Latest News from Rally Fitness

Just Say NO to Drugs - Why Pain Pills are a BAD Idea

Back pain from CrossFit

If you’ve spent any time around a CrossFit box, as either a participant or trainer, you’ve probably heard someone say, “My (pick a body part or muscle) is killing me! I need a dose of Vitamin I.” For newbies to this demanding workout, “Vitamin I” is not a real supplement. It’s a term for “Ibuprofen,” the very popular pain reliever and many hard-core CrossFitters take this over the counter (OTC) drug by the handful every day.

This is a mistake. Here’s why.

Ibuprofen is part of a class of drugs known as ‘Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory-Drugs’ (NSAID) and research has shown some serious side effects associated with regular use of these drugs. Other NSAIDs include: ibuprofen (Advil ® and Motrin ®) and naproxen (Aleve ® and Naprosyn ®). NSAIDs act in the body to block the chemical messengers involved in the inflammatory response which in turn reduces pain and swelling.

While this may seem like a panacea for pain - a quick fix that is available without a prescription - it’s not. There are several things to consider before throwing down a few of these non-prescription pain pills.

Many Professional Athletes Overuse Ibuprofen

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Ibuprofen has long been popular among athletes not merely to treat pain but to ward it off. But several studies in recent years have highlighted potential side effects including an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, kidney and gastrointestinal problems and even lower male fertility.”

Some physicians, such as Dr. Craig Lankford, a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Texas Back Institute in Dallas, believe that the popularity of Ibuprofen is being driven by professional and amateur athletes who overuse it. Many of his patients are unable to function properly because of unrelenting pain caused by conditions such as arthritis and injuries.

"Even though it is readily available and, in most cases, effective, Ibuprofen comes with many medical dangers,” Dr. Lankford said. It can cause damage to the stomach in the form of bleeding or perforated ulcers. Plus, if the patient has a kidney disease, taking too much ibuprofen can cause permanent damage to this organ.

CrossFit group workout

OTC Meds Can Also Slow Healing

Writing for “CrossFit Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado, Tom Baker notes, “No pain, sweet! However, while inhibiting the inflammatory response, NSAIDs also disrupt the healing process.

Studies have shown NSAIDs to slow the rebuilding of muscle cells as well as disrupt healing of muscles, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Another study showed a vast reduction in the bone and muscle strength after 4 and 6 weeks when animals were treated with ibuprofen.”

Thus, while NSAIDs may disrupt the pain transmission temporarily, the long - term rehabilitation of the causes for this pain is delayed and, in some cases, exacerbated. As has been noted by many medical experts, “pain is a sign that something is wrong and it is wise to heed this warning.”

Better Ways to Deal With Pain

There are other ways to deal with the pain caused by an aggressive WOD. Dr. Lankfort suggested avoiding ibuprofen and offered some alternatives to “Vitamin I.”

“For more holistic treatment of pain, there are supplements that do not require a prescription,” he said. “Many of my patients have had success using the herb turmeric, which contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

“There has been some basic research on bananas, which are known to be an excellent source of potassium, and it suggests that it has anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil is another naturally occurring substance that has been suggested to have anti-inflammatory properties for arthritic pain.”

Tom Baker has another approach. “Active recovery is my favorite way to get the soreness out, reduce swelling and recover. Mobilizing immediately after a workout is important, but even more critical is how you spend the rest of your day.

“If you are sitting at a desk, you are not producing adequate muscle contractions to push ‘pooled’ venous blood and lymphatic fluid along. By getting up every 45 min to an hour and doing a few squats, walking around the building, jumping rope or even doing a set of burpees can make a huge difference. Foam rolling is another excellent method to help improve venous/lymphatic return. A quick internet search and you can find one for under $12. Just keep the intensity low and recover actively.”

How do you avoid ibuprofen and deal with pain and soreness from your workouts? Let us know and we will share with our readers.

What are the Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2018? They Might Surprise You.

