D’s House of Knowledge: Accommodating Resistance

As we settle into our new strength cycle, you will notice that we will be using resistance bands quite often for our assistance work.  The method of using bands (in our case) and chains is known as “accommodating resistance.”  Accommodating resistance is defined as “using a special means to accommodate resistance throughout the entire range of motion.”  As you are about to learn, the body has weak positions and strong positions due to the angle of the joints and the leverage those joint angles create.

First, let’s begin by breaking down any lift or movement into simple terminology.  In simple terms, we have the “top” of the lift and the “bottom” of the lift.  Not to be confused with the start and finish of a lift.  The top of some lifts happen to be the start of the lift, for example the squat or the bench press.  However, the bottom of some lifts can also be the start of your lift, for example the deadlift.  The top of every lift (photo on left), is the portion of the lift that is the “easiest” and the bottom of the lift is the most challenging portion of the lift (photo on right).

Why is it that even though you have the same weight on your back throughout the entire motion, are some portions of the lift weaker or stronger than others?  The simple reason for this change in difficulty is that your body changes joint angles, which changes posture/leverage of the body throughout the movement.  At the top position of the lift, the body has the most leverage and is in the most mechanically efficient position which means the body is strongest at the top.  As we lower to the bottom of the lift, our leverage decreases, as a result our mechanical efficiency decreases and our lift weakens.

Let me take you through the entire squat. The “top” of the squat is when the body is in full extension/standing.  At this point our joints are stacked on top of one another and the body has the most leverage (maximum mechanical efficiency).  As you move from the top of your squat to the bottom of your squat, your joint angles change and leverage decreases.  When you hit the “bottom” of the squat at full ROM (hip crease is below your knee), your body’s leverage and efficiency is at its weakest point which makes this the most challenging portion of the lift.  As you ascend back to the top of your squat, your body’s leverage begins to increase and the lift continues to get easier as you stand.

Now the question is, how can we “make up” these differences and maximize muscular tension throughout the entire range of motion?  In simple terms, how can we strengthen both the stronger positions and continue to strengthen the weaker positions without compromising full range of motion?  We can’t exactly add weight to the bar at the top of the lift, then take weight off the bar at the bottom of the lift, and then add weight again.

Instead, we will use resistance, in our case we will be using bands, but chains can also be used.  Although you can use this method for both your main lifts and your assistance exercises, for the purpose of safety and in order to accommodate a wide variety of athletes, we are going to use them mainly during our assistance exercises.

For the purposes of understanding, I am going to continue to use the squat as an example.  Imagine standing on the blue band in a squat stance and wrapping the other end around your neck.  Standing in a fully extended position (photo on left), our strongest position, the tension of the band is at its greatest.  As you squat down, the tension in the band actually pushes you down and forces you to control that tension (eccentric overload).  At the bottom of the squat, our weakest position, the tension of the band is at its minimum (photo on right).  This allows us to continue to strengthen the bottom position without any added tension.  As we begin to ascend to the top of our squat, our body’s leverage and mechanical efficiency increases, and the squat begins to get “easier.”  During this time, the tension in the band increases, placing more stress on the “easier/stronger” portion of our lift.

 

In summary, bands do an excellent job of matching the body’s leverage. The bar is lightest and the band has the least tension when your body’s leverage is at its weakest (bottom position of the lift).  From bottom to top, the bar gradually increases in weight as the tension of the band increases and the body’s leverage improves (top portion of the lift). This allows for us to train under constant stress/strain throughout the entire range of motion of the lift.

 

The Art of Tracking

Written by Coach Tara

In my experience as both a nutrition coach, athlete and trainer I am always looking for the best tool to create a stronger, faster, leaner, better version of myself and my clients. How can I improve my overall fitness and how will I know that that is happening? What are the things that are working? What are those that aren’t?


CrossFit built their definition of fitness as the following:

“We define fitness as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains. Capacity is the ability to do real work, which is measurable using the basic terms of physics (mass, distance, and time). Life is unpredictable (much more so than sport) so real world fitness must be broad and not specialized, both in terms of duration and type of effort (time and modal domains).”

