CrossFit, the Caveman Diet and Kool Aid.

Is CrossFit a cult and do I have to eat that?

The Caveman Diet, aka Paleo diet, is a high-protein, high-fiber eating plan. It is also very popular with CrossFitters. In abundance you will find vegetables, lean meats, nuts and seeds on this diet. Not allowed are refined carbohydrates, dairy, legumes and processed foods. Studies have shown that eating this way will also help prevent an inordinate insulin response. Acute, chronic elevation of insulin causes hyperinsulinism, which is associated with obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and mood dysfunction.

 Why do CrossFitters swear by it? Because it works. A real Paleo diet produces a lean body, which naturally leads to improved performance in fitness and in daily living. “It’s kind of a self-fulfilling diet,” explains Loren Cordain, PhD, co-author of The Paleo Diet for Athletes. “You feel better and perform better.” On a Paleo diet, you essentially eliminate grains and simply eat more meat, so you’re getting more muscle-building protein.

 It’s not hard to understand why CrossFitters love the Paleo diet – they want to lift heavier, do more reps, run faster and build a body they are proud of. Does that mean you have to eat Paleo if you do CrossFit? In a word, no. This balanced methodology to eating, combined with CrossFit’s high-intensity workouts are a winning duo, but it’s definitely not mandatory.

 But is it a cult? CrossFit is a community not a cult.

 “CrossFit provides a rare place of community and holistic transformation. It may not be religious institutionally, but CrossFit does a better job than many religious communities in transforming people’s lives. It may seem strange for what is essentially a fitness program, but CrossFit involves an identity shift that carries over into life well beyond the gym. “CrossFit starts with an identity shift off the bat: You become an athlete,” Herz says. “Not just a lady who doesn’t like her thighs or a guy trying to lose the spare tire but an athlete.”

When people start CrossFit, Hertz says, they start thinking about what their bodies can achieve and stop focusing on their perceived physical flaws. “They start eating for performance, which is about getting the nutrients that you need versus the passion play of self-denial,” Herz says.

 “The cult of CrossFit: How the workout can bring out the best (and worst) of faith” by Ragan Sutterfield published March 24, 2015 in The Washington Post Online

 Communities form at CrossFit gyms in the most random ways. People from all walks of life end up in a class together, they sweat, suffer and overcome weaknesses together. You will always find a wealth of support in every class. The importance of social support is that it provides motivation. When you are tired and struggling to finish the W.O.D. you begin to doubt your ability to finish, having people cheer you on gives you the confidence that you can do it!

Research at Oxford University found that working out in a group resulted in a greater release of endorphins than when working out alone, even when the same amount of work was done. The sense of community, sometimes known as a ‘cult’ to outsiders, is one of the finest features of CrossFit.

Posted on September 13, 2018 and filed under Fitness, CrossFit, Dieting, Nutrition.

Olympic Lifting is Gold for Crossfitters.

Olympic weightlifting is an athletic discipline in the modern Olympic program in which the athlete attempts a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates. The Olympic lifts used in CrossFit are the Snatch, Clean and the Jerk

The Snatch - The objective of the snatch is to lift the barbell from the ground to overhead in one continuous motion. There are four main styles of snatch used: squat snatch (or full snatch), split snatchpower snatch, and muscle snatch.

The Clean - a lifter grasps the barbell just outside the legs, typically using a hook grip. Once the barbell is above the knees, the lifter extends explosively, raising the bar as high as possible before quickly dropping into a squat and receiving it in a "racked" position in front of the neck and resting on the shoulders.

The Jerk  - begins from the "front rack" position, which is the finishing position of the clean. The lifter dips a few inches by bending the knees, keeping the back vertical, and then explosively extends the knees, propelling the barbell upward off the shoulders, and then quickly dropping underneath the bar by pushing upward with the arms and splitting the legs into a lunge position, one forward and one back. The bar is received overhead on straight arms, and, once stable, the lifter recovers from the split position, bringing the feet back into the same plane as the rest of the body.

