Fall restart

The approaching fall season is a typical time for a reset and refocusing of our goals. As we wind down from summer’s shenanigans and the weather turns south, it’s nice time to get back to our fitness.

Take a minute to write down a particular goal for the next 3 months, 6 months, one year… reflect on where you are and where you’d like to be. Whether or not you ever look at it again, putting your goals in writing will help in holding yourself accountable and staying committed to your progress. Want a better power clean? Write it down. Want a faster 2k row? Write it down! Want to walk around on your hands? Write to down! Want to be less fat? Write it down! When setting your goals; make them specific, achievable, and give yourself a reasonable timeline. As you write, “stronger back squat” think about specifically how many more kilos you’d like to squat in 3 months, 1 year. Put a specific number and a date on it. If you write, “lose weight” think about how much weight you want to lose, by the end of the year and by summertime. What kind of weight do you want to lose? A more specific and attainable look at this might say, “I want to lose 10 lbs of body fat by the end of the year.” Now that many of us have used the InBody machine, we have a baseline to track! Consider a retest in 3 months to start seeing a trend in lean mass vs. body fat. Take an honest look at where you sit currently so that you can focus your energies on what needs the most work while maintaining your strengths.

The more engaged you become with your progress, the more good things will come! With all the tools at your disposal, we strongly recommend that you start tracking your data now, if you haven’t already. We recently found max lifts for the Back Squat, Strict Press, and Deadlift so NOW is the perfect time to grab a pen and paper (or your phone!) and write it down. You will find keeping track of your progress will allow you to see the changes you are making and how they are working for you over time. We are committed to providing you with enough data to stay on top of your progress as well as the tools you need to reach your goals. Ultimately it’s on you to stay accountable to your progress and the best way to do so is by being in touch with your fitness day to day. We’ll keep you motivated to stay disciplined with your training over the weeks, months, and years.

Our weekly programming is designed to result in progress of our core aspects of fitness: strength, skill, and/or aerobic efficiency. Our coaches have done the research to help you get that first push-up, ring dip, and handstand push-up. Our blog will continue to share information about Basic Lifestyle Guidelines; eating, sleeping, hydration, and Vitamin D. Our social media channels will keep you informed about what is going on with programming, form and function, and (of course!) our community events. Get to know your swolemates in class and their goals. You’ll help challenge, motivate, and celebrate each other as well. We are all here to support you! AND to get the most out of your fitness, you need to support yourself. After all you are the one doing the work every day. You owe it to yourself. Set some reasonable goals for the future. Take accountability to staying on track with your progress. It’s easy to show up on the days for our favorite movements, the days we know we’ll do well. It’s much harder to be honest with ourselves about where we need to improve. We’ll be in your corner when you’re the top of the board and the days you have to scale every movement. We’ll be here to celebrate you when all your hard work and diligence crushes your goals.

Rory

The fitness continuum - Advancing your fitness

At The LAB we have been committed to advancing your fitness and keeping you motivated along the way for over ten years. To stay fresh and exciting, you all saw the rollout of the “LAB Lotto” last month. More than just being fun, it has been incredibly rewarding recognizing when someone makes a step on their fitness journey with our whole community. The extra emphasis on these small steps our members make daily reminds us all that training pays off. As you know, we view our members as more than people simply exercising. You are athletes in training.

In order to maintain a program that continues to stimulate and develop our athletes, we stay educated on fitness principles. By looking at current training theories and thoughtful fitness progressions, we have created a “Fitness Continuum”. The Fitness Continuum allows us to assess where you are with your unique physical fitness by evaluating your training age based on skills, strength, and aerobic efficiency. More importantly, it provides us with guidelines for progress. Every athlete will have your own value within the continuum depending on all your abilities. Knowing this value we can design a progression for any fitness goals. We can paint with a broad brush to advance a general group, as we do for the class workouts. Specifically for individuals who have distinct goals, we can use the information from their place on the continuum to create a program just for them in order to more effectively and quickly progress their fitness. When you take advantage of knowing where you are, you can be realistic about how to progress. We all know you have to walk before you can run. You have to do a push up before you can do a ring dip.

Both in class and with individual programming, look for plenty of opportunities to assess and excel in your fitness. Especially don’t miss the chances to make progress along your journey. We’re committed to providing you with the tools. And celebrating with you all along the way.