CrossFit group workout

The start of a new year brings with it the usual predictions on what is about to be hot and what’s not. Based on your reading this blog, you are most likely interested in personal fitness trends for the coming year. Well Sparky, you’ve come to the right place because the granddaddy of all fitness surveys was released about a month ago and you can read all out what these folks think you’re going to be doing to work up a sweat in 2018!

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) surveyed more than 4,000 fitness professionals, and here’s the hottest trend for the coming year. Drumroll please!!!

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is forecast as next year’s most popular trend in fitness. HIIT training is made up of bursts of all-out exercise followed by short periods of rest for recovery.

“High intensity interval training has been a consistently high-ranking trend on the forecast in recent years, appearing in the top three since 2014,” said Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, president of ACSM and the lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University in Atlanta. “Even though survey respondents warned of a relatively higher risk of injury associated with HIIT, it continues to be very popular in gyms across the world.” 

Is HIIT Dangerous?

A press release from the ACSM noted that survey respondents were concerned that some of their clients are reluctant to participate in HIIT due to perceived risks, and the fitness pros often shared those concerns. So, is HIIT dangerous?

“HIIT offers participants a good workout that can be done without a lot of time or equipment,” continued Thompson. “Research shows that with proper precautions, like working with a certified personal trainer, HIIT can be a safe, effective and fun way to exercise.”

Those involved with CrossFit training will not be surprised by the popularity of HIIT, especially as it relates to having a professional trainer running the show. In fact, the popularity of CrossFit has had a significant impact on this fitness survey.

The press release further noted that the survey, now in its twelfth year, “helps the health and fitness industry make critical programming and business decisions. ACSM expanded this year’s survey to include partner organizations in the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals® (CREP), and the 4,000 respondents set a record that more than doubled that of previous years. 

The survey provides 40 potential trends to choose from, and the top 20 were ranked and published by ACSM.

Old man does CrossFit

The top 10 fitness trends for 2018

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery, these exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.
  2. Group Training: Group exercise instructors teach, lead and motivate individuals though intentionally designed group exercise classes. Group programs are designed to be motivational and effective for people at different fitness levels with instructors using leadership techniques that help individuals in their classes achieve fitness goals. Again, this is a reflection of the increased popularity of group training program  such as CrossFit.
  3. Wearable Technology: includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices. Being able to download this fitness data to social media and thereby use if for motivation and bragging rights, is an ancillary reason for the popularity of this trend.
  4. Body Weight Training: Body weight training uses minimal equipment, making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness. This is another trend that owes its popularity to CrossFit training.
  5. Strength Training: Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs and more specialized programs such as CrossFit. The ASCM reports noted that “Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders. (The other essential components are aerobic exercise and flexibility.)”
  6. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals: Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as those offered by ACSM. The CrossFit trainer certification  is also a comprehensive and rigorous accreditation.
  7. Yoga: Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. This includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.
  8. Personal Training: The report of this survey notes that “More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that they are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.”
  9. Fitness Programs for Older Adults. The demographics don’t lie. As a population, we are living longer and as the baby boom generation ages into retirement, some of these people have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Therefore, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults  healthy and active.
  10. Functional Fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. This type of functional training is the essence of CrossFit and many believe this trend will continue to rise over the next few year. Part of this reason is that functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related. See #9 above.

The full list of top 20 trends is available in the article "Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018."

What do you think of the results of this survey? Is it accurate or BS? Let us know what you think. Need a quote for CrossFit equipment? Just click here and we’ll get back to you pronto.

CrossFit Beats Boredom and Traditional Gyms are Taking Notice

CrossFit Class

When a newbie walks into what is usually an industrial-looking CrossFit facility, she or he will likely notice some things that are very different from the stainless steel and glass, big box “retail” gyms. First, the traditional health clubs are packed during January and February with well-meaning, overweight but unfocused participants and then ghost towns for the rest of the year. While the CrossFit box is buzzing with the about the same number of participants year-around and they are laser-focused on achieving fitness goals.

