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Shoulder Press Technique

The shoulder press is most basic method of moving an object from the shoulder to overhead. Compared to the push press and push jerk, the shoulder press utilizes pure core and shoulder strength with less emphasis on speed and coordination.

Learn the perfect should press form from Crossfit Level 3 coach, Melissa Patriquin. She breaks down the shoulder press technique movement cues and points of interest to focus on.

Push Press Technique

The push press is the second movement in the series of shoulder presses. Compared to the shoulder press, the push press puts more emphasis on speed and coordination, but requires more core and shoulder strength than the push jerk.

Learn the perfect form for the push press with Back Alley Crossfit Level 3 coach, Melissa Patriquin. She breaks down the push press technique movement cues and points of interest to focus on.

Push Jerk Technique

The push jerk is the third progression in the series presses, which includes the shoulder press, push press and push jerk. The push jerk allows you to move an object from the shoulders to overhead as efficiently as possible with less emphasis on pure shoulder and core strength and more emphasis on speed and coordination.

Learn the perfect form for the push jerk with Back Alley Crossfit Level 3 coach, Melissa Patriquin. She breaks down the push jerk technique movement cues and points of interest to focus on.

Debunking 5 Diets

What should I eat? How much can I eat? And when can I eat it?

These are 3 questions that always seem to pop up in a world where we all want a physical and mental edge in performance and having the perfect diet is a key component of that. Let’s explore some of the popular diets in the fitness world right now.

1. The Ketogenic Diet aka “Keto”

Philosophy:

Your body relies on glucose for fuel. If there’s no glucose easily available your body needs to find a new way to fuel itself. This happens through the breakdown of fats and proteins. Originally discovered back in the 1920’s as a treatment for epilepsy, the ketogenic diet has become widely popular as it can help practitioners lose weight quickly and provides mental clarity.

Pros:

There are a lot of great high fat foods that can still be consumed (did somebody say bacon?!)

Cons:

Limiting carb and protein intake requires some specific portioning of food. Measuring ketone levels through blood, breath, or urine is not the highlight of anyone’s day.

2. “Whole 30”

Philosophy:

This diet is completed as a 30 day challenge that allows only whole foods (meats, vegetables, some fruits, and some healthy fats). This diet focuses on the “What” you should eat but is less concerned with “How much” and “When” making it a popular option for novice dieters.

Pros:

By eliminating processed foods from your diet you give your digestive tract a much needed break. Most folks report higher energy levels. No measuring of portions saves time.

Cons:

You have to accept that you’re going to be a boring dinner date for the month.

3. “Macro Diet”

Philosophy:

Ignore the “What” you eat in all but the broadest sense. That is, you only account for the macronutrient makeup of food in terms of fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Focus in on the ratio or total number of calories taken in to hit a total daily macronutrient intake based on your training goals and calories required.

Pros:

Eating donuts after a workout without feeling guilty can be a huge relief

Cons:

Poor dietary choices could lead to micronutrient deficiencies. Frequent consumption of high glycemic carbohydrates could lead to insulin resistance.

4. “Intermittent Fasting”

Philosophy:

This diet focuses specifically on the “When” component of eating. Generally practiced by consuming all meals in a maximum 8 hour time window. This might look like skipping breakfast and consuming all calories between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm followed by 16 hours of fasting. Many individuals pair this methodology with foods that would be considered “keto” or “whole 30” approved.

Pros:

A smaller window of time to eat during means fewer calories consumed by most people. The long fasting period can lead to increased fat burning.

Cons:

Some people have a difficult time adhering to the strict time windows that provide the alleged benefits.

5. Vertical Diet

Philosophy:

This diet focuses on the “What” you can eat with foods broken down into daily micronutrient required foods and daily macronutrient foods where steak and white rice help you hit your required caloric intake. Caloric consumption is increased based on training volume and goals. Additionally this diet eliminates some unique foods like legumes, onion, and garlic that are considered high FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, and monosaccharide and polyol) foods.

Pros:

This diet can be a great starting point for someone who has difficulty meeting macronutrient requirements or is new to dieting.

Cons:

The extreme lack of variability in food choices make this diet a bit boring to follow. It’s very possible that micronutrient deficiencies could occur by following the same simple foods long term.

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5 “Hero” Workouts Everyone Should Try

The Hero WODs were created to commemorate fallen heroes who served in the line of duty. Soldiers, law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders were some of the original inspiration for CrossFit workouts. CrossFit workouts grew out of the extreme physical demands of these heroes jobs. They also require grit, guts, and heart and we honor the memory of these brave men and women every time we participate. If you haven’t yet, here are 5 hero workouts that you absolutely must try!

