Archive for July, 2014

Movement, Consistency Then Intensity

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 31 2014


“Nature frequently provides largely unforeseeable challenges; train for that by striving to keep the training stimulus broad and constantly varied.” –What is Fitness, CrossFit Journal

This is from the second “Standard of Fitness” from CrossFit’s early days, and what became part of their more elegant and concise definition: “Fitness is increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains.” It seems to me that doctrinally both the “time” and “modal” are equally important. However, for the beginner and intermediate athlete, I want to stress that “modal”, or movement, is actually the more important of the two.

Being able to do a movement either singly or with varied reps and loading should be the first ingredient in your training. We describe this to our Foundations students as “movement, consistency, then intensity”. I need you to be able to do a single “air” squat before I can get you to do 300 in a workout like “Murph.” I need you to do many of them well, before you can attempt to do a heavy back squat or snatch. So your first focus as an athlete should be on learning and improving your movements. Once you can perform a movement with consistency, then we can add increased loading and variation. Doing so prematurely is a recipe for frustration or injury.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140224]


Body Needs Movement

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 30 2014


How often should you take a rest day? This is a pretty easy question to answer: no less than every fourth day. We want everybody to come in as often as is humanely possible, which should lead you to five-ish days a week. We incentivize this as well, as an Unlimited membership costs $13/class and a 9x/week costs $17.78/class.

Even if you are pretty beat up, you should come in. The body needs movement. So even if you are sore, you should come in. Do the warmup and mobility, then decide how hard you’re going to go. If you’re still feeling tired and beat up, try a “therapeutic dose of functional movement” day. This means you’re going to do a lot less weight/difficulty in our barbell or gymnastic strength portion and then you’re going to scale a level down from what you usually do during the METCON. Those few extra days a month that this will add to your training volume will pay off.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140218]


Less Coaching, More Repetition

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 29 2014


Some folks really enjoy hearing coaches talk through movements/logistics/WOD plans/the meaning of life, etc. Some folks want to read what’s on the whiteboard and be left alone. We try to find a middle ground. What I am certain of is that we as coaches need to a) ensure everyone in the class has a basic level of understanding of what we’re doing in any given workout, and b) need to maximize the time athletes are practicing CrossFit. You’re not going to benefit from a coach talking the whole hour just like you wouldn’t learn to play the violin just listening to somebody talk about it.

What I found pretty interesting growing up playing baseball up to the Division I level is the higher level I was playing, the less the coaches “coached”. They told us what to do generally, like “we’re taking batting practice” but by the time I was playing semi-pro leagues in high school, our coach talked to us directly (i.e., coached) hardly at all. When I got to Division I, the coaches talked to us maybe once a week. What we focused on at this level is practicing and the coaches worked on structuring that practice for the max benefit. It was about repetition, repetition, repetition. While there is certainly value add from having somebody look at your form, talk through injury concerns, and give scaling advice, I think the best thing we can do in the hour we have you is prepping you for CrossFit and then get as much repetition as we can in practicing CrossFit.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140211]

Warm Up Behavior

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 28 2014


I find that how folks warmup is usually very similar to how well they stick to a productive nutrition plan. Both usually need to do exactly the opposite of what they want to do. Folks that are SUPER serious about warming up/diet need to relax and not be so crazy. Tracking your caloric intake, Zone blocks, weighing your food, or counting the number of hip raises you do per month are all things you shouldn’t do.

On the flip side is the person that doesn’t take warming up/nutrition seriously at all. They think they’re doing “good enough” even though they are making no tangible gains. They explain it away like “well X goofs around druing warmups/eats Hoho’s occasionally, so I can too!” These folks need to do some work during the warmups and be more realistic about how much progress they are going to make eating crap regularly.

As always, talk to your coach. They can give you some good insight on what you need to focus on during warmups.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140210]

What Happens During the Open

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 25 2014


There is something that happens to a lot of athletes during the Open: they get way better. Numerous folks have gotten their first Muscle UpToes to BarPullup or hit a new PR on the Snatch or Clean and Jerk during a 12 minute METCON.

Now I know what you’re thinking: that don’t make no sense. And I agree. But whatever it is that’s going on seems to allow people to make big jumps in their ability. So whether you’re making those big jumps because it’s a competition or because you’re wearing women’s underwear or because you’re breathing through your eyelids or because your rechanneling your sexual energy: never fuck with a winning streak.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140204]

Fitness Now, Test Later

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 24 2014


Our training throughout 99% of the year is built on improving your fitness, not testing it. While we program one rep max attempts and benchmark WODs, those are still built around the idea of improving your fitness as the primary goal.

The upcoming CrossFit Games Open is built around testing your fitness. CrossFit’s definition of fitness is a relative, not an absolute: “Fitness is increased work capacity over broad time and modal domains.” Being able to accurately and precisely measure your fitness at a certain time/age versus a past time/age, and being able to measure it relative to other athletes is critical to determining if this shit actually works.

So I encourage everybody to test whether or not they are getting fitter by registering for the Open.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140203]


No Magic Fix

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 23 2014


There’s no magic fix that can get you prepared for the Open between now and February 27th. The Open will be a measure of your fitness and your fitness will be determined by three primary things:

1) How Paleo where you in the last year?
2) How many times did you come to the gym over the last year?
3) How much did you sleep per night?