There is another big difference between CrossFit and traditional gyms which the fitness industry has started to notice. For several decades, the traditional facilities have featured row after row of cardio and weight machines. There have never been any cardio or weight machines in CrossFit gyms. In fact, the functional training (free weights, rope climbing, intense HIIT training, etc.) done in a group setting and led by an experienced fitness expert is EXACTLY what sets CrossFit apart from traditional health clubs.

Don’t look now, but the shiny retail facilities are wising up to the popularity of CrossFit training. They are replacing those cardio and weight machines with free weights and group training.

Rage Against the Machine

Cardio Machines

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Charles Huff, the vice-president of facilities for 24-Hour Fitness noted that the 420-location chain has scaled back cardio and weight machines to 50 percent of floor space from about 66 percent it had allocated previously. The traditional health club “now devotes the other half of floor space to free weights and functional training, which includes things like kettlebell swings and body-weight exercises with TRX suspension straps. It has also expanded its studio group exercise classes.”

The article continued by noting that “stair-steppers” and some elliptical machines in particular are waning, but stepmills continue to enjoy some popularity. Leg and shoulder presses remain popular in these traditional gyms, while narrow-focus ones such as inner/outer thigh machines “gather dust.”

Free Weights

The piece pointed to several trends driving this shift away from machines. “Boutique fitness is booming and many of those studios focus on guided workouts with few or no machines. Some members of CrossFit gyms, meanwhile, are migrating to less expensive health clubs with newly added or expanded barbell weightlifting facilities.”

A primary driver of this trend on the part of big box health clubs has nothing to do with machine/anti-machine client preferences. It is the oldest business motivation there is: MONEY. “Trainer-led sessions generate extra revenue where a treadmill or weight machine can’t.”

CrossFit: Boring it’s Not

The popularity of CrossFit training has forced many heretofore successful traditional clubs to “up their bars” for club members in order to remain profitable. The days when participants would arrive at the gym and immediately jump on a treadmill or elliptical and stay there for a half-hour are over.

Why? It’s BORING and anything boring starts to feel a LOT like work.

The group exercises and more intense training pioneered by CrossFit challenge (some would say “beat down”) participants and successfully completing this often grueling training brings about an esprit de corps among the class member. This leads to a greater wiliness to push one’s comfort boundaries and results in better results.

CrossFit training may be hard, but it is seldom boring. Boredom is the bane of most fitness programs and it is the reason that come March, that traditional health club, with its row after row of machines, will once again be a ghost town. While over at the CrossFit box, the participants will be gasping for air, struggling with kettlebells, free weights and tire flips, screaming encouragement to their new friends in the class and kicking butt.   


What’s your story? Share your CrossFit experience with our readers. 
Contact us and tell us.

Feeling Boxed In By CrossFit? Ready To Take Your Knowledge To Your Own Garage Gym Instead?

If the answer is “yes”, then you’re not alone! While CrossFit gyms exploded in the years 2011 through 2015, the once massively popular, cult-like, gritty exercise regimen has slowed down in popularity and appears to be in a consolidation phase, likely due to a confluence of events.

Continue Reading → View full article →

New Army Fitness Test OPAT Takes its Cue from CrossFit

Special Forces CrossFit workout

The U.S. Army is pilot-testing a new way to measure the fitness of soldiers and it looks a LOT like a CrossFit class. The six-event test measures functional fitness and has no adjustment for gender. They are Occupational Physical Assessment Test, or also known as OPAT.

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, the proposed test known as the “Army Combat Readiness Test” (ACRT), seeks to “encourage more practical physical training and prevent injury in a force frequently deployed around the world. It also reflects a U.S. military where all combat jobs are now open to women: The proposed test would have one set of passing standards, with no adjustments for age or gender.”

Officials who manage the physical training of Army personnel have been concerned about the relative fitness of this fighting force for several years. “When you look at fitness, we’re having some challenges right now,” says Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, commanding general of the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training. Tens of thousands of soldiers aren’t deployable because of injuries, many caused by poor physical fitness.

The soldiers who belong to the elite forces of the U.S. military such as Navy SEALS and Army Green Berets have a long history with CrossFit training and apparently the physical instructors of the Army have been taking notice of this. It is not a stretch to say that anyone who endures a weekly CrossFit workout – man or woman – would pass this proposed fitness test.

