I Don't Know What to Do With My Hands?

Other than posting a disgustingly cool Instagram photo, there are no positives to ripping your hands. Anyone who has done “Cindy” knows ripped hands are a pain in your behind. That first shower after the workout will leave you screaming and questioning every life decision that you have ever made. For all those who have shared this experience with me, I am here to say, “There is hope.” With just a few steps you can reduce your chance of ripping substantially. This will lead to less pain, and more importantly better performances at the gym.  Please read below about tips that you can use before, during, and after you work out to avoid ripping your hands as well as hand care techniques you can use to help ease the pain after you rip. 

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Preventing Rips

You rip your hands for two reasons: you either have soft hands with little or no callus build-up, or you have too much callus build-up that makes ridges and bumps on your hands. As with most things you need to find a good medium. The goal is to have smooth and supple calluses that will protect your hands but remain intact when you put in the work. 

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1. Before your Workout

Tools

Pumice StoneYou can find these at most convenience stores and they are your first step to filing down your calluses. I am not a big fan of these for consistent maintenance, but this is an easy tool to carry around and use in a bind. 

DremelThis is by far the most effective tool I have used for filing down calluses. Some people are scared to use power tools to file their hands down. I stress that this is the quickest and most effective way to file your hands down. Here is a link to the Dremel I use. It is less powerful than others and it works well.  If you decide on this option to file down your calluses (which I highly recommend) use the SLOW SPEED setting.

Cuticle ClipperThis is my last attempt to sooth some painful calluses and the blisters that pop up underneath them. If my calluses hurt to the touch I cut them off and start all over. Be warned that the first few days at the gym after you cut your calluses will hurt as your hands develop calluses again, but after 1-2 workouts they should be back to normal and feel good. 

Misc- Other tools I have heard of people using are knifes, razors, and scissors. Yup, shaving your calluses can look like a scene from “Dexter.”

Treatment 

You should shave down your hands daily, especially after a workout where you are on the rig for an extended period of time. The best time to do this is right after your shower when your skin is nice and soft. After you shave your hands (and throughout the day) you should put moisturizer on your hands. Keeping your hands hydrated and soft will allow them to mend more and rip less.  

Expert tips about Moisturizer

    1. Put moisturizer on when your hands are still damp. This way the moisturizer is trapping the moisture still on your skin. Skin shouldn’t be soaking wet so pat yourself dry with a towel to get rid of excess water before applying. 
    2. Avoid moisturizers with perfumes and alcohols. Buy a mild moisturizer – the cheaper stuff is usually better than the high-end products. 
    3. Use a heavier moisturizer before bed so the moisturizer will penetrate the top layer of your skin as you sleep. 

A general rule of thumb that I follow is to take your nail and run it over your callus. If your nail gets stuck you need to file your callus down more. 

2. During the Workout

Grip

 Take a moment and actually think about how you are gripping the bar. What hurts? Are you gripping the bar in your palm or on your fingertips? Take a look at this video on how to grip the bar properly.  Instead of gripping the bar in the middle or your palm try and grip the bar across the base of your fingers, and remember to use a HOOK GRIP.  When grabbing the pull-up bar you should also grab the bar in a false grip using a gymnastics hook grip, which simply means putting your thumb over your fingers. Please see parts one and two of this video that breaks down how to grip the bar to save your shoulders and your hands. 

Chalk

Chalk can be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to your hands. Small amounts keep your hands dry and help your grip because you will be less likely to hold the bar too tightly. On the other hand, too much chalk creates more friction and excess drying which will quickly lead to ripped hands. Unless my hands are dripping with sweat I try and avoid using chalk when I am on the rig because I find it leads to ripping very easily. BOTTOM LINE: USE CHALK SPARINGLY. 

Be Patient

Your hands are going to rip when you first start out. No matter how careful you are you will still rip. Be patient. Your hands will continue to toughen up. Keep these steps in mind and take care of your hands. Go easy on the chalk. Don’t walk into the gym with mounds of chalk on your palms and you will be able to get away with a lot of work before you rip. Remember ripped hands mean less training and less results. Sacrifice a few likes on Instagram and take care of your hands for better performance.  

3. Ripped, Now What?

Wash It Out 

The first thing you should do when your hand rips is clean it well. It’s going to burn, but you need to wash it with warm water and soap. After washing your hands try to use a moisturizer to add moisture back to your skin and replace the natural oils that you have removed. 

Trim Excess Skin

If the skin is torn in a way that it is going to catch and rip further, use sterilized scissor or a cuticle clipper to trim the excess skin away. If the tear is small, or a burst blister, leave the skin to protect the healthy flesh underneath. 

Bandage, Keep Moist, and Cover it Overnight

The key to promote quick healing and minimize pain is to keep the area moist. Use a product with Vitamin E, especially Neosporin. Keeping the rip moist will prevent it from drying and tearing further. Cover the wound with a small bandage or tape. This will allow the balm (Neosporin) to do its job overnight to keep the area moist and prevent infection. 

4. Training With Ripped Hands

Gloves or Leather Straps

I personally don’t like gloves. I feel they obstruct my grip on the rig or the bar. The excess movement of my hand within the glove actually causes my hands to rip more easily. Having said that, for a bad rip, gloves will feel a lot better than a cold steel bar. 

New Skin

Applying New Skin will create a tough layer over your rip. I have tried this and it worked well for a little, but it rips off after excessive pull ups or bar work.  It also burns when you apply it. 

Tape

If you can master the technique of properly taping your hand, this is probably your best bet. Here is a link on how to properly tape your hands after you rip. This method will use a lot of tape so please bring and use your own tape. The video basically shows these steps:

1.  Measure out a piece of athletic tape from the end of your finger past the base of your hand (longer is fine; too short and you’ll have to start over) and then double that length before cutting it. 

2. Fold the tape in half, length-wise. 

3. Fold this piece back on itself to make a loop large enough for your finger to fit through. 

4.  Cut a second piece of tape to secure the seam between the folded tape, still leaving the loop exposed. 

 5. Place your finger through the loop and lay the strap across the palm of your hand (covering the rip); secure the strap to your wrist with more tape. The grip itself should be loose across your hand.

Suck it Up

The best approach is to take all the steps possible to prevent ripping. This means filing down your calluses, keeping your hands moisturized, focusing on grip, and using less chalk. If you feel like you are about to rip get off the bar. Next time you grab the bar change your grip slightly. Even with all this preparation you will still rip at times. Sometimes the only thing we can do is get through the workout, or shower, the best we can. Hit the Wod as hard as you can with no equipment, and just deal with it until it heals.  Just remember if you have an open wound you need to clean anything you touch, and the cut, after you work out. Fighting through terrible Wods, and terrible rips, is a great way to build mental strength and help create an inevitable BAD ASS. 

Still Intrigued? Please read more below. Feel free to Comment Below. Share any Tips that work for you, or advice you would like to share. 

