How CrossFit Can Help Runners

 

If you are a runner, you’ve probably heard some of your running buddies talking about using CrossFit to improve their performance. You’ve also probably seen people vehemently disagree with their assertion. CrossFit and running have been a hot, debated topic over the past few years.

The beliefs of the endurance community and fitness enthusiasts collide when this matter arises.

Can CrossFit improve your running performance?

Can it make you a stronger, better, faster runner?

To answer these questions, let’s dive into the world of CrossFit!

What is CrossFit?

CrossFit, in the simplest definition, is fitness training.

The movements in CrossFit are different from traditional gym exercises because they have multi-joint (functional) movement patterns. The exercises use multiple joints, such as knees, hips, and shoulders, to perform compound movements. These are executed at a much higher intensity than typical cross-training programs.

CrossFit workouts can be performed safely by anyone of any age or fitness level (though we recommend learning from a qualified coach!). The movements and workouts can be modified to suit anyone.

People who do CrossFit care a lot about their health and fitness. Hence, getting stronger each day is one of their goals.

How Does CrossFit Affect a Runner’s Performance?

If you are a runner, you may love CrossFit too!

Crossfit combines powerlifting, weightlifting, strength training, and gymnastics training. These benefit the slow-twitch muscles used for long-distance and fast-twitch muscles used for sprinting.

The main problem encountered by many runners is running only works one part of the body – the legs. Over time, the repetitive one-movement pattern of running can cause an imbalance in the rest of the body which can lead to any number of injuries. If you have been in running circles long enough – chances are you have seen or experienced this first hand!

CrossFit exercises, on the other hand, involve the whole body & varying movement patterns rather than isolated muscle groups and singular modality movement patterns.

Working the entire body will help runners lose overall body fat, which will increase endurance and speed. Being lighter and stronger will also diminish the amount of impact that runners experience in each foot strike – lowering the chances of injury.

Can CrossFit make you a faster, better runner?

If you’re looking for a cross-training option, CrossFit is a great fit!

The functional exercises that CrossFit utilizes help build strength, improve the range of motion, and make everyday tasks easier to do.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) improves strength and endurance which are essential factors in good running. In a blog post by Anurag Shahi M.D., mixing up your running with high-intensity workouts like CrossFit will lower your risk of injury and improve your overall fitness levels.

If you are wondering whether CrossFit can help you become a better runner, the best way to begin is by asking a coach for help. They can guide you along the way!

With hard work, determination, and discipline, you’ll be well on your way to a new PR!

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If you’d like to learn more about how CrossFit can help prepare you to be a better runner please schedule a time to talk with one of our amazing coaches by visiting crossfitsouthpaw.com/get-started today!

Quick Study on Macronutrients: Protein, Carbs, and Fat

A Consumer’s guide to Fat, Carbs, and Protein…

Nutrition is a highly individual journey and no one answer is true or right for everyone. The simple fact of the matter is that when it comes down to it, you have to figure out what works best for you. However there are some overarching philosophies that can channel your approach to healthy eating. When you figure out a style and frequency in your relationship with food that works well you will notice improvements in energy levels, weight loss/gain, focus, mood, and of course physical performance.

Fats

Paleo, Ketogenic, and Atkins diet have helped change many of the negative perceptions of fat in the diet. As Americans, a far bigger threat to our health is a diet that contain high sugar and processed foods.

Fats are actually an essential source of fuel and micronutrients that make us healthy. However, it’s important to choose the right types and amounts of fats in your diet that let you operate at your best.

The chemical structure of a fat or fatty acid determines what role it will play in our bodies. Based on this structure we are able to classify fats in certain classes that share similar characteristics. Fats can be divided into saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats.

  • Saturated fats are found in red meat and coconuts and up until recently have gotten a bad rap as culprits of heart disease.
  • Monounsaturated fats are found in plant foods like nuts, avocado, and olive oil.
  • Polyunsaturated fats include Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s which can be found in fatty fish, flax seeds, and walnuts and are associated with a variety of health benefits.

