Top 3 Tips to Maximize Your Deadlifts

People tend to have polarized feelings about deadlifts. Either they love them or they hate them. No matter how you feel about them, deadlifts are a great movement to strengthen your entire back and surrounding muscles.

Let’s explore the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts!

  1. Ditch the Mixed Grip
  2. Dial-in Your Setup Position
  3. Train Deadlift Variations

1.Ditch the Mixed Grip

One of the best ways to start improving your deadlift is to ditch the mixed grip. Many people worry that grip will be a limiting factor at their maximal percentage lifts but you can easily overcome this by implementing a hook grip. This takes some getting used to since you’ve probably never lifted a bar of this weight with a hook grip and the pressure can seem unreal. Try taping your thumbs the first few sessions to take some of the edge off.

The benefits of a double overhand grip is a better position on the bar, less torque on the hips and spine, and decreased strain on the bicep. Build up this strength in your training sessions and if you really need to resort to a mixed grip for a competition or 1RM attempt then you will be better for waiting.

2. Dial-in Your Setup Position

One of the biggest issues you may be facing with deadlifts is the setup. That first pull off the ground never feels quite right. To overcome this you can practice rolling the bar into position. This may feel more comfortable and your body will naturally find the right position without you fidgeting around.

If you are new to lifting or know that your mobility is lacking then you may find it beneficial to practice pulling off of blocks. The higher start position will make it easier for you to engage your posterior chain. Another good option here is to work from the top down with lighter loads. Take the loaded bar from a rack or higher blocks and start standing tall, hips fully extended. Keeping your back and core tight and start pushing your hips toward the wall behind you as the bar descends down your thighs. Keep the bar in contact with your legs and the weight in the middle of your foot and heels.

Practice lowering down in a slow control fashion taking 4-5 seconds to lower for each rep. If you have a hard time finding the right position then you should take someone on one time to work with a coach who can provide the right cues to get you properly set up.

3. Train Deadlift Variations

Another way to build confidence in your deadlift is to explore different deadlift variations. Sumo deadlifts, single-arm, single-leg, trap bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, atlas stones, dballs, and tire flips will all help you. Getting stronger is going to help even if it is nonspecific. There’s no shortage of heavy stuff to pick up off the ground! These variations will train your grip, stabilizers, and strengthen many smaller muscles of the glutes and hamstrings that may not get fully recruited in your normal deadlift style.

There you go, the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts. Now go find a coach and pull some big numbers!

5 Pre-Workout Nutrition Tips

“Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win.” – Bob Knight

Many people have diligent post workout recovery routines including consuming protein shakes, supplements, and other key nutrients.

However, very few individuals give much thought to their pre-workout nutrition.

What you consume for fuel before you exercise should include more than just a stimulant based energy drink. It should contain the right types of fuel for your body and mind to meet the demands of the days activity. A great pre-workout nutrition routine will not only help your days performance but can help improve your daily energy levels, build lean muscle mass, and shed unwanted fat. It is essential for taking your performance to the next level.

Pre-Workout nutrition is unique for each individual. The types of foods, quantities, and ratios of macronutrients may need to be adjusted based on how you are feeling and performing. It is important to discuss all these factors with your coach so they can help you dial in on a plan that works best for you. Check out these 5 pre-workout nutrition tips to start creating a routine that works for you.

1. Leave time to digest

You want to consume the right amount of food to fuel your workout but not so much that it slows you down. Depending on body size and food choice the body will generally absorb about 300-400 calories per hour. That means a meal of approximately 30g of protein and 40g of carbohydrates an hour before your meal will be fully digested by the time you begin exercise. If you have ever tried exercising on a full stomach you the feeling of bloat as all of the blood is out of your working muscles and in your abdomen for digestion. If you continue to push through the exercise your body may try rejecting the remaining contents of the stomach. This is best avoided and makes proper pre-workout nutrition an easy choice.

2. Choose the right foods

The types of foods consumed are just as important as the quantities consumed. A balanced meal of low glycemic carbohydrates and high quality protein is the best choice. For carbohydrates the best foods to consume are fresh fruit like apples, berries, and oranges. For protein try grabbing a 4-6 oz. chicken breast or a shake containing 30 g of quality whey protein. Fats carry a high caloric load and are not an immediately available source of energy for high intensity activities like strength training so they are best left out of pre-workout meals in high quantities.

3. Avoid Certain Foods

Dairy products, spicy foods, and fibrous vegetables may not be the best choice for your pre-workout meal. They can cause cause discomfort on your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that is less than ideal when you are about to train. Feeling queasy, or running to the bathroom is not the best way to spend your time at the gym. As a rule of thumb, if you have to ask “will this food bother me?”, it is probably not the right choice.

4. Keep it consistent

The more you change up your pre-workout nutrition the greater chance you have of something going wrong. It’s best to be a bit boring when it comes to nutrition, especially when you are eating to live rather than living to eat. Eating the same foods every day around your training schedule is the best way to dial in exactly the foods and quantities that give you the best results.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”

5. Keep it simple

The best routine is the one that you have the highest probability of following. When you plan your pre-workout meal consider the foods that you generally have access to and can properly prepare and take with you.

So there you have it. The top 5 pre-workout nutrition tips. If you have any other questions about diet or training reach out to one of our coaches and get started.

What’s it like visiting CrossFit Dunwoody? Hear Peggy and Audra’s experience!

CrossFit Dunwoody is proud to offer a great workout for all levels of fitness, whether you’re a beginner or expert. But you may be wondering what it’s like to visit CFD for the first time and what to expect here.

Well, wonder no more! We were excited to have Peggy and Audra from the The Aha! Connection visit our gorgeous facility and write about their experience. Here are a few highlights from their visit:

CrossFit Dunwoody vacated their space in the Dunwoody Village shopping center…and moved about 100 yards away into the out-parcel that used to be Jiffy Lube.  I know some of you may miss Jiffy Lube but I believe all of you would agree the new CrossFit Dunwoody space is so much more attractive!

The timing of their move was right in the middle of the pandemic.  Fortunately, the beautiful new outdoor workout space with turf was very timely and Covid-friendly.

Peggy and I recently participated in a CrossFit workout with Amber and Glenn and a class full of fun, positive, driven men, and women.  We met Dixie and Dale, the CrossFit pups (so cute).  We took a tour of the facility which includes a kid’s room (which Amber’s daughter was taking advantage of), indoor and outdoor workout spaces, a welcome desk with swag for sale, multiple showers, changing rooms and plenty of storage for your keys, purse, phones, and other stuff.

I personally love orange as an accent color and love their new decor and design.  The walls of the indoor space are covered in Amber’s amazing hand-drawn images illustrating various exercises and correct form.  The indoor/outdoor space is above the former Jiffy Lube “pit” and the giant rolling doors can be opened or closed depending on the weather.  Adjoining the indoor/outdoor area is a completely outdoor gym which comes in handy for larger classes to spread out.

Peggy and I have been working to increase our fitness level but definitely weren’t on par with the rest of the class.  Glenn prides his gym on catering to “diversities of fitness”.  He wasn’t kidding.  Amber was quickly able to help Peggy and me (and a few others in the class) find exercises to fit our capabilities while still allowing us to have a great workout and keep pace with the class.

When I first visited CrossFit Dunwoody in April of 2019, I wrote that CrossFit Dunwoody feels like the “Cheers” of gyms.  It’s the gym where everybody knows everybody’s name.  I didn’t tell my friend Marcy I was coming this time; therefore it was fun to surprise her when she showed up to our class.  She loves CrossFit Dunwoody so much she moved from her home in Wyntercreek to the Dunwoody Village Town Homes across the street!  (She seriously loves it but that’s not the only reason she loves her new awesome townhouse).

Our awesome class!

The staff and the clientele are truly so very nice and supportive.   I love Glenn’s philosophy that everyone is unique.  They offer an online 1 minute assessment to find the right plan for you!  You can also schedule a free “no sweat” introduction.  You can explore their facility online, or watch their 1 minute welcome video from the official City of Dunwoody ribbon cutting ceremony.”

If you’d like to read the entire article, visit The Aha! Connection site and read “Peggy and Audra Visit CrossFit Dunwoody.”

And if you would like to join our amazing community, or just learn more about what we offer, schedule your free intro today!

Top 3 Reasons To Train Kettlebell Swings

If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and cycles are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone else’s body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?

Enter the kettlebell.

Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle. They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course, a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes.

Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen.

  1. Carry Over To Sport and Life
  2. Add Variety To Your Training
  3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

1. Carry Over To Sport and Life

Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found a strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health.

Swings will also improve your performance with the Olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.

2. Add Variety To Your Training

You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights, the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout.

A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavyweight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover.

Wednesday’s workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps, and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time.

On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high-intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.

3. Quick And Effective Way To Train

Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the Olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.

The kettlebell swings are such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift the maximal weight overhead.

Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!

Six Reasons Why You Should Sign Up for that Next Competition!

  1. Have something to work towards. #GOALS

Having goals keeps you motivated, it gives you something to shoot for. You can focus your training (i.e this week I will work on pull-ups, and aim to link 3 by the end of the next week).  

  1. Discover your weaknesses.

It’s easy to say “I’m bad at double unders”, then just avoid them in a class. But with competitions, there’s nowhere to hide. Maybe DU’s or T2B is the only thing keeping you out of the Rx division. If so, this is a great way to dial in on those skills or lifts that you struggle at. Maybe signing up for that competition is the one thing that will finally motivate you to work on what is holding you back.  

  1. You don’t have to compete alone!

More often than not, many competitions will have a TEAM or PARTNER division.  This is a great way to get your favorite workout buddies together, come up with a silly name and have some fun.  Being part of a Scaled Team at an event can be a great way to get your feet wet if you are new to competing. And sometimes this is a great way for you to challenge yourself to step up to that Rx category if you have one of your teammates that might be able to do some of the higher skilled movements (i.e. muscle ups) while you push yourself on some of the heavier weights required.

  1. Gain inspiration and inspire others.

The camaraderie you get in your local box doesn’t leave when you get to a competition. Sure, everyone would like to win, but that doesn’t mean leaving others in the dirt. You will always see the top athletes stick around until the last person has finished, offering words of encouragement and advice. Be as inspired by the grit and determination of those left on the floor at the time-cap as you are by the flourish of the elite.

  1. Meet new people.

Whether it’s your fellow competitors, volunteers, judges or just watching, you’ve all got something highly emotive in common. This can create a bond you won’t get anywhere else. 

  1. Discover what your body can really do.

Maybe you can’t string T2B together during a WOD or have never run a sub-8 mile during your training. But you will be surprised what you can do come “Game Day”. The adrenaline and energy of the crowds and your fellow competitors can help give you that extra push. Competitions can be an awesome way to PR!  (And you can bet there will be someone there that got it on camera!)

  1. It’s FUN!!!

Ask the majority of CrossFitters that have ever competed and they DON’T do it to WIN, they DO it to FINISH, to COMPETE. And most, even if they said they would only do just one, do another and another! You may not always remember the struggle of training or the exhaustion that comes after the event, but you DO remember the awesome friends you made, the incredible athletic performances and the FUN you had.

If you are looking for more information on competing, what opportunities are out there or even how to focus your training, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit, whether you ever compete or not, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS including our Comprehensive Kickstart that includes a Movement Screen for Flexibility and Mobility.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As always, I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations and some great drawings on perspective like the one in today’s blog.

 

Progress Plateaued? How is Your Strength Balance?

By Coach Amber Hopeman

Picture this: You have just completed a strength cycle for your back squat. You go to test your 1 Rep Max and… *Cue the sad trumpets*… No improvement. You have trained hard, you’ve eaten well, you’ve made sure to prioritize your recovery and nothing to show for it.

So what happened? Well there are a few factors to consider but for the purpose of this article I want to focus on one: Strength Balance. And let’s take that one step further by talking about unilateral strength, in this case, your left leg vs your right. Imbalances or discrepancies in strength (in addition to mobility and flexibility) can lead to pain and discomfort in the limb that is taking on more of the load but can also lead to poor performance and inevitably plateaus in progress.

“What we see in CrossFit programming is overzealous training of the squat pattern, with some form of squat being strengthened or conditioned on most days. In the novice or intermediate we will also see poor control in the bottom of the squat which increases the absolute load on the anterior knee and hip, and possibly the back. Holding tempo and developing strength in the bottom of the squat are important to develop in athletes who have painful squats.”

But whether your lack of progress is due to pain or not, most of the training we see is bilateral (front squat, back squat, strict press, strict pull-up). When was the last time you trained or beyond that even tested your unilateral strength (Front Rack Step Up, Single Arm Press, Single Arm High Pull)?

In the case of the above scenario a similar situation arose for an athlete. She was stuck at a 225# back squat despite significant training to improve. When she tested her Front Rack Step Up she was able to complete FOUR reps on her right leg with a 45# barbell. Her left leg… ZERO! No wonder a traditional back squat program was not helping. She had been basically squatting with one leg. With a quick shift in her training, she focused on her unilateral strength over the course of the next few weeks with front rack step-ups, bulgarian split squats and other unilateral movements always completing one extra set on her left leg. At the end of the program, she retested her back squat. 245# BOOM!

The takeaway: The strength was there, she always had the potential, she just had to access it.

In another awesome case, PR Star Fitness, a gym in Virginia all tested their athletes back squat numbers. Athletes were given the choice between back squats or step ups for the 6 week cycle. At the end of the 6 weeks, back squat numbers were tested again.
722 total lbs were added to back squat maxes in 6 weeks. Athletes who chose back squats added an average of 6.8 lbs to their squat (3.1% increase). Athletes who chose step ups added an average of 17.5 lbs to their squat (9.5% increase). They also tested Push Press, splitting the gym’s training between Push Press and Landmine Press. Focusing on just bilateral Push Press added an average of 1.4 lbs to an athletes Push Press (1.1% increase). Training the Landmine Press added an average of 13.2 lbs (an 11.1% increase).

So, whether you are struggling to get your first strict pullup, increase your back squat or bench press consider testing your unilateral strength. This just may be what is holding you back. How often does your gym train unilateral movements? Have you ever tested your strength ratios?

Check out the following article Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review for more in depth research on how unilateral exercises have greater benefit than bilateral specific to the squat.

If you are looking for more in depth advice or training suggestions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session or series to test your own strength balance. If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS including our Comprehensive Kickstart that includes a Movement Screen for Flexibility and Mobility.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations. Another great account to follow on this topic is Active Life Rx (@activeliferx). If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be!

 

Applying the Shapes: Part 3

So we have learned how to make the basic shapes and no matter how proficient you become in performing gymnastics movements, the fundamentals and foundational drills we discussed are always important to keep practicing!  So how do these shapes, the HOLLOW and ARCH, look when we are performing these movements?

I am going to start with one that may or may not be controversial, depending on how you have been taught.  Who has seen that person who REALLY wants to get their first pullup or muscle-up, they take about 5 to 10 paces away from the rig to get a huge running start and they jump to the bar immediately with chest forward into the arch position and then try to drive as hard as they can into hollow in order to get that first rep?  I know I have.  From what you have learned about the importance of the Arch, do you think they were able to achieve the rigid tension required to transition to the hollow and create the momentum they needed?

So I first offer this: when approaching the rig for your first rep, JUMP TO HOLLOW.  That’s right.  Stand under the bar, jump to the bar where you are already in the hollow position, then use everything you have learned to achieve that initial tension into the arch before attempting that first rep.

Secondly, when trying to become more efficient in stringing any of these movements together you should be focused on maintaining that hollow position at the top of the movement and when returning to below the bar.  For pullups and muscle ups this is crucial to stringing reps together and increasing your efficiency.  So when we are ready to begin our descent we are driving away from that bar in a hollow position so that we can quickly transition back to the arch and so forth. I would argue that the shoulders and lats must stay engaged but the focus should be keeping those legs tight and long.

For toes to bar, the hollow position is broken in order to get toes to the bar but the shoulder position and core engagement of the hollow remains the same.  The legs stay tight and long but the focus should be keeping those lats engaged so that the hips remain behind the plane of the rig and shoulders stay closed until you are ready to transition into the Arch as quickly as possible. No matter what the movement or variation of movement, the shapes all stay the same and maintaining those shapes at the right time in the movement will increase proficiency and efficiency.

I will close this out by saying that none of this is easy.  Especially for us adults.  Those that grew up with a gymnastics background may find this easy but learning these things as an adult can be extremely frustrating.  And drilling basics isn’t always fun.  And I know for most of us when we go to the gym, we just want a good workout and have fun.

But most of us also want to see progress.  We want to get better.  And this takes time.  You may not go home and start incorporating these drills into your everyday routine and that is fine.  But next time you start getting frustrated with yourself for not being able to string your toes to bar together or you start feeling like you aren’t making any progress in getting that first chest to bar or muscle up even though you know you have the strength, consider what you are actually doing to help you achieve this next step.  It might just take a little more focus on the fundamentals.

Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out!  If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations.  If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be.  Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics

 

Photo credit:

Diagrams: @whiteboard_daily

 

Mental Toughness: Preparing for MURPH

By Coach Amber Hopeman

It’s been a year since we reopened our doors following quarantine.  Many of us are still working from home, homeschooling our children, and adjusting to reestablishing that human contact we so craved.  Even if we didn’t crave it, many of us realize just how much we miss it after it is taken away.  We have all had to make certain consolations, compromises, and sacrifices over the past year.  We were just trying to survive, not thrive during this time.  

Last year I wrote this blog post on how to go about mentally and physically preparing for Murph coming off of quarantine.  This year, we have a ton of new members and even though many of us have been back at this whole CrossFit thing for a bit now, it is still important to take note just how ready we are to execute probably the most popular and recognizable CrossFit HERO Workout there is: MURPH.

The basis behind any HERO workout, in my opinion is to honor those that it is named for, reaching deep within yourself to find that inner strength, remembering their sacrifice and pushing yourself most likely beyond where you think you can go both physically and mentally.  They are long workouts and meant to be grueling, but man, can they be fun!  MURPH is one of those I always look forward to.

For a lot of us, we have spent the last year doing exactly this: searching for that inner strength, achieving things in manners we didn’t think possible, surviving each day. We have come out of quarantine finding ourselves still isolated from those we work with, having to find connections in new ways and finding new ways to stay motivated.  Despite the world returning to a new normal, we are exhausted.  We HAVE sacrificed.  As a Navy veteran and former Army Wife, I will also tell you that just because your sacrifices were not made on the battlefield, does not make them any less valid or real.

So this Memorial Day, if you are in town and are able to complete MURPH, consider these sacrifices. Consider: your workload, how much you have been actually working out, have you been prepping for this workout, how much of that 20lb weight vest you normally wear are you carrying around daily now because of your diet, ARE YOU REALLY READY?  The thing about MURPH is it’s high volume.  What is your strict strength like right now?  When is the last time you attempted a high volume pullup workout?  When is the last time you ran a mile?  Attempting 100 pullups for the first time in over a month (even a week) can put some serious strain on your body.  The risk of injury is extremely high. 

Unless you are a competitive athlete (in which preparedness for this WOD should not be an issue), your goal at the gym is most likely to maintain a certain level of fitness and probably look good naked.  In order to maintain that level or even improve, your biggest goal should be to remain PAIN FREE!  So when thinking about how you are going to go about MURPH this year consider one last thing: sometimes the greatest example of mental toughness is doing what is right, and in this instance that is SCALING!  It’s easy to go HAM all the time, but is it the right thing to do?  I recognize that making the decision to scale MURPH after the year that we have been through may not be what you want to hear, but it is what you NEED to hear.

So go to the gym, do ring rows or bent over DB rows for the pullups, drop to your knees for the push-ups or with hands on a box, squat to a box or ball if your range of motion is not what it used to be.  Bike instead of run.  Grab your SwoleMate and make it a PartnerWOD.  As coaches, we want you to always understand the intent of the movement and workout so you know what level of intensity you are trying to achieve.

For those of you who are ready to tackle Murph head on: If you have never done MURPH unpartitioned, consider doing so before throwing on a weight vest and splitting up the reps.  Or wear the weight vest for the run but take it off inside the gym.  Adding weight at this high of volume without preparation will only lead to unnecessary injury.

So don’t forget the intent of MURPH, the intent of MEMORIAL DAY: to come together as a community and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  The minute you have walked in that door to the gym you have done that.  Clicking the Rx button doesn’t change that.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THIS MEMORIAL DAY!  HEATS WILL BE AT 9:30 AND 10:30am!  SIGN UP VIA WODIFY TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT!

WAYS TO PARTITION MURPH

WAYS TO SCALE MURPH

 

Who is LT Michael P. Murphy?

Michael P. Murphy, United States Navy (SEAL)

May 7, 1976 – June 28, 2005

Michael P. Murphy (SEAL) was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wings, tasked with finding a key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.

A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, LT. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

Murphy fought on, allowing one member of his team (Marcus Luttrell) to escape, before he was killed. For his selfless actions, LT. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27, 2007. We honor his sacrifice and memory through The Murph Challenge. Find out more about Michael Murphy at the Memorial Foundation created in his name.

The Hollow: Part 2

The Hollow position is probably the more well known position and the one that is focused on the most when developing core strength and well it’s the position that actually creates and gets you above that bar.  But we want efficiency.  And that means maintaining the tension as we transition from the Arch to the Hollow.  Again, arms and legs are fully extended and knees and ankles are squeezed tight with toes pointed.  Ideally in this position on the ground,  one could push down on your toes and your top half would lift, moving as one shape, not breaking at any point.

Many athletes lose this shape by swinging the legs upward into a piked position, losing lat engagement when the shoulder angle closes or trying to thrust the hips toward the bar thus creating an arch again rather than maintaining the hollow position.

Again, practicing on the ground is a great first step.  Whiteboard Daily has a great diagram of progressions (see above) that you can use to build up your strength and stamina in these positions.  The key is to keep the core tight by keeping back into the floor.  Once you have progressed to the full hollow hold position, hollow rocks are a great way to practice maintaining that tension.  Want to take it up another notch? Grab a PVC pipe to simulate holding onto the rig and practice POPPING into that position as quickly as possible. 

In PART THREE, I will be discussing putting the two of these together and how they should be achieved when actually performing specific gymnastics movements such as the pullup, toes to bar and the muscle up.  In the meantime, here is an exercise you can do to build up your stamina in these positions as well as drilling a FAST and EFFICIENT transition between the two.  It’s called the LOG ROLL, and I first discovered it on BreakingMuscle.com:

This exercise is almost exactly what it sounds like. The difference is that while you’re rolling from your stomach to your back, you will be alternating between the arch and hollow, respectively. Start by finding your hollow position. Then roll left or right, transitioning into your arch position. Once in the arch position roll back left or right transitioning back into your hollow position. The goal is to be able to snap from one position to the other.

Minimize excess movement outside of the hollow and arch as much as possible. Your legs should remain glued together and you should continuously squeeze your glutes, abs, and quads throughout the movement.

Want another challenging option? Check out the Hollow Arch Pulls at the bottom of the same article by clicking HERE!

Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out!  If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations.  If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be.  Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics

Photo credits:

Diagram: @whiteboard_daily

Photo: @crossfitdunwoody

Gymnastics is All about Shapes: The Arch (Part One)

By: Coach Amber Hopeman (@eat.train.mom)

Beyond strict strength, when it comes to Gymnastics it is all about making SHAPES!

@whiteboard_daily

The two major shapes we are concerned with when doing gymnastic movements in CrossFit are the Hollow and Arch positions.  In order to kip we are simply moving from hollow to arch and back as efficiently as possible.  And to be efficient we aren’t just swinging from the bar but we are actively pulling ourselves into these positions. 

So let’s break each one down starting with the Arch.  Why start with the Arch?  Because it’s the one most overlooked and when that happens a lot of power is left on the table and if not drilled at the fundamental level can prevent you from progression to higher skilled movements like the Muscle-Up.  The power comes from creating as much tension as possible in the arch to use in the transition to the hollow that will create the upward momentum we need to accomplish these movements.

By keeping the body LONG and RIGID, we create this tension.  Whether on your stomach or hanging from the bar, the position is the same: arms and legs are STRAIGHT, heels squeezed together, stomach is tight and butt is squeezed.  Lie face down on your stomach and try this. Stretch your arms above your head, keep your chin tucked.  Firstly, reach your fingertips as far forward 0as possible and just squeeze those knees and heels together.  You should feel that rigidness. 

Now just squeeze your butt.  If you have stayed long, even with this just small activation of the glutes, your feet should raise off the ground.  Now, while keeping your chin tucked, lift your chest off the ground like there is a string at the base of your neck pulling you upwards as you reach your fingers forward as far as possible.  Lift the legs slightly higher so that knees are off the ground, legs stay straight, toes are pointed. This is the Arch position.  Notice you aren’t hyperextending your back nor are you making a “C” with your body.  Try doing this a few times and then jump to the rig and attempt the same thing.  Engage your lats by drawing your shoulders away from your ears, keep the body long and repeat the same thing you did on the floor.  Notice how your body shifts without swinging, this is the tension we are trying to create.

So it’s great if you are actively engaging in kipping movements again coming off of quarantine. But remember, no one gets better at pull-ups by just doing more pull-ups, you get better by perfecting the basics, drilling the fundamentals that will translate to the power you need when executing the full movement.

Next time you have a few minutes before class or after, try some of these out!  If you are looking for more in depth advice or training progressions, be sure to ask one of our amazing coaches or set up a personal training session.  If you are not a member, but are curious about CrossFit or learning any of these movements, be sure to check out our KICKSTART PROGRAMS.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As you might have noticed I LOVE WHITEBOARD DAILY (@whiteboard_daily) for quick and easy visual explanations.  If you aren’t already following them on IG or FB you should be.  Some other great gymnastics accounts related to CrossFit to follow are: @thegymnasticscourse @pamelagnon @performanceplusprogram @thebarbellphysio @functional.gymnastics 

 

Photo Credits:

Diagram- @whiteboard_daily

Arch Photo- @crossfitdunwoody