  1. “Kalsu”

For Time:

  • 100 Thrusters (135/95 lb)
  • 5 Burpees at the top of every minute (Start with 5 burpees. Then complete as many thrusters as possible until the minute is up. Repeat until 100 total thrusters are completed. If athlete does not finish score is number of rounds and reps completed.

This WOD is a huge mental grind. Go out too fast and you’ll pay for it but trying to pace out the rounds means more reps cleaning the bar. Try to find the sweet spot of 5 reps of thrusters per round and keep a steady pace as you work.

Kalsu was an NFL player with an extremely promising career ahead of him. After starting the entire 1968 season with the Buffalo Bills as a guard, he was named Team Rookie of the Year. Despite the promise of a legendary career, Kalsu put that aside to enlist in the Army in 1969 and was soon shipped out to Vietnam, where he lost his life less than a year later. Kalsu left behind a wife and two young children.

2. “Tillman”

7 Rounds For Time:

  • 7 Deadlifts (315/205 lb)
  • 200 meter Sprint
  • 15 Pull-Ups
  • 45 seconds Rest

This workout is designed to be fast and heavy and truly embodies the spirit of Pat Tillman. Try to go unbroken on the deadlifts and remember to relax your grip during the run. Break up the pullups as needed to ensure that you don’t hit a failure point too early in the workout, 45 seconds of rest won’t be enough time to fully recover between these brutal rounds.

Patrick Daniel Tillman (11/6/76–4/22/04) was a professional football player who left the National Football League and enlisted in the United States Army in May 2002. He joined the Army Rangers and served multiple tours in combat before he was killed in the mountains of Afghanistan. He was a recipient of the Silver Star, the third highest honor in the military, and a Purple Heart. Pat is survived by his wife Marie. He is also remembered through the foundation named in his honor.

3. “Daniel”

For Time:

  • 50 Pull-Ups
  • 400 meter Run
  • 21 Thrusters (95/65 lb)
  • 800 meter Run
  • 21 Thrusters (95/65 lb)
  • 400 meter Run
  • 50 Pull-Ups

Daniel has one of those dangerous rep schemes that keeps you right at the threshold of being able to continue working without realizing the cumulative effect of the workload. Ease into the first 50 pull ups, push yourself on the run, and go for broke on the sets of thrusters!

Dedicated to Army Sgt 1st Class Daniel Crabtree who was killed in Al Kut, Iraq on Thursday, June 8th, 2006. Crabtree is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his daughter, Mallory.. He is also survived by his father, Ronald Crabtree and his mother, Judy Ann Crabtree.

4. “Ryan”

5 rounds for time:

  • 7 Muscle-ups
  • 21 Burpees (Each burpee terminates with a jump one foot above max standing reach.)

Ryan is a classic CrossFit couplet that will rely heavily on your proficiency with the muscle-up. Take advantage of a kip to lock out at the top of the rings, the cumulative effect of 35 muscle-ups and 105 burpees do a number to your triceps.

Maplewood, Missouri Firefighter, Ryan Hummert, 22, was killed by sniper fire July 21st 2008 when he stepped off his fire truck responding to a call. He is survived by his parents Andrew and Jackie Hummert.

5. “White”

5 rounds for time:

  • 3 rope climbs (15ft)
  • 10 toes to bars
  • 21 overhead walking lunges (45/35 lb plate)
  • 400 meter run

This workout is a true total body burner that will heavily tax your grip strength and shoulders. Focus on using your legs to drive you up the rope, break up the toes to bar early, and moving with purpose through the lunges. Take advantage of the 400m run as “active recovery” and make sure to shake out your arms while you go.

U.S. Army First Lieutenant Ashley White, 24, of Alliance, OH, assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, based in Goldsboro, NC. She died on October 22, 2011, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when insurgents attacked her unit with an improvised explosive device.She is survived by her husband Captain Jason Stumpf, her parents Robert and Deborah, brother Josh, and sister Brittney.

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Neurotransmitters, Recovery, And Your Training

Do you ever have days when you feel like all you could do is sleep no matter how much coffee you drink?

Or maybe you’ve been on a new strength program for the past 8 weeks and feel weaker than when you started?

Maybe you find yourself walking around the gym in a daze not wanting to get started?

If you said “Yes” to any of these you may have experienced a deficiency or imbalance of your neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitter are chemical messengers that get released in our body. They allow our cells to communicate and work together. There are 4 primary neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Acetylcholine, Serotonin, and GABA. They are both excitatory (speed our cells up) and inhibitory (slow are cells down).

All the neurotransmitters are constantly in fluxuation and balance with one another. This can have a huge effect on our mood, energy, and ability to focus. Some activities like lifting a heavy weight or taking a challenging test use up the neurotransmitters we have on hand.

