Current State of the Program

Becoming a well-rounded, fit individual requires a very broad training program. As set by the CrossFit ideology, there are 10 domains in which to improve upon : Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.

 

Most of us do not train 10 times per week. So how do we hit each of these targets?

 

Our current program template that we are conducting is addressing all of these domains as evenly as possible to make each of our members into a well-rounded athlete. Below is a quick look into how we address each of the 10 domains of fitness in our programming.

Cardiovascular and Respiratory Endurance:

We address this specifically once per week with long-cycle cardio modalities such as rowing. Once in awhile, we will replace that day with something that is more focused on coordination, balance, and flexibility through not-for-time WODs that emphasize quality of movement.

Stamina:

Once per week we focus on muscle endurance. As we train for muscular endurance, athletes will usually feel as though their muscle’s ability, not their heart rate, is what prevents them from continuing forward with the workout.

Strength:

As strength is a limiting factor for most, we try to train this twice per week. Strength is the maximal weight you can lift… period. That is our heavy squats, pulls, and presses. Your body needs about 48-72 hours to recover from these workouts. Your muscles will not necessarily feel like you cannot continue, but your central nervous system will need the added recovery time. To account for this, our strength days are spaced out near the beginning and end of the week.

Flexibility:

This is sprinkled in throughout the warmups and the occasional routine at the end.  We also encourage members to spend additional time working on mobility and flexibility in our ROMWOD room.

Power:

We currently focus on this once per week, although that is subject to change. Power is how far you can move X amount of weight quickly. This is definitely demonstrated with the Olympic lifts.

Speed:

We attempt to target speed 1-2 times throughout the week. Speed training is achieved through intervals. Intervals are always changing, as are rest times.  The constant variations of time domains is how we encourage our bodies to adapt.

Coordination:

This is the ability to link multi-joint movement patterns together. Burpees, Olympic lifts, gymnastics movements, and many of the warm-up drills that we see all work together to improve coordination. Coordination is not “targeted” into specific days of the program, but rather through the selection of movements each day.

Agility:

This is a lot like coordination in that it is targeted through movement selection and combinations. The idea is to be able to transition from one movement to the next quickly. Going from rowing to snatching expresses your agility level. Taking no break and very little setup time shows that your body can transition efficiently from one movement pattern to the next, seamlessly.

Balance:

This is the ability to control your center of gravity. It is challenged through EVERYTHING that you do. You might specifically target it through pauses in positions you are used to passing through, like a lunge (remember holding the bottom of the lunge?). Moving weight further from the center of gravity is another way that you might see balance specifically targeted.

Accuracy:

Wall Balls, Olympic lifts, Burpee pull ups, and anything wherein you have to use hand-eye coordination or proprioception in order to produce/resist force on an external load (catching/throwing). You might also see this in the ability to provide the exact same force over and over again, like trying to hit an exact pace on the rower.

Putting it all together

As you no doubt noticed, there is a lot to cram into each week in order to improve evenly in all 10 domains of fitness. That is why classes go right up to the last minute. Time is valuable and every minute of class should be spent on getting better!

When it comes to focused strength training, it is best to not vary too widely week by week. Throughout a year you want A LOT of variation, but week by week there should be very little to ensure that our bodies are adapting to the stimulus and not just being confused all the time (and therefore never improving). This would explain why you typically see periods of time where we perform things like the sumo deadlift every week. We are trying to get you to be more efficient in that motor unit pattern before switching it up on your body. I chose the sumo deadlift specifically to target the outer glutes. The idea is that squatting will improve because of the hip mobility demands. It should also improve because the wide stance of the sumo position forces the abductors to work harder to pull your knees out, thus improving your body’s ability to do so during a more traditional squatting movement! One last reason for the sumo is that most of you either have never done it at all, or very little. Many powerlifters train sumo for improve their conventional deadlift… and it works!

Hopefully this gives everyone a little insight into why the program is doing the things it is doing. There are more factors that I consider, but this is the base template that I work within. Every 6 months I will revamp the template to make sure that true variation occurs. Trying to target these 10 domains weekly is very tough, but looking at it from this perspective you can see why CrossFit is so effective at creating very fit individuals.

The 3 Keys to #GAINZ

“How do I get stronger?” The 3 Keys to #GAINZ

All too often, there is that workout that when we leave, we think: If I were stronger, that would have been so much better. The question is then, “How do I get stronger?”  There are a lot of different ways to get stronger, but I have three keys to unlocking strength: consistency, patience, and failure.  These three attributes intermingle and build on one another, providing the user with killer strength gainz.

Consistency:

This may be THE most important part of gaining strength. One week on, one week off (“go when you feel like it”) workout programs are not going to get you strong very quickly, and what little strength you DO gain will fizzle out quickly. What you do EVERY day can influence your strength.

First, you need to make sure you are showing up! The biggest mistakes I see are people who allow their mood to make all their decisions. Your head makes ONE decision, and that is that you are going to SHOW UP “x” days per week. Exceptions should be few and far between.