 

Olympic Weightlifting pros and cons

  • Skill based weightlifting, it is artistic work combined with a loaded barbell. Gymnastic trainers can be very good at it very quickly
  • It takes a long time to learn the intricate technical aspects of the lift. Not negotiable!
  • Enormously satisfying and confidence building method of lifting weights
  • Captivating and jaw dropping when watching the lifts in person!
  • Superior method of building strength and power
  • Superior method of building mobility, proprioception and athletic skills
  • Very low rates of injuries but injuries can happen unannounced!
  • Highly addictive
  • Extremely humbling
  • Needs complicated programming
  • Requires bumpers, special bars with rotating parts
  • Requires coaching and programming
  • Great way to build total body power and explosiveness
  • Can help bridge the gap between training room and field of play
  • Can help develop resiliency in joints and soft tissue
  • They add variety and challenge to a training program

If combined with plenty of solid nutrition and sound recovery you can build amazing fitness conditioning, superior cardiovascular conditioning and skills & physique to back it up.

Is Olympic lifting for you? Best way to find out is to drop in on a class, chat with one of our coaches or better yet sign up for our 8 Week Olympic lifting course taught by the fabulous Coach Stephanie!

Posted on July 1, 2018 and filed under CrossFit, Fitness.

Bend not break aka "Stretch or your body will feel like s#*t" ~ Coach Cameron

flex·i·bil·i·ty = fleksəˈbilədē ~ noun ~ the quality of bending easily without breaking.
mo·bil·i·ty = mōˈbilədē ~ noun ~ the ability to move or be moved freely and easily.


Stretching is a vital part of improving your range of motion, flexibility and assisting the recovery process.

There is a reason as to why we are trained to stretch before and after exercise. Not only does stretching warm the body, but it does wonders for recovery and may just prevent the dreaded Delayed Onset Muscle Syndrome, (you know that "I can't brush my hair today" feeling).

CrossFit is known for its dynamic workouts and heavy lifts. However, in order to increase your effectiveness and abilities when performing CrossFit-type movements, you must increase your mobility.

Flexibility is one of them.
It’s defined as “the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint”.

Stretching

There are great articles about improving flexibility. Our friends at FitnessHQ.com have this list of 21 stretches http://www.fitnesshq.com/crossfit-mobility/ and one of our favorites about wrist mobility can be found at BarBend.com https://barbend.com/wrist-mobility-drills/.

When in doubt though, ask your CrossFit Coaches!

Mobility & Recovery Tools

1. Foam Roller
targeting large muscle groups, such as your quads, IT band, and hamstrings. : A large cylinder of dense foam. To release dense muscle tissue and fascia that has adhered together. Foam rollers work great on larger muscles like the quads, calves, hamstrings, glutes and back.
2. Lacrosse Ball
A lacrosse ball allows you to target smaller areas of the body with more localized pressure. 
3. Peanut
The peanut is a unique foam rolling tool that is essentially two lacrosse balls packaged together to create one unit shaped like a peanut
4. Stick Roller
A small "stick" with some sort of dense rotating balls or discs in the middle. Stick rollers offer more of a direct attack on an area than a large roller, but not as direct as a lacrosse ball.
5. PVC Pipe
Small, plastic tube made of hard plastic. Find them at any home improvement store.
PVC pipes have multiple uses for mobility and technique practice.
6. Resistance Band
A large rubber band that can be used for strength exercises as well as to improve flexibility during static stretching.

 

Posted on May 26, 2018 .

You know you want to!

You have a dozen reasons why you think you can’t do it. Running, jumping and doing pull-ups aren’t in your wheelhouse right now. Don’t worry, our coaches will help you modify anything you need to, we want you to get started safely.

One thing is certain: If you don’t try it you won’t build the body you envision. The path to that body—that healthy, strong and fit body is right through those doors.

It’s going to take more than one or two classes before you notice the changes, your body will start getting stronger on Day 1 but it will take a while for your hard work to show itself. The time between your first class and your first look-what-I-can-do moment can be a challenge.

