Handstand Pushup Challenge! Dec 8 2017 - Dec 14 2017

Do you struggle with handstand push-ups? This challenge is for you! 

Do you struggle with handstand push-ups? This challenge is for you! 

-by Coach Cassi

With a Partner!

L1: Accumulate 25 HSPU from pike
L2: Accumulate 25 HSPU from box
L3: Accumulate 25 strict HSPU

***Partner coaches technique! No ab-mats!***

Time to flip things upside down, literally!  Handstand pushups are an awesome opportunity to practice inversion, gain confidence in an unfamiliar position, and build tons of strength.  While at a glance it may seem like the HSPU only focuses on shoulder strength, it also promotes stability and strength through the rest of the body - specifically the midline!  Without that strength and stability our HSPU will be less efficient and will feel less strong. 

This challenge will allow us time to practice being upside down outside of a workout.  The perfect time to slow things down, focus on our movement and gain some control before we enter our next WOD.  No matter where you are with your current HSPU, this challenge is for you!

L1.  Accumulate 25 HSPU from a Pike position.

When performing the pike HSPU we set our bodies up into a Downdog position.  Hands and feet planted on the ground, hips high in the air.  As we lower down to the ground we keep our chin tucked towards our chest so that the TOP of our head is lowering down.  By the time we reach the ground with the TOP of our head we should be in a triangle or "tripod" position relative to our hands. 

Having a tough time with the "tripod" at the bottom of your pike HSPU?  Try starting your movement with your hands on a turf line.  Now, once you start the movement your head should be reaching away from that line (in the direction of your fingertips but further out!).  This may help give you a clear visual of where your head and hands should be.  Still stuck?  Ask your partner to help by marking where your head is touching the ground so that when you stand back up you can see how much further you need to move to reach the "tripod".

L2. Accumulate 25 HSPU from a box.

When performing the box HSPU we first need to choose an appropriate height to set ourselves up.  This movement can be done on any side of the box (20, 14 or 30 inches) and gets more challenging the taller the box gets.  You can also start the movement with your knees on the box or with just your toes on the box. On your toes will make the movement a little more challenging as you will be even closer to reaching the Handstand position this way.

Once you've found your set up position (any combination of the above options where you can safely lower your head down to the ground) you are set to begin the box HSPU.  Start by tucking your chin to your chest so that the TOP of your head reaches for the ground.  As you lower down you'll be lowering your head away from the box, as you press back up you'll be pressing your nose back towards the box.  Just like with the pike HSPU we are still aiming to create a "tripod" by the time your head touches down to the ground.  When you've created the "tripod" at the bottom of your box HSPU your elbows should be held in a 45* angle, avoiding them flaring out to the sides.  Think of having them point towards the corners of the box, not beyond there.

In this movement we often see athletes reaching towards the ground with their chins leading the way.  If you've forgotten to tuck your chin down at the start of this movement this may happen to you!  Remember, at the bottom of this movement the TOP of your head should be in contact with the ground, not your nose or chin.  Unsure of what you're doing?  Have your partner take a quick video of your movement to see if it looks like the video here!  If you're nervous about being upside down on the box, gain some additional experience in the pike HSPU to practice your inversion a little bit more.  Then come back to the box when you're ready to try again.  Take your time with this one, they can get spicy quickly!

L3. Accumulate 25 Strict HSPU. 

When performing the Strict HSPU, we have already mastered the "tripod" position in each of the previous levels and are completely comfortable being upside down.  As we set up for this movement we kick up to a full handstand, arms already locked out, to start our time against the wall.  In this starting position our body should be stacked up in one solid line from toes to hands.  As we lower down to the ground our chin stays tucked in, our glutes are squeezed and bellies are braced.  At the bottom of the handstand we are in a "tripod" position and our eyes are focused straight ahead.  Once we start to press up the goal is that we continue to look forward to ensure that we keep a straight line from our toes to hands.  This ENTIRE movement is completed with only your feet against the wall.

