By Coach JD
When at rest for extended periods of time, our bodies naturally reach a state of homeostasis. During a training session we are exposing our physiology to stress. Don’t worry, there are good types of stress. I’ll explain later. This stress causes our bodies to go through a specific set of responses that temporarily reduce performance but may lead to short- or long-term adaptations that improve the body’s performance or function.
The ability to return an organism to the state of constancy or stasis. The state that uses the least amount of energy. What exactly does this have to do with working out?
Imagine that if a body is inactive for extended periods of time that it has a baseline amount of oxygen that it needs in the bloodstream to transport to all of your organs. While the body is inactive this level of oxygen is sufficient and the body continues production at the same rate.
As activity levels increase so will the need for more oxygen in the bloodstream and so the body responds by secreting more hormones to sustain a higher blood-oxygen level. The same is true if activity levels drop, the body will respond in an opposite fashion.
If we train hard enough we begin disrupt this homeostasis enough to trigger changes in the body that lead to increased performance.
General Adaptation Syndrome
The General Adaptation Syndrome, described by Hans Selye in 1956, explains how an organism that is subjected to stress will respond by making adaptations, either temporary or long-term, to prevent said stress from further disruption of homeostasis.
Thus, if running 1 mile causes enough disruption of homeostasis, our bodies will attempt to adapt to the stress of a 1 mile run by making small changes to your physiology so that this same stress no longer causes disruption of homeostasis.
Stressors are any factors that cause a disruption of physiology of an organism.
Examples of stressors we use in the gym:
- Find 1RM Front Squat
- 1 Mile Run For Time
- 30 Clean & Jerks For Time
- Max Reps Strict Pull-Ups
- Deadlift 5-5-5-5-5
- 5K Row
(Yes there is good stress)
Eu-stressors are stressors that bring about desired change to the physiology of an organism. We can can control this in the gym by varying intensity, load, volume, frequency, and type of movement performed in the gym. As we progress through more challenging movements and weights your body begins to adapt as we cause your physiology to work more efficiently at increased capacity. If this adaptation takes place within a reasonable period of time then training has acted as an eu-stressor.
Did you hear that? Some of that sounds familiar. Constantly varied and increased work capacity. Where have we heard that before?
(Must be related to distress)
Dis-stressors are stressors that bring about undesired or deleterious changes in physiology. Essentially this falls into the category of overtraining.
If training factors accumulate their effects in such a way that an athlete becomes severely overtrained, injured, or becomes ill then they have become dis-stressors. Training factors have then surpassed the athletes’ adaptational capacities and will no longer generate the adaptations that would have lead to increased performance.
It is very easy for a stressor to start out as an eu-stressor but if used in too great a dosage or frequency can quickly become a dis-stressor. The weight of this problem lies heavily in the hands of both the coach AND the athlete to know how to push homeostasis limits into states of adaptation without red-lining your body into extreme exhaustion.
Gains are maximized when stress from training disrupts homeostasis, but does not overwhelm the body into exhaustion
Like any good fitness program, our goals are to maximize your performance every day. We can do this by trying to maximize your adaptation while avoiding exhaustion.
Adaptation is the process by which changes are made in the structure and and function of an organism in response to eu-stressors (the good stress). These changes start with hormonal changes and finish with the protein synthesis pathways of the cells.
Adaptation can be promoted by the application of appropriate supplements and by recovery methods that are regularly incorporated into the athletes daily routine in order to raise the adaptational threshold of the athlete.
So, what we’ve found is that training harder is rarely the missing piece that is required for progress. That role is saved for recovery, which many athletes neglect. High intensity training, especially when coupled with strength training, causes lots of stress; joint & ligament stress, muscular microtrauma, nerual fatigue, and hormone disruption. These are all factors that need to be taken into account for recovery.
- Cool Down – Light jog, easy row. Strecthing, flexibility, mobility training.
