Archive for August, 2014

“Single White Female” CrossFit

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 28 2014


The things that I’ve seen lead to the most injuries are athletes fixating on one thing that they “should” be able to do, and not remembering that fitness is by definition your ability in “broad time and modal domains.” But athletes say “fuck that, I want to do 30 Muscle Ups for time” or “fuck that, I want a 400 pound squat” One workout or one movement doesn’t make you a better athlete, being passable at a lot of things does.

I’ve had two serious injuries in my CrossFit career and they stem from these two fixations. When I started CrossFit in 2006, I really wanted to be able to complete the “30 Muscle Ups for time” WOD that I’d seen on the main site. I geeked out on Muscle Ups a lot (here’s me doing some sirious video analysis in 2008 at the Pullup bars behind my job site). After attempting that workout in 2008, I’ve had sirious elbow issues ever since.

Last spring I was really frustrated at my squat numbers because I couldn’t get over 385, so I added volume by back squatting and front squatting every week without taking any back off weeks. The results of this has been over a year without normal heavy squats. I’ve worked up to being able to 3x5x245 Box Squats because my knees can’t handle normal weighted squats. I did thrusters for the second time in a year last Tuesday, but could only do 75 lbs because my knees couldn’t handle 95 lbs.

We want you to attack your weaknesses, but we don’t want you to be totally obsessed with them. Yes, you should come in on days that there are movements that you are weak at. But no, you shouldn’t be staying up at night thinking about how bad you want a 400 lbs squat. You need to listen to your body and not be crazy.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140814]

Paleo is Hard!!!

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 27 2014


“But Paleo sounds so hard!!!” We hear that a lot when we start talking to athletes about the Paleo Diet. Really, it’s about as easy as it can possibly get, but we have to help you understand and equip you to make the right decisions.

Since we’re going into the weekend, lets talk about compliance, eating out and drinking alcohol:

Compliance = Results There’s no getting around this. If you sleep at least eight hours a night, reduce non-hormetic stressors, eat strict Paleo and don’t drink alcohol, and train 5-6 times per week you’ll get amazing results. Wherever you compromise on those points, you’ll compromise on those results.

Brian, can you just call in my order for me? I’m busy not complying with the above guidelines on the weekend, so no. But all you have to do is the following when you sit down at a restaurant: “Hi Waitron, I’m deathly allergic to gluten, dairy and legumes. If you put that into my food I will projectile vomit all over this place.” That will motivate them to help you a great deal.

How do I replicate my amazing Clarendon Ballroom dance moves without booze?!?!?!!?!? My guidance is ripped off from Robb Wolf and is simple yet challenging: drink as little as possible to improve your fitness and as much necessary to improve your sex life.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140715]

Starchy Carbs and Paleo/CrossFit

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 26 2014


Something that I think is an issue for a lot of athletes is carb intake. I’ve talked to a lot of clients about this, wrote about it, and talked about it during the Paleo Challenge, but dialing in the right amount of carbs still seems to be an issue for folks. I’ll give you some good rules of thumb:

1) If you are training 2x/week and have significant amounts of body fat to loose, you just want to eat starchy carbs in your post workout meals. So if you work out in the morning, eat at least a fist sized portion of starchy carbs in your post-WOD meal.

2) If you have some body fat to lose, up your starch intake to at least 2x/day with meals.

3) If you are training 4-5 days a week, and have some body fat to loose, you need to eat at least 2-3 fist sized portions of starch on your training days.

You can find info on what we consider starchy carbs here in our Paleo FAQ section.

Now if you want more clarity, we’re here to help! You can just post to comments anytime, you can post to our Facebook page (on the wall or just in the daily WOD post)or you can sign up for nutritional counseling with one of our coaches. Maria does these all the time and is a great resource. When I’m sober, I’m ok at this too.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140616]

Shaping a Box Culture

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 25 2014


As a coach and owner of a large box with 24 coaches and hundreds of athletes I feel like I need to shape the culture of our gym by doing as little as possible to shape the culture of our gym. I know that sounds ridiculous.

I tell my coaches often that I don’t want PCF to be “The Brian Wilson Show”. This is based on the presumption that I don’t know everything that makes a successful box and I don’t know what is going to make everyone happy. What I strive for is an organic or evolutionary process that naturally encourage and discourages certain types of behavior. Greg Glassman made the statement once, which resonates with me: “If you make me do something, even if I’m already doing it, I’ll stop doing it. Even if I thought it was a good idea and it was something that I wanted to do. I’m not going to be told what to do.”