Fats are essential for energy requirements, hormone production, and make up the wall of every cell in your body. They are also directly related to our immune system and having the right ratio of fats is very important for a healthy inflammation response.

When you think about fats, in a broad sense, think: “Eating the right amount of fats lets my body store energy, regulate hormones, and stay healthy”

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are found across a wide variety of foods and depending on the structure of the molecule our body will respond to eating carbs in very different ways. Carbohydrates have a direct relationship with the glucose levels or blood sugar in our bodies. When our blood glucose levels become elevated our body releases a hormone called insulin to store this extra energy for later when we might have a greater need for it. This glucose is stored in the muscle and liver in long chains known as glycogen or the glucose can be stored in adipose tissue to be utilized later (aka fat storage).

Your goal should be to optimize the amount of carbs that are being stored as glycogen and minimizing excess carbs that would contribute to fat stores. Selecting the right types of foods like vegetables are beneficial because they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index measures how much a food increases our bodies glucose after consumption. High GI foods include white bread, white rice, and cereals. These foods can be very bad for your waistline, because if your body is not prepared to receive fuel and store it as glycogen they will immediately be stored as fat.

Our bodies can become insulin resistant and requires higher and higher amounts of insulin to store the glucose. Resistance training however, can increase our insulin sensitivity. That means that our cells are highly responsive to storing glucose when insulin is present. Focus on consuming low glycemic carbohydrates that provide key nutrients and avoid high sugar or refined ingredients.

When you think about carbohydrates, in a broad sense, think: “Eating the right amount of carbohydrates lets my body create energy”

Protein

Protein is found in and comprises most of the cells in our body. It is found in a variety of animal and plant sources. Protein is important because it contains amino acids, tiny molecules that are the building blocks of muscle and also used for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters. Some of these amino acids are considered essential meaning they must be provided from a dietary source. Without these essential amino acids we will not be able to repair our tissues and certain vital processes will cease to happen.

Since protein helps us recover from and perform optimally during our workouts it is important to consume after a workout for muscle repair. Real food sources of protein include beef, chicken, eggs, and fish. Try to include these foods as staples in your diet. These foods have amino acid content that is similar to what our human body requires for repair. This is also known as the biological value of the protein. Vegetable sources of protein have a lower biological value and may lack one of the essential amino acids needed by humans. These foods must be strategically combined by vegans or vegetarians so they consume all the amino acids needed for tissue repair. As a vegan athlete it can be challenging to meet your needs without supplementation and can be difficult to get a full spectrum of key micronutrients.

Try to consume 1.0 to 1.5 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. For a 200 pound man (90 kg) that means 90 grams to 135 grams of protein per day. This will provide enough amino acids for your bodies daily needs. Unfortunately eating more protein doesn’t mean it automatically turns into muscle. Unused protein will be broken down and utilized as a fuel source by the body.

When you think about protein, in a broad sense, think: “Eating the right amount of protein lets my body repair, renew, and recover”


Hopefully knowing a little bit more about each of the macronutrients and how they act in your body will help you to make more informed decisions. Depending on your specific goals, lifestyle, and health history, you may require a different ratio of protein, carbs, and fat than other people. If you have questions about how much (and what) you should be eating, please contact us today!

The Importance of Stress For Your Health

 

 

Did you know that a little bit of stress can actually maximize your performance?

IF you’ve ever been in a flow state and totally lost track of time immersed in the task at hand – then you know know how astounding it can be to snap out of it. You were so focused that you couldn’t worry about your bills, external relationships, and the little worries in life.

It turns out that time spent in a flow state is one of the highest corollaries to a fulfilling life. The more time you spend in flow the happier you are. It also turns out that flow is the best way to get good at a particular skill– assuming the activity meets some key criteria.

The Yerkes Dodson Law examines how as arousal increases so does performance. Being pushed slightly beyond your comfort zone you get hooked. Locked in flow you will continue to push yourself, just barely keeping up with the challenge that is inches from your grasp. They even assigned a specific value to the degree of difficulty. If the level of the challenge is approximately 4% greater than your current skill you will be most likely to get into a flow state.