 How to Treat Hand Rips – Tabata Times

Treating Rips - Breaking Muscles

How to Take Care of Your Hands - Tabata Times

How to Not Rip Your Hands - Breaking MuscleHand Maintence - Crossfit Invictus

Crossfit Hand Care

Shared Personality Traits of CrossFit Athletes - By Dave Melillo

People of all demographics have come together under the banner of CrossFit to develop a community that is unparalleled in strength, scope and size. The numerous individuals that make up the CrossFit community are obviously drawn to the program for the promise of physical endowment and the camaraderie forged on the floor, but in my short time as part of the community I’ve noticed there are certain intrinsic personality traits that draw people to CrossFit. Some may be perceived as positive traits and others negative, but they all contribute to the personality profile of a CrossFit athlete.
Neurosis 
Although the adjective has mainly negative connotations, the fruit bore by neurosis can be extremely beneficial for CrossFit athletes at large. We all know a guy at our gym that takes an excessive amount of time to set up for an Olympic lift, re-gripping the bar several times and twerking in the same fashion before each rep. We all know the girl who goes for the chalk bucket in between every broken set of pull ups. And we all have experienced some type of anxiety or neurosis when we miss multiple days of training. However, when this neurosis is coupled with the right training techniques it forms habits that build elite athletes. 
Philanthropy
Events like Barbells for Boobs, organizations like CrossFit for Hope and numerous hero workouts honoring fallen soldiers and servicemen put philanthropy at the core of the CrossFit community. Although athletes can be perceived as selfish in many ways, their contributions to the community as a whole cannot be ignored. The philanthropic spirit of CrossFit athletes has transformed boxes into centers for universal benevolence. 
Dedication
Most athletes are fiercely dedicated not only to their own training, but to the gyms and fellow athletes that support their training. Boxes become symbols of identity for frequent athletes, and friendships made at the gym extend far beyond training sessions. There are few conglomerates that have inspired the level of dedication to an idea, purpose and place that CrossFit has. 
Rebellion
The emergence of CrossFit has represented a paradigm shift in the world of fitness. After decades of domination by globo-gyms, home exercise videos and isolation training methods, CrossFit has brought the concept of functional fitness to the masses. Even though CrossFit has now become a much more prevalent fitness model, its athletes still embody the sense of rebellion and counter culture that the program was initially built on. Some of the most popular and successful athletes from the CrossFit games are proof of the presence of counter culture in the CrossFit fabric, whether it be undersized athletes such as Chris Spealler, tattoo clad athletes such as Matt Chan or even the unassuming king of fitness, Rich Froning.  

Compassion 
There is no better trait that CrossFit athletes share than compassion. The compassion wielded by gym members is the main reason why CrossFit has grown at an exponential rate and has made boxes more than just a place to work out. Newcomers are commonly greeted with open arms, making CrossFit gyms a sanctuary where anyone can be accepted despite their past or present form. This compassion and altruism creates an environment that not only supports physical gains, but also emotional growth.  
Obstinacy
The stubbornness displayed by many CrossFit patrons is both a strength and weakness. It is strength in the sense that athletes are able to push themselves beyond the boundaries of normal human comprehension. They refuse to accept perceived physical limitations and are often rewarded with an array of positive results. However, this obstinacy is also a contributor to injuries that have tarnished the program’s reputation. Many people have argued that CrossFit is inherently dangerous, but fail to recognize that every athlete has a choice when they enter a box. They can scale workouts until they have developed the mobility, nutrition and techniques needed to perform as prescribed, or they can chose to put themselves at risk by picking up weight they can’t handle properly and performing movements they have not taken the time to master. Most injuries happen because stubborn athletes fail to adhere to a standard, develop a technique properly or listen to their bodies when feeling sore or injured. 
CrossFit athletes are complicated. We come in different shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, needing something new on a daily basis. Despite all of these differences, we have found common ground in a sport that delivers a succinct message; we are all the same inside. Though our ages, range of mobility and athletic ability may vary, we all are striving towards creating a better version of ourselves and a better version of the world we see around us. Although these traits can, and have, been portrayed in a negative light, I choose to see them as a cocktail that can been used to inject positivity and success into our everyday lives.  

“Crossfit Makes Girls Bulky” and Other Nasty Rumors. - By Ashley Holden-Klimik

“Crossfit Makes Girls Bulky” and Other Nasty Rumors.

By Ashley Holden-Klimik

We have all heard the rumors, and the endless chatter from those Crossfit “haters,” things like, “Crossfit is dangerous,” “Crossfit’s a cult,” and my personal favorite, “Crossfit makes girls bulky.”

Now keep in mind that I am just one person, and everyone’s experience is different. However, I wanted to share some thoughts about what I have discovered to be true about Crossfit, despite what the haters think.

  1. Crossfit makes you strong.  Like really, really strong. I’m not just talking about PRs (personal records) and the fact that I can lift more than my body weight. I’m talking about functionally strong. Two years ago when my family’s home was destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, I had only been Crossfitting for 4 months. However, at that time, I was able to lift furniture, tree limbs, boxes, pieces of debris and everything else the storm dredged up. I was also able to move boxes over head that only 6 months before, required two people to lift.  Thanks to Crossfit, I was capable of literally and figuratively carrying more weight.  Oh and by the way, the only two people in my family that could physically move these items were both Crossfitters.  
  2. Crossfit teaches you to eat like a human.  Before starting Crossfit, I considered myself a healthy eater. However, I looked for low-fat, no-fat, calorie free (is that even food?), and opted for processed versions of real food because it offered fewer grams of carbs.  Since joining Crossfit, I have learned to look at food differently. I see what I eat as fuel for my body and think about what I eat for how it will best help my performance, not for how it will make my butt look. In that, I have learned to eat REAL food. Fruits, veggies, meat, nuts, seeds, and lots and lots of fat.  I eat a lot of it too, and that is the best part.  I think of nutrition in terms of fuel for my body, and it has completely changed my relationship with food.
  3. Crossfit helps you develop really, really good friendships.  I’m not talking about, “sometimes we text or go out for drinks” friendships (although we do that too), I’m talking about people you can laugh with, cry with, celebrate successes, and vent about frustrations with.  Not just for missed lifts or benchmark PRs, but I have found my Crossfit friends to be staples in my everyday life too. Some of the people at my box are the best kind of people, and ones I consider to have life-long friend potential.
  4. Crossfit gives you confidence.  I think this one is especially important.  When you set a goal, put in the work, and watch yourself achieve it, there is no better feeling.  Over and over again in Crossfit we smash personal records and watch ourselves grow and transform in ways that we didn’t imagine possible.  We get physically stronger and mentally tougher.  And this is not just in the box, but in life too. 
  5. Crossfit teaches you to love and respect your body.  This is especially true for women. Society teaches us we have to look a certain way (thigh gap anyone) to be attractive and/or valued.  Yet Crossfit crushes that conception.  Instead of looking in the mirror and obsessing over cellulite and pudge, Crossfit helps you to appreciate your body for the work it can perform.  
  6. Crossfit allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Some may call it a cult, I call it a community.  In Crossfit, not only are we a community in our own individual boxes, but in our regions, and in the world. You can watch professional Crossfitters do the same workouts you do in the Open or the Games, and marvel about how Crossfit has connected us all.  Not only that, but it provides a forum to raise money for great causes, like with Barbells for Boobs, and to honor extraordinary heroes, like Memorial Day Murph.  Not only do you get a killer workout, but many times, it’s for a great cause.

