Coach Justin gives us some insight on which supplements he uses and why. Spoiler alert... Supplements are not the end all be all! Food is still the key to success.
Coach Justin takes us through a few mobility drills he uses to improve his flexibility for the front rack. These should be done as often as possible as it takes work to see progress! Give them a try and let us know how it goes!
Coach Justin takes a trip to the float tank. See how this new therapy helps him recover physically, mentally and emotionally.
Coach Justin with a few tips and trick on how to stay active and keep your nutrition on point while traveling.
CFA Coaches demonstrate why the front rack is important for pressing variations.
Overnight Oats CrossFit Alpharetta Style!
Combine all ingredients into container, mix, leave in the fridge and you have a healthy tasty breakfast or snack!
1/2 Cup Steel Cut Oats
25g Blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
1/2 Cup Fat Free Milk (we prefer Fairlife)
3/4 Serving Vanilla Protein Powder
Showering is super important, but it could be more about WHAT you are doing in the shower. Now that I have your attention, we can get down to what we really should be thinking about and taking action to do it. Your hands are one of your more forgotten appendages on your body, and they need to be taking priority. It used to be one of the coolest rights of passage of CrossFit to have your hands torn so much that you're bleeding and looking awesome due to some gnarly movements like pull-ups, barbell work, or muscle ups. While it is terrific and pretty amazing to have those movements, it's not so cool when you're ailing and can’t train for the next two weeks because you can't grip or place your hands on the bar or rig as you're in the process of healing. Not to mention the effect torn hands can have on your personal life!
Rewind... Do yourself a favor and start using a pumice stone in the shower on those rough hands- everyone who shakes your hand will appreciate it, not to mention how much better those hands will feel without tears or open wounds. Make it a habit every time you're in the shower or bath to shave down those thick calluses. You have thirty seconds to spare while sudsing up as it will save the next two weeks of heartache if you don't do it now. This little bit of hand pre-hab care will go a long way towards battling those evil callouses.
Other recommendations for taking care of your hands: callous shaver, Pedi Egg, foot scrubber, Amope Pedi Perfect Foot File, etc. If you want to get super fancy, Google "CrossFit hand care," and a million tools will pop up for your hand needs. You may even want to consider purchasing gymnastic grips if tearing is off limits for you.
If and or when you tear, post-injury care involves daily treatment with Aquaphor. Using Neosporin, vaseline, & other lubricants will not help to heal but hinder. The alcohols in these products will dry up the wound. When your wound is in the process of healing and it starts to dry out each time you open and close your hand you risk re-opening that tear and starting from square one. A dab of Aquaphor a few times per day to the open wound and covering with a bandaid will accelerate the healing process. Do it- take care of yourself now so you can live to WOD another day!
When you look into the mirror what do you see? I can tell you what I see- I see a chubby teen with glasses, semi-athletic (usually picked 3rd or 4th in gym class), average student, who was dateless to homecoming, and uses comedy to fit in. Is that really who I am today? If not, why am I seeing this image in the mirror even now closing in on my 40s?
The truth is almost none of what I see in the mirror is close to reality of either who I was or who I have become. I am a 38 year old man, stronger and leaner than most in my age range. I have studied fitness and would consider myself pretty smart in that field. I still have glasses, and I have an incredible woman in my life.
Why is is it that we fail to see what’s really being reflected? Now matter how great people tell me I am or look, I choose to focus on the negative things. I see a fat belly- I do not see the veins in my arms and legs, but I don’t see the large deposits of muscle all over my body of which I have worked hard for. I see terrible teeth and struggle to smile in pictures neglecting to see the effect of that smile on the people who care about me.
I am starting to realize that this viewpoint is all about my choice mentality. I am choosing to look at the negatives instead of the positives. I think most of us deep down are still that scared kid looking back at ourselves in the mirror. Let’s challenge ourselves to look at what we have become through life.
