A Primer on Protein Shakes

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Today we’re going to go into some geeky detail about how to get enough protein, and where to get it from. 

I wrote a post last year about the basics of whole food protein, so if you're interested in that, most of it holds up still. 

Let’s talk about the king of supplements: the protein shake. 

What it is: 

Protein powders are a concentrated form of dietary protein used to supplement one’s protein intake for one purpose or another. They come from all sorts of sources: 

  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Rice
  • Egg
  • Beef
  • Hemp
  • Peas

And some other strange place like artichokes. It needs to have a high amount of protein when isolated and powdered. It’s common to find protein powders fortified with other vitamins, minerals, or performance enhancing agents (not to mention flavors). They are almost always highly processed and refined so they don’t spoil after an hour on the shelf. 

The idea is to have a fast, portable, and (lastly, apparently) tasty way to increase your protein intake.  

When to use protein shakes

The most common reason you’ll see people in the gym using protein shakes is to recover from their workouts and get protein in their system quickly post-WOD. Exercise, especially weight training, is about creating a stress and recovering from that stress. Protein intake needs to be adequate in order to experience the full benefits from a training program. 

For those in our 6-Week Challenge program, we use protein shakes as a way to increase protein intake without adding other non-protein calories from sugar or fat. That allows us to be precise with our short-term goal tracking. 

Some people will use a protein shake as a meal-replacement to minimize overall calories. This can work, but I usually don’t recommend it, as the meal satisfaction is usually low which I’ve found increases likelihood of falling off the wagon. 

Window of gains? 

Some people say that you need to chug protein immediately after you stop training in order to experience the most gains during the so-called “anabolic window” where muscle is most rapidly built. True or false? 

Both. 

A review that looked at a collection of protein intake studies found that there was no correlation between protein timing and muscle growth within 4-6 hours post-workout. The clock doesn’t tick down  quickly before you turn into a scrawny pumpkin 30 minutes post workout. The most important factor for overall muscle building is the total daily protein intake. 

However, Just because it’s acceptable to wait before eating your post-workout protein doesn’t mean it’s optimal. Especially if you’re trying to maximize your performance in the gym or on the field. Those studies isolated protein intake and not overall post-workout nutrition.

Post-workout, you have a couple of things working in your favor. Your body will be looking to repair itself. Everything will be flowing faster, and it’ll be trying to grab raw materials. So by flooding the bloodstream with glucose and amino acids, we can make the repair process start faster and take advantage of some efficiency boosts from the training session. 

A great post-workout shake should be taken soon after exercise (wait until after you are cooled-down and your mobility work is done), and will include protein and carbohydrates. When we’re talking about CrossFit, we’re talking about glycogen (stored carbs) metabolism, which is most effectively replenished immediately after setting the weights down. 

In short: if you want to lose weight or stay optimally healthy, don’t sweat the post-workout shake if you don’t want to (better yet, just use BCAAs instead). If you want to breathe fire and get the most out of your training, shake it up fast. 

What’s the best protein? 

We evaluate protein “goodness” from a few factors. We want it to be protein-dense, low in carbs (we’d be adding those in ourselves if we wanted them for post-workout purposes), and easily available. 

Again, it seems taste is often forgotten. 

Generally, we digest and absorb a higher percentage of the protein in powders based on animal protein sources (whey, egg, beef, etc.) than we do from plant sources, but fortifications to the plant products often make them competitive. Beyond that, there are different methods of distilling the protein compounds from each source that make them more or less digestible or, mostly, expensive. Whey protein can be concentrated, isolated, hydrolyzed, or ionized, for example, and there are marginal differences to each process. If you’re going with whey,  

The main protein we carry right now at CFGE is rice-based. In my anecdotal experience, it has been just as effective as other powders, but it is really clean. I’ve never had issues digesting it, even on my worst days. At best you could describe my digestion as “fragile."

How much do I need? 

Most people training at the level we do need about .7g of protein per pound of bodyweight (140g/day for a 200lb person). That is total daily intake at the low level. For those of us trying to add muscle aggressively or improve performance, shoot for 1g per pound of bodyweight. If you’re sedentary (first of all, shame), shoot for at least .7g, and don’t do any supplemental carbs on top of your normal intake. 