I’ve talked about this before in terms of why some people train with us. While I do “tell you what to do” in a specific training sense during WODs, I don’t tell you exactly how to do everything because I want to a) let organic processes based on individuals decisions select best practices, and b) want folks that fit into our prevailing culture that’s based on a dynamic and responsive system and community of athletes.

Our culture will shift, change, and morph based on what folks want to do more than by what I tell people to do. The only really hard and fast rule I have is that nobody will affect the culture, policies or practices at the expense of another athlete or athletes. If folks want to do something, whether that’s a larger project like Throwdowns, Competition Teams, Happy Hours, or a seemingly smaller thing like cheering on athletes at the end of workouts, taking shirts off during WODs or asking for more Ke$sha, I’m going to try it or not do anything to stop it based on the simple proposition that anybody can do whatever feels right to them so long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else. If it’s something that catches on, great! That’ll be another facet of our culture. If it doesn’t that means that most athletes don’t share your love of cheering, shirtless WODs or amazing DJing.

This puts a tremendous responsibility on athletes especially, because I’m not going to see everything that has a positive or negative effect on your satisfaction with PCF. It puts the onus on you to both take part in practices that you see as beneficial and try to stop practices that don’t. So if you like what somebody is doing (whether that’s me, a coach or an athlete) pat them/us on the ass and say “good game”. And if you don’t, do something about it.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140603]


Nature Doesn’t Know The Difference

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 22 2014


“Strive to blur distinctions between “cardio” and strength training. Nature has no regard for this distinction.” -Greg Glassman, What is Fitness?

Our workouts blend what you would consider traditional strength training and traditional conditioning. Each of our workouts will challenge you in whatever you are lacking. For instance, in the workout today, if you are not proficient at the chest to bar Pullup or the Pistol, you will be challenged in simply completing the movements as prescribed. If you are proficient, you will be challenged in by the conditioning required to complete the workout.

Many folks come out of workouts thinking they have shortchanged themselves in one of these types of athletic development. This isn’t the case, rather you are working on your weakness. If you come out of a workout like today and say “Man, that my lats and quads are fried, I could barely do all those reps! Buut I’m not really out of breath!” then you probably needed todays workout to develop your strength and skill at these movements. If you came out of it laying on the floor in a pool of sweat making indistinct grunts you are probably proficient at these movements and got some practice at the movements and improved your conditioning.

Nature doesn’t know the difference between strength and conditioning, and a big part of our program is based on the fact that those that specialize in one or do so at the expense of the other. But the person that has both the strength and conditioning is capable of doing both or either well.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140602]

Hydration and Electrolyte Balance

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 21 2014


Much is made in most health and fitness about proper hydration. I think that much of this is bubkis. However, getting the proper amount of what is commonly known as “electrolytes” is absolutely critical to your overall health and your CrossFit performance especially.

For most folks, simply eating Paleo and getting a good variety of foods will do the trick. I’m also a fan of adding iodized salt in the mix. For folks that are doing a good amount of hard training, some simple supplements might be necessary based on your individual biological requirements. For years, I’ve recommended Endurolyte tablets. As it’s getting hotter outside, these make more and more sense and folks report good results. There are some other more pricey options out there, but they depend on how much your working out, how much you naturally sweat, and whether or not you really want to take the time to mess around with them.

Have any of you tried Endurolytes or other supps?

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140527]

Training Through Injury

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 20 2014


When it comes to dealing with injuries, there are a lot of basic things you can do if you catch it early. They differ significantly based on if it’s a soft tissue issue or a connective tissue issue. If it’s soft tissue, this means you feel it somewhere in the “meaty” part of the muscle and it’s probably severe soreness, a strain or a tear. First thing to do is talk to a coach who can vector you into how severe it is (unless you have a bone sticking out or are in severe pain, then don’t talk to me, go to the emergency room).

For soreness, we want to make sure we’re just doing the fundamentals of Paleo + Sleep + adequate rest days as the first step. We then want to look at maybe subbing around movements that stress that specific muscle. For strains and tears, we want to get you to see some kind of medical professional (chiro or ortho) and get their opinion on it’s severity before we move forward. We can work around this stuff, but it requires a great deal more time and effort on both our parts.

For connective tissue, the first thing we want to do is DRAMATICALLY lower our expectations for recovery time. Coach Christopher Sommers says that connective tissue usually takes 10x longer to heal than soft tissue injuries. So if you’re feeling issues in your joints, you need to address it QUICKLY so it doesn’t get worse. First thing to do is talk to a coach. They’ll probably tell you to rest and if you’re in pain, rest and ice. Once you can move without pain (and I just mean walk and do some basic bodyweight movements pain free) than we can try to sub around the injury. If the injury isn’t healing by subbing movements to minimize further damage, we need to get you to a pro ASAP and stop you from doing classes.

