October OTB WOD — October 2nd

Time to take things back Outside the Box!!  We will be hitting our monthly installment of the CFWS OTB WOD series this coming Saturday, October 2nd.  Like usual, this workout will replace our regularly scheduled Saturday morning WOD as well as any other workouts that would regularly be scheduled at the box.  If you were planning on attending our free trial workout, please be sure to meet us about 10 minutes prior to the start of the workout. 

Our last OTB workout had a great showing of around 20 CFWS athletes, friends and family.  These workouts are designed to be as challenging as you are willing to make them and approachable to the novice CrossFitter at the same time.  Let’s make this our biggest turnout yet!!

The workout location is at Sunset Vista Park in West Sacramento.

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Fight Gone Bad V

Thanks to CrossFit East Sacramento for hosting such a successful event!

This weekend was full of excitement. CFWS is proud of all the athletes that came out and participated in the 2010 Fight Gone Bad fundraiser. We showed up put in the work and effort was not avoided. We also celebrated Doreene Hess’s birthday!!  Many got their first taste of a CrossFit competition, and what the CrossFit community is all about. Way to represent CFWS!

There was 124 people and 10 affilites participate in the FGB WOD at CFES!  It was another amazing day with the CF community.  These types of events are really what CrossFit is all about.  Its about all ability levels coming together and encouraging each other while supporting our CF community and our charities.  From what Justin Riley was able to find in the FGB system (staring at a list of 1500 affiliaties) and donations made on-site, the total raised as of 3:00PM yesterday was $12,030.   Great work to all local affiliates who helped make this a huge success. 


More September Babies!

I must not have realized how many of our members were Sept babies! So here is a Happy Birthday wish to all of you! Gosh our family is getting so big!
“It takes a long time to grow young” Pablo Picasso

Lia Parker — Sep 5
Nick Bambury — Sep 21
Justin Walker — Sep 22
Tyson Conn — Sep 24
Doreene Hess– Sep 25
Amy Jones — Sep 25
Beezy– Sep 29
Brooke Krebs — Sep 30
Dan Riddel — Sep 30

Back to Basics — Getting RESULTS

After a month of Back to Basics workouts, CFWS athletes are ready to open up the throttle in some good, old fashioned CrossFit metcon WODs.  In many of our Back to Basics workouts, we have taken functional movements such as the BackSquat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat, Deadlift, Strict Press, Russian KB Swing, Walking OH Lunge, Knees to Elbows and Sprint Drills (just to name a few) and coupled them with other accessory exercises with the following goals in mind:

  1. Increased kinesthetic awareness of the basic functional movements found in CrossFit programming.
  2. Increased strength and flexibility in these same movements.
  3. Improved midline stability

The past few weeks have resulted in nothing short of complete realization of these goals for all CFWS athletes.  We are confident that the upcoming assessment week (October 4th – 6th) will showcase the hard fought fitness gains that have been made in the past month’s worth of B2B training.

Moving forward, we will incorporate the strength emphasis from the past few weeks into our regular programming at least one day per week.  Increased strength, coupled with improved technique in our lifts not only makes our athletes more capable of doing well on workouts such as CrossFit Total (1RM Press, Back Squat, Deadlift), but also will lead to increased sustainable power output rates on metabolic conditioning workouts suach as Fran or Grace.

It sounds easy:  Get stronger through a full range of motion in the fundamental functional movements used in CrossFit and your WOD times will improve.  This has been precisely the idea behind our run through Back to Basics programming.  With diligent focus and attention to detail in the fundamental exercises of CrossFit based exercise, we have given ourselves the opportunity to realize higher levels of intensity in our WODs. 

Who hasn’t heard the words: “Let your technique carry you through this” from the CFWS coaches while in the middle of a huge metcon WOD?  With improved technique, strength, flexibility and midline stability within the realm of functional movement, our athletes can expect to be more successful than ever in CrossFit WODs.  As much as we love our metcon, strength and skill days will remain a strong component of our programming at CFWS.  By embracing these workouts, we will consistenly allow ourselves the opportunity to get better and better at CrossFit WODs.

Keeping it REAL

CrossFit West Sacramento is dedicated to delivering the most effective training protocols, techniques and philosophies possible to each athlete who steps foot in our facility on a daily basis. Our training protocols utilize some of the most advanced exercise techniques in the world. Drawing from the disciplines of Olympic Weight Lifting, Russain Kettlebell training, movements that stem from the discipline of gymnastics and a plethora of other training modalities, each member of the CFWS coaching staff works tirelessly to ensure we are creating the most effective training experience possible for each CFWS athlete.

With CrossFit based training, the magic is in the movements. Preserving the sanctity of each movement pattern taught in the gym is the means by which we safely and effectively work towards our fitness goals. High skill movements such as the Clean and Jerk and the Snatch are approached by mastering other, more basic movement patterns. At the foundation of the hierarchy of movements lie the most basic of all functional movements:

Squat, Deadlift, Lunge, Pushup, Pull-up, Strict Press

Mastery of each of these basic movements is the priority of each novice Cross-Fitter at CrossFit West Sacramento. This priority is not an option, but a common philosophy that is shared by every CFWS athlete and coach alike. Each of the functional movements listed above are examples of relatively strong compound movements that have the capacity to ultimately move relatively large loads — especially compared to less functional movements.