The key phrase here is measurable. How can we ensure that we are actually improving over time? In one word: TRACKING. Whether this is a food journal, WOD notebook, body measurements or keeping track on your strength cycle sheet; having written records is invaluable to you as an evolving athlete. Remember last summer when you were jacked and tan? How exactly did you achieve that? What were you eating, what weights were you lifting and how many rest days were you taking? How about sleep, water, supplements?  In contrast: lately you’ve been feeling crummy, haven’t been recovering and have noticed you are gaining fat…what is the difference?

Without using the simple tool of tracking it is going to be hard to recall over time what was/is working and what wasn’t/isn’t. It will be hard to remember what bands you were using when you started doing pull-ups or how much your deadlift has gone up in six months. (Editor’s note: upon recent review of my 2011 workout log I found “Fran.” At the time I completed it with a 30# barbell, and a blue and green band for pull ups in 7:31. My most recent log notes 3:17 Rx).

Think of your log as your road map on your journey. It is going to be quite difficult to tell where you are going if you have little idea where you came from. This can lead to frustration, burn-out and eventually quitting something that in reality was bringing HUGE progress. A real example of this is the reason we ask you sign in to class. This gives us a measureable record of how many times you’re making it to the gym and is a great way for us to trouble-shoot when you feel your results are lackluster.

It would be my suggestion to start this strength cycle! Deanna has made up sheets for you to keep track of your lifts and we will be implementing workout tracking in ZenPlanner starting TODAY. This puts all your info in one place. So, when you’re on the computer SIGNING UP FOR CLASS you can also enter your workout results and have a record you can consult anywhere, anytime. Slick!

Commit to tracking for the next 12 weeks and see what changes your strength numbers and body composition. Like all valuable and scientific data, the proof will be in the numbers. Either way, you will have instant feedback on what is or isn’t working for you and we can make informed adjustments from there. Use this one simple and effective tool to become the best version of yourself yet!

Want help tracking your progress?  Email us at info@defiancegym.com to get set-up with one of our coaches.

What The Girl Scouts Taught Me

Written by Coach Tara

A wonderful gym member recently shared an article with me about the feelings of starting over again. Without her knowing, this was quite timely in my own life, many of my nutrition clients’ lives and perhaps your own. It struck a chord with me. The feelings of: always needing to start again. Of having to always get back to where I once was. Even as I jot this down now I see the irony but it’s something I feel daily.

There is no question (ever!) that I love working out. I love the feeling of a barbell on me, of sprinting on the Airdyne, of finding my edge. At the same time, I hate it. It’s hard. I hate starting a workout and like most others I will procrastinate about it almost all day if I don’t have a workout date scheduled with Deanna or Kenz.

Why? The only explanation I can offer is that despite my goals, my wants, my “why,” sometimes executing the steps to get there just aren’t fun. It’s not. Eating broccoli and tilapia and saying, “no,” 1000 times to social gathering over drinks sometimes completely sucks. You’ve heard it before and will hear it again: committing to change is hard.

Dr. Gretchen Schmelzer talks about our propensity to abandon ourselves when we meet resistance and subsequently abandon our goals. The momentum we had to eat better or exercise more for 6 weeks, 1 month or 6 months eventually fades and at some point we stop clearly seeing the goal we set for ourselves. We let old habits or new bad habits creep in and lose some of the footholds and progress we made.

When resistance hits it becomes imperative to commit to struggling and muddling through the muck until you find clarity again. In plain English: it’s about forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do. It’s about parenting yourself the way you would a child. I will never forget one of the most valuable lessons bestowed to me from my parents. I begged to join Brownies when I was in first grade because all the popular girls were doing it. Needless to say I ABSOLUTELY HATED it after day one. Loathed it. But, I had asked for it. I had begged, pleaded and had a temper tantrum about joining Brownies and my parents made me honor the commitment every Wednesday night for the entire year.

Sometimes you just need to honor the commitment you made and struggle until you figure out your goals again. Can I tie knots, sell cookies, make a newspaper origami lifeboat for the homeless or sew on patches? Absolutely not. But I sure as hell can commit to just about anything. That’s what joining Brownies taught me.