We can definitely still do personal training around injury. I personally have a TON of hours training athletes with injuries. I like doing this as it offers a different kind of challenge in designing programming and helping with motivation. If you’re banged up and you’re interested in some personal training with any of our coaches, you can email

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140520]

Don’t Listen to Experts

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 19 2014


“Rashness is one of the properties of illness – outlaws that we are – and it is rashness that we need in reading Shakespeare. It is not that we should doze in reading him, but that, fully conscious and aware, his fame intimidates and bores, and all the views of all the critics dull in us that thunderclap of conviction which, if an illusion, is still so helpful an illusion, so prodigious a pleasure, so keen a stimulus in reading the great. Shakespeare is getting flyblown: a paternal government might well forbid writing about him, as they put his monument at Stratford beyond the reach of scribbling fingers. With all this buzz of criticism about, one may hazard one’s conjectures privately, making one’s notes in the margin; but, knowing that someone has said it before, or said it better, the zest is gone. Illness, in its kingly sublimity sweeps all that aside and leaves nothing but Shakespeare and oneself. What with his overweening power and our overweening arrogance, that barriers go down, the knots Run smooth, the brain rings and resounds with Lear or Macbeth, and even Coleridge himself squeaks like a distant mouse.” -On Being Ill, Virginia Woolf

What Woolf is trying to say, I think, is “don’t listen to experts.” This is for two reasons: first, you need to exercise your wits otherwise you’ll either be bamboozled. Second, if you make it instinctive to listen to experts, you’ll lose confidence in yourself as a thinking being. On the flip side of this as a CrossFit coach, you pay me to be an expert at CrossFit and you need to listen to me to make progress.

But as a consumer, you need to not believe anything I say unless and until you see results. If you’re not seeing results there are only three options: either I’m hustling you, I’m wrong, or you’re not doing what I told you to do. If the first is true, stop paying me. If the second, please tell me so I can fix my model. If the third, either ask for help or try harder.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140513]

Find What’s Right For You

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 18 2014


Just like we scale workouts based on your level, we also scale our versions of the Paleo Diet. If you’ve done our Paleo Challenge, you know we take a very simple approach to this. If you’re primary goal is weight loss, then you need to take in enough starchy carbs to support your CrossFitting, but no more. This usually equates to a minimum of one fist sized portion of starch in your post-WOD meal. For folks that want weight loss and performance gains, minimum two fist sized portions with meals. One of these portions post-WOD. For folks that are primarily focused on performance, the minimum is three fist sized portions.

This is a pretty straightforward rule of thumb and one which works for a lot of people. But this is the minimum and the determiner is how well it’s working! Some of our athletes and I have been messing with a high and much more specific quantitative measure of their starchy carb intake through the Eat to Perform plan. We have all seen significant gains in our work output and energy levels and no increase in bodyfat. This is very much a diet plan that fits into the “Rxd” category of athlete, but it’s good info for all athletes as many people think that if one piece of starch a day is good for weight loss, than no starch ever must be perfect!

The key is finding what’s right for you, and we’re happy to help with this. You can talk to a coach at the WOD, you can post to comments, or you can email me or Maria or any coach you’d like to setup a nutritional consult to help dial you in.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140512]

Practice Patience

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 15 2014


I often wonder if there’s a way to measure exactly and precisely how fit you’d be if you hadn’t CrossFitted for however long you’ve been working out with us. Much of this is not really focused on gaining fitness so much as avoiding sickness and disability.

A lot of folks lament how little progress they think they are making or their lack of ability to get one thing they are fixated on (Muscle UpPullup, etc). I appreciate the fact that folks want to get better, that’s not annoying at all. “Playing hungry” is a good trait in an athlete. But some degree of patience is also a good trait.

Something that might aid in that patience is taking stock of where you are right now versus where you would be if you had just kept doing what you were doing. Eating a bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a nice low-fat pasta dish for dinner was killing you slowly. Doing some 10k training plan was adding to your cortisol load and stressing your body in ways that were only taking you from bad to worse.

So even if you’re only coming a couple of times a month, I think the fact that you’ve got that Pullup or Muscle Up or sub 8:00 Rxd Fran in your sights is a whole lot better than where you would have been otherwise

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140429]