Post workout, you want enough to jumpstart the process known as protein synthesis. This is your body working to take proteins and amino acids and put them to work, and it occurs when you’re recovering from training or when you consume a sufficient amount of protein. After a workout, start with about 20g protein for women, 30g for men to recover. If you’re in the camp that needs carbs as well, to hit a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein (40g carbs, 20g protein for ladies, and 60:30 for guys).

Those recommendations are pretty standard across sports science when it comes to high intensity weight or anaerobic training sessions, or long aerobic sessions. If you don’t hit it that hard, peel back on the carbs. You have to earn them. 

Other concerns: 

A lot of proteins are created from some of the most common allergens: eggs, milk, soy, beef, etc. It’s one of the reasons we carry rice protein as our primary option. If you have a dairy allergy or are lactose intolerant, you still might be able to consume whey protein in a clean hydrolyzed or ionized form, as most of the lactose and other milk solids have been filtered out. Then again, you might not. 

If you’re looking for optimal health instead of peak performance, you may want to temper your shake-chugging a bit. Post-workout nutrition is great, and we can get a ton of “gainz” by taking advantage of the anabolic window. But after a high-intensity training session, you’re firmly in sympathetic nervous system response (fight-or-flight), which optimizes your body’s functions towards survival mechanisms. That means digestion is not going to be as smooth. That is mitigated by fast-digesting powders and sugars, but peak health might better be achieved by postponing the post-workout shake by 15-30 minutes when you’ve activated the parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) nervous system. Just something I’m playing around with. 

Hope you enjoyed your primer on all things protein. Thanks to Katie M. from CFGE for the question. 

If you have questions, ask away.

As a bonus, I’ve made this handy infographic for you to figure out where you might see the most benefit from today’s topic. 

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Our Second Nutrition Habit is Still Not About What To Eat.

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Note: this habit is most useful when trying to lose or maintain your weight. If you’re bulking, this is a good thing to keep in your back pocket for cutting season. 

You don't need to count calories to lose weight. 

Don’t get me wrong, we can be extremely precise with your nutrition. We can count macros and calories and bust out your ten-decimal scale to get to that 6-pack. 

Or we could just do this thing and call it good, getting 95% of those labor-intensive methods' results.

The second nutrition habit we teach at CFGE is, again, simple but not easy. It’s this: 

Stop eating when you’re 80% full. 

Like I’ve said before in the first habit, meal satiety is more closely tied to the time you’ve spent eating than the amount of food you’ve eaten. The hormones that regulate your appetite and how satisfied you are with your food tend to placate you after about 15-20 minutes. 

That being said, you can’t just eat a single bite, wait 20 minutes, and be full and satisfied until your next meal. What we’re looking for is 80% “fullness.”

This does a couple things.

First and most importantly, it makes you pay attention to what’s really happening in your body as you eat. Instead of looking for the amount of food to be perfect on your plate, you’re gauging how you want to feel after you’re done. Way less likely to regret your meal or have to loosen your belt. 

Second, it can minimize the amount of calories you ingest so you get what you need to thrive. Fullness is not the goal, satisfaction is the goal. We’re trying to satisfy your body’s need for nourishment and fuel, not overflow that need. When you’re trying to lose weight, 80% is often enough to cause fat loss without being so underfed that you lose muscle as well. 

So am I just saying, “eat whatever you want, just do it slowly and stop before you’re full?”

“Be mindful?”

“Everything in moderation?” 

Nope nope nope and nope. 

For people trying to lose weight, the “fullness meter” feelings in the body can be pretty dysfunctional, so "listening to your body” could just lead to overeating without ever feeling 80% full.

We need to practice to let our bodies change slowly (pretty much the only way they change permanently).

For this, we play “the Hunger Game.”

You need to be able to distinguish between “want to eat” feelings and “need to eat” feelings; what true hunger feels like (don’t worry, I’m not recommending a huge fast or trendy cleanse). 

Ask yourself if you're hungry or if you want food. These things overlap, but are not the same. You'll get better at it. 

You can also ask yourself questions about the ritual of eating. For a lot of people, taking stock in where they are, who is with them, what they're thinking and feeling before and during their meals can provide other insights into their ability to regulate food quantity. 

So as you’re eating your meals slowly, chewing completely, and enjoying your food, you can be assessing your fullness and satisfaction as you go. Eating mostly real, whole foods make tuning into the body’s signals way easier than eating processed or hyperpalatable foods, but it’s only after going over these first two “how to eat” habits can we get into the nuts and bolts of “what and how much exactly to eat.”

