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Are Carbs Bad?

Carbs are often blamed for being “bad” in today’s society.  In recent years, low-carb diets like Keto and Paleo have become extremely popular.  So what is a carb, anyway? Carbs are a macronutrient, along with protein and fat.  Carbs includes foods like bread, rice and fruit. Carbs contain about 4 calories per gram, while protein contains 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 calories per gram.  All three macronutrients are important, for various reasons, but today we will focus on carbs.

When you eat carbs, your body converts them into an energy source known as glycogen.  Glycogen is the fuel your muscles use for training.  For those who are active, eating more carbs can be beneficial for various reasons:

  1. Train Harder:  If you don’t exercise, the amount of carbs needed if much less than an active person.  However, those who exercise regularly will need the “fuel” carbs provide to perform well.  Eating carbs around your training, (before, during and after) will allow you to perform more reps, lift more weight and feel better while doing so. Most people will notice an increase in their performance and their overall energy levels if they increase their carb intake appropriately.
  2. Recover Well:  If you work out day after day on a low-carb diet, you will likely deplete your glycogen stores within a few days.  However, keeping an adequate amount of carbs and glycogen in your system allows you to recover well and continue to train hard day after day.
  3. Increased Muscle Growth:  If you chronically deplete your carb intake in comparison to your training, it can actually inhibit muscle growth. When consuming adequate carbs and keeping glycogen levels high, muscle growth will occur more easily and more readily.

So, how many carbs should you eat?  First, take into account how active you are in your day-to-day life.  Do you sit behind a desk all day or are you on your feet waiting tables?  Second, how hard do you workout?  If you sit at a desk all day and then come home to sit on the couch, you probably don’t need many carbs because your activity level is low and your body doesn’t require much “fuel” for these activities.  Alternatively, if you sit at a desk during the day, but complete an intense workout every day, your carb intake needs goes up along with your activity level. Pair an active day job with intense training every day, and your carb intake needs go up even more.

The bottom line is that carbs are not necessarily the villain that they are often made out to be.  Depending on your activity level, they can be great for improving training, recovery and muscle growth.  And it IS possible to still loose weight while consuming carbs, as long as you keep your carb intake levels in line with your activity levels.  However, if you are very inactive, a lower carb diet, like Keto, may be a great fit for you.  There is no one-size-fits-all, so examine your lifestyle and your goals and make a determination on what works best for you.  If you’d like to chat more, we offer nutrition services with our partners at Renaissance Periodization.   Schedule a free intro session here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Box Squatting

Box squatting is a technique made popular by Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell, but it’s not only beneficial for powerlifters to do them.  They have a great carryover to Olympic lifts and to CrossFit. And, when done correctly, the box squat is one of the safest and most efficient ways for athletes of all skill levels to squat for many reasons.

  1.  Teaches Proper Mechanics: Box squats are an excellent way to teach new people how to squat properly…or how to break bad mechanics for those who have been squatting incorrectly for a while.  It teaches lifters the proper mechanics of how to reach back with their hips first, and not with their knees driving forward first.  It also gives a physical target for athletes to sit back to and receive instant feedback on the depth they should be hitting.  Depending on their current ability, the box height can be varied from above parallel for beginners or those with mobility limitations, all the way down to a short box that will put the lifter in a below parallel position that we shoot for in CrossFit.
  2. Strengthens Posterior Chain: Since the hips go back so far in a box squat and the shins stay vertical, the hips, hamstrings and glutes are the primary movers.  Many people are very quad-dominant in their normal squatting patterns, but this movement pattern will strengthen and bring up any lagging muscles in the posterior chain by changing their body positioning.  By strengthening these large muscle groups, most people will also see improvements in their pulling movements, like deadlifts, cleans and snatches.  Many people will also notice that their lower back health improves.
  3. Increases Explosive Strength:  The box squat teaches lifters how to explode quickly out of the bottom of a squat.  In a normal squat, an athlete can use the stretch shortening cycle (or the “bounce”) out of the bottom.  With box squats, the eccentric (or lowering) portion is separated from the concentric (driving up) portion, which really helps to build reversal strength when starting from essentially a dead stop.  For example, box squats can help an athlete get out of the hole when catching a squat clean in the rock-bottom position.
  4. Working Around Knee Issues:  Box squats can also be a great tool to use when athletes are experiencing knee pain or a knee injury.  As mentioned earlier, a lot of people are very quad dominant and drive their knees forward in their squats.  By sitting the hips and knees back, the majority of the loading is placed on the powerful muscles of the hips, hamstrings and glutes, which will take the pressure off the knees while squatting.

So, don’t be afraid of box squatting or think that you have to be a powerlifter to do them. They are very beneficial when done correctly and will carry over to your normal squat as well as to other compound movements.  Give them a try during your next squatting session!

 

 

 

 

 

Do I Already Need to be “In Shape” to Start CrossFit?

When people think of CrossFit, the typical image is of buff, sweaty guys and girls throwing around barbells, flipping tires and doing all sorts of crazy gymnastic movements that you could never imagine yourself doing.  However, step into a group class at any local CrossFit gym, and you’ll see a variety of people from all ages and backgrounds working out together.

