Posts tagged mobility

When the Mental Game Kicks In


The CrossFit Games 2013

2-logo-games-2013Sometimes we long time CrossFitters forget that many people have no clue what the CrossFit Games are and why we are all talking about it. I didn’t register because I think I am going to move on — I did it for the challenge and i love the fact that athletes all around the world are doing the same workout this week as a community.  Elite, everyday Joes, and newbies are all taking it on and doing their own personal best.

I also love that moments before you start, you get that nervous excitement in your belly even though you have done countless workouts before — it’s just this adrenaline building up. For me, I remind myself it’s just a workout – I’m here to maintain my fitness and feel great, blow off some steam, de-stress, have fun – but then the clock starts to countdown and you hear 3, 2, 1…beep beep beep and you GO!

And then the mental game kicks in — which is a part I need major help with.  When I am in the zone, nothing can stop me. I have been there and felt it. But when I start gasping for air, my lungs start to get heavy and mentally I start to lose focus and begin to focus on the very important point of breathing.  I have asthma and there are times when it doesn’t bother me but when it does, it does big time.  It’s also very heavily affected by the weather –when its cold and or very dry.  I think I need to deal with it better –learn how to manage it when it starts to creep up and I panic during a workout.  I know I haven’t been really on point with managing it and it’s days like today, when I really feel let down by my own performance that it shows.

Kelly StarrettI’m off to a Mobility Workshop tomorrow with the famous Kelly Starrett – KStarr – to those insiders!  KStarr is also the coach behind and owns CrossFit San Francisco. I have been wanting to go to this trainer’s course for a long time and finally registered before it sold out.  I am so hungry for info from this amazing community of athletes and coaches that i could go to these workshops every week if possible.  Learning from the best is the only way to go!


CF Games 13.2

10min AMRAP
5 Shoulder to OH
10 Deadlifts
15 Box Jumps
total: 158 reps

Again, not my best showing but it is what it is and I’m moving on….



Coach Carl Paoli: Learn to Move so you can Move to Learn


Yesterday, I went to a workshop about movement. “Learning to move so I can move to learn” was the theme of the day, coached by Carl Paoli of Naka Athletics out of San Francisco (one of my favorite cities).

Coach Carl’s Freestyle Connection

I had no real assumptions about what this workshop would be about other than knowing Coach Carl had a gymnastics background and knowing he works closely with Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD – including mobility as a major component of his approach as well.


Carl began the day with a short overview of the framework he follows which encompasses Position – Movement – Purpose and how we are going to learn, practice and apply movement and skill transfer principles by using gymnastics and body-weight training.

  • Position always has a start, transition and finish
  • Movement is general, functional
  • Purpose: Why is the athlete doing it? When? Who?

He asked us to define Functional. Many of us Lv1 1 Trainers & CrossFitters talk about functional movement everyday but when pressed to really dive deep into its meaning – we are at a loss.


  • safe
  • an efficient application of force

Do you want to be a Ferrari or a Prius? Depends on what you are trying to do.

LOCAL level-it can mean:

  • strength
  • Capacity to move (shoulder/elbow/wrist) –

Can the athlete stand, sit, touch their toes, raise their shoulders?

A movement can be simple, have few demands and few variables and then can be made more complex as you progress and evolve — as you evolve you increase the demands, increase the variables and make it more complex.  So think about it — you work on push ups as a beginner – you maybe start on your knees (although Coach Carl suggests having the athlete spread the legs out instead of going on their knees),  then you progress to standard push up, and then you progress to one handed push up each arm, and you make it more complex as you progress through the scaling stages. There is always another addition you can make it to keep moving through… Make sense?

  • Demands are high
  • Variables are Low


  • General Shape
  • Mechanics of a Movement is the Skill of the movement

photo (10)
Think about it this way: If basic movements are put into a grid and you as an athlete are looking to improve certain movements, you can look to see what skills to work on to help build up to that movement. You need to understand the concept of skill transfer and that they can be applied to multiple domains.

So if you wanted to improve your HSPU, you can see that the skills beneath it are push ups and ring rows (as an example only) — the skills you are going to work on to improve the HSPU are all underneath that grid. You peel back the layers of the HSPU and start there. How is your push up – does it need work?

photo (11)

I just found this entire workshop fascinating, challenging and fun –the day went by way too fast and Coach Carl is the kind of guy you just want to hang out with forever — laid back, patient, funny and has the ability to make you feel at ease. Which is good because he regularly calls on people or offers to help diagnose issues and it’s very hands on and you are definitely put into some compromising positions.