Struggling to move in a straight line?  To avoid the feeling of struggling through a press you may be arching your back to escape the actual press of the movement.  If this is happening, there's also a good chance that as you press up you are looking down at the ground and moving the top of your head closer to the wall.  Keep the TOP of your head down at all times with your eyes looking straight ahead.

Allowing your butt and legs to touch the wall as you go?  Remember to squeeze your glutes and belly!  Keep your hips lifted away from the wall, squeeze your butt and pull your belly button in towards your spine on the way down and up through the Strict HSPU.  It's easy to ignore your midline while doing the Strict HSPU but we aren't about what's easy!

Whichever challenge is for you (there's one here, I'm sure of it!), grab a partner, take a deep breath and flip onto those hands to get started!

WallBall Challenge! Dec 1 2017 - Dec 7 2017

This week's challenge is for everyone who "hates" wallballs. Let's figure out why! 

This week's challenge is for everyone who "hates" wallballs. Let's figure out why! 

-by Coach Mat

What do you think of when you know you’re going to do Wall Balls? Many people immediately think about their legs burning, heart racing and lungs panting.

They go as far as to say they hate wall balls. It even effects their decision to workout.

That’s why we analyzed the 3 most common problems people have with wall balls and created strategies that will help you do them more easily and feel better about them.

Problem 1: Not hitting the target - Throwing Early

Have you ever had that perfect wall ball rep? The ball gets to the target, doesn’t take 100% of your energy and feels almost dare I say, easy? What about the rep that feels like you're throwing an elephant? It doesn’t get the height you needed and you gave everything you had into the throw.

You may be throwing the ball early. This blunts your throwing ability and strength. The wall ball is a leg dominant exercise and the power you create while you're coming up out of the squat needs to be transferred into the throw by keeping your core tight and delaying the throwing action until you have fully extended your hip and stood or even jumped. Then the throw immediately follows, like a wave of energy flowing from you standing up, into the throwing action; not all at once, not throwing as your standing, but once your finished, then immediately throwing and transferring that energy.

Problem 2: Not getting stronger - Squatting Incorrectly

Squatting correctly will assist in you throwing correctly. The squat happens first, throw second. If you perform the squat well, chances are higher the throw will go well too.

Many people who fail to get the ball to the target have issues happening during the squat. Knees cave in (keep them out!), lumbar curves and strong core positions get weak (breathing correctly will help this!) or depth isn’t achieved (focus on the squat, slow and steady).

One of the most frequent faults is when the body weight comes off of the heels and into the toes during the descent of the squat and even the ascent and before throwing. This blunts your power and doesn’t allow for a good transfer of strength into the throw of the ball. 

If you’re going onto your toes during the squat you may be trying to throw way too early. Wiggle your toes and squat down in control. Continue to wiggle your toes and begin to stand up in the same controlled speed. As you reach the last 1/3 of standing up, go faster and more aggressively through your heels. Once you’ve stood all the way up, throw. At this point you may be on your toes or have even jumped.

During that entire time, keep your knees out, chest up and get your depth. Performing the squat correctly on the way down will lead to a more successful throw!

Problem 3: Out of Breath – Breathing Inefficiently

Breathing correctly when doing wall balls can make or break your ability to do them.

It’s what will make you feel like you can either keep working out, or like your legs are filling up with battery acid and that you “hate” them.

Chances are high that you’re holding your breath during the wall ball or not breathing efficiently and correctly to bring oxygen in and clear CO2 out.

Your breathing strategy will depend on your height.
If you’re taller than 5’10, the “double breath” technique may work better for you. Standing tall with the ball at the “rack position”, take a breath of air in.
On the way down, breathe out. Not all the way out so that you relax in the bottom of the squat, but just enough so that you feel like you can breathe in again.

When at the bottom, breathe in.

As you're standing and throwing, breathe out.

This is a breath of air in and out on the way down, and then again in and out from the bottom up. 2 full breath cycles.

