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      News — fitness

      Madison: A No-Podium Victory!!! - Written by Janet Black

      Madison: A No-Podium Victory!!! - Written by Janet Black



      Madison: A No-Podium Victory!!!
      Written by: Janet Black

      Closing out the 2017 Crossfit Season in Madison marked a memorable milestone for me as an athlete. This was the 5th year I’ve competed at the Reebok Crossfit Games and I’ll admit, the commitment required to make it to this level of the competition has become more mentally challenging for me than ever before.   

      Entering the 2017 Crossfit Games Season I was constantly challenging my drive with self-defeating questions; Back to Carson again Janet?  Am I ready to commit to the preparation required for another season?  If I can’t podium, what is the point? 

      As a full-time teacher, mom, and wife, the time required to commit to my fitness goals doesn’t come without sacrifice, it’s mostly the time that I can carve out of being efficient with other non-discretionary activities.  But really, “what’s the point?”, the point was to compete among the fittest athletes in the world.  The point was to test my abilities through the sport of fitness.  I had to remind myself that I’ve done it before, I’ve podiumed twice already!!!

       Around the same stretch of time that I was battling negative thoughts around my drive, the announcement was made that Madison was the new venue to take on the Games.  Immediately I texted my sister because she lives in Illinois, and Wisconsin is so close.  She confirmed that she lives only two hours from Madison and it was at this point when the willingness to commit became much easier.  At last, a perfect opportunity for my sister to come watch me compete in person, now all I have to do, is make it to the final event, lol. 

      As I continued to settle in the direction of commitment to the 2017 season I was reminded of how much fun CrossFit is, how much I love the community that comes with it, and how much CrossFit allows me to challenge my limits and is ultimately the reason why I started this journey in the first place.  My summer of training began and I truly enjoyed every bit of it.  I felt ready both physically & mentally!

      The 2017 Games came and went, I finished 6th (tied for 5th in terms of points).  Of course I would have loved to finish on the podium but I walked away this year with so much more.  Let me first tell you that I am not a strong swimmer, I have a fear of heights so ropes don’t excite me, and in 2014 my max handstand walk was a sloppy ten feet.  If you are aware of this year’s workouts, it’s almost as if the workout selection objective was to expose my weaknesses :) . 

      When the open water event was announced, I found my way to a small lake near my house.  I could barely make 100m and it was frightening!   So when I got out of the water in Madison after swimming 500m mostly freestyle I truly felt victorious as if a great battle had been won.  Although I finished that workout 9th, I was so pumped!  As a competitive athlete, it is not often that I feel proud of my own performance but that was certainly a moment I will remember for a lifetime. 

      On to the obstacle course, which I’ll add was basically made entirely out of high objects & ropes,  During our practice run, I could not even get passed the second obstacle; the incline log, jump to rope swing and land on another log, easier said than done.  On game day, however, I practiced it in the warm up area and then nailed it on my first attempt during the competition!  I then got through the monkey bars and now it was time for the WALL! 

      Based on my limited grip ability and fear of heights, I knew I only had one chance to get over this wall.  With some positive self-talk, I cautiously approached the wall.  Once at the top, I felt like I was up there for five minutes.  I remember telling myself “you have to fight”, and it was these self-motivating words that pushed me to release my hand from the rope to the top of the wall and ultimately get over. I did it I GOT OVER THE WALL!!  Most people would not be happy with a 16th place finish but for me it went way better than expected.

      I finished nine out of the ten workouts in the top ten.  I faced my fears and truly felt like I rose above.  I finished eighth on a workout with thirty muscle-ups and seventy-five feet handstand walk – another win! 

      Finishing 6th this year was extremely rewarding despite not finishing on the podium.  This admission, along with a shift in my mindset coming into this year’s Crossfit Season has made me a much stronger athlete.  I enjoyed the journey and didn’t leave any smiles on the table. Madison took me out of my comfort zone, tested my limits and allowed me to grow.  Excited to be back in Texas to attack my summer training and looking forward to what the future brings.