The Current Test is Based on Aerobics

The current Army test got its impetus from the aerobics boom of the 1980’s. This was also a time when many “Cold-War” leaders felt that ground combat was obsolete.

Fitness experts note that this current test, which includes timed push-ups and sit-ups and a two-mile run, and is taken twice a year is only about 40 percent predictive of a soldier’s ability to complete tasks necessary for combat.  The proposed ACRT test is about 80 percent predictive.

The article notes that in order to pass the current test, soldiers must score 60 points in each of three categories: push-ups, sit-ups and a timed two-mile run. The test awards points on a sliding scale based on a soldier’s age and gender (except in sit-ups, where the male and female standards are identical). For instance, a 22- to 26-year-old man must do 40 push-ups in two minutes to pass that event. A 22- to 26-year-old woman can pass with 17 push-ups.

The Proposed OPAT is Considerably More Challenging

The proposed test will require both genders to be functionally fit in order to pass. CrossFit athletes will certainly recognize these “events” from their WOD’s.

Event #1 - Dead Lift

Deadlift with Barbell

Soldiers line up behind rows of barbells loaded with weights ranging from 125 pounds to 425 pounds. Each soldier picks one of the barbells and performs three dead lifts.

Event #2 – A Reverse Throw of a 10-pound Weight

This throw is measured for distance and seems awkward to some soldiers. However, it serves a purpose. It mimics a boosting move that’s “exactly how we get people into buildings,” says Col. Dale Snider in the Journal article. The 49-year-old has been deployed four times to combat zones.

Event #3 – A New Push-Up

The Army notes that the proposed new push-up requires lowering all the way to the ground and extending one’s arms in a T between repetitions. The T push-up is easier to monitor in testing, Army leaders say and is much more difficult to perform.

Event #4 – 250 Meter Shuttle with 90-Pound Sled and Kettlebells

Army Pulling Sleds in CrossFit workout

This event, which every CrossFit trainer has included in his/her regimen at one time or another, requires the soldier to alternately sprint, dragging a 90-pound sled and carrying two 40-pound kettlebells. Many in the test have noted that this is one of the toughest as far a muscle fatigue.

Event #5 – The Leg Tuck

This leg tuck, the fifth event in the proposed test, requires lifting knees or thighs to elbows while hanging from a pull-up bar. The article noted that some soldiers struggled to do more than a handful of reps.

Event #6 – The Two-Mile Run

The proposed test ends with a timed two-mile run. This is the only event identical to one in the current test.

Functional Training is Coming…and Soon

According to the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, some of the fighting forces have gotten fat as the Army reports that about 17 percent of its soldiers are obese. This rate has risen (from 13 percent) from the previous year and is about half the overall obesity rate of all U.S. civilians. Clearly, the leaders of the Army feel these numbers are going the wrong way and they plan on doing something about this.

The report noted that change could come as soon as 2018. If adopted, the ACRT would complement or replace the current fitness test in the next few years. “The proposed test is part of a move toward a more comprehensive approach to training and maintaining the Army’s 1 million soldiers. It comes amid high demands on the Army world-wide, shrinking pool of people eligible for military service and a shift in the civilian fitness industry (such as CrossFit) toward free-weight and functional training.”


Are you in the military service and use CrossFit to keep in shape? Contact us and let us know.
July 18, 2017

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Enhance Your Fitness Facility's Functionality

The benefits of using a functional trainer at home are well known, but these machines also work wonders in commercial workout facilities. The flexibility of this machine is hard to beat. And it works for a cross-section of the population, the kind of people who visit

  • hotel workout rooms
  • work gyms
  • work gyms
  • school gyms
  • hospital/rehab facilities.

Let’s look at why.

Keeps You Long and Lean

The functional trainer is compact. That means you can squeeze them into small places and remove other items that lack their versatility. This provides clients with more options and leaves your facility with more space.

Bulks Up Your Wallet

These machines save money because they incorporate a number of exercise options into one machine. Therefore, there's no need to spend money on things like weight stacks. And it cuts down on the range of free weights needed.

