More than anything else, CrossFit is a community. It is a world wide community where people from all over the world share a similar passion for fitness and health. On a smaller scale, there is a national CrossFit community in Israel, where quite a few times a year, all of the “boxes” gather for competitions, to raise money for charity, or just to hang out and do a WOD on the beach! And in even a more localized view there is the community within your “home box” which is exemplified in our Group Training sessions.
CrossFit Tel Aviv is special and unique in the sense that the individuals that make up our community are quite diverse. We are born in different parts of the world, speak different mother tongues, some are young, some are old, some of us are competitive athletes, most of us are just trying to have some fun while we train!
All of us in the CrossFit Tel Aviv community are there to help and support you along your fitness journey! It is understood that the Coach is there to guide you, but the power of having your classmates cheer you on, push you a little bit harder, to have the common shared experience of “suffering” together, or just to hang out with before/after class can be encouraging in ways you never expected.
Group Training is a hallmark of CrossFit. Group Training is what makes CrossFit successful. Your “community” is what will keep you coming back for more!
“So you want to look like an athlete? Well, then you need to start training like one.”
Really, it is that simple, but somewhere along the line, the fitness industry lost its way. It became easier and cheaper to throw people on safe, yet ineffective machines and hire trainers to “watch after” clients rather than…umm…train them? This is in contrast to training the human body the way it was designed to be trained. Yes, it takes practice and a certain level of knowledge and expertise. But can’t you say that about all worthy endeavors in life?
I am not going to claim that I know everyone’s reasons for why they go to the gym. My guess is that a huge majority go because they want to look better. For the guys out there, I think most you want to look like an athlete (but you don’t know how to express this in words, so you end up training like a body builder, which I am almost certain that most of you DO NOT want to look like… unless you like rub on tans, massive amounts of body oil and an astonishing lack of body hair).
However, would you like the physiques of the fastest, strongest, most powerful, greatest athletes of all times? Well, start training like them:
When was the last time you trained your speed, power or agility? How high is your vertical jump? How long is your broad jump? Your 100m sprint time?
And for the women out there… you might not think that you want to look like an athlete, but wouldn’t you like to look like this athlete?
And if my point still isn’t being made, when it comes down to it, training like an athlete is just good, plain, ol’ healthy FUN.
Come to CrossFit Tel Aviv and train like an athlete!
A major part of the CrossFit revolution has been the attempt to define exactly what is “fitness”. One of CrossFit’s approaches to answer this question is a simple list of 10 general physical components. The theory is that the most “fit” person will be the person who most excels amongst ALL of these components. The components are as follows:
Cardiovascular/Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength , Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility , Balance and Accuracy.
What does this mean exactly? For example, this states that somebody who can run a 4 minute mile, but can not deadlift 1/2 of their body weight, wouldn’t be considered as fit as someone who can run a 5 minute mile, in addition to being able to deadlift 3 times their body weight. The second athlete is better balanced amongst multiple components of fitness. The first athlete is more of a “specialist”.
Remember, in CrossFit: “Our specialty is not specializing. Combat, survival, many sports, and life reward this kind of fitness and, on average, punish the specialist.” Don’t be a specialist! (Be special).
You have already decided that you WANT to train like an athlete at CrossFit Tel Aviv (“Train Like an Athlete”). Coach Yoni, as a part of a series of articles written to help further educate the CrossFit and fitness communities in Israel, discusses exactly HOW to train like an athlete.
In Part I, Coach Yoni covered: 1. Experience 2. Technical Knowledge and 3. Physical and Mental Preparation. Read about Optimal Training Time and Recovery Workouts in Part II:
4. Optimal Training Time (physiological training unit)
We have previously discussed how the typical gym-goer seems calm during their workout and usually their workout is itself calm…and long, and boring. If you are looking for maximal results you will have to remember the importance of intensity, volume of training, and one last important ingredient: optimal training time. Now lets see how we can clarify all of these and make them work together.
The optimal time for a taxing high intensity workout is approximately 30 minutes, be it max strength, explosive power or strength endurance (metabolic conditioning). This is total work time, and it is not a figure etched in stone. Sometimes at CrossFit Tel Aviv we will lean more towards intensity and by default this will lower volume (i.e. short and heavy under 10 minute metcons like classic CrossFit WOD “Diane”). While other times we will lean towards volume and this will require reducing intensity (for example, WODs such as other Crossfit classics like “Cindy” or “Angie”). If you are training for pure strength you should aim towards getting done within 20-30 minutes, but make those minutes heavy. Beyond that time frame we tend to get fatigued and lose focus, therefore reducing the quality of training and increasing the risk of injury.