      The Habit of Health - Written by Camzin Martin

      The Habit of Health - Written by Camzin Martin

      The Habit of Health
      Written by Camzin Martin


      It’s #BeachSeason and many of us (myself included this year) look at ourselves in the mirror and see a reflection of failed New Year’s Resolutions. Mine was to run every day, and let’s just say that hasn’t happened. Failing to create, implement, and maintain healthy habits is so common that the devout roll their eyes each year waiting for the flash to drain from the pan.

      So, while it may seem cruel to point out the deviation from the path a full seven months into the year, the point of this article is not to have a collective pity-party, but rather to make a commitment to the habits that create success today.

      My mom illustrates this point well. My mom is amazing, in her youth she was an incredible athlete, she held national titles in martial arts and was an accomplished runner. As a professional she achieved a level of success and renown as she was recruited from South Africa and able to afford her family the opportunity to live in the United States. As a mother, she raised two successful children with my father, and as adults we still have a close loving relationship with them. Along the way through chasing financial and familial goals health and fitness took a backseat, and poor diet and inactivity took its toll.

      In February of this year my parents moved out to Houston to be nearer to us and their grandchildren. Since moving, as a grandparent, my mother has made some new habits. She increased her sleep from approximately five hours a night to six. She began meal prepping her breakfasts, and has recently moved to meal prepping her lunches as well. She committed to working out under my supervision three times a week to now committing to three workouts a week at a local affiliate. As a result, she is losing weight and her bio-markers are moving in the right direction.

      She started small, and she started consistent. She committed to meal prepping her breakfast (as one giant egg-bake that she portioned out) and built from there. 

      Resolving to change your life and committing to an end goal is daunting. Resolving to make a small change and re-committing to do it in the beginning of each day is something we can all do.

      So, take your big goal from the beginning of this year and choose one habit, that if done consistently, will build toward your goal. Download a “been on the wagon for x number of days” app. Write your commitment on your mirror. Start. Each morning reaffirms that today you will honor your commitment. Don’t let tomorrow, or next week, or next month get in your head – just commit to today!

      In a month or so you’ll find that each today has amounted to a long list of todays, and the success underneath you has propelled you forward. You may find that the vice that plagued you is no longer even a consideration because denying it has simply become habit. Rinse and repeat with the next habit you want to create, and next year this time let’s look in the mirror and see the product of each daily commitment culminating in surpassing some goals.

