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Your Guide to Training for a Strong 5k

Original CrossFitter Chris Spealler has outlined three types of CrossFitters:

  • Type III are those trying to get to the CrossFit Games (i.e. “world class”),

  • Type II those competing in CrossFit, but not talented or skilled enough to have a realistic chance to go to the Games (i.e. “enthusiasts”), and

  • Type I, which is basically everyone else.

Within that “everyone else” are those who use CrossFit to prepare for non-CrossFit competitions.

crossfire slipstream run

Related: Strength Training For Endurance Athletes – Videos and Guide

These can range from the obviously similar, such as obstacle races, to what would seem completely unrelated, like bicycle racing.

Our WOD Your Way to a 5k guide lays out a path for using CrossFit for such “outside” purposes, be it an actual 5k, an obstacle race, or something else entirely.

Our goal at CrossFit Slipstream is to prepare you for the events you enjoy and the challenges you want to face.

Run your strongest 5k ever!  Click here to receive your FREE guide by email.

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– John Bryant

Founder/Header Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com

Triathlete Magazine Accidentally Recommends CrossFit for Your Off-season Training

Triathlete Magazine’s Twitter feed recently advertised an article on 5 Off-Season Rules” for triathletes to start following now for a better season next year.  Taken together, they unwittingly argue why you should start doing CrossFit now for a better season next year.  The rules are:

Rule No. 1: Don’t run a marathon in January

Rule No. 2: Focus on short, intense workouts

Rule No. 3: Gain weight (on purpose)

Rule No. 4: Swim. A lot.

Rule No. 5: Hit the gym–but not for the elliptical

The rationales are, briefly:

1) Because going long during your recovery season is a recipe for injury down the road

2) Because you get more training done in less time, and it’s much easier to add volume to intensity than intensity to volume

3)  You get stronger when you move more weight around, which is true.  But Triathlete actually recommends gaining fat, as opposed to putting on muscle, to accomplish the weight gain. Yes, this is bizarre.

4) Your efficiency will improve with frequency.

5) Because increasing strength has repeatedly been found to improve running and cycling economy.  Plus, you can lift now without worrying about the effect on your next swim, bike, or run workout.

CrossFit Barbell KG

Together, these add up to “do CrossFit.”  Why?  Because we go short and intense year-round, building a fantastic base of General Physical Preparedness (“GPP”) that you can hone as your goal races approach (Rules 1 & 2).  The lifting portions of CrossFit workouts increase your strength (#5).  Between the lifting portions and the use of weights in our MetCons*, you will probably gain muscle weight (Rule #3).  Except that you gain functional muscle and improve your overall fitness instead of putting on useless fat.  While, alas, we do not have a pool at CrossFit Slipstream, the CrossFit Endurance approach we espouse emphasizes skill work.  Winter swimming (or bicycling or running) with an emphasis on technique, rather than conditioning, will improve your efficiency, which is the relatively-easy way to go faster.

Related: Strength Training for Endurance Athletes — Video & Guide

So, in order to have your best triathlon season next summer, this winter you should emphasize technique while lifting heavy or doing short, intense cardio, allowing you to gain (useful muscle) weight.  Sounds a lot like CrossFit.

*”Metabolic Conditioning” – the fancy term for workouts that challenge your oxidative (aka “aerobic”) & glycolytic (aka “anaerobic) energy pathways.

Kilogram(me)s

Pounds, stone, pood, gram: different ways to weigh things.  The United States, of course is among the last holdouts against the “SI” – international system of units.  While we stubbornly cling to pounds as our unit of weight measurement, things in the gym are not as clear as you might think.

Related: Strength Training for Endurance Athletes — Video & Guide

It is commonly thought that a “men’s barbell” weights 45 pounds.  Sorry.  It weighs 44.09 pounds +/- the manufacturer’s error.  That’s because it’s made to international standards, and weighs 20 kilograms.  Those 45 pound plates you added?  Might be 45 pounds.  But did you ever wonder why 45’s became the standard, rather than the more-logical-seeming 50 pounds?  They just took a standard 20 kg plate and rounded up.  Maybe they added weight, maybe not.

CrossFit Barbell KG

While you might say ‘big deal, it’s 0.91 pounds’, it’s 0.91 for the bar, 0.91 for each plate, and it adds up.  Further, the difference is only that small on a “men’s bar”.  A “woman’s bar” is 15 kg, or 33.07 pounds.  Most gyms pretend it’s 35 pounds.  So you’re usually stuck combining different measurements, and then using rough-and-ready conversions or even just flat out pretending your load is a certain number, when you really don’t know.

Related: Timing Your Training When To Do Strength vs. Endurance Training

At CrossFit Slipstream, we’re leading the way in getting rid of this confusion and giving you bars and plates measured in kilograms.  One set of units, one standard.  Too used to pounds?  We’ll help you convert the units to get you the right weights.  Not used to weightlifting? Then it won’t make a difference.  And when you watch an Olympic weightlifting competition, you’ll be able to compare apples to apples, and understand immediately how impressive their feats really are.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

John@CrossFitSlipstream.com

You Have the Power! It’s Just Hard to Measure…

Previous posts and our “About” page discuss the 10 aspects of physical fitness.  These are not created equal, however.  The two fullest expressions of physical fitness are speed and power.  Here, we will discuss power output and its relation to sports performance and CrossFit.