We are not the number on the scale; we are not the weight on the barbell; we are not the number of zeros on our paycheck.
We are the relationships we have built, the choices we make each day, the lasting impacts we have on the world. Learn to value the things that really matter and not focus on the negatives we perceive each day. Choose to be happy! Happiness is a choice.
We are strong, powerful humans! I know this because I see you all succeed daily, weekly, and monthly at CFA. It’s so easy for others to see this from the outside. The hard part is for us to embrace this internally. I want us to start looking at the positives. No more, “That wasn’t RX,” or, “That wasn’t a PR.” No more, “I look terrible in shorts,” or, “I failed at my diet this weekend.” You showed up and worked hard! You can change anything you want in this moment. If you gave it your all, that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment that you should be proud of. Starting NOW, focus on the positives, and I think you will be shocked at how you feel.
“Because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it! People like you!”
Congratulations to our very own “Magic” Mike McShane for placing in the top 200 in the world in the 2016 CrossFit Games Open. Placing in the top 200 means he moves on to the next level of competition. Mike will take part in 4 workouts to try and make it to the CrossFit Games in Carson, California come July. Please make sure to give him a huge high five when you see him! This is an amazing feat for a 64 year old man who is also diabetic. His accomplishment shows that age is just a number, and hard work pays off. Congrats from all of the Coaches and members at CFA, Mike!
The moment someone walks into the gym, I'm invested...
Looking from the outside, the gym is a daunting, unfeeling, and scary place. Heavy weights, lots of equipment, loud music, sweat dripping off unknown people as they make horrible grunts and groans. Why should anyone ever walk into that mess? And why should any person care about the new person in the gym? They have their friends and cliques. The coaches have their clients and responsibilities.
CrossFit is a cult. CrossFit is a clique. CrossFit brainwashes people... why would they accept the new guy/girl?
As a coach, whether actively coaching or not, the moment a new person walks into the gym my one and only goal is to have him/her walk back out a better, happier, stronger, more confident person. I don't care if you've never done a single activity in your life or if you've been playing sports and lifting weights since you were age 2. If you walk into the gym, I want to know what you do, where you're from, who you are. I want to know what motivates you, angers you, and how to encourage you. I want to know your capabilities and push those limits so you can realize you are stronger, faster, mentally tougher than you ever believed possible.
Why should I care? What's in it for me?
Any coach, especially CrossFit coaches and most definitely the coaches at CrossFit Alpharetta, will tell you the joy experienced by any athlete in a CrossFit gym resonates to every member in the box. The exhausted, smiling groan of PR'ing Grace by 1 second. The wide-eyed disbelief of hitting a PR. The shocked expression when getting a first double-under. The squeal of joy at a successful muscle-up. It's infectious! I will HAPPILY spend hours/days/months working with an athlete just to get that momentary glimpse of self-improvement and realization that what was believed impossible is now in fact entirely do-able AND repeatable.
Why am I invested in each and every person that walks through that door? Because the investment yields successes frozen forever in my memory and etched on the walls of the gym. The investment yields better versions of ourselves. The investment yields lasting relationships. The joint investment of coach and athlete yields proud stories of self-accomplishment.
So thank you to each and every member of CrossFit Alpharetta who has decided to invest in themselves. And to each of YOU reading this who will enter that door and invest in your personal improvement. The coaches at CrossFit Alpharetta are ready to match your investment and can't wait to see what it yields.
We have all been there- in the gym at 4:30pm on the dot, set our clothes down, and half-ass it through the warmup. What we don’t realize is what we are missing by not prioritizing this opportunity to learn. Our bodies learn motor patterns- patterns that we ingrain via repetitions. Our warm ups should mimic most of what we will be doing on a given day if not the exact movements at a lighter load and intensity. This is the perfect time to teach your body to move PERFECTLY! If you can’t move with a PVC, how can you move with a barbell? If you can’t move perfectly with a barbell, how do you expect to move well with a prospective PR on your bar?