I have a proposition for you: Give yourself 24 hours in the form of 24 CrossFit classes.

That’s enough classes to get you past the initial “what was I thinking” panic and through the week or two when your body threatens to go on strike in protest of your new pastime.

Likely, you will question your sanity during every class for at least the first 10 sessions. You’ll be sore. You’ll curse thrusters and wall balls. You will swear that you will always hate burpees. You will also feel bad-ass for pushing your way through it all!

CrossFit has terminology of it’s very own so here is some lingo that will help you get started.

The Fundamentals

Box: A box is a barebones gym to some, but heaven to a CrossFitter, “boxes” have all the equipment necessary for the range of W.O.D.s (more on those below) without the posers, equipment hogs, cell phone chatting and mirror gazing.  

AMRAP: As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible,” in a specific time period. AMRAP workouts challenge athletes to complete as many rounds of a series of movements in the allotted time.

Rounds For Time: You time how long it takes you to complete all the rounds.

Affiliate: An affiliate is a gym, or “box,” that’s officially affiliated with the CrossFit brand  In order to become an affiliate, gyms must have CrossFit-certified trainers on staff.

The Workouts

WOD: The “Workout of the Day” is the workout CrossFitters perform on a given day.

CrossFit Total: The total is CrossFit’s benchmark strength workout in which athletes have three attempts each (in order, please!) to find their max back squat, standing press, and deadlift.

Hero WODs: Named after military servicemen, police, or firefighters who have died in the line of duty, these difficult workouts are intermittently programmed in CrossFit to provide an extra challenge and reminder of their sacrifice.

Metcon: Short for “metabolic conditioning,” metcons are designed to train stamina, endurance, and conditioning.

Fran: Don't let the sweet name fool you. Fran is a 21-15-9 rep scheme of thrusters and pull-ups. That’s 21 thrusters and 21 pull-ups, followed by 15 thrusters and 15 pull-ups, and so on.

Murph: One of CrossFit’s toughest WODs, this workout consists of a one-mile run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 bodyweight squats. Oh, and then another one-mile run.

Grace: Athletes must complete 30 clean & jerks as fast as possible. Think of it like a sprint with a barbell.

Filthy Fifty: For time: 50 Box Jumps, 50 Jumping Pull-ups, 50 Kettlebell Swings (35 lbs.), 50 Walking Lunges, 50 Knees to Elbows, 50 Push Press (45 lbs.), 50 Back Extensions, 50 Wallballs, 50 Burpees, 50 Double Unders. Phew!

The Movements

Burpees: One of the most dreaded moves in fitness, burpees make up a cornerstone of CrossFit workouts. Starting from standing, athletes bend down and plant their hands, kick back into a plank position, and perform a push-up. The legs are then brought back in, and the movement culminates with a slight jump up and hands overhead. (The feet must leave the ground for it to count!) 

Double Under: A double under is when a jump rope passes under an athlete’s feet twice with only one jump. 

Air Squat: Standing straight up, an athlete squats down until their hips are below their knees, then stands back up until the hips are once again fully extended

Toes to Bar: Start off in a dead hang and then start a kipping motion by swinging your legs back and forth. As your legs go back your chest should swing forward bringing your head through your arms.

Pistol: Also known as single leg squats.

Band-Assisted Pull-Up: CrossFitters who can’t quite get all the way up loop stretch bands over the bar and use them as a low-tech alternative to assisted pull-ups.

Sumo Deadlift High Pull: In this movement, athletes take a wide and explosively pull from the ground upward until the bar comes up to shoulder height— no 400-pound wrestlers required.

Thruster: One of CrossFit’s most deceptively tiring movements, the thruster is— “simply”— a front squat straight into a push press.

Handstand Push-Up: These are a basic movement for gymnasts— but a real challenge for most regular folks. Athletes kick up to a wall for stability while they perform this movement.

Box Jump: Athletes jump up onto a box of a given height from a two-footed stance.