So back to the point: I have goals. Just like you. Sometimes in the day to day slog their clarity is lost on me and I lose perspective not only of where I am going but where I have come from. It’s hard for me to be happy with 5 bar muscle ups when I want 10 and it’s hard for me to work on bar muscle ups when the first real step is saying, “no” to chocolate and, “yes” to green beans.  We all lose sight of our goals, but the best way to refocus on these goals is to follow the sage advise of the one and only Aaliyah* “If at first you don’t succeed you can dust off and try again.”

You committed to your goals for a reason, rediscover that reason, dust yourself off, eat your broccoli and get back to work.

* Yes, Tara is writing this and quoting sensational  90’s R&B pop stars

Ready to dust yourself off and try again?  Our Spring Wellness Challenge starts Sunday, May 1st.  For more information go to:  https://www.defiancegym.com/event/spring-wellness-challenge/

The “Magic Dust” of Practice

I am learning how to play the guitar. I don’t play it well, and my hands often times feel like they are not connected to my brain.  But I can play something that kinda sounds like “Free-Fallin” so I’m basically a professional.

When I started playing, I was frustrated by my lack of progress. After I had vocalized this complaint to my husband, he called me out for not practicing enough.  He told me that if I wanted results I had to put the time in.  “But, but I am putting time in, I am practicing twice a week”… even typing that sounds like a pathetic response.

But I digress… this is a fitness blog, and no one cares about my lame music career, people just want to lift heavy things and do pull-ups. Well friends, this blog post goes out to everyone who like myself, want instantaneous results.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to just wake up one morning and be able to do Double Unders, Muscle-Ups, Toes to Bar, or Snatch your bodyweight?!  Unfortunately we don’t live in the Matrix and we can’t be just uploaded with skills or strength, we actually have to work for it.

In the book “Bounce” written by Matthew Syed, he references a study that tried to find a link between the top violinists in the world. Researchers organized violinists from the Music Academy of West Berlin into 3 groups:  outstanding students, extremely good students, and least able students (but still pretty darn good).  After studying these students’ biological differences, upbringings, race, gender, etc, the ONLY difference they found in the 3 groups, was the amount of time the students had spent practicing.  They found that the top group of violinists had collected over 2,000 more hours practicing than the other 2 groups.  The author goes on to discuss how natural born talent, plays WAY less of a role in determining your skill set and abilities, than just good old fashioned hard work.

So here is my fool proof plan to achieve any skill or goal.

Practice, practice, and practice some more.

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Let’s say you really want to be able to do Double Unders. You come to the gym 4 days per week, and maybe ONE of those days we do Double Unders in the warm-up or workout.  This means you are “practicing” the skill you REALLY want only 4 days/month.  And realistically on those days you aren’t practicing for more than 15 minutes, so you are getting a grand total of 1 hour of Double Under practice per month.  Honestly, it doesn’t sound like you really WANT to get Double Unders.  You want to magically be able to do Double Unders without putting in the work.  And Double Unders are just one example, and they don’t require building any strength like doing a muscle-up for example.

So if there is a skill or strength in the gym that you really want to achieve, I want you to do the following things:

  1. First analyze how much time you are actually putting in currently to achieving this goal.  Write this number down, and show it to a coach.
  2. Come up with a specific practice plan, or ask one of our coaches for a practice plan.
  3. STICK TO THE PLAN, and keep practicing.

I have seen this revolutionary plan work time and time again. For example: we had an unnamed trainer who was TERRIBLE at Double Unders.  She would whip herself, curse the heavens and throw her rope at the ceiling.  And then one day she decided she was no longer going to be bad at Double Unders.  She practiced EVERY DAY for 15 Minutes.  She did fast singles, speed step, backwards single unders, and double under practice every day.  And guess what… one morning she magically woke up with Double Unders, and now she’s the best jumper in the gym.  Her natural talents with a jump rope, aren’t natural at all, they are the result of hard work and dedication.