CrossFit West Sacramento is very interested in the ability to increase functional strength. The ability to increase our workloads within each of these functional movements will ultimately lead towards greater fitness. While we strive for increased fitness through functional strength, we ARE NOT tolerant of athletes who attempt to gain strength outside of the parameters of safety or full range of motion in any movement pattern. The CFWS coaching staff requires that each participant demonstrates the ability to complete the above listed movement patterns through the full range of motion with proper body position and spinal alignment. This requirement is universal; these standards apply to all CFWS athletes at all times.

Our workouts are often scored based on the amount of time it takes to complete a given task. By timing our workouts, we are able to quantify fitness by virtue of average power output. We know that average power output is increased by doing more work in a given amount of time, or by completing a given workload in a shorter period of time. This concept drives CrossFit athletes to achieve greater fitness by doing more work in less time. This aspect of CrossFit based training is a crucial component of finding intensity. As beneficial as timed workouts can be, the convention of timing our workouts has the potential to be counterproductive, unsafe or both if we do not hold ourselves accountable to the maintenance of correct technique and form in each of our functional movements.

Quantifying our fitness is an important component of CrossFit. We are able to claim to be more fit to perform certain tasks with given time domains or repetition schemes when we outperform our previous efforts. This quantification of fitness leads to the drive to find ways to complete workloads as quickly as possible. If movement standards are not upheld, the safe, effective nature of our functional movements is not preserved. When this happens, CrossFit workouts simultaneously lose the ability to make athletes more fit, while placing said athletes at increased risk for injury. Two examples of this concept follow:

Example 1:

• Partial ROM in each of the movements for the “Angie” workout.

o Pull-ups (chin lower than bar at the top position, or lack of full extension (lock-out) at elbows in the bottom of the movement pattern)

o Push-ups (Lack of full lock-out at top position or chest not touching ground at bottom position of the movement pattern)

o Sit-ups (shoulder-blades do not touch ground at bottom position, or hands do not touch ground in front of toes at top position of movement pattern)

o Squats (lack of full hip extension at top position, or lack of hips below knees “full depth” at bottom position of movement pattern)

When a participant completes repetitions with an incomplete range of motion in any of the given movement patterns, she/he decreases the overall efficacy of the workout in a number of ways:

• Lack of ROM = decreased distance covered within the movement pattern. (If I do 100 reps at ½ the range of motion that is available to me, then I am doing an equivalent amount of work as 50 repetitions performed through a full ROM. – definitely NOT more work in less time.  

This will ultimately result in a DECREASE in fitness.

• By working through a partial ROM, athletes will actually shorten the musculo-tendinous unit as it is strengthened. The only way to maintain the adequate flexibility to perform full depth squats is to regularly lengthen the muscle and tendon to the extent that is necessary for this position. Those who do not yet possess the flexibility to perform a full dept squat can only develop this flexibility by fighting for neutral spinal alignment while focusing on proper weight bearining and torso angle position in the deepest sustainable squat possible. Unloaded squats (aka: air squats) are routinely used in this manner to improve upon athlete flexibility. Only once athletes have developed the necessary flexibility of the musculo-tendinous units involved with squatting body mechanics should an athlete be allowed to start squatting with external loads. Those who do not possess the flexibility to achieve neutral spinal alignment in a full depth air squat are at increased risk for injury when attempting loaded squats (back squats, front squats, overhead squats).

Incomplete repetitions result in a decreased work capacity within an individual, which ultimately results in sub-maximal response to exercise (decreased efficacy of our training protocols). Also, the repetitive completion of partial range of motion repetitions serves to perpetuate deficiencies in flexibility.

Example 2:

Utilizing incorrect body position to move loads during timed workouts.

Let’s take the deadlift as our example here. In many timed workouts, we are asked to do multiple repetitions of any given exercise at a prescribed workload. At some point in many people’s workouts, we see the manifestation of incorrect body mechanics when either too large a load is placed on the bar, or too much emphasis is placed on doing repetitions quickly. In either case, the emphasis has shifted from the correct completion of the deadlift to the attempt to achieve an improved score in the quantification of one’s of fitness.

In the deadlift, the only way to safely lift the weight is through the maintenance of neutral spinal alignment in both the concentric (bar moving away from the floor) and eccentric (bar moving towards floor) phases of the movement pattern. When an athlete chooses to forego neutral spinal alignment for any reason he/she is at risk of serious injury by placing very high, unnatural loads across the spine in a way that it was not designed to displace said load. The amount of uneven pressure that is placed on the intervertebral spinal discs in this scenario is the most commonly accepted mechanism of injury for spinal disc rupture. It is NEVER appropriate to risk a life-long back injury just for the sake of posting a faster WOD time or a higher load on a maximal lift.

Those who choose to allow themselves to perform workouts with increased workloads or work rates at the expense of correct form or technique are ultimately choosing to place themselves at vastly greater risk of injury.