So Freestyle, defined by Coach Carl is strength + skill and is based on your level of ability. You start on A and you progress through the alphabet depending on the complexity and mechanics involved. So one builds on another.   Fall>Connection (Point of Contact)>Flow

He also went over the Fantastic Four in Gymnastics: the four movements that people struggle with universally:

  • Hand stand push ups
  • Pistols
  • Muscle Ups
  • Burpees

It’s because they are complex movements with millions of connections! We spent the day working on progression techniques to help coach up to these four and the tips and tricks he shared were seriously amazing. A few of the athletes got their first muscle up yesterday after learning how to break it down and practice it.

At the end of the workshop, a light bulb went off for me –that all of this movement is connected. A Muscle up is a series of fundamental movements combined and if you work on the separate movements skill wise and build your strength – you will get it.  I just want to learn more and more about the science of all of this –and it really all ties together and makes sense. Body Awareness and learning how to move your body is the foundation of EVERYTHING! Ding, Ding, Ding!!

carlandmeI would recommend this workshop to ANYONE and Everyone that is into fitness, as a coach or athlete. It inspired me, fired me up and opened up quite a few locked doors in my mind that I have been struggling with. It also reminded me that it’s not a race and I shouldnt be in a hurry to rush through the movements just to beat a time on a clock. If i take the time – work on skills and strength in parallel – I will see progress.  That is what I focused on during today’s workout. Taking my time on Pistols and doing them the way we reviewed yesterday. Focus and no shortcuts!

I’m excited to take what I  have learned, share it and apply it to my own training. Should be FUN!

Oh and I can’t forget to mention that Coach Carl is not bad to look at either! I did not complain at all about spending the day with him — It’s one of the awesome benefits of the CrossFit community. Great looking people everywhere you go!


  • 800m jog
  • Mobility
  • DROM
  • 20 TGUps


  • Pistols
  • HSPU


  • 5 HSPU
  • 10 Pistols
  • 15 Pull Ups


Don’t Forget Your Hamstrings


muscleupHamstring Mobility – It’s Important

Besides showing fellow athletes how to use a lacrosse ball to help with mobility, I also have shown many of them a really good hamstring stretch. Many people don’t realize how back problems are often associated with tight hamstrings.

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine “Tight hamstrings can restrict movement of the pelvis, which can cause a compensatory increase in rounding of the low back. This increases the forces on the lumbar spine during forward bending, which can lead to injuries in the low back.”

I have learned how PNF stretches can really help with mobility.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation or PNF stretching is where you actively contract then passively stretch the muscle you are trying to lengthen. The technique targets muscular nerve receptors to increase the muscle reach and muscle flexibility. You basically trick the muscle into thinking it is just going to relax after exerting effort, and then you lengthen the muscles while they are relaxed.  

At CrossFit Impavidus, I use the column of the rig but you can use just your hand or or press your heel into a wall or even a door jamb.

Found this info on FitSugar:

To Stretch the hamstrings: 

  • Contract the muscle you want to stretch. In the photo above the muscle group being targeted is the hamstrings — the back of the thigh. The leg is held up to the end range of flexibility (where you start to feel the stretch), then you try to press the leg down to the ground which engages the hamstrings. You can press the leg into your own hands with fingers laces holding the back of the leg between the booty and the knee (but not on the knee joint!) or press your heel into a wall. Hold the contraction for 7–10 seconds.
  • Release the contraction. Then stretch the hamstring by bringing the leg closer to the torso. Careful here – do not force the leg. Hold the stretch for 10–15 seconds.
  • Repeat the cycle three to five times, then switch legs.

To give you a visual —

Fitness journal star date 12.18


  • 800m jog
  • broad jumps
  • high knees
  • heel to butt
  • inch worms
  • rockette kicks
  • 10 Hand stand holds


  • Press/Push Press
  • Kipping Pull Ups


  • 10 box jumps
  • 10 push press 65#
  • 10 pull ups

rounds: 6+23 reps (almost made it to 7!)

Mobility is Important in your CrossFit Training!


Myofascial Release 

Let’s talk about mobility and how important it is to being and staying well. Today, I coached the 6A class and as a part of their warmup, I had them grab the good ole ball of pain and roll out their shoulders and back. This sort of muscle work is called Myofascial release. And its something you should do as much as possible! Trust me, it may hurt but if you do it enough, it won’t hurt as much and you feel so much better when you are done!