“But what if I am feeling really sore today?”  You might think that taking a day off when you are sore is helpful, but in reality, the worst thing you can do for yourself is take a day off to sit on your tush all day. You need BLOODFLOW, which means you need exercise. You don’t have to go balls-to-the-wall every day.  If you’re super sore, still go in.  But go in, scale the weights down, and move smoothly and consistently! Even if the programing calls for lifting heavy, just let the coach know you need some blood flow work, not CNS (central nervous system) punishment!

“But what if I am injured?” If you are injured, it is still arguably the best thing you can do to come in to the gym. Going to the gym should be a tough habit to break. Maintain the habit by coming even when hurt.  Should you be going for a max effort overhead squat right after having a shoulder injury?  Of course not!  Instead, when you’re injured, utilize your coach. Your coach can tell you what you can do to work around your injury, how to scale the movement to something you can do safely, and/or how to work on mobility and rehabilitation. If you only rest a real injury, it will NEVER recover 100%, and that’s a promise!

Your mood should never determine whether you are going in to the gym that day.  Listen to your body, scale to what it needs, but always be moving forward.

Patience:

Alright, you are being consistent.  Awesome!  The next thing you need to have is patience. For a while you might be able to increase the weight you can do on a week by week basis, but eventually this will come to a grinding halt. You will hit a wall, reach a plateau, whatever you call it, every athlete reaches it at some point.  The reason for this is because in the 1st wave adaptation, you aren’t technically gaining strength; you are gaining neuromuscular efficiency. The demand on your central nervous system is higher with really heavy weight, this causes your CNS to innervate more muscle fibers to complete a task. The muscle is not becoming stronger, your nervous system is becoming more efficient.

As muscle lengthens slowly through time under tension, microtrauma occurs in the muscle fibers. Your body is essentially “injured” and begins its repair process. This takes time! If you think about it in pounds, it can take A LOT of time. How many muscle fibers need to be injured and repaired stronger in order for you to lift another pound!? The answer is going to be different for everyone, and it also depends on the type of movement Even if you have an awesomely efficient neuromuscular system, and your muscles can tear and rebuild themselves well, your bones and joints also need the time to get more dense and strong. Tendons take 6+ months to fully adapt. (Some studies have even shown a longer time!) If tendons take that long to build themselves up more, you could be looking at only gaining strength 1-2 times per year (as is the case with Olympians)!

Of course, for most of us, that is not an issue! However, this can shed light on some of your joint pains you tend to have. Don’t keep pushing the weight up if the joint is irritated; it is already in the repair phase! Safe strength-gain requires the patience to let your body heal, repair, and rebuild.  Be patient and consistent and the PR’s in strength will come to you!

Failure:

You cannot learn if you do not fail! It is important to approach your life, and fitness, with this in mind. From the perspective of strength, if you do not overload your system, then you are not demanding more from your system. Increase the demand, and you will increase the production of strength. It is simple economics really!

So how do we overload? We have to fail.

All too often, I see athletes who think they have hit their “max” only to add 10lbs and find that they still did not fail. Or they hit 10 reps and call that good because it was hard. Then Coach Mitch says go to failure and they actually hit 2 more reps than they thought they were able to! People are far more capable than they think. The mind controls you, but do you control it!?

Sometimes it is not a matter of failing reps because they are too heavy or you are too tired. Sometimes the joint gives (sure it could be poor positioning) and you are left with an ache and pain that will not allow you to function at your capacity. Injuries or “tweaks” like this are failures that can foster learning if you allow it to. Some people learn “I should not lift anything overhead.” They learn to be afraid of their failure.  But others embrace the failure, do not give in to fear, and instead learn how to be better from the failure.  They learn that they should fix how their body moves by going back to square one (AKA the dreaded PVC pipe).  There is also the chance that your muscles and CNS recover quickly but your joints cannot keep up. This means spending more time at a submaximal load like 20-75%.

Failure is an important part of pushing yourself to try something new.  If you never let yourself fail, you will never understand how much your body can accomplish.  And yes, sometimes that failure will cause you to take a step or two back.  However, in the long run, you will be so much further than if you never let yourself fail in the first place.

Putting it all together:

If you really want to unlock strength gainz, remember the 3 keys of consistency, patience, and failure.  Show up every day, especially on the days you don’t feel like it.  Be patient with yourself when you reach a plateau, and give your body the time it needs to heal itself.  And finally, push yourself to failure; let your muscles and your mind learn to be better from your failure.  If you do these three things, the gainz will follow.

New and Improved!

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At Principia CrossFit, we strive to become better every day.  The same is true of our gym itself.  We have only been open a few months, which has given us many opportunities to make improvements to the space as we grow.  This past month, we have added a few features that we think you should know about!

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Check-In Station:

Thanks to our awesome members Amanda and Josh Culp, we now have a check-in station!  If you haven’t already, start checking in each class on the tablet by the kettlebells.

