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The Pain is in Your Head!

We oftentimes hear the phrase “pain is in your head” used to motivate others around us while suffering
through a physically intense endeavor. I frequently heard this or similar renditions while in the Army
during training events like our semi-annual fitness tests, long unit runs, and grueling ruck marches. The
meaning of statements like this is to reinforce the power of the mind over the body, to mentally fight
through the physical discomfort. However, it turns out that pain is actually experienced in our heads and
NOT actually where pain is felt. Pain truly is in our heads. Now bear with me as I elaborate.

You see, the painful body part is too “dumb” and not equipped to produce pain. Let’s use tweaking the
low back while lifting something heavy, for example. Within the tissues of the low back are special
receptors and nerves that simply detect whatever might be a threat to the body. This includes local
chemical responses from inflammation, exposure to high forces of pressure, and extreme heat or cold.
These nerves detect this stimulus but do not know how to utilize this information; however, they know
who does…. the brain! So, these low back nerves that detected a potential threat send a signal away
from the local area to the spinal cord which then relays the message up to the brain for further
processing. Once received, the brain makes note of where the message is coming from, what type of
message was received (a potential threat!), and the current situation (bending over picking up
something heavy). It quickly processes the message to produce the output of pain.

Believe it or not, pain is a blessing protecting us from further harm. If it wasn’t for pain, I wouldn’t be
able to detect the sharp rusty nail I am stepping on and quickly pull my foot away from it, preventing
getting tetanus. Without pain, I wouldn’t know if my appendix was about to rupture, potentially causing
a fatal event. Pain forces me to the doctor to get the appropriate treatment. Pain prevents us from
running on a sprained ankle, causing further harm to sensitive tissue. Without pain to protect us and
guide us, we wouldn’t have survived long as a species!

Not only can the brain receive and process information from pain receptors and nerves, it is also the
body’s headquarters for processing any and all information related to our senses, movement, internal
health, cognitive processing, emotional state, and overall well-being. The brain will use other information
to fine tune the output and can amplify, distort, or weaken the output based on this other data. It can
also suppress the pain output in a life or death situation. For example, a Soldier being shot in the arm in
combat may not realize it until after the firefight is over. During this scenario, the arm’s pain receptors
and nerves detected the threat and relayed the information to the brain for processing. However, the
brain quickly “decided” the arm is less threatening than the potentially fatal situation it was facing, so it
dampened the pain output to deal with it later, when not in a life and death situation.

Because the pain is processed in our heads as well as EVERYTHING else, there can be some crosstalk
between different processes simultaneously occurring that can greatly impact the pain output. For
example, a person with both chronic back pain and depression may experience more back pain if their
depression worsens. What is it about being more depressed that causes more back pathology? Nothing!
But because both the depression and the back pain are processed in the brain, they can oftentimes
negatively impact each other. The opposite is true, too. Feeling more hopeful and optimistic can have a positive effect on chronic pain. This is why managing chronic pain should include a holistic approach (a
topic certainly worth its own article).

Of course, the physiology of experiencing pain is much more complex than explained here, but hopefully
this simple description helps identify the complexity of pain and how it’s not necessarily all about the
painful body part. It’s important to remember this while going through the rehabilitation and recovery
process, especially when there is a lack of progress, worsening of symptoms, or when dealing with other
health issues simultaneously (physical, mental, spiritual, etc.).

So, in summary, the pain you and I feel is actually in our heads. No, we are not all crazy, and the pain
experienced is actual legit pain. We just need to remember this as we recover and heal as there can be
many other factors that can influence the rehab process and pain symptoms. By understanding and
acknowledging this, we are able to identify non-pathological reasons why pain may worsen, and this
gives us a little more control over what often seems to be an uncontrollable situation.

For more information, check out this 5-minute animated video:

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Squatting with Knee Pain

So, your knee is starting to give you a little trouble when you squat. Many times, people come to us having been told they need to stop squatting and rest it, or that “squatting is bad for your knees, you should never go that low.” And don’t get me started on the “knees shouldn’t go past your toes” myth… All of this couldn’t be further from the truth! If your healthcare provider is telling you otherwise, it’s time to find someone else. A big part of getting you back to 100% is volume management. This means your recent squat volume may have been a little too much for your tissues to handle and we need to take some time to calm them down and build them back up. But in the meantime, we can still find ways to get after it in the gym!

An experienced PT will not only assess your knee and design an appropriate loading program, but evaluate your squat mechanics, make future programming recommendations, and most importantly, find a way to keep you moving! Our goal with physical therapy is not about telling you what you CAN’T do, but helping you figure out what you CAN do. Rather than telling you to stop squatting, we work with each patient to figure out a squat variation that allows them to continue moving without increasing their symptoms. This could simply be moving them toward a more hip dominant squat to decrease the demand on the knees.

An easy rule of thumb is to move across the squat continuum to variations that utilize a more vertical shin. For example, if you’re having symptoms when you front squat, try a high bar back squat. When the load moves from the front rack to the upper back, the torso angle changes and the squat becomes more hip dominant vs ankle/knee dominant. Having an issue with high bar back squats? Try a low bar variation, or try box squats. This will let you really load the hips and keep your shins more vertical. From there we can keep adjusting by increasing the height of the box, decreasing range of motion to further remove the demand on the knees. There is a variation out there that will let you keep squatting, you just have to find it!

Over time, as the specific interventions for the knee continue to progress, we can gradually work back into the variation of the squat that was causing symptoms. Your rehab should be an active process, and there is no reason you can’t keep squatting!

Have questions? Send us a message at josh@vertexpt.com

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You Threw Your Back Out! Now What?

Most of us have experienced that sudden unexpected sharp low back pain and the inability to fully stand up erect afterward. If you haven’t yet, chances are you likely will at some point. Unfortunately, we oftentimes do not expect it to happen as it either occurs with the most obscure unthreatening activities (picking up a pencil, wresting with your kids, getting out of the car, etc.) or when we believe we are physically prepared to take on load (deadlifting, squatting, etc.) but the aftermath tells us otherwise. So, when it happens, what should you do?

First, don’t panic. Take a moment to catch your breath and evaluate the situation. Yes, it can be extremely painful and alarming but 99.999% of the time it isn’t life threatening. To assist ruling out more severe pathology (cancer, spinal cord injury, etc.), think about the how the pain started and the resulting symptoms. Below are some criteria to help:

  • Is the pain associated with a low-traumatic specific cause or mechanism (picking something up, twisting, etc.)?
  • Does the pain change with movement and/or position (ex: worsens with bending, better with sitting, better with walking, worse in the morning, etc.)?
  • Are you experiencing any other concerning symptoms (ex: changes in bowel/bladder function, nausea/vomiting, numbness/tingling, unexplained weight fluctuations, paralysis or severe sudden weakness, dizziness, headaches, etc.)?

