muscular strength, endurance and flexibility in desirable ranges of motion. This will translate into WOD success naturally as time progresses.
Adding yoga as a complement to your CrossFit WODs can help in a multitude of ways. All you have to do is Google “yoga benefits” to find a long list of reasons why you should include it in your training regime. Some of these benefits include:
- improved joint biomechanics
- conserved energy
- improved strength, endurance and flexibility
- better breathing functioning
- better balance and coordination
- enhanced body awareness (kinesthesia)
- improved mental focus and control
- reduced stress, anxiety, depression and pain
- improved self esteem
- elevated mood
- reduced potential for injury and overuse
- enhanced recovery
- strengthened core stabilizing muscles
- improved posture
- better lymph drainage
- boosted immunity
Yoga can give a CrossFit athlete the opportunity to work on the areas they’re weakest in and can help restore and correct muscle and joint imbalances caused by everyday bad posture habits and poor motor patterns. With time, patience and practice, you can be sure to see a multitude of improvements that transcend yoga exhibited directly in your CrossFit
One of the most common Crossfit questions is how often should I train?
The short answer.....Start with the crossfit.com 3-on/1-off standard and adjust from there. This formula is not right for everyone. Generally, train 4 or 5 days per week. Try not to train more than 3 days consecutively or less than 2 days consecutively.
If you go more than 3 days on then realize your intensity will suffer. However, you may notice some people in the gym going 5 consecutive days during the work week and then take the weekend off. This is not ideal and is generally is a product of commitments eliminating weekend training. . These individuals are encouraged to place an "active" rest day somewhere in the week. Above all, listen to your body, but be aware that you must work through soreness and fatigue. However, never work through pain, especially acute pain.
Making a decision regarding a training schedule usually involves a number of factors. What are your goals, what are the intensity training levels, your rest pattern, nutrition, existing fitness levels and your daily or weekly schedule.
These factors vary with each athlete, speak with your coaches to find out what might be the best training schedule for you. We want you to train hard but not overtrain which may lead to injury.
Crossfit Q&A Forum
This group will be for CF 231 members only. In this forum you will be able to ask questions of the coaches on fitness ,nutrition, programming. You may post information or videos regarding Crossfit which you feel may help fellow CF members. In late January you may want to post recipes (paleo challenge starting soon). Start a conversation which may benefit our CF231 community. We do reserve the right to remove posts which are inappropriate for the forum. Go to Facebook groups where you will find CF 231 Q&A Forum request to be added to the group.
Step #1: Be Honest with Yourself
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to goal setting.
Your goals need to be realistic and specific.
An unrealistic goal is the quickest way to get frustrated and eventually give up. You’ll have no way of knowing if you’ve achieved a vague goal, which will also lead to frustration.
Try setting realistic goals like these:
· I want to get a 3-5 strict pull ups.
· I want to be able to do 30 consecutive DU’s
· I want to reduce my body fat by 5 percent
· I want to do handstand push ups, climb the rope etc…………..
Once you have achievable and clearly defined goals, work backwards to break each goal down into smaller monthly goals that can be easily measured.
For example, if I want to add 50 pounds to my squat in 2017, my micro goal should be to add at least four pounds every month in order to hit 50 by December.
Attend open gym sessions where you can work on skills, mobility or strength.
If you want to make fitness a habit that sticks, start by setting attainable goals.
Step #2: Visualize Your Success
A powerful tool you can use to achieve your fitness goals is visualization.
Michael Phelps famously used this technique during his Olympic training. His coach, Bob Bowman, told Michael to “play the videotape” every night before he went to bed.
The videotape was Michael’s visualization of him swimming the perfect race. The moves he saw in his head came second nature to him when he entered the pool.
Michael’s 28 Olympic medals are a testament to the power of visualization in achieving goals.
You should also visualize your next lift when you’re working out. Focus on proper technique and envision yourself completing the number of reps you’re targeting.
During a WOD focus on “keep moving”. Visualize your body moving methodically through the work out. You do not have to race through the workout. Pace yourself. Try not to take long rest periods. Break the reps up. Its better to reduce the rep number rather than to take 10-15 seconds of rest.
The issue is heart rate. If you take long rest period heart rate drops off significantly in conditioned athletes. You want to maintain elevated heart rate or what we refer to as “Target heart rate”” during the metcon.
Step #3: Stick to the Program
Whatever you do at CF231 you need to include at least three classes per week. If you are attending more often, think of 3 days on 1 day off or 5 days on 2 days off. This will give your body ample rest time.
If you want to increase the chances you’ll stick to your program, schedule your workouts in your calendar, whether that means a physical planner or in your phone.
Step #4: Start Building Habits
Charles Duhigg wrote an excellent book called The Power of Habit in which he explained that habits are comprised of three main parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward.
· The cue is the trigger that starts your habit. New Year’s can act as a fitness cue, as can the calendar reminders on your phone.
· The routine is you going to the gym 3-5 times a week.
· The reward is the benefit you receive from taking that action.
It is important to recognize this sequence or loop in which habits are built and ensure that your system includes all 3 elements, including the reward.
A small reward I enjoy is eating a Quest Nutrition bar (the Costco brand) as my treat after working out. You need to find your own small reward—it will create a positive feedback loop and reinforce your new routine.
Once you start implementing habit-forming into your system, exercise will eventually become a part of your life just like brushing your teeth or going to work.
A lot of people don’t dissect their fitness plan down to this level, but systems and habits are essential to achieving the specific goals you’ve set. Whatever new habits you need to form, my advice is to start working on them right now! If you’re not fired up and ready to kick ass at the outset, fitness is not for you.
Step #5: Track Your Data
For your system to work, you need to provide it with constant feed
Log into Wodify immediately after class. Do not omit this step. Don’t count on yourself to remember them week to week because you’ll almost certainly forget. Tracking your data helps you gauge whether your system is working by marking your progress towards your monthly and overall goals. This is where having smaller monthly goals comes in handy. But you can’t mark that progress or gauge your success unless you’re tracking your data.
Step #6: Find External Accountability
· Find a friend who shares your fitness goal and commit to working out together.
· Take a “before” photo and compare it against progress photos you take every 3-4 weeks.
· Post about your fitness journey online so others can see your commitment. You can find support in the CF 231 Q&A Forum.
· Social media platforms and fitness websites are home to tons of people going through the same struggles as you. Join a network and encourage each other.
Whatever you choose, external accountability makes achieving your fitness goals much easier.
Step #7: Iterate Your Plan (Repeat)
Achieving your fitness goal is not a simple one year endeavor you’re undertaking starting January 1, after which you can coast the rest of your life.
Fitness is a journey you’re undertaking for the rest of your life. As such, your systems and habits will change as your body changes and your current setup loses its effectiveness.
Flexibility is key to fitness. You need to be nimble and able to adapt quickly.
Let’s say you outlast the New Year’s crowd and chug along until April, at which point life gets in the way and you fall off the fitness wagon. At that point, it’d be easy to quit for good.
But rather than throwing in the towel, adapt your system to suit where your life is now.
The same truth applies when you reach the other side of your fitness goal. What are you supposed to do now that you’ve reached your personal mountaintop?
You simply start this process all over again with a new goal in mind.
Whatever issue you’re facing, find the holes in your system and patch them. If you need to work out at a different time, switch times. If you need a new accountability partner, find one.
Step #7: Nutrition
Nutrition is equally as important as exercise when thinking of “Optimal Wellness”
During the month of January we will be introducing the Paleo Plan. This nutrition piece will enhance the way you feel and perform.