Snatch: The snatch is one of two Olympic lifts where athletes explosively lift a weighted barbell from ground to overhead in one movement, often squatting under the bar and then standing up.

Clean & Jerk: The other Olympic lift, the clean & jerk actually encompasses two separate movements. Athletes start by explosively lifting a weighted barbell from the ground to the shoulders, often squatting under and then standing to recover. After a brief pause, athletes take a shallow dip and then drive upward to propel the bar overhead, often landing in a split position and then bringing their feet back in line.

Ring Dip: It’s just like a conventional bodyweight dip, only on gymnastic rings. The rings are unstable, making it harder to keep the hands close to the body (like dips needed to be any harder).

Wallball: Holding a weighted medicine ball, athletes squat down and explosively stand up, throwing the ball toward an eight- or 10-foot target above their heads.

 

Posted on April 11, 2018 .

Preparing for a Strongman Competition - Coach Jeff

Jeff Pearson is a competitive strongman and powerlifter. He has been training in a variety of sports over the last 18 years and has been actively competing in powerlifting and strongman for the last 4 years. He has elite totals in raw, drug-tested powerlifting in the superheavyweight, 308, and 275 lb classes. He has qualified for Nationals in strongman for the past 4 years and has competed in more than 20 strongman contests.

As strongman season in the northwest quickly approaches, I felt it was a good time to go through the ways in which I prep and prepare for a contest. Disclaimer: Please note that there are many ways to prepare for a contest, and the following is just the way that I prepare. There is no "cookie-cutter" approach, and I recommend individualized prep for each of my athletes. 

To "Peak" or not to "Peak"?

One of the fundamentals of my program, is that I train to be strong everyday. "Peaking" is a style of programming in which you plan your training around a specific competition, and program to be at your strongest (or to "peak") for that comp. Personally, I don't want to peak to be at the strongest I can be for just one day out of the year. My objective is to be strong and big all the time, so I don't peak. I train the same way basically year-round. The events and/or style of my lifting change, but I try to be ready to compete any day at any time. I feel this is the best way for my body to consistently handle heavy work loads and to be able to recover much faster from competing.  My training style is constantly-varied and I rarely do the same workout twice. That being said, the week leading into a contest I back the weight off and work on more speed and technique refinement. This is to make sure I am rested and well-prepared for the contest.

Training

As the event gets closer, I slowly add more of the events into my training. I take the bodybuilding style training out and try to focus on just the events I am going to be facing at the upcoming contest. The length of my workouts becomes longer as I try to mock the actual contest as much as possible. Generally speaking, I try to hit over contest weight at 3 weeks before a show. As it grows closer, I can back off on trying to hit the heavier weight and focus on just the speed of the movements. My thought has always been that you’re not going to get stronger in two weeks, but you can polish up your technique. There are two ways to be successful in a strongman contest. One is to be brutally strong and just do it. The second, is to be very proficient at the movements.  Demonstrating a higher skill level in the movements will allow you to execute it more efficiently. Ideally a competitor is strong and has good technique. I try to build up strength with some work on technique until I grow close to a meet, at which point I shift and focus mainly on technique and less on strength building.

Food

In terms of food, I try to overload the night before a contest. I basically eat myself into a food coma by consuming as much steak and as many sweet potatoes as possible. This does two things: First, it allows me to sleep the night before a contest and second, it gives me stores of energy so I don't need to eat the day of the contest. The day of the contest I only eat very light things to keep my energy levels high without filling me up. My diet typically looks pretty strange on contest day. For example, I will drink a coca-cola soda, eat spinach, and poptarts. I try to stay away from slower digesting foods as I want the energy immediately. I rarely take pre-workout the day of a contest. With the adrenaline pump that I get from competing, adding in pre-workout just makes me a little too wild and I find myself crashing too hard between events.

Post-Contest

After a contest I will generally take the following day off. Within two day, I will typically be back in the gym training with lighter weights and doing more bodybuilding style workouts. The reason for this is that I've found that getting blood to flow back into the muscles allows me to recover more quickly. It also enables me to get ready for another contest at a faster rate.