If you can answer “yes” to the first two questions and “no” to the third, then the pain is likely “mechanical”, meaning it is not life threatening and is associated with the movement-related parts of the body. More severe and worrisome causes of back pain typically present as a constant unrelenting pain without an identifiable cause, pain that does not change regardless of movement/position, and pain along with other worrisome symptoms like those in question three above. Additionally, high-velocity traumatic causes of back pain (high-speed car accident, fall from high surface, etc.) should also be medically evaluated to rule out fractures. If you deem your pain as life threatening or suspect a fracture, definitely get it medically evaluated as soon as possible. If not, then congrats! You are the proud owner of acute low back pain and should keep reading.

Next, keep moving. Old school medical advice directed back pain patients to stay off their feet and oftentimes prescribed “bed rest” for prolonged periods. Turns out this treatment strategy is more harmful than good. Current medical literature supports continued activity, starting with lower level activities and gradually increasing workload until back to prior level of function. Sitting and laying around avoiding aggravating movements may seem logical to allow the body to heal; however, it’s common for individuals to actually feel WORSE after prolonged periods of rest. The longer you stay away from being active, the higher the risk of becoming deconditioned, weaker, and stiffer while potentially developing fear avoidance behaviors and acute depression if avoiding activities typically enjoyed.

With that said, it is not wise to continuously push through painful movements with the “pain is weakness leaving the body” mentality. Doing so can aggravate healing tissues (similar to picking a healing scab) as well as increase your body’s sensitivity to movement, resulting in higher pain levels. (Note: Pain is a very complicated output of the brain after it receives/processes multiple stimuli, to include pain receptors. The complexity is a whole other article on its own, but you can trust me on this!). So, the goal is to avoid the far ends of the activity spectrum: not enough and too much. Like Goldilocks, you need to find the middle “just right” point that keeps you moving without overdoing it. Light range of motion exercises and stretching is typically recommended along with light cardiovascular exercise like walking or riding a stationary bike. Check out the video below for some good exercises commonly prescribed for acute low back pain.

While going through the recovery process, it’s crucial to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle to promote a good healing response. Because physical activity is usually restricted initially, maintaining a well-balanced diet is key to prevent unnecessary weight gain and provide the body the right nutrients to optimize healing. Binge watching Netflix and eating a tub of ice cream is not a good approach. Sleep, too, is very important. One of our biggest healing-promoting hormones is Growth Hormone which naturally spikes during our deep sleep cycles. Additionally, our biggest stress hormone Cortisol (which limits recovery) naturally lowers while asleep. Reducing and disrupting sleep patterns therefore decreases the body’s natural ability to heal by reducing the “good” hormone we need while maintaining elevated levels of the “bad” hormone. I also recommend avoiding tobacco use and heavy alcohol consumption as both can reduce blood flow and the oxygen/nutrients delivered by the cardiovascular system, resulting in delayed healing.

The last piece of advice I can offer is to stay positive, be patient, and embrace the roller coaster ride of recovery. You will get better, it may just take some time. Each injury and person are unique; therefore, timelines, progression, and symptoms will vary. And if you have a history of low back pain episodes, each recovery will be different. Mindset is HUGE when injured (go back to the previous comment about the complexity of pain output). Feeling down and out mentally can carry over to how you feel physically. Also, remember that recovery is not a smooth ride with predictable improvements each day but more like a bumpy roller coaster ride with ups, downs, and loopy-loops (see below image). It’s common to experience a “bad day” after a “good day”. This does not indicate further harm or reinjury but is a common response as the body progresses.

So, in summary, tweaking your back happens. And, unfortunately, it sucks. However, you will recover. The body is amazing and able to heal despite all the day-to-day abuse thrown its way. There are things you can do to promote the recovery progress as described above: stay moderately active, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and have a positive mindset. Typical acute pain episodes improve over one to three weeks. If your pain persists longer, intensifies, or progresses to include “red flag” symptoms (see question 3 above), you should consult a medical provider to further assist.

Shameless Physical Therapy Plug: Seeing a physical therapist early in the back pain episode can further assist in the recovery process. If your state and health insurance allow for direct access to physical therapy without a referral (like South Carolina), I encourage seeking a physical therapist first to avoid delayed care and possibly unnecessary imaging and medication prescriptions.

I hope this is helpful. Definitely reach out to us at Vertex PT Specialists if you have any questions or concerns. Or if you are in the Columbia, SC area, we would love to help you out if your back pain continues to nag you!


Dr. Pat Casey, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, SFMA, CF-L1
pat.casey@vertexpt.com
803.973.0100

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5 Important Factors for Preventing Injury in Tactical Athletes

Baseline Aerobic Capacity

At the heart of every tactical job is the need to escape or mitigate danger when it arises. It doesn’t matter the job: military, police, fire. You have to be able to chase down a suspect, escape an explosion, or go into and come out of a fire. All of that will take a toll on your cardiovascular system – whether it’s the stress on your heart immediately or if it’s your body’s process of using oxygen and expelling carbon monoxide. You have to be able to use your aerobic system efficiently to do your job well – which essentially means making sure you and your team is safe. Does this mean spending 20 minutes on a stair machine or running 5 miles a day? Absolutely not. Endurance based training is not what you’ll be doing on at a fire scene, while jumping over fences in a chase, or when doing obstacle courses. It’s a combination of power based and endurance based systems, so both need to be challenged to create adaptation. You have to create a mixture of long-runs or sustained movements combined with strength and power movements. And you have to work at a specific intensity, AS LONG AS YOUR MOVEMENTS ARE PROFICIENT. And you have to understand how hard your body is working – this is best assessed by listening to your body. We call this “ratings of perceived exertion” – or a rating of how hard you think you’re pushing it. If you feel like your workout is cake, you’re more likely to be at a 1-4/10; this would correlate to between 10-40 % of your heart rate maxium (the total your heart is able to pumped based on your age and other factors). If you felt like you’re working harder – not the hardest you’ve ever worked but definitely breathing hard, and getting tired of the movement, you’re more likely at the desired 6-7/10. This is about 60-70% your heart rate max and will help you push to gain aerobic capacity. You don’t want to get so hard that you can’t keep going – so hard you HAVE to stop is more along the lines of that 10/10, or 100% (at) your heart rate max. You don’t want to be here for long, if at all.