Now I know there will always be people who talk bad about things they don’t really understand, but for me, Crossfit will always be something life-changing and something I hope to continue to do until old age.  I am certainly glad every day that I found JSA and the community it provides.  Crossfit may not be for everyone, but you will never know until you try. 

 

Barbell hipster - by Dave Melillo

Barbell hipster


At the crux of every athlete is the hip. It is part of every functional movement we perform at the gym and throughout the day; it controls our balance, pelvic inclination and posture, but still remains a source of untapped potential for most.  This capped potential is not due to a physical gap, but rather a lack of understanding or appreciation for what the hip’s true mechanism is capable of. What I have come to understand from my research and experience is that the force generated by the vicious, full extension of the hip joint allows an athlete to express the true breadth of their power and training.

The supernatural strength produced by a developed understanding of hip drive is overtly appreciated in the Olympic weightlifting community.  Different styles of Olympic weightlifting have been developed based on the use of the hip and whether it makes contact with the bar or not. Some suggest the brush method
where the bar barely makes contact with the body, while others champion intentional hip contact with the bar in order to aid elevation. Just like different styles of martial arts, both lifting styles can be debated and defended ad nauseam, but if an entire sport can split into two factions based on the hip, then its role in the expression of our strength is non-debatable.

The importance of hip drive is baked into the core of CrossFit, and as CrossFit athletes we understand the importance of the hip, as its status routinely serves as our standard.  An open or closed hip can mean the difference between a rep and a no-rep, a muted hip in the middle of a clean or snatch can be the difference between hitting a PR and hitting a wall, and hip drive is essential to master the advanced gymnastics
modalities we see in many work outs. The casual weekend warrior and sports fan may not consciously give the hip the love it deserves, but we are all innately drawn to its power. Homeruns in baseball, dunks in basketball, and depth defying receptions in football all owe their excitement to the power generated by the hip.


Below is an infamous dunk by Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers beside a 122kg (268lbs) snatch by Spanish weightlifter Lydia Valentin. In frame two of Griffin’s dunk and frame three of Valentin’s lift we see both athletes in almost identical positions at the final moment of hip flexion. The proceeding frames show each athlete’s hip going into full extension, releasing the massive amount of energy gathered during the setup. The last frames highlight the focus and accuracy of each athlete as the force generated by their violent hip extension dissipates and they are forced to maintain control of the movement.  Both samples are shining examples of how hip drive not only generates superior strength but also excitement. The Griffin dunk won him the 2011 NBA slam dunk contest and Lydia’s 122kg snatch at 75kg bodyweight is only 13kg below the world record set by Natalia Zabolontnaya.


At my L1 our instructors explained that we develop hip drive through programming in part because it fuels most of our favorite sports moments. Hip drive is the most efficient way to move loads, allows us to express our strength in the most comprehensive manner and turns heads for the right reasons. So the next time someone tells you to open your hip during a workout remember that they may not be doing it just to adhere to a standard, but also to make you stronger.

Optimize Your Diet to Reach Your Fitness and Nutrition Goals - by Justin Sarubbi

Optimize Your Diet to Reach Your Fitness and Nutrition Goals. 

 

Before I get started I just want to emphasize I am not a nutritional expert by any means. I just try and do what I think is best for me and am willing to share my story and experiences, hoping that it can help somebody else. The best piece of advice I can think of is to find what works for you. Do your own research and self-experiments, see what nutrition plan best suits your needs. The purpose of this article is to shed some light of some diets that other people from the gym and me follow. 

 

Paleo and Fat Loss

For most people at the gym the best approach seems to be a Paleo-ish plan. The Paleo diet as most people know it is, “Eat plenty of Vegetables, Meat, Nuts and Seeds, Little starch, and No Sugar”. This approach works great if your main objective is to lose weight. From personal experience I can say this diet helped me lose over 30 pounds and really improved my general health.  I used to prescribe to the 80 -20 Rule of 80% Diet and 20% Cheat. I do Crossfit because I am trying to improve my overall health, and I believe a strong diet is the most fundamental way of achieving this health. I also know that mental health is just as important. Constantly worrying about what you eat can cause a damper on life and will lead to unnecessary stress. That’s why I allowed myself a 20% cheat buffer where I can indulge on my favorite vices (ice-cream, pizza, beer). After following this approach for a while, I found I gave a little too much leeway and that number seemed to hover around the 65-70% range, and my performance and weight slipped up. I now like to prescribe to the 90-10% rule with trying to get in a few really healthy days of eating before I cheat. 

 

According to fitness expert Robb Wolf, he believes following a Basic Paleo Plan is an effective approach that will lead to lifelong Fat Loss. Here is an excerpt from his blog where he breaks down the basic plan:

 

Majority of meals look like this:

  • 4-8 oz of lean protein such as chicken, lean beef, turkey, pork loin or seafood.
  • Then add several servings of multicolored vegetables, either raw, steamed or lightly cooked.
  • Finally, round out the meal with good fats from Avocado, olive oil or a handful of un-salted nuts such as almonds, pecans, macadamias or walnuts.

 

Make sure to have 3-4 meals like this each day. Give it 30 days and then let us know how quick and easy it is to lose unwanted body fat, all without hunger and cravings. Until you reach your desired level of leanness, we recommend you keep your fruit intake to 1-2 servings per day and make these choices mainly from berries and melons. Keep in mind, you will be eating plenty of nutritious fresh vegetables, we just want you to see the fastest, most effective results you can. This is why we limit your fruit in the beginning to help you change your metabolic engines to a mode of “fat burning”.  Read More: Robb Wolf Meal Plan Blog

 

The Basic Paleo worked great when I needed to kick start my weight loss and metabolism. I lost more weight than I thought was obtainable, and was happy about the way I was looking. As I felt better and better about my body, I also was noticing my times in the workouts were also improving. I decided it was time to see what Crossfit competitions were like and I started competing.  With all the added work I knew I needed to change my diet to help aid in recovery and optimize my performance. After researching and executing a few diet plans I saw that most professionals around the Crossfit scene were talking about similar approaches with the basic idea below. 