- Fluid Replacement – DRINK WATER!!! Stop drinking so much caffeine (Coach JD should heed his own advice) and carry around a Nalgene and drink the proper amount of water to support a healthy and active lifestyle. If your urine isn’t clear you need more H20
- Nutrition – Eat well. Follow whatever healthy lifestyle you’d like, but make sure you’re getting the proper macro- and micro-nutrients every day. Ask a coach or look at our web resources for more Nutrition information.
- TLC – Foam roll 5 minutes before or after class. Take a few hot/cold showers where you alternate between the two for 30s each. Start using fish oils to help improve blood flow. Heck, even take an epsom salt bath.
- Passive – Resting and sleeping. Amount of time sleeping does not matter. Get some good quality sleep. Stop playing on your phones before falling asleep. Quality > Quantity.
- Active – Sub-maximal technique work (<65%), low intensity workouts performed to improve recovery, mobility, and flexibility
Contributions from Coach Jen and Coach JD.
With the passing of the CrossFit Regionals, and some of our own members participating in other local competitions, you may be wondering how you can start being involved in competition. For many, the thought of participating in your first CrossFit competition can make you a little nervous. It can even be challenge to pick which division and which competition is suitable for your own skill level. Here we will provide you with some words of wisdom, must know tips, and encouragement to get you out there on the competition scene.
The first thing that may come to mind when even deciding whether to compete or not may be, “Am I good enough to compete in a competition?” The answer is ABSOLUTELY YES! Most competitions you see today have different categories for athletes to compete in. Different venues have different methods of naming divisions, but here is the most common nomenclature for the different competition levels:
- Scaled: For the beginning athlete, or those athletes who are still perfecting several major CrossFit “skills”. Normally in the scaled division the movements will be those that an athlete just starting CrossFit will be able to perform. The weights in this division will be lighter but the workouts will be just as challenging as the upper divisions.
- Intermediate: For the more seasoned athlete. This division will start to introduce some of the less technical CrossFit skills like double-unders, toes-to-bar, and Rx’d pull-ups. The weights in the intermediate division will be heavier than scaled and can be thought of as challenging, or medium, weight for an average athlete.
- Advanced (Rx): For the cream of the crop. When competing in the advanced divisions you have a good chance to be working against athletes that qualified for the CrossFit Regionals competitions, or were ranked in the top 500 of their region in the CrossFit Open. In this division you can and should expect any and all movements that CrossFit can throw at you. This includes bar or ring muscle-ups, pistols, and hand-stand push-ups to name just a few. Weights in the advanced division will be challenging for even the most veteran CrossFit athletes.
- Team / Partner: Some competitions will be team or partner specific. These style competitions are where you will work with your team or partner to complete the workout. Many athletes find these to be the most enjoyable environments, while others dislike the pressure of having a teammate wait for you to finish. Within the team & partner competitions there are also intermediate and advanced division to further choose from. Depending on the competition, some will be co-ed, same sex, or teams of 4 to 6 mixed or same sex athletes. Either way, you will want to pick a team or partner with similar skill levels.
No matter what division you choose, be ready to work hard! On competition day expect to arrive at the venue early. You must sign-in and receive your heat or lane assignments, and most importantly, your swag bag. It will also be a good idea to sign up for your floater workout as soon as you can. Floater? What the heck is a floater!??
- Floater: The floater WOD will be a scored workout you will have to do along with the previously announced main events. The difference between a normal WOD and a floater is that you must choose the time you participate in this workout. When you arrive at the venue, look at your heat times and then find the sign up desk for the floater WOD. There you will see different time slots offered to do the workout. Work with your coach to pick a time that works best for you. For example, you probably do not want to perform the floater immediately before or after you have to perform one of your already scheduled events. Try to give yourself 30 minutes to an hour in between all your workouts.
Things to bring to your competition:
- Food & Snacks: Come prepared with plenty of food and snacks for the entire day. It is a great idea to pack a cooler with drinks, paleo snacks, and a frozen water bottle to help keep things cool.
- Pre- & Post-Workout Supplements: Bring any supplements you have been using during your training, DO NOT try a new product or supplement on the day of the competition.
- Seating: Most venues, outdoors and indoors, will have space for folding chairs, a blanket or two, and an EZ up (or some sort of shade).