Posted on February 21, 2016 .

My First Week of "Flexible Dieting" - Coach Michelle

By. Michelle Craig, Coach & Personal Trainer

Michelle is the early-AM coach at Inner Beast CrossFit. She has competed in multiple CrossFit competitions and obstacle course racing events.

My decision to start a “Flexible Dieting” program began several weeks ago, when I realized that stumbling around eating whatever sounded good at the time had led me to gain about 30 – 35 lbs. in 2015. A good friend of my mine, Strongwoman competitor Kate Hanson, had great success following this program and I wanted to give it a whirl.

What is Flexible Dieting?

 In short, it is a diet plan (the definition of diet here being: “the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group”) that consists of calculating the number of calories, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, that your body needs each day. The theory is that as long as your daily intake meets your macronutrient needs, you will lose, gain, or maintain (depending on your goals and calculations.)

The Numbers

My daily macro targets for this past week were:

1960 Calories, 94g Carbs, 186g Protein, and 93g Fat (Sample Day of Meals & Macros)

I didn’t hit these perfectly on a single day (that’s okay!), and my average carbohydrate intake was 100g, ranging from 78g-130g.

Macro Profile Examples:

Chobani Greek Yogurt: 150 Calories, 19g Carbs, 12g Protein, 2.5g Fat

Ground Turkey (6 OZ): 240 Calories, 0g Carbs, 33g Protein, 12g Fat

Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (2 Tbsp.): 190 Calories, 8g Carbs, 6g Protein, 16g Fat

Rice (1/4 Cup Dry): 160 Calories, 36g Carbs, 3g Protein, 0g Fat

The Results

FIRST, let me say that when I gain weight quickly, my body can sometimes lose it more quickly than normal (mostly water weight/bloat from sugar/alcohol/carbs). Second, prior to this diet, I was eating a lot of crap. I also wasn’t working out consistently, so my body responded positively to a new strength training & cardio program.

Weight Loss: 7lbs. (Again, this is not a normal, expected, or calculated loss. My goal for the week was 2lbs.)

Activity: Cutting gluten, dairy, sugar, & alcohol made my body feel better within a day. My workouts felt better and I didn’t have any of the nausea/stomach pain that usually comes from over-eating & eating crap.

Conclusion

There are definitely challenges with a program like this, but there are many more benefits that make it worth it. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of progress I can make in the coming weeks.. physically and mentally.

Follow me on Instagram for a glimpse into my program - @mcraigpdx 

The Plan

My approach, as influenced by "Flexible Dieting 2.0 - A Flexible Dieting Approach for the Modern Athlete" By. Krissy May Cagney, is to hit my macros with mostly whole foods, minimal gluten, and minimal dairy. This is because I know my body responds well to limiting certain foods, and is not because everyone should be “gluten-free” or “Paleo”. Since most of the fall and early winter were consistently “cheat months” for me, I also decided to eliminate alcohol, treats, & “cheat meals” for the first four weeks of my program. My goal is “cutting” also known as reducing fat mass, or losing weight.

Every meal that I ate over the last seven days was tracked in the MyFitnessPal app. About 90% of my meals were weighed and measured and, with the exception of a couple of packets of Justin’s Almond Butter, two Quest protein bars, and a couple Americanos from Starbucks, all of my meals were cooked at home.

I created a workout program, with the help of Cameron Kerns, and started that along with my new “diet”.

 

Highlights: I was able to be consistent, and my program was relatively manageable for me. I hit a 140lb. push-jerk (lifetime PR) and had a killer Sunday morning workout.

Struggles: My carbs were super low, and as a result my energy levels were as well. Most days I crashed in the middle of the afternoon, but with caffeine and the appropriate snacks I survived. It was also hard going out to the Growler Run (tap-house) and not drinking a delicious beer or skipping across the parking lot for a burger, fries, and Oreo milkshake.