Many people are scared to jump into CrossFit without getting fit first; this is backwards.  Most people are actually not super fit when they start, but have developed into amazing athletes after months and years of work of consistency.  The beauty of CrossFit is that everyone can do it on day one.  Yes everyone.  All the movements and workouts can be “scaled” or modified to suit any fitness level.  Whether you are a former athlete or someone who has never played a sport or worked out in your life. We have members in their 60s and 70s, as well as members with physical injuries or limitations that we work around daily.  The coaches at BCF are knowledgable and can guide everyone to movements and modifications that are best suited to their current skill level.

After you consistently workout for several months, you’ll find yourself doing things that you probably didn’t think you ever could.  Maybe that’s getting a pull up, running 400m without stopping or simply taking the stairs at work without getting winded.  After you knock those goals off the list, you’ll begin to realize that the sky’s the limit!  There’s always room to grow in CrossFit, so you’ll never get bored. Just as workouts can be scaled to suit a beginner’s needs, they can also be modified for intermediate and advanced athletes as you progress.

Don’t wait to get fit before checking us out.  We will get you to your goals with a great group of people and knowledgable coaches to guide you on your journey.  You can schedule a time for a FREE intro session to come in, talk about your goals and see if we are a good fit for you.

 

How to NOT get injured in CrossFit

Talk to anyone about CrossFit and many will immediately counter with “I heard CrossFit gets people injured.”  I hear this concern often from prospective members.  However, at Battleship CrossFit and many other CrossFit gyms, we prioritize movement quality and member safety above everything else.

This starts with our On-Ramp program. We require all new members who don’t have CrossFit experience to go through this training.  The primary purpose of this is to breakdown the most common movements we do to ensure that members are moving safely before joining a group class and adding intensity.  After members “graduate” into group classes, our coaches keep a close eye on everyone to make adjustments and modifications as needed to suit the needs of every member.

We warm up as a group each day at BCF.  This is a crucial part of the day’s workout.  Having a proper warm up decreases the likelihood of injuries.  The goal of a warm up is to increase body temperature and activate the muscles being used in the training each day.

Although CrossFit is a high-intensity training program, that doesn’t mean that it should be 100% intensity EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  We balance high-intensity work with low-intensity work to facilitate recovery and avoid overtraining. Most people are already chronically stressed out, sleep-deprived and surviving on a less-than-ideal diet.  Add on another “stress” of intense training day after day, and your body may not be able to recovery properly.

Bodybuilding and accessory movements sometimes get a bad rap in the CrossFit world, but they super important to  a balanced workout plan. Including these special exercises increases muscle mass, which not only improves body composition, but it also decreases the risk of injury.  In addition, accessory work can help to bring up any imbalances that people often develop from doing the same movements repeatedly.

And finally, an important part of reducing the risk of injury falls on the judgement of the individual.  it’s always a good idea to be coachable, start slow to perfect technique and THEN add intensity.  Not the other way around. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!  Be humble and aware of your current abilities and know when to take a step back.  It’s much more important that members stay healthy and able to attend classes regularly than getting injured and being out for weeks or months. Health is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

CrossFit is an excellent way to become faster, stronger and healthier for people of all ages and backgrounds. it prioritizes functional movements that you use in everyday life to make your quality of life better.  There’s a TON of other gyms and a variety of training programs that you could choose for your fitness journey.  No matter what training method you choose,  be sure to do your homework on one that also prioritizes recovery, longevity and an improved quality of life.

If you’re interested in check us out, book a free intro session here and let’s chat!  🙂

 

The Importance of Accessory Work

As CrossFitters, most of us enjoy doing the “big” lifts and complex gymnastic movements.  And I don’t disagree!  There’s nothing more fun than throwing  around a heavy barbell or finally conquering kipping pull ups.  BUT…it’s also really important to focus on accessory exercises to help you become even more successful in unlocking your athletic potential.

In CrossFit, we do a lot of bilateral movements (both arms/legs), which is great for building power and absolute strength, but it can cause muscular imbalances from one side of the body to the other over time.  For this reason, it is important to incorporate uni-lateral work (single arm/leg), single joint movements (like curls!) and strict movements to bring up any muscular imbalances.  In other words, accessory work helps to bring up the weakest link in your chain.  For example, if you’ve been stuck at the same back squat max for a while now, maybe you are actually being limited by your hamstring or glute strength, for example.  By utilizing exercises that focus solely on building up these lagging muscles, you can often bring up your big lifts, too.

If that weren’t enough, most accessory and assistance work can be done in high-volume with little to no risk of injury. On the flip side, doing something like back squatting heavy every single day in hopes of increasing your squat numbers does raise your risk of injury.  Also, by doing accessory work in high volume, you will likely add muscle mass to your frame.  (Ladies – this does not mean you’ll get “bulky!”) Increased muscle mass means you’ll look better at the beach, burn extra calories while resting, get stronger AND your risk of injury goes down even more!

Several days a week, we program “cash out” or accessory exercises with the goal of helping you to be a better at CrossFit.  So please, if you can, spend a couple minutes doing the extra work and see how it can help you!

 

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