When you first start CrossFit, it is easy to see progress in the gym. Every day you have a new movement, a new chance to set a PR. After a year, or two, or three, it can be much harder to see progress from day to day. Here are a few ways we can measure progress.
How to Measure Progress
For those of us who keep our entire lives on our phones, it only makes sense to keep our workout information there as well. Choose an app, we use Sugarwod, and record everything. The more notes the better, you will thank yourselves for the extra information when you are deciding between going for the same weight you used last time, or if you should jump 5 lbs.
Keep a “Workout Journal”
If you have the handwriting for it a workout journal is a really cool tool to track your progress as well. Pick a nice book, or a legal pad and use a page a day, per workout, or however else you want to organize it. The cool thing about a workout journal is that it is your own. You’ll know exactly where everything is recorded, and it will make sense to you. They also are a neat keepsake when you fill them up.
Go to a Baseline Class
Saturday, 8 am. We recommend you go to this class quarterly. You will get an InBody scan as well as our baseline workout. This will give you objective data. The coach will help you understand your results and how to proceed. Sign up now. Classes are capped at 5, you definatley don’t want to miss this opportunity.
Get an InBody Scan
Schedule an InBody scan with your primary coach, they will help you understand what all the numbers mean. In general, we want to see muscle mass go up, and body fat % go down. Bodyweight doesn’t tell the whole story. Don’t focus too much on that one number because it is often not the best picture of progress.
Progress is NOT Linear
There are so many variables that can make you feel like you are not making progress. Sleep, nutrition, mood, stress, work, kids and even attitude can have a direct effect on your daily workout. What are the odds that on any given day, you are going to come in perfectly prepared for a 1 rep max? If any one of those variables are even slightly off, you may not see all of your hard work in the form of a PR. This is where notes come in handy. So what, you didn’t hit that new weight. Put it in your notes. “Missed, less than 3 hours of sleep” and move on. Progress takes time, and if you don’t measure it in some way. It is easy to say there is none, because you don’t feel it on that day. If you zoom out and look at the big picture you will see that the overall trend is up.
Jordan Halvorson is a coach at Crossfit Icehouse who believes that the scientific principles of strength training and the mindset behind personal growth can be applied to everyone to make their lives better. He is also a barbell addict.
If you have been to one of my classes at some point you know my coffee cup was never very far away. I’ve read the blogs and listened to the podcasts that say “a coach should never be drinking coffee during class.” I thought that was cute, coffee is life…well was life.
It Just Happened
I woke up on a Monday, looked at my partner, and said “I’m done with coffee.” You can imagine the shock, we have a coffee pot, French press and Nespresso in our 5’ x 6’ kitchen. We have a small space and prioritize coffee. I would usually have a coffee with a shot of espresso in the morning and then another coffee or latte in the afternoon. Sunday’s were a day of caffeination, I would drink coffee pretty much all day. It was magical!
A Little Bit Nerdy
Coffee, at roughly 200mg of caffeine for 10 oz, can keep cortisol levels elevated. Cortisol is a hormone that helps our body respond to stress. If your cortisol levels stay elevated, meaning you stay stressed, it can have very negative effects on weight training, body composition and recovery. Long story short high cortisol levels mess with your gainz, no good!
If you’ve been anywhere in the United States you know, it was a Long winter. I was living on coffee. We made some changes at work, I have been doing some really deep emotional work and it was cold, like really cold, I was in a full stress spiral. I went three full months with very little sleep, two colds, two flus and I was a wreck. It was time to control the things I could and that meant no more added stress, coffee had to go. I needed to give myself the best chance I could to sleep, to restore, to let my body and spirit breathe.
Life After Coffee
For the most part, my life has been caffeine free. I will have a matcha or a green tea from time to time and with a drastically reduced caffeine intake I can sleep. I woke up the second morning and told my partner “if this is what sleep is like, I’ll give up coffee forever.” I’m still working hard on the other ways to manage stress and do the work I love. I’m also working with Coach Anna on my nutrition and it’s been a game changer, check her out!! If you find yourself in a stress spiral, check in with yourself, what are the things you need to do to help yourself out?
Sara Mozingo is the Co-Owner, head coach, and programing wizard at CrossFit Icehouse. When she’s not developing rep schemes and diving into the nerdery she enjoys hanging out in nature hiking trails or climbing rocks with her side-kick Mr. Mosely.
In the dynamic, multi-joint movements that are practiced in every Flux class there is a foundational movement that must be mastered before any more complex movement should be attempted. These foundational movements build strength, stability, and ensure that our range of motion is safely being utilized. What’s funny peculiar, not funny haha, is that these movements are so foundational that some of the best examples are kids.
No joke. Ask a toddler to pick something up off the floor. They don’t bend forward and strain their lower backs and over-extend their hamstrings like we adults do. They squat. With nigh-perfect form! Their knees are wide, their chests are up, and they go diaper to dirt with their heels down. As adults stuck at desks or in cars for most of our lives, we have lost a lot of the flexibility in our hips and ankles, and strength in our backs to perform a healthy, strong squat. It takes those of us who have forgotten how to move a long time before we get that back.
Squats are used in almost everything. Imagine Bubba Gump and his shrimp; that’s how many movements use a squat. Air squats, front squats, overhead squats, back squats, squat cleans, squat snatches, box jumps, med-ball cleans, wall-balls, thrusters, and so on. And that’s just in the gym! Squats are fundamental in everyday life, the most obvious and basic being using the bathroom.