If you think about great athletes, musicians, artists and other high performing individuals you will see countless examples of them rising to the occasion. Completing the game winning drive as they march their team down the field and scoring with just seconds left on the clock. Playing a guitar lick faster and faster immersed in sweat and the roar of the crowd. These folks are locked into what they are doing to a place that is beyond what conscious mind and ego can interfere with. They are fully present and immersed in the task at hand.

It is important to find the thresholds in your life where you can push yourself and grow. If you feel like a task is too easy you will quickly lose interest and find yourself bored. If it is too difficult, you will feel like it’s hopeless and not actually give your best effort. Find the challenge that is engaging and challenging yet attainable if you truly want to get the most out of yourself.

If you want to find a gym that will meet you where you are at – and help challenge you to become better – feel free to reach out and schedule a Free Consultation with on of our coaches!

4 Fitness Models That Don’t Make Sense

Think about your workout. How does it help you achieve your goals? What is the “theory” behind what you do? Exercise makes intuitive sense (I think we can all agree on this) – if we are more active, we will burn more calories and our bodies will adapt to the increased workload, etc.

However, there are a number of fitness models that claim to maximize general physical preparedness (GPP) training but have faulty logic. They don’t make sense. I’d like to break them down:

  1. Color Based Training: Some gyms tell you that wearing a heartrate monitor and keeping your pulse in a particular zone – some mystical tangerine-colored place in between red and yellow – will lead to optimizing your fitness. While this sounds catchy (and their marketing is fantastic) – does it really make sense that “working hard, but not too hard” is the best way to optimize fitness?
  2. Duration Based Training: Others suggest that the only way to get results is by slowing down your movement – claiming that duration and “time under tension” are the only metrics that you need to worry about. Actually, they aren’t completely wrong. Incorporating tempo into your movements can make them much more challenging.But think about this in practical terms: if you lift 50 pounds one time (really slowly) or 100 pounds 3 times (really fast) which one do you think will help you develop more strength, cardiovascular capacity, or power?
  3. Competing-Models Based Training: Then there are gyms that claim the best way to get in shape is to pick two DIFFERENT models – like yoga and interval training – and slap them together. Let’s break this down:Each fitness modality has a unique goal. And each goal requires you to fine-tune your body in a specific way to get there. It’s like simultaneously trying to make your car fast, and capable of going off-road. The goals are inherently at odds with each other.Many would argue that CrossFit does this: borrows elements from different fitness methodologies and puts them together. And they are correct. The difference is that CrossFit’s methodologies line up with it’s goals. I’ll explain more later.
  4. The “We Don’t Have A Model” Based Training: At least the training methodologies listed above tell you SOMETHING. Because you also have these big globo-gyms that don’t tell you how to get in shape at all… Literally, does their marketing say ANYTHING about how to get in shape?Go to any homepage or ad for a big gym and look at the language that is used. It will talk about: 1) How cheap their membership options are 2) The sheer size & number of amenities their facility has 3) Some limited-time deal they are offering that has a lot of fine print.This is akin to taking you child to the playground and just dropping them off. You walk in and are staring at a million different gym equipment options, but have no idea what specifically you should be doing to reach your fitness goals. If you want to lose weight, would it be better to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, do 3-minute intervals on the elliptical, or do a combination of burpees and squats in the corner? If you are trying to build muscle, do you use dumbbells, machines, or barbells? What movements/rep-schemes should you do to maximize your results?

Southpaw’s Fitness Model

At Southpaw we believe that fitness is primal. Our bodies are designed to move. It doesn’t have to be complex, and it doesn’t require fancy technology. In fact, it’s pretty simple: the more work you can do, and the faster you can do it, the better your outcome is going to be.

But just because it’s not complex, doesn’t mean that it is easy. For years we have been hunched over at desks, looking down at our phones, and slouching at the table. We have ingrained a number of unhealthy movement patterns into our bodies and we need to unlearn these bad habits while we develop new ones.

Our coaches are experts in the field. They have boiled down all of the exercise science and competing theories to find the ones that actually work. They have helped hundreds of people get out of pain and into the best shape of their life by using functional full-body movements and guiding them through a variety of different workouts that are designed to maximize results. People become faster, stronger, leaner, and more confident in their lives.