 

The Basics to Optimizing Performance

  • Take the Basic Paleo Plan and Add additional Carbs that should be eaten only at Optimal Times
  • Break food into Macronutrients (Carbs, Fats, and Proteins), Adjust Food intake on your size, level of physical work, and body composition goals. 
  • Eat carbs around all your workouts. 
    • The goal is to fuel up before your workout 
    • Use carbs to recover after your workout.
      • Consuming Carbs within 30 min post workout will help optimize repair of muscle tissue and to ensure muscle glycogen is optimally replenished
    • transition between fats and carbohydrates so you can burn more fat when you're not exercising 
  • Two diet Examples provided below are the Flexible Dieting and Eat to Perform

 

Macronutrients

Before we get into the Diets let’s take a step back and discuss the Macronutrients that are used to fuel performance: Fat, Carbohydrates, and Protein. Nutrients are the substances that living organisms require to live, function, and thrive. Macronutrients are simply nutrients required in large quantities, which the body uses for energy. 

 

  • Protein – amino acids the body requires for a wide variety of functions. It is one of the building blocks of the body and is crucial for muscle growth and muscular repair.
    • Meat, Poultry, Fish, Seafood, Eggs, Dairy (except butter & cream).
    • Supplements: Protein Powder
  • Fat- the body uses Fat as a secondary source of energy; it maintains cell membranes, absorbs fat-soluble vitamins, provides cushioning for our organs and joints, and promotes healthy skin and hair. Essential fatty acids can’t be synthesized by the human body so they must be ingested by way of food. 
    • Red Meat, Pork, Fish, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, MCT Oil, Other Oils, Nuts, seeds, Avocados, Full Fat Dairy (milk,cheese,yogurt, BUTTER, cream), Ghee, and egg yolk.
    • Supplements: Fish Oil, Putting Butter in Coffee
  • Carbohydrates- Provides energy for activities that demand energy.  The body uses this macronutrient most easily, so in order to perform well, you need ample amounts. Carbs are also used to fuel our brain. Leftover carbs get stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen, and then used later when energy is needed.  Carbs can be broken down into Simple and Complex. 
    • Simple Carbs – fast digesting and easily broken down for immediate energy. More commonly known as sugar.
    • Complex Carbs- substantially more difficult for our bodies to digest. Broken down gradually and released into bloodstream slower, these include fiber. 
    • Found in starchy foods (oats, quinoa, rice, yams, potatoes, corn, etc.), fruit, and veggies. My favorites are Sweet Potatoes, White Rice, and Quinoa. 
    • Supplements: Vitargo, Maltodextrin, Waxy Maize, Dextrose. 

Quantity 

Even though I don’t think weighing and measuring every meal is a good idea. I do believe understanding a general target goal for your nutrition, and monitoring your intake of food for a day or two to see what your Macros and diet looks like. One great tool for this is the My Fitness Pal App (more below) which can be downloaded for free onto your phone.  I am a dork and like to write down my workouts and food so I can look back on the data and see if I can find any patterns. 

 

  1. Flexible Dieting -This plan will work best for athletes who Wod around 4+ times a week who are looking quantify their results. 
    1. Cutting/Maintaining
      1. Calories- Multiply Weight X 11-14(depending on level of activity throughout the day). If you have less Body Fat you can eat more towards the higher number and visa-versa. 
      2. Protein- 1g per 1 Pound of Target weight (want to weigh 195 eat 195 grams of Protein)
      3. Carbs-1-1.5g  per 1 Pound of Target weight
      4. Fat- take Grams of Protein + Carbs then X by 4 (4 cals in a gram of P and C). Take that number subtract from total calories then divide that number by 9 (4 cals in a gram of Fat)
        1. Example: Target Weight 195: 195 + 243.75 (195*1.25)=438.75  X 4=1755

2730 (195X14) – 1755 = 975 / 9 = 108.33

    1. Bulking 
      1. Calories- Multiply Weight X 11-14 (more towards 14)
      2. Protein- 1g per 1 Pound of Target weight (want to weigh 220 eat 220 grams of Protein)
      3. Carbs-1.5g  per 1 Pound of Target weight
      4. Fat- take Grams of Protein + Carbs then X by 4. Take that number subtract from total calories then divide that number by 9. 
    2. Justin Sarubbi’s Macro’s
      1. Calories (Total Daily Energy Expenditure): 2730
      2. Protein: Grams 195 / Calories 780 (28%)
      3. Carbs: Grams 243.75/ Calories 975 (36%)
      4. Fat: Gram 108.33 / Calories 975 (36%)

 

 

  1. Eat to Perform - For the Athlete who Wods 4-5 times a week and does additional exercise on top of that workload. Ideal for Athletes looking to compete and train for crossfit competitions or other events. ETP makes it easy to calculate your recommended daily amount of Calories and Macro’s.  Just fill out info regarding Height, Weight, Age, Activity Level, on link below and they will give you your numbers:
  2. ETP Calculator
    1. Justin Sarubbi’s Macro’s: 
      1. Calories (Total Daily Energy Expenditure): 3,312
      2. Protein: Grams 195 / Calories 780 (24%)
      3. Carbs: Grams 352/ Calories 1,407 (42%)
      4. Fat: Gram 125 / Calories 1,125 (34%)

As you can see by these two diet plans that they are both very similar but as your workload increases you want to add more Carbs. This is shown by adding almost 108.25 grams of carbs to compensate for additional workload.  Just remember that these numbers are just a baseline not an exact target. Play with the amounts and see which works for you. Keep a journal and log different days and see how you felt and performed in the workout, given your food intake. 

 

 

 

Timing 

 I base the timing of my meals by how I feel. If I wake up and I am hungry I eat, if I am not hungry I don’t eat, it’s that simple. Meal timing for me is not important, what is important is Macro timing. It is optimal to consume your carbs around your training time. Proper Macro distribution is detrimental to success. 

  1. Flexible Dieting Plan
    1. Protein – try to distribute evenly between however many meals you choose to consume on a daily basis. For example if eat 150 g’s of protein and 5 meals a day eat 30 grams per meal. This doesn’t have to be exact but don’t eat 150 grams of protein in one sitting. 
    2. Carbs/Fat- Consume around training time. Pre and Post workout meals should be carb heavy. 
      1. PM Training- Carbs at night, start day with Protein and Fats then taper in protein and carbs right before you train. Continue eating carbs post workout until you hit your macros. (If you train at 7 eat carbs at 5 until bedtime).
      2. AM Training- Eat Carbs and Protein right before and right after your workout and taper it into protein and fats as the day goes on. 