- Recovery: Bring whatever small items you need to help keep yourself loose and your muscles happy. This includes foam rollers, lacrosse balls, theracanes, and bands. If you’re lucky one of our coaches might even hook up you with a shoulder massage!
- Extras: Make sure to bring athletic tape, chalk, and a change of clothes (if you need them). Most importantly, don’t forget your personal jump-rope. When you are on the floor sweating, tired, and full of adrenaline you don’t want to have to figure out the characteristics of a foreign rope.
- A Good Attitude: Remember to be happy and enjoy yourself. Keep reminding yourself why you signed up to do this. You’re fit and you’re a badass. Let your coaches and fans in the crowd be the one’s yelling and stressing out.
Is it outdoors or indoors? What is the set up going to be like? It’s a very good idea to try and research some of this information before game day. Sometimes, competitions will release a layout of the venue they will be using or at least give you a description of where everything will be located. This is another reason you want to show up more than a few minutes early. You will want to orient yourself and find a comfortable rest area at the venue, after all you will be there ALL DAY.
Lastly, you WILL be exhausted, tired, sore, dirty, just to name a few. The most important piece of advice any of our coaches can give you is to HAVE FUN! Try to keep a positive attitude, and if you do not do as well as you hoped on one workout shake it off and crush the next one. It’s easy to watch someone move past you in a workout and focus on their strengths compared to your weaknesses, but what matters most is that you are stronger, faster, and better than you were yesterday.
Remember that no matter what all of your coaches, friends, and family at CrossFit Kratos will be EXTREMELY proud of you. Okay, now it’s time for you to find a competition and sign up! Hurry!! GO!
By Coach Jen Indorf
All of your friends know you CrossFit. How do they know? Because it’s all you ever talk about! You try to get them to come into the box with you, but what response do you get, “it’s too hard, it’s too intense, there’s no way I could ever do that stuff!” Here is the low down from one of our own, Ashley AKA Wis. Her friends and fellow athletes at CrossFit Kratos call her Wis because she is from Wisconsin, but what is she doing here in sunny Southern California? Ashley is a full time grad student at the University of California Riverside, and a regular at CrossFit Kratos.
With the CrossFit Kratos nutrition challenge coming to a close, we thought it would be a great time to ask one of our athletes to reflect not only on the challenge but the last year at CrossFit Kratos in general. We asked Ashley what kind of difficulties she’s faced in the last year on her journey to health through CrossFit. Food preparation and diet was and is still one of her struggles. Before joining CrossFit Kratos, Ashley lost 40 lbs on her own. She was asked what made her want to try CrossFit, she said she had tried it before with a friend, took a break but wanted to do it again. Her initial goal when joining CrossFit Kratos was to continue her weight loss, but weigh loss and that number on the scale eventually became less important. Feeling strong and healthy became her focus.
Ashley has had numerous accomplishments in the last year, many of them feats she thought she would never be capable of doing. Her most recent accomplishments are Deadlifting 275lbs and an Rx Rope Climb. Along with those, in the past year she has accomplished Rx Push-Ups, Double-Unders, and Toes-to-Bars. In the next year she wants to accomplish an Rx Pull-Up, string together T2B, and improve on her overhead movements and shoulder mobility.
Lastly, we asked her how she has changed over the last year, not just physically but as a whole. The answer is a part of what you might want to tell others when they ask you about CrossFit. Ashley cannot say that there has been any thing negative come from her journey through CrossFit. She feels stronger, more capable and has more body awareness.
Wisconson’s advice to new members or those trying CrossFit for the first time is to, “SCALE! All the time! Or when you need to.” She does not advise trying more than you are capable of because you can’t train if you’re hurt. She also said to just keep coming. Those who have been in the CrossFit community for a while know that it constantly tests your limits, Ashley adds, “but don’t over-train.” Another important point she makes is to get to know everyone, reinforcing the community aspect of CrossFit.
So the next time someone asks you about CrossFit, tell them Ashley’s story, tell them your story.