From Zen to Fitness:

Tight muscles can cause extreme pain and we are all susceptible to them – especially around the neck, shoulders and lower back area. Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy which works to release contracted muscles and improve blood flow to the area. A large portion of back, neck and shoulder pain is caused by muscles which have seized up and are causing discomfort by either putting pressure on a nerve or just giving us a constant feeling of stiffness.

This is where myofascial release comes in – with simple methods you can learn to release these muscles and be free of pain. It can also be used preventively to keep muscles loose and supple. Athletes can find myofascial release methods especially useful as they are more prone to muscles tightening up and causing pain which can easily be prevented or released using simple soft tissue release methods.

In addition to using a lacrosse ball, you can also use a foam roller and bands. I have mentioned Kelly Starrett before and his site. It’s an amazing resource and he recommends the following six mobility moves below to focus on to really help improve your range of motion. CrossFit 604 recommends some moves based on Kelly S. approach as well.


Last week I shared a how to use a foam roller on my Pinterest board — try incorporating mobility work in your daily routine to help improve your circulation, to manage pain, and to help your flexibility and mobility. It may be a tough pill to swallow while you are doing the actual work, but the benefits are totally worth it.

Working Wounded Games: Nov 10 2012 at CrossFit Rubicon


I feel better this morning. Rest days can do wonders for your body. Don’t ever underestimate how important rest days are in your overall fitness plan. I am not talking about sitting around doing nothing and eating crap. Just that you don’t do a hard core workout –do some mobility, yoga, a run, just not something to taxing on your body. It needs time to renew and repair so you can get stronger.  Want some mobility ideas? Visit

Also I found this really good How to Foam Roll Infographic. Foam Rollers are super great and go along with using a LAX Ball! 


The first CrossFit competition designed for amputees and severely wounded veterans.

A great event where you will definitely get Inspired and you can lend your support for the Working Wounded Games on 11/10 –  at CrossFit Rubicon in Tysons Corner, VA.

Plan to attend or offer your monetary support to help keep programs like this up and running.  I will be there cheering them all on!

This photo was taken by me at CrossFit Rubicon. CF Rubicon has taken the lead and created a program specifically geared towards amputees called Real World Six that centers around sport and community. I have seen some of these athletes at work and there are no words for how inspired you feel once you see how bad ass they are.

Show your support if you can! It’s Games and programs like this that really make CrossFit special and different from the other guys.


  • 800m run
  • 2x
  • 2 handstand walks into a bear crawl
  • 10 pass thrus
  • mobility


  • Push Press


Push Press
105# – Stayed away from max # bc of tweaked neck/shoulder area.


Tabata Sit Ups 

Mobility WOD


Mobility WOD

go check out Kelly and all of his great advice about mobiity over at Mobility WOD. I often tell people exactly what he says:

“All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”

You won’t be sorry if you take his advice and start doing some stretching and getting your body feeling good!


A great article about CrossFit Impavidus in the local county paper!


Front Squats and Mobility


It was another metcon Workout — a Fran style workout with a bit of a twist. You would think that yesterday and today’s workouts that last under 10m would be throw aways but no way. I was totally spent at the end as was everyone else. I workout at 6A and usually there are 10-15 other athletes that show up regularly. That alone is impressive but consider that there is a 5A class and there are usually more in that one! Now that is beyond impressive —

Dynamic Range of Motion stretching
25 DUs
5 DLs
5 Hang Cleans
5 Good Mornings


OHS 73#
Pull Ups
— Double unders for a 1m each rep round.
time: 5:24

I didn’t do the full on 95# OHS today because I was sore from yesterday’s workout and I have a kink in my back. It was still heavy though. I also used a band to help with the pull ups and am starting to get the hang of kipping although I do find myself getting all mixed up and just dead hanging it. That is not really a bad thing — because it definitely will make me stronger. Coach Conan had us really work on front squats as our skill. He had us all put the barbell on our ‘shelf’ – the area where the bar can literally rest on your shoulders- and then let go of our hands and squat down. In theory, it should stay there and your hands are solely used to prevent it from falling, not to hold the weight which makes it easier to lift heavier. Your body is holding the weight not your wrists.

We finished the workout with some mobility band work which in some ways is harder than the actual workout but the end result is so worth it!

A Well-Balanced Meal? I Don’t Think So…


I was driving home this morning and listening to the radio. A McDonald’s commercial came on talking about updates to the Happy Meal. The Happy Meal will now include fries AND apple slices for a ‘well balanced meal’. Isn’t that fabulous!!  Now come on — if you are going to sell it, don’t add in the crap about well balanced meal. You and I know fries don’t make it balanced at all.  The things marketers will try — words in fancy combinations don’t make it any more or less true.