Provides Smile Gains

The functional trainer works for beginners who are just starting a workout program as well as pro-athletes. It's even great for rehab patients. That means it keeps the wide range of people who visit your gym happy.

Everyone Earns a Gold

Because this machine uses cables, there's no limit on what a person can do. As long the user understands how to move with the cables and employ different angles, a good workout is within reach. It's not hard to figure out.

Newbies Feel Like Pros

If one of your goals is to help people start an exercise program, a functional trainer is a good way to do that. As we mentioned above, it's easy to use for just about anyone. But there's another reason it works for newbies: It's less intimidating.

The unobtrusive design, as well as the quietness, draws in those who are new to working out. There's no clanging like sometimes happens with free-weights. It doesn't demand an aggressive attitude. 

Let's Streamline Your Fitness Facility

So what are you waiting for? Get functional! Contact Rally Fitness today so we can talk about getting your fitness facility stocked with a functional trainer.

Post-Workout Stretching: You May be Missing an Opportunity to Supercharge Your Strength Gain

Many dedicated fitness fanatics believe the traditional warm-up regimen of stretching is a complete waste of time. As it turns out, they may be right.

According to many strength-training books and websites, including JMAX Fitness, “The main problem with conventional stretching programs is they often work against your body’s physiology rather than with it. If you take a tight, cold muscle and expose it to prolonged standard stretching, you could incur scar tissue and micro-tearing, which could then lead to muscle weakness, inflexibility, and injury.

“Furthermore, many professionals have prescribed stretching before exercise as a form of warm up. This is wrong. A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded if you stretch before you lift weights, you could find yourself weaker and “off balanced” in your workouts.

Not something we want when hoisting hundreds of pounds of metal.”

Does this mean that CrossFit athletes should avoid stretching altogether? No.  It means that this activity should occur AFTER the workout. Post-workout stretching has been shown to supercharge results.

Here’s why and how.

Kick-Starting the Recovery Process

CrossFit trainer working out

Many strength training experts, including those who train CrossFit athletes, note that post-workout stretching can help kick-start the recovery process, loosen up the joints and muscles and lead to better flexibility.  This process should be seen as the continuation of the workout.

Nerd Fitness notes that “When you lift a weight your muscles contract. And after the workout the muscles remain contracted for some time. The following restoration of the muscles’ length is what recovery is. Until the muscle has restored its length, it has not recovered. Hence he who does not stretch his muscles slows down the recuperation process and retards his gains. Besides, tension and relaxation are the two sides of the same coin, if the muscle forgets how to lengthen, it will contract more poorly. And that is stagnation of strength.

When you go through a great stretch routine after a heavy weight lifting day, your muscles are already starting to recover and expand, which will allow to you get back to ‘normal’ more quickly than if you didn’t stretch.” Plus, as we age, regaining flexibility becomes more and more difficult.

A Simple Stretching Routine

The type of post-workout stretching routine depends on several factors. These include; your level of fitness, your level of flexibility, how hard you worked out and which muscles were strained. Here is a simple stretching routine that most beginners can benefit from.

A More Advanced Stretching Routine

Combining yoga, stretching, tai-chi, and Pilates the folks at Nerd Fitness have put together a more advanced stretching video. Their suggestion is to stretch as far as possible, hold it for a few seconds without bouncing and then repeat the process.

Anabolic Stretching

Many serious body builders use a post-workout stretching program that uses weights for resistance while stretching. This is called anabolic stretching and it has some controversy surrounding it.

This post-workout stretching exercise uses hyperplasia which is the growth of muscles not through the increase in size of the fibers (hypertrophy) but through the increase in number. According to JMAX Fitness, “Aggressively stretching a fully-pumped muscle is the perfect mechanism for growth. You increase overall muscular tension while also maximizing the cell swelling response for maximal muscle damage.