Baseline Load Tolerance

Tactical athletes don’t just run away form or towards danger. They also have to be able to manipulate certain pieces of equipment to do their job. For firefighters, this can be advancing a charged hoseline or moving debris within a home. For police, this may be physically fighting a suspect, carrying a variety of tools/equipment, or moving objects out of the way to apprehend a suspect. For military – this can be anything; carrying a battle buddy, carrying heavy ruck sacks, carrying specific equipment. All areas of tactical athletes do have heavy lifting. To lift heavy efficiently, you have to have a good baseline functional movement pattern. And you have to have a load tolerance. If you go from lifting chips to your mouth while watching TV and try to go directly to carrying your 160# battle buddy – you’re likely to get injured. Your body just doesn’t have a tolerance to that kind of load. You have to safely progress the amount of load/weight that your body is lifting and carrying slowly over a period of time. Any sharp increase in that load can and will lead to injury.

Nutrition

This should be pretty self-explanatory. You get out of your body what you put into it. If you’re consistently putting cheeseburgers and beer into your body, it will not perform up to standard. If you have to go out to a fire scene and your body is dehydrated because you only drink soda and you never drink water, with the amount of sweating you’ll do you’re more likely to pass out; at minimum you won’t be fighting a fire as efficiently as you could be. Whatever you put into your body that’s processed will take longer to be broken down, and won’t be broken down completely. Your body can’t take the nutrients from the food – the protein, fats, and carbs – to utilize them for fuel. And whatever excess you ingest will be turned into fat by your body. The more fat you have, the harder it will be to move with your gear. Not to mention there’s less cholesterol in your system to clog up your arteries. So, if it comes from a bag or a box – it’s probably not good for you. Be an adult, minimize your fast food chicken nuggets in favor of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Stress-Management Techniques

Here’s the topic that means the most to me! Stress management is so important in our tactical athletes. This is a population that sees the unimaginable and keeps going. They come to situation they may or may not live through, then once they do make it – there’s a memory lodged in their brain for the rest of their life. And the only thing they really have is the ability to talk to family members, chaplains, and their brothers (and sisters) to get some closure. A lot of tactical athletes turn to alcohol or other substances to quiet their minds, which obviously takes a toll on your body, dehydrates you, allows you to make bad decisions…the works. Figuring out how each individual tactical athlete deals with stress is the first step. Do they act out in anger, do they drink, do they exercise? Understanding your outlet is huge in being able to manage these actions, ideas, etc. Out of these, healthy exercise to increase chemicals in the brain that improve mood and that benefits their entire system is the best. But only if it’s healthy, structured, and safe; one of the biggest thing involved in this is adequate rest. Without enough sleep, the body can’t recover. Without recovery, it’s just added stress to the body.

Strong back, posterior chain, pelvic floor

Here we are! The strength in the system! Without adequate strength, feeding somewhat back into load tolerance, your system will not be ready to take on the challenge of power-based movements and actions. The specified areas here – the pelvic floor, posterior chain, and back; all of these are areas we typically see needing increased activation patterns in the general public. But the tactical athletes use these systems much more often. With a strong back, meaning one that’s resilient to load tolerances, you can move more efficiently and you reduce your risk of injury to this system. The posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, calves) is important in all lower extremity and trunk movements. When this system is firing adequately, it will reduce your risk of injury to the back and lower extremity. And finally, the pelvic floor – the one we leave out so often. This system is important in support of your internal organs and to the stability of your overall system. Making sure you know how this area works, and how to properly activate it – will also save you from injury in the future. Notice I never actually said weakness. Many of our systems aren’t “weak.” They have the adequate strength; they just need to be called to action correctly.

If you’re a tactical athlete that has any questions about these areas – in how to implement these principles into your workout routines, in how to find a workout routine, how to eat well, or how to deal with stress better. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me. If I’m not the person, I will find the resources to help. If you’re interested in becoming a tactical athlete or working with tactical athletes, also contact me. I’m always here to help.

tristan@vertexpt.com

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Not all ACL Injuries Require Surgery

Pictured above is the iconic statue of Mickey Mantle outside of Oklahoma City’s Bricktown Ballpark.  Mickey Mantle is the legendary New York Yankees outfielder who started his rookie year in 1951. In the World Series game 2 of that rookie season, he sustained a right ACL injury which was never reconstructed or repaired; however he continued to play for the Yankees receiving 3 MVP awards and a triple crown in 1956. What is the impact of these facts? It means while Mickey Mantle was a professional baseball player he was a very highly competitive, professional athlete who had no ACL. He is what we call a “Coper.”

The ACL – anterior cruciate ligament – is one of the main stabilizers of the knee joint. This ligament keeps the shin bone (tibia) from sliding forward on the thigh bone (femur). The ligament is important in general stability of the knee complex – from side to side movements to running straight. The incidence of ACL tears is fairly high in an athletic population, cited in one study as 68.6 per 100,000 people. These injuries can be contact-related, meaning someone runs into your knee or body in a way that causes the ACL to rupture, or they can be non-contact, which is typically a plant-and-turn motion or a hyper-extension moment. The majority of ACL ruptures are from non-contact injuries, reportedly as high as ¾ of all ACL tears. There is some research that suggests females are more at risk of non-contact ACL ruptures compared to their male counterparts – the reason cited in some research articles as laxity in the ligamentous complex, the hip to knee angle ratios, and hormone differences between men and women.

After an ACL-tear and within management, there is a “rule of threes” suggested. One-third of all ACL-tears can resume normal activities without limitations, one-third will require a decrease in their activity levels or modifications to improve stability, and one-third will require an ACL-reconstruction to return to normal activities. The process of determining management should take the patient’s activity level and their desired return-to-activity into effect. And ACL-reconstructions should serve to return the individual to regular activities.

So, for the general population – is an ACL reconstruction required? Maybe yes, maybe no. BUT. It depends on the activity that you’re trying to get back to. Take for instance the weekend warrior who wants to be able to return to distance running? Maybe – it would depend on what the presentation looked like. Could they weight bear without significant pain? Could they perform a single leg hop? In the very beginning, depending on the swelling, both of these activities may be significantly difficult. But over time, with decreased swelling and increased muscle activation, can they do the same things without an ACL? It’s definitely possible. Secondly, the parent who walks for exercise and just wants to be able to complete regular house or yard work activities or take their kids to the park – does this person need an ACL reconstruction? Likely not.

Research has shown that pre-habilitation is key to improving the overall outcomes of ACL-reconstruction. The pre-habilitation is focused on decreasing swelling, improving muscle activation/firing, and improving movement patterns – not to mention setting expectations for outcomes. All of these interventions are a great way to determine if an ACL-reconstruction will be required. If you can do everything you wanted to do after doing pre-habilitation, then the possibility that you’re a coper is much, much higher.

