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      News — Jenn Jones

      2017 Crossfit Open 17.5 Strategy - Written by Jenn & Jared Astle

      2017 Crossfit Open 17.5 Strategy - Written by Jenn & Jared Astle

      2017 Crossfit Open 17.5 Strategy
      Written By Jenn & Jared Astle

      How bad do you want it?

      17.5 is all about exploring the depths of the pain cave and willing yourself to move when you most likely won't want to.  This is a classic 5th week open workout, nothing fancy, just guts and go.

      Facts:
      10 rounds is a lot of rounds and this workout is much longer than the fittest on earth would have you believe during the live announcement.  Attacking this as a 7 minute workout will expose a severe underestimation on your approach.  Just plan on your legs to stop working and slowly becoming anchors; a great example was Sara Sigmundsdóttir’s last round during the live announcement, she executed perfectly and left nothing on the table, however imagine if the unset of that failure took place in round 6.

      Be Disciplined:
      Compartmentalize the work to not get overwhelmed with the reps ahead, and JUST WORK.  Let your judge know how you would like to hear how many reps remain or what round you are on and when.  It’s not uncommon for a judge to throw you off mentally by communicating the workout progress differently than how you would like to process it. 

      Every wasted movement will be the difference in this workout, I would not recommend adding any unnecessary movements including; chalk marks to count rounds, drinking for your water bottle, wiping hands with towel, unnecessary set up routine, etc.…

      The Transition Matters:
      Transitions are huge on this workout, there are 20 of them and they need to be quick.  This means, take a single inefficiency during the transition whether it’s an extra step, extra jump, untangling of your rope, and multiply the impact in wasted time by 20!

      Double Unders:
      When short & sweet becomes hot & spicy really quick, expect by round 3 a mental battle beginning to take place - shoulders, shoulders, shoulders.  For the proficient double under-er, 35 will take about 28 seconds. As fatigue sets in the risk for tripping up will become higher.  Staying calm and controlled during this time can save you precious seconds.  A trip-up can cost you 5 seconds or more, and will allow that person next to you to gain easy reps on you. Stay composed, you’ll want to make sure you are breathing and keep your shoulders relaxed so they don't blow up in the early rounds.  But let’s not lie to ourselves, this workout isn’t about pace, it’s about timing the onset of pain correctly.

      Thrusters:
      9 light thrusters 95lbs/65lbs.  When you transition from the rope to the bar, move with a purpose. Don't let the bar control you.  Squat clean thruster that first one.  The 9 repetitions will be over before you know it.  For speed on these light suckers you have to be aware of the bar path to make sure you aren't wasting energy fighting the weight pulling you forward and be efficient to use your hips as much as you can.  If you noticed Rory during the live announcement, he was locked and resting at the top every rep during the middle rounds, I recommend you pop locked at the top and pull down immediately; you will not fail a thruster at this weight, know this, and believe!!! 

      If you are going for top scores here to close out your 2017 open season, breaking is not an option for you on the 9 thrusters; you have to fight for it. The person who can stay controlled enough to not trip up on their dubs and embrace the suck will raise victorious. Being tiny statured will help too.  Its physics, if you are 4 foot, you just have to move the bar a shorter distance. Case closed.  Try to shrink, forget about pain, and don't stop till it’s over!

       

      Crossfit Open 17.1 Strategy - Written by Jenn & Jared Astle

      Crossfit Open 17.1 Strategy - Written by Jenn & Jared Astle

      2017 Crossfit Open 17.1 Strategy
      Written By Jenn & Jared Astle

       

      As everyone has been guessing, 17.1 has been crafted to be basic movements & very aerobic. For those who watched the announcement’s main events, you had a firsthand look at what impeccable engines are capable of.

      For most competitive athletes, this 50#/35# DB snatch is considered to be fairly lightweight. However, these snatches, when paired with burpee box jump overs, are designed to spike your heart rate fairly rapidly. Your approach to this WOD needs to fall somewhere between - setting a pace to keep moving the entire time & gassing out too quickly, potentially doubling or even tripling the time you spend on burpee box jumps.