I’m sure you’ve heard, “practice makes perfect.” The truth is, “PERFECT practice makes perfect.” All you are doing by showing up late and giving a half-hearted effort to the warmup is teaching your body to move poorly.
Use this time to work on new techniques. If we are rowing 500m in the warm up, use that time to work on your rowing technique. Try to keep your back flat, and hinge at the hip. Try to stop the seat from hitting your feet. Pull straight to your chest. Listen to your coach, and work on fixing it the movement pattern here. Or, you can do the same lazy reps you normally do and never improve. When the 500m row WOD comes, you’ll naturally resort back to the movement patterns your body is used to if you don’t work on it during warmup.
Your body will always resort to it’s ingrained motor patterns once fatigue sets in. If you’ve done the work during your warmup and worked on technique, your body is more likely to learn those good patterns we desire. Good patterns equal faster work and more efficiency which, in turn, equals more fitness!
Please take a minute to examine the warmups we do and why we do them. Put effort into them, and your movement will improve! Before you know it, you’ll have that sought after overhead squat, 1:35 500m row, or whatever movement ails you today.
What did we learn today…
Show up early
Look at the warmup
Set a goal during that warm up
Commitment- Have a goal, and stick to it. Whether that be showing up 3 times a week or hitting your macro goal 7-days a week. The goal is not important, but once you create a goal, be unwavering in pursuing it. Successful people do not give 50% effort and expect 100% results. In fact, they give 150% effort to achieve close to 100% results. People who are continually stuck in a rut and do not end up as fit as they want are always starting and stopping… Stop stopping! Commit and revel in the fact that you are one step closer to your goal!
Coaching- Seek out people who know more than you do, and LISTEN to them. People are experts in their field for a reason. Ask your coach questions, and when they give you answers, listen and apply them. If you are a coachable athlete, you’ll be amazed at the things you start to learn. Second guessing your coaches just puts you in no-man's-land where you have no idea where to go next. Pick a Coach you trust, and follow what they say!
Consistency- Consistency is probably the biggest downfall for most folks who can’t seem to find their optimal fitness. Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither was the fitness of any athlete you admire. Years of hard work went into creating that fitness. There are days that your hero wants to sleep in or just wants to go home after a long day, but the difference is they DO NOT DO IT! They Ranger up and head into the gym to improve themselves. Consistently showing up to the gym and putting in hard work will make better even on your worst day .
Community- Find a gym where you feel at home. Nobody can succeed in an environment where they do not feel loved. Wanting to come to the gym is half the battle. If you find a place that welcomes you with open arms, never leave that community! Forging relationships with people you sweat with is incredible. As humans age, they tend to close off their peer groups. You may meet the occasional new person at work, but new friends come very infrequently. At a CrossFit gym, you’ll find a new community of like-minded individuals. New relationships enrich people's lives and keep you coming back for more!
CrossFit- Do CrossFit! I have yet to find another program, when implemented correctly, that creates real world fitness. Are there sports specific programs that will get you to a specific goal faster? Absolutely! Is there a program out there that can get you generally fit and healthy faster or better? No, not that I’ve seen. Invest in yourself; invest in your health! We get one body, and the best way to keep it out of the shop is to subject it to constantly varied, functional movement at a high intensity… that is the definition of CrossFit.
Competition- Compete every day! Compete against others, but primarily, compete against yourself. The best way to get better is to push against YOU! Comparing yourself to others can be hard because everyone brings a different set of tools to the table. A person may have better or worse genetics, be more or less strong, be more or less flexible than the others they compete against. The true competition is pushing past your limits. When you learn to compete against yourself, you will see results.
Capacity- Gain capacity in all aspects of what we do. Get more strength, endurance, flexibility, mobility, speed, power, etc. Increase your capacity, and your fitness will improve as a result. If you can squat more, run faster, and do more pull-ups than you did 6 months ago, congratulations- you’ve increased your capacity! Capacity is key when measuring your fitness journey. Add more or upgrade tools in the toolbox we call fitness!