      2017 Crossfit Open Preparation - Written by Jenn Astle

      2017 Crossfit Open Preparation - Written by Jenn Astle

      2017 Open Prep
      Written by Jenn Astle
      The countdown has commenced and with the holiday season behind us, the 2017 CF Open steadily approaches.
      For the avid Crossfit athlete, the Crossfit season has become the focal point in which our diet, our sleep, and our training are all centered around. With the temptation to make up ground on any missed training opportunities, it’s critical that we don’t find ourselves constantly tapping into that “6th gear” -  inserting unpredictable patterns of training into our Open prep programming and thus undermining any chance of that programming being successful.  
      Fortunately, the sport of fitness is still so new that a gold standard for “how to train” is nonexistent.  With this said, it is important we recognize that there does exist plenty of great programs that have proven to be successful in the brief time Crossfit has gained popularity.  But if you happen to be new to the sport, not following any established programming yet still have the desire to make a run for the 2017 regional, you may be a little too late to this party. 
      So every year the season "ends" after the CrossFit Games and up until now, it would be a costly mistake to think any competitive athletes took time off from expanding their skill sets.  Although strength training is generally a part of most programs year-round with added emphasis in the first part of the season, our current Open prep season is underway and focused primarily on ensuring our metabolic engines are primed and ready to go for 17.1.
      What we’ve learned witnessing the development of the CF Open over the past several seasons is that the workouts are designed for the general Crossfitter.  This means the Open has historically been much more focused on basic movement patterns relying on the source of differentiation between athletes to be an exhausted metabolic engine, with far less of a focus on sheer strength or skill. However, in the most recent years as the general athlete and the sport have progressed, so has the programming, and therefore so has the Open. This year it should be safe to assume further development in the bank of Open movements to pull from, especially given the newest Open categories including a Teens, Scaled, and Masters Divisions basically ensuring that no specific movement excludes any large group of athletes.   
      This means that for the Rx division, to be best prepared, your current programming should include Bar MU, Ring MU, Double-Unders, Handstand push-ups, with the occasional strict movements just to be safe.  As a community, we love the success stories of athletes achieving their first muscle up or getting further in a double under set than ever imagined, but again, if you are planning to compete as an Rx’d athlete and you don't quite have these skills, I recommend reaching out to a coach who can assist you in refining this skill work asap.
      As far as your engine is concerned, I think it’s imperative to fully understand your current capacity.  Going into the Open you have to know what your strengths are as well as your short comings.  Knowing yourself will give you the best chance to leverage your strengths and also identify places to potentially make up ground.  Learning capacity comes from finding your limits, pushing to and through your red-line in workouts so you can best predict and then manage the onslaught of this limit during the Open workout.   
      Competing in the open previous years or familiarizing yourself with all past workouts can also prove to be beneficial.  Considering the high probability of certain movements showing up every year provides a pretty good road map to understanding where your capacities should be understood.  It’s almost guaranteed that we will see burpees, thrusters, snatches, toes-to-bar, chest-to-bar, etc., there is really no excuse to having weakness remain in these movements.  Rather than a weakness, improving cycle time & movement efficiency can ensure these basic movements are great strengths.  I'm sure this is a part of your current programming, but an excellent way to increase your thresholds for cycling speed is the classic EMOM (every minute on the minute) style workout.  For example, if you can execute 20 wall balls every minute for 10 minutes without fatigue, I would say you are in a great working place.  To build capacity, I would recommend you start with numbers that you can manage and then increase reps while decreasing your rest over time.
      We also have a strong prediction on what to expect for the duration of our workouts. To date we have observed the longest AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in the open to be 20 min (16.1).  So I’d say training to perform in a longer than 20 minute workout at this point can be put on the back burner.  We also know there will be a fast sprint of some sort with the majority of workouts falling in the medium range (12-15 min). 
      The time is closing down. Keep focusing on your goals. Be realistic in setting them and find experts to help you continue to climb! Good luck this season! Stay healthy! Stay hungry!

      Stevia or Sucralose to Sweeten Your Whey Protein…

      Stevia or Sucralose to Sweeten Your Whey Protein…

      clean sugars: stevia vs sucralose in whey protein powderThe word "clean" appears a lot in conversations surrounding protein. Clean can mean a lean ingredient list, no chemicals, no fats, no heavy metals, minimal cholesterol, no fillers, or even Made in the USA. Sometimes "clean" refers to no sugars. It is important for you to understand what is sweetening your daily protein supplement when it does not contain sugar.

      The Backstory

      As the health and wellness boom sweeps across the globe, athletes in particular are beginning to pay more attention when exploring new supplements or proteins. If you are focused on making gains and consuming a protein powder without consuming tons of unnecessary calories, your natural tendency may be to stay away from simple sugars (i.e., fructose, sucrose, and lactose).  Let's be clear, our market is the fitness community.  We don't believe sugar in moderation is bad, and as a matter of fact our latest product launches "Core" and "Tactical Recovery" both contain Organic Coconut Sugar (comparable to 2 apple slices) in place of a artificial sweeteners. 

      Despite the FDA regulations on nutrition facts panels (NFPs), many protein brands forgo disclosing that their product contains “simple sugars," especially in the form of lactose*. These same brands display warning statements in bold that read, “If you are Lactose Intolerant do not use this product." By putting two and two together, you can begin to understand these common practices in nondisclosure. The NFP does not list sugar; yet, the manufacturer warns the consumer that the product is loaded with lactose. Another way to determine when sugar is not disclosed on the NFP is to look at the number of carbohydrates in grams and subtract everything else in the sub-heading (for example, fiber). The remainder can indicate the undisclosed sugar. Keep in mind, "Supplement Facts" are designed to look like a traditional regulated NFP, but below is a good example of why we suggest to stay away any protein products that are classified as "Dietary Supplements".