Last night, while watching Tv before bed – I took my Lacrosse Ball and rolled out my back and shoulders. The past week, I have had stiffness and general soreness all around them. As much as it hurt, it felt great and afterwards I could totally feel the difference. I am telling you — GET a LACROSSE ball today!!

I woke up to heavy fog and humidity, which for an asthmatic = hard to breathe weather and of course we had to run!!

25 Double Unders/150 Singles
10 OHS
10 Whirly Birds
10 HSS
10 Cobras
10 Front, Back, Around (With your arms)

good mornings
gymnastics (kick to handstands, handstand leans to help you get used to shifting your weight for handstand walks)

5 rounds for time of:
400 m Run
25 Good Mornings
25 Sit-up (abmat)s

Not my best showing. I had issues with breathing this morning and the thick foggy air and Good Mornings seemed like torture. The prescribed (RX) weight is your body weight and I did 65lbs. I sure as heck didn’t think I could handle my body weight, doing 25 reps of good mornings. To compare, I did 50 Good Mornings at 45lbs during Saturday’s workout. I couldnt walk normally for days –my hamstrings were Yelling!! I can imagine what the next day or so will bring after today’s torture.

CrossFit Impavidus is closed on Saturday for a special charity event they are doing — so I am thinking of taking it easy tomorrow and Saturday. I can tell my body is tired and may be trying to tell me to take it easy. This is a good opportunity to do that — take a long weekend and do some general stretching, mobility and get outside but not do actual high intensity movements. Rest can be just as important as exercise at times — this may be one of those times.

Mobility time


Coach Conan was the coach of the morning. He’s a great coach and spends time really coaching & spends time with us teaching mobility which is so important to being fit and recovering.

DROM stretching
400m run x2
L-sit 2x 20s
Handstands 2x 20s

As many rounds as possible in 15 minutes of:
20 Double Unders
10 Pull-ups
10 Air Squats
total: 7

finished with mobility work

Yoga for Strength Training and Flexibility


One of the greatest benefits of blogging about my journey towards health and fitness is I get to meet and connect with some amazing people. People from all over the world, all types of backgrounds, education, perspectives and experiences. It was an aspect that I never considered or imagined when I began blogging regularly after Scotty’s colon cancer diagnosis.  So- from time to time, I am going to invite guests to contribute to and have them write about aspects of health and fitness.  It really does takes a community of fit-minded, healthy people to help reignite and/or solidify your commitment to your journey. So thank you to my first guest blogger – Maria Rainier!

Yoga for Strength Training and Flexibility

Yoga may conjure up images of “ohm” chanting, legging wearing, hippies with long hair and sleepy voices. However, regular practice can help build muscle, reduce the risk of injury, and improve flexibility. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all types can find benefits in incorporating a yoga routine into their regular workout schedule.

It Helps Build Muscle

For those who want to bulk up and add a great deal of muscle, weight lifting will be best. However, regular yoga practice can create a strong, toned physique through resistance training. Many of the poses work against your own body weight, thereby building muscle. The poses also incorporate a number of muscle groups and supporting muscles, in much the same way that a free-weight routine does. Not only are you building strength, but you are activating more muscles and for a longer period of time.

It Helps Reduce Injury

Because yoga incorporates a wide range of muscle groups and supporting muscles, it strengthens and tones the whole body, reducing the risk of injury. Many strength-training routines tend to focus on “mirror muscles” such as the biceps, chest, abs, and thighs. This can lead to imbalances, leading to spinal misalignment. Yoga helps to strengthen the total body, leading to better posture, better range of motion, and greater endurance, leading to less chance of injury.

It Helps Improve Your Next Workout

Because yoga helps improve your total endurance, it can improve your next workout – be it strength training or cardio. A typical strength-training set may include 10-12 reps, lasting a few seconds each. Yoga poses are held for several minutes each, some as much as five or 10 minutes. This will improve your muscular endurance and overall stamina.

It Helps Speed Recovery

Yoga helps improve blood flow and oxygen to your muscles, flushing out lactic acid and other waste buildup, and speeding recovery time. It also helps to relieve sore and tired muscles, providing a gentle stretch that counteracts the contraction of the muscles. The soothing movement also helps reduce inflammation in the muscle, which helps improve overall balance throughout the body.

It Increases Flexibility

Of course, one of the most known benefits of yoga practice is that it helps you build flexibility. For those who strength train regularly, increased flexibility means greater range of motion, and that means the ability to push yourself further and a reduced risk of injury.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degree programs, and what it takes to succeed as a remote student in online schools. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

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