Our coaches have dedicated skill progressions that are free for the taking for anyone that asks. But after that it’s up to you.  If you really want something, no one can do it for you, they can support you along the way, but you have to do the work.  You have to dedicate the time and energy into achieving your goals.  Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more.  Then I would bet that one morning you will magically wake up being able to do whatever it is you set out to do.

Want help with a skill or strength progression?  Email us at info@defiancegym.com to get set-up with a practice plan!

 

Lift Like It’s Your Max

Written By Coach Cory

In the book Outliers, the author Malcolm Gladwell claims that it takes about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill.  Whether this number is accurate or not, the point is there is no substitute for hard work.  And how we practice the skill is as important as practicing the skill itself.

“Practice makes perfect,” or better yet “perfect practice makes perfect.”  We can apply this to all areas of our lives but when it comes to lifting weights, how can we “practice perfect?”

To see the best results in lifting weights, every repetition, set, and weight should be treated the same.  Whether you are lifting 100 lbs. or 300 lbs. your approach, set up, technique, and lift should be unchanged.  Develop a routine that can be practiced over and over, so when it comes to lifting the weight you can keep your focus on what is most important.

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Approach the bar with a positive mindset and focus on all the good lifts you have had in the past.  Set up your hands, your feet, brace your core, and move the same way every time.  Continuously look to improve your technique and work for better positioning in your movements.  Some movements might be more uncomfortable (front squat for example), to get better at the movement you will have to continuously go outside of your own comfort zone on every repetition.

To keep progressing the journey needs to be embraced.  Lifting weights is a skill and when you stop working on the skill your progress will match your effort.  During the journey focus on each lift and lift it like it is your max.

Need some help with “Perfect Practice”?  Email us at info@defiancegym.com to get started with a one-on-one training session.

Tennis vs Golfer’s Elbow

Written by Coach D

A couple of times in the past month I have heard a a few of our clients concerned about elbow pain.  There are two common elbow injuries that we see that I am going to discuss.  These two injuries are Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) and Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow).  Two things I would like you to keep in mind as you read this article. One is that these are NOT the only two elbow injuries that one can have, and that some of the signs and symptoms that I discuss are similar to other elbow injuries as well.  Two, this is NOT an official diagnosis.  This article is meant to give you a background on the signs, symptoms and possible treatments for the two injuries.

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow). Humerus, Lateral epicondyle, Olecranon, Ulna, Extensor carpi ulnaris, Extensor digitorum, Extensor carpi radialis brevis, Extensor digiti minimi. MendMeShop¨Ê  ©2011

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Tennis elbow or “lateral epicondylitis” is a condition that causes pain on the outside “bony” portion of the elbow known as the lateral epicondyle.  The muscles involved are the extensor muscles which pull the wrist up (Figure 1). Golfers elbow or “medial epicondylitis” causes pain on the medial side of the elbow.  The muscles involved in golfers elbow are the flexor muscles on the inside of the forearm (Figure 2).  The main cause for both of these injuries is overuse of the muscles.

Both lateral and medial epicondylitis are caused by repetitive movements at the wrist or the elbow.  These repetitive movements lead to overuse of the muscles (wrist extensors and flexors) and cause partial or complete tears of the tendons that attach the muscles.  Lateral epicondylitis is caused by repetitive forward and backward movement of the wrist.  Many tennis players experience this because of the repetitive front to back movement of the wrist on their backhand swing.  Medial epicondylitis is caused by repetitive movements involving flexion and pronation of the wrist.  Repetitive flexion and pronation of the wrist occurs in a golfer’s swing and a baseball player’s pitch.

Now that we know the location and the cause of the pain, let’s discuss a couple of basic tests that you can perform that will give us an idea of a positive or negative diagnosis. To start, do you have pain on either the lateral or medial epicondyle when placing pressure on those areas?  The second is a resisted strength test.  To test for lateral epicondylitis the forearm will be face down on a table and someone is going to resist your hand as you try to pull your wrist up (extend).  Pain experienced on the outside of the forearm during this test is an indication you may have tennis elbow. To test for medial epicondylitis you will turn your forearm over so that it is facing up, have someone apply pressure to your palm as you flex your wrist.  If you experience pain in the medial side of your forearm during this test it is can be an indication of golfers elbow.  Keep in mind that this only gives you an idea as to whether or not you may or may not have either condition, see a professional health care provider for an exact diagnosis.