 

  1. Eat to Perform
    1. The same premise as the Flexible Diet Plan. Use both fat and carbohydrates for fuel.
      1. High Intensity Workout Fuel with Carbs (Crossift, Olympic Lifting, running)
      2. Low Intensity Workout Fuel with Fat (walking, moving around doing you daily job)
    2. Rev up Carbs and Calories on Days you work out and scale them back on days you are resting
    3. This diet differs from Flexible Diet Plan because it uses the previous day to help you fuel for next day’s activities. 
      1. AM Training- Eat carbs around workouts. Optimally eat carbs the Night before to ensure that you’re fueled for your AM workout. 
        1. If rest day save carbs for Night to fuel for next morning. 
        2. If workout AM and next day is Rest Day taper off you Carbs as the day goes on, eating on Fat and Protein at night. 
      2. PM Training- Eat carbs around workouts. Optimally start eating carbs late afternoon and evening to fuel for PM workout. Then eat until you reach Macros or go to bed. 

Regardless of which diet, or any diet, you choose to partake in; the timing of your Macros can be a great tool to control your body composition and fuel for your workouts. If you want to read more about these diets, and the research behind them, you can find them at the links below:

Flexible Dieting

Eat to Perform 

 

Tips

Regardless of what diet you choose to pursue, here are a few tips that will help you achieve your goals. 

  1. Start Now - Don’t tell yourself I will start on Monday, next month, or the next day. Everything you put in your body serves a purpose, if you want to make a commitment for better health start right away. 
  2. Ease into It - You don’t have to go full Paleo. You don’t have to jump from 1200 Calories a day to 3000 (unless you want to). Try adding a little more to eat each day and see how you feel. Or try ditching some less optimal food each day until you are happy with your diet. Nothing has to be immediate, but know that little changes can add up and make a huge difference. 
  3. Record Data - Crossfit’s greatest trait is the ability to measure your fitness level. People can easily see what their old times, or lifts, were compared to their current. Recording data is a great way to measure your progress, and your nutrition should be no different. 
    1. Take a Before Photo - Take a photo before you start your diet and continue to take photos as you progress with your diet. If you think you look better, continue what you are doing. If you think you look worse, take a look back at your diet and try and change aspects, or find a new plan. 
    2. Log you Food Intake - When you first start a diet it is very important to monitor you daily food intake to get a baseline of what your average day looks like. I use the app My Fitness Pal (you will see my results below), it is a great tool to journal your daily diet. It will break down you daily food intake into daily nutrients so you can see what exactly you are consuming. I would also keep a notebook to jog down how you feel after eating certain foods, compared to others. If you feel good after you eat a meal, continue eating that food. If you feel bloated, or gassy stop eating it. 
    3. Create a Cookbook - If you like a certain meal, save the recipe. Having a list of go to easy meals at your disposal will save a bunch of time when you are looking for a quick meal. There are a bunch of good Note taking apps available for your phone, I use Evernote.  You have a limitless supply of recipes online, if you find one you like copy it and paste it into a Notebook, it literally takes 3 seconds. My general rule of thumb is to google what ingredients I have to cook with, then type “Paleo”.  Here is an example of my google search when I searched “Grassfed Beef, Kale Paleo”. You can see to the right that the first result gave me a list of 26 healthy dishes that contain Ground Beef. It is not a perfect system but it will get you results if you follow it. 
  4. Meal Prep - Life is the worst thing that could happen to our diet. We have so little free time that eating healthy gets shoved farther and farther down the priority list. Having meals prepared is a great resource to use when life throws you a curveball. Pick a day where you have the most time and take 1-2 hours to create meals for the week. So when that meeting runs an extra hour you don’t have to pull into a Drive Thru at your local fast food chain, you can just microwave some leftover chicken, broccoli and white rice, or whatever meal you choose. Prepping your food is a guaranteed way for you to meet your daily diet needs. 
  5. Don’t Stress Out - Committing to your diet is a gigantic step in the right direction. You are actively trying to better your health and yourself, and you should feel proud of that decision. If you don’t eat perfect one day, or binge eat some junk food, don’t beat yourself up over it, just make sure your next few meals are healthy and continue choosing quality foods, and you will be fine. I cheat every week, every week I have some Beer, Pizza, Candy, or Ice-cream.  I never eat perfectly any given week and I rarely feel guilty about it. Why? Because I know I work my ass off trying to eat healthy, and workout hard throughout the week, so I know I can get away with a few cheat meals and continue to achieve my goals.  Click on this link to read more about “Not Stressing Out.” 

I hope you found this article helpful, Please see below for some examples of Daily Food Intake for a few athletes at the gym. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Sarubbi- Competing Athlete trying to Maintain.

  1. Workload: Little Less Intense Training Day. 6PM Wod followed by  1 hour of Gymnastics Work
  2. Calories (Total Daily Energy Expenditure): 2,994 (3,312)
  3. Fat: Gram 135 (125)
  4. Carbs: Grams 291 (352)
  5. Protein: Grams 192 (195)
  6. Diet
    1. 8AM-11AM: Breakfast: 375 Cal, 29.6g F, 44g C , 5g P 
  7. Bullet Proof Coffee (Coffee with Butter, MCT Oil, and Butter): 228 Cal, 29.6g F
      1. Fresh Juice (Carrot, Celery, Beet, Apple, Lemon): 143 Cal., 44g C, 5g P 
    1. 3:00 PM: Lunch from Whole Foods: 837 Cal, 42.4g F, 54.9g C, 68.9g P
      1. Kale and Mixed Green Salad w/ Balsamic Vinegar: 156 Cal, 26g C, 8g P
      2. Sautéed Spinach w/ Garlic: 86  Cal, 4.4g F, 8.6g C,6.4g P
      3. Fajita Skirt Steak: 420, Cal, 28g F, 10g C, 42g P
      4. Mediterranean Chicken Salad: 175 Cal, 10g F, 10g C, 12.5g P
    2. 4:30 PM: Snack 1: 358 Cal, 8.2g F, 66g C, .5g P
      1. Fermented Coconut Water: 35 Cal, 7g C, .5g P
      2. Japanese Yam with Grassfed Butter: 303 Cal, 8.2g F, 54g C
      3. Muscle Fuel Pre Workout : 20 Cals, 5g C
    3. 7:15PM: Post Workout Shake/Snack: 130 Cal, 1g F, 22g C, 10g P
      1. Fuel for Fire Squeeze Gel
    4. 9:30PM:  Dinner: 897 Cal,35.5g F, 54.1g C, 82.9g P
      1. Tbone Steak: 560 Cals, 25g F, 77g P
      2. Cucumber and Tomato Salad: 119, 8.9g F, 8.3g C, 1.4g P
      3. Brown Rice: 218 Cal, 1.6g F, 45.8g C, 4.5g P
    5. 10:30:  Snack 2: 420 Cal, 18.6g F, 50.6g C, 20.1g P,
      1. Smoothie (Orange, Cranberry, Blueberry, Kefir, Almont Butter, Cocao Powder)

 

Analysis: You can see that my Calories, Carbs, and Protein are a little lower than the recommended value. I am completely fine with that, I didn’t work out as hard as I normally do so I ate a little less. I consumed 99grams of carbs from 8 AM to 4:30 PM. I had a little too much Carbs for breakfast than normal but I couldn’t turn down a fresh squeezed Juice. At 4:30 PM it was time to fuel for my workout so I ate a Yam and continued eating carbs the rest of the night. I added a Smoothie with some Fruit before bed to help get closer to my Macros. I ate 192.9 grams of carbs from 4:30PM to 10:30PM, so as you can see I try to keep most of my carbs around my workouts. 