Oftentimes we can make a ton of progress towards long-term goals (read: never putting the weight back on) with just these first two habits. 

Stay tuned for more on food and training from your friendly neighborhood coach. 

-M

 

TIME! How to Go Faster Without Getting Fitter in CrossFit

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Training smarter is more important than training hard.
— Joe DeFranco

"Watt" can you do? 

The operating theory behind CrossFit is that if you can complete more work in less time, you are more fit. Your fitness is what you can do. Power output is the goal. Or is it? 

In mixed modal events, there are ways to increase your “power output” with no extra metabolic load. Put simply, there are ways you can go faster and get better scores in workouts without being better. 

Time is the goal. Rounds+reps is the goal. 

A great example of this was in the Open last year, when dumbbell snatches were performed in workout 17.1. After the live announcement, the community quickly found that the method of cycling the reps demonstrated by Fikowski and Vellner was not the ideal way to go. Both athletes would snatch the weight with their right hand and put it down with their right hand, then switch hands with the weight resting on the ground, then snatch it with their other hand. When video submissions of seemingly inhuman times popped up, we saw a circus trick drop from the top of each rep. Switching hands on the way down (thus keeping tension in the system) saved almost a second every rep with little to no added fatigue. Add up 150 reps of that, and you’ve got at least a minute shaved off. Again, with no added fatigue. 

If you’ve read Tim Ferriss’s The Four-Hour Body, there was a section in it where a coach who worked with NFL hopefuls did the same type of thing. In the 20-yard shuttle test, he’d routinely drop athlete’s times by a statistically significant amount in a single hour just by altering one thing: their dominant side. By switching from a right-handed (right-footed?) start to a left-handed start, he’d cut an entire single step out of a 5-second test. 

Big money for small changes. 

Let’s break down a workout so you can see how to think about this type of thing: 

Glen Ellyn WOD 18Oct2017: “Box Puzzle”

5 Rounds for Time

10 Box Jump+Step Down 24”/20”

7 Shoulder-to-Overhead 135/95

 

The “step-down” portion of this metcon makes it slower than a rebounding jump workout, but not that slow. It’s a sprint (i.e. a sub 5-minute glycolytic-ish effort), and both of the movements are short hip-extensions that fry your quads. Let’s assume, however, that you have the requisite strength to go unbroken on all the STOH, and that you are well-conditioned enough to not stop on your jumps. This is about shaving time without getting fitter, right? 

So here’s where you shave stuff. 

1) Cycle your barbell

Duh. Power clean right into the first jerk. When you lower the bar, use your legs to absorb the weight and push right into the second rep. If you’re strong enough to push press it without hitting a sticking point, do it. 

2) No stutter-steps

When you step down from the box-jump, you should be jumping the instant your second foot hits the ground to minimize contact time and mimic a rebounding jump. 

3) Jump high

The height of the box isn’t ridiculous, so you should aim to land above parallel on top of it. As close to standing up as possible so you don’t have to pop up out of a deep squat from every jump. 

4) Transition smart

No chalk breaks; you don’t need it for this short of a workout. Barbell should be right behind the box so you basically turn around and jump before the bar stops bouncing (after you’ve made sure it’s not going to hit anyone).

5) Working tension, not peak tension

Fit people with great form often use more energy than they need to when they’re cycling medium weight barbells. Don’t hold your breath. Instead, breathe on the jerks like you would on a kettlebell swing. Controlled, and as loose as you can get away with whilst still keeping the midline stable. 

The winning time for this workout was 3:44, but I believe that 3:20 is within reason for that person, and that sub-3:00 is plausible. 

So there are tricks, tips, tactics that can improve your “fitness,” especially in the testing events and competitions. And in sprint events like 2017 Regionals event 6, a whole season can come down to the wire, and two hypothetical athletes who are biologically identical from a metabolic standpoint can finish ten places apart. 

But are you fitter? 

Yes and no.

It’s not as straightforward as measuring fitness through VO2 max or some other pure method of power-output tracking. I like my tests to include technique work because I like technique (surprised?), but I also recognize the need for things where there are very few places to hide. 100 burpees for time. 10 minutes on the Airdyne. An hour on the rower. Those are all good events that minimize (but can’t eliminate) the gaming aspect of the test. 