      *Lactose is a milk sugar (made up of glucose and galactose units) that remains along with the whey protein once water is removed in the process of creating whey protein concentrate (WPC) from wet whey.


      examples of Nutrition Facts disclosing and non-disclosing sugars


      Not disclosing the sugar content is one thing, but listing 0 grams of sugar is where the need for sugar alternatives comes into play, especially when talking about whey protein isolate (WPI) or whey protein hydrolysate (WPH), which each contain minimal natural sugar (lactose) when compared to whey protein concentrate (WPC). The most common sweeteners to compensate for the lack of lactose are sucralose or stevia.

      What is Sucralose?

      Sucralose is the only type of artificial sweetener derived from real sugar molecules. It is created by substituting one part of a sugar molecule with chlorine to create a substance that is about 600 times sweeter than sucrose; this is why so little is needed to sweeten even the most bitter protein powders. This is great because when talking about clean and lean protein powders, a protein utilizing sucralose essentially has 0 grams of the daily serving attributed to the sweetener, which leaves each serving loaded with what the consumer wants and is paying for — protein. Sucralose also differs from other artificial sweeteners in that it passes through the digestive system without being metabolized, which is why it contains no calories. It is made right here in the USA. The taste profile is immediate, and in your face sweet, it's often used to mask undesired flavors by tying the pallet up with intense sweetness. 

      What is Stevia?

      Stevia is obtained from an herb known as yerba dulce, which is grown in Paraguay, Brazil, Southeast Asia and other places (tropical climates, not made in the USA). When stevia was first introduced to the U.S. market, it was only available as a dietary supplement but quickly gained popularity as it can be marketed as "Natural". Stevia contains different chemical compounds that make it sweet, including its principal sweetening agent, rebaudioside A. These compounds make stevia anywhere from 40-300 times sweeter than table sugar. Thus, one teaspoon of stevia extract has about the same sweetening potency as an entire cup of sugar.

      Are they FDA approved Sweeteners?


      Yes. Sucralose has an excellent safety profile. More than 100 safety studies, representing over 20 years of research, have shown sucralose to be safe. Sucralose was FDA approved as an all-purpose sweetener in 1998 in the USA, and further recognized and approved by numerous global FDA equivalents:

      • European Union Scientific Committee on Food (SCF)
      • Food Standards Australia/New Zealand (FSANZ)
      • Health Protection Branch of Health and Welfare Canada
      • (Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA)
      • Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare


      In the United States, high-purity stevia glycoside extracts are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and are allowed as non-nutritive ingredients in food products without a formal "approval".  GRAS is different than "approved by the FDA".  The FDA has simply put, not questioned the GRAS notice of stevia glycosides as a high intensity sweetener.  So unlike Sucralose, Stevia does not have "Approved" status as food additive.

      In more detail, these stevia glycocides are what can be found sweetening many protein powders.  This said, its important to know, both stevia leaf and crude extracts do not have GRAS notices or Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for use in food.  To see how these glycosides are extracted here is the best video we found. Link to Real Stevia Extraction process (American Gainz Nutrition Disclaimer - We had zero choice in the music selection on this video, lol). 

      Although stevia is assumed safe by many due to its status as a natural sweetener, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) notes that being natural does not guarantee safety. Both Canadian and U.S. regulatory agencies have rejected stevia in the past. In addition, a European Community scientific panel made the decision that stevia was not an acceptable food additive. 