When we perform most ‘monostructural’ athletic feats, we are either trying to go faster for a given distance or to go farther than before.  (Monostructural is the admittedly awkward term for doing one thing – running, bicycling, skiing, etc.).  The person who identifies as a runner often defines themselves and ‘fitness’ as running faster for a given distance, or ‘moving up’ to a longer race distance, such as from 10k to half-marathon.

Related: Your Guide to Training for a Strong 5k

When we perform strength training, we are generally trying to move more weight than before, therefore proving we are ‘stronger’.

There is another way to look at and measure performance, however.  That is POWER.  This is a measure of the force you are able to apply, the distance over which you apply it, and the time it took to do so.  P = (f * d) / t.  The clock at the end of a marathon or the weight on the barbell are relatively crude ways to measure fitness.  They do not adjust for the weight you’re moving while running or the differences in distance traveled while lifting.  There is a very good reason we use such crude measures, though: they are feasible.  We have clocks that work, and scales that weigh.  Determining power output, however, is a much greater challenge.

1photo

The sport that has invested most in measuring power output is probably bicycling, and accurate power measurement devices are becoming more affordable and available in a wider variety of configurations than before.  The image with this post is a screenshot from our CycleOps PowerBeam Pro.  The gray line at the top is power output, in Watts.  The red line is heart rate in beats per minute, and the blue line is cadence in revolutions per minute.  The zeros at the top display current power output in Watts (kg·m2/s3) per unit of body weight when active.  The “216” is the total Work performed in kiloJoules (1000 Newtons per meter).

Related: “On-Ramp” Accelerates You To CrossFit Speed

Even as dedicated as CrossFit is to measurable, repeatable outcomes, we still use relatively crude measurements to determine outcomes in most sporting events, including CrossFit.  Where available, we use power measurement to determine fitness, set training goals, and obtain objective measures of fitness.  Our CrossFit Endurance classes will use power for rowing and cycling, so you get the maximum improvement in minimum time, and with less wasted effort.

– John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

John@CrossFitSlipstream.com

There’s CrossFit Endurance, and There’s Also Endurance CrossFit

I’ve written before about how CrossFit can help you achieve your endurance sport goals.  But improving your endurance will also help your CrossFit, as a recent video posted by CrossFit Headquarters demonstrates.

Ironman Meets the California Bear tells the story of how Jason Khalipa, one of the top CrossFitters in the world, noted his relatively poor performance in longer WODs, and sought help from Chris Hinshaw, a former podium finisher at the Hawai’i Ironman.  In the process, Khalipa completed the Yasso 800 test with all ten under 3:00.  What they don’t say in the video, is that your average time on the Yasso 800s is a good predictor of your likely marathon time.  Khalipa is this guy:

Jason-Khalipa

Related: 2016 CrossFit Games Post-Mortem

Not only do endurance events show up in CrossFit WODs and the CrossFit Games, such as a triathlon in 2012, but the Games involve 11 events spread over 5 days.  This means performing at maximum output, recovering quickly, and performing again, up to three times a day.  This is similar to Olympic-level swimming and track and field events with heats, semi-finals and finals.  Just four times in five days.  Endurance is absolutely a factor in being able to perform so frequently in such a short period of time, even when the WODs themselves are ‘sprint’ or ‘strength’ events.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

John@CrossFitSlipstream.com

Throw Away The Scale

CrossFit Ethos in Orange County CA recently shared a post by Beau R. relating an incident he and his wife had regarding her weight (Ed: now deleted).   She had been feeling fabulous about herself after CrossFitting for 8 months.  Then she casually tested a scale at the store and discovered she weighed much more than ever before.

Related: Everybody’s Getting on the Strength Train(ing)

We have been taught all our lives that how much we weigh determines everything.  For many of us, a five pound decrease and we’re elated, a five pound increase and we’re despondent.  For those, mostly men, trying to gain, the directions are reversed, but the emotions just as powerful.  The scale just tells you how much force gravity applies to you.  It doesn’t tell you anything about what that force is pulling – fat, muscle, bone, or brain.  Since it provides no useful information, it is useless and should be tossed out with the rest of the trash.

fat-muscle_0
Muscle is denser than fat, so replacing a pound of fat with a pound of muscle will make a person smaller.  There will be a pound less of fat covering your muscle.  You will be more capable of performing tasks in the real world, raising your self confidence, even though the number on the scale hasn’t changed.  When Beau’s wife went by how she felt and how she looked, she was elated.  When she looked at the scale, all that social programming came rushing back.  So don’t look at the scale, go by how you feel.