 

 

 

Female Competing Athlete: Bulking

  1. Workload: Double Training Day
  2. Calories: 2,671
  3. Fat: Grams 69
  4. Carbs: Grams 292
  5. Protein: Grams 191
  6. Diet
  7. Breakfast: 645 Cals
    1. 3 Eggs, 3 Slices of Turkey Bacon, .5 Avocado, 1.5 cup of Broccoli, 1 Sweet Potato
  8. Lunch: 534 Cals
    1. 4 oz Grilled Chicken breast, 3 cups of Mixed Greens, 2 tbsp Blush Wine Vinaigrette, Nectarine
  9. Snack 1: 300 Cals
    1. Perfect Foods Bar
  10. Pre-Workout: 391 Cals
    1. Vitargo 
  11. Post-Workout: 260 Cals
    1. Recovery Protein Powders, Fuel for Fire 
  12. Dinner: 542 Cals
    1. 4 oz grilled Sirloin steak, Sweet Corn, 1.5 cup of Sautéed Spinach, 12 Almonds

 

Male Competing Athlete 1: Bulking

  1. Workload: Double Training Day: AM and PM
  2. Calories: 4,880
  3. Fat: Grams 170
  4. Carbs: Grams 374
  5. Protein: Grams 202
  6. Diet
  7. Breakfast:1,462 Cals
    1. 5 Eggs, 8oz Lean Ground Turkey, 1 sweet Potato (small), 2 cups White Rice, Coffee w/ Coconut Oil 
  8. Pre-Workout: 110 Cals
    1. Banana
  9. Lunch: 600 Cals
    1. 8oz Chicken Breast, 1 cup Almond Milk with Chocolate Syrup, Protein, and Waxy Maize. 
  10. Post-Workout: 380 Cals
    1. Met Rx Chocolate Chip Cookie Protein Bar
  11. Dinner: 1,278 Cals
    1. 8oz Lean Ground Turkey, 8 oz Kielbasa, 2 Sweet Potatoes (small), 1 tbs Coconut Oil
  12. Snack: 450 Cals
    1. Natural Granola, Almond Milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male Competing Athlete 2: Bulking

  1. Workload: Double Training Day PM
  2. Calories: 3,724
  3. Fat: Grams 130
  4. Carbs: Grams 410
  5. Protein: Grams 240
  6. Diet
  7. Breakfast:574 Cals
    1. 2 Eggs, 3 slices Bacon, Bagel 
  8. Lunch: 1000 Cals
    1. Tuna Club
  9. Pre-Workout: 200 Cals
    1. Energy Gel
  10. Post-Workout: 1150 Cals
    1. Protein Progenix Flow , 4 scoops Vitargo, 2 eggs, Greek Yogurt
  11. Dinner: 800 Cals
    1. Chipotle Double Chicken Burrito Bowl w/ Guac
    2.  

Hydration - by Ashley Holden-Klimik

Now that we are in the heart of summer, it has become more important than ever to be properly hydrated.  Muscle tissue is about 75% water. So it is not hard to see how important proper hydration is to muscle growth.  Further, the main way the body loses fluids during exercise is through sweat. Anyone who’s been to the box so far this summer will tell you that there is not a dry brow or t-shirt in the house. We have all left our share of DNA on the bar or the floor. Since its not getting any cooler, it is time to get smart about proper hydration practices!

Everyone has heard the age-old “8 glasses of water a day” recommendation, but is that enough? What about when it’s hot and you are leaving sweat angels all over the box? What about for athletes who work out multiple times a day? 

The amount of fluid you need depends on the intensity and duration of the activity as well as the environmental conditions (such as humidity). So here are some tips for proper hydration to keep you peeing all day long!

  1. One of the best ways to keep from becoming dehydrated is to be hydrated before you begin your workout. To ensure proper hydration, you should drink 17-20 ounces 2 to 3 hours before exercise and 7 to 10 oz more about 10 to 20 minutes before exercise.  I like to drink water and use a pre-workout drink such as Progenex Force or Vitargo for added carbohydrates.
  2. During the workout it is recommended that you drink 7 to 10 oz. every 10 to 20 minutes. This is assuming you are already well hydrated when you start your workout. Since it may be challenging to drink that much during a WOD, you can try drinking smaller amounts more frequently. Also, our workouts are rarely longer than 25 minutes and generally consist of multiple components, so think about drinking when you are transitioning (e.g., between intensity and strength etc.) 
  3. Post exercise hydration should aim to correct any fluid loss. This should ideally occur within two hours and should include water to restore hydration status, carbohydrates to replenish glycogen stores, and electrolytes to speed rehydration.  
  4. Water is good, but after sweating, the body also needs to replace sodium, potassium and chloride.  Consider a natural drink such as coconut water to replace these nutrients.
  5. During exercising, there is an increased breakdown of protein. Adding protein to your post workout routine will minimize muscle protein breakdown and speed up recovery. I like a scoop of protein powder with almond milk or coconut water post WOD for a blend of protein and carbs. 
  6. If you supplement with creatine, you will need to add extra water to your regimen while supplementing (Creatine works by drawing more water into the muscle cells).
  7. If you are having trouble drinking enough water throughout the day, mark your bottle with time goals you must reach (e.g., 8 ounces by 9am, 16 oz by 12 etc.).
  8. Stay away from energy drinks. These are bad news in terms of staying hydrated.
  9. Cool beverages are recommended over very cold or room temperature.

Warning signs of dehydration:

  1. Thirst is a big one. Unfortunately, if you are thirsty, chances are you are already dehydrated.
  2. Keep an eye on the color of your urine. Dark colored urine or low volume are both signs of trouble. If you have 2 nearly clear urinations a day, chances are you are properly hydrated. 
  3. Heat cramps: symptoms such as excessive sweating, fatigue, thirst and cramps (usually in the stomach arms and legs). Can usually be treated by drinking water or fluids containing electrolytes.
  4. Heat exhaustion occurs when you don’t act on the signs of heat cramps and your condition worsens.  Symptoms include headache, dizziness, light- headedness, and muscle cramps. Can also be treated by drinking fluids. 

Now that you are more aware of proper hydration, I expect to see you in the box sipping away or waiting in line for the bathroom!