Strength coach Charles Poliquin is a huge proponent of specific program design built around the athlete. Knowing which of the neurotransmitter types you are dominant in can help you adjust loading parameters, frequency and intensity of training, and plan rest days. Even having a basic understanding of which neurotransmitter type you are dominant in will give you a framework for decision making around your training goals.

Now lets learn a little about each neurotransmitter type.

Dopamine

Dopamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter making it a huge factor behind your motivation towards training and activity levels. Individuals who are dopamine dominant tend to be the ones who are always fired up to exercise. They handle high volume and intensity well but tend to adapt quickly to a stimulus which can cause them to overtrain quickly if their workouts are not constantly varied.

Dopamine synthesis can be promoted by eating foods such as almonds, peanuts, soybeans, avocados, bananas, watermelon, yogurt, beef, tuna, chicken, chocolate, eggs, coffee, and green tea.

Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter responsible for intercellular communication between the muscles in the nervous system. Acetylcholine levels can make a huge difference in our ability to recruit the maximal number of muscle fibers. On days where you might not “feel strong” could be because your cells are having a hard time communicating to coordinate on a lift.

Meats, dairy, poultry and fish contain high levels of choline, with the highest levels coming from liver. One 3-ounce serving of meat contains approximately 70 milligrams of choline. Chocolate, peanut butter, brussels sprouts and broccoli also contain significant levels of choline.

GABA

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter and is responsible for shutting the body down for rest and recovery. You may be experiencing low GABA levels if you find your mind racing or have trouble sleeping at night.

GABA levels can be promoted through probiotic rich foods like yogurt that improve gut health. Foods that increase GABA levels include berries, bananas, and Pu-erh tea.

Serotonin

Serotonin is another inhibitory neurotransmitter and really a jack of all trades. It helps regulate mood and social behavior, appetite and digestion, sleep, memory, and sexual desire and function. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to fatigue and depression.

Foods like chicken, turkey, salmon, beef, nut butter, eggs, and green peas all contain high levels of Tryptophan a precursor to serotonin production. One other way to boost serotonin production? You guessed it…exercise!

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How Strength Training Helps With Weight Loss

Strength training and weight loss are a match made in heaven. The benefits of applying a resistance training routine are complimentary to all the physical changes that help a person lose weight. You might want to feel more energy and confidence, be harder to kill, or simply look good naked. Regardless of your goals every person on planet earth can benefit from a strength training routine. That’s right, if you are a human you need this. So if you are ready for your hard work to translate into results it’s time to start pumping some iron!

Let’s explore why strength training works, how it needs to be approached, and how you can get started today.

Why it works

Strength training is so effective at helping individuals lose weight because it has a tremendous increase on your body’s metabolism. You can think of this as building a bigger engine. Just to keep a large truck running requires a lot more fuel than to drive a moped at top speed. Remember when Harry and Lloyd got 70 mpg on their way up to Aspen!

The reason you need to build a bigger engine boils down to some simple math surrounding your Resting Metabolic rate or “RMR”. RMR generally accounts for about 60% of daily energy expenditure. This means that you have way more opportunity to change your body by focusing on long term metabolic adaptations rather than burning yourself with activity in a short time frame. Many individuals try to put in endless hours of cardio to “burn fat”. The problem is that their routine lacks any sort of intensity that builds muscle. This leads to the dreaded “skinny fat” body. These individuals utilize long slow distance efforts and their results can disappear rapidly if they reduce their training volume.

Individuals who practice a regular strength training routine also develop confidence and discipline that they then apply to other areas of their life. An individual who is training hard will be more likely to make better dietary decisions or avoid alcohol. It will help you sort out your priorities and make decisions that align with your goals.

How to do it

When it comes to strength training there are a few major guidelines to be observed. The most important aspect to consider in a strength training routine is that compound functional movements are the foundation for growth, progress, and adaptation. Movements that recruit multiple muscle groups and replicate real world movements like squats, deadlifts, and overhead pressing provide the most “bang for your buck.”

Walk into most health clubs and you will see the general population performing isolation exercises that are simply less effective and have low transfer to their everyday life. By “majoring in the minors” they are missing out on a huge opportunity. The question is…why?

Learning the proper form associated with compound movements can be intimidating if you’re new to training. The benefit of hiring an experienced trainer or coach is essential. In fact it’s arguably one of the best investments in your health and in your life that you could ever make. A great coach will teach you proper form, common faults, and give you the proper progressions to make you better and better over time. They will also help you select a training program that has the right volume of work and intensity levels to safely achieve your goals.

Once you have learned the foundational movements needed to improve your fitness there is no shortage of exercises and routines you can apply to meet your goals.

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