If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: pick a gym based on the results it will help you achieve – not because of some fancy theory or shiny object. So, when you are ready to start a program that is built around results, click the link below to schedule a Free Phone Consultation and learn about the benefits of professional coaching, effective workouts, and an encouraging atmosphere!

**Note: ANY fitness program is better than a sedentary lifestyle. And most of the gyms mentioned above have good intentions. However, we believe that the model we have crafted at Southpaw is the best model for well-rounded fitness and general physical preparedness that leads directly to the transformations people need!

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Schedule your Free Phone Consultation today by clicking here!

5 Reasons To Get STRONG

Fitness trends come and go and most fall to the wayside for good reason.

Most flashy new programs fail to produce consistent results. It’s no wonder why so many folks stray away from them and feel “burned out” on fitness. The most effective fitness protocols aren’t complicated or fancy. They are tried and true. They are hard. And if you are willing to take the time to master them, you will see phenomenal results in some surprising parts of your life.

“The rule is: the basics are the basic, and you can’t beat the basics.” -Charles Poliquin

Despite what your goals may be, every individual can benefit from physical resistance training. Not only that, but the health benefits extend far beyond your short term fitness goals. Regardless of why you train, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen.

1. Training for strength produces results.

Whatever your goals, muscle will help you get there. Some companies in the fitness industry has made a fortune around buzzwords like “tone”, “lift”, and “sculpt.” The problem is there’s no way to measure those loose terms. If you want to change your body composition there is only the ability to gain or lose muscle while simultaneously gaining or losing fat. If you are looking for the most efficient way to do make a change then strength training is your best option.

Strength training, or physical resistance training, can be defined as a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. When you gain muscle you increase your bodies basal metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day before factoring in physical activity). It’s kind of like putting a bigger engine in a car. The car is capable of moving faster or pulling a heavier load (more muscle), but it also uses more fuel (fat) whether it’s cruising down the freeway or idling in the driveway. Strength training helps us “tone” through this muscle gain/fat loss trade.

2. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” -Peter Drucker

Training for strength provides a clear path for success. You can set training goals that are specific, measurable, and produce desired outcomes. A good coach will help you design a plan towards these goals with checkpoints along the way. Your strength training program is a road map to success with clear directions. Sets, reps, and weights lifted safely through the full range of motion are the signals that you’re on track. Many people find that a more detailed plan helps them stay motivated as they experience progress.

3. Age gracefully with more muscle mass.

As we get older strength training is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Physical independence is a key factor in a great quality of life.

A comprehensive study of strength training has been proven to:

  • Improve motor function
  • Lower resting heart rate
  • Increase stamina
  • Prevent sarcopenia (age-related muscle loss)
  • Improve bone mineral density
  • Prevent and help rehab injuries

Functional strength training will be an asset in daily life too. From picking up grandchildren or bags of groceries to climbing stairs with confidence.

4. You’ll experience epic brain gains.

Did you know that lifting weights can strengthen your brain just as much as it does your body?
Dr. Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney has found that high‐intensity physical resistance training (PRT) results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Adults who followed a resistance training routine in addition to cognitive training performed significantly better than control groups on a series of mental tests. A couple key factors to note:

The participants exercised 2x/ week working to at least 80% of their peak strength.
The benefits lasted one year after the exercise prescription had ended.

What does that mean? According to Yorgi, “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” Let that sink in for a minute. You actually grow your brain by training to become stronger! It makes me wonder if Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in between heavy sets of back squats…

5. Strong moms have healthy babies.

During pregnancy, the question always arises of what does fitness look like for this stage of life? With so much on the line, it’s important to consult with a doctor before beginning any fitness routine. Luckily, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by incorporating a strength training routine under normal circumstances. Resistance training can help alleviate symptoms and improve health outcomes for the mother and child. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who follow a consistent strength training routine during pregnancy can experience:

  • Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
  • Boosted mood and energy levels
  • Better sleep
  • Prevent excess weight gain
  • Maintain levels of muscle strength and endurance
  • Reduced incidence of gestational diabetes

Not only that but women who train during pregnancy report enhanced body image and better psychological well-being!