~Ashley

For more detailed information about proper hydration check out the National Athletic Trainers’ Position Statement: Fluid Replacement for Athletes

http://www.nata.org/sites/default/files/FluidReplacementsForAthletes.pdf

Bulletproof Coffee - by Justin Sarubbi

Bulletproof Coffee

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Anyone with a desk job knows that your morning (sometimes late afternoon) cup of coffee can be a lifeline to get you through the workday. If you are like me, you are always looking for ways to spice up your morning cup of Joe. I got an idea for all you adventurers out there—why not reach for the butter? You heard me correctly, “BUTTER”. Each morning I mix my Coffee with Butter and Oil, to create the miraculous “Bulletproof Coffee”. After I drink this strange frothy concoction I find myself filled with an exuberant amount of energy that leaves me full for hours. The theory behind this mix of ingredients suggests that the breakdown of the fats slows the absorption of caffeine to bloodstream, leading towards a prolonged energy boost instead of a quick boost then crash.  Sounds too good to be true, then see for yourself, but just remember once you go Bulletproof you won’t ever want to go back.

What exactly is in this Bullet Proof Coffee?

  • 2 tbsp Organic Unsalted Grass-fed Butter (It must be Grass-fed I will explain more below). 
  • 1-2tbsp MCT Oil (can also sub with Coconut Oil)
  • 2 Cups of Hot Coffee (Light, Medium, Dark Roast, it all works)

How do I make Bullet Proof Coffee? 

  1. Brew Coffee.
  2. Add Butter, Oil, and Coffee to a Blender. 
  3. Blend until a layer of foam begins to form (5-10 seconds). 
  4. Pour and Enjoy!!!

Click Here  for Video Demonstration.  

Why do I drink Butter?

It’s all about the Fat. As an Athlete, especially a “Paleo” Athlete, I have come to grasp that all Fats are not created equal. Healthy saturated fats from Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Nuts,  Avacados, and Butter are great slow burning, stable forms of energy.  During low/moderate endurance-based activity, fat is our muscles’ primary fuel source. When exercise is moderate-high to high intensity, carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel. Since we all know how intense our Wods can be, you would think we would want to fuel up on Carbs and ditch the fat. This would be ideal, unfortunately, our muscles can only store a finite amount of carbs, and loading up before a workout can only take you so far. Fat on the other hand, can be stored in the body in abundance. If you increase your reliance on fat for energy, this will decrease your reliance on carbs. Due to the constant fuel supply from fats, you will find your fatigue start to diminish, leading to greater performance. If you have your diet dialed in by following a “Paleoish” eating plan, additional saturated fats can be a beautiful thing.

All information has been found on Robb Wolf’s blog, if you want to dive a little deeper please click here.

Not all Butter is created Equal? 

Grass-fed butter (cows fed a diet of grass) and Grain-fed (cows fed a diet of grains) butter are two entirely different beasts.  Grass-fed butter contains a significantly higher level of omega-3s, depending on the breed of cow, grass fed butter can contain between 2 to 5 times more omega-3s than grain fed cows. For everyone that has been chugging their fish oil by the gallon, we all know how important omega-3’s can be.  Beef and Butter are some of the best dietary sources of Conjugated Linolelic Acid, a Fatty Acid that exhibits potent antioxidant activity that has been shown to protect against heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Grass-fed butter contains an average of 2 to 3 times more CLA than grain-fed butter. Grass-fed butter also contains significantly more antioxidants vitamin E, glutathione, superoxide dismutase, which can play an important role in protecting our cells from oxidation.  If you ever compared a stick of grass-fed butter to grain-fed butter you would notice that the grass-fed stick has a yellow color while grain-fed butter can appear very pale. This is because grass-fed butter contains Beta Carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A that is found in the pigment of plants, in which cows fed grain, simply do not eat.  To put it another way, grass-fed butter has the nutrient density of a long “Chipper” while grain-fed butter looks more like a short “Couplet”.

All information has been found from this Article by Kriss Kresser, feel free to click here for additional information.  

Where can I find Grass-fed butter?

If you are interested in picking up some grass-fed butter you can find Kerry Gold Irish Butter at most supermarkets.  Monmouth Health Foods on Main Street (right around the corner from the box) sells Kerry Gold Irish butter.  I currently get mine from “Door to Door Organics” a local organic produce service that the JSA uses as a drop off. 

What is a MCT? 

 MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are 6-12 carbon fatty acids that are naturally found in milk fat, coconut oil, and palm oil. Due to their chain length they more closely resemble carbs than fats. This means they are absorbed and metabolized rapidly and can be used for a quick source of energy. Very little MCT oil is stored as fat because it is used for energy so quickly. MCT oil can be found at Prosource, Bulletproofexec.com, and Amazon. If you are looking to save some money you can substitute MCT oil with coconut oil but I must warn you MCT oil is nearly 6 times stronger. 

***Disclaimer: begin using 1 tablespoon per day and slowly increase over several days. Too much MCT, especially if consumed on empty stomach, can result in diarrhea or a stomachache. ***

All information has been found on Robb Wolf’s blog, for further information please click here

Different Variations

-Pumpkin Spice (per 1 cup): add 1 teaspoon pumpkin puree + dash of cinnamon & nutmeg

-Mexican Chocolate (per 1 Cup): This is my personal favorite. Add 1 teaspoon cacao (or cocoa) + dash of cinnamon and chili powder. 

-Chai (per 1 Cup):substitute 1 cup of brewed chai tea instead of coffee. 

-Iced: Prepare coffee the normal way, then chill and pour over ice (coffee needs to be hot for fats to emulsify).

Conclusion

I don’t work out till 7pm most nights so I find holding off eating breakfast as late as possible helps me fuel up closer to my workout. On days I drink my bulletproof coffee I don’t get hungry for breakfast until like 11:30-12 and sometimes I skip breakfast all together. They recommend using Upgraded Beans to avoid Mycotoxins found in cheap coffees, but I don’t have the budget for it, so I haven’t yet tried it. Don’t just take my word for it click on the links in the reference section below and explore for yourself. Play around with different ingredients and recipes and find your own favorite combination.

References: 

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/bulletproof-coffee-recipe/

http://robbwolf.com/2011/08/03/big-fat-blog-post-part-1/

http://chriskresser.com/why-grass-fed-trumps-grain-fed

http://stupideasypaleo.com/2013/10/21/can-coffee-really-improve-health-meet-bulletproof-2/

http://blog.wellnessfx.com/2012/08/06/your-optimal-fatty-acid-level-with-the-bulletproof-executive/

http://youtu.be/qQAl3BASNYs

http://youtu.be/4YjLMdx3YZY

How To Be Awesome At CrossFit Without Picking Up A Barbell In 7 Easy Steps by Dave Melillo

How To Be Awesome At CrossFit Without Picking Up A Barbell In 7 Easy Steps by Dave Melillo

I'm not the greatest lifter at our box. I don't have a heavy back squat or a killer deadlift. I'm not the best gymnast, or endurance athlete, or strategist ... but if there was a benchmark workout for cheerleading, I'd like to think I'd make the board.