But realize this as well: “fitness” in other contexts can cover this definition, and CrossFit may very well absorb it into their ideology. Knowledge and strategy is a competitive advantage. Form, mobility, tactics, etc. are all tools that you can use to inch or jump your way up the leaderboard. And it’s fair. The Darwinian definition of fitness includes anything that accomplishes the basic mission: eat and procreate. Not everyone is a perfect hunter, but everyone has to kill and eat. Figuratively speaking. 

This type of “gaming” events can take place in your everyday life as well. At risk of sounding a little too biohacky, think about ways you might shift something up in your daily schedule so that it costs you nothing extra but saves you time, money, decision-making energy, stress, etc. 

Part of the journey of fitness is leveraging your strengths and picking up points where you can. But it's obviously not everything. Training, lifting, working out, should be put in the context of your goals. If your goal is to look good, feel good, or live forever, these recommendations might only marginally apply to you. Maybe getting to your goal means accepting a drop in conditioning to improve your strength, or a reduction in glycolytic output in order to improve your aerobic base, or it might mean losing every workout for a year while you re-tool your positions to make sure that you’re healthy enough to train for 10, 20, 30 more years. Power output, now and future, is one goal. A good one, but deciding where it fits in your hierarchy of priorities is up to you.

And in the meantime, maybe you can shave a couple seconds off your times using these tips. 

#beatduffy

-M

Why Weightlifting? 5 Reasons to Include the Olympic Lifts in your Training

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[P]ractice of the Olympic lifts teaches an athlete how to apply large amounts of force
— Artie Dreschler

Stop me if you’ve heard these: 

“I don’t want to get too bulky.”

“Lifting heavy weights scares me.”

“I don’t care about using the barbell at all.”

“Olympic lifting is dangerous the way CrossFitters do it."

Okay I’ll stop. 

One of the hangups people have when they start CrossFit is how much weightlifting we do. The belief that weights are the direct path to "bulky unattractive muscles" on women is one of the big offenders, and a preoccupation with the complexity and perceived danger of the lifts. 

On the other hand, for the initiated, it’s often one of the best parts of training. Some people cherry pick barbell workouts, and don’t think I don’t know who you are. Weightlifting classes are a popular offering at CrossFit gyms, and some people take their proficiency with the lifts for granted. 

So I’m here to drop some truth bombs on both camps: why we utilize the snatch and clean+jerk and their variations in our general program. 

1- More. Power. Less. Bulk.

The Olympic lifts are unparalleled in their ability to develop explosive power in your musculature. They make you jump higher, sprint faster, and pick up things safer while keeping the muscles the same size. So far from being movements that necessarily “bulk” you up, what they do is make each muscle turn on faster and produce more strength for its size. It's great for weight class athletes and anyone else who just wants to stay/get lean and get/stay strong. 

The geeky terms for this, if you want to look them up, are as follows: 

  • Rate of force development
  • Kinetic chain integration
  • Neural recruitment

Basically, you can get moving faster, with more of your muscles, more efficiently. 

2- Use everything. 

From the pull to the squat, you’re going to use every muscle you have to complete a successful Olympic lift. And whether you’re training for total strength or some form of conditioning stimulus, there’s value in using your whole body in concert to accomplish a task. It’s the epitome of functional fitness. 

3- Stretchy strong. 

This is where you should evaluate whether or not you should be doing the lifts in your own training. The positions required for the snatch, clean, and jerk, are difficult, but they demonstrate “full” range of motion. It shows me a person’s mobility and flexibility, and gives me a great idea of what to do to improve their flexibility in ways that more isolated movements can’t. At CrossFit Glen Ellyn, mobility and flexibility work is baked into the program, so we progress everyone towards safe and productive positions. 

On top of that, you need to have access to your strength in these ranges, which is different from other flexibility practices. I want you to be flexible and strong, unlike the stocky immobile meathead stereotype. These are assessments and training moves. 

4- Skill transfer. 

I’ll go into this topic a little more deeply later, but the coordination required to balance an Olympic lift is intense, even at light weights. You’re passing through a variety of shapes in relationship to an external load that mimic dozens of other movements in CrossFit and other sports. As a result, the more effort you put into perfecting your Olympic lifts, the better all your other skills get. You get better at CrossFit, but you also get better at learning new skills. 