We would love to help you live a healthy strong life.

CLICK HERE to schedule a Free Phone Consultation to learn more!

The Top 3 Myths About Joining a Gym in a Post-COVID World

 

As he stood there gasping for air after finishing a tough workout, a new member describes a realization that occurred to him a few months prior. While working from home he would spend more time on Facebook and Instagram than he traditionally did at the office. Sitting there one afternoon he became acutely aware that feelings of jealousy and resentment would creep up whenever he scrolled past people on his newsfeed talking about their workouts during his social media breaks. These feelings weren’t new, but it was the first time that he had acknowledged them. As he tells the story, it wasn’t that he disliked these people, rather, it was that he wished he was more like them.

At this point in his life, the quarantine had recently ended but he was still sitting and staring at a screen for most of his waking hours: using instacart for groceries, grubhub for meals, and opting for sweatpants instead of khakis. “I felt run down and lethargic, and I knew that I was putting on some weight,” he told me, “I wasn’t proud of who I was becoming.” He needed something to change. This began his search for a gym.


“I felt run down and lethargic, and I knew that I was putting on some weight,” he told me, “I wasn’t proud of who I was becoming.”


His first stop? Google. “Gym near me” he typed in. He was inundated with advertisements and websites – more information that he could possibly know what to do with. He had to start somewhere, and so he filled out contact forms from some of the gyms that looked like places he could see himself. One of those was CrossFit Southpaw.

During our initial talk on the phone and subsequent free consultation at the gym, he described the journey that got him to this point and where he was hoping to go. He also told me about some of the reasons he had put this process off for so long. The fears that he shared are common among people who are hoping to join a gym and so today I am writing to help dispel some of the common myths people use when they are in the process of joining a gym:

  • MYTH#1: “I need to get in shape before I join a gym” I get it – all over social media and the interwebs, people are taking pictures of themselves with six-packs, defined biceps, and wide smiles. The message seems to be “I need to look like that before I can join a gym.” Unfortunately, the messaging is backward. You join a gym to BECOME leaner, healthier, and more confident. Not the other way around. As coaches, we expect people to walk into the gym with little to no previous experience. In fact, every other member started at exactly the point you are at now. It doesn’t matter where you are, it matters where you want to go. This is easy to say but hard to do. We are human and frequently our ego is louder than our logic. This is why reaching out to make contact with a gym is one of the most courageous steps you can take.
  • MYTH #2: “If I don’t know what I am doing, I should join a gym where I can blend into the crowd” None of us want to look incompetent. However, that is EXACTLY why you need to find a gym with coaches who can help teach you how to exercise correctly. Think about it this way: before you had your driver’s license, did you just get thrown the keys one day and told to “go figure it out” or did someone take you out and teach you how to drive? When you were trying to learn math, did you hide in the corner with an abacus or did a teacher help break it down in a way that helped you understand? Contrary to what our egos tell us, if we don’t know how to exercise, we need to find a gym where we can be taught. Don’t waste years trying to teach yourself something you don’t know. Find a gym that will help you become the strongest and most confident version of yourself now so that you don’t have to repeat this process again later.

Find a gym that will help you become the strongest and most confident version of yourself now so that you don’t have to repeat this process again later.


  • MYTH #3: “I need to find the gym with the most features and cheapest price” This myth is great for people who want their gym membership card to function as a decoration on their dresser or an accessory on their keychain. Don’t select a gym for the features IT has, select a gym based on the results YOU will receive. By “features,” I mean saunas, tanning beds, machines, lifting platforms, locker rooms, etc. Features aren’t inherently bad but they are a distraction from what really matters: the results that you will receive from the gym. By “results” I mean getting stronger, losing weight, fighting depression/anxiety, and feeling confident. I would encourage you to trust your intuition when you are visiting a gym: Do they try to pressure you into membership? Can you see yourself enjoying it there? Does it feel welcoming? And most of all, is the process about THEM or about YOU (“this is what we have” vs. “this is what we can do for you”). Someone greeting you by name or giving you a high-five after a workout will end up meaning a hell of a lot more than that sauna you will never use.