      A few things to consider:

      1. No athlete will win 17.1 in the first round, so move with a purpose but no need to get anywhere near that red line. It should take you well under 2 minutes. Be disciplined and intentional this round.
      2. Either you love burpees or you don't. As many of you know, I'm not a huge fan, although if I had my choice, burpee box jump overs give the movement slightly more dimension. While normalizing the range of motion for super tall athletes (not having to burpee to a target or extend the hips on the box) and bottle necking everyone’s speed no matter your size over the box, its obvious why this variation of the burpee was chosen. Another positive to this movement, when compared to the standard burpee-over-bar or lateral burpee, is your breathing. The movement naturally allows for better opportunity to catch your breath while on your feet because you will spend more time in between pancaking your lungs between your bodyweight and the ground.
      3. The key to these burpees is moving with purpose. It is very easy, especially when gassed, to take extra steps and add wasted motion to your burpee, ultimately slowing down the movement. If you can manage to control your breathing and minimize extra movements (jumping your feet vs stepping) you can conserve seconds here with every successful burpee. Over the course of 75 reps, seconds add up!
      4. As far as the DB snatch, be mindful of the challenge Sam Briggs mentioned post 17.1 interview with Castro about both heads of the DB having to hit the ground at the same time for the rep to count. There may be value in switching hands on the down motion, however, just one no rep may strip that value away quickly. Also, experiment with your feet width, if you can widen your feet only an inch or more and shorten your range of motion, over the course of 150 snatch reps you will make a difference on your cycle time, and lower back fatigue (wider feet will allow for more upright DB snatch).
      5. As I said, this whole work out is VERY aerobic. There is NO reason that you should stop moving, EVER. Make your mantra down & up. Play with a way to keep your mind in check as you are counting. Its ONLY 5 rounds. Some athletes prefer to know they are ONLY doing 25 per arm max in that last set of 50 DB snatches. It can be advantageous to break the large number of reps into smaller more mentally accepting groups (counting 1,2,3,4,5, then 1,2,3,4,5, and so on). You need to know how to stay in that moment and know that each round and rep is one less that you have to do. When you reach 40 snatches you only have one round left to go.
      6. Lastly, I hope that at this point in the season you know what your sustainable pace is. Assume that you will be working straight for 15 min or less. But when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, that’s when it’s time to turn up the magic and go. That last set of burpees should be your fastest. I know you are tired, but it’s over after that.

       

      IF this one isn't your jam, you have 4 more to go. It’s just another workout after all! Good Luck!

      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!

      When Did Eating Become So Complicated? - Written by Jenn Jones

      When Did Eating Become So Complicated? - Written by Jenn Jones

      When Did Eating Become So Complicated?
      Written by: Jenn Jones
      Photo Credit: Robert Gonda

       

      Trends seem to come and go and over the last decade we have seen several dieting trends - being solely calorie focused, not allowing carbohydrates, fats, dairy, processed foods, and pretty much any combination you can think of.  If the given diet is then supported by a large enough marketing campaign, there you have it, the next best fad.

       

      CrossFitters typically promote two diets, Paleo and Zone, while, the newest meal planning guides are pushing for Macro Counting.  What does all of this mean?

       

      What we know:  Your body is a vastly complex system within systems that helps you break down what you put into your mouth, change it into components that your body can use and conversely excrete the components you don’t need.  Your body recognizes fats, carbohydrates, and proteins as true molecules that can be broken down, absorbed, and then used by the body for many different processes that happen automatically in order to keep you alive.

       

      Carbohydrates are used for energy.  They promote healthy brain activity, functioning muscles, which includes your intestinal lining as well as your heart beating.  For the avid exerciser, the carbohydrates you eat serve as the energy sources to keep you feeling spunky through your workout and giving you enough energy for the day.   If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, your body has a natural ability to store them so they can be utilized later as needed.

       

      Proteins are the building blocks of your body. Your cells are made of them.  Your hair and nails are made of them.  Your muscles are made of them.  Proteins build and repair tissues as well as make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.  The body DOES NOT have the ability to store protein in a similar fashion to that of carbohydrates, therefore there is no reserve to draw from when your body needs to recover. This is why it’s so important to make sure to eat enough protein each day. If you’re like most athletes, in order to provide our bodies with adequate protein, we rely heavily on convenient whey protein sources, preferably lean (nothing excess – gums, fillers, added carbs), clean (made in the USA – no heavy metals), and fortified with added BCAAS (the amino acids that promote muscle tissue repair and growth.