Basic Lifestyle Guidelines - Improving Performance Through Recovery

Improving strength and performance requires much more than showing up and working hard in the gym. "Recovery" is a word many of us equate with drinking some protein powder after a hard workout and getting on with our day. We each have jobs, responsibilities, and families to take care of. However, enhancing our ability to recover involves much more than sipping the right recovery drink. Getting back to a relatively stable equilibrium (called homeostasis) is our bodies primary objective and this is the state where our body recovers and prepares for what’s next. This involves a multifaceted interaction with the environment. The easier it is for our bodies to get back to and maintain a state of homeostasis, the better we will all recover from workouts and the more we will get out of them. The following are some basic lifestyle guidelines to help you help your own body. These suggestions lie on a continuum. Start where you're at and make incremental changes that will add up over time.

Let's start with sleep. Sleep is a biological imperative. Sleep is the opposite of stress. Our bodies are “stressed” any time their state of homeostasis has been thrown out of balance. This can be caused by physical, mental, and emotional triggers. As we sleep, we rebuild and replace our material structure at the cellular level. Sleep deprivation is killer, yet some amount of sleep loss is a reality we all face. Even as we live hectic lives there are some ways we can help our bodies go to sleep and sleep better when it’s time. Avoid stimulation from electronic devices. As you are going to bed, dim the lights in your room, put your phone in another room, and turn off the TV. Aim for an hour before you plan to go to bed. Light literally tells your brain to wake up and get ready for activity at a hormonal level. Try to finish your dinner a couple hours before you lay down to give your stomach time to settle. If you drink caffeine, stop consuming it at least 6 hours before your usual bedtime. Set the stage for rest before bedtime so that you can fall asleep quickly once you lay down. We are creatures of habit and your body likes consistency; if you can, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Even if you aren’t getting more hours of sleep, the sleep you get will be more restful and restorative.

Once you wake up, begin to hydrate your body. Space your water intake evenly throughout the day. Track the water you’re drinking and try to consume half your bodyweight in ounces per day. Don't count juice, coffee, or alcohol towards your daily needs. Assess your hourly hydration level using the color of urine as a guide. Light straw color is best, so try to avoid going too far to the clear or dark yellow side. Frequency should be roughly every couple of hours. A small amount of salts/electrolytes will ensure your body retains the water you are drinking. If you're going clear every hour you may be overdoing it and your body is not retaining the water you are drinking. Lifestyle and environment play a significant role in your daily needs, so an active person in a hot climate needs more water than the sedentary air-conditioned office worker. Consider half your bodyweight in ounces a minimum. Rehydrating during and after physical activity will enhance performance and recovery.

How we eat is nearly as important as what we eat in many ways. Proper "Food Hygiene" starts with the first bite. The entire digestive process takes between 36-44 hours so make sure to chew twenty or so times per bite to assist your digestive enzymes. Eat slowly. Meals should be a break from work and activity so sit down and enjoy your food. Keep fluid intake low during the meal as well.

Move your body daily. This seems like a no brainer to us gym-goers. Many jobs are sedentary. Even on days you don’t make it to the gym, try to get up and take small walks away from your desk every hour or so. Stretch or take a walk after meals. Moving around aids the detoxification process by moving lymph and blood around the body. Walking, swimming, biking or playing with the kids all help to keep joints mobile and healthy. 

Get your vitamin D when you can! The sun is the source of all life on earth. In the Pacific Northwest we are sun-starved much of the year, however it is possible to absorb vitamin D when the sky is overcast. It’s crucial that we take advantage of any opportunity to synthesize our own vitamin D. Get out in the sun but of course be sensible with your exposure. The minimum dose doesn't leave a burn but DOES result in vitamin D synthesis. Research is continuing to uncover all the positive effects of Vitamin D, in addition to bone health. So we will all have more reasons to take advantage of this free resource whenever it’s available. 

When our bodies are stressed, adrenaline is pumping, our heart rate is higher, we are in that state of “fight or flight”. We spend our time are the gym like this, as well as other times throughout the day. We need to do what we can to help our bodies get to a resting state. This is the opposite place of “rest and digest”. This is when we fully recover and prepare our bodies to be more efficient the next time they are stressed. Use these tips to feel what your body needs and learn to give it what it wants so that you can coax your body into a useful recovery. 

SWOLEMATES

Working with others is something that speaks to me. I’ve written a couple blog posts for my Ultimate team, Seattle Riot, on the subject. I’m excited to get the chance to dive into why I like the teamwork and accountability of group fitness. As well as the unique advantages of partner style workouts here at the LAB.

The beauty of working with teammates is that the sum is greater than it’s parts. Two draft horses can actually pull three times the load of a single horse. I know we aren’t horses, but the same concept applies. When you add your strengths to those of someone else you can count on each other to fill in the weaknesses. You’ll get more out of the work you’re doing. I see this happening in class all the time. You step up and lead one another by giving feedback on technique, you set the bar on movements you do well, and encourage classmates by showing up and cheering them on. You spend time discussing strategy with one another before and after class. I see you motivating each other to do things you’ve never done before.