If you’re shorter than 5’10, the single breath may work better.

Breathe in, hold it and squat down.

When you're standing up continue to hold and when you’re throwing breathe out.

These are just guidelines. You may find that one strategy works better regardless of your height.

Try both.

The main thing is that you’re breathing!

The Challenge

Practice the tips that we gave while doing wall balls. The more you do correctly, the easier they will become.

During the week, accumulate 150 Wall Balls with a partner.

One person works at a time.

There’s no right or wrong number of reps to do in a set.

Tell your partner what you’re working on and while you’re going they can watch you and see if you’re doing it or not.

Then switch.

You don’t have to do 150 in a day. Spread them out over the course of the week. 20 each will only take a few minutes, easy enough to do before or after a class and then you’ve already done 40! 

The Scale Lies!

This guy is a liar! 

This guy is a liar! 

     It may surprise you to learn that your body weight is not the best measurement of your health and fitness. With the rise of the BMI (Body Mass Index) being used to identify whether we are underweight, overweight, or an ideal weight, we have been taught to focus on controlling our body weight to ensure that we are in good health. We are here to tell you that being skinny is not a good indicator of fitness. If I'm thin but can't do a pushup, can I consider myself fit? 

     A scale only measures how heavy we are, not whether our body composition is changing. Muscle weighs more than fat, so when we begin to gain muscle, the scale shows us gaining weight, even though we may be losing body fat. Many CrossFitters are considered "overweight" in BMI, even though their body fat percentage is within the healthy ranges for their height. 

The coaches at CFCL are great examples of this phenomenon.

Coach Erin proving that CrossFit is great for runners!

Coach Erin proving that CrossFit is great for runners!

In the picture on the left, Coach Erin weighs 115 pounds. In the picture on the right, she weighs 135 pounds, and even though she is 20 pounds heavier, she runs much faster races than she used to because she is more powerful. 

Coach Rachel in 2014.

Coach Rachel in 2014.

Coach Rachel in 2016.

Coach Rachel in 2016.

In the picture on the left, Coach Rachel weighs 120 pounds. In the picture on the right, she weighs 130 pounds. Despite being 10 pounds heavier, she wears a dress size smaller than she did when she was lighter, and her waist is 2 inches smaller. 

Coach Cassi in 2012

Coach Cassi in 2012

Coach Cassi in 2015

Coach Cassi in 2015

Coach Cassi in 2017

Coach Cassi in 2017

In the first picture, Coach Cassi weighs 150 pounds. In the second picture, she weighs 142 pounds. In the third picture, she weighs 148 pounds. Though she is only two pounds lighter 5 years later, she went from 26% body fat to 20% body fat, making her much more lean. 

Each of these transformations tells a story about training, but also about nutrition. Nutrition is the foundation of our fitness. If we want to be leaner, we must eat in a caloric deficit. If we want to be leaner without losing muscle mass (our ideal goal, because more muscle mass allows us to burn more calories), or if we want to gain muscle without gaining a lot of body fat, we have to eat smart--by tracking macros. All 3 coaches (as well as other coaches at CFCL) have used tracking macros to change their body composition at will.

Here are some ways to gauge whether your fitness is improving, without using the scale: 

-Improving performance in the gym. CrossFit makes use of Benchmark Workouts to demonstrate improving fitness. Having comparative data allows us to know that we are improving. Faster times in benchmark workouts, increasing strength, and improving skills are great indicators that your fitness and nutrition program is working!

-Positive body composition changes. Our body composition refers to the muscle mass and body fat that we carry. Positive body composition changes are increasing muscle mass and decreasing body fat. You can find out if your body composition is changing by scheduling an InBody Scan right here at CFCL! You'll also know you're losing body fat when your clothes fit better! 

-Improving medical biomarkers. When we attend our yearly physical, we get data from our appointment that we can use to assess whether our fitness is improving. Biomarkers like resting heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are much better than BMI at painting a picture of how our nutrition and fitness plans are working. 