5- Competing in a sport? Double down. 

If you are a competitor in sports (especially CrossFit as a sport), you need to be good at weightlifting. At one point, the Olympic lifts and their pieces accounted for 36% of the movements and tests in the CrossFit Games season. Now with the focus on dumbbells and odd objects, that’s intentionally lower, but we still see heavy lifts as part of the “Tests of Fitness.” 

You want to be able to move a lot of weight, but you need to do it quickly. While the power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) are great at developing top-end strength, they can actually cause your athletic performance to decline as they increase, depending on the speed and agility demands of  your sport and position. 

For conventional sports, it goes back to #4, Skill Transfer:

All sports require different amounts of muscle synchronization, balance, flexibility, and coordination as well as strength, speed, power, and metabolic development. Olympic weightlifting provides development in all these areas.
— Philip Sabatini

 You want to be able to move a lot of weight, but you need to do it quickly. While the power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) are great at developing top-end strength, they can actually cause your athletic performance to decline as they increase, depending on the speed and agility demands of  your sport and position. 

Conclusion

If you’re not doing a good deal of weightlifting in your program, or you intentionally skip snatch day, then hopefully this cursory overview gave you something to think about. If this stuff is your favorite, then you should now have more insight into why you love it so much and why we’re doing split jerks today. 

-M

P.S. These lifts are complex, so it’s best to learn them from a qualified coach. We’re pretty good at CrossFit Glen Ellyn, so you can email mitch@crossfitglenellyn.com for 1-on-1 attention.

P.P.S. I also have recommendations if you want to make this your sport. I’m not the best WL coach in the area, but I have a list of people who are. Hit me up for that as well and I’ll help you out. 

The First Nutrition Habit We Teach Has Nothing To Do With What to Eat

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"What to eat" is important, but...

For all the competing nutrition philosophies out there— macros, paleo, vegetarian, etc. — it’s normal to wonder how to get the right amount of food, and from the right places. 

Do I eat meat? How much? What about bread? Will gluten kill me? If I count my calories, I’ll lose weight, right? 

Those are all valid questions, but they’re also an example of misplaced precision. They’re out of order, and can’t be answered correctly for each individual until we get some baselines established. 

The baselines I’m talking about are cornerstone nutrition habits that get results for people regardless of their nutritional intake.

The first one is simple, but not easy:

Slow down. 

Think about how you eat first.

Eat your food slowly. Chew it completely. Take a second to breathe before your next bite. 

That’s it. And its effects are far-reaching.

The benefits of eating slowly cascade throughout the digestive process. On a macro level,  it means that we’ll be eating less food overall. The process of feeling “full” after a meal is actually more of a time-delay than a volume measurement. Your body will start feeling full about 20 minutes after you start eating, because that’s the delay between when you start eating and when the brain can send out signals to let you know you’re good, you’ve had enough. 

For a long time, my goal was to gain weight and put on muscle. This meant getting more food in the body than it needed just to maintain its current state (which is all the body ever wants to do, by the way). I was racing the clock to get as many calories in as I could before the brain hit the buzzer.

This is what a lot of people do without realizing it. There are a lot of calories that sneak by because we just can’t feel full yet. For those of you trying to lose weight, you need to give it time. 

This also improves your satisfaction with meals, which is different from fullness. Fullness is utility, whereas satisfaction is enjoyment. It’s what minimalism gurus are always talking about: live in the moment. Or, as I like to say, chew in the moment. 

Digestion improves with a slower pace as well. One example of this is with carbohydrates, which get broken down via a substance called salivary amylase during mastication. Plus, your gut and stomach take time to “warm up” and get ready to process your food by producing enzymes and acid that breaks it down. Don’t surprise your GI tract by shotgunning your meals. 

Simply put: the more you chew, the easier it is to digest your food.   

So here are the action steps: 

  1. Chew your food 20x per mouthful. Once this is habitual, upgrade to 30x. 
  2. Set your utensils down between bites. 

All of this leads to a healthier relationship with food. This sounds like a buzzphrase, and it kind of is, but it goes far beyond just weight loss. Slowing down leads to smaller portions, better digested, that are usually made up of better food. Have you ever tried to chew crappy processed food like a hot dog 30 times? Not so good. Real food tends to keep its appeal. 