As with any overuse injury, you must rest the muscles.  The good ‘ol “RICE” saying is a good one to follow in this case.  Rest.  Ice. Compression. Elevation.  Our first goal is to get the muscles calmed down and get rid of all inflammation.  Once we do that we can then begin basic stretching and exercising.  Since both are wrist and elbow injuries we will start with your basic wrist extension and flexion stretch.  Hold these stretches for :30 and do them 3 times/day.

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Along with stretching, there are a couple of basic lightweight (2-5 lb) dumbbell exercises you can perform.  These include wrist extension and flexion, wrist pronation and supination, and radial/ulnar deviation.  Perform 3 sets of 10 reps of each exercise.  Begin with light weight and slowly progress to 5 lb dumbbells.

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Its official, you are all now lateral and medial epicondyle specialists.  NOT!  Remember, I have given you the basics and the basics only.  You now know the differences in location of the two, the medial and lateral sides of the forearm.  You know that one is caused by forward and backward movement of the wrist (tennis elbow) and one is caused by pronation and flexion of the wrist (golfers elbow).  I have given you a couple of very basic tests you can use to evaluate your situation.  Lastly, you now know what steps to take if you think you may have one of these injuries.  If you take these steps and DO NOT see any progress, see a professional to get an official diagnosis.

Do What You CAN

We have it printed in large writing on our wall at the gym to serve as a reminder to our gym members…

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And I need to hear that as much as anyone else.  Whether it’s not enough time, an injury, or “X” that stops us, we let what we cannot do interfere with what we can do on a daily basis.

Here are some common examples we see:

You only have 30 minutes in your day to get a workout in, instead of an hour.  Most will say “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and they miss the opportunity for a workout that day.  People who don’t let excuses rule their life, take those 30 minutes and run with it (sometimes literally).  They get their workout in and are better for it.  Habitually skipping the opportunity to workout ADDS up.  Don’t let a perceived lack of time be an excuse. Realize that it is rarely a true lack of time but rather a lack of time management.  Sometimes you have to MAKE time to work out.

Got some nagging shoulder/back/”X” pain?  We see people take weeks off from the gym and usually from working out AT ALL.  Don’t let what you cannot do prevent you from doing things you can do!  We can make a workout completely “arm/knee/back” free that will not only get your heart-rate up, but continue to build strength in the rest of your body as your injured body part heals. Also we know you and it’s likely you won’t be doing your PT exercises on your own.   Typically, if we have a small injury or annoying pain in one part of our body we use it as a permission slip to the sideline for our ENTIRE body.  90% of the time this doesn’t have to be the case, as the rest of your body is still good to go for a workout.  **If you are under specific orders from a doctor, or are coming off a major surgery, you are exempt.**

Are you pregnant and have been told to take it easy?  In MY case this has recently translated to watching every episode of Parks and Recreation and eating pancakes.  However, when I reflect, I can clearly remember my doctor telling me what I COULD do in addition to the list of all that I couldn’t.  I can go for walks, swim, ride a stationary bike, etc.  I too sometimes let what I cannot do interfere with what I can.

These excuses make us feel validated in our decision to take the easy way out.  It is time to change our mindset.  Acknowledge what you cannot yet do and simply find something you CAN do now.  Don’t over complicate things.  No matter what it is, there is always something you can do to better your fitness on a daily basis.  Repeat the mantra: progress not perfection and live without excuses.

Written By Coach Kenz, who enjoys pancakes and long walks on the frontage road by the gym.

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Winter Team Challenge 2016 Recap

We cannot believe that yet another event has come and gone. The event day always goes by in a blur for us, and before we know it, it’s over, and we are off and running planning our SUMMER Team challenge!**

We would like to start this recap with a HUGE thank you to our volunteer staff.  We couldn’t do these events without them.  They take care of everything from judging to score-keeping, to emptying trash-cans and refilling toilet paper.  They are the heart and soul of our competitions and we are indebted to them.