So, what can you do? When you or your child gets injured, seek a physical therapy (PT) consult first.  Your physical therapist can determine the cause of knee pain is and assist in determining the next best step in your recovery.  Physical therapists see many post-surgical patients, which means we can recommend a good orthopedic surgeon if needed.  We can also get you moving safely – being able to improve range of motion and function much, much faster.  All in all, we can get you better faster.

If you have any questions about ACL injuries, ACL reconstructions, pre-habilitation of ACL injuries, rehabilitation of ACL injuries, or surgical consults please contact Dr Tristan Faile, PT, DPT, OCS at tristan@vertexpt.com.

References:

Plutnicki, K. (2014, May 4). Mantle’s Knee Injury Was Just the Start. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/05/sports/baseball/mantle-sustained-yankees-other-famous-knee-injury.html

Kaplan, Y. Identifying Individuals With an Anterior Cruciate Ligament-Deficient Knee as Copers and Noncopers: A Narrative Literature Review. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 2011; 41(10), 758-766

Boden, B., Sheehan, F., Torg, J., Hewett, T. Non-contact ACL Injuries: Mechanisms and Risk Factors. J Am Acad Orthop Surg, 2010; 18(9): 520-527

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Exercise: Add Life to Your Years

As we age, it can be tough to maintain a regular exercise routine. We have other things going on in life, and not to mention any aches and pains that may have developed along the way! The truth is that exercise can improve the quality of life for anyone at any age, but may in fact be even more important as we get older.

In physical therapy, we have a common saying that we often find ourselves telling our patients: Exercise is Medicine. It sounds cliché, but it could not be more true. While you cannot prevent every injury, and can’t predict when a body part will start to hurt, there are many health factors you can control. And exercise is one of the most efficient and effective ways to do that. Here are a few of the many benefits that you can expect to gain from regular physical activity:

  • Heart Disease

Exercise improves blood circulation, which is very important for preventing heart disease. Even moderate intensity physical activity has been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and premature death. It is also highly effective for improving cholesterol and blood pressure! The American Heart Association1 reports that those who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about 7 years longer than those who are sedentary and obese.

  • Weight Control

It’s true, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but you can certainly make your diet work better in your favor. Both aerobic and resistance exercise increase your overall caloric expenditure, which means what you eat will be less likely to be stored as fat. It’s not just the calories you burn while exercising, either: your body will be burning more calories throughout the day even while resting! Think of your body as a furnace, and calories will just be fuel for the fire, rather than sitting around and piling up waiting to get used.

  • Diabetes Prevention and Management

General exercise is one of the first things we recommend for people with diabetes or pre-diabetes. To move, your muscles utilize sugar that is either stored in the body or free in the bloodstream. This means that not only does exercise has a direct positive impact on blood sugar immediately, but it can also improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to utilize sugar when it is already available. Of course, this does not replace any other medical management you may require for diabetes: always talk to your doctor about any lifestyle changes that can affect long term health conditions.

  • Improved Mental Health and Function

Several studies show that exercise has a positive impact on mental function and acuity, regardless of your age. In one systematic review of the literature, researchers concluded that exercise even helps improve brain function and depression in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.2 When you exercise, your brain produces a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.3 This protein enhances mental function, and improves anxiety and depression in mice, and is thought to do the same in humans. Along with the production of endorphans, this can leave you feeling much better when you have a regular exercise routine!

  • Longevity

As we age, losing independence can be one of the most difficult things for a person and their family to go through. In clinical practice, this is one of the top priorities (if not THE top) for many patients in their older years. The number one thing I tell people to do to if this is something they’re worried about? You guessed it: Exercise.

According to the CDC4 show that even moderate intensity exercise at 150 minutes per week (that’s only 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week!) leads to significantly less chance of disease and early death. The healthier you are, the more you can do on your own. But not only that! Exercise is the only way to maintain your muscle mass and bone mineral density, which naturally decline as we age. If muscles get too weak, or bones too brittle, we are at significant risk of falls, injury, or hospitalization. Performing some regular aerobic and resistance training can keep you stronger, longer!

 

So: If you have a regular routine, keep it up! If not, the thought of starting one can be a daunting task. Talk to your physical therapist or physician about different options and they can help work with you to develop a plan. It doesn’t have to be much – 20-30 minutes of walking on most days of the week is enough to see significant benefits. Not only will it help you add years to your life, it will also help you add life to your years!

-Sean Jacobs, DPT, PT, CSCS

 

 

References:

  1. American Heart Association: Physical Activity Improves Quality of Life (2015). http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp#.W28yuuhKg2w
  2. Gremeaux, V., Gayda, M., Lepers, R., Sosner, P., Juneau, M., & Nigam, A. (2012). Exercise and longevity. Maturitas73(4), 312-317.
  3. Sleiman, S. F., Henry, J., Al-Haddad, R., El Hayek, L., Haidar, E. A., Stringer, T., … & Ninan, I. (2016). Exercise promotes the expression of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) through the action of the ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate. Elife5, e15092.
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity and Health (2018). https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
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What Joining CrossFit Taught Me as a PT and an Athlete

My first introduction to CrossFit was by Olivia Ferguson – my best friend on my softball team at Francis Marion. She started the fall of our senior year, and I would tag along to not be alone in the apartment. But I wasn’t really interested in it. As I went to PT school the following year, the consensus was that CrossFit kept us in business. Those crazy athletes just moved around erratically and injured themselves, which led them to physical therapy. My first knowledge of Brandon Vaughn (part-owner of Vertex) was that he had a private practice within a CrossFit box – and that was a lucrative business model because they were always injured! Never did I think I would actually join a box myself or ever do CrossFit.

What I realized once I was out of PT school and began practicing was that all of my pre-conceived notions were totally false. CrossFit wasn’t a place where people did exercise with reckless abandonment.

I wanted to do Olympic Lifting because of Summer Strong. I knew without any introduction to Oly Lifts that I would end up injuring myself…and I knew I didn’t have friends. So, I finally decided to drink the Kool-Aid.  I joined CrossFit Soda City in June of 2017. What I realized the more that I went was that I found my new “thing.” I’d played softball in college for the physicality and for my Patriot-family.  I’d competed in Obstacle Course Races for the community and the challenge. And now I’d joined and began to love CrossFit for the community and the challenge.

So, what I learned joining a Crossfit Box is this:

  1. These people are way nicer than any other people you’ll ever meet in any gym environment. They genuinely care how you’re doing and what’s going on in your life.
  2. CF is not dangerous, if you’re being smart about it. You’ll always have people who take it too far – every box has “that guy.” But on average, people want to do it right and don’t want to get injured.
  3. CF gives you that competitive environment if that’s what you’re looking for. You push yourself hard because you have something to prove to yourself or you have a love of competition. If you don’t want to go hard, you don’t.
  4. CF helps you become a better mover. If you practice those motions, you build a better motor program for the motion. You get cleaner in your bar movements. You get better and faster.
  5. CF changes people’s lives. People become motivated to become healthier. It’s not JUST about losing weight. It’s about getting strong: mentally, physically, and emotionally. It helps you see who you are and how strong you are. Can you get through “Fran,” can you get through the MetCon when you’re dog tired and worked 10 hours that day? Yes. You can. You’re a beast.