All of our goals are different and we are all in different stages of fitness. At the end of the day we are all accountable to ourselves. We need to be in charge of our own movement, our own pacing, intensity, and modifications. For me, taking responsibility of my own training journey becomes extra rewarding when I see people around me doing it as well. The accountability of group class feels like being on a team. Seeing other people do the work helps me believe that I can do it too; even if their version of work looks different than mine. I know rowing 20 seconds for max cals is going to suck, but if we’re doing a tabata row together, it seems much more palatable. We share that feeling of being “in the trenches” together, pushing ourselves and each other.

For the next few months you will see more partner work programmed into your weeks at the LAB. “Share the LAB Friday” starts up again June 1. We are also adding “Swolemate Saturday” where we will be programming partner-style strength sets. Bring a buddy to the gym for free on either or both of these days or just grab one of your classmates and team up. Partner workouts nicely allow for work and rest. They give you a chance to exercise your teamwork, leadership, and strategic skills. Plus it’s fun to have a buddy by your side to keep you accountable and push you closer towards your fitness goals.

Look for BBQ’s once a month as well. We like having a chance to all get together with people from other classes and your friends and family. As a real-life homebody, introvert; I appreciate the excuse group fitness and team sports has allowed me to feel free to break out of my shell. I’m so happy for the relationships I’ve built with our members and I like seeing all the friendships growing in classes. We help each other find solutions to real-life problems (like finding a new building to lease and turning it into a gym!). I’ve seen some of your kids get older and seen you perform on stage; all because we share the love of fitness. I look forward to another summer of sharing the LAB; meeting new friends and deepening the relationships we have.

-Coach Charlie

Summer Runnin'

It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.
— Olympic Champion, Jackie Joyner-Kersee

As April comes to an end, we all start to feel summer around the corner. The sun starts to come out from behind the clouds and the light lingers late into the evening. It’s the time of year that a lot of us like to lace up our running shoes and hit the road for a little running. Grabbing some of that limited Seattle Vitamin D is only one reason why we all see so many people jogging by on the Burke every day. Running has been shown to be a great stress reducer in addition to being an easy way to burn some calories and improve cardiovascular fitness. Personally, it’s a fun way for me to get out and do something with a friend, while also cross-training. Whatever your reason for going out on a run, I’ve come up with 3 tips for keeping your body healthy and happy as you rack up the steps.

Even more than I preach the warm up in class before we work out, I’m going to preach a pre-run warm up as well. Take it slow to start. Cut your average pace in half for the first few minutes. Do a couple exercises before you get into your run to get your muscles firing in helpful ways. Specifically, engaging your glutes and core will help take the some of the impact off of your knees and hips. Glute bridges, lunge steps, bird dogs, air squats, single leg deadlifts, are all good ways to wake up your glutes. For your core, some dead bugs, sit ups, hollow holds, and/or supermans can do the trick.

Here’s an example of a pre-run warm up -    

If you’re just going for a jog from your house, take it slow to the end of the block and back then, go through 3 x

10 R/ 10 L single leg glute bridges

10 R/ 10 L lunge steps

10 R/ 10 L dead bugs

20 sec hollow hold

And your body is primed and much better prepared to go on a run. This whole process can be as quick as you want, but will pay off big in the long term.

When you’re finished, cool down as well. Even though you feel hot and sweaty after a run, putting on a sweatshirt and pants can really help your body go more smoothly from hot to cold. This will help prevent strains and stiffness. Walk a bit to transition your body. Some dynamic stretches and rolling out, focusing more now on your quads and hamstrings, will also help keep your body loose and happy.

In addition to warming up and cooling down, our running form can be a huge factor when it comes to injuries and efficiency. You could be spending a lot of excess energy with patterns in your running technique. These inefficient patterns may also be putting undue strain on ligaments and joints. Be conscious of what your arms, legs, and hips are actually doing. In general you want to avoid crossing your body, your arms should be swinging straight back and forth, not side to side. Same with your legs, make sure your knees are driving straight up and down. You should notice that each step is balanced, not landing more heavily on one foot over the other, and not favoring the outside or inside of your foot when it hits the ground. Keep your chest up, should blades down and back, not leaning or hunching too far forward. Since we can’t see ourselves it can be helpful to ask a friend about how our form looks, “do my arms criss cross my body when I run?” “Does it look like my hips are shifting side to side?” If you are concerned about your form and you have no friends, or you don’t feel like asking, go ahead and video yourself.