This is just one of the habits that can lead to better body composition results like losing fat and building muscle without even looking at your food choices. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter what you eat (not even close), but there are things that we need to get in line before applying precise methods. What’s the point in counting macros if you’re missing out on 10-20% of your nutrition because you don’t chew your food? What’s the point of measuring intake of vitamins to the IU if we don’t know what’s getting absorbed? 

This week, try the two steps listed above and see if you up your meal satisfaction. Comment if you’ve tried this before, and happy chewing. 

-M 

P.S. If you want more guidance with your weight loss or nutrition journey, we offer Nutrition Coaching that can turn you into the healthiest person you know. 

Does CrossFit Work? Data From the Summer Programming at CFGE

One of the unique features of CrossFit is that we measure it. It's something that makes the entire community stand out from most of the fitness world.

It's why we as a gym switched over from a pen-and-paper model of performance tracking to a system that records our data automatically. Or, it's supposed to. 

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We measure power output. We focus on one question: what can you do, and how fast did you do it? (note: those of you who know me will also note that I ask how well you did it also, as we can often improve numbers without improving fitness simply by moving better)

Because of that, we have to test, measure, train, and then re-test. 

The results of this cycle, from July to August, are in.

I'm proud of you guys.

If it sounds like I'm tooting my own horn, know that I'm tooting our collective team horn.

All results were calculated via TrainHeroic data exported to some spreadsheets. I tracked the people who recorded scores on both days that the workouts were tested, even if they didn't improve or went backwards. That only happened twice out of 70+ data points. I also eliminated scores where the workout was scaled differently (e.g. 65lbs thrusters vs 55lbs thrusters).

Fran: 

The workout is-

21-15-9 reps for time

Thrusters 95/65

Pullups

 

July Average Time- 5:22

September Average Time- 4:50

While we collectively as a gym don't have an average Fran time of 4:50, the people who logged both days were among the faster athletes. 

On average, we PRd by over 30 seconds on a 5-minute workout, with some performances in the 3-minute range.

DT

One of our gym's favorites.

5 Rounds for Time

12 Deadlifts 155/105

9 Hang Power Cleans 155/105

6 Shoulder-to-Overhead 155/105

July Average Time- 10:51

September Average Time- 9:43

We PRd that workout by over a minute as a group: 1:08 to be exact

 

Martha

This isn't an official "Girl" workout like Fran, but it gives us a really good look at the entire shoulder girdle's ability to work smoothly under fatigue. A decent combo of strength and conditioning in the tradition of CrossFit workouts, and it just so happened to fall on the first week of the Team Series where a similar structured workout was posted, so I honestly felt a little validated. 

Then again, it's not that unique of a workout. 

I digress

Martha is: 

21-15-9 reps for time

Overhead Squat 115/75

Bar-Facing Burpee

July Average Time- 8:19

September Average Time- 7:01

The average PR was again over a minute (1:18), which is around an 18% reduction in time. 

Some might call that statistically significant. 

Back Squat 2RM

We tested our 2RM Squat at the beginning of the cycle, and I was honestly a little nervous about predictably increasing those numbers. We lift a lot at this gym, so improving on already good numbers while focusing on conditioning pieces like the Metcons above is a little daunting. 

But you guys are amazing, it turns out, and crushed it. 

July Average 2RM: 213lbs

September Average 2RM: 239lbs

Average PR: 36lbs

We even had someone (admittedly a beginner) increase his PR by 80lbs, but I removed his score from the pool as an outlier.

Conclusion: training, tracking, and improving over time

Are there more metrics that we should be measuring in order to get a perfect picture of health? Of course. Power output is a correlate to health and fitness, but more details about what's happening under the hood of individuals like blood lipids and hormonal profiles would be needed for a blanket bill of health. 

That being said, it's a strong correlate.

CrossFit coaches often refer to their clients as "athletes," because that's how we view the people we help. They aren't training for a sport most of the time. They're training to chase kids around, to earn their desserts, and to keep their spouses interested. 

But the principles of training for life apply the same as they do for a competitive athlete. Nike ran a campaign that said "Stop exercising. Start training." and I agree with that sentiment. Exercise as it's understood in the culture at large is something you have to do to not die. It's a doctor's recommendation after comparing your physical results year after year, "you should exercise more," or it's the hamster wheel of burning calories on a treadmill. 