At CrossFit West Sacramento, the choice to place workload or work rate as a higher priority to safe lifting technique is not an option.

CrossFit West Sacramento WILL NOT ALLOW any athlete training in our facility to approach workouts in an unsafe manner. We will always focus on exercise technique first, and worry about increasing load and intensity second. Those who do not agree with this philosophy are not welcome to train at CrossFit West Sacramento. We are very serious about maintaining a safe, effective place for athletes to purse life-long fitness.

With the importance of safety and efficacy in our approach to realizing elite fitness clearly defined, a list of athlete declarations and gym standards will now follow. Each athlete training at CFWS will be given the opportunity to sign this list of declarations. Athletes who sign this agreement do so in a show of allegiance to the principals of safe, effective world-class training at CFWS.

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Defined as the ability to move a joint through it’s fully available range of motion, flexibility is one of the ten parameters of fitness we CrossFitters strive to achieve in our quest for elite fitness.  If we are forced to choose between strength and flexibility, as a coaching staff, CFWS coaches have stated over and over again that we would prefer our novice CrossFitters arrive to CFWS with impeccable flexibility.  A lack of strength limits people in their ability to move large loads.  A lack of flexibility impedes an athlete’s ability to move ANY load, large or small, through a full range of motion.  Clearly, a deficiency in flexibility is a bigger issue than a lack of strength.

It is generally very easy to increase strength in a novice athlete, while improving flexibility in adults seems to be a much more challenging task.  In CrossFit WODs, work loads are easily scaled for the athlete who is lacking is strength.  For example, those who are not strong enough to do pull-ups are able to scale the work load by using a resistance band or by doing jumping pull-ups.  Those with shoulder flexibility challenges, however, may find themselves absolutely incapable of achieving the required start position with their arms fully extended at the elbows, hanging directly below the bar.  This shows how a lack of flexibility results in an athlete’s inability to properly perform traditional strength training exercises such as the squat (pick your poison — back, front, OVERHEAD), deadlift, overhead pressing, pull-ups, etc.  Establishing adequate flexibility in any athlete is a priority before strength training can be performed properly.  Functional movement requires flexibility.

In addition to the problems associated with incomplete range of motion due to overly tight muscles, often times, overly tight muscle groups on one side of a joint correlate with weak, and overly lax muscles on the opposing side.  This imbalance of flexibility inevitably leads towards incorrect tracking of the bony articulations that make up a movable joint and will certainly result in overuse injuries in the long run when left unchecked.

So what can those of us with flexibility challenges do to improve our situation?  Well, it’s really pretty simple.  We have to stretch.  Static stretching is good, but is not the end game when it comes to mobility through the full ROM of any given joint.  Using light weight and fighting for position in any given functional movement is one way to work towards greater flexibility for said movement.   A perfect example of this is when athletes with overly tight hamstrings attempt to get into a full depth squat.  The lengthened position of the proximal hamstring (the portion of the hamstring that attaches to your pelvic girdle) in a squat is often compensated for by a partial or complete loss of lumbar curvature when the deepest part of the squat is achieved.  When loaded with a heavy squat, this loss of spinal integrity places the spine in a position in which it is not able to adequately deal with the compressive forces of the load.  Choosing to ignore the lack of flexibility while attempting to continually lift heavier and heavier loads will unfailingly lead to injury.  Any time the spine is out of neutral position while bearing the compressive forces that are associated with lifting heavy objects, the risk for injury is greatly increased.

By focusing on various hamstring stretches along with unloaded, or relatively lightly loaded squats, those with overly tight hamstrings can work towards improved flexibility in the proximal hamstrings.  Unlike static stretches, squats will also lead towards greater midline stability.  This increase in flexibility of the hamstrings, coupled with increased stability of the midline will ultimately allow for better maintenance of neutral spinal alignment with heavier and heavier squats.  All of this assumes that the squats are performed with strict adherence to movement standards.  It’s extremely important to remember that the addage “Practice makes perfect” is only true if the practice itself is performed as perfectly as humanly possible.  Crappy air squats will never make our front-squats better.  

This discussion should lead the reader to one and only one conclusion: Flexibility is a prerequisite to properly performed functional movement, and thus, to being a successful CrossFitter.  Those who have restricted range of motion MUST make it a priority to eliminate any restrictions in range of motion in any of the functional movements.  Today is a rest day for CFWS athletes who have hit the first three WODs of the week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  This is the perfect time for a stretch session that lasts at least an hour, hits all major muscle groups and includes both active/dynamic stretching along with static stretches.  An example of once such session can be found here: http://www.crossfitwestsac.com/blog/cfws_news/skills-and-drills-week/

Scroll down until you find the Stretch/Active Recovery workout listed for that week.  This list is something that ALL CFWS athletes should be thoroughly familiar with.  Those who are not aware of ALL of these stretches are ultimately missing opportunities to become better CrossFitters.  By eliminated holes in our fitness profile, we improve our ability to properly tackle CrossFit WODs.  Don’t let a lack of flexibility be the thing that holds you back from achieving Elite Fitness. 

3,2,1 Stretch!!!