The article notes, “Anabolic stretching challenges your body to build both flexibility and strength in the positions you need it most. By anabolic stretching in the proper manner, you will be able to build strength into your flexibility. Stretching the sheaths or layers that encapsulate the muscle bundles will elicit another anabolic effect. In protective response to this unstable change, the stretched muscle sheets trigger an increase in protein splitting, muscle cell division, and collagen breakdown and repair. The result is, again, hypertrophy for survival.”

This anabolic stretching program demands precise technique and should only be pursued with proper instruction from a trained strength or CrossFit trainer.

What types of post-workout stretching do you use? Let us know by making a comment below or contacting us here.

Sleep: The Secret Weapon for CrossFit Success

CrossFit and Sleep

Good CrossFit athletes are often said to “eat and sleep” the program.  Based on a great deal of athletic performance research, this may not be such a good thing. Among the overwhelming majority of high-performing athletes, quality sleep is an essential training component. Let's look at the connection between good sleep and fitness.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, “The quality and amount of sleep athletes get is often the key to winning. REM sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones.”

High intensity exercise such as CrossFit depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and the right fuel are only part of training and recovery. “What athletes do in the moments during and immediately after competition also determines how quickly their bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients. This helps maintain endurance, speed and accuracy.”

The Stress Hormone: Cortisol

Many athletic trainers and physicians have noted that sleep deprivation can result in an increase in the “stress hormone” known as cortisol. An article in Psychology Today noted that “The stress hormone, cortisol is public health enemy number one. Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.  

Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the “fight-or-flight” mechanism and adequate sleep helps to reduce its incidence in the body. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery after a workout.

Reduction of Injuries

CrossFit class in session

Anyone who has gone through a grueling CrossFit session has first-hand knowledge of the potential for injuries in this setting. A University of California study concluded that injury rates in youth athletes increased during games that followed a night of sleep fewer than six hours.  Another study looking at injury rates in high school athletes found that sleep hours was the strongest predictor of injuries, even more so than the hours of practice.

What accounts for this? First, fatigue affects reaction time and a tired athlete is slower to react to potential twists and turns of a CrossFit WOD. Secondly, fatigue affects the body’s immune system, making athletes more susceptible to illness. Finally, shorter sleep periods don’t provide the body with sufficient time to regenerate cells and repair from the abuse of workouts, games, and daily activities. As the research notes, “Over time, game-earned injuries, health issues, and the inability to fully recover can wear on an athlete and contribute to more time spent on the sidelines.”

Sleep Deprivation Can Drive You Crazy

Sleep deprivation can also have profound effects on one’s mental state. Dr. Joyce Walseben, a psychiatrist and the former director of Bellevue Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center noted in an article in The Atlantic, “Sleep loss can cause psychological damage because sleep regulates the brain’s flow of epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, chemicals closely associated with mood and behavior.

“Mood and sleep use the same neurotransmitters,” she said. “It’s very hard to tell if someone has sleep loss or depression.” Walseban added, “When these neurotransmitters are disrupted by sleep loss, the chemical changes in the brain can also result in manic feelings and behavior similar to bi-polar disorder: high highs of ecstasy and low lows of depression and anger.”

Can You Make it up on the Weekend?

Working too Much

Everyone has heard about the athlete, student or business tycoon who regularly lives on fewer than five hours of sleep each night. While this is certainly possible to do, the long-range health dangers of this type of lifestyle are extremely real.

Some believe they can regularly pull all-nighters and then “make it up” on the weekend, or sometime later. This is also a fallacy. It is a similar problem found in jet-lag. “The problem, the researchers write, is that many people who chronically lose sleep live in societies where their work and school schedules are not aligned with the body’s circadian rhythms.  So they never make up for lost sleep from the nights before, and build up a “sleep debt” that is never repaid. The consequence of chronic sleep debt  is “social jetlag”—a chronic slowing of concentration and hampering of bodily systems.”

If you want to accelerate you CrossFit training impact, get some rest – anywhere from 8 to 9 hours each night. This will also speed your recovery time and give clear head when it comes time to go to the grocery store and buy some healthy food.

Have you had any experience with the benefits of enough sleep and workout success? Post them below and we’ll share with our readers.