But, our CrossFit classes last for 1 hour. So far I only named 3 out of a possible 10 fitness attributes that we can train, which leaves plenty of time in that hour to train the other 7… start working on those 7! If you do not know what the 10 fitness attributes are, go ahead and re-read the paragraph about technical knowledge in Part I (or refresh your memory here.).
Which brings me to my next point, volume and time efficiency.
At times we will want to work high volume at lower intensity, which is less taxing and can be performed optimally for up to 50 minutes (depending on the intensity). High volume exercises are a very important part of your endurance training and are a must in order to achieve true elite fitness. This is also where I as a coach have the hardest time. In order for us to be able to train high volume at lower intensity at CrossFit Tel Aviv, two things must happen.
A) The athletes do in fact come in early for training sessions, or at the very least on time and certainly not late. If you come in late you will not be focused, you are interrupting, you have not properly prepared, you are reducing the quality of the workout for your teammates and worst of all you are taking a chance of getting injured. In my eyes, it is also disrespectful towards your teammates.
B) The athletes need to be time efficient and have at least a basic familiarity with most, preferably all, of the movements required for the work out.
Being time efficient at CrossFit Tel Aviv means:
Knowing your personal stats- I cannot overstate the importance of this, it is your measurement of progress, and it wastes a lot of time establishing them over and over.
Understanding how to train in a group setting- help each other out and pay attention, this means that the person squatting/pressing/ benching etc. should worry only about shouting out what weight he needs set up and setting himself up for the lift. Everyone else should worry about loading the plates and setting up the bar if its a human rack. And for gods sake please remember your turn in the rotation and be ready for it. Your turn is not an appropriate time to chalk up or answer your phone. Be ready for your lift before it comes.
Knowing what weights, assistance, etc. you use for metcons and what you use for strength (resistance bands for pullups/dips, kettlebell weight, hammer weight, etc.).
Reading the board and listening- the coach repeating himself is a waste of time, explaining something that was unclear again is not. Know the difference. If you act like a space cadet you will diminish the quality of workout for yourself and your peers, pros don’t do that. Be a pro.
Knowing the movements- a movement should be taught once, and reviewed a few times thereafter. Remember the names and acronyms, it will save time explaining and moreover it will save you time during the metcon.
Recovery Workout: What, How and When?
There is also a third type of workout and depending on the frequency of your training it may be just as important as any other workout. It is called a recovery workout. Remember this name for it may save you from over-training, overuse injuries and even overload injuries.
What: When we train heavily, toxins are accumulated for various reasons. For the most part these toxins end up in our connective tissues. The cardiovascular system is in charge of getting the waste and toxins from our body to the liver and eventually to be secreted from the body. Think of a recovery workout as cleaning your house with a water hose: the higher the water pressure and the higher the quantity of water you use – the cleaner the house will be. When you raise your heart rate, you increase your blood pressure and have more volume of blood flowing per minute, essentially “cleaning” the toxins. But you don’t want to raise the heart rate too high during a recovery workout because that will require heavy muscle work. You want to avoid this as the muscles need rest time in order to build themselves up. And here we are with the basics for a recovery workout: enough work to clean the house, but not too much work that will require heavy muscle work.
How: Low intensity, large volume exercise. Classic examples would be a long bike ride or a slow jog. A good indication to know that you are not overdoing the intensity is the “speech test”. If you can’t talk while you are running, you are going to fast. Another excellent recovery exercise is stretching. I would recommend a beginner or intermediate yoga class (which we provide twice a week at CrossFit Tel Aviv). Stretching a muscle causes increased local blood flow and helps clear toxins. Best of all is a combination: I like to take a 45 minute jog and finish with 20-30 min full body mobility work. And my best recommendation is to just pick something you like doing and do it, if frisbee or basketball is your thing, go do that. If it is BJJ, Krav Maga, swimming or soccer, do those. Remember to have fun and do it at a pace that is nice and easy.
When: On your “off” days, preferably a couple of times a week.