–John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

John@CrossFitSlipstream.com

Thoughts About “Training CrossFit vs. CrossFit as Sport”

If you’ve been CrossFitting or researching CrossFit, chances are very good that you’ve heard the name Chris Spealler.  He was there in the early days of CrossFit and has been an integral part of its explosive growth.  He was also one of the first elite CrossFitters, showing others what was possible through CrossFit.   His recent blog post, Training CrossFit vs. CrossFit as a Sport, (Ed: since deleted) addresses a topic that it is important for those curious about CrossFit – just what is CrossFit for?  While his points are very important, more can be said to illuminate the future of CrossFit and what it can be for you.

Spealler argues that there are three types of CrossFitters: those who do CrossFit to support other activities, including life (Type I), those who pursue CrossFit as a “recreational” sport (Type II), and the elite athletes who make CrossFit their full time job (Type III).  All three are ways that people can approach CrossFit, but they are not exclusive.

Related: 6 Tips for Maximum Fitness Result

The rise of CrossFit Endurance and other specialty courses, such as CrossFit Football, expressly acknowledge that the general physical preparedness (GPP), midline stabilization, strength, and other aspects of fitness CrossFit improves carry over directly into improved sports performance in other disciplines.  So Type I athletes may not be serious about CrossFit as a competitive sport, but may be extremely serious about another athletic endeavor, such as running, nordic skiing, football, or hockey.  Several CrossFit Endurance athletes recently broke 10 hours for the Ironman triathlon – that requires serious time, dedication, and sacrifice.  So a Type I CrossFitter may be a Type II or even III athlete in another discipline.

Related: Maximizing Your Results While Minimizing Your Time Commitment

So the question is less what type of CrossFitter are you, but rather what type of athlete are you?  Athlete of life is a perfectly valid answer, as Spealler says.  If that is your answer, CrossFit Slipstream is here for you. If you have a different answer, CrossFit Slipstream can help you apply CrossFit in the manner to best support that endeavor.

– John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

John@CrossFitSlipstream.com

“On-Ramp” Accelerates You to CrossFit Speed

A few days ago, I posted about “why CrossFit”.  If you are interested in pursuing function instead of fads, the next step is to “on-ramp”.   What is “on-ramp” and why is it worth it?  “On-ramp” is our term for training those new to CrossFit the movements required to perform CrossFit workouts safely.  While these movements are functional and natural, many of us have lost the mobility or other attributes needed to do them naturally.  By going through on-ramp, you give yourself time to recover these movements, learn the key points to remember, and practice performing them safely.  We keep our on-ramp classes at eight (8) or fewer members, so your coach has the opportunity to observe you one-on-one and work with you to begin to identify and correct the things that most challenge you personally.

We also put you through workouts that improve your total physical conditioning and prepare you for full CrossFit WODs.  In the process you learn to scale movements, weights, and exercises so you can find the right combinations to challenge your personal abilities.

Coaching

We call it “on-ramp” because it accelerates your skills and fitness to a level that allows you to join CrossFit classes safely, just like merging your car into interstate traffic.  And just like getting your driver’s license doesn’t make you Danica Patrick, graduating on-ramp won’t make you champion of the CrossFit Games.  But you will have the knowledge, lingo, and skill you need to be confident you are ready.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

John@CrossFitSlipstream.com

CrossFit & Endurance Sports

You may have heard of the “principle of specificity,” which posits that you must practice your particular activity in order to reach maximum potential in that activity.  By contrast, CrossFit aims to “increase work capacity across broad time and modal domains,” which is a fancy way to say it improves “general physical preparedness” or “GPP,” instead of sport-specific preparedness.

Cyclocross Green acres

 

Cyclocross at Green Acres, Lake Elmo, MN. Power is required for explosive starts, and to climb steep hills with loose surfaces.

CrossFit doesn’t have any argument with the principle of specificity.  If you want to squat 900 pounds, you shouldn’t run very much, and if you want to run a marathon as fast as you possibly can, you don’t want any extra mass to carry.  Where CrossFit does have an argument is when the principle of specificity is practiced as a principle of exclusivity.  The wanna-be 900# squatter fails to work on other aspects of fitness, and loses progress towards his goal because he’s so stiff he can’t access all the muscle mass he has.  The marathoner runs so much she watches the race on TV because her knee gave out and she never made it to the starting line.

Related: Maximizing Results While Minimizing Your Time Commitment – Endurance Sports Edition

GPP provides a broad fitness base across all ten aspects of fitness so that you can maximize your potential.  For endurance sports, this means using CrossFit to establish a well-rounded physical potential, correct imbalances, and improve posture, strength, flexibility, and coordination.  With these enhancements, your endurance training can now focus on the high-quality technique and interval work where real endurance sport progress occurs.  Gone are the “junk” miles that take hours and hours of your time and bring you closer to retirement than to your goal, as you reinforce imbalances and increase wear and tear on your joints through the repetitive motions common to endurance sports.

In-season, use Olympic lifting to challenge eight of the ten aspects of fitness maintains your GPP without leaving you drained or sore, so you can do the high-quality sports-specific training that will get you to your goal.

-John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

John@CrossFitSlipstream.com

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