And to the athletes. We say it time and time again, but this CrossFit community is unparalleled.  I at various times saw athletes helping our volunteers move weight, strip bars, empty trash, etc.  The kindness and gratitude that we see from the athletes to our judges and staff, solidifies our belief that we have a great community of people.  So thank you to the awesome athletes for supporting our events.

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Our top two Masters Teams. Fine Wine (1st) and CFDV Lumbearjack Masters (2nd).

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Our top three Open Teams. FIAL (1st), Alpha Pack (2nd), and Spirit Animals (3rd).

Not only are these athletes’ good human beings, but they are also capable of some amazing feats of strength and endurance that we got to witness first-hand this weekend.

You can find the comprehensive leaderboard here: https://www.wodrocket.com/index.php/event-results?event=1709

And here are some amazing individual performances worth nothing:

Jump and Touch Females

Rachel O from Team Russian Babymakers: 26”

Kerstin from Team Unplanned Reset: 25.5”

Taryn from PR’s and Er’s: 25”

Jump and Touch Males

Jeremy from Alpha Pack jumped out of the GYM: 36.5” (for real!)

We had 4 other men tie for jumping 33.5”

Peg Board Male

We had a tie with 150 Points from Johnny from Vicious and Delicious, and Karl from Steamboat Pistols.

Peg Board Female

Audrey from Kleans for Kel got 74 points to take the win for best female peg board attempt.

Highest Lifts

Bench Press 5M:  Keila from FIAL hit 180 x 5  Back Squat 1 RM:  Kandy from VIM hit 280

Front Squat x 2 Kevin Miller from FIAL hit 365 x 2 Strict Press x 3 Matt Cova from Spirit Animals hit 210 x 3

Fastest Rows

Our Fastest Female row was 1:34 from Keila from FIAL and our Fastest Male row was 1:21.1 from Tony from Team Kleans for Kel.

Most Pull-ups

In possibly one of the most impressive feats of the day… Audrey B from Kleans for Kel did 57 Pull-ups unbroken in her 1:00 of work… she could have kept going but just ran out of time.

Most Toes-to-Bar

John from Alpha Back did 33

Most Snatches AND Most Clean and Jerks

Keila from FIAL crushed it with 25 Snatches and 15 C+J

And finally to our sponsors. Our sponsors provide us with prizes and funds to cover some of the costs of running the event.  What I love about our sponsors is they aren’t necessarily the big name businesses in the CrossFit world.  They are the “mom and pop” shops who love this community and what it stands for, and who value the hard work that our athletes and volunteers put into these events.  When you are in town, please try to support these local businesses as they support us year after year.

Berthod Motors http://www.berthod.com/

Headstrong Works http://www.headstrongworks.org/#!

Murray Dental Group http://www.murraydg.com/

Mountain Cross Engineering http://mountaincrossengineering.com/

Glenwood Medical Associates http://www.glenwoodmedical.com/

Iron Mountain Hot Springs http://www.ironmountainhotsprings.com/

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park http://glenwoodcaverns.com/

Jump-N-Rope http://jumpnrope.com/

lululemon Athletica http://shop.lululemon.com/

LiftHeavies Wrist Wraps http://www.liftheavies.com/

RX Bar http://www.rxbar.com/

Suerte Tequila http://drinksuerte.com/

True Brew Coffee http://www.truebrew.coffee/

Town http://towncarbondale.com/

The Pullman http://thepullmangws.com/

Phat Thai http://phatthai.com/

Juicy Lucy’s http://juicylucyssteakhouse.com/

Sweet Coloradough http://www.sweetcoloradough.com/

Becky Koski Massage

Backcountry Chiropractic

**Inquiring minds want to know, will you do a Summer Team Challenge?! The answer my friends is YES.  Mark your calendars for Saturday, August 6th, 2016.  The rumor mill is already swirling about the Team Triathlon making a comeback, and us being back at the Community Center in Glenwood.  We will neither confirm nor deny that we have BIG plans for this summer, but we will recommend that you start practicing your doggy paddle, your mountain bike skills, and trail running… this Summer Team Challenge is going to be our biggest and best yet.