One last note on recovery: toxins will be cleared up much faster if immediately after your regular workout you “take a walk around the square, lower your heart rate gradually, active recovery”… ever hear me say that? I bet you have. If your heart rate drops your tissues will be stuck with the garbage. Take a 2-3 minute fast pace walk and keep your heart rate relatively high, you’ll thank me over the next few days.
So all of these are experience, but there is more to it than that, this is just the tip of the iceberg on how to train, and training doesn’t even amount to half of the reason you progress. The bottom levels of the pyramid are rest and nutrition. More about those to come!
You have already decided that you WANT to train like an athlete at CrossFit Tel Aviv(“Train Like an Athlete”). Coach Yoni, as a part of series of articles written to help further educate the CrossFit and fitness communities in Israel, discusses exactly HOW to train like an athlete.
You will often hear myself and Maayan use the phrase “train like an athlete”. Following, is what exactly that means to me:
Watch professional athletes do their conditioning work; whether they are a fighter preparing for a Jiujitsu tournament, a football player preparing for the upcoming season, or a kick boxer preparing for fight night. And then compare them with the typical gym-goer. You will usually notice one major difference: the athletes seem calmer and more focused on the exercise despite the higher level of difficulty. In my opinion this happens for a very simple reason: the MMA fighter, the soccer player, the soldier preparing for his army service all know what they are doing and they are trying to do it well.
“Knowing what you are doing” sounds simple enough, but it is actually comprised of several different parts. These parts are experience, technical knowledge, proper mental preparation and proper physical preparation, optimal training time and recovery workouts. I will cover these over the span of a few different blog posts.
Lets take a closer look at these parts:
There really is only one way to develop this, and that is by accumulating a large volume of training time. However, all the hours, weeks and years in the world won’t help if you do not focus on what you are doing: knowing the names of exercises and all their different cues to the point where it is performed as a natural movement. An athlete who remembers to use the Valsalva maneuver to his advantage WILL LIFT MORE WEIGHT. Period. I’ve taught most if not all off my trainees the Valsalva maneuver during CrossFit Tel Aviv’s Elements class. Those who focused and listened, lift more weight today. Those who didn’t, don’t. It is that simple. This goes for all cues and emphasis points, and tenfold for safety cues.
2. Technical Knowledge
If you know why and how to perform a movement, you will perform it better and make greater gains. One way to gain information and knowledge is to wait for your coach to give it. A better way is to ask. Yet another way is to do your own research. The best way is to combine all three. You will encounter a movement in a class and the coaches will explain as much as we can without getting in the way of the workout, but the responsibility of being an educated athlete is on you. Ask questions. If there isn’t enough time during the workout to get the full answer, write the question down and e-mail it or just call and ask. Better yet, post it in the CrossFit Tel Aviv Facebook Group, that way the whole community can gain knowledge. And if you think there is still something you would like to know about exercise/sports physiology/ bio-mechanics etc., ask your coaches where to get that knowledge: which books are recommended and which seminars are worth going to (just to make this clear, you will ALWAYS have more to learn about these topics, for the rest of your life. This goes for every person on earth, so start asking. Today.). On that note, I will remind you that CrossFit Tel Aviv also has a library stocked with excellent books on everything from functional fitness, nutrition (Paleo!), kettlebells, Olympic weightlifting, anatomy, physiology and even TRX. Read them, its free.
3. Physical and mental preparation
A lot of times I will see athletes coming in 20 minutes early to do SMR (Self-Myofascial Release) and warmup properly. This serves a couple of purposes. The first is to physically prepare the body: by raising the core temperature, “physically warm up”, mobilizing the joints and stimulating the cardiopulmonary and central nervous systems. The second is to mentally “warm up” and get in the mindset of working out and feed off the energy of the people around you who are finishing their class. Not to mention that one of the major benefits of getting ready both mentally and physically will guarantee both better results and a vastly reduced chance of injury. This is not theoretical. Come in an observe for yourself who shows up early to warm up properly atCrossFit Tel Aviv: It is the runners preparing for the ultra-marathon. It is Tough Mudder Team Israel preparing for their upcoming Tough Mudder race. It is the basketball players, Olympic Weightlifters, soccer players and MMA fighters. It is the athletes.
Coming up in Part II of How to Train Like an Athlete: Optimal Training Time.