You’ll Flip for This Workout!

CrossFit Tire Flip

For the folks who go to a regular, stainless and glass gym and hop on a treadmill for a few minutes to warm up, then get in a few reps on the fancy machines and a call it a workout, the CrossFit athletes who are out flipping giant (300+ pound) tractor tires in a parking lot must seem like “Hillbilly Jim  the professional wrestler! Who in their right mind flips huge used tires for exercise? The answer is simple:  Someone who wants to build explosive power in their lower body, upper-body strength and aerobic conditioning.

The tire flipping exercise, recently discovered by coaches of all sports – especially football and wrestling – was a staple of the old World’s Strongest Man  competitions and is now an insanely popular activity in CrossFit gyms around the world. As Doug Fioranelli noted in an article he wrote for Onnit Academy, “The flip is a tremendous movement for people who need explosive power. This is one of the best exercises for athletes such as football linemen, wrestlers, and others who need to exert force quickly to move heavy opponents.”

There are at least two good reasons for this re-found popularity of tire flipping:

  1. The equipment – the tire – is cheap and readily available. Just go to any tire store and they will sell one for a few bucks.
  2. The movements offer a tremendous, full-body workout

The Basic Flip

Tire Flip CrossFit Exercise

As with any CrossFit exercise, proper form is critical in order for the athlete to avoid injuries. This is a big, old heavy hunk of rubber and if you do this movement incorrectly, you will feel the pain!

According to MD Labs here’s how it’s supposed to be done.  “When you flip the tire it is best to start with the tire flat on the ground. Place your fingers and hands as far under the tire as you can in this position and keep your hands about shoulder width apart. Squat down and then while pulling the tire up with your arms and back explode out of the bottom position. As the tire comes up you should have enough momentum that you can change your hands from a pulling to a pushing position and push the tire all the way over. Immediately after the tire is pushed over and flat start the process again.

“In the beginning you may have to use your knee to pop the tire up high enough so that you can change hand positions to a pushing motion. Try to get away from using your knee as soon as possible to avoid possible leg injury when you have one leg planted on the ground and one in the air. You can flip the tire on any type of surface from concrete to grass to sand.”

Three Tire Flipping Workouts

Group Tire Flip Exercise

As with most CrossFit functional exercises, the tire flip exercise can be used for at least two objectives; strength training and/or conditioning. The best training strategy is to vary one’s objective from workout to workout. Here are some examples for using the tire flipping in a CrossFit program.

Flipping for time (3 to 4 sets)

Flip a tire over 70 meters and put a stopwatch on each trip. You should get quicker over time

Flipping for 90-seconds or two-minutes intervals (3 to 4 sets)

Flip a tire as many times up and down the course over 90-seconds or two-minutes. Keep track of the number of times the tire is flipped. With more practice and strength, the number of flips should increase.

Sled pulling and tire flipping (3 to 4 sets)

You can also include tire flips with pulling a sled loaded with the heavy tire. On the course pull the tire one way and flip the tire coming back.

Anyone of Any Age Can Reap the Benefits of Tire Flipping

In an informal poll of fitness enthusiasts who happen to hit Facebook on a day when a question about tire flipping was posted by yours truly, more than 50 people responded, most extolling the benefits of this exercise. Some of my friends who are more (how can we put this delicately?) sedentary in their lifestyle had some witty and disparaging comments about tire flipping. However, their idea of a workout is sitting in front of a TV, drinking lite beer and watching nine hours of pro football.

Most had great things to say about the fitness benefits of tire flipping exercises. Former middle-school football coach, Jason Martin, from Marietta, Georgia wrote, “Actually we used to have our middle school football team do this in the off season. We would divide them into two teams and race.

“This was different from just pushing weights around. It helped with team – building and competitive spirit. All the while, they were getting great exercise. Note we stressed form: Lifting using legs and pushing over using arm muscles. The kids loved it!”

CrossFit athlete Debby Rogers from Dallas wrote, “It is fun and takes us back to when humans did actual labor!”

Is Your Butt Holding You Back?