The important thing to remember is that our body weight is only a part of the picture of our health. Our nutrition and training protocols need to be evaluated through many more points of data than just body weight. Are our times in benchmark workouts getting faster or heavier? Are we losing body fat or gaining muscle or both?

The scale is just one tool in our toolbox. If you're unsure of how to use the rest of your tools, reach out to a coach today!

Coach Cassi's Nutrition Journey

Is there anything better than Cassi with a box of donuts?

Is there anything better than Cassi with a box of donuts?

-by Coach Cassi

To say my nutrition has changed since starting CrossFit would be a gross understatement.  My nutrition is constantly changing and my body composition is constantly shifting with it!  There have been highs and lows, different goals, different plans and different results along the entire ride.  I've learned to focus on foods that truly fuel my body, boost my immune system and support my overall energy through the Paleo Diet.  And I've learned to eat the right amounts of proteins, carbs and fats to keep those energy levels sustained long-term through tracking macros.  

October 2012 - No nutrition plan, just started CF. 

October 2012 - No nutrition plan, just started CF. 

     When I started CrossFit I didn't have an understanding of what "healthy options" could really look like or what "clean eating" really meant.  I couldn't wrap my head around a fruit or veggie being a carb or how any of this could possibly affect my life.  As it turned out, my first ever Paleo Challenge taught me the importance of food quality (yes, green veggies ARE important!) in so many ways.  By eliminating dairy, grains and sugar I instantly had less headaches, stomach aches, clearer skin AND dropped 8 pounds in about a month.  I was hooked!  For a while, I cycled through following a strict Paleo Diet (oftentimes The Whole 30) and would feel awesome for about 30 days at a time.  But after a few months of 30 days "on" a few days "off," the "off" days were starting to drop me straight into the land of ice cream, cookies and pretty much anything else I could have that wouldn't be "allowed" in the upcoming 30 days - and in complete excess. Those "off" days left me feeling awful!  Not even just physically, but mentally, too!  Standing in front of the ice-cream and having a serious debate about whether or not it would be okay to have a scoop of ice-cream for the night generally resulted in:

-eating THE WHOLE TUB of ice cream instead of one scoop, and finally,
-a big belly ache.  

    Something had to change.  Clearly the whole Paleo thing was working but my self control was seriously lacking to sustain this while continuing to feel positive about my choices!   That's when the idea of keeping track of my intake came into play.  

"We are in complete control of our goals and our plans to reach them." 

"We are in complete control of our goals and our plans to reach them." 

     The idea of being able to weigh and measure the foods that I wanted to have and fit into my day sounded perfect!  Suddenly I wasn't going to feel like a bad person for having ice-cream!?  Sign me up!  It took some time, but with a bit of practice, I was able to actually fit that ice-cream into my day!  As an added bonus, my workouts were improving after feeling a bit stuck in the mud.  Again, I was in!  Macros have allowed me to think about my focus (whether it be body composition, performance goals or both) and fine -tune the amount of food I need to reach those goals.  They've also given me the ability to choose foods without feeling guilty, because if I've done my job well, I've fit that choice into my day!  It's not always easy, and it's not always perfect.  It is a process that I am constantly learning from and adapting to in becoming the best version of myself.

     While there certainly have been some blips along the way (maybe I've erred on the side of too much ice-cream, even with my macros!) this entire journey has shown me that we are each capable of making the changes we want to make with a focused attitude and mindset - we are in complete control of our goals and our plans to reach them every step of the way.

The Evolution of Goals

Goals are limited by what we believe we are capable of. In an ideal world, we know that we have the potential to do anything we set our mind to, but unfortunately, our parameters for success end up being narrowed and defined by our self-doubt. Self-doubt is as simple as believing things about ourselves like, "I'm bad at running" or "I'm not strong/organized/free enough to ______." Our limitations are more often self-imposed than the absolute truth.