It can be helpful to break down running mechanics and practice them. While standing balanced on one leg, pull you other knee straight up and place it back down again, mid-foot flat on the ground. Practice cycling just one leg straight up and straight down while keeping your posture and core tight. Drill how your arms are moving by sitting on the floor and pumping your arms like when you run. Notice if your elbows are going straight back and forth. Do you find yourself leaning side to side as your arms are moving? This could mean that you are unevenly distributing impact to your hips and knees. When doing exercises to break down your form make sure they are slow and perfect, before speeding them up.

My third piece of advice, pace yourself. When considering your pacing, think about the speed at which you are running and the frequency of your workouts. The same way going out too hard too fast can ruin the end of a long run, doing too many strenuous workouts over a short period of time can also be detrimental to your overall health and fitness journey. Most injuries associated with running are overuse injuries, caused by hammering your body too much or too soon. The likelihood these will affect you increases if you are adding in a lot of High Intensity Interval Training (like some of the wods we do here at the LAB). Just remember slow and steady wins the race. When it comes to going on a long run try to slightly increase your pace mile by mile. Even if you fall off by the end, you’ll be able to finish strong. When you are beginning a running regimen, don’t go for a very long run to start. Increase the distance of your runs a little at a time. Getting hit by shin splints, “runner’s knee”, IT band problems, stress fractures, achilles tendonitis, or plantar fasciitis can really set you back in many ways.

Want more running drills or warm up ideas? Nursing a particular injury? Need help analyzing your form? Please find me at the gym for more. I’d love to hear how it’s going! Come up with a good warm up? Share it with me in the comments!

Whether it’s the sunshine, a friend, some stress-relief, better cardiovascular fitness or just to shed those extra lbs; by keeping some of these things in mind, I hope that we’ll all be able to stay healthy running this summer, and beyond.

-- Charlie

Programming YOUR fitness

With the passing of the 2018 Crossfit Open, it’s time to start a new training cycle. We
thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you the process that goes into
programming your fitness here at The Lab. At The Lab we believe in providing our members
with a variety of programming options, including: group class, specialized training cycles, and
individual programming, each of these options has it’s unique benefits.

Our group class is modeled with the goal of looking good, feeling good, and moving well.
Those who thrive in the social aspect of fitness find enjoyment within the camaraderie that the
group provides. Every class will start with a warm up, specifically designed to help prime your
body and keep you feeling good throughout the day. Strength and conditioning workouts will
follow with a balanced assortment of upper/lower body and unilateral movements put together in a mixed modal style. Our classes run year-round while cycling a myriad of movements and skills seasonally. The micro and macro cycles vary tempo, intensity and accessory work. Our coaches are here to translate these specifics on the whiteboard and keep class on schedule. They will also provide guidance through specific movements and lifts. While athletes with vastly differing training backgrounds can participate in class side by side, the structure of group class can be ideal for beginners, intermediate and advanced trainees alike.

Alternatively, we offer additional training options. Generally speaking if you’re someone
who finds yourself with less freedom in your schedule, plateauing in your regular routine, looking
for an exciting new way to engage your body and mind, and/or you’re feeling sore and beat up
after every workout, then a specified training cycle or individual design might be something to
consider.

Specialized training cycles are designed for a broader group of athletes who have a
specific goal in mind and have previous experience in strength and conditioning. These are
progressive, year-round strength and conditioning programs broken down into 12 week chunks
with about 4 weeks off in between each. The athletes should already have basic knowledge of
the movement principles; reading tempo, sets, and reps; and choosing appropriate loads. They
appreciate the environment and communal aspect of the gym, but don’t necessarily need the
group to be motivated to finish their workout. Coaches are still present to cue movements and
field questions along with providing feedback and support. These workouts take about an hour
from warm-up to completion, but time in the gym is not limited and the athlete may take as much
time as they need.

Individual Programming is also provided upon request here at the Lab. Individual design
is the most specific and tailored for the athlete’s unique needs. We are invested in helping
athletes who have specific fitness goals, reach their full potential. These workouts are nuanced
just for each athlete, tailored to fit their schedule, levels, and goals. The direction of the program
is agreed upon by both coach and athlete, who work side by side in order to ensure that the
movement selection, training rhythm and seasonal changes directly align with achieving the
goals of the client.

Now that you understand the programming options here at the Lab, you will be
empowered to choose which program is best for you. As always, keeping your fitness
rewarding, fun, and interesting is our goal. Please let us know how it is going so we can
continue to provide you with your best gym experience.