I figured I would introduce you to the concept of flexible dieting in the easiest way possible. By showing you a typical day of eating for me. I have included photos. What I would love for you to see is that with some planning it is extremely easy to hit your macro-nutrient goals. My food choices are far from perfect but I would be willing to bet that I am getting adequate numbers of micro nutrients as well. I am eating actual meals and not just a bunch of random foods pasted together. Here we go!
I eat this breakfast almost every day. I never feel hungry after it and the pb and j sates my sweet tooth. I use more egg whites to keep the fats down. I get a limited number of fats each day so I try not to waste them on breakfast. There is nothing worse than getting to dinner and having no fats left! Bacon is not your friend during this meal.
This meal comes 2 hours before I train and about 2.5 hours after breakfast. The goal here is to give my body easy to digest carbohydrates and protein with as little fat as possible. I want my stomach to be as empty as possible leading into training so i don't feel groggy or worse yet vomit up all my gains.
This meal has a similar goal as the pre-workout meal. I am trying to get some protein in that will be quickly broken down by the body and turned into new muscle. I am also trying to refill the glycogen that I used during the workout. Very simple carbohydrate and fast digesting protein via rice krispies treats and Formulx.
Lunch comes 1-1.5 hours after my post-workout meal. I eat a whole food meal here. Currently I am using Fresh Meal Plan as my meal prep provider. Using a meal prep service allows me to save time and energy. My meals are always at hand and I don't have an excuse to grab something on the go that wouldn't fit into my diet plan. This sandwich was fantastic!!!
Dinner comes 3-4 hours after lunch. This is a whole food meal for me as well. Fresh meal plan keeps me on track here too! I have found that the mantra of eating small meals every 2-3 hours to not be true. I believe this is an old trainers tale created to keep people from gorging themselves on 3 meals a day. This rope vieja was fantastic! Even better than it looked if you can believe that.
This meal is built to fill in the gaps from the day. Tonight I was low on protein and a bit of fat and carbohydrate. During this meal I eat anything I want that fits the macros I have remaining. I find this helps me feel like I get a treat to end the day. Some folks could use this as an excuse to go off the rails but for me, it's pretty easy not to. Yes, that is the smallest bowl of cereal ever!!!
As you can see flexible eating is fairly straight forward and simple. My meals are far from perfect and could include a bit more whole food sources. I am learning and growing on this front each day. Anyone that takes the time to eat in this way will reap the rewards of fat loss and muscle growth. I hope this post gives you a bit of insight on how I eat each day. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me!
Here are a few quick tips on how to make yourself more AWESOME
1. Show up!- Showing up to the gym is half the battle. Once you're there, all the little things that attempted to make you avoid the gym will go away. Having a membership to CFA and not using it is like Chunk eating all of Sloth’s Baby Ruth candy bars, it’s just not smart! I've yet to meet a person who has regretted showing up once the workout has ended... Unless it was 150 wall balls for time... Who wants to do that crap???!!! Get in your car, drive to the gym and add one more brick to your personal wall of Awesome.
2. Feed your body- Don't eat like a jerk. Fuel yourself correctly. You won't be awesome until you realize that eating pizza and drinking beer 4 nights out of the week is why you still have that spare tire. The weekend calories you ingest still count towards your fatness! Superman doesn't do a few WODs, eat like crap, and still expect to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and you shouldn't think you can either! Although, Superman is a huge nerd, and I'm pretty sure his MyFitnessPal tracker is perfect all day, every day. On second thought, Wolverine would totally kill Superman, and he smokes and drinks so maybe I don't know what I am talking about. If you have a mutant level healing factor, feel free to eat and drink freely. If not, stop eating like a jerk now!