Thanks for your continued support

Sincerely,

Thad, Kenz and the entire Defiance Crew

PS- Pictures are coming! We have a couple thousand (literally) to go through so we will post them ASAP.

Is This Smoothie Good for Me?

Written by Coach Tara

I am frequently asked about whether or not smoothies in the morning are a good breakfast. In recent years juicing has become quite trendy. We have seen an influx in fresh pressed juices and juice stands post “China Study”, “Crazy, Sexy Diet” and documentaries like “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” I am not here to argue whether or not juicing cures cancer. We certainly should all be aware by now that processed foods certainly are not providing optimal nutrition. We should also know that adding nutrient dense vegetables and fruits to our diets over pop tarts and slushies is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

As members at our gym, you have all made a commitment towards better health. For many of you that means working out 3-5 days per week! Once we have committed to our fitness, the next step inevitably (albeit, usually begrudgingly) is addressing what we are putting in our mouths. As highly motivated, busy people we are on the go at all times and finding what we consider healthy, fast meals is viewed as difficult.  Step In: The Smoothie.

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I would say questions about smoothies are one of my most frequent. In an effort to save time, eat well and (possibly) cure cancer we put a ton of good choices into a blender, mix and guzzle. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether or not a smoothie is your best choice:

WHAT ARE MY GOALS? Is your goal post workout recovery? Gaining weight? Losing Fat?  These three goals have very different answers when it comes to consuming your smoothie.

Recovery Meals should occur within 0-45 minutes after your workout. The goal is to utilize your body’s increased ability to replenish muscle glycogen. Your body is best at this within the 45 minutes post exercise. You want to provide some amino acids (protein) for muscle fiber rebuilding and some carbohydrate (glucose) for muscle glycogen stores. These carbohydrates should come from fruits and vegetables and protein from whey, egg-white, casein, hemp or plain Greek yogurt to accomplish this. A fat source is less of a concern for a recovery shake as you are trying to digest this fairly quickly and make these nutrients available to your body for recovery purposes.

I want to gain muscle. You are built like an endurance athlete and putting on weight (especially lean mass) is a feat for you. Typically your metabolism is high and appetite for you can sometimes be an issue. You physically cannot eat enough to put weight on before feeling too full. Smoothies are a great way for you to get excess nutrients and calories to put weight on. You would be best served to include fruit, nut butter, seeds, oats, sweet potato and a protein source in your smoothies and drink these between meals. You are trying to promote an excess in your overall calorie load and provide a dense amount of nutrients to build lean mass.

I want to lose fat. Smoothies are not what you’re looking for my friend. Typically if we are trying to lose fat then we are trying to create a calorie deficit. In that regard you will be happiest eating a high volume, nutrient dense diet where you feel full and satisfied. Drinking your food ain’t gonna provide that. If your smoothie is your first meal of the day, insulin sensitivity is exponentially higher due to fasting overnight. Insulin’s job is to pull glucose (sugar) from the blood into tissue to be used either as energy or stored as fat for later. Unfortunately, with higher glycemic (sugary foods) we get an excessive insulin response that pulls too much glycose from the blood. With a large insulin spike generally there is a corresponding blood sugar crash in which we feel fatigue and reach for more high sugar carbohydrates. The result is the sugar high and low rollercoaster we all ride throughout the day.

By blending something we are pre-digesting it. You’ve taken all the hard work out of chewing, enzymatic breakdown, etc. Your smoothie is available quickly and able to turn to blood sugar immediately. It does, insulin rushes in and stores excess calories (energy) as fat for later. When your smoothie is comprised of fruit (=fructose = sugar) this happens even faster!!!

If you are looking to lose fat you are best served by swapping out your smoothie for REAL, WHOLE food. You will also find that by trading out smoothies and juices for a more protein dense breakfast you will feel more satiated and energized for the longevity of the day. Give it a try for a week and see!