I love my gym-Fam. Is CrossFit for everyone? Absolutely not. That’s why we have so many options – Pilates, Barre, Yoga. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you move. Once we STOP moving, we’re much more likely to sustain injuries. Find your thing, Jelly Bean!

-Tristan Faile, PT, DPT, OCS, CF-L1

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Open WOD 18.5

7min AMRAP:

3-6-9-12-15-18-21-etc.

Thrusters – 100/65

Chest-to-Bar Pullups

 

 

18.5 – ANALYSIS

Here it is, the finale. Whether you’re happy with the first four weeks or not, we’ve come to the bitter-sweet ending. And we’re going out old school.

The Fran Ladder from 2011 was, in my opinion, the most painful open workout from that year. Once again, we get to see how far our fitness has come since “the good ol’ days”. The classic pairing of thrusters and pullups never gets any easier, no matter how the rep scheme is spliced together, and those of you on the bubble of Regionals have the next 4 days to show how bad you really want it.

In a ladder ascending by 3’s, it is normally a pretty good idea to start off slow and gain momentum throughout the workout. When it’s a 7 minute AMRAP, you may have to come out guns blazing and hope for the best during the later rounds. Annie did just that, and it paid off. While all of the Icelandic girls were fairly even through the first 3mins of the workout, Annie’s transitions were more slightly more aggressive, and her turnover rate during each of the thrusters was slightly quicker. She may have just gotten lucky that neither of the other “Dottirs” were able to catch her on that given night, but she did set a world record in the process. In any case, it will be the little things here that make the big difference in the end. Sara’s no-reps combined with slow transitions put her (relatively) far back in the race by the last 90 seconds. Katrin displayed some thruster inefficiencies that allowed Annie to get out in front early on and keep the lead.

Long story short: Move well, and move with purpose.

 

MOVEMENT TIPS

Thrusters

  • Control – Controlling the Front Squat portion of the thruster will be key for several reasons during this workout: 1) an efficient squat will directly decrease your overall energy expenditure per rep, and 2) an efficient squat = a faster squat. Keep the chest up, don’t let those elbows drop, and accelerate through the entire movement.
  • Breathe at the Top, Unless you Can’t – Early on in this workout, an easy way to pace these thrusters will be to take a quick breath at the top of each rep. This will allow you to stay tighter during the squat, and help keep the panic at bay. That being said, if you are standing there with the bar locked out overhead taking large, gasping breaths, it’s time to just drop it and actually get some air.
  • Shoulder Pop, then Punch – Just before the overhead press, many athletes neglect the momentum generated from the last little bit of the squat. Shrugging the shoulders just as you finish standing up can help “float” the bar up several inches, decreasing the amount of work on the triceps and delts to finish the press. With a relatively light weight, try to “pop” the bar up off the shoulders, then finish with a violent punch overhead. It might seem ridiculous to focus on such a small detail, but small details can save a lot of energy over the course of 50+ reps (and if that number seems small, that’s 5 reps into the round of 18 thrusters).

Chest to Bar Pullups

  • Make Your Reps Count – Common themes tend to emerge when talking about gymnastics movements performed at high intensity. With C2B’s, making each rep count is no exception. There is no fixing a missed rep, and each no rep has essentially the same energy demand of a good rep. So don’t waste your hands, lats, or sanity on barely missing the bar with your chest. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Break Before You Need To – By this point, you should have already focused on the kip during the 18.1 and 18.3 (toes-to-bar and bar/ring muscle ups). The C2B’s require nothing new on that front, but they will disappear faster than the other exercises did. For that reason, having a plan to break these up will likely lead you to success. The sets themselves will vary based on individual capacity, but it usually means stopping 2-3 reps shy of getting “close calls”. In the round of 21 pullups, Annie broke off a set of 11, followed by 6 and 4. She didn’t wait until she failed a rep to come down and rest. Just pick manageable numbers for your skill level, and get quick sets done early. That will save you valuable resting time and energy throughout the rest of the 7 minutes.

 

PACING STRATEGIES

Regionals, or Close:

  • Quick Transitions – I feel crazy for even feeling like I have to say this, but transitions will make or break this workout. The girls tonight finished the round of 12 in 1:48. That equates to 8 transitions for 60 reps in 108 seconds. The beginning of this workout needs to be very, very quick. Unfortunately, everyone will have to break their thrusters and/or pullups into smaller sets at some point during the workout. For those breaks, you should have individual sets and goals in mind. The transitions, however, should not be viewed as “planned rest” early on in the smaller rounds. Utilize those smaller sets to take advantage of quick transitions to get out ahead of the workout, then ease back into a slower pace in rounds 9 and 12.
  • Go Unbroken Through 12 – I might be wrong, but if you break the 12 Thrusters or Pull-ups, I’m not sure there is enough time to regain the ground later in the workout. If necessary, plan on breaking the 12 Pull-ups into two sets of your choice. Any more than that might be digging yourself into a pretty big hole. For most athletes, the round of 15 will probably be where “it” hits the fan. Have a plan to break up the 15’s, but even they should be bigger sets with small rest breaks.

Definitely Not Regionals:

  • Break Early, But Find Out What You’re Made Of – This workout allows you to do something we rarely ever do anymore: come out at full intensity and see what happens. Personally, I think every athlete should do this a couple of times per year just to see how far they can really push before fatigue or “quit” set in. If you don’t have any aspirations on taking this season to the next level, consider this an option. HOWEVER, if you’re just trying to beat your buddy and win a monetary (or food-related) bet, that is not the best strategy. The best way to maximize your score will be to identify your weakness during this workout (thrusters, pullups, or fitness in general), and work at a pace that will NOT take that aspect to failure. For example, if your C2B will be the limiting factor, make sure you break early enough that you do not miss any reps. While this may seem frustrating, it will allow you to go faster on the thrusters and get more reps overall than you would by consistently failing reps every round.

 

THE WARMUP

General Warmup:

  • 8min Assault Bike – Start easy, increase intensity each minute to the finish.
  • Rest 2mins – move around, start air squatting, stretching, etc.
  • 4 Rounds on the Assault Bike – 30 sec Hard: 30 sec Easy. Don’t blow up on the first one – keep the intensity high throughout each 30 second interval.
  • 25-50 Band Pull-Aparts or Face Pulls – Warm up the posterior shoulders
  • Banded Shoulder Stretching: If you typically do this to open up the shoulders, be sure to stretch out the pecs and lats. If this is not something you normally do, don’t start now.