A CrossFit Butt


While there are many muscle groups which are critical to CrossFit training performance, none are more important than the glutes. The official, medical term for this often neglected muscle is gluteus maximus  and according to several online references it is the main extensor muscles of the hip is the largest and most superficial of the three gluteal muscles and makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of each side of the hips.


“Its thick fleshy mass, in a quadrilateral shape, forms the prominence of the buttocks,” notes Wikipedia. “Its large size is one of the most characteristic features of the muscular system in humans, connected as it is with the power of maintaining the trunk in the erect posture. Other primates have much flatter hips and cannot sustain standing erectly.”  

Anyone who can stand up straight can thank their lucky glutes for this!


“A strong butt is the key to a happy life.”

As far as their importance for CrossFit training, or any other kind of physical exercise or sports, there are no “ifs, ands or buts,” glutes are crucial. Why? According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, “Glute muscles are the pelvic stabilizing muscles in the backside that keep hips and pelvis in proper alignment during exercise, and they are keys to performance and injury prevention.”


The author of the book Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Running Strong is a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and he has been quoted as saying: “I often tell my patients, a strong butt is the key to a happy life.” While this praise might be a tad grandiose, almost everyone involved in fitness training agrees on the importance of strong glutes.


Sprinters


Dr. Metzl notes that glutes help generate power for push-off and sprinting and in order to “fire in sequence and with proper force,” this muscle group must be strong. He adds that “weak glutes can lead to a number of injuries around the pelvis and there is a correlation between glute activity and knee injuries.” Strong glutes protect the very vulnerable knee joints.


Four Simple Exercises to Build Glute Strength


In an interesting article found on the website “Breaking Muscle”  about building glute strength, Fitness coach, Cassie Dionne slyly noted, “Your glutes are an incredibly important muscle group for many reasons including preventing injury, improving performance, and helping you fit nicely into your jeans.” Here are her four suggested exercises for strengthening glutes.

  • The Modified Clamshell
  1. Lie on your side with your head resting comfortably. 
  2. Your bottom leg should be straight, with your top hip bent up to ninety degrees and your top foot resting behind your bottom knee. Your hips should be forward, and should remain in this forward position throughout the entire movement to come.
  3. Squeeze your glutes and lift your knee off the ground, keeping your top foot rested on your bottom knee (make sure your hips don’t roll back because they most certainly will try to do so).
  4. You should feel this exercise approximately where your jeans pocket would be. If you feel it here, you’re doing it right!

 

  • The Glute Bridge

Glute Bridge

The basic glute bridge is simple, just lay on your back with your knees bent, lifting your hips in the air.


  • Mini Band Walks

Put the mini band around your feet – yes, your feet - and walk laterally, trying to move your upper body as little as possible. This is usually a pretty fail-safe way of getting a burn in that pocket muscle.


  • Slider Reverse Lunge

Simply grab a Valslide or a similar tool that will allow you to move smoothly across the ground. Put the slide under one foot, and use that foot to slide into a reverse lunge, and then return to standing. Try doing this exercise after one of the ones above, and just wait until you feel the burn!


Here are two More Glute Exercises

Not to be outdone, Dr. Jordan Metzl also has two CrossFit exercises which he suggests for strengthening glute muscles.

CrossFit jump squat

  • Plyometric Jump Squat

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Squat, bending knees to 90 degrees and jump up explosively and landing softly with your knees bent in a squat. Keep weight back and over heels.


  • Plyometric Lunge

Stand with right foot forward and knees slightly bent. Lower your body until the right thigh is parallel to the floor and the leg is bent at a 90 – degree angle. Spring upward and switch legs, landing gently with you left foot forward. Immediately lower to a lunge again. Spring and switch legs once more.


In order to build CrossFit training performance and avoid injuries which can keep the athlete on the couch instead of the gym, athletes should talk to their trainer about functional activities and specific exercises to build strength in the glute muscles. Remember what the good doctor said; “A strong butt is the key to a happy life!”




Do you have a favorite exercise for building strength in glutes? Contact us and we will share with our other readers.