A strong healthy squat has several key points of performance. Starting from the ground up, the heels must remain on the floor. If a person has tight Achilles’ tendons or stiff hips, knees, or ankles, the squat might not reach depth which means the hips might not descend below the knees. And that’s ok! The more the ankles are working, the more flexibility will be built in the Achilles so that the squat can sit lower.
The knees must follow the path of the toes. The toes are pointed slightly out instead of straight forward. In order to save undue strain on the knees, they must follow the path of the toes. This means the knees are wide at the same time finding an even distribution of weight through the foot. For a depth squat, the hip crease gets below the knee crease. This activates the big muscle groups of the thighs, your quads and adductors, as well as the glutes.
As you work on flexibility in the lower half of the body, you will also be working on strengthening the core and back. The chest is meant to be as upright as possible in the squat. This means bracing the abdominals to support the torso, and in order to balance the body the erectors of the spine are activated. There’s a lot going on, but once the air squat is mastered the body is ready for any variation of the squat.
Squats are great not only for making one’s butt look good, they also build strength, stamina, cardio endurance, flexibility, and a host of other skills that make a person a better athlete. Can’t make it to the gym one day? Crunched for time? Want a leg day but don’t have weights around? Rock out 100 squats. Your heart rate rise, you’ll sweat, and you will certainly feel it in your legs.
Emily is the head Flux Coach, and our resident Icehouse Dottir. When Emily isn’t coaching Flux, she is working on elevating her own fitness & yoga game, sketching some badass tattoos for friends, or getting ink done herself.
Our physiology (body) drives a lot of our behavior and the way that we approach a situation.
Breathing is one of the few, generally, automatic processes that we, as humans, can exercise some control over. And it has a great deal of control over which mental state we experience, that is, which part of our central nervous system we are experiencing the world through.
Sympathetic Nervous System – Fight, Flight, Freeze
Parasympathetic Nervous System – Rest and Digest
Check out the video below for a quick tutorial on the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems:
So what does that have to do with what we do at Icehouse?
In a word…”Everything”. Understanding which state you’re in and how to bounce seamlessly between the two can be the difference between a BIG personal record lift, or a meltdown mid-workout. And it can help you determine which of our 3 tracks is best for you for that training session.
Don’t I just want to go hard every training session?
The short answer is…”No”. As humans we have a limited supply of fuel for “fight or flight”. If we stay in that state constantly, it becomes less and less potent, it loses its punch, and we just become highly alert (burned out) and exhausted.
So if going hard isn’t always the “go to”, what are my options?
To make it simple, we’ll keep it at aerobic (oxygen for fuel) and anaerobic (everything else as fuel)
Aerobic – you’re able to breathe through your nose; if you’re unable to do that you have to slow down until you can. These workouts are designed to move your body and build that base of cardiovascular endurance (allow you to go low and slow for a long time) and are the cornerstone of training for the long haul.
Anaerobic – you’ve got to use your mouth to some extent to bring air in or get air out. These workouts are designed to create a hormonal response that make you better at everything (quick punch of relatively hard and fast). We don’t do these often, and to make changes, we don’t need to.
How do I know which state I am in?
One quick check is to pay attention to how your mouth is organized. This is a quick check for efficient nasal breathing, aerobic and parasympathetic (rest and digest).
Tip of your tongue is at the roof of your mouth
Teeth are slightly apart
Breathing into your belly through your nose
For more information on the fundamentals of breathwork checkout the Power Speed Endurance blog here
Sarah Skedsvold is a coach at CrossFit Icehouse. She’s committed to turning workouts into play and bolstering CrossFit Icehouse’s charge to “Build Everyday Athletes”. In her spare time she is in a constant search the absolutely perfect personal planner and calendar.
Even though our members do get quite good at it. There is so much more to Icehouse then just helping you get into the best shape of your life. Our favorite success stories aren’t around the total number of pounds or inches lost, or how much strength and/or speed is gained. Those are all awesome & amazing accomplishments, but not what it is about.
Here are 2 of my favorite changes other then just improved fitness we see in our members:
It is not uncommon for someone new to say or think “I can’t do that” when they read the workout. CrossFit works because it is hard work, but it is absolutely possible. If it wasn’t it wouldn’t work, and we would not ask you to do something if we didn’t believe you were capable. We are all capable of so much more then we think!
Slowly we lift a couple more pounds, get a little faster, and/or loose a few pounds. Before you know it you don’t even bat an eye at the workout because you just know you can do it. You even start trying tougher versions of movements because you’ve been killin’ it. THAT is amazing!
Even better when a big project/opportunity at work, or a challenge out in the real world shows up you roll up your sleeves and take it on. Because you are strong. Because you are capable. Because you CAN!
2. Saying YES to life
This is my absolute favorite reason to be fit, and why I stick with it. I never want to have to say no to a fun outing, vacation, or adventure because I am concerned about being fit enough.
When someone shares a post about how they were able to go for a hike with their family on their annual vacation for the first time in years, or go outside and play a game with their nieces or nephews without getting winded THAT is what it’s about.
I understand that at this point you may have back pain, or you may have some knee pain stopping you from getting in shape. We are in pain so we don’t move, and we don’t move because we are in pain, and our bodies are not meant to just sit. Find someone who can help you with those issues (we have coaches who have experience with all of those issues and can help you build the strength needed to solve them), or check out my recent blog of 5 places to start your fitness journey if you aren’t sure where to begin.
Take care of your body, surround yourself with people who believe in you, and say YES to life!
Courtney Shoemaker is a Co-Owner of CrossFit Icehouse and Flux, and in charge of the behind the scenes juggling to keep the Icehouse ship sailing smoothly. She is passionate about fitness and identifies as a CrossFitter, Weightlifter, Yogi, Skydiver & overall Shenaniganer.