 

Dynamic Movement Prep:

30 Seconds at Each Movement x 2 Rounds:

  • Spiderman’s – in a pushup position, bring one leg up and outside your arm. Try to sink your elbow down to the ground, then reach back up to the ceiling. Switch sides, and repeat.
  • Deep Squat Hold – get into a deep squat, focus on getting your back upright, and driving your knees out to exaggerate the demands of the rower. Use a rig or band around hips for support if needed
  • Scap Retractions on Pullup Bar – Retract for 5 seconds, briefly relax and repeat.

Thrusters:

With an empty bar:

  • 10 Overhead Presses + Pause at the top – Exaggerate the lockout position. Make sure your overhead motion is warmed up and ready to go.
  • 3 Pause Front Squats – Take 3 seconds in the bottom to establish a good position
  • Full Clean into 5 Thrusters x 2 Sets
  • Thrusters – Get moving, take some lighter weights for several sets. Work up to something heavier than your workout weight for a set of 5 Thrusters (Rx Guys: 115-135, Girls: 85-95)

Chest-to-Bar Pullups:

2 Rounds on a Pullup bar (rest between exercises as needed):

  • 10 Hollow-Arch Transitions
  • 10 Full Kips (Think Kipping pull-up, without the last chin-over the bar part)
  • 5 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups (Kipping or Butterfly)

 

Specific Workout Prep:

 

EMOM x 3:

3 Thrusters – Workout Weight

3 C2B Pullups

 

After Round 3 of the EMOM, go right into…

6 Thrusters – Workout Weight

6 C2B Pullups

*Move Fast, Focus on rep speed and Transitions. This should set the tone for how fast you will open up the workout. Remember – Quality saves Energy.

 

After this last warmup piece, you should already be sweating and ready to go. Get your mind right, move around, but don’t get cold. Ideally, you should have about 5-8mins between your last warmup round and Go Time.

 

 

-Go crush it.

 

Sean Jacobs, PT, DPT, CSCS, CF-L2

 

, ,

Open WOD 18.4

21-15-9 Reps For Time:

Deadlifts – 225/155 lbs

Handstand Pushups

Then,

21-15-9 Reps For Time:

Deadlifts – 315/205 lbs

50’ Handstand Walk After Each Set

Time Cap: 9mins

 

18.4 – ANALYSIS

I will admit, I have been impressed with the programming throughout the 2018 Open so far. But this one makes me happy in a way only CrossFit programming nerds understand. Not only did they bring back one of the classic benchmark “Girls” from the old days, CrossFit upped the ante and is giving us another opportunity to show how far our fitness has come over the past 15+ years.

Coach Glassman has always said to “master the basics of gymnastics”, and this year has shown us how important that tenet is to the current Sport of Fitness. For the first time, there are more gymnastics components than barbell weightlifting movements (at least through these first 4 weeks). Strength will always play a requisite role in being a competitive athlete – that will never change. But now we get to see another level of fitness testing in the worldwide arena.

While the first two movements themselves, Deadlifts and Handstand Pushups, are not the most difficult ones we train in the gym, they do play off of each other into a unique way to challenge posture, mechanics, and trunk stability throughout a workout. How do we make it harder? Add weight to the bar and three-dimensional body control while under fatigue. And still upside down.

Pacing the first half of this 18.4 will play a crucial role in your success, regardless of your ability or competitive goals. Quick Recap: Panchik broke his deadlifts (at 225, mind you) into sets of 6’s and 5’s JUST to save enough energy to maximize his efficiency in the HSPU and heavier deadlifts. Gudmundsson came out more aggressively, and he only gained 15-20 seconds on Panchik by the end of part 1. In the end, Panchik was able to hold his composure better than his Icelandic competition, and finished 55 seconds faster.

To look at their pacing another way, both of these athletes are capable of completing Diane in 2-ish minutes (if not faster). That means they did Diane at about 65-75% speed. In this 9-minute workout, patience is a virtue.

 

MOVEMENT TIPS

Deadlifts

  • *It should go without saying, but if possible, load two separate bars with their respective weights. Don’t waste time changing weights if you can help it.*
  • Breathe – Too often during workouts do athletes grab the bar from the ground, pull for as many reps as possible, then drop it without ever having thought about taking a breath. This will spike your heart rate way too early, and completely throw off any pacing strategy you may be attempting. In this workout, get tight, lift the bar, and reset at the top with a big quick breath. Each rep should be accompanied by one breath. That doesn’t mean “relax, stay loose, and hope for the best”. It means stay calm, stay tight, and knock out small sets without redlining before the race even begins.
  • Push through the Ground – If you think about “pulling” every rep of these 45-90 deadlifts, your hamstrings and low back will go on strike. Keep your chest up, and use your quads to drive the movement as much as possible. If there is a major muscle group that is least involved in handstand work, it’s the quads. Despite the volume, the first deadlift bar is relatively light, so focus on technique more than speed or intensity.

Handstand Pushups

  • Make Your Reps Count – Several things come into play when these Open standards are involved, but the most important thing is to make sure your heels cross the line at the top before you descend back into your next rep. That means: Pull your toes down toward your face (it will raise your heels up 1-2 inches), squeeze your glutes at the top to stay in a good hollow position, and fully extend your arms and shoulders through the end of the movement. Shortchanging these factors will quickly and dramatically cut down your range of motion.
  • Kip Big, and Kip Hard – If you are dead set on doing these strict because you simply cannot figure out the kip to a handstand pushup, then it is what it is. But don’t rely on a half-hearted leg kick to get you any momentum out of the bottom. I always tell my athletes to think of these as Upside-Down-Thrusters: The movement starts with a violent squat from below parallel, and then the arms finish to lock out overhead. If you can get an efficient kip in this workout, you will save valuable energy in the shoulders needed for good deadlift mechanics. As a wise teacher once said to a young golf prodigy, “It’s all in the hips.”

Handstand Walk

  • *Note: If you make it to the Handstand Walk, there is a good chance you have already practiced this movement. If this is your first time attempting the Party Trick of Fitness, consider going scaled, or devoting some practice time prior to the workout itself. Here’s a handstand walk progression to try against a wall or with a partner:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWDN313DwsE

  • Grab the Floor – Handstand walking is not just an act of balancing on your palms while falling forward. Make your hands cover as much surface area as possible, and spread the load throughout your fingers. Increasing stability on the ground is required to gain your balance and control your entire body through space.
  • Active Shoulders – As weird as it may sound, your arms become your legs, and your shoulders become your hips. This means that your shoulders need to be engaged the entire time, pressing through the ground to shift your weight from side to side to unload the hand that will be moving forward. Much easier said than done, but you cannot move your hand forward unless all of your weight is on the opposite hand first.