Why should you bother?  The check-in data is super important for us.  Firstly, it allows us to monitor which classes have high demand, allowing us to make informed choices about which class times can be moved around for more optimum results.  But more importantly, it allows Coach Mitch to keep tabs on who is coming in each week.  You’re here for a reason, and chances are that reason is to get better.  With any long term goal, passions fade and commitment becomes more difficult.  But we are here to help!  When you are feeling unmotivated and begin to become inconsistent, we will be able to see.  And in turn, we will be able to help hold you accountable for your goals long after that feel-good, fuzzy feeling has gone away.

So do you want to reach your goals?  Then let us help you!  Check in on the tablet every WOD!

Ropes:  

What is it about climbing a rope that makes you feel like a total badass?  There’s probably a million different answers to that question, but the answer doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that you can do it now!  With the help of our booty short wearing Mr. Fix-It (Patrick Johnston), our ropes are up and ready to climb.  So look out for some rope climbs coming up in our WODs!

Goals Board:

We saved the best for last.  Our goals board is posted and quickly filling up!  

Yes, we all want to be better.  That’s why you show up and grind day in and day out.  You probably have something in mind that you would one day like to master, like say a handstand walk or a ring muscle-up.  Those bitchin’ high-skill movements can be tough to master, especially when you’re only working on it every other month when it happens to come up in the WOD.

We believe that if you really want something, you should work for it every day.  That is the mindset behind our goals board.  Each member here at Principia is different, and each one has a different end goal in mind.  We are here to help you accomplish those goals.  In fact, we are going to help you work towards those goals every single day.  As a part of the warm up, you will now have the opportunity to work on various individualized movements to help you reach your goal.  The movements will be scaled down to your ability level, and as you improve, your movements will be scaled up.  Eventually, you will crush those goals (and way faster than you would if you continued to work on it every other month).

So if you haven’t already, talk with Coach Mitch and he will get you set up with a solid progression to get you to your goal.

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Squat and Run Cycle May/June 2017

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Let’s say someone has taken your family, and the only way to get them back is to squat 300 lbs.  What would you do?  Would you squat 2 or 3 times per week and spend some time between days recovering?  Probably not.  You would probably squat every. single. day. At least that is the mentality Cory Gregory had when he started on his path to become stronger than ever.  Cory took it upon himself to squat every day.  He, and many others, have found incredible gains from this approach.  This idea was the catalyst for our squat and run cycle ending this week.

At Principia CrossFit, we spent an 8 week cycle focusing on squatting every day.  Each WOD, our athletes performed some type of squat, whether it be front squat, back squat, overhead squat, split squat, and so on.  Not only did the types of squat vary, but the way each athlete squatted changed, too.  Some days focused on speed, others on strength, others on mobility throughout the movement, and others still on power out of the bottom.  Each day was different, but all had the same end goal: to become better at squatting.

And with better, stronger squats, came faster runs.  In addition to squatting, our program cycle featured many quick, high-intensity metcons to increase athlete conditioning.

The results speak for themselves.  At the end of our 8 week cycle, every single member showed improvement on at least one of the baseline performance tests, with most showing improvement across the board.

If you are interested in become a better, faster, stronger you, contact us today!
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ROMWOD and Chill

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You may be consistent.  You may crush the WOD every. single. day.  You may diligently track your progress in SugarWOD.  You may eat well, drink plenty of water, and get your 8.5 hours of sleep needed each night.  But if you aren’t also working on mobility, you aren’t going to reach your full potential.

We get a lot done every day in our WODs.  We stay safe with an extensive warm-up, we gain strength by spending some time lifting things up and putting them down, and we increase conditioning by spending some time lifting things up and putting them down fast.  But let’s face it, there just isn’t enough time in a 60 minute class to fit in everything needed to reach optimum performance.  And if someone is telling you there is enough time, they are wrong.

Mobility is an often overlooked aspect of fitness.  It is often overlooked because it can be hard!  Increasing one’s mobility requires mental stamina and the ability to endure discomfort for extended periods of time.  And on top of that, it often lacks the sense of accomplish one typically gets after a WOD because it is difficult to quantify improvements in mobility. If you PR your snatch, it is going to be a whole lot easier to notice than if you PR your hip mobility.

While improving mobility can be laborious, and at times unsatisfying, once you put in the time, you will see results.  With an increase in mobility, your functional range of motion will increase, making it easier to achieve proper form in lifts.  With an increase in mobility, your performance will skyrocket!

Okay, okay!  Mobility is important!  But how do you improve it?  

That’s where our ROMWOD room comes in.  ROMWOD stands for Range of Motion Workout of the Day.  Each day, ROMWOD posts a new video, taking you through a 20 minute WOD focusing on passive mobility to optimize your range of motion, increase athletic performance, and promote recovery.  Each video offers different combinations of movements that allow you to improve your entire body’s range of motion.  After you crush Principia’s WOD, make your way back to the quiet ROMWOD room to work on mobility and clear your mind.  Soft gymnastic mats line the floor, making it easy to stretch out in comfort.

For more information on ROMWOD, visit their site: https://romwod.com/

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