CrossFitters know that goals evolve and change, but what many don't know is that our goals are always based around our expectations of ourselves. CrossFit has the potential to transform us, but only if we are willing to develop the skills to meet our potential. 


2013 - Pre-CrossFit

2013 - Pre-CrossFit

Before CrossFit, I had suffered from undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for 14 years. In overcoming it, I developed grit and a growth mindset, two things that I credit with the successes I've achieved so far.

But once I was mentally strong, the difference between my physical capabilities and my mental capabilities bothered me. There was a dissonance between how I looked and performed and how I felt. The belief that I could be strong physically became the catalyst that led me to CrossFit.

This is a picture of me from the winter of 2013. It was before starting CrossFit, before I took on any kind of exercise routine or nutrition plan. (To answer the question you’re definitely asking, I’m logrolling, an obscure, but historic sport that I practiced in my days as an Aquatics Director.)

Goal: Gain muscle, get strong, look as strong as I felt.

Starting CrossFit

2015 - 18 months CrossFitting

2015 - 18 months CrossFitting

I fell in love with CrossFit quickly and hard, relishing the idea that I would be learning and refining skills throughout my CrossFitting days, all while becoming strong and fast.

I knew that an exercise routine was going to challenge my mindset differently than overcoming PTSD. A mediocre athlete as a teenager, I found that I quickly reverted to old habits when the going got tough:

-I mentally gave up when movements that I was "bad" at came up, and
-I held back from going faster for fear of failing in front of other people.

Those old feelings of not being good enough cropped up enough to where I had to really examine why I was CrossFitting. Was it to prove how good I was, or was it to improve at something?

This was when I started to refine my mindset. I had practiced positive self-talk before, so rather than allowing my wavering self-confidence to dictate how I would perform, I was determined to simply do my best each workout and to focus on practicing vs competing. Using WODs to practice self-focus kept me CrossFitting when I may otherwise have given up. 

New Goal: Stay in my own lane, focus on my practice goals, give good effort.

January 2017 - 2.5 years CrossFitting

January 2017 - 2.5 years CrossFitting

Two and Half Years CrossFitting

A positive mindset took me far. By focusing on what I wanted and believing that I was capable of it, I made many positive changes, including tracking my macros to get stronger. The results speak for themselves: I met every strength goal I set for myself in 2016. 

But a belief I had long held, quietly, but insistently, was still holding me back. I did not believe that I was capable of the discipline required to be lean. I had become good about eating enough, but I was not putting any effort into accuracy of tracking or consistency. When I realized that I wanted to make a change, I turned to nutrition counseling to put me on the right track. 

Vulnerability and trust were going to be the ingredients to my success. I devoted myself to doing what I was told with everything I had, and reminded myself on bad days to persist and trust in the process. 

New Goal: Master discipline. Embrace vulnerability and trust the process. 

Sept 2017 - More than 3 years CrossFitting.

Sept 2017 - More than 3 years CrossFitting.


The trick is this: if you want something, you must devote every fiber of your being to doing it. Dreams are not met half-assed or through short bursts of effort followed by long bouts of inactivity. Life is not a series of 1RM attempts. It is an ultra-marathon, run at a consistent speed over a long period of time. And if that sounds boring, it's because it mostly is. Change takes time. 

Through positive self-talk, trust, vulnerability, and discipline, I am the fittest I have ever been. But more than body composition changes and PRs, what has changed the most is how I speak to myself about my goals and what I am capable of. Where before it was "I want to do a muscle-up," it is now, "I will do a muscle-up, and this is my plan for getting one by the end of next year." 

Perhaps, like me, you see that you still have a long road ahead of you to become the fittest that you can. SMILE! Enjoy the process of becoming a better human being. Devote yourself to you. Remain open to how you are changing and how you must change to achieve your goals. Reach out when you're lost and are unsure of where to turn next. There is absolutely an answer for you, but you must ask the question in order to find it. Your evolution is worth it. 