Someone greeting you by name or giving you a high-five after a workout will end up meaning a hell of a lot more than that sauna you will never use.


 

At the end of the day, ANY form of physical activity is better than none. Too frequently, however, we see people invest in home gyms that become coat racks, sign up for discount gym memberships that only serve to take up space in their wallet, or put off the entire process altogether – letting their health and happiness continue to decline – because they don’t know where to begin their search for a gym. Whether it is at Southpaw, or somewhere else, we want to help you become “Yourself 2.0” – the strongest, healthiest, and happiest person you are capable of being. As our new member so eloquently stated: “Now that I am taking care of myself, I feel a new sense of ‘potential.’ I feel confident and strong for the first time in a long time and I can’t wait to see where life goes next.”


Whether it is at Southpaw, or somewhere else, we want to help you become “Yourself 2.0″ – the strongest, healthiest, and happiest person you are capable of being. As our new member so eloquently stated:”Now that I am taking care of myself, I feel a new sense of ‘potential.’ I feel confident and strong for the first time in a long time and I can’t wait to see where life goes next.”


 

 

Are you interested in learning more about CrossFit Southpaw? Click Here to leave your information and one of our coaches will reach out to you with more information!

 

Physical Fitness in an Automated World

Do you remember the kid who proudly pulled on their jersey? Who laced up their shoes before the big game? Who couldn’t fall asleep because they were envisioning the upcoming competition? Who lived and breathed sport because it was the purest way to express their identity?

Fast forward fifteen years and we find ourselves in a different stage of life: cinching up a tie before opening up a spreadsheet, glancing at the clock praying for 5:00pm to come sooner, meeting up with friends to reminisce about the glory days.

Someone still lives deep inside of us who hungers for competition. Who wants to be pushed outside of their comfort zone. Who misses the purity of physical exertion that cannot be replicated by the white-washed rows of machines in L.A. Fitness.

Feeding these natural impulses of competition and physicality allows us to build confidence and feel a sense of completeness. Humans are physical, mental, and spiritual beings and we cannot feel complete unless we have an outlet for all three. Too often, we find ourselves out of balance: we attribute behavioral or emotional outburst to an imbalance in this triangular relationship between body, mind, and spirit.

At work, we find ourselves challenged intellectually. From the mundane tasks to the more theoretical undertakings, we often seek income from a job that challenges our intellect.

At home, we find ourselves challenge spiritually. This could be a religious tradition that we choose to practice or it could be the more existential questions we find discussing with our significant others. I often find myself sitting there, pondering the more subjective questions in life, while my son falls asleep at night.

However, it seems that society increasingly demands less and less from us as physical beings. Jobs are being automated, we can hit the drive-thru for lunch, groceries can be delivered, and sidewalks are destroyed to make way for larger roads. Obesity rates, diabetes, and most other chronic/acute illnesses are on the rise. Our ability to treat symptoms with a pill has never been higher, yet the prevalence of declining physical capacity has never been higher.

CrossFit has interjected new life into this system. Rather than making exercise easier: adding complicated and expensive machines that make a movement “dummy-proof”, installing TV’s around so you can catch up on the news while you job, and keeping a coke machine sitting in the hallway – CrossFit has started a revolution by returning human physicality to its roots. We are born to jump, throw, lift, hang, swing, and celebrate the incredible physicality our bodies are capable of.

What we have found, anecdotally, is that people who allow themselves to engage in this unbridled expression of human movement show markedly higher performance in other areas of their life. They get promoted at work, they inspire their families, they feel happier, and they find more peace with the existential questions that plague so many of us.

 

None of the three: mind, body, or spirit can exist perfectly in a vacuum. At Southpaw we encourage you to work hard, to spend time with your family, and to engage with your local community. And we also encourage you to find an outlet where you can express your physicality – to satiate that inner voice inside of you who hungers for the purity of physical exertion.