3. Get a hot Fiance- I have increased my Awesome quotient by 300 degrees simply by asking Coach L to marry me. If you don't have a smoking hot fiancé, try adhering to steps 1 and 2. If you are currently in a relationship apply steps 1 and 2 to your significant other and you will also have that hot piece of arm candy. I can promise you that everyone looks better with someone hot by their side! Sorry though... COACH L IS TAKEN!!!
4. Grow a beard- It has been scientifically proven that facial hair makes you more awesome. This cannot be refuted. If the mighty T-Rex had stopped shaving, he would be sitting in the oval office today. You just can't argue science. Don’t worry ladies- I didn’t forget about you! Have your partner grow a beard, and you can bask in the splendor of awesomeness, too!
5. Squat in Spandex- Everyone knows that you need to squat- that’s not a new discovery. However, squatting in spandex gives you that little extra something. Superheroes wear spandex and so did David Bowie. If you’re mid-squat and you need to save a damsel in distress or entertain a crowd of thousands, do you really want all that fabric slowing you down? Spandex also allows you to show off all those sweet quad gains you’ve been working so hard to attain.
6. Listen to Coach Justin- He knows most things. He once put together a 1,000 piece puzzle upside down! If he can do that, I am pretty sure he can help you get stronger and fitter. The other Coaches at CFA have learned from King Awesome as well. Listen to your coaches as they are there to guide you to Awesomeness Level 9 (Level 10 is reserved for Coach Justin, aka King Awesome).
Applying these simple rules can and will change your life! Take the time to allow yourself to be awesome. Using all of your energy on that extra hour of overtime at work when you could be improving your life is just not awesome. Your loved ones will see the changes in you and will want to become awesome as well. Dedicate your mind and body to health and fitness, and you, too, can become AWESOME!
What does it mean to "do your best?" My Mother always told me to "do my best" at whatever task was at hand whether that be studying for a math test, playing a soccer game against our biggest rivals, writing a paper in college, calling clients for a job, etc. She said, "No matter what you're doing, do it so you know you have nothing left to give." I believed and trusted her guidance throughout my childhood growth and followed that advice through college and even now as a coach and athlete.
Where did the disconnect begin when you think that your best isn't good enough? Are you comparing your best to someone else's best? Why are you questioning your best? Do you think that your best is only a half-assed best? So. Many. Questions.
JournalMenu said it well, “[don’t feel] As if your best somehow needs an apology because it isn't at firebreather level. As it if means your best isn't really a big deal. Don't sit there and reduce your accomplishments to a 'just.'"
When it comes to working out, everyone has different goals. Often, we find that we are our own worst competition- we talk ourselves out of a certain movement that we see as impossible or cannot do simply because we cannot see ourselves "RX-ing" that movement. Even when you try hard, we may fail our expectations. What if you try and you succeed? Either way... Are you giving it your best? If you have just made a lift you've never made before, why are you NOT celebrating? You haven't done that before- your best was better than your last! When you push your limits and feel you have nothing left, you are doing your best.
Miranda Oldroyd is one of my favorite athletes. She found CrossFit in 2007, and she hasn't turned back since. Her words of wisdom resonates with athletes of all types saying, "I want to find out what my athletic potential is. It’s not about beating anyone else, it’s about REALLY finding out what I can do." (Station 717- Celebrity Beyond the Athlete: Miranda Oldroyd)
One of the workouts of the 2008 CrossFit Games was a deadlift-burpee workout in which Miranda (first time at The Games) completed in 5:26. That was the best she could do, and that was all she could have asked for. Fast forward to 2016, and Miranda repeated the same deadlift-burpee workout, completing it in 2:53. This. This was the best she could do. She left everything out on the floor. Do you think she reduced her accomplishments? Then, why do you? Training your brain is just as important as training your body. Stop questioning and minimizing your accomplishments. Celebrate doing YOUR best when the best is what you can give. I challenge you to give it your all so when you walk out that door, you have the confidence of knowing you did your best. Was that 55# thruster the best you could do? Was that one successful double under the best you had? If it was you’ve succeeded!