       

      Fats are a common word that the general population tries to steer clear from.  Not all fats are created equal, and you NEED some fat in your diet in order to sustain life.   Your body is INCAPABLE of producing essential fatty acids.  Fats in a nut shell, store energy, insulate us, and protect our vital organs. They act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions that help control growth, immune function, reproduction and other aspects of basic metabolism.

       

      Each of these (carbs, protein, fats) are considered Macro-nutrients.  You need relatively a lot of them in order to be adequately nourished and function properly; however, anything in excess is not a good thing.

      Too much fat, specifically triglycerides, in your bloodstream raise the risk of clogged arteries, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.  Too much protein will simply convert most of those calories to sugars and then store them as fats.  Excess protein, gets converted to nitrogen waste, has to be excreted out of the body by the kidneys, which is more taxing on them, and coupled with dehydration can lead to kidney damage over time. Carbohydrates are the most well-known macronutrient to be detrimental to your health if eating too many.  They have the most drastic effect on your blood sugar, as they get broken down into sugars in the body to be used, or stored.

       

      Most any of the new age meal plans are taking into account keeping all things in balance.  “Zone” accounts for body type and energy expenditure to what you are eating. “Paleo” focuses more on sticking with eating natural, unaltered food (meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar or dairy) to ensure that you are getting the quality macros to have optimal health and function.  I know I don’t want my eating to be too complicated, so I just try to stick to unprocessed foods that I cook myself.  There are a lot of factors that contribute to the perfect diet plan, but if you are looking for a place to start, balancing your meals is a good stepping stone. As far as my favorite whey protein source, you are on the website (AmericanGainz.com).

      Crossfit Open 16.5 Strategy - Written by Jenn Jones & Jared Astle

      Crossfit Open 16.5 Strategy - Written by Jenn Jones & Jared Astle

      Crossfit Open 16.5 Strategy
      Written by Jenn Jones & Jared Astle

       

      It has come to this - we all knew it was coming...Thrusters.  What a lovely surprise from Dave, repeating a movement that we all thought was in the books after 16.1.  Not only that, but a repeat WOD from 2014 to test the growth of your fitness over the span of not one, but two years.

       

      As we learned in 2014, this is a true test of CrossFit.  How far into the pain cave can you push yourself?  Thrusters have a sneaky way of crushing your spirit as they tax every inch of you.  That first round of 21 will feel amazing! You are fresh and the clock starts and adrenaline will start to pump. Pacing is everything in this workout.  Like most open WODs, if you go out too hard, the middle rounds are going to be a struggle and you are going to start sinking.

       

      Thrusters are a combination of efficient movement patterns and bar path, as well as lever length and distance traveled for the bar.  Shorter people do have a slight advantage just because of ROM (range of motion). Don’t get discouraged though if you’re tall. What sets people apart in this WOD is mental strength.  As fatigue sets in, try and focus on maintaining sound front squatting mechanics. Keeping your chest up and elbows high will definitely become harder as this WOD unfolds. If you are an efficient mover and you are able to stay tall throughout the thruster, your shoulders will thank you and allow you to push with less fatigue on burpees. Also, remember that the movement standard is just below parallel at the bottom and ears in front of the bar at the top.  You don't need to hold the overhead position for more than a second.  The bar is light enough to pull the bar actively down back to the shoulder to start the next rep quicker.

       

      Plan where and when you can breathe to keep calm to continue to move.  But you HAVE to stay moving.  This is where time will be made.  Those who can push will be more successful.  The burpees need to be smooth and consistent.  Jumping the burpee will keep them moving faster but could tax you quicker.

       

      Learn your pace.  Take some time to play with how "slow" you can do your movements to stay calm but finish rounds in a time frame that will help you accomplish your time goals. I suggest doing a set of 10 thrusters and 10 burpees at a moderate pace and use that as a gauge for how long every set should take. That being said, be aware that being fresh and doing 10/10 will be much different than doing the middle set of 12/12.

       

      Honestly, that is all there is to this WOD. Most of us have done it before and we know it is a classic knockdown, drag out brawl and no strategy or planning will make up for the zeal and drive of those that truly want to win this fight. Good Luck!!!