Training, on the other hand, is inherently purposeful. It begs the question: what are you training for? A marathon? A weightlifting meet? A barbecue volleyball game?

It doesn't have to be something competitive, either. Turns out the best way to not die is by seeking purpose in your training and trying to thrive. By simply measuring, training with a goal in mind, and measuring again, we can mimic the habits of the best athletes, coaches, and competitors in the world. 

Log your scores in TrainHeroic. Show up on Re-Test days. Do the program as it's written, and eat decently well and you will improve. 

You don't have to be the best. Just better than you were yesterday.

On to the Fall Program. 

-M

 

 

What Weightlifting Shoes Should I Get?

If you’re not familiar with weightlifting shoes, here’s the least you need to know:

For every sport, you need the right equipment to get the best performance. Even for those of you not competing in sport, having the right gear can make activities safer and more effective. That’s why we wear weightlifting shoes in the gym and go through the trouble of swapping footwear during a workout. They make lifting safer and better.

It’s not as simple as just getting the cheapest pair, or even the best pair. Weightlifting shoes are all made with different goals in mind, and not all of them are ideal for a CrossFit practitioner. Below are the best shoes for each training focus, from the serious lifter to the longevity-focused CrossFitter.

Best Shoes for Maximizing Performance in the Squat, Snatch, and Clean+Jerk

Nike Romaleos 2.

The third iteration of these is coming out soon, so this model is on sale across the board. They’re durable, almost bomb-proof. They’re stable, and make all of your lifts feel much more solid.

The main drawback is that they’re heavy. During gymnastics movements like toes-to-bar or muscle ups, they definitely take away from your performance. In addition, a lot of stability comes from the stiffness of the sole, which makes most athletic movements feel, well, rigid. Even things like burpees get a little harder when you’re wearing Romaleos.

These are best for ONLY squatting or Olympic lifting, so if that’s your focus, you can’t do better than this shoe.

Best for mixed modality training and lifting

The Inov8 FastLift.

They’re stable enough to squat heavy, and they have a heel raised to the same standard height as other lifting shoes. The main difference between these and most other lifting shoes is their light weight.

These are built like Inov8's trail runners, but with an ultralight heel and a bunch of lateral padding on the ankle. They also also feature a ridiculously flexible forefoot and toebox. This is what you want if you need some extra support and flexibility in deep squats, but also want a shoe for gymnastics, burpees and double unders.

I really like the Inov8 FastLift for this “Mixed Modality” category. I think they feel a little wobbly, but some amazing athletes swear by them (and, admittedly, I just tried someone else's on, and his feet are minuscule). 

Best Shoe for CrossFit Competition or If You Need to Run At All

Nike Metcon 2.

Don’t run in any kind of dedicated lifter. The heel will hurt you if you're some kind of heathen heel-striker, and no weightlifting shoe’s midfoot is built for any speed greater than a deliberate trudge up to the bar.

If you need to mix movements like running with any kind of lifting, you want a shoe built for CrossFit. The Reebok Nano is fine (go for the 2, 4, 6, or maybe the 7), but I’m partial to the Nike MetCon family. They’re stable all around, and flexible in the forefoot. They’re built for your feet to splay out and work hard during training, so the support is minimal (which is a good thing) and they’re super durable. Plus they look like a normal person’s shoe and don’t have “CROSSFIT” emblazoned across them anywhere.

On the negative side, they have a 4mm drop in the heel. I’d prefer 0mm, but the world isn’t ready for that I guess. As it is, the heel height doesn’t help enough with lifting but it still chronically shortens the heel chords. But that’s the minor qualm. The real problem with these is that they squeak. Like, they sound like pleather jeans when you walk around in a quiet room. Gyms are loud most of the time, so it’s rarely a problem, but man, are they squeaky.

With the MetCon 3 coming out recently, you can find some great deals on the 1s and 2s on most sites.

What are your favorite lifting shoes? Post in the comments below or email me at mitch@crossfitglenellyn.com to start a shoe debate!

April 2016 Athlete of the Month: John Carlin

What is your perfect pizza?

A magical Home Run Inn pizza where every piece has an outer crust. Sausage, mushrooms, and bell pepper.

Would you rather have no internet or no cell phone for the rest of your days?