 

PACING STRATEGIES

For Those Who Are Trying to Finish the Workout:

  • Big Deadlifters – If you struggle more with HSPU than deadlifts, do slightly bigger sets on the deadlifts and allow for more, smaller sets on the HSPU (5-5-4-4-3). The heavy deadlifts will feel probably feel MUCH heavier than it normally does, so plan on doing quick sets of 3’s and 4’s (MAYBE 5’s if you need to). Here’s a suggestion:
    • Deadlifts: 6-6-5-4, HSPU: 5-5-5-4-2, DL: 6-5-4, HSPU: 5-5-3-2, DL: 5-4, HSPU: 4-3-2

 

  • Gymnasty Freaks – Go with smaller sets on the Deadlifts (5-5-4-4-3), taking VERY short breaks in between each set. Your personal HSPU skills should give you a good idea of how to break those up, as this will be highly individual to the athlete. Don’t go anywhere near failure during the rounds of 21 and 15, sets should not be bigger than 8-10 at the most. Unless you feel REALLY confident, and don’t mind redo-ing this on Monday if you game planned it wrong. Here’s a suggestion:
    • Deadlifts: 5-5-4-4-3, HSPU: 7-6-5-3, DL: 5-4-3-3, HSPU: 5-5-5, DL: 5-4, HSPU: 5-4

 

For Those Trying to finish “Diane” and MAYBE Get some Heavy Reps In:

  • Go Big on your Strength, Leave More time for your Weakness – If you’re not happy about Diane, it’s probably because you struggle with one movement more than the other. That means this workout is all about just trying to beat your personal benchmark, or set one that you’re proud of for the first time. Pick your favorite movement out of the two, and go for bigger sets there. Find out what you’re made of, and have fun with it.

 

THE WARMUP

General Warmup:

  • 5min Assault Bike – Start easy, increase intensity each minute to the finish.
  • Row 500m @ 80ish% – Treat every pull like a Deadlift.
  • 10 Pushup-to-Downward Dogs
  • Row 500m @ 85-90%
  • Foam Roll: T-spine Extension, Lats and Shoulders (if needed). Make sure you have full overhead motion and that your hips are loose.
  • Banded Shoulder Stretching: If you typically do this to open up the shoulders, be sure to stretch out the pecs and lats. If this is not something you normally do, don’t start now.
  • 25-50 Band Pull-Aparts or Face Pulls – Warm up the posterior shoulders

Dynamic Movement Prep:

  • 3 Rounds:

10 Russian KBS – Moderate Weight, get the violent hip extension firing

10 GHD Back Extensions

Max Sorenson Hold – Get to the top of a Back Extension, and hold until just shy of failure

 

  • Deadlift Prep: In Sets of 3 RepsWork up to something heavier than the heavier Deadlift bar for a set of 1-3. Take as many sets as you need to in order to feel comfortable moving the heavier weight (Rx: Guys – 335+, Ladies – 225+). After you have reached your heavy set, strip back down to

 

  • Wall Walks: After each set of Deadlifts, perform 1-3 Wall Walks into a Handstand facing the wall. Focus on active shoulders, pressing through the ground to drive your feet up the wall, and maintaining a tight midline throughout the movement. Don’t arch your back just to get your chest closer to the wall!

 

  • 1min At Each Movement:

 

Hollow Body Hold – establish a good hollow position on the ground with arms overhead and legs straight out off the ground. Generate as much tension as you can, and maintain for as long as possible during the 1 minute station

 

Nose-and-Toes Handstand Hold – Walk up the wall into a handstand facing the wall. Drive your shoulders up toward your ears, pressing your hands into the ground. Squeeze your glutes and abs so that your stomach is not touching the wall – this should look like a good hollow position from shoulders to toes. The only things touching the wall should be your Nose and your Toes.

 

Handstand Walking – Depending on your skill level: Either spend some time working on a challenging HS Walk Progression, or Handstand walk in Specific Increments (pick a target distance, hit it, reset and repeat). Move with Purpose.

 

 

Specific Workout Prep:

 

2 Rounds For Time:

5 Deadlifts – Workout Weight

3-5 HSPU (Scaled: 5 Hand Release PU)

*Move Fast, but Smooth and Controlled. This should emulate the pace you plan to use during the workout.

 

After this last warmup piece, you should already be sweating and ready to go. Get your mind right, move around, but don’t get cold. Ideally, you should have about 5-8mins between your last warmup round and Go Time.

 

 

-Go crush it.

 

Sean Jacobs, PT, DPT, CSCS, CF-L2

, ,

Open WOD 18.3

2 Rounds For Time:

100 Double Unders

20 Overhead Squats – 115/80

100 Double Unders

12 Ring Muscle Ups

100 Double Unders

20 Dumbbell Snatches – 50/35

100 Double Unders

12 Bar Muscle Ups

 

Time Cap: 14mins

 

18.3 – ANALYSIS

This week, we have a test of double under capacity and muscle-up proficiency with pre-fatigued shoulders.  I’m really excited to see what happens on this one. Neither of the two Games athletes (Kyle Kasperbauer and Neal Maddox) came close to finishing this workout under the 14 minute time cap, but it will be done.

Strategy for this workout plays a very different role for each individual type of athlete. If you are on the cusp of Regionals, and also debating whether or not you can finish this workout, you will need to play the long game and make sure you have that extra “push” in the last 4-5 mins. If you are an athlete who will be happy completing the first 12 Muscle Ups, then your strategy will be the opposite – Maximize the amount of time you have to crank out those singles.

Out of 928 possible reps, 800 of those are Double Unders. That means your midsection needs to be tight, and you need to be bouncy. Pick manageable sets, somewhere between 20 and 50, and knock those out set-by-set with a breath in between. There is no room for wasted reps on the jump rope in this workout – you should always be either putting reps on the board or actually resting to catch your breath.

As we saw in 18.1, the dumbbell is just a place-holder / time-waster, but it needs to be efficiently crushed with the hips. Using your shoulders and arms during the snatches will get them done in the same amount of time, but you will suffer from it on the next set of DU’s and MU’s.

Overhead Squats could play an interesting role over 14 minutes. These will be more taxing on the trunk than Snatches, which could tire out the shoulders if you’re not careful. On the other hand, if you commit to keeping a vertical torso and locking in good positions throughout the entire set, you will most likely be gaining an advantage over your fellow competitors.