My own personal achievements in the sport have been few and far in between, so I was forced to start taking interest in the accomplishments of those around me early on. And to be honest ... it has been more rewarding than any PR or leaderboard I ever hit.

So I figured if I could speak on anything, it would be how you can achieve being awesome at the box even if you aren't the most awesome athlete at the box.

1. Give encouragement, not advice.

Although this is something I struggle with on a daily basis, I always feel better about what comes out of my mouth when it is more like positive reinforcement and less like coaching. Unless you are the head coach on the floor, or someone directly asks you for advice, all you have to do is clap, smile and motivate.

2. Don't take yourself too seriously.

Again, do as I say not as I do. No one likes the guy who storms out of the gym because he didn't beat his last "Fran" time. CrossFit is supposed to be fun. When you take things too seriously you not only ruin the experience for yourself, but also for the athletes around you.

3. Sacrifice the rep.

There is no reason to push someone out of the way or put a damper on someone else's workout because you need to get that last rep. If you're sharing equipment or the rig, be the first person to step back and let someone else get in a few reps. It's also a great excuse to take an unscheduled breather.

4. Be interested in learning, not domination.

I always thought the best athletes were the ones who dedicated themselves to learning all their sport has to offer, not the ones who were willing to win by any means necessary. Being a constant student of CrossFit will allow you to truly dominate inside and outside of the box.

5. Be present.

A distracted athlete takes away from the coach, the athletes around them and the overall vibe of a session. When you are working out, work out. When you are driving, drive. When you are with your significant other ... well, you get the point.

6. Respect.

It doesn't matter if you can squat 500 lbs and do 200 unbroken butterfly pull ups. If you disrespect people because they are at a different part of their CrossFit journey, you will have a weak soul. Respect everyone’s path and embrace the differences. 

7. Put in work.

It is a pure, unadulterated bummer when one of the athletes in your session is going through the motions, cutting corners on standards or making a joke of the workout. Show up. Work hard. Learn. Improve. It's that simple.

Mental Toughness by Ashley Holden-Klimik

Everyone’s got one.  It’s early morning, just a typical day, no different from any other. You turn on your smart phone or laptop. You open Beyond the White Board. You check the WOD. And there it is. The. One. WOD. You. DREAD. This one WOD has the power to send your heart beating into your ears, create a pit to form in your stomach, to cause a thousand excuses for why you can’t come to the box today and how it really isn’t cherry picking this time. Then throughout the day you play the same argument over and over in your mind, eventually deciding that yes you are going to WOD even though a part of you really, really, really dreads it.
My “ONE” happened last week. Her name was Karen, and many of you know her well. 150 Wallballs. A WOD as mental as it is physical. Last week I thought to myself, “Today will be different. Today I will finish Karen. Today I will stick to my rep scheme and time my rests and finish that WOD, even if I feel like I might die.”
It started out well enough. I had my rep scheme in my head. Four sets of 15, four sets of ten, then sets of five until the end. I heard 3…2…1 Go and hit my first set no problem.  Then the pain set in, and the self doubt, and the mental struggle that would go on for the next ten minutes. All I heard in my head was “I can’t do this,” “I need a break,” “That 10 foot target is too high,” “I’m only at 30?” “I can’t do 120 more.” 
You know how it goes. We have all been to that place where we start to break down. We start listening to the pain in our bodies and the voices in our heads pleading with us to stop, to slow down, to quit.  
For me, mental toughness is one of the hardest parts of CrossFit, something that I struggle with on a daily basis, and one of my most important goals. Heck, it’s even up on the blackboard waiting to be crossed off.
So how do we get tough? Physically we are strong. But what about between the ears? That’s where the real transformation happens. The ability to push yourself to your limits is what makes you competitive and takes you to the next level in CrossFit. Is it attainable? And if so, how?  
Well the good news is that you do not have to be born with it.  Mental toughness is something you can develop and continue to hone. Below are some tips for becoming mentally tough:
Make a plan.  Make a reasonable plan for the workout, including rep schemes and rest. Then focus on sticking to the plan, addressing each component as one tiny goal.  Instead of 150 Wallballs, think, “I only have to do 15 and then I can rest.”  Decide what you are going to do. Once you make the commitment to something, you are almost unstoppable.
Set small goals and then focus on the next step. Chris Spealler recently wrote that he even makes smaller goals for himself, such as, “Put your hands on the bar” or “Fall to the ground” during a burpee. 
Increase your positive self talk. Do you remember all of those negative thoughts and can’ts that crept into my head during Karen? They need to be squashed. Transform them into positive/more adaptive thoughts. Instead, try creating a phrase for yourself that you will repeat, a mantra if you will, when you start to turn to the negative.  “I can do this,” “The bar is light.” CrossFit Regionals Athlete Matt Baird and his training partner Zack Anderson say, “Head down, mouth shut, mentally tough and physically dominant” before every workout. Find a saying that fits for you and try it out. 
Eliminate certain words from your vocabulary. If you are saying, “I think I can,” “I hope I can” or “I’ll try” then you don’t believe you actually can.
Focus on yourself. Instead of looking around at what everyone else is doing or watching the clock, try to focus on you, like where you have to move to next during a transition, or how to position your shoulders over the bar during a snatch.
Know that your body is capable of way more than you think it is. Can you really be pushed too far? Instead of letting your mind decide that you can’t breathe or that you can’t do one more rep, let your body be in charge. Trust that your body will take care of you.
Trust your coach. Although you may be challenged by a workout, your coach programmed it for a reason. 
Remember: “There is little in your life you will find as rewarding and enduring as making it through a mentally and physically challenging experience that pushes you to new limits—akin to climbing one of the world’s tallest peaks or traversing a vast ocean or desert. When you come out the other side and take a glance at who you once were, you understand. You know in the deepest corner of your being that you have reached new heights, surpassed self-imposed limits and are now a much better athlete, family member, co-worker and overall person” (Rarity, J. March 27, 2014).   
I’ll leave you with this quote from a blog post by Sage Burgener: 
“Toughness means you fight through pain, or discomfort, and continue striving forward. But why would you do this in the first place? It seems against our nature to put ourselves through pain and discomfort, so why bother? The answer is this; because we are committed to making ourselves better, committed to being something greater than what we currently are. Think about the people who are tough, the one thing they have in common is that they’ve committed to something. Whether it’s becoming healthy, smarter, a better parent, or a CrossFit Games champion, they decided it was what they wanted, and they didn’t care how hard it became, or what obstacles showed up, nothing was going to stop them from following through with the decision they made” (www.crossfitinvictus.com).
So I encourage you to commit to something. Decide what you are going to do, whether in CrossFit or in life, and do it!
Become better than you were yesterday.
Ashley Holden-Klimik
For more information about mental toughness, check out the following websites