No phone. Sent from my iPhone. 

You have been an integral part of the CFGE community since day one. What is your favorite thing about CFGE?

The gym's kindness shines every time I'm a decent mid-draft pick for any team games involving a ball.

What's the worst CrossFit movement you have had to judge in competition? 

The standard for handstand pushups during the Open is the worst. It needs to be eliminated or replaced with a short handstand walk. 

Bonus Questions

Aside from CFGE, what are some of your favorite things?

Sashimi, roller coasters, Sonos, nice eyeglasses. 

You need do save the planet by belting out a karaoke jam. What do you sing?

"Gay Bar" by Electric Six (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XNFokmDKrE)

May 2016 Athlete of the Month: Irene Brady

I truly believe that health is so important and is key to a fulfilled life.  I have been asked many many times "how old are you?" Are you 20 or 30 something?  "you must workout."  "do you lift weights?" On and on... It's very flattering to think people think of me that way. But it doesn't come without a price. 

Training. And eating healthy is the reason. 

Don't get me wrong I think I have good genes too but I work hard on my life.  Train 6 days a week and eat well. 

Now that I've found CFGE, I finally found a gym that has can take me to that next level of fitness and health

So thank you

I've learned so much already and it's been only been 8 months, I'm looking forward to the future 

1.  Would you rather have more money or more time?

Definitely more time, time to spend with loved ones and fulfill my dreams, money means nothing. 

2.  What comes on your perfect pizza?

Awww man I love pizza. Sausage, spinach, and mushrooms all day long.... Deep dish of course

3.  You are a familiar face at the 530a class.  What keeps you motivated to get up and start the day at CFGE?

Having 4 kids and a business is the only time, before they wake up.  Sets the tone for my day, awake , feeling strong, and ready for anything that may come my way. If I dont get it in , it doesn't happen!

4.  How many haircuts do you think you have given?  

That is a trick question, woah. It's a lot.  Approximately 100,000 and I'm far from retirement

Intro to Protein: What Is It, Where Do I Get It, and How Much Do I Need?

Not that kind of intro...

Not that kind of intro...

You can’t out-train a bad diet. The work you put in when you’re in the gym will either be augmented or stunted by what you eat. So here’s the first order of business when we are looking at our food choices.

Here’s the least you need to know about protein, the first building block of a naturally strong diet.

What is protein? Protein isn’t just the powder we chug after a workout. It’s one of three main types of macronutrients (the others being carbohydrates and fat). The main benefit we associate with adequate protein intake is the repair and building of muscle. Muscle is expensive, energy-wise, so the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn at rest. If we want to make progress in the gym, we need to be eating enough protein.

Where do I get it? Protein comes from foods like meats, eggs, fish, fowl, milk, and some plant sources like beans and nuts. The most effective way to get your protein is by eating animals, but legumes and dense soy products like tofu are the best source of protein if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.

How much protein should you eat? About 1 gram per pound of bodyweight is the benchmark we’re looking for. That ensures that we are eating enough to recover from our workouts, build muscle, and keep our energy levels up. Plus, eating enough protein is sometimes physically challenging, as anyone who’s tried to chew through 16oz of plain chicken breasts can attest. That means we’re eating fewer calories from other foods that can hinder progress, and staying fuller for longer.

The best way to start losing weight and make progress in the gym is to eat enough protein.

That exact number is sometimes tough to figure out, so here’s the easiest way: eat 1 to 2 “palm-sized” portions of protein every meal. One to two chicken breasts, a burger patty or two, a healthy-sized steak. For eggs, eat as many as you can hold in one hand (that’s at least two). Your palm is different than my palm, so it’s a good estimator for your meals.

Sample Day of Meals: Mitch

Breakfast:

4 eggs (1 handful), scrambled with

1 chicken breast (another palm)

3 slices bacon

½ cup of broccoli

Lots of hot sauce

Lunch:

2 beef burger patties (2 palms; 12 oz total)

1 sweet potato

½ cup brussels sprouts

Snack:

1 can costco tuna (1 palm)

2 tbsp paleo mayo

½ apple

Dinner:

8oz cod (a little more than 1 palm)

½ cup broccoli

1 sweet potato

Total Protein: 190g

That’s it for our first food article of the Fall! If you have any questions about nutrition, let me know in the comments or talk to me in the gym.