Overall, you can probably predict which part of this workout you, personally, are going to hate the most. If it is the muscle ups, consider treating this like a muscle-up practice workout, if going scaled is not even in your list of options. But if you’re going to be getting well into the 2nd round, make all of the movements crisp and smooth, but don’t rush. There will be plenty of time afforded to those whose shoulders are not totally blown up by minute 8.

 

MOVEMENT TIPS

Double Unders

  • Stay Tight – Such a cliché cue, but it really applies here. Smash your feet/legs together, squeeze your abs and glutes, and rely on calf “springy-ness” to make these as efficient as possible.
  • Keep Breathing – This is the only movement that could possibly be considered as relative rest. While jumping, think about taking as deep and long of breaths as you can. In through the nose, out through the mouth. This will also give you something to think about, rather than the terrible number of times you have to jump back up into the air during the workout.

Overhead Squats

  • Vertical Torso – Not everyone is built to squat completely upright with the barbell directly over their ears, but everyone will benefit from attempting The more forward you are leaned, the more work it is on the upper back and shoulders to stabilize the bar. The more work your shoulders do here equates to wasted work.
  • Try a Slightly Narrower Grip – Play around with this in the workout, but I have seen several people (myself included) benefit from a slightly narrower grip during high-rep sets of Overhead Squats. This isn’t possible for everyone, but it can often decrease the stress at the shoulder and keep you fresh for the muscle ups.

Ring Muscle Ups

  • Hips Drive The Movement, Don’t Pull Early! – If you watch a good muscle up in slow motion, it is simply a large Arch-to-Hollow kip, followed by violent hip extension to drive the athlete up over the rings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsicY9fe_M0
  • Catch as High As Possible – Don’t rely on catching in the bottom of the ring dip if you have the choice. Take some stress off the shoulders, and try to get a big enough hip drive to catch higher in the dip.

Dumbbell Snatches

  • Grab-N-Go – That’s really all I’ve got. Follow the standards for “Good Reps”, but just launch it with your hips. When you are doing these efficiently, your arms and shoulders don’t even have time to pull on the dumbbell. Make them efficient, save your energy.

Bar Muscle Ups

  • Hips (again) – The same rules here apply as in the Ring Muscle Ups. Some people actually need a slightly larger kip to get themselves up and around the fixed pull-up bar, so keep that in mind. The bright side is that it’s a fixed surface, and once your over, you’re practically done!

 

PACING STRATEGIES

For Those Who Are Trying to Get Well Into the 2nd Round:

  • Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast – Make the movements efficient (especially in the Double Unders), and get rewarded later on with extra energy. Take your time to get into a good rhythm with each movement, then you’re just going to have to keep moving.
  • Stop 1-2 Reps Short of Failure on the Muscle Ups – You should know your personal limit with these, but hitting the wall during round 1 will not be something you can recover from. There just isn’t enough time to start missing a couple of reps and still come back from it. Be deliberate.

For Those Who Will Be Happy With 1 set of Muscle Ups (or even 1 Muscle Up):

  • Get to the Rings – Knock out the DU’s and OHS as fast as you can, then collect yourself and get it together. This will now become Muscle Up practice for the remainder of the time cap. Don’t rest too long between singles, but try to make every single as crisp and efficient as possible. Having this mind-set will prevent you from rushing into failed reps. The goal here is NO failed reps.
  • You Can Always Re-Do It – The volume from the first round of this workout will not be bad enough to prevent you from giving it a second shot. Even if you “overpace” the first time, you shouldn’t be too sore in 2-3 days to come back at it.

 

THE WARMUP

General Warmup:

  • 10min Easy Assault Bike, Jog, or Rower
  • 5min AMRAP: Unbroken Sets of Double Unders

5-10-15-20-25-30-35, etc.

*Each set must be unbroken, then rest, take a breath, and execute the next set with purpose. If it’s not unbroken, repeat that entire set before moving on.

  • Foam Roll: T-spine Extension, Lats and Shoulders (if needed). Make sure you have full overhead motion
  • Banded Shoulder Stretching: If you typically do this to open up the shoulders, be sure to stretch out the pecs and lats. If this is not something you normally do, don’t start now.
  • 25-50 Band Pull-Aparts or Face Pulls – Warm up the posterior shoulders

Dynamic Movement Prep:

  • 3 Rounds:

10 GHD Situps

10 GHD Back Extensions

10 Dumbbell Snatches – Start at a lighter weight than you plan to compete with, then work up to the workout weight.

 

  • 1min At Each Movement:

Deep Squat Hold or Sots Press – get into a deep squat, focus on getting your back upright. Grab a PVC pipe or barbell, do a back squat, then press it into an overhead squat position while remaining in the bottom. Lower the bar and repeat. Rest and reset as needed.

 

Hollow Body Roll to Arch – establish a good hollow position on the ground with arms overhead and legs straight out off the ground. Roll over into an Arch position on your stomach, essentially the opposite of a Hollow. Hold each position for 5-10 seconds, then transition back into the other.

 

Active Hangs aka Scap Retractions on Pullup Bar – Hang, Retract your shoulders, hold for 5-10 seconds, relax, and repeat.

 

  • Muscle Up Progression: Do 2 sets of each movement, rest between sets and exercises:

10 Hollow-Arch Kips on Pullup Bar

10 Full Kips (Think Kipping pull-up, without the last chin-over the bar part)

5 Chest-to-Bar Pull-Ups (Kipping, not Butterfly)

3 Bar Muscle Ups (or Muscle Up attempts)

10 Ring Dips – SLOW and controlled, with a 2-count pause at the bottom.

 

**Repeat the entire Bar MU sequence on Rings.

**During this entire progression, think about keeping your midsection as tight as possible, and rely on the hips to drive the kip. The shoulders should be doing as little work as possible.

 

  • Overhead Squat:

Pause Overhead Squats – 5x 3 Reps, work up to something slightly heavier than workout weight.

**Pause each movement in the bottom for a 2-count, making sure to stay tight and keep your torso vertical.

 

 

Specific Workout Prep:

 

1 Round For Time:

10 Double Unders

6 Overhead Squats – 115/80

10 Double Unders

2 Ring Muscle Ups

 

Rest 1-2mins

 

1 Round For Time:

10 Double Unders

6 DB Snatches – 50/35

10 Double Unders

2 Bar Muscle Ups

 

**Focus on Transitions and Movement Efficiency during these two warmup pieces.**

 

Remember, this workout should be “fun” (at least more so than the others). Get your mind right, move around, but don’t get cold. Ideally, you should have about 5-8mins between your last warmup round and Go Time.

 

 

-Go crush it.

 

Sean Jacobs, PT, DPT, CSCS, CF-L2