      The Take-Away

      If you are the type of health-conscious athlete who relies on nutrition in order to achieve peak performance, at American GAINZ Nutrition we strongly recommend always going with a lean & clean protein powder with minimal ingredients regardless of your preference of sweetener, as long as you understand all the ingredients and they are all openly disclosed on the packaging.  We encourage you to avoid the calories from excess simple sugars and any brands that do not disclose their sugars in the nutritional fact or supplement fact panels. Our latest launch of both "Core" & "Tactical Recovery" proteins utilizes the latest and greatest FDA Nutrition Facts Panel which fully discloses "Added Sugars" as a component of the total sugar.  If you prefer a pure, unflavored option, check out The Best Grass-Fed Whey, no sweeteners at all, just the worlds best certified Grass-fed Whey. 

      What's the best unflavored grassfed Whey?

      Stay Strong America!!

      The Open is Coming - Written by Camzin Martin

      The Open is Coming - Written by Camzin Martin

      The Open is Coming
      Written by Camzin Martin


      The Open is almost upon us and with it marks the beginning of the functional fitness competitive calendar. It's a time for camaraderie, the expansion of limits, and a lot of time spent in the pain cave. For all of us the Open presents an opportunity to hold ourselves to a given standard and test ourselves in a fairly comprehensive snapshot of fitness. However, how we approach the Open should differ based on our end goals and the realities of where we are athletically this year.

      So here are a few strategies and things to bear in mind based on where you might be as the Open approaches:


      I'm new to CrossFit/I do fitness for fun

      Treat the Open as an opportunity to establish (or retest) your baseline. You are going to rock some workouts and be rocked by others. Don't take it to heart. Rather look at your results at the end of the five weeks and use it as an opportunity to identify strengths and weaknesses and adjust your training and goals to improve on those for next year. Do each workout just once and give it your best effort. There's no value to over training or hurting yourself in the Open, it's a test, let it be a true test of where you are. The Open is not a reflection of all you will ever be.

      I've been chasing gains for a while/I do well in local competitions

      You've already established your Open baseline and you're looking to improve upon your placing from last year. Hopefully you attacked your weaknesses identified from previous years and are prepared for the test. Either way, treat the Open workouts like you might a live competition: take a rest day before attacking it but maintain your training on the surrounding days. Strategize each workout to create the best possible outcome for you but maintain the standards. Cheating doesn't reflect how fit we are, it reflects how good we are at cheating.

      If only I can make it to Regionals my life would be complete

      If the next stage is your end goal then the Open carries a lot more weight. You need to prioritize your recovery, training, etc. around doing well in the workout each week. There is utility to redoing the workouts and even losing ground overall during the 5 weeks to optimize your performance in this test. That being said, being at Regionals is awesome, but getting there hurt or because a bunch of standards were fudged just leads to a lot of embarrassment out there on the floor. You don't want to be the team/person who won the HSPU one in the Open only to DNF at Regionals because you got no-repped the whole time. #Youknowwhatimtalkingabout

      I'm shooting for the Games

      The Open is a stepping stone, one that must be taken seriously, but not the end goal. Optimize your strategy and performance within maintaining training for your big test - Regionals. Biasing your training so heavily towards crushing the Open at the expense of your overall fitness only hamstrings your overall goal. Unless something bizarre happened on a WOD, realistically you should be doing each WOD once and giving it your best shot on the first attempt. The need to remain healthy and maintain the standard is exponentially greater here as you need to continue to build in order to peak at Regionals and lock in your qualifying spot. If the Open is your worst stuff (as it is mine) this still applies to you, train all year to make it a strength and then give it your best when the test comes out.

      I'm trying to win the Games

      Teach me oh fit one. My first year of CrossFit I had the deluded notion that this would be me (they make it look so easy, I figured I could do that stuff too - and then I had a huge dose of reality at Regionals). If you believe you can win the Games and you have the fitness to back it up then the Open is so far off from what you're peaking for you just need to do the WOD and submit your score. That being said, for the rest of us, you're our role models and aspirations and many follow your lead. So be a good role model and perform good clean reps, and we'll still be left wondering how you do that so fast and/or without getting tired.

      As the CrossFit Games continues to post "The Open is x Days Away" and spikes our heart rates, remember to have fun and be proud of your effort.

      Good luck!