A Simple Desire

Goals are simple. 

Goals are simple. 

-by Coach Mat

Goals don’t have to be complicated and if you say you don’t have one, you’re lying.

What is the thing you want from doing CrossFit? Why are you doing it?

It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you don’t need to search for the “right” answer. Be honest. What comes to mind first?

I started because I wanted to have abs and find a fun way to compete.

It didn’t take a special notebook with S.M.A.R.T. written on the page in a zen sitting room with soundscapes playing in the background to decide what I wanted. Just like wanting a drink of water when thirsty, I “wanted” in the same way.

If your desire is for something that is healthy and improves your mind, body, and spirit, it’s good! Drop the self-judgements and secrecy and be honest. If you have an aesthetic goal, define what it is!

(Then schedule an InBody scan to establish where you are right now. The InBody shows how much muscle, fat and water your body is and gives us direction on how much to eat to get the body composition you want! Schedule here!)

Whatever the goal, pick what you truly want.

Then comes the “how do I get it” part.

I wanted abs and to compete so I found the people who had abs, and had a ton of fun. I figured that if they had what I wanted, I could literally copy what they do and take their advice to get the same results.

I modeled everything: from nutritional habits to the brand of workout clothes I wore. I listened to what they said and took their advice to heart.

  • It started with simple things like telling me to lift my chest up in the deadlift.
  • They told me to jump a little higher for the double-under and I’d get big consecutive sets.
  • They ate a certain way, and told me I should, too, if I wanted what I said I did, so I ate that way.

It wasn’t a coincidence that I started to burn fat and change my body.

They had been right about everything before, so when they told me to focus more on my workout results than the way my body was looking, I listened.

My desire to get abs changed to a desire to get a muscle up, back squat 315 lbs, run a 6 minute mile, do consecutive pull ups and toes to bar, deadlift 225 lbs in all the workouts that had it in them, and clean and jerk 250 lbs. When I accomplished those goals, I looked better than I would have ever looked if I only tried to get abs.

The whole process really started with trust.

It was much easier to trust them since they practiced what they preached.

They were the type of people I wanted to be, so it was a no-brainer to learn their ways.

In copying, I was able to accomplish my goal and even more than I would have dreamed about or been able to accomplish. By chasing performance I got fit, strong, AND happy.

But it all started with a desire. Just a feeling of want, for something that I didn’t have.

That turned into the goal and lead to so much more.

If you think that setting a goal is a difficult, worthless process or just flat out don’t do it, you’re missing out on so much possibility and growth that if you had, you wouldn’t want to give up.

So, what do you want?

How to Use Open Gym

How to Use Open Gym

What is Open Gym?
Can I use it?
What can I do?
Have you ever missed classes on a day that you wanted to train? Open Gym is a time you can make it up or do other training fun, but we know that it can be intimidating to come in and not really know what to do. Read on for our best practices for Open Gym use!

Even Better Than Goal Setting

Even Better Than Goal Setting

 Setting goals is easy. If we made a list of goals we've set for ourselves and subsequently abandoned, it would fill pages.

It is a completely different matter to attain our goals. Achieving goals requires consistent hard work over a long period of time, long after our initial motivation has flagged. Let's rework the goal setting system to provide lasting motivation. 


Nutrition 101

Nutrition 101

Nutrition does not have to be complicated or dreadful. (We’ve also tried those kind of diets and know how miserable they can be.)

In fact, the more complicated the system, the less likely you are to follow it. Especially if you’re also beginning a new workout routine.

Put your energy into a few simple and easy-to-do areas and follow the easiest nutrition plan that will get you the best results.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Have you ever finished a workout satisfied that you went fast or heavy, only to feel disappointed in yourself after seeing someone else’s results?

Do you feel that you have to look at the leaderboard in order to determine what weight or how fast or how many rounds you should be shooting for in the workout?

Learning the frame of mind for success will get you there quicker. Read on to learn how to get in the mind set.