Want some one-on-one nutritional advice?  Email us at info@defiancegym.com and we will get you hooked up with Tara our Precision Nutrition Certified Coach.

The “WHY” Behind our New Lifting Cycle

Written by Coach D

As if squatting wasn’t hard enough, we are about to make you squat SLOWLY, and HOLD the bottom position! Why would we do such a mid-evil, torturous thing?!

Because it helps make us stronger, and we know you are all about those GAINZZ.

If you haven’t already been introduced to eccentric or negative training, you will be in the next few weeks at the gym as it is going to be a central part of our next strength cycle.  First, I will explain the difference between the concentric and eccentric contraction of the muscle during a lift.  Next, in simple terms I will explain to you what happens to the muscle on a cellular level.  Lastly, I will cover the effects of eccentric training and why studies have shown that it is more beneficial than concentric training alone.

First, let’s discuss the two different contractions. There is a concentric phase and an eccentric phase, also known as the negative.  We will start with the one most of you are familiar with and that is the concentric phase.  The definition of a concentric contraction is when the muscle shortens when it acts against a resistive force (in our case a barbell for this strength cycle).  Eccentric contraction occurs when the muscle lengthens while producing force.  Think of the eccentric phase as the phase where you “put on the breaks.”  Another easy way to think about it is that the eccentric contraction acts in the same direction as gravity.  Let’s take a back squat for example. The eccentric phase of the squat would be lowering from the standing phase to the bottom of the squat, and the concentric phase would be from the bottom of the squat to the standing position.

I'm pretty sure this is Matt Cova...

I’m pretty sure this is Matt Cova…

Take a second and think about what portion of the bench press would be the concentric portion and what would be the eccentric portion. If you said that the eccentric phase was lowering the bar to your chest and the concentric was pressing the bar from chest to arms locked out above the chest, you are correct.  When we lower the bar to our chest, we are “putting on the breaks” as we go down (eccentric) and accelerating as we press up (concentric). If this doesn’t make sense, don’t fret, it will soon.

Now that we understand the difference between the two contractions, let’s discuss what actually happens to the muscle when we lift. In a nutshell, when we lift, we cause skeletal muscle damage.  When we workout, we cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibers.  With rest and proper nutrition, these tears in the muscle fibers repair and regenerate, adapting to the demands we place on them.  This allows us to handle future bouts of similar work while experiencing less muscle damage.  When we force our muscles to do more work, the repairing process repeats and our muscles get stronger. In short think: lift, muscle damage, muscle repair and regeneration, muscle adaptation, STRENGTH!

musclefiber

Muscle fibers come in both fast twitch and slow twitch fibers and they are mixed together.

 

Finally, let’s discuss why we should not only be focusing on concentric contraction but also eccentric contraction. Studies show that the eccentric motion causes greater muscle damage and hypertrophy than the concentric motion does.  Why?  Because during eccentric contraction the muscle fibers that are recruited are mainly fast twitch fibers.  Only specific muscle fibers are used during this contraction which means not all the available fibers are being used in that motor unit. Therefore, each muscle fiber we use is subject to more tension/stress per motor unit, which causes more muscle damage and leads to more muscle adaptation and growth.

Along with increased hypertrophy, eccentric contraction is also found to increase power. It may seem odd that slowing down the eccentric portion of your lift is going to increase your power.  However, as we just discussed, eccentric contractions recruit more Type 2 muscle fibers.  If you aren’t familiar with the difference between the two, all you need to know is that your Type 2 fibers are your fast twitch, explosive fibers.

Now the question becomes, should we focus on eccentric training alone? No.  Studies have found if you are going to choose one or the other, that eccentric training is more efficient BUT these studies also show that training both concentrically and eccentrically will provide the most strength gains.  And we love GAINZZ, which is why we will be focusing on eccentric movement combined with concentric movement in our next strength cycle.  Get excited!

If you have any questions about all of this “science” or would like to get started with us on our new Strength Cycle, email us at info@defiancegym.com