Now there are a ton of other factors involved here, some you can’t control and some you can. The folks that make the CrossFit Games are amazing athletes and to one degree or another one of the best decisions they made was who their parents are. Genes play a huge part. Other things you can control all factor into the above though. Lots of stress from job/relationship/family/etc? That’s going to affect how you eat, train and sleep. Really like hookers and blow? That’s going to affect how you eat, train and sleep (and probably your job/relationship/family/etc). Bottomline is that this game we call CrossFit should be fun (goddamit!!). So don’t put too much pressure on yourself during the Open. Sign up, try to have fun, see how things shake out.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140128]

Butter, Bone Broth and Bacon

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 22 2014


You might think our dietary choices are out of the ordinary, and they are, but they are catching on. Some of you may have seen the recent articles about the Los Angeles Laker’s diet that mainly consists of butter, bone broth, and bacon (this sounds vaguely familiar to some other diet labels: Starts with “p”, rhymes with “R-aleo”).

The reason the Laker’s focus on these food groups are:
1) Joint health. Bone broth is one of the only sources of glycosaminoglycans. Down the processing chain that happens in the body, this compound creates hyaluronic acid, which is a key part of synovial fluid. This is the “lubricant” in your joints.
2) Energy. Fat is a hormonally neutral source of energy. While carbohydrate raises your blood sugar, which in the absence of protein intake or anaerobic activity can increase body fat stores, fat has no effect on blood sugar but significant effect on satiety (how hungry you are). So you eat fat, you get energy and you don’t feel hungry.
3) Brain function. The brain is the most sensitive organ to swings in blood sugar levels. Your brain can Run on sugar only, but the body can create it’s own form of sugar, known as ketones, from fat. You can read a great deal about ketones and brain function from Dr. Richard Veech, but bottomline: your brain really likes ketones.

For more on the L.A. Lakers diet, click here.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140121]

Cholesterol Explained by Robb Wolf

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 21 2014


I set out to write a unique and interesting blog post today about cholesterol, but once I found Robb Wolf’s post, I gave up. This sums it up too nicely for me to even try to compete. The following is reprinted from Robb Wolf’s blog. You can also tune into his Paleo Solution podcast here and purchase his books and ebooks here. Enjoy!

The basics of the diet-heart hypothesis go like this: High cholesterol leads to atherosclerotic plaques that precipitate a clot which can result in a heart attack or stroke. This whole notion grew from a disease called Familial Hypercholesterolemia and subsequent experiments that involved feeding rabbits (herbivores) oxidized cholesterol. These critters do not eat ANY cholesterol so the fact oxidized cholesterol caused problems is not surprising but also completely unhelpful when talking about people.

Anyway, 50 years to failed dietary recommendations to lower cholesterol have done nothing to alleviate the CVD epidemic. In fact, the epidemic is rolling along bigger and badder than ever before. Well This Study was pretty interesting. It indicates that most people who suffer a heart attack have…low cholesterol!

Now, everyone is in a fix to get folks on cholesterol lowering diets and statins to save them, but most heart attacks are in folks with…low cholesterol! Ok, doesn’t make any sense and it completely calls into question the notion that we need to reduce cholesterol levels…but why not give people statins and see how folks do on those. Well, interestingly, statins appear to decrease heart attack rates in people…with low cholesterol.

The mechanism? Possibly a reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of systemic inflammation. Know what else reduces systemic inflammation? A paleo diet which controls insulin levels, removes gut irritating foods, balances omega-3/omega-6 fats. Add some vit-d and consistent good sleep and you have effectively turned off the type of inflammation underlying CVD, cancer and neurodegeneration.
Oh! Then there is the fact low cholesterol increases stroke rates!!
So, just to clarify:
1-Cholesterol supposedly causes CVD, But
2-Most heart attacks are actually occurring in people with low cholesterol, Yet
3-Doctors insist on cholesterol lowering protocols, including statins, Even though,
4-The benefit of statins has nothing to do with cholesterol, but rather it’s mild anti-inflammatory action, Which
5-Can be accomplished with simple dietary modifications and a few inexpensive supplements.
It would be funny if people were not dying from this stuff.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140120]


False Heuristics

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 18 2014


“It takes a lot of intellect and confidence to accept that what makes sense doesn’t really make sense.” -“The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

I wrote last week about some of the false heuristics (rules of thumb) that “make sense” to people but cause major health issues: saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease; calories in versus calories out; and the fact that CrossFit “looks dangerous.”

It seems that all of us have some innate desire to obey authority (Milgram and Zimbardobeing the most famous academic examples) and to conform to tribal norms (Milgram and Zimbardo again, and everybody since Aristotle). One hopes that we can reason our way out of false heuristics by observing the negative effects of our actions and then make adjustments, but it seems like even both folks that are very sick and folks that aren’t make bad decisions that they know is bad for their health.

I don’t really have a solution to this and I’m not super interested in bringing enlightenment to the world. I guess I’m just wondering if anybody wants to contribute an answer to the question: why do you (or somebody you know) continue to make bad decisions once they’ve